Month: May 2013

This one is for my radioactive pancake

Diego’s journey began more than a year ago. I can say without hesitation that this time last year I was feeling miserable and frightened. I felt so sick that I feared that I would never feel normal again. I fretted over never being able to eat and I grew increasingly concerned over my ability to provide a habitable environment for my baby. Times were tough and as I descended deeper into my pregnancy with no signs of my incessant nausea letting up I looked for ways to distract myself from my martyrdom. 

Sometimes when we are at our lowest a bright shining star emerges to light our darkness. I had a slew of friends and family sympathetically checking up on me and sometimes offering sage advice. One of my favorite people was my radioactive pancake. She knows who she is. She and I would have silly conversations about lots of things unrelated to crackers and ginger ale. I can’t even remember what we talked about but I do remember being up into the wee hours of the night talking about everything and nothing at all. 

She is much younger than I am but is so mature in her disposition that I often forget about the thirteen years that separate us. She is a kind soul, she would always ask me how I was feeling and showed concern for my unborn child. Such things are often beyond the scope of a fourteen year old but she has always harbored in her heart a deep and pure love that I treasure more than she knows. I am convinced that our late night shenanigans helped calm my mind and in turn fostered a calm home for Diego before we even knew he would indeed be Diego. 

When I think about those days I can’t forget my fellow pregnancy buddy who was often miserable in different ways and who commiserated with me on all things pregnancy related. We often drank from the same haterade cup and come to think of it we still do. I also can’t forget mom, in many ways she is my best friend and extension of myself. She is also the person who smacks me around and tells it like it is. She was the one to put up with my terrible moods at times (she spared you all!). I’m moody by nature so she is still putting up with me.

I could thank a lot of people for various things they gave to me when I was feeling like a fish out of water but this special post is for the one who sometimes needs to be reminded. That she is special, important, beautiful, and full of what matters most: love.

imageRadioactive Pancake and I a very long time ago 🙂

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Bilingual parenting

I was just writing a post for my other blog, which I write in Spanish. What a workout. I actually feel mentally exhausted. While I speak Spanish everyday I don’t write it outside of informal texts and emails. Writing a blog is good practice. I don’t struggle to write it per se but sometimes I get stuck on a word or phrase and I need to look it up to make sure I am making sense. 

This flexing of my written Spanish muscle is a good thing especially considering that I am in the process of raising Diego to speak Spanish. I am not going to tell anybody how to raise their children, rather I am going to share my reasons for choosing to give Diego what I consider to be the best of both worlds. Firstly I think that speaking more than one language is of great benefit in a world that has become more global. We are not insulated, the internet and social media have connected us in ways that continue to evolve and amaze. 

More importantly, to me at least, we have family that do not speak English and I would like for Diego to be fully able to interact with them instead of nod and acknowledge without being able to express himself. There are many more reasons including if you can, why not?

I suspect that there are people who might disagree with my endeavor. I’ve had people scoff and dismiss me as an idealist attempting something foolish. To me it is foolish not to try to do something because it is difficult, or because other people don’t think it’s important. Language is extremely important. Communication is the basis of human interaction. We all communicate all the time. 

We have had to make some changes in our home in order to foster an environment that will promote Spanish as the primary language.  The plan is to speak to Diego exclusively in Spanish and allow English to wash over him and seep in from the outside in. It sounds simple enough except that it’s not. Luis and I don’t speak to each other in Spanish! It is something that we are changing and it’s difficult to break that habit but we are working on everyday. 

During the day I often have Nick Jr. or the Disney Channel on in the background for an hour or so. Diego doesn’t pay much attention to the television but he is listening and becoming familiar with the flow, diction and order of the English language. In my research I have found that learning two languages simultaneously doesn’t confuse or harm children. They might learn a little slower than their single language peers but it’s not a hindrance to language development. 

I cannot foresee how this will all play out. I do not know if Diego will reject Spanish and prefer English. I believe his attitude will be partially formed depending on what we nurture at home. I do not want him to be ashamed of his Hispanic/Latino roots. I want him to embrace them, celebrate them and if the time calls for it defend them. 

In time I hope that he is able to read in Spanish so that he too can read and possibly enjoy the literary gems that we have. La Charca by Manuel Zeno Gandia, Cronica de una muerte anunciada by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and La Resaca by Enrique Laguerre are works I hope he is able to read in their original Spanish form. 

