Monday, December 19, 2011

I’m going to say this and I don’t want anyone to think I value pleasure reading over spending time with my daughter. That is truly not the case. I enjoy every second that passes while we’re together and I wouldn’t trade that for any award winning piece of literature.


I do have to say that one thing I miss about pre-child life is the reading. The pleasure reading. Taking an hour (or four) out of your day to relax in bed with a good book. Not to get graphic here but the only time I get to read is in the bathroom and even then it may be a page at most. Last night I stayed up “late”, reading (and by late I mean 11:30pm when I should have gone to bed at 9:00pm) and I’m feeling the burn today. One and a half [small] redbulls later and my heart feels like it’s gonna explode. I’m glad that my current reading obsession (and Michael’s too) is also a TV series, with the new season coming out this spring. But as most you book-lovers know the show/movie is never as good as the book (usually). Watching TV is fun but book reading is just so much more enjoyable. What is it about reading that is so fantastic? It’s more work than watching TV… and it takes longer. Why would anyone like to read?!

I don’t know and I don’t have the time right now to get all psychological and scientific here. But I do know that I want to extend this love for reading onto my daughter. I want to show her how much fun reading can be; so much fun sometimes that it’s sad to close the back cover at the end. We can get so many things from books; things besides entertainment. We can learn about our world and we can learn about ourselves. I’ve picked up a few book-inspired teachings that I want to use in my life, and that I want to impart on Bria.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” –The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.” –The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” –The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” –Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

“Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.” –Shel Silverstein

"My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I'm told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but its silver when its wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet." –Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a wetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” –A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around it." –To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.” –Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller

“I always thought the Bible was more of a salad thing, you know, but it isn’t. It’s a chocolate thing.” –Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller

“Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.” –The Misfits by James Howe

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” –Holes by Louis Sachar

“You can’t let anybody else tell you what your choices are. Sometimes they won’t give you the right choice.” –Stanley Yelnats survival guide to camp green by Louis Sachar

Saturday, December 17, 2011

so i have this bad habit of starting a blog but scraping it because to me its too boring/my personal rants and raves that don't belong online/cheesy/corny/making no sense.

having a baby, being married, working 40+ hours a week (training trainees and being trained myself), cleaning house, preparing for the holidays, and more... = blogging goes onto the back burner. but it's okay; i wouldn't want my life to be any different than what it is. (except it would be wonderful if my car wasn't so crappy; i could totally use a new and improved car)

i've been spending my time lately going into work early, taking short lunches, and trying to absorb as much information as possible regarding my new job as a Portfolio Administration Analyst. lately my company has hosted multiple christmas gatherings and i believe i attended my last two yesterday which included: a trip to the nail salon (i <3 pedis), a beer at Fox & Hound, gift swapping, and inside joke-telling.

beyond the office i have been spending time with family and friends. friends coming over to get crafty with me (i SO have a ton of ideas on the topic of CRAFTING but i have to get to that another time). family coming over to help us with the bumps in our road (did i mention my crappy car???). and then of course there is spending time with michael and brianna. bria is 4 months and 3 weeks old! she is starting to eat solids (oatmeal, primarily. she doesn't like banana or applesauce! craziness!) and loves to bounce. she is all smiles. she is starting to teeth but the teeth are only just starting to cut in. i still love to rock to her to sleep at night but during the day she does great when we put her down for naps (okay so sometimes she does great and other times she fights it tooth and nail). she loves being outside so i try to take her out on the weekends when i have time. and she also likes to help mama cook (i use the "baby backpack", as we call it, and strap her to my person. she will sit there, watching be chop, stew, stir, mince, and season all day). she flips from front to back and from back to front. i love smelling her neck and her hair, i love her cute little baby butt cheeks, i love her wet slobber smiles, and i love when daddy makes her laugh. i love her chubby arms/legs/and belly. i love her slanted toe nails and her sharp-as-heck fingernails. i love how she holds onto my shirt when i hold her, and she hides her face in my shoulder when someone talks to her (she's shy). i love how she rubs her eyes with her fist when she's sleepy. and i  love that on the weekend mornings when i pick her up from her crib she smiles. that is the absolute best present a parent could receive. i wish i could see that morning smile every day of the week. i am cherishing this time with her as she's little because although she won't quite realize what Christmas is about this year, and she won't understand the traditions and the fun -- she will also never be this small again. her little hand won't wrap around my finger. she won't always come to me when she wants to be comforted. she won't always be so small that i can hold her in my arms.

out of all of the amazing things that happened to me this year having Brianna was the zenith. if i had to choose just ONE of the great things i would choose to have her every time.

mommy and daddy love you, baby girl. we love you so much and we hope you feel loved!

