Friday, March 30, 2012

10 Assumptions Blown Out of the Water During My First Year of Motherhood

Here are some of the Assumptions I had before becoming a Mother....

1.      I would be sore for 6 weeks or so. I knew I was going to be sore. I knew I would bleed. But, I thought after about 6 weeks or so and then I would be feeling mostly better. Nope, my stitches hurt for 3 months. It was difficult to walk or sit. I carried a donut pillow around for ages. Every time I squatted for months afterwards, I ached. Not expecting that one.

2.      I probably would not pump. I didn’t even think I would end up buying a pump. But, with my daughter in the NICU for the first 16 days of her life, the one thing I could do for her was pump my milk. So, I started and haven’t stopped. Pumping means I’ve been able to leave her in the safe hands of her grand-parents countless times. Not expecting that one.

3.      I was NOT going to give my child a pacifier. Like maybe never. Things changed when I was wheeled in the NICU, when she was 6 hours old and caught the nurse about to give her a pacifier. I was not happy. But, the nurse explained that my baby was trying to get pull all her tubes out. Although, she was sedated, she was still uncomfortable and a pacifier was necessary. So, I caved. Not expecting that one.

4.      I have worked with children since I was 19 years old. I’m a teacher for Christsake….I have a degree in patience. One child can’t test your patience that much, can she? The answer is “yes.” I thought I would have a leg-up. Nope. Not expecting that one.

5.      I would LOVE breast-feeding. Don’t get me wrong, I am so very happy that I’ve been able to breast-feed my child for a year (and still going). I just thought it would be a mystical, beautiful bonding experience. There are definitely such moments. But, I have a VERY active child who LOVES to do yoga and gymnastics while nursing. Ummm....not so fun for Mama. She's also easily distracted and nibbles. This translates to nursing frequently....also not so fun for Mama. Not expecting that one.

6.       Cloth Diapers will only be one extra load of laundry a week. Okay, maybe if you have a TON of diapers. But, my husband has not been gung-ho about the cloth diaper thing, so I haven’t been able to buy many diapers. We switched to pocket diapers at 6 months. Right now, we have 9 diapers. That means I’m washing diapers about 4 times a week. Not expecting that one.

7.      I could not survive on being woken up 5-7 times a night for 9 months. Not fun this one. I've only survived by napping with her once a day and by spending 5-6 nights a month at my parents' house. She sleeps in their room and I get some beautifully, uninterrupted sleep. The rest of my days, I soldier through....usually sore, usually cranky in the mornings. But, I'm still going. Not expecting that one.

8.      No plastic crap would be entering my house. I have not bought any plastic crap for my child. But, other (well-meaning) people have and so we do have some loud, plastic toys at our house. My daughter always seems to find where I hide them.  Many of them have found a new home at Dada and Dadi's house (a win-win situation for everyone). She relishes every chance she gets to play with them. Not expecting that one.

9.      My child would not glimpse a television until she was at least 2 years old. Okay, she does not watch T.V. at our house. But, we lived with my in-laws for the first 5 months of her life and they watch a lot of T.V.. I had to accept the fact that she would occasionally be enraptured by various commercials on the Indian channels. Dada tried to get her into watching Nick Jr. (thankfully, she resisted). I just had to bite my tongue. Not expecting that one.

10.   I would love being a stay-at-home mother. This is what I always wanted (at least staying at home for the early years). I knew it was going to rough. And I was right. I just didn't think it was going to be such a struggle. Doing laundry at midnight is not fun. Trying to make conversation at the play-ground is hard. Attempting to do dishes with a fussy toddler attached to your leg is impossible. There are many days, I just want to drop her off at the nearest day-care and not come back for a LONG, LONG time. Not expecting that one. Then, I see this smile....

and listen to her laugh. And, I change my mind (about the dropping her off thing).

There... 10 Assumptions...all gone since this Little Girl entered my life and made me a Mama!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dock, Dandelion and Violets

Spring is racing away from us (even faster than my Little Speed Demon)! I can't believe most of the Daffodils are gone and that the Magnolias have already covered the ground. I spied some Dock, some Dandelions (Dandelion Cordial, anyone?) and one of my favorites....Violets.

Nothing beats Violet Cough Syrup. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll have time to make some this Spring. Hope you're savoring every moment of this Season!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Books That Kept Me Company During My Pregnancy

Preparing for Childbirth and Motherhood is overwhelming (in many, many different ways). People prepare differently. I like classes. So, I took several classes.