I had the privilege of growing up with both languages and as such I have enjoyed the benefits and perks of a library of music and books twice as large. I’m flying blind but I will let instinct and common sense be my guide. Diego, too. Because it’s all about him and I will listen.

Sweet potato puree

Out of all the solids he has tried I would say that sweet potatoes are Diego’s favorite. He always finishes his portion of these. I decided to share how I make it. It’s quick and easy and you don’t need expensive equipment to make it. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post I decided to go with the Baby Bullet for my baby food making needs. If you have a food processor already then you don’t need anything else. I tried using my blender but it’s not really good for making smaller portions and when I tried to use mine the results were not good. 

You will need: a food processing apparatus of your choice, a cutting board, a knife, one sweet potato, a vegetable peeler (if you have one but a knife would work as well) and some water. You will also need a place to store extra puree. I choose to steam my vegetables and I have a stainless steel basket for that. You could boil the potatoes or use an electric steamer. 

I cut the potatoes into pieces of a manageable size for the Baby Bullet. 

While I am cutting them up I place a couple of inches of water into the pot I am using to steam the vegetable. I then dump the sweet potato pieces into the basket and put the lid on it. 

I then set my favorite owl timer for twenty minutes. Depending on how large your pieces are and how much you are steaming it could take more or less time. I check them after about 15 minutes. Remember to check the water level and add more as needed. 

The potatoes are done when they are soft enough that you can easily pierce them with a toothpick or skewer. I like to lay them out on a cookie sheet for them to cool before pureeing. 

Once cooled it’s time to put them in the batch bowl and blend away. I initially added a cup of water but found the puree to be too stiff so I added a little more until it was how I wanted it. 

What I like to do is make enough to freeze a little and have a few jars for immediate use. I use this silicone tray that came with the Baby Bullet. A good idea is to freeze the puree and then pop out the servings and place them in a zip lock back labeled with the date they were made. You can then reuse the silicone tray and repeat. 

In addition to the six servings I placed in the freezer I also got four jars out of that one sweet potato. That’s a total of ten servings from a sweet potato that cost me 92 cents!

A nice feature that the Baby Bullet jars have is the date dial that allows you to select the date it was made so you always know when to use it by. 

Lastly you need a hungry baby to eat it all up!

*If you were to make a bigger batch you could even save a little of the potatoes before adding the water and puree them with some seasonings and chicken stock. This would be delicious over pasta with a side of chicken and vegetables. The adults need to eat, too!*

Sleepy

It’s the word I use to describe myself most often. The fact that I’m a night owl doesn’t help matters. No matter how tired I am all day I get a second wind in the evening that doesn’t let up no matter how hard I try. Today was a particularly drowsy day for me. I fell asleep on the couch while Diego jumped in his bouncing chair. I must’ve dozed for about thirty minutes or so. I had Nick Jr. on in the background and I think I pretty much missed an entire episode of Max and Ruby. 

Diego only glances at the television occasionally but I like the background noise, the exposure Diego gets to English, and I actually enjoy some of what comes on. Max and Ruby, Team Umizoomi, and the Bubble Guppies are my favorites.

My cat nap was nothing short of unsatisfying and after being awoken by Diego’s complaints that he was ready to move onto other things we returned upstairs where I set up our play area on the floor. Because the floor is carpeted it serves as a softer landing spot should he topple over. I also lay a comforter out to further cushion his fall as well as provide a clean surface for us to play and even nap. 

I put him down for his first nap at around eleven or so, maybe a little earlier. He only slept for forty minutes which only allowed me some time to relax and gather my wits for a bit. We then joined Ustream and broadcast our happy selves for a while before trying for nap number two a little after two o’clock. This time the nap took and we both slept for two hours! I really needed that nap. I didn’t even notice I was on the floor. Diego slept for a little longer than me and woke up refreshed and happy. 

When the third member of our party arrived home I was treated to some Cold Stone. It was delicious. I wish I had taken a picture to share here but I was in the moment and gobbled it up before I remembered I even had a blog.

The three of us are spending the day together tomorrow so I hope to be able to rest. Now that Diego is mobile he’s an even bigger handful and even though it’s fun and I love it I need some rest so I can keep up with him.  