(below are some pics taken by my iMac. when holding Bria sometimes using the iMac is the easiest way to take pics. sorry i'm unkempt or the bedroom is messy in some pics. :\ )

daddy and bria!

holding onto my shirt. i love it.

cheesin for the camera!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’m sorry for the lack of entries, folks. I really wish I had more time to transfer my thoughts to paper/blog. I have so many neurotic, stressed, joyful, excited, worried moments that I would like to share with you but there simply is no time.
Since excitedly accepting my promotion at work life has been a whirlwind. I would walk you thru my normal day but I promise it’s nothing interesting. The highlight of my day is always the drive home, walking in the door and seeing my family. When Brianna sees me she smiles and that makes everything alright.
We have a video of her laughing but we can’t figure out how to get it from Michael’s phone to the computer. Once we figure that out I promise to share it with you all. It’s fantastic!
But let’s get down to brass tacks. It’s December 7th! That means Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is just days away. I can’t believe it. But I am super stoked to start the gifting process: shopping, making, baking, wrapping. I’ll post pictures as soon as the holidays pass, I promise.
But let’s recap Thanksgiving because that annual meal definitely was something worth talking about. First of all let me say that my favorite dish of Thanksgiving has always been a side item: macaroni and cheese, the veggies, the dinner rolls, and even the desserts. But this year, my friends, my favorite dish was by FAR the turkey!
The turkey was Michael’s project but I helped too. First of all we did our homework: thawing time, cooking time, herbs that blend well with turkey taste, how to keep the bird moist, how to know when it’s done, how to prevent burning, to stuff or not to stuff, to brine or not to brine.
For us we decided on a medium-sized bird which resulted in 4ish hours of cooking time. We injected the meat with Cajun butter (2 tablespoons in each side). We stuffed the bird with (and had him laying on a bed of) chopped celery, potatoes, carrots, and apples.

Stuffed with veggies.
We poured chicken broth in the pan, with the veggies, to add to the bird’s moistness. Finally we made a butter herb spread, stuffed it under the skin, and smeared the rest on top of the skin.

Popped him in the oven at 400 degrees and let him cook for an hour, then I added an aluminum foil tent and brought the temp down a bit for the last 3 hours of cooking.

Let me tell you.


This turkey was DIVINE! Moist, flavorful, healthy, amazing. I like fried turkeys but honestly nothing compared to THIS turkey. We raved about it for days and now we’re thinking about making it again for Christmas.

But the dinner didn’t stop there. The sides were good too…

Day-Before-Crock-Pot Mashed Potatoes. So good they didn't need gravy.
Cranberry Chutney is so much better than canned cranberry sauce.
This fruity gravy/sauce/dip is good for a multitude of meats.
Twice baked butternut squash was my least favorite.
I think I'll stick with regular yellow squash with butter and onions.
And so were the desserts…

M's favorite: pecan pie. I never liked pecan pie until I made it from scratch.
Talk about easy! Lesson learned: Don't use graham cracker crust.
Applie Pie, from scratch. Served warm with melty vanilla ice cream
or with shredded cheddar cheese.
Lesson learned: use sharp cheddar.

Now we’re excited to start planning our Christmas dinner menu. Mamaw and Papaw might be coming up for Christmas so we’re ready to impress.
Brianna - Thanksgiving Day 2011 (3.5 months old)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 has proven to be THE most eventful year of my life. Every single major event occurred in 2011: first it was pregnancy, then engagement, then the birth of my daughter.

Now it is a promotion and getting married!

Yesterday I received the best news of my career, thus far. The job I have been aiming to climb to for the past two and a half years was finally offered to me! As of December 7th I will be a PAS Analyst (Portfolio Administrative Services) with CB Richard Ellis, the leading commercial real estate company in the world. This promotion is a God-send and in every way I thank Him for this opportunity. Not only will I be able to provide more for my family but we are now moving in the direction we’ve been aiming for, for years. We’re fine in Memphis Tennessee right now but as some of you may know we would love to relocate in a few years, and with this job the thought of relocating is not just a dream, but could possibly lead to a reality.

And to top off an already wonderful day Michael and I decided to get hitched! We’re so happy to be Mr. and Mrs. But let me tell you how weird it is to be a WIFE and to have a HUSBAND and to get rid of the last name I’ve known for 25 years only to welcome a new name. It’s weird. It’s all madness. But it’s Good Madness. I couldn’t ask for anything else.

But I’m getting some interesting feedback from people that kind of makes me realize how materialistic/superficial we are now a days. A lot of people have asked me what I wore and if I’m sad I didn’t get to wear a wedding dress. And I get surprised comments that we didn’t have a ceremony or reception. And to be honest a part of me wants all that; I wish we could have gone all out. But the rest of me realizes how UNIMPORTANT all of that is. The marriage is what matters, not the wedding. So I’m kind offended that some people may think I’m missing out or that my marriage isn’t as exciting as others’. My marriage is just as happy and just as wonderful as any $100,000 wedding would be.