 I am a reader. So, I read. Lots and lots of books.

These books were the most helpful to me…

Wise Woman Herbal: The Childbearing Year by Susun S. Weed

Heading Home with Your Newborn:  From Birth to Reality by Laura A. Jana and Jennifer Shu

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Spiritual Midwifery (Fourth Edition) by Ina May Gaskin

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Birthing From Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England and Rob Horowitz

Journey into Motherhood: Writing Your Way to Self-Discovery by Leslie Kirk Campbell

***My internet is down and I’m trying to get ready for Lina’s First Birthday Party on Sunday (you know, the one for now…90 people). Pardon the fact I didn’t provide links to the books. I’ll do that when I have a moment, I promise!

Playing Catch-Up....Happy 6 Month Birthday!

Yay....this is my last catch-up post for Lina's Book of Monthly Letters and Photos.

My Dearest Sunshine,

You are Six Months today! It’s been an Earth-Shattering Month….literally. You experienced your first Earthquake and your first Hurricane, all within four days of each other. Oh, yeah….and you started crawling on September 4th. Watch out World….here you come!

You enjoy playing footsy with Ra-Ra’s cats, feeling your silky hair with your hands, standing ALL the time, sticking out your tongue, swinging on a park swing, opening the drawers in the bathroom, drinking from a metal cup, using your long toes to grab toys, blowing raspberries, pulling yourself up by holding onto Mommy’s pants and picking up Cheerios with your pincher grip.

You are not a fan of teething (you got your first tooth this month), clothes changes, super loud places and having your diaper changed.

Last week, we went for a walk in the rain, while you were in the Ergo. You grabbed the umbrella and helped me hold it. I smiled the entire way home. I can tell you are going to be a Big Help around the house.

Your first funny mannerism was quivering your lip in excitement. You haven’t done that in months and months. A few weeks ago, Ra-Ra and I took you outside to see the cows. You shivered, shook and quivered in joy. And, then, you danced a jig. It was an amazing sight!

Thanks for always making our life interesting and keeping us on our toes. We love our Little Explorer!

Know we love you from the soles of your head to the tippy-top of your head,


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Birthing Month....Lessons Learned While Pregnant

1. Make compression socks your friend. I taught at a Montessori Preschool until I was 8 months pregnant, so I was on my feet constantly (as in I walked a minimum of 5 miles each during my work-day). At 5 months, I started wearing compression socks (the kind that nurses and Elderly people often wear). They were amazing. I had no swelling in my feet until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I have the same shoe size as I did before I was pregnant. Definitely wear a pair.

2. Start getting addicted to Greek yogurt. I followed the Brewer's Diet and consumed at least 80 grams of protein a day (often it would total 100 grams). I ate at least 3 Greek yogurts (they have twice the amount of protein ass regular yogurt), 1-2 eggs, 2-3 glasses of milk and lots of cheese each day (as well as tons of veggies and fruit).

I admit it, I was very serious about my diet while pregnant - I think that had something to do with my daughter being so strong when she was born. (After she was 3 weeks old, we didn't have to worry about supporting her head. She could sit up on her own at 4 months, crawled at 5 1/2 months and walked at 7 1/2 months. Who knows how much my high protein diet had to do with her least a tiny bit...I think).

3. A doula is worth her weight in gold. We paid $350 for  my doula/birth assistant services and I don't know what I would have done without her. Even if you aren't planning on going the natural childbirth route, a doula can be a huge help.

4. If you're interested in a natural childbirth take a Bradley class. You take classes for 12 weeks, so begin a class when you are 5 months or so. A terrific investment ($350) and a great bonding experience. Our midwives required us to take the class and my husband initially kicked his feet at having to attend. But, we learned so much and gained a tremendous amount of confidence that helped BOTH of us during labor.

5. Educate yourself, if you want to breastfeed. I took a class here, read books, attended a La Leche League meeting and watched several videos and it was still hard.

If you live in the MD/NOVA/DC area, it's definitely worth a trip to check out the Breastfeeding Center. At 33 weeks, I went to the Center and had a FREE hour-long bra fitting. I tried on at least 20 different bras and found out the brand that really works for me. The woman who helped really knew her stuff  and it was so wonderful to have bras that I loved BEFORE the baby was born.