Nap time

Nap time is the quietest time in the house. I used to try to do one of two things during nap time: try to nap myself or try to be productive. There is a third option: do something for yourself. If you want to nap, nap. If you want to sit and stare do it! The first few months were the easiest for me. Diego napped for long periods and I managed to have the house tidy and dinner going by the time L got home. It’s a lot harder to do that now. Diego is full of energy and needs constant interaction. That’s what I devote most of my time to because in my mind that’s why I am a stay-at-home-mom. Sometimes chores pile up and that’s ok. For as long as it takes you to figure things out it’s all right for the house to look as if you’ve just had a baby. 

Living in a two-story affords me some space that will remain unseen by the average guest. I try to keep my living room presentable at all times and the kitchen gets cleaned daily. Upstairs is a different story. Aside from keeping things clean I don’t often keep them tidy. It’s messy up there for days at a time. Thankfully my husband is not averse to household chores and he takes on a large chunk of them. Nobody organizes a drawer like he does and I can admit that he sometimes takes the time to organize mine. Chastising me the entire time, haha. 

When he cleans up after dinner he doesn’t just load the dishwasher. He vacuums the rugs and mops the floors. He doesn’t do anything half way…unlike me. I take shortcuts all the time when it comes to household stuff. I often feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. I spend my day playing and caring for Diego. It gets pretty lonely but I multi-task and keep up with friends and family in between feedings and diaper changes. Texting is easiest because you can drop and pick up conversations at your leisure. Words with friends gives me something to do for a few minutes at a time each day and the chat feature gets plenty of use as well. 

I don’t know what I would do without my little group of friends and family who check in on me and keep me entertained and indulge me when I complain about running on no sleep while having so much to do. They’re the same ones who get excited about every picture and video I share with them. They are the reason I don’t feel alone. So thank you to Lucy, Emily, Jessica, Erin, Lydia, Gretchen and my mom. 

The biggest thank you goes out to my husband who blows me away everyday. He’s a hands-on father who can pick up wherever I leave off without missing a step. There are tons of great dads out there and Diego is lucky enough to have one of them. 

This post is brought to you by nap time. The best time to quietly do anything I want without the guilt. I’d try to nap but with my luck he will wake up as soon as I close my eyes. 

Mini Luis

I am convinced that Diego bears the strongest resemblance to Luis. I suppose he has something of me in there but his dominant traits come from his father. Oddly enough people try to talk me out of this belief out of misplaced sympathy. I don’t really understand why they would assume that I would be upset in some way by their remarks that he looks exactly like his dad! 

It’s not a secret. I have eyes. 

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The last photo was very obviously taken by somebody who knows what they are doing. That person is not me 😉 Thank you to L for it ❤

Hitting milestones

I’ve heard of parents who obsess about their children’s development. They want their babies to be the best and the brightest. They gloat when their baby did it first in comparison to their friends’ babies. This is disturbing and I am so glad I do not have anybody like this in my life. Comparison in this sense never does any good. 

Babies are different and development happens on a continuum that allows for large differences that do not amount to any developmental problems. I think it’s fine to discuss where your baby is at and the challenges that each particular phase poses but it’s the intent behind any note comparing that is important. 

Diego seems to have zoomed into overdrive these last few milestones. He was a few days shy of seven months when he began saying mama and now at seven months and eleven days he is sitting up on his own, pulling himself up to stand and crawling. For some reason I was under the impression these things wouldn’t happen until he was closer to nine months. To me, all of this mobility is frightening. I do not feel ready for it. I was just telling a friend how I don’t understand why some parents brag about babies who overachieve. It means nothing now. Aside from serious developmental delays that can translate into ongoing problems I don’t see why some parents hold being first and best in such high regard. 

We all want our kids to do well in life, I think that’s pretty universal but when we stop to think about it what standards are we using to measure them against? Most people want their kids to do well in school, others prefer sports, music or art. I just want Diego to be happy. I want him to be able to explore whatever calls to him and excites him. Putting pressure on kids to excel academically does a disservice to them. I do not know where his strengths will be. I don’t think that’s important right now. What is important is knowing what I will do with regards to his weaknesses. I will be supportive. I will encourage him to do his best and when he falls, fails, brings home a bad grade or mucks up in some way I hope that he knows that it’s okay. Most importantly, I hope to never forget that it’s okay. 