That being said… Michael and I are fun people so we DO plan on marking this major event thru vacations and parties. Because I don’t see the point in spending as much on a wedding as we could on a new car/new house/etc. we won’t be having your traditional wedding, but we plan on taking a long honeymoon and while on that honeymoon we want to exchange our vows (just the two of us). Following that trip we’d like to throw a reception (or by then it may be a One-Year Party), inviting all of our family and friends to celebrate the belated event. But honestly I don’t want to be consumed with this party, and I don’t want it to affect our marriage. If we can’t afford it then we won’t do it and I’ll be perfectly happy that way, I promise.

However, a free wedding would totally be a win (everyone loves spending other people’s money). There is contest out there with a grand prize being a Hawaiian Wedding (plus 30 guests flown in for free). You must submit a picture plus a letter explaining why you deserve said wedding. Here is my list (you know me and my contests; I never win but I hoped Michael would find this list sweet yet funny)…

Dear [_____],
Why should Michael and I win your Hawaiian Dream Wedding giveaway? Let me count the ways:
10) We have fun in the kitchen, whipping up great (and sometimes not so great) food and I’m dying to buy some Mr. & Mrs. Aprons!
9) We have similar birthmarks on our hands and arms = we’re MEANT TO BE! Duh! ;)
8) We both desperately need tans. I’m half Mexican so you’d think it would come naturally; sadly, that is not the case.
7) I love birthdays/Valentine’s Day/Christmas/and practically every holiday so celebrating our wedding on Valentine’s Day is in perfect tune to our personalities (see the attached video I made for Michael last Valentine’s Day).
6) We need a vacation; we have only taken ONE vacation since we’ve been together (to Jasper AR) and we don’t know when we’ll get another one.
5) Our family members deserve a trip to Hawaii as much as we do; taking them along with us for the ride would be our gift back to them for doing so much for us.
4) We don’t have the financial means to throw a big party, being on one income with a newborn, so we’re planning on going to the courthouse to make it official. But having a Hawaiian ceremony would be a cherry on top of the cake (the MARRIAGE is important, not the WEDDING).
3) We support each other, and our dreams. Our hope is that Michael can attend school to become a game warden and I can one day follow my dream of becoming a stay at home mom, and a photographer. Until then Michael is the stay at home dad while I work full time!
2) If I had to choose again, I would always choose him (and he says he’d always choose me too).
1) The most important person in our lives: Brianna Catherine Ryan, our daughter, who was born on July 20th, 2011. She’s the apple of our eye, the cheese to our macaroni, the icing to our cake, the smile to our faces, the sugar to our kool aid, and she deserves it as much as we do.

Don’t you think we should win? Yeah, I do too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This article had me cracking up today at work (I received it via email from a good friend of mine). If you like sarcastic humor and have had any exposure to babies... you'll love this!

Things I Hated (And a Few I Loved) About Parenting a 1-Year-Old
Posted by Linda Sharps
on October 11, 2011 at 7:01 AM
A friend of mine recently celebrated her daughter's first birthday, and when we were talking about how fast the year had gone and the fun of first birthdays, her voice suddenly trailed off a bit and she eventually said, "So ... 12 months seems like a really hard age so far. Did you think it was challenging?"


Does a pope wear a funny hat in the woods while standing in a pile of bear crap? You bet your ass I thought it was challenging.
In fact, I wrote some notes about what life was like with my youngest son, Dylan, when he was 12 months old. I call it, creatively, My Least Favorite Things About 1-Year-Old Babies.

They walk, yet they are babies. This is a horrifying combination and should be forbidden by nature. I feel it is a massive Darwinian fail to design babies to be able to heave themselves up on wobbly legs and stagger around like PEOPLE, when they are clearly INFANTS, as evidenced by their total lack of knees/knuckles and their propensity for ferreting out every single choking hazard in the entire house and cramming it in their cry-holes.

Speaking of, they put everything in their mouths. Here is a partial list of what I once fished out of Dylan’s mouth over a 24-hour period: a Curious George sticker, a Band-Aid, a small rock, fifty thousand pieces of paper, a pen cap, his brother’s shoe, a chunk of what I fervently hoped was dried mud, and one mysteriously non-Duplo-sized Lego that must have manifested itself out of another dimension because I swear to GOD I had already hidden all the chokey-sized bricks what the HELL. This was the same baby, mind you, who routinely gagged on RICE CRACKERS and mostly turned his nose up over chunky foods, probably because I didn’t WIPE THEM ON THE FLOOR FIRST.