6. Find a Lactation Consultant that does home visits before you are Due. Sure you can go to a free classes at a local hospital and drag your newborn. But it's worth the $100-150 to have them visit you at your own house.

7. Walk, walk, and walk. I walked 5 miles daily until I was 8 months and then 2 miles 5 times a week afterwards. I stopped at 41 1/2 weeks but that was because I was busy trying other things to help convince her that it was time to make her Grand Entrance.

I felt really strong during my pregnancy and I'm sure it was because I refused to sit on the couch and eat sweets (not that I didn't occasionally devour some chocolate cake...but I was constantly being offered super-sugary sweets by my Indian relatives which meant I had to have a lot of self-restraint). Yoga and swimming also helped.

8. Do a belly cast. Yes, plaster does make a mess in your bathroom. And, yes, your partner may complain about doing the cast. But, it is so worth it in the end. Priceless (just like the commerical says).

9. Hire a post-partum doula for a massage afterwards. Your body has just been through the ringer - a massage feels heavenly (my mother was very sweet and treated me to one).

There are my 2 cents (and more)....Hope you can glean something from my experiences. Good-luck and take care of yourself!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Birthing Month....Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

American Red Raspberry
American Red Raspberry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Red Raspberry Leaf Tea" is a wonderful tonic for women during pregnancy and afterwards. I drink it religiously during the first day or two of my period. It's a life-saver with cramps.

A few years back, when I was subbing at my local Baltimore City school, one of the teacher assistants was having awful cramps. I lived half a mile away, so during my lunch break I went home and brewed up Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. She drank it and later asked me what was in it, her pain stopped so quickly.

Infusions are different than brewing up a cup of tea. The magic number is 7. If you are using tea bags, the ratio should be 7 teabags to 1 cup of water.

If I don't grow the herb, I usually buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs. They come in plastic bags, so I generally store them in mason jars or other glass jars.

How to Make an Infusion with Leaves....

1. Take two handfuls of cut-up leaves or three handfuls of whole leaves.

2. Put in glass quart jar.

3. Fill to top with boiling water.

4. Put lid on
5. Steep for four hours or overnight in the fridge.

I reuse the leaves 2-3 times by just filling up the jar again with boiling water.

According to Susun Weed (herbalist extraordinaire and writer of the book Herbal for the Childbearing Year )....

Rubus is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. Most of the benefits ascribed to regular use of Raspberry leaf tea throughout the pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragine or to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant.

She lists the following; vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, vitamin A and B complex, phosphorous and potassium. That sounds like an awful lot of goodness, doesn't it?

**** A Reminder, please check with your Doc and get the okay, okay? ******
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Playing Catch-Up....Happy 5 Month Birthday!

I'm beat.

This weekend was Birthday Party Preparin' Time. (There is still SO much to do in the next week...I won't bore you with the details). But, it means the only writing that happened was finishing up Lina's Book of Monthly Letters and Photos. Here is her 5th Month Letter...

To Our Darling Daughter,

You will be 5 months old in 3 days! You are our roly-poly little chatter-box.

You can sit up now for 20 minutes straight. You can go from tummy to sitting up. You practice all day long getting on all fours, lifting your head and smiling straight ahead. You look so pleased with yourself and then your head drops and you smack your face in the bed.

You are obsessed with computers and trying to type. Your Daddy got out his old laptop (one of the first ever made) and you practice on it. You love looking at tags on toys, and pillows and sheets. We call you our little “Safety Inspector.”

Every time you see someone eating you smack your lips. We have given you little tastes from several fruits. So far, you have tried watermelon, peach, mango, banana and blueberry juice.

You have a special cry for Mommy; everyone says it sounds like you are saying “mmmuuummm.” When you see Mommy, you reach your arms out for me to pick you up.

You are still going to bed around 12 am and getting up around 9:30 – 10 am. You usually take a nap at lunch time and then possibly one more nap later. We are still waiting for you to return to sleeping through the night. Please take pity on your poor tired Mommy and stop waking her up eight times a night.

Like most babies your age, you put everything in your mouth. You are continuing to teeth, although no sign of any teeth, yet. But we are very happy with that because we love seeing your toothless smile. We feel so lucky to have such a happy baby full of endless smiles.

