Recipes, Ryan Reynolds, and Randomness

The other night (when I should’ve been sleeping, because the baby was sleeping, and that’s what you’re supposed to do!) I got sucked into a vortex of blog stats, and started reading the top google (etc.) searches that people used to find/stumble upon me and my story.

I was happy to see that the majority of people ended up here because of my Almond Flour Pizza Crust (which is delicious!, and gluten free!, and low carb! You should try it.)

I was surprised to see almost everyone else was looking for ways to curl their hair with a headband/sock bun/no heat, which I literally tried once (and failed) THREE years ago.

Other popular searches were for good Gluten Free Fried Rice and Copycat Cosi Tomato Basil Soup recipes, and mine are pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The rest of the searches though? They were a mixed bag of totally random, and WTF.

For example.

My BFFs Full Name — I thought, well, that’s weird. Why would looking for my Bestie bring you here? I don’t think I’ve ever even used her full name. So I did a search to see what happened, and almost every google image result was a picture …of me?! And one of our friend Kelly, holding a giant fish. Ummmm. Ok. Obviously we’ve spent so much time together the Internet has decided we’re the same person.

“Tom Selleck Three Men and a Baby” — Obviously, if this is what you’re searching the Internet for, we should get to know each other better. Handsome men, in short shorts, and that stache! Yes, please. I hope you found what you were looking for.

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“Pigs Humping” — Now, to be fair, Mike and I DO have a set of S&P shakers from Jamaica in the shape of humping pigs (because they’re hilarious, and when you find something like that, you do not hesitate to buy them for everyone you know.) Unfortunately I don’t think that’s what this person was looking for.

“Ice Skating Shoes” — 1) They’re not called that, and 2) You came to the wrrrroooong place if you want advice about ice skating, other than, never, ever, try to ice skate (you’re welcome).

“Hammocks” — A little generic, sure, but I love a hammock as much as the next girl. Unfortunately my claim to fame involves going ass over teacup into the sand in front of all my coworkers.

“Babies with Muscle Men” — Sorry, friend. That’s just weird.

“Hot Date Tonight” — Good for you! I hope you didn’t come here looking for inspiration, unless you and your significant other are really into ordering Chinese food and watching a SVU marathon.

“PMS jokes” — This had to be a man. Women already know that 1) you better not joke about that shit, and 2) all the really good jokes.

“Ryan Reynolds Naked” — We have SO MUCH in common, my friend. And the Internet just keeps letting us down, right? Believe me, if I could help, I would.

And the weirdest, and my personal favorite:

“Boy Crutching with Hard Leg Cast Next to Doctor” — I don’t even know how to respond. But I’m certain they didn’t find what they were looking for.

Baby’s First Crab

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Not really, but it’s a necessary photo-op when you grow up in Maryland.

(Do people who live other places even know how delicious steamed crabs, smothered in Old Bay really are? And by other places, don’t be some smart ass from Virginia or Delaware, and be all, “we do!” I mean like, ummm. Idaho. Missouri. Arizona. Anyway…)

Summer is almost over, and I’m not sure how that happened. We head to the beach for our annual family vacation soon, and year after year, as soon as we get home, it’s like I blink and it’s time to put up the Christmas tree.

Man. I thought decorating for Christmas was hard with a newborn, but I’m genuinely afraid of what it will be like with a toddler. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Soon I’ll have the obligatory Baby’s First beach pictures, and then we’ve pretty much covered all our bases until Baby’s First Birthday, which is only 12 weeks away.

TWELVE.

Birthday party planning is officially in effect. Trying to nail down a guest list for an adorable/first grandchild/rainbow baby is like planning a freaking wedding.

Please cross your fingers now that the weather is good in October, because if we can’t use our backyard this house is going to be crowwwwded.

Nine Months

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from high school (and mother of three) suggested I stop trying to teach Gus to crawl. That only a crazy person does that, and it’s easier when you can just sit them somewhere and they stay put.

She. Was. Right.

He’s so, so, so fast you guys. And he’s obsessed with whatever the deadliest, pointiest, smotheriest, electrified thing in the room is. And when he stands (which is whenever he’s not crawling) he prefers to hold on to whatever is most likely to roll away or tip over.

He laughs in the face of danger.

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Height & Weight: Up to 28.5 inches (60th percentile) and 17.5 pounds (8th percentile). Despite his Stringbean-ness, he’s gained three pounds and two inches in three months, and already tripled his birthweight so, we’re not complaining and his doctors are thrilled.

Likes: He loves to sit in the kitchen while I cook, and throw the empty dog bowls against the floor, and every time I sit him down, it’s a race to the dog’s water bowl, which I usually lose. Mike’s aunt gave him some new blocks that he likes to knock down as soon as I stack them up, but ideally he’s happiest with the empty boxes and bags his new toys come in. Give him a sort of shiny cardboard box he can bang like a drum and then chew half to death and he’s in heaven (and I can usually get something productive done!). We also have a set of Leap Frog maracas that he is obsessed with — everywhere he goes, he drags one along.