They have a hair-trigger gag reflex. I became so reluctantly experienced at dealing with a Surprise Cough-Barf, I had an entire honed, efficient tactical action plan involving paper towels and Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Spray and baking soda and simultaneous bath-preparation and laundry-starting activities and, frankly, this is not one of those life skills I ever wanted to be good at. Dear child: yes, post-nasal drip is gross, but re-enacting the pea soup scene from The Exorcist is infinitely more disgusting for all involved parties.

They are emotionally unstable. Whine, whine, whine. I can’t reach that ball, someone took the pen cap out of my mouth, I don’t like these shoes, this diaper change is filling me with rage, I’m riddled with invisible demons and I don’t know what my problem is so I guess I’ll just scream for about a goddamned hour straight. God, it’s like their brains are still forming, or something. Like they have limited communication skills and get easily frustrated and are constantly bonking their heads on things. SO IMMATURE OMG.

In other words: yes. It's a very challenging age. My god.

However, in the interest of fairness, I do have a few things I love about 1-year-old babies, such as:

They dance. There is nothing, NOTHING like seeing a 12-month-old bopping along with Eninem’s “Crack a Bottle." Uh-oh uh-oh, bitches hoppin’ in my Tahoe.

They love to laugh. Like when you get down on your hands and knees and pretend to be a bear and crawl after your baby going RRWAAR!, and their eyebrows shoot up and they go shriiiiiiiiiiek with pure insane joy before they laugh so hard, they fall over and hit their head on the entertainment center? That’s pretty rad.

They talk all the time, about GOD KNOWS WHAT. “Ba blah da doe blmphz da DER DER pah gee DOH,” they say, and you go, I know, right?

They're full of love (when they're not full of rage). They are in the perfect sweet spot between actively choosing to be cuddled (vs the passive human-represents-food pleasure of the newborn) and figuring out that almost any other activity is more fun than snuggling with Mom. They run full-tilt into your arms. They press their cheek against yours. They sit back to drink you in, then lean forward to sigh happily against your chest.

Their butts are ridiculous. I defy you to gaze upon a 12-month-old’s naked bottom and not feel certain the world is in fact filled with unicorns and rainbows.

I know everyone always says that you should enjoy whatever age your child is, because you'll miss it so much later—but I can't say I miss my children as 12-month-olds. I mean, okay, maybe I miss their squishy little bodies, but that's what photos and loving memories are for.

Friday, November 11, 2011

So in 44 days B will, unbeknownst to herself, be celebrating her first Christmas! I’m excited but next year I’ll be a little more into it because she’ll be a little more aware (although probably won’t yet understand).
Regardless the first Christmas is always exciting and I hope she gets a kick out of the tree, the stockings, the lights, the music, the pretty wrapping paper, the yummy smells, and other sensual stimuli. One day, when she’s old enough, we’ll include her in family traditions: decorating the tree while sipping hot cocoa and listening to Christmas music (and singing along terribly). Baking Christmas cookies to leave for Santa, and setting carrots out for the reindeer. Opening her present-filled stocking on Christmas Eve.
Oh and don’t get me started on the babies that will come after B. I can’t wait for the Good Madness that fills our home during the holidays. The torn and shredded wrapping paper that litters the floor post-presents. The huge breakfast spread with family members sitting around the table. Video footage to be watched for years after. And silly Christmas photos taken every year in front of the tree. I’m sure mom and dad (Michael and I) will be exhausted and wondering what the heck we got ourselves into, and I may be crazy for wanting all of this… but I have a feeling it will all be worth it.
But as for this year. This very special year when Michael and I spend our first Christmas together as a family, with Brianna. This special year when Brianna’s big eyes looks in wonderment at the lights and the tree. This year will be like no other – it will never be replaced or mimicked. So I’m going to cherish it.
One of my favorite parts about Christmas is the giving. I absolutely love finding presents for people that they actually want and will enjoy for years to come. Unfortunately this year we’re going to be a little tight on cash. I can’t get into the beautiful details of the presents I’m getting for folks (my loved ones read this blog!) but I will tell you that I’m SO EXCITED! (And THANK YOU pinterest)
As for Brianna, this is her wish list for all those interested:
1.       Savings Bonds – These will be devoted to Brianna’s college fund. They will be as good as gold to us.

2.       Cloth Diapers – In an effort to save our family money I would really like to give cloth diapering a true go-round. If it works well then our cloth diapering investment will be outstanding, considering we’ll end up using the cloth diapers for our future children as well. Make and Model of choice = Bum Genius Freetime All-in-One with snaps or Bum Genius 4.0 One Size with snaps (a dozen diapers would be great!).

3.       Highchair – B is quickly approaching solid-food-eating days. We’d like something that can grow with her (aka, safe for little infants yet something she won’t grow out of in a few months).

4.       Baby Bullet – Again on the topic of solid foods. From all of the reviews I’ve read about the Baby Bullet it seems like this is the easiest way to go.