You get so excited to see your Daddy, Dada, Dadi, Grandma and Grandpa. You have really started loving to be out in nature and observe all the green around you. We think we may have a budding scientist on our hands.

You are our sunshine and we are so very grateful for each day we share with you.

Know you are very, very loved,
Mommy and Daddy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Playing Catch-Up....Happy 4 Month Birthday!

My Dearest Sunshine,

Summer is in full-swing and you have turned four-months old. The big news is that now can roll over. First, you went from back to tummy and now you can go from tummy to back. You are growing up too fast for Mommy and Daddy.

You love grabbing your toes, flapping your arms like a little bird, reaching for Mommy when you want to be picked up, feeling your ears, singing, sticking out your tongue, blowing bubbles, and getting in the plastic pool with Ra-Ra.

You actively reach for everything, so we have to be careful when you sit on our laps at a table. I know this is just the beginning!

You played peek-a-boo with Mommy for the first time by using a bed-sheet to hide your face. It was a lot of fun. You laugh out loud now without being tickled. It’s the most beautiful sound in the World. You let Mommy and Daddy know when you are tired by rubbing your eyes. Thank you, that’s very helpful!

This month was the first time you were away from Mommy for 24 hours. Mommy and Daddy went to Jav Uncle’s and Clare Auntie’s wedding in D.C.. We missed you….but you had a wonderful, wonderful time with your grand-parents.

Know you are very, very loved..
Your Mama

Friday, March 23, 2012

Birthing....A Closer Partnership through Daily Temperature Readings

My husband gave me the best birthday present last Month. We attended an intense four-day Marriage Enrichment class where P.A.I.R.S. skills were taught by Ellen and Chuck Purcell.  Besides giving birth, it was one of my most profound experiences of my life.

We crammed in a lot of learning during the 28 hours of class. P.A.I.R.S. training has been around for 30 years or so and is highly respected by many therapists.  I have already mentioned how we learned about the importance of engaging in Caring Behaviors, here in this post.

Periodically, I will be explaining some of the skills we were taught in our workshop. Of course, nothing beats going to an actual class…if you have the chance, jump on it. But, that’s not always that’s why I’m going to be sharing some of these helpful skills.

The cornerstone of P.A.I.R.S is a tool called “Daily Temperature Readings.” A lot of the tools feel clunky and artificial but start feeling natural once they become part of your daily vocabulary. My husband and I have had fun making this part of our family life.

We did an interesting warm-up exercise before diving into practicing our Daily Temperature Readings. First, we were asked to talk to each other while standing back to back. I kept fighting the urge to turn around and look at my husband. Try it….

Next, one partner stood looking straight away while the other person stood with their back to their partner at a ninety degree angle. This also felt strange.

Then, one partner stood over their sitting partner, afterwards we switched positions. Besides a sore neck, this position made the sitter feel very powerless.

Our final position found both of us sitting in chairs, with our knees touching, holding hands and looking each other in the eye. In P.A.I.R.S, it is referred to as the “leveling position.” When you do your Daily Temperature Reading, you should do so while sitting in the “leveling position.”

It is also essential to always ask your partner if they have time to do a Daily Temperature Reading and to give them an estimate of how long the process will take (a Daily Temperature Reading can easily be done in 5 minutes or so).

Once you’ve asked permission and are sitting in the “leveling position” it’s time….baby….

Here are the Steps of a Daily Temperature Readings

1.      Provide some appreciation (I really appreciate how you folded the laundry, even though it’s my job…Thank you).

2.      Share some New Information (I found some really well-made sandals for the Baby Girl on Zappos).

3.      Share something that Puzzled you (I am puzzled as to why got off the phone with me so quickly today).

4.      Express a complaint with a request for change (It really upsets me when you leave your socks on the sofa, could you please put them in the hamper?)

5.      Share a Hope, Wish and/or Dream (I am really hoping that we can have a Date Night next week).

6.      Give each other a long hug.

7.      Other partner’s turn.

Bam….that’s it. Really straight-forward, right? Ellen and Chuck explained that some couples leave P.A.I.R.S. and only incorporate Daily Temperature Readings into their lives. Doing this several times a week has been enough to completely transform marriages. It’s amazing how just spending less than 10 minutes a day can bring a couple closer!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Creme Cheese Frosting

I'm going to start out by saying...I'm NOT a baker. Baking is a Science - cooking an Art. And, I am definitely an Artist.