Dislikes: Diaper changes are now an exercise in patience, strength and speed, and require wrestling and/or tricking a half-naked spinning baby. They are the 7 or 8 least favorite parts of my day.

Sleep: Some nights he might get up to nurse once (worst, twice), and some nights we get a solid 8-9 hours. It’s a crapshoot, but a glorious mostly sleeping crapshoot so I’m not complaining. I’m pretty sure some new teeth are on the horizon, because the last few nights have been rough.

Eating: With the arrival of some teeth, and a lot more chewing on his part, we’ve started offering him more bits and pieces of what we’re eating. Cooked pasta, little pieces of chicken, Cheerios in addition to his Puffs. He usually gets a mix of baby oatmeal and fruit in the morning, and then a meat/veggie/grain combo at night. He gobbles up coconut milk yogurt mixed with fruit, so I guess as we phase in a proper lunch break, that will be our go-to, and he LOVES animal crackers.

Clothes: Same old 9M/6–12M. I’m looking forward to whenever he’s big enough to move to his 12M PJs, because they have non-skid feet, which he could definitely use now (this house is 75% wood and tile floors). I also broke down and bought some extra baby legwarmers (Zulily sales get me every time!) — they’re perfect for playing inside in the AC and cover his little knees while he’s crawling everywhere, and don’t tie him up like his PJs do. (Confession: the mornings I’m especially tired, I leave him in his pajamas, because they slow him down)

New Tricks: Did I mention he’s fast? Because I turn around, and BAM! he’s into something. He’s standing next to whatever will hold him, and precariously cruising (very slowly) from one thing to another. Mostly it’s just standing/stomping/smacking whatever he’s holding, while shrieking just to hear his own voice (which he’s now started doing at 3 a.m. as well). We got a hand-me-down push toy, and he likes to stand with it and push it back and forth like a vacuum, while I wait off to the side to swoop in if he falls on his face.

Teeth: He got his first two teeth (in four days) over Fourth of July weekend. I think the top two may make an appearance soon (lots of ear pulling and finger chewing lately). Tooth tally: 2.

Nicknames: Bulldozer (because things get stuck under his belly when he crawls, but he never stops), Meep-Morp, Tiny Heiney, Chompers, Chomp-Chomp, The Screaming Stringbean (see above).

Mommy & Daddy: My first wrist surgery seems to have solved the constant pain/thumb popping issue, although recovery has taken longer than I expected. I’m tentatively planning to do the second wrist at the end of August, after our family vacation, and early enough I should be back to normal for his birthday (his birthday!!).

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Disconnecting

Every so often, I feel compelled to unplug. Before, it was usually driven by one pregnancy announcement after another, but lately I feel like I’m spending too much time playing on my phone, when I should be playing on the floor with my baby.

Then a few days ago, this little gem (ironically) came my way, via Facebook:

I’m not going to preach to you about technology, (you gotta do you, boo) but I can feel my attention span getting shorter, and I don’t like it.

When we watch something with actual commercials (that we can’t fast-forward through, which is rare) the first thing I do, is grab my phone. Quick! check my email, or Facebook, or Instagram, and why? In case something craaaazzzyy happened between now and the last commercial break? Because I can’t just sit and watch a commercial, or entertain myself for three damn minutes?

I don’t need to check my email 50 times a day. My Kohl’s coupon codes and 1-800-Contacts reminders aren’t going anywhere, and if someone actually needed to reach me in a hurry, they’d just call me on the phone. And Facebook. Oh, Facebook. Political rantings, creepy big brothery ads, why, why, why are there so many duck-faced selfies?!, and SO MANY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS. Of course, I finally get my mom to actually use her Facebook account, and I decide to stop. (And we all know I’m not stopping-stopping. But only checking in after I get up, and before bed, and weeding out the crazies never hurt anybody. I deleted the app from my phone, so I’m at the very least, slightly inconvenienced.)

One of my biggest pet peeves is trying to have conversation with someone who won’t stop looking at their phone, and I realized the other day that even though Gus isn’t currently the greatest conversationalist, that’s exactly what I’m doing to him when he’s playing on the floor, or eating some veggie straws, and I’m checking my email. It’s not fair to him, and I don’t want him to grow up that way, and I don’t want to be that mom.

I want to be the mom who makes funny faces, and builds forts, and plays in the pool, and goes to the playground, and teaches him new words, and chases after him making monster sounds until I lose my voice, and (god help me) goes outside (ew) and rides a bike with him (who wants to teach me to ride a bike again?).

When It Rains, It Pours (and my power goes out)

Man.