5.       Clothes and toys – Educational and age appropriate toys for infants who are attempting to roll over, crawl, and walk.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We are 15 days away from Thanksgiving, can you believe that?
This year for Thanksgiving we plan on staying in Memphis and having our first Family Thanksgiving (although B won’t be eating turkey and mashed potatoes, we really want to start the tradition early). Of course we’ll spend some time with extended family but the dinner itself will be at home, at our dinner table. So I’m already looking for recipes (one of my favorite past-times). Instead of a turkey we’re thinking of having individual Cornish Game Hens. And for the sides we’re wanting healthy version of the traditional. For dessert I’m thinking we’ll splurge a little by having a pie or cobbler. If I can I will post our Thanksgiving menu and then later will show some desserts.
In the thankful spectrum of Thanksgiving, I know I have a lot to be thankful for, and I wish I had more resources to give back. I wish I had more money so that I could buy and donate food goods. I wish I had more time so that I could volunteer. These are things I will do again one day but this year I am focusing on my new family. I know that I need to be more appreciative, and more thankful for the blessings that I have. I need to be more loving towards my fiancé and devote more attention to my daughter. I need to worry about providing for my family, and I need to concentrate on keeping a clean home for them to live in. I need to thank them for the small things that they do, and I need my actions to speak for themselves. I need to appreciate every minute of every day that I have with Bria. I need to be the listening ear, the shoulder to lean on, the heart to empathize with, and the hand to hold for my fiancé. I need to stop talking and start listening. I need to stop wanting and start being content. I need to live for them, and not myself.
I am thankful for the toothless grins.
I am thankful for conversations with my mom.
I am thankful for a tall fiancé who can reach the shelves that I can’t.
I am thankful for warm baby cheeks, pressed to mine.
I am thankful for the big strong arms/hands of my fiancé – they are good for hugging.
I am thankful for all of our health.
I am thankful for advice, suggestions, wisdom that come from my in-laws.
I am thankful for a chance for a new day, every day so far.
I am thankful that there are churches everywhere so that I might find one that suits my family and me.
I am thankful for a paycheck that comes twice a month.
I am thankful for quiet nights.
But I’m also thankful for middle of the night feeds, when I can gaze at her sleepy face.
I am thankful for morning phone calls with my cousin.
I am thankful for inside jokes.
I am thankful for each and every sunrise, and that I may see it every morning on my way to work.
I am thankful for my gifts, even if I have not figured out how to use them.
I am thankful for silly moments with my fiancé.
I am thankful for moments when my fiancé brings me back down to earth.
I am thankful for mistakes that I may learn and grow.
I am thankful for the unplanned pregnancy I had because although the timing was off the gift is life-altering.
I am thankful for blue baby eyes and the cowlick in her hair.
I am thankful for our bedtime routine, when I get to spend one-on-one time with B.
I am thankful for the opportunities I get to show Bria that I love her.
I am thankful that I live in Memphis Tennessee; no matter how much I complain if we hadn’t moved here I wouldn’t have Michael or Brianna in my life.
And finally I am thankful that they are in my life. I can’t imagine an existence without them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

So I’m a masochist.

I’m about to start this new diet and it’s probably the worst possible time to do so. Thanksgiving is TMinus 17 days away. And there is only 23 more days left in November entirely (can I stop a second and say WOW… time is going by so fast). But then again I think this might be the best time ever to attempt a diet like this one. If I can make it thru THE food holiday of the year while eating healthy… then I’ve truly avoided gaining the winter weight. Depending on how November goes I may continue the diet into December, to again avoid the winter weight gain.
As time goes on I’ll let you know how difficult this diet is for me. I can tell you right now that chocolate, candy and cookies will be the hardest. The rest may be pretty easy: I rarely eat biscuits, cake, donuts, or muffins. I rarely have pastries, white bread, chips, or fast food. Nutella, peanut butter, and ice cream aren’t even in the house (thank goodness cause I would have a problem avoiding those as well).
Wish me luck!
Inspiration photo 1, to lose weight!

Friday, November 4, 2011

So Halloween has passed and now we're nearing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. This time of year (and especially now that I have my own little family) has got me thinking about family traditions. I have always loved my family time and the few traditions we've practiced throughout the years, so now I can't wait to start making memories with our daughter. She may not remember this first year of traditions but I promise to start taking more pictures, so that we can remember.

So, here are some family traditions (with pictures) I have for inspiration:
-pumpkin carving at halloween, of course

-friday night movie night (and popcorn/Subway/pizza/something else). growing up Vinnie, mom, and i would have a friday night pizza and movie night. Michael's family did something similar with movies and Subway sandwiches. i'm all about movie and _____ night, whether we stick with the yummy and healthy Subway sandwiches or do something fun like homemade pizzas.

