Girls Night In

Husband went to Florida for a week for an exciting metals and mining conference, so my friend Nancy came over for a little girls night. First, she helped me bathe the baby and hung out, while I nursed him and put him down.

We decided to make a yummy dinner together. We cooked pastured hot and spicy pork sausage and veggies. The sausages were boiled first, then we, and by we I mean Nancy, cut them up and dealt with the hot saucy water squirting out from them! We threw them in a frying pan with onion and garlic and then put red tomatoes, red peppers and spinach on top, added lots of red crushed peppers (both of us LURVE spicy foods and Sebastian must love them too, since he never complains about my breast milk) covered it up, made it sweat and in a few minutes, we had a complete meal.

Nancy very sweetly brought me the little gift they were giving away for Mother’s Day at Church, a heart pendant with a prayer and something I’ll definitely stick on a long chain. And, she brought me napkins with a K on them. I love any paper products, and as I was talking about how I needed pretty napkins, she pulled out the gift. How well she knows me!

She brought the wine (which we noticed was from Israel, where we traveled together) and even pretty pink peonies! She was right–they opened up beautifully the next day!

At one point, our conversation became serious. We discussed lots of things, from relationships to religion to family. Don’t worry, we ended the night with laughter, while watching Modern Family. It was a great night.

The next day, she found this article called, “15 Things You Should Give Up in Order to be Happy“, which I thought was very poignant. While I’m sure many people already do some of these things, I thought it was a very interesting article, and has inspired me to try to make a few changes in my life…Actually, I think I’ve been trying to make these changes for quite some time, but this article inspired me to think about these things again. It always helps when you see lists and you can pinpoint concretely what it is you need to change.

You see, I used to be Mrs. Positivity in the past, now Husband says I tend to make things negative. I call it realistic. He calls it negative. Potato, po-tah-to. Or we can meet down the middle and call it complaining. Whatever the semantics, I do feel that life is a lot better when I don’t complain. I feel that when I’m more positive, things just look better. It really is all about perspective.

I do it with Sebastian, why can’t I do it with every aspect of my life? When he decides to wake up 9 times in one night (like he did last night), I just keep thinking, oh, why is this time flying by so fast, why is he growing so fast, I love him so much. Soon, he won’t wake me up, but he’ll be independent. But, in other parts of life, I think, man, that situation “sucks”. And, I use that word in my head and aloud and you know what? I hate that word, I want to ban it from my life, but it squirms its way out again.

Here’s to making a change! Clink, clink!

 

Grass-Fed Farming

Sebastian went out to visit his grandparents this weekend and then we all went out to an organic grass-fed farm, called Mini Mac. What a thrill for our little boy. I didn’t expect him to react the way he did when he saw goats on the farm. He just started giggling like crazy. I love being outdoors with the boy and he clearly responds well to yummy goats.

Mini Mac is a farm bought a few years ago by a husband and wife team, who just wanted to live off the land. Bill and Helen McLaughlin bought it for themselves, with no intention to sell any products, but soon people were leaving notes in their mailbox and leaving messages on their phone seeking a purchase of a half of a cow and grass-fed meat. Now, that the paleo lifestyle is becoming a popular way of life and people are becoming more concerned with knowing what they are truly eating, it only makes sense that the farm grew fast. The husband and wife team quickly learned how to do everything with their animals, eventually bought more, got into a co-op of farms and found a processing plant that met with their standards.

There are so many fun foods to try on the farm. This time, we got brisket, rabbit sausages and pork tenderloin. Helen always lets us know about some new thing she has in stock or sometimes tells us about something exciting that she just ran out of. She is open and willing to share what she learned, which just makes me love this farm more. Nothing is hidden, you can go look at the animals, see how wonderfully they are treated, see how clean the food is, ask anything and you will always get an honest answer.

Everything I experienced on this farm, I loved. The owners are extremely innovative. They have so many new projects going on, including a pizza pie project, which is an educational tool for school children, and will be done by the end of July. The hope is to have a circular shape and slices of pizza and each slice will have a different farm animal or plant that helps you see how the farmland helps make your pizza. Anything growing in the land or eating the plants on the land makes up your pizza! This weekend, I learned that pigs will be one slice (the pepperoni) and goats on another (the cheese). You’ll be able to walk around the pizza. How amazing is that?! (And, YES, I will definitely go back an take photos of that and post them on here!)

I’ve often thought about these “crazy” ideas of buying a farm or living in some small town in Alaska or out near a fjord in Norway and having a simpler life (ok, not so simple, if you consider having to deal with the USDA), leaving all the processed foods and things behind. The Mini Mac people did it and it wasn’t so crazy, after all. Sometimes, there’s something to be said to doing what your heart….and health desire.