Our children are mysteries. I don’t see Diego as a blank slate. I don’t see him as a vessel through which I will live my dreams. I want him to live his own dreams. Right now my plan is to teach him to think, not what just how. 

Today was pulling himself to stand day. He’d been attempting it before but today he was flying solo all over the place. 

Children and the mothers that love them

I had just written a lovely post wherein I was basically vomiting rainbows but for some reason it did not save into my drafts and I am now left without the pretty words I had managed to get down onto cyber paper. Oh well. 

I do not make it a secret that I am not a child lover. Before deciding to have a baby I was undecided as to whether or not I wanted to have a child. Having a baby is a life altering decision that I did not take lightly. Aside from the huge expense, and insurmountable and unknown toll it could take on your body, it is the biggest responsibility one can choose to have. The scary thing about this is that it takes no skill to make a baby. There is no test or standard which one must meet in order to be deemed worthy. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can decide to have a baby. Raising said baby to be a productive member of society is an entirely different issue and the one for which I sometimes wish people should be tested. 

Children are messy, they will be naughty, they will try your patience, they will do things which will make you angry. This is all normal. Kids learn boundaries by pushing against them. They learn through experience. That is part of life. I love that about life. What I don’t love is the obnoxious child who is so due to laissez faire parenting. The bratty child who is rude to complete strangers and whose behavior goes unchecked will probably grow up to be nothing short of a crappy person. 

The above is something I want to avoid. I don’t want to be that mother who loves her child blindly and is deluded into thinking he is perfect. I believe a mother can love her child while recognizing any issues and taking steps to correct them where necessary. 

Perhaps it’s this neurotic way of thinking that was keeping me from taking the leap into parenthood. I decided that the fact that I care enough to think about it all meant that I had a chance of being a good mother. Am I? Will I continue to be?  I suppose those are questions that will only be answered in time. 

Thank you to my lovely sister-in-law who generously shares her talents with us.

My body

I don’t think a blog about a baby should forgo addressing the body that housed him. Most people are eager to get back their pre-baby body once said baby has been evicted. Not me. I don’t want to gain twenty pounds. That is about how much less I weigh. Now before I continue I would like to make clear my distaste for fat shaming, for anything that dictates what a person should look like, weigh, or how they should eat. My health is my business and anybody that polices my body will do so at their own risk. 

I am still overweight and I feel as though I have a long way to go in terms of getting healthy. Before Diego I led a very sedentary lifestyle. A leisurely walk with Scamp was the closest I got to exercising. I did not like what I saw in the mirror and I certainly did not feel good. 

My pregnancy was rough on me. I lost weight and then I gained weight. In total I gained eleven pounds. By the time I left the hospital I had lost those eleven pounds and an additional nine. So I left weighing less than I did before I got pregnant. I decided to take this as a starting point to make changes to my life. 

When Diego was about three months old I decided to join SparkPeople (or Sparkle People as I’ve been known to say) and I began tracking my food. I  also started going out for walks everyday. I walked for about thirty minutes. Some days I would walk a little more. The weather was still nice and Diego was happy to sit in his stroller. Some days I would go out twice a day. I was very committed. As the weeks wore on I started feeling run down. I stopped counting calories but kept my workouts. 

Now that Diego is weaned I am planning on becoming a little stricter in my workouts. It’s not without difficulty. He wakes up often during the night and I have a hard time falling back asleep after waking up so I end up getting very little sleep. Some days I just cannot imagine lacing up and going out. I’ve decided not to beat myself up for it. I was becoming discouraged that I was not making as much progress as I would like. I was failing to see that any progress is progress, that cutting down my time to walk a mile from 30 minutes down to 17-19 minutes is a good thing and that I feel much better in every way as a result of becoming more active. 

Another factor that keeps me motivated to continue my workouts is that having high blood pressure was no fun. I am an anxious person and I hated knowing that there was something wrong with me. Even though I knew that my severe preeclampsia would eventually resolve itself I was not prepared for what it entailed. It came on suddenly with no warning and it lingered. I never want to be on blood pressure medication again. 

I’m going to be brave and share the few pregnant pictures of me that I have. I took them all myself. The only ones I didn’t take were the ones of my baby shower but I look so awful, swollen and have a million chins that I can’t bring myself to share those. 

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Here is what my abdomen looks like now. I honestly almost can’t believe I’m putting this out there but if it helps even just one person feel better about their own body then it’s not for naught. 

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