-baking cookies on Christmas eve for Santa

-making tamales sometime in Nov. with the hispanic side of my family. we wait until the holiday season because we make SO MANY tamales, and it takes SO MANY hands and SO MUCH time. getting everyone together like its a holiday party is the perfect backdrop for making warm, spicy tamales!

-emptying everyone's stocking on Christmas Eve night. i have no patience -- i want to unwrap my presents and i want everyone else to unwrap theirs!

-decorating the tree, while sipping hot cocoa (or a hotty toddy for mom and dad), and listening to christmas music.

-birthday morning balloon surprise (fill the room with balloons at night so when LO wakes up they are surprised with a room full of balloons)

 And then use the balloons later to hang above the dinner table for the birthday dinner.

-birthday dinner, favorite dish

Of course this would be my choice.
 -new years fondue. its a fun, yet slow way to eat a dinner and dessert!

-thanksgiving rolls (everyone to write what they are thankful for on a small peice of paper, and roll it up in a dinner roll. during dinner you open your roll and try to guess who wrote which thanks)

-birthday and/or new school year pictures. i saw this and thought it was such a great way to make that day (first day of school or birthday) special. take a picture and photoshot on name, age, grade, favorites, friends, etc.

-sunday family dinners. okay so this one should really apply to every day of the week but with two working parents (who knows, maybe mama will be a stay at home one at some point in the future) we might have to do quick, easy, rushed dinners. but at least during Bria's younger years i really want to focus on sitting down at the table every evening for dinner -- even if dinner is soup and sandwich. as she gets older i'd like to focus on Sunday nights if i can't do more than that.

okay so the list is pretty long. as our family grows i hope we get more and more into these events, and we don't lose ourself in the hussle and bustle of every day life. i may be daydreaming here but its so important to me to develop a strong family circle and i guess as we near the holidays i am becoming more and more excited about the future of our family.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

(I typed this up this past weekend. So pretend like you're reading this on Saturday.)


Today Brianna...

1) Rolled over! This morning I set her down on a blanket on the floor (tummy-down) and went into her bedroom to get some toys. When I came back in the room she was on her back! I wasn't all that surprised because she has been trying to roll for weeks now but I praised the heck outa her and made her do it again -- two more times. After the third go-round I tried to video it but she was thru with that business and began getting fussy. More rolling practice tomorrow!

2) Laughed! This evening I set her down in her bouncy/exersaucer chair and tried every goofy face and silly sound in the book, in an attempt to get her to laugh. Finally I started playing pick-a-boo by hiding below the exersaucer and bouncing up. That did the trick and she laughed for me, twice! Michael was a witness so if you don't believe me, ask him.

I'll try to get you some videos of these accomplishments soon. I'm so proud of my little B!

Other topics of interest:

Halloween is this Monday but the competition at work has come and gone. I can now reveal to you that our theme was Batman. We decorated our room to be Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, and the Bat Cave.

All the kids loved the batman costume my boss was sporting!

Don't mind my make up-less face.
I was The Riddler.
The Bat Cave.
My work group.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saw this HEREand had to repost.

If it weren’t for the kids …
We could get a full night’s sleep every night.
We wouldn’t catch every sniffle, flu, and sore throat in town.
We wouldn’t be plagued with nightmares about Teletubbies and purple dinosaurs.
We could reduce the laundry by at least fifty percent.
We could go to the bathroom without an audience.
We could do our grocery shopping in under an hour.
We could have adult phone conversations without five hundred interruptions.
We could leave the house without sixty pounds of just-in-case paraphernalia.
We could get through a whole day without saying, “Because I said so.”
We wouldn’t have hours of “child admin” from school, pediatricians, etc.
We could finish reading the book we started six months ago.
We could have those washboard abs … maybe.
We could sleep in.
We could drive a Mini Cooper instead of a minivan.
We would have more time for a social life, exercise, and R&R.
We would have more money for a social life, exercise, and R&R.
We wouldn’t need a contingency plan just to run a few errands.
We could plan our days around our own agendas instead of the kids’ activities.
We could avoid the cliquey circles of moms.
We wouldn’t have to explain why the sky is blue.
We wouldn’t have the chance to dance in the rain.
We might forget to smell the flowers.
We wouldn’t laugh as much.
We wouldn’t take as many naps.
We would take ourselves too seriously.
We would gloss over the wonder that is all around us.
We wouldn’t get to relive our favorite childhood adventures at storytime.
We would forget how to see the magic in a seashell.
We wouldn’t have the courage to sing out loud or somersault down the lawn.
We wouldn’t have the chance to get closer to our neighbors and community.
We wouldn’t get to rediscover the child inside us.
We wouldn’t get to see the world through new eyes in a way that makes us smile.