I am not yet 100% committed to the paleo lifestyle, but I try my best to follow along (when my weakness for french fries and chocolate covered hazelnuts does not take over)! Hubby loves this new lifestyle and the food that he gets to eat and I love the byproduct of eating some of the new foods he buys. And, I’m sure Sebastian loves them in the breast milk!

My very first experience a few years ago with a 100% grassfed hamburger was pretty awful, so when I started listening to the Angelo Coppola podcasts and watching as Ray consumed articles and books on Paleo, I was sure that I wouldn’t like it; however, I was wrong. I tried various meats from what Fresh Direct offers to US Wellness to Mini Mac Farms and adore the food. Recently, I made some beef patties and they were delicious. Perhaps, it’s just a matter of cooking it right, as I did last week. Mniam, mniam!

 

You Know You’re a Mommy When…

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve made a fun list from my experiences thus far as a mommy…

You Know You’re a Mommy When….

  1. When you constantly sing songs to your baby describing everything you’re doing.
  2. You spend an inordinate amount of time praying for sleep and bargaining with God for another minute of rest.
  3. Your iPhone runs out of storage space all the time because of all the videos and photos you make of your child.
  4. You have mastered doing everything with the use of only one hand.
  5. You have an unending supply of toys, teethers and snacks in your purse to distract your baby.
  6. You can’t go to the bathroom alone.
  7. You give up going out at 10PM for a night in with pj’s, a sleepy baby and a cuddly hubby.
  8. You rock whenever you are standing, even though there isn’t a baby in your arms.
  9. You miss your child when they are asleep.
  10. The news of anyone’s child in pain brings you a lot of sadness.
  11. Your lingerie collections now consists of exercise and nursing bras.
  12. You lift your baby up to smell his bottom to see if there is a diaper change needed.
  13. You can take a shower, brush your teeth and get dressed in under 10 min.
  14. You rarely get to your meal while it’s still hot.
  15. Your shirt is wet and you haven’t spilled anything on it.
  16. Your baby’s giggles causes you to erupt into giggles.
  17. If you have ever had anyone ask you “What’s that sound?” while you’re on the phone and it’s your breast pump.
  18. When dinner is done in several phases between making sure your baby is not getting into anything and not crying.
  19. Your once very organized email inbox now contains hundreds of emails you have yet to deal with and your emails keep including the line, “Sorry about my delay.”
  20. Everything you do revolves around nap and feeding schedules.
  21. You use the excuse, “I have a sleeping baby, don’t call my house,” with telemarketers.
  22. You can talk on the phone, type an email and breastfeed all at the same time.
  23. Hearing your child say, “amama,” makes you so jump with joy, even though it’s probably only babble this early on.
  24. When getting four hours of interrupted sleep is a good day.
  25. Walks always involve a stroller.

If you have any to add, I’d love to hear them!

Cuddles Galore

Short post today, just wanted to post a couple of pics. As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of sharing the bed with the baby. We don’t do it all night, mainly it happens in the wee morning hours now that the baby wants to come into bed with us. Sebastian nurses and then cuddles in between us, until he wakes up.

It’s so pleasant and I think he likes being wrapped in mommy and daddy, since he sleeps so well with us. If he’s in the crib, he uses a cuddle toy that my friend, Jeanine, got for him–a little soft yellow lion.

Ray snapped up this shot of Sebastian and me when he was only a couple of months old. We were just cuddling together on a Saturday morning. I loved just staring at him. Now, when he’s awake, it’s rare to get him to just stare without having a plan to jump or grab at something.

This second photo was taken in February, when Sebastian was four months old. Ray snuck a photo, pardon the greasy hair! We either sleep like that. If he’s not touching either one of us, he starts moving. Otherwise, Ray or I end up cuddling up behind him and holding him. Now that he’s so big, there’s not much of a worry of crushing him, though I’m still aware when he moves around, which is good when he decides to wake up early and decides to crawl on top of me!

 

Saving a Rainy Day

Today was a rainy day. So when 5 o’clock (named the valium hour by mothers in the 60’s) rolled around, I couldn’t get out of the house, walk over by the river, and then to the butcher, in order to cook up a fresh dinner. This time of day got the name the valium hour, because you want to keep your kid up until a proper bedtime, but he is starting to get tired and cranky, and women used to take valium at this time to calm their nerves as they dealt with the crankiness. On top of that, we hardly had anything in the fridge, and I was holding off on a big Fresh Direct order since we are headed to Costco this weekend, so I didn’t know what to do for dinner.