I made these cupcakes last night for my daughter's Birthday. This may have been only the second or third time I have ever made cupcakes.

She's having two rounds of eating (and smooshing and smashing) today, so I wanted something kinda healthy. She likes bananas and my Mother-in-law had some very ripe ones...bam...easy choice.

Plus, I had enough batter left over to make extras to freeze for a quick breakfast down the road. Definitely put them in the fridge...they are tastier cold. All in all, they turned out well. The Birthday Girl LOVED them, so I'm happy.

I found this recipe from Group Recipes, right here. Enjoy!!!


  • 3 cups flour (I used unbleached whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (I only had 1 cup of sugar so I used brown sugar for the rest)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/8 cups canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed                                                 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

    Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened                                                 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened                                                 
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard sized muffin pan with muffin liners or spray with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix until just blended.Fill muffin cups a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 - 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

  • While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar

  • Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, ice them and enjoy!

  • *TIP: I did not have time to make cupcakes, so I just threw the whole batter into a lightly greased 13X9 inch pan! And it finished baking around 35 minutes. I let it cool until it was a little warm, then frosted it. And immediately put it into the fridge, to get the frosting nice and hard. The next day it was even yummier! My whole family and I went crazy for it!

Birth Story Rememberances as Told by Papa Bear

Do you remember what the last few days were like while we were trying to naturally induce?

Hectic. Eventful.  Scary.  You tried the caster oil. I remember sleeping on the bathroom floor with you one night. 

What were you most surprised about during the 20 hours or so, I labored?
I was surprised how you could stay awake. I couldn’t believe it.

What do you think helped me most during my labor?
Me…being in the same room with you. Gwen’s visualizations really helped out.

What do you remember saying to me?
I love you. You’re going a great job. Drink water.

What do you remember me saying to you?
Don’t leave me. That’s it. You didn’t say much to me. You just said “I can’t do this” during the 20-30 minutes of transition.

Describe my labor in three words.
Long.  Heroic.  Intense.

Describe my delivery in three words. 
Long. Stressful.  Noisy.

At what point, did you feel like she was going to be okay?
When she finally cried after the first minute.

I Survived. We Survived.

This exact time last year, I was undergoing the most intense physical test of my life. My labor finally started around eleven pm on the 20th (after four days of strong encouragement...including two nights of caster oil, having my membranes stripped twice and my midwife attempting to break my waters three times).

Fourteen days after my due date, my daughter was born at home at 6:55 pm on March 21st, 2011.

Mother Nature is a very, very smart Lady because I can no longer remember the exact sensation of laboring without any drugs. All I know is that I was truly, truly tested.

These past 12 months have also been a test. I've wanted to put down the pencil and walk out of class more times than I can count. I knew it was going to be hard. I just didn't know it was going to be THIS hard.

I've been elbowed in the eye, kicked in the stomach, kneed in the nose, bit, slapped, pinched, head-butted and I am still standing.

I am still here.

I Survived.

We Survived.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pardon Me While I Play

I decided my blog needed a tiny bit of tweaking. Bye-bye... red I feel like blue ties in more with my name. The Catoctin Mountains are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so this change seemed natural.

Okay, so I have a feel questions for those folks who have visited my blog before.

Do you like the wood?

How is the color change working for you?

Do you like the addition of the Popular Posts?

What other changes would you recommend?

Thanks so much and I hope you are enjoying this glorious First Day of Spring!

Sleep Aid and Anti-Anxiety Tincture

My husband wasn’t feeling well the other night and kept constantly sneezing. He asked for some drops of my Sleep Aid and Anti-Anxiety Tincture. It usually knocks him out within five minutes or so.

Valerian Root has NO effect on me, but it works very well on my husband and his parents. Herbs are interesting because they work so differently on each person.

Valerian is a common sedative, as is Skullcap. Neither affect me. I once brewed some Skullcap tea for someone I was dating…it totally knocked them out but I was still wide awake. Chamomile is a common sedative but it gives me a belly-ache. 

When I need a calming herb, I usually reach for Linden Flower (it makes a lovely tea and is thought to be safe during pregnancy, so I drank it frequently when I was pregnant).