If it weren’t for the kids, our lives wouldn’t be as rich and full and challenging and rewarding and infuriating and blissful as they are. If it weren’t for the kids, none of it would mean a thing.
It’s official. We’ve survived a week of me being back at work. I think all three of us (Michael, Bria, and I) have each had to adjust to the new schedule. Me with being back at work, trying to recall all of the information I’ve been away from for three months. Michael with being with Bria, and Bria being with Michael. Roles have changed and schedules are forming and I think the longer we go the more “normal” it will feel. For now I can only speak for myself when I talk about how the changes have affected me, and that is pretty simple: I miss my family. Being away from Michael and Bria is hard but I’m taking the return to my job seriously. It’s not just a job anymore, it’s our income. It’s how we survive. And on the topic of my job: wish me luck because at this point next week (or maybe even sooner) I will know whether or not I will be offered a job promotion. My intercompany interview is this afternoon and although I feel as ready as I’ll ever be for the job, interviews are always so intimidating. I’m nervous but I’m ambitious too. I want this new job for my family. I want to give them more. So, again, please wish me luck/send me prayers/cross your fingers for me today around 11am.
I returned to work at the right/busy time. This week (Friday) we’ll be busy with our Annual Halloween Contest. I LOVE Halloween so I’m in the right place; my office takes the holiday seriously. We don’t just tack up paper spiders and wear witch hats. We don’t just put a bowl of candy on our desks. We don’t just wear plastic masks or send out Happy Halloween emails. No sir. We go ALL OUT. Each team meets for months prior, deciding on a good theme, and then the week of everyone transforms their work space into the designated theme. And by “transform” I mean ceilings are covered with black trash bags, cubicle walls are disguised with contact paper/aluminum foil/whathaveyou. And to top it off we compete – I won best costume last year for this beauty:

And my team won a pizza party for coming in 1st place. Last year we decorated our area in a space theme. We dressed up as aliens, astronauts, and I came as a robot (obviously). The year before we also came in 1st place; that year we decorated the work area as Captain Hook’s ship and we dressed up as characters from Peter Pan.
Check out the aluminum-wrapped cubicles.

Peter Pan! We all got together one Saturday and built the ship facade.

I miss my short hair :\
So as reigning 1st place title holders we feel the pressure to maintain our status this year. I would tell you what we’ve decided to decorate/dress up as but there are spies everywhere. You’ll have to come back later to see pics and to find out if we won again!
As for the personal life, Michael and I are planning our second date night for this upcoming Sunday. If money and time allowed for it we would dress up and go out to a party, and get shmammered like old times. However getting shmammered isn’t as appealing as it used to be, and money goes towards diapers/formula instead of costumes. So instead we’re gonna scare ourselves silly by going to see a scary movie (aka, I’ll be scared silly while Michael rolls his eyes at the attempt), and go out to eat (lesson learned from first date night: find a slightly higher-priced establishment to find a place less likely to be populated with children. We love our daughter but on date nights we want to be without child, not surrounded by them). I also need to spend some time this week making Bria’s costume. Although she won’t be going anywhere wearing it, it’s still Halloween! She needs to get dressed up, daggumit!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Most of my motherly musings don’t occur to me until the end of the day, when I’m rocking my sleepy baby to sleep. I’ll sit there, holding her close, watching her eyelids slowly droop until her lashes are lightly resting against her cheeks. In the dark, back and forth, and there goes my mind; pondering the day, and more. Most of the time I get excited about sharing these thoughts with you, blog, but more often than not the opportunity to actually type said thoughts out never arises.

Except for today. Here are some of my musings…

1.     Comfort food. The tem “comfort food” has an entirely different meaning to me now that I have a baby. When Brianna has passed the point of no return, and in full out freak out mode, nothing can comfort her but mother’s milk. No being held, not being walked around, not be shushed, not being patted, not sucking on a pacifier, not talked to. NOTHING will help but being cradled in my arms and having a bite to eat. Food (breast milk) is her only comfort in those terrible moments. And it makes me think about food that I consider a comfort as an adult; warm, hearty meals like lasagna, chicken noodle soup, and macaroni and cheese. A happiness washes over me when I eat these foods. And I wonder if the obesity problem plaguing America has anything to do with comfort food and being comforted by food as an infant. Sure, right now B is too young to tell me what upsets her so I do what I can to calm her. And for now if that means giving her boob juice then that is what I do. But eventually she will be weaned off breast milk and she’ll begin to eat solids. In some people’s lifeline, do their parents allow them treats when they are upset – continuing the self soothing with food? Which then becomes their key to being happy? I hate to correlate comfort food with obesity, and with babies no less, but it’s the sad truth that comfort food = calories. I hope little B enjoys her comfort food now because I will try my darndest to feed her the healthiest meals possible (and tastiest).