Sebastian only slept for a half hour during the afternoon, and he wanted to either be held or be jumping all over me and wouldn’t let me cook. I eventually gave into him and just chased him all around the apartment or vice versa. We started playing a game about a week ago where he comes after me, climbs on me and tries to slobber me? bite me? kiss me? I’m not really sure what it is, it’s an open mouthed burrow into me. He still has no teeth, so I don’t know if it’s a bite. I crawl away and he comes to me with a big smile. I was keeping him awake until his daddy came home, so I played with him as long as I could and then I gave him a bath, rubbed him and fed him. When his daddy came home at 7:30PM, he got a quick cuddle and kiss and was put to bed. At that point, I had to think quickly because the grumbles in my belly could turn into me ordering off of Seamless and overeating.

So, I assessed the situation. Husband pointed out that we had thawed our frozen ground beef. Since we’re trying to eat high quality meats, we buy local grass fed beef. This particular one came from Fresh Direct, but we also purchase meat from Mini Mac farms and U.S. Wellness Meats.

I remembered my Mom’s good friend, Mary, had told me I need to try using curry in my foods, so we mixed the ground beef with the curry powder, dried onion, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. The beef itself has enough fat, and there was a bit of coconut oil left in the cast iron pan, so I didn’t need to put any olive oil or coconut oil in the pan. After making little round patties, we fried them up. Ray likes his rare and I like mine well done, so we had a few that were differently timed. The curry made this burger SO tasty, and I highly recommend trying that out.

There needed to be some sort of veggie with the burgers, so I found red and yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and spinach, which would definitely go bad if I didn’t use them by this weekend. I cut up and fried the the peppers in the same cast iron pan, so the juices from the beef would flavor the veggies nicely. I popped in the cherry tomatoes and lastly, the spinach. A little salt & pepper and a few patient minutes later, we had a complete meal.

The result was fantastic. I was so proud of myself for being able to cook up an experimental meal–I’m usually a by the books kinda girl when it comes to cooking. I never used to understand my parents when they would say, “just feel it out,” or “a pinch of salt,” or “around a cup or so.” It would overwhelm me, but now I notice I say the same stuff! We played a 2 player game called Lost Cities over dinner, while we ate our very healthy meal.

And for dessert….a ripe pineapple!! Mniam, Mniam!

Easter Blessing

This year, with a new little family, our traditions became even more important. On Holy Saturday, we went to get our Easter Basket blessed. There were so many gorgeous Easter baskets filled with Polish meats, chocolates and decorated eggs.

It was fun showing Sebastian all of the brightly colored additions to the baskets. He mostly just wanted to grab and stick everything in his mouth. Babcia also had to throw a painted egg up in the air for his entertainment.

During the basket blessing, as I’ve described in last year’s Easter Basket Blessing post, Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan blessed our basket.

And a few minutes later…he came up to Sebastian and gave him a blessing. He told him that he had similar cheeks to him, ha, ha! This was so special to us because last year, when we found out we were pregnant and had a super romantic weekend away, Cardinal Dolan celebrated a Mass in the random town we went to for Church! Now, he got a chance to meet our little boy!

On Easter Sunday, we ate Easter eggs to start the meal. Everyone got a piece of an egg and we said, “Happy Easter!” to each other.

We had various appetizers out for our meal, a lot of the meats from the Easter basket, plantains, bunny bread, salads, cheeses and goat cheese and marinara (my specialty).

Ray and I made two different types of Lamb. Below is the roasted leg of lamb.

 

Here are some of the attendees from Easter Sunday, ready to eat a delicious meal!

The rack of lamb was unbelievably juicy. I was nervous about making lamb. I haven’t eaten it since my travels to Mongolia almost five years ago. There, all we did was eat mutton, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was so over that animal. But, I figured as long as I wasn’t eating mutton, it would be good and I was right!

I Love the Franciscan Friars.

Monks walking in The Way of the Cross 2012

Yes, it’s true. They’ve gotten me addicted. Five years ago, I was on a plane to St. Petersburg to trek over Russia, Mongolia and China on the Transiberian Railroad. When I was flying, I met a seminarian. I had just moved to NYC a few months before that and complained to him that there was nothing really Catholic about NYC, like there was about Chicago. In Chicago, I was involved in lots of great groups, retreats, Churches, etc.

This seminarian looked at me in shock. He said, there’s tons of stuff in NYC! Haven’t you heard of Catholic Underground and then he mentioned a bunch of other big things that exist. I was so excited. This was the perfect way to start the trip. Seriously, it’s worth your time to read this fantastic NYT article about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, entitled “Monks Who Play Punk.” And, yes, they do. And, they play it awesomely.