It’s essential when working with herbs to listen to your body and observe your reactions very carefully…the smaller the dose the better to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions (like Chamomile's affect on me). Here is my recipe for this particular batch of…

Sleep Aid and Anti-Anxiety Tincture

1.       Fill glass jar 1/3 full of Valerian Root.

2.       Pack in Lavender Flower buds until there is only 1/3 of jar remaining.

3.       Add Lemon Balm and Marjoram to the top of the jar.

4.       Pour in Brandy to the very tippy top of the jar.

5.       Put on lid.

6.       Shake.

7.       Label properly (VERY important, always include date).

8.       Place on shelf in a dark location for 6 weeks or more.

9.       Shake occasionally (I usually forget this part).

10.   Strain out tincture and discard plant material (I often don’t do this because the tincture becomes more potent with the plant material still remaining in it. Some folks don’t like the look…to each their own).

11.   Administer 40 drops or so in a beverage of choice (which is water for me).

It’s usually a good idea to only take this tincture when you can sleep for a while…otherwise you may feel groggy in the morning.

***A reminder….I’m not an MD, so have a chat with yours before taking any herbs or supplements. The info I am providing is for educational purposes only…Thank you! Hope this is helpful!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Playing Catch-up...Happy 3 Month Birthday!

To My Sunshine,

Summer is here and we are having fun! We celebrated Daddy’s 27th birthday with a big BBQ, joined lots of friends at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Memorial Day, went to Dada’s company picnic and welcomed your first first cousin into the world (we are so glad Jay is finally here).

You went to Durga Temple for the first time and were blessed by the priests. You seemed very fascinated by all the shrines and altars and didn’t make a peep while we walked around and prayed…this made Dada and Dadi very proud. You wore the Indian tunic Dadi brought back from her trip to India in January.
Winston has become part of the family (he’s your new monkey pacifier that you insist on putting in your mouth all by yourself). Winston helps you go to sleep sometimes. This month has seen a big change in your sleeping habits. Now that you have learned how to nurse while Mommy is lying down next to you, you want to do it all the time. Gone are the days of you sleeping for 5-8 hour stretches, now you are waking up 5 times a night! We think part of the change is a result of you refusing to be swaddled anymore. Sigh.

Like most babies, you love looking at yourself in the mirror. You spend much of the day examining your hands, pulling up your shirt to show off belly (I wonder where you get that one from?), babbling and putting your hands in your mouth. It appears that you have begun teething. Sorry…that’s the not fun part of being a baby.
What you do have fun doing is sitting in your bouncy chair and pulling your bird ring to make it chirp, sitting on Mommy’s hip in a sling and practicing going from flat on your back to standing by holding onto Mommy’s fingers. One of your favorite things to do is to stand on someone’s lap (with help). You stood in the grass for the first time this month and seemed intrigued by the sensation.

The most beautiful sound in the world is your laugh. You laugh very loudly when tickled on your ribs. But you also laughed out-loud at one of Daddy’s jokes. You think Mommy’s bathroom joke is also pretty funny. We are all so very smitten.

Know you are very, very loved,

First Birthday Updates

I’m in in disbelief that my daughter will be turning One on Wednesday. Who is this Independent Miss? And what did she do with my Baby?
 Luckily, we still have two weeks until her Birthday Party.
Last weekend, we visited the birthday location with my In-Laws to better visualize our set-up and the table situation.  It’s looking like we will have around 80 people. We have to figure out whether we can have tables out here…

And here…

There was one tuckered out Little Girl by the end of the tour. She definitely gave the place two thumbs up (or should I say two bangles up)….

The theme for the party will be Spring Time and Books. These are the books (mostly from my Grandfather’s childhood collection)…

I found lots of Blue Bell Jars in my Mother’s basement.

I was thinking that Daffodils would be in the jars but this early Spring has put a kink in my plans…

I was hoping on taking Lina this Pick Your Own Daffodil farm, two days before the Party. Alas...there probably won’t be any left. Oh, well. If there is anything that Motherhood teaches you – it’s leave your Expectations At the Door.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Wild Woman is Almost One

Saturday’s gorgeousness couldn’t be denied. So, my Mama and my Wild Woman took off to the Catoctin Mountains (you know the ones that inspired this blog). We spent shared the afternoon with many others who had the same idea.

This is what my Wild Woman looked like at the beginning of our walk

This is what she looked like by the end

There were lots of things to admire

Lots of things to study

Lots of ways of looking at the World

All in all…a Good Day…

*** I would like to note that I usually don't dress my daughter in abnormally large jeans. Her other pants were wet, so Grandma found some jeans I once wore. Even the Fisher-Price Barn was once mine!