2.     Being rocked to sleep. While watching my little baby slowly drift off to sleep, I can also feel her body change from aware and awake, to oblivious, comfortable, and dreaming. When she is ultimately limp against my body I know she is ready to be put in her crib but sometimes I hold her a little bit longer because I just love looking upon her little face. And tonight I thought about how comfortable she looked, and how comfortable it must be to have someone cradle you. Imagine laying down in a cushy, warm, wonderful-smelling, temperpedic, form-fitting bed that sways in a comforting motion. It sounds like heaven to me. I just hope that God can cradle and rock me to sleep one day when I’m heaven (yes, I realize that we probably won’t sleep in heaven… although I do wish we would. Falling to sleep, dreaming, being asleep, and waking up after a good restful sleep is just beautiful).

3.    Baby brain research. I wonder if there has been some sort of baby brain research done? Has anyone ever monitored the brain activity in newborns as they learn? As they sleep? If someone has done this then they need to have a camera crew record it, have Tom Hanks narrate it, and they need to show the finished show on Discovery Health because I’d totally watch it. Bria smiles in her sleep and she also has freaked out in her sleep for short periods of time (5 seconds-ish). Watching her learn is amazing and sometimes I feel like I am having a conversation with her. So they say not to indulge too much in “baby talk” (goo goo, gaga), but honestly sometimes I do it. Most of the time I talk to her normally but sometimes I let myself slip into her language. I mimick her sounds and elongated vowels and she looks at me with wide eyes and curious smiles. This morning we went back and forth in baby language for a long time; and it was fun! I don’t do this all the time, but I see nothing wrong with doing it occasionally. I wonder what is going thru her mind when I do this; or when I speak to her normally.

4.     Women who kill their children. I know, sick and sad. But hear me out. I wonder if those women have some sort of hormone deficiency. More specifically a deficiency of oxytocin. Something MUST be off balance because I can’t understand how a mother could kill her child; it seems impossible to me. No matter how frantic Brianna cries or how ever much sleep I don’t get, I don’t ever get NEAR understanding those mothers. Not even close. Someone should interview women who have either killed their children or who have purposefully caused their children harm to see if they breastfed their babies. Not that bottle-fed babies are from mothers who are any less loving than breastfeeding mothers; not my point at all. I know for some moms it is impossible to breastfeed, and for others its a personal choice not to. Heck, my B will soon be transitioned to bottle and I can't see that changing how I feel about her at all! But... I’d be interested to know what the statistics were. It would also be interesting to know if those ladies had a dip in their oxytocin levels, or if they had some sort of pituitary gland malfunction.

“The endocrine system is extremely complex and involves many different kinds of hormones, each with its particular influence on the baby’s body, but there is one that deserves a special mention. This is the hormone called oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormones” or, more romantically, the “hormone of love.” It is made in the hypothalamus and released into the blood system via the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

When we speak of the “chemistry” between two young lovers, oxytocin is the chemical in quesiton. When couples who describe themselves as “madly in love” are tested, they are found to have higher than normal levels of oxytocin. During orgasm there is a sudden burst of oxytocin, revealing that these peak moments of sexual pleasure also function as powerful bonding experiences. Making love literally makes love. And a similar process occurs between a mother and her baby.

As a woman gives birth, her endocrine system releases oxytocin, preparing her chemically to feel loving toward the tiny being she is about to hold in her arms. Some of the oxytocin crosses the placenta and also helps to reduce the stress levels of the baby after the painful pressures of birth. Later, breast-feeding causes a further release of oxytocin, creating relaxation and feelings of emotional attachment.

Interestingly, with bottle-fed babies there is a hormonal difference between those who are fed rather mechanically, and those who are given the bottle while at the same time being closely cuddled by the parent. The cuddled infants show higher levels of oxytocin, revealing that the hormone’s release in the baby can be stimulated simply by loving contact.

It follows from this that, during the early days of infancy, the more intimate contact there is, the stronger will be the emotional attachment, thanks to the high levels ofoxytocin that are being maintained. Furthermore, the baby that experiences prolonged elevated levels of this hormone during the earliest days will also enjoy a great reduction in stress-hormone responses. This can have a lasting effect, helping to create a secure adult later in life.”

--Amazing Baby by Desmond Morris

And that is the end of my musings for tonight. Phew… glad I got that out. J

Is it weird that one reason I’m looking forward to going back to work is to spend my break time writing blogs? I have so many mom thoughts going thru my mind throughout the day, and so many things I want to get down on digital-paper so that B can read it all later… but no time to actually make the transition from mind to keyboard.

So much is happening and so much needs to happen before I go back to work in 9 days. At that point we’ll see if I actually get more time to share my thoughts and events in our lives. Until then just know that being a mom is great! I wouldn’t change in for the world. I love our life and am still looking forward to improving it as we go.

B at 2 months and 2 weeks old!