I’ve talked about Catholic Underground here. And, I know I’ve done the Way of the Cross walk with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal before, but this time I had my son and my husband with me. As an added bonus, my parents and my friends were along too.

So on Good Friday, we started out at the St. Joseph Friary in Harlem to walk up to the Bronx. They had refreshments out for those who weren’t fasting all day. I drank a lot of water before we started the walk, so of course, I needed to use the restroom. The two restrooms had long lines, so I was led by one of the brothers to the living quarters. I felt like I got a peek into this private religious life.

It was a beautiful day for a pilgrimage – not too hot or too cold, and a nice sunshine to warm you. As we walked, we often prayed and sang together. The brothers had a neat system where they would pray together using walkie talkies to keep everyone in sync. The brothers took turns carrying a large wooden cross and wearing a crown of thorns, as you can see in the pictures below.

One of the more impressive things was seeing the reactions of people along the way. Many people stopped what they were doing and took pictures and videos (on their iPhones, usually), and some people even joined in on the pilgrimage.

Here are some new pics from an incredibly spiritual Good Friday walk.

The brothers took turns carrying a large wooden cross and wearing a crown of thorns.

Walkie Talkies were used to participate in prayer throughout the walk.

Pictured here is Brother Simon who Sebastian took a liking to. Brother Simon rapped for us after the pilgrimage.

Sebastian loved walking in Daddy's Arms


My good friend, Nancy, is being very cute in this photo.

 

Hundreds of people participated in the pilgrimage.

My parents are peeking out in the crowd of people.


Valentine’s Day Hearts

I love Valentine’s Day. I used to be one of those girls who said I didn’t love it, whether I had a boyfriend or not, but I think I always secretly did love it. It’s a way to slow down from our busy lives and say, “Hey, you’re my favorite!”

And there’s nothing better than a homemade Valentine’s Day surprise. I prefer that over any bought gift. A handmade card, a scavenger hunt, a list of things that say why I love you, just some small sweet way to say I love you.

Ray surprised me last night–I was exhausted by the end of the night and all I wanted was some tea. Out came a beautiful tea cup with hearts on it and when I drank the tea, I saw a little heart in the middle. Then, I was heading down to bed, played scramble with friends and read some RSS feeds when I saw an email post card come through that was amazingly loving.

This morning in my groggy state, after Sebastian and I woke up, we cuddled, chatted, prayed, giggled and then I got up to give him a diaper change. I was still a bit groggy, so I grabbed without looking up and caught a heart. In my hand was an imperfectly cut heart out of pretty colored paper.

Then something caught my eye on the table–a vase with tasty heart “flowers,” made of donuts.

I have to give credit to Dunkin Donuts for making these donut hearts. I’m not sure if last year was the first year they made them or the first year I noticed them, but I think they are brilliant and tasty. I had to have one last year on our road trip. You can see a pic of it in the post I wrote last year around this time. We found out that I was pregnant that weekend! And on Valentine’s Day, I walked to five different Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan, but they were sold out everywhere!

Today, I keep finding little hearts everywhere. I absolutely love discovering them all over the place! I found one as I went to get my tea kettle filled with water.

Then…on the faucet!!

I found one in the fridge.

And…near my vitamins…

On the boppy…

I noticed that all of the hearts were color coordinated to the places they were put. My initial thought was that it was just a coincidence until I saw the swing!

Everywhere I go, I keep finding hearts that were cut out!

Even Sebastian’s toy area had a heart that matched the particular toy.

I immediately texted my husband and told him he was something else. I couldn’t believe with how much he works hat he had time to do this, so I appreciate it even more. I asked him how he did this and he answered, “Magic!” What a sweetie. I keep finding hearts in different places all over the apartment. I can’t wait to find them all!

Cosleeping with Knives

Sleeping with your baby is as dangerous as sleeping with a butcher knife? What? Look at this ad below, that’s what it says.

I think making the photo was probably more dangerous than co-sleeping actually is (I’m hoping it was shopped). I’ve heard a lot of negative things about cosleeping with the baby. Unless you are on some sort of medication or have had a lot of alcohol, I don’t see how you could smother the baby. I’m well aware of my surroundings when I sleep so I don’t fall off the bed, and I’m aware there is a baby next to me and I won’t crush him.

My theory is that you have to do whatever works for you, whether it’s cosleeping or crib sleeping. When I first had the baby, I have to admit I was a little nervous about sleeping in the same bed with him. And, even if it was OK for me to sleep next to the baby, people would tell us that my husband could roll over onto the baby because he didn’t have that motherly instinct. All of that is bollocks!