Playing Catch-up...Happy 2 Month Birthday!

I'm not going to be able to post all my catch-up letters to Lina before her First Birthday on Wed....but by the end of the month, I will have them all posted. I began my blog in October when she turned 7 months, so only months 3-6 to go!!!

To My Dearest Sunshine,
This month has flown by!!! We started this month by celebrating your first holiday…Easter. Grandma Pia enjoyed putting an Easter bunny headband on you for a photo-op – you are obviously going to be a ham because you didn’t mind it one bit.  You were content to be passed around to everyone and seemed to enjoy meeting your cousins. Before we know it, you will be joining them in the frantic race to find Easter eggs.

You have continued to sleep well this month and have even given us a few nights of eight hours of solid sleep. Thank you.  You usually fall asleep around 11:30pm-12:30 am each night and sleep next to Mommy.  We are relieved that you have now stopped having the nightmares that began after you came home from your NICU stay. It was terrifying seeing you wake up screaming in fright.  The NICU nurse I spoke to seemed to think it was impossible for you to have nightmares. But anyone who heard you could hear the terror in your voice. Thank goodness that’s over.
We are still living with Dadi and Dada in your Daddy’s child-hood home (the place you were born). You spend an hour or two each night before bedtime with Dadi and Dada playing upstairs, while Mommy and Daddy get to decompress. It’s wonderful seeing how close you are to your grandparents.

We began our adventures in cloth diapering this week (thanks to a diapering service we received as a Baby Shower present)…all of us adjusted well to this change (except Dada who  didn’t have any adjusting to do since he never changes your diaper). You are finally tolerating being in the Ergo (although you still hate the Moby wrap).
This month was very, very busy for our family. You went to Puja Auntie and Rahul Uncle’s Baby Shower, helped Mommy celebrate her first Mother’s Day (by helping Daddy make me French-toast), went to work with Daddy, hung-out with Grandma Pia while Mommy and Daddy attended Uncle Steve and Aunt Whitney’s wedding, had your first play-date, went on your first plane ride (you were a trooper), visited Aunt Jane in the hospital, played with Josie in Boston and attended Mommy’s 10 Year College Reunion from Mount Holyoke College. We both wore white for the Laurel Parade and you got and gave smiles to everyone when we walked around Mommy’s old stomping grounds.

We have done a lot of celebrating this month - most of all we are celebrating having such a healthy, curious daughter in our life. Thank you for choosing us.

Know you are very, very loved,

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Birthing Month....Momoir Classes

If you are a Mama and have been craving an opportunity to write, go check out The Momoir Project. It's an online resource for Memoir classes...just for Mothers! Most of their classes are 6 weeks long but once in awhile there is a day workshop (that's how I heard about them....from a class held at The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington...which was sold out when I tried to sign

Online classes begin in if you're interested you should act soon! They even have a class on blogging for Mothers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Birthing Month....Mulch in the Mouth

Toysmith 2296 Kids Gardening Hand Tool Set

Spring has shown its glorious face and my daughter is in Love. Today, we spent almost all of her waking time outside in the back-yard. I should mention the back-yard is full of cement and steps and mulch borders and gravel. It's not ideal but it's something.

The previous owner left behind seven pots of various sizes, so we will definitely start having fun very soon planting some herbs. Right now, we have a little spearmint plant and a parsley plant awaiting new homes.

I am thrilled to have found a family-run nursery (Greenstreet Gardens) within walking distance. Okay, so it's 2.5 miles one way but it's a doable trip every once in a while. Potting soil is definitely on the list.

I've started brain-storming what kind of herbs I want to grow this year. Echinacea is certainly on the list. I didn't make any Echinacea tinctures this past year and ended up spending way too much money on commercially-made tinctures during our battles with various colds. Echinacea root is typically used when making extracts but it takes at least 3-4 years for the roots to be the size you need. So, my plan is to just harvest the flowers this year.

Perhaps, I'll be able to pick up some Echinacea plants at the Baltimore Herb Festival. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region and are interested in herbs, it's worth the trek. Growers from all over the region are selling interesting and sometimes hard to find plants. In the past, I've picked up....comfrey, mugwort, meadowsweet, lady's mantle, feverfew, boneset, calendula, tulsi, lemon balm, echinacea, African-blue basil and marshmallow at the festival. Mark your calenders for May 26th and make sure to bring a wagon or wheel-barrow!