I’m exhausted.

Last night a storm rolled through town, the whole kit and kaboodle was over in five minutes, but it was enough to knock out power all over town.

This is one of the times I miss living near the city. Stupid tree branches ruin everything.

So, no lights and no AC made for a long, rough night for all three of us. I packed up some groceries (because of course I’d just stocked the fridge!), some clothes, the dogs, toys for everyone, and now Gus and I are camped out at my mother’s.

Gus has mastered crawling and standing. He’s working on cruising and just got two teeth in four days. He’s also mid- Wonder Week.

So, basically, he’s not interested in napping, and today that’s all I want to do.

But he has been exploring the pool, and it’s adorable, so I’ll leave you with that.

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Baby Photo Project

I get a lot of comments about Gus’ monthly pictures. Most are from friends and family who tell me they wish they had done something similar, since before you know it, you’re sending your kids off to college, apparently.

So, while I’m no expert, I DO like to take pictures, and in the last eight months, I’ve figured out some of what works, and what doesn’t when babies are involved. If you’re thinking about starting a photo project, here are my two cents:

Lighting & Position: Unless you have a lot of fancy flashes, and a diffuser, natural light is your best bet. I like to pull a chair up as close as I can facing a large window head on — I only leave enough space in between for me to sit in front of the chair. This way the shadows will be minimal, and if you use the same set-up every time, your pictures will be consistent. When I took Gus’ first monthly picture, I didn’t think about positioning the chair — I just used it as-is, right next to the window. You can see the difference in the shadows from one month to the next (and it drives me crazy).

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I also shoot at Gus’ eye-level, every time. Since he’s oblivious to his chubby cheeks and occasional double-chin, he never objects.

Schedule Smart: This will take a little troubleshooting on your part. You want to pick a time when your baby is happy, and fed. Once you know when naptime(s) might be, you can plan more accordingly. Gus is great first thing in the morning, right after his first feeding, or in the early afternoon after a nap and some food.

Sit Up: This is a little tricky in the beginning. I was lucky, in that Gus had amazing neck strength and head support from the start. I was able to sit him up and as long as I shot fast, he didn’t move. There were a few times he’d tip to one side or the other, but I was never more than a foot away from him, and nine times out of ten, I would reach up to steady him, and my hand was just outside of the frame.

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It … doesn’t always work.

You can certainly start out with your baby laying on a blanket or in their crib, but gooooood luck getting them to keep doing that when they’re seven months old, and spinning like a top.

Be Consistent: If you decide to just take some pictures, willy-nilly, sitting/laying/standing, wearing whatever, in a different room each time, more power to you. That would drive me crazy.
Furniture — I started Gus in an old chair that cradled him really well before he could really sit up, but the back isn’t super tall, so I had to switch it up as he got taller. In retrospect, I would have used the same (taller) chair from the start.
Clothes — One of the decisions I made early on, was to dress Gus in the same thing for every monthly picture: White shirt. Grey pants. I’m so glad I did, because now when you look and all the pictures side-by-side, you don’t really notice his outfit or the background (more about that below) — you just see the changes in his face (and belly! And hair! And feet!) from one month to the next.
Background — Even though I had to switch chairs, no one noticed, because I covered both with the same patterned blanket from the start. Since his clothes were simple, I wanted a little color in the background so that if I ever display them side-by-side, they looked consistent.
Props — When you look at Gus’ pictures all together, you can really see the changes in his face, but you can’t really appreciate how much he’s grown overall. Next time (shout out to future babies!) using a stuffed animal or other meaningful toy for scale would be a good idea.

Distract & Bribe: Babies are easily distracted, so have a small toy that squeaks or rattles ready to go. I hold mine up over my head so he’s looking toward the camera while I shoot with the other hand. Now that he’s mobile, all he wants to do is crawl off the chair, or pull the blanket down over his face, so I’m forced to bribe him with puffs (which he is addicted to). I’m genuinely worried about what will happen when he can stand and walk, so this is not a facet of baby photography I feel I’ve mastered.

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Shoot Fast & Shoot Extras: In addition to being easily distracted, babies aren’t super patient (at least mine isn’t). So I don’t waste a lot of time trying to get the best picture. I just take a lot. Like, whatever you think is enough, take a dozen more. Shake that rattle, squeak that toy, and snap, snap, snap.

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For every published monthly picture, there are usually 40 that get deleted.

Think About Your Final Product: I have a few uses in mind for Gus’ monthly photos. 1) I plan on framing them in something like this, with his first birthday portrait, and eventually doing the same with his K–12 pictures. 2) I’ve been periodically working on a photo book of his first year, and the last sections will use all 12 pictures side-by-side. 3) I’m also planning on making him/us a DVD for his first birthday (videos, photo slideshows set to music) and will use them there as well.