A few days after Sebastian’s birth, my mom took over and slept with the baby. I was healing and she would sleep with him and bring him to me to feed. It was amazing because I could barely walk, was very weak and exhausted and needed my mom so much. I don’t know how I’ll ever thank her enough for what she did for me. The baby very happily slept next to her. He was so tiny, so she propped him up on a pillow and they slept well together. I loved on the rare occasion when I would wake up before both of them and see them in the bed and both snoring loudly. I think they found comfort in each other.

Then, I started sleeping next to the baby. The crib just wouldn’t work no matter what I tried. It wasn’t until we started traveling more on weekends and then at Christmas when he got used to the crib. Even though he will sleep in his crib, he sleeps so much better when he’s in the bed with us. A nap will be twice as long because he feels one of us next to him. It’s the sweetest thing. When Hubby and I have been extremely tired and Sebastian is struggling to fall asleep in his crib, we just place him in the bed with us and he falls asleep in between us. Sometimes, he opens his eyes, checks that one of us is with him and falls soundly back asleep. Moments like that make me just say a little thankful prayer to God.

Most of the world co-sleeps with their baby. If you look at various cultures, it just makes sense. And, it makes sense for us. When I wake up in the morning and see Ray and the baby sleeping so soundly next to each other, it melts my heart and I just want to crawl back in the bed and cuddle with both of them.

Bath Time after Disaster Strikes

Sebastian's First Sponge Bath at Home

The very next day after my parents left, I was alone and trying to figure out how to handle a baby and be able to do regular things, like have time for my own shower, time to get dressed, time to eat. Of course, that day, I was about to experience a very big lesson on bathing a baby after disaster strikes.

Sebastian was in his swing, as I was in the middle of getting dressed in the living room, while watching him. Then, he started crying. He no longer wanted to be left swinging, he wanted to be held. I wasn’t fully dressed yet, but I wanted to give him a cuddle. As I picked him up, I felt a greasy wetness everywhere. I looked at the swing and it was covered in poop. He had a blowout. If you aren’t familiar with the blowout, welcome to my world. It happens on a daily basis. As I write this, I think back to just a few hours ago where there was a triple blowout. No matter how quickly I catch a poop, the blowout happens. No matter what diapers I try, the blowout happens. It’s ok, it’s still cute at this point.

Back to my story–I felt this wetness and immediately put him down on my changing area to try to deal with this. As I was trying to clean the great mess, the phone began ringing. I ignored that and laughed that, of course, this was happening while I was attempting to deal with poop. Then, Sebastian proceeded to pee on me. I tried my best to catch it, but it was too late, my nursing bra and my belly had gotten hit. Still doing my best to clean up the mess, my doorbell started ringing. It was the UPS guy. I was flabbergasted and shouted, “Just leave it at the door!” I didn’t know how to give Sebastian a bath with only me here and I couldn’t leave him alone in the changing area, which was unsecured. So, I put him back in the swing. When I transferred him, poop got all over me. Then, I heard a dinging in the background, my google talk was going off. Someone was trying to chat with me. I wondered if I was actually in the midst of a comedy show.

I ran to the bathroom to get the bathtub, brought it into the kitchen and began filling it up. As it filled up, I ran to get his new outfit, a towel, a washcloth and soap. Sebastian was crying, as he sat half naked in a second diaper which was mostly clean. He didn’t have any warm clothing on and I was worried that he would get cold as I ran around the house trying to prepare a bath. I sacrificed one of my husband’s shirts and threw it on him to keep him a tiny bit warmer. After the mini tub was ready and the water was the right temperature, I grabbed him up, pulled off the diaper and kicked off the dirty clothing and the dirty changing blanket with my feet, so I could have a clean place to put him as I was drying him. Then, I washed him. He giggled and wriggled around in the tub. I felt like he was laughing at the whole situation and saying, I was just testing you to see how you could handle a blowout without any help!

Fun in the Mini Tub

Sometimes he shoots and scores.

After that whole experience happened, I called my friend, Jeanine, who had her baby on the same day as me, and asked how the heck she bathes her son by herself. She quickly referred me to the bath pillow. Life is SO much easier, since I got this pillow. I still like the tub for traveling or if someone has glass shower doors, versus an open tub, but the pillow is quick and easy. I just turn on the bathwater, plop it down and put Sebastian on there. He loves laying in the tub, with the warm water flowing over him and splashing water with his kicking legs.

We’ve graduated to the bathtub now, so from time to time, I take baths with the baby. It is the sweetest time for me. It combines two of the joys of my life, Sebastian and baths! The only problem I find is that I can’t have it too hot and I usually like my baths extra steamy. Oh, well, this is well worth the compromise!

 

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