Lina has been using little twigs to dig in the mulch, so I stopped into Why Not? (Old Town's independent toy store) and found some great gardening tools from Toysmith. They are real metal and wood and some quite substantial. I can't wait to give them to her and watch her go to town with them!

Cheers to all those baby plants popping up everywhere!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birthing a Closer Marriage...Caring Behaviors

Today, I need a reminder of the importance of connecting with your partner in small simple ways.

It was one of those started with vomit and ended with me practically throwing my daughter at my husband when he walked through the door. In between....lots of tears...both mine and hers.

Unfortunately, I was not the nicest person to my husband on the phone as I waited out those LONG, ENDLESS hours. I have a bit of making-up to do...

During our P.A.I.R.S. training, we shared with each other ways we could demonstrate our love to each other. I think I need to go through Papa Bear's List of Caring Behaviors and pick out a few for tonight. I think a back-scratch is in order, maybe a nice note and a game of Scrabble that ends with some cuddling.

It's super easy to spend a few minutes with your partner and write down all the different types of Caring Behaviors you appreciate. Think of things you like to hear, activities you like to engage in together, etc...Then, when you have one of those days where you're not your most have plenty of ideas ways to show your partner how you really do love them.

Some of the Caring Behaviors on my List include: going for daily walks together, going to the Farmers' Market together, a massage without the expectation of giving one in return, coming home to folded laundry, receiving a hand-written note for no reason, taking the Baby out while I go to mediation or yoga or to the gym. Simple things....but they make you feel so good, right?

Finding That Balance

It's constant....that search for Balance. Since becoming a Wife and Mother, some of my other relationships have been put on the back-burner. One of the most important relationships affected has been the one with my Beloved Sissy. We have not had a day  just the two of us since I was pregnant.

So....the Baby spent Sunday night and most of Monday with my wonderful Mother-in-Law. And yesterday was declared "Sister Day". 

We celebrated by spending much of the day on a pin-up photo shoot at Atomic Cheesecake Studios. My Husband, my Mother and I gave my Sister a gift certificate for the shoot in honor of her 30th Birthday. She looked so glamorous and so beautiful...I can't wait to see the final photos. We had a blast...I HIGHLY recommend the experience!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Playing Catch-up...Happy Month One Birthday!

I began this blog when Lina was 7 months old, so I never got around to posting those 6 other Monthly Birthday Letters to her. I am in the process of organizing my Monthly Birthday Letters and the Monthly Photos I took into a book for her 1st Birthday.  In honor of the Birthing Month, here on Catoctin Mountain Mama...this is the letter I wrote to her when she turned 1 month old...

To Our Dearest Daughter,

Happy One Month Birthday!!!! We celebrated by blowing out the candles and eating your chocolate birthday cake. Don’t worry… next year we will share. You were fascinated by the candles and seemed to tolerate our singing.
You have only been home from the NICU for less than two weeks and it’s still so hard to believe you are here! Mommy is still healing and we are still trying to figure out this breast-feeding thing. You prefer to drink Mommy’s milk from a bottle, which is okay with Mommy because nursing is still very painful for her. You had your frenulum clipped and that seemed to help a little bit (you were what they call “tongue-tied).

You have started sleeping 5-6 hours through the night and we are so thankful. Daddy swaddles you up tightly each night and walks you around (your fussy time is between 9:30 pm- 12 am). I think you are going to be a Night Owl.

You smile at bright lights and adore taking a bath with Mommy in our huge bath tub. We don’t have to worry about holding your neck very much…you are one Strong Little Girl (Mommy shouldn’t be surprised since you spent the last few months before your birth kicking Mommy CONSTANTLY).
Your eyes follow everyone around the room and you especially enjoy watching the action while sitting in your bouncy seat. The funniest thing you do is quiver your bottom lip when you get excited about something…your expressive face is something to behold.

We are so grateful for Jessica and Gwen helping us bring you into this world and we are deeply appreciative of all the lovely Nurses and Doctors who helped you heal. Most of all, we are thankful for you being a Brave Little Fighter who chose us as your parents.

Know you are very, very loved….
Mommy and Daddy
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