Friday, March 3, 2017

READ: Beginner Classical Piano Music





Let me just preface this by admitting-I am not musical AT ALL. The only experience I've had with instruments is the recorder in second grade (along with 90% of America). I got this book in the hopes that my daughter would have a broader musical experience than I have. It is amazing! No experience is needed as far as reading music, etc. The lessons are very much taught for beginners-it's not one of those books that claims to be for beginners but then goes completely over an amateur's head. The bullet points make it easy to read and I love the embedded video links-they're included in the corresponding section of the book so it's very easy to go back and forth. The first section is all about learning the basic concepts and section two actually goes in to learning the various songs. The graphics are clean and easy to look out-students would benefit from printing them out to refer back to while at the piano.

The videos are taken from the pianist's perspective so the student knows what their view should look like at the piano. They are paced very well-I never once had to go back because I got hung up on a point. There is also no limit to the number of times you can watch the videos so you are always free to refer back to them. I highly recommend purchasing the kindle version of this book for the corresponding videos. This is the first kindle book I've purchased that is interactive like this which only enhances it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FOOD: Baby Purees

It's no secret if you know me; I love to cook. When I was working in Corporate America, I would bring in food (usually dessert) weekly. It wasn't so much that I loved my co-workers (though there were some great ones!) but it was a way for me to relax from the stress of my job.

Now that I have my dream job (SAHM), cooking isn't so much a way for me to relax as it is a way to show my family how much I love them. When the pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to start incorporating food in our daughter's diet, I was so excited to start "cooking" for her!


Here are the tools of the trade:

-4 oz containers (love these)
-Produce wash (I try to buy organic whenever possible)
-Plastic bags
-Ice cube trays (love the ones with lids to prevent freezer burn)


A quick note on the BabyCook. There are a lot of baby food cookers on the market but this one is well worth the price tag. I've noticed the majority of the other cookers only act as steamers. This not only steams your produce but also blends it! I love that I only need one gadget to clutter my counters  and love having less dishes to wash! I was able to find ours used on a local for sale group on Facebook.



Step 1: Chop your fruits/veggies! Size doesn't really matter but do try to chop the pieces to roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Right now I'm cooking tomatoes so I did also remove (most) of the seeds.


Step 2: Pour water into the chamber on the left and place the steamer basket full of produce. Place the lid on it and turn the dial to "steam" and let it do its thing!

Step 3: Once the handy light on the dial turns off, the tomatoes are done cooking! Simply drop them from the basket into the main bowl. Replace the lid and turn the dial to blend.


Step 4: Once the puree reaches desired consistency (super smooth for younger babies, chunkier for older) either pour into 4-oz containers for the fridge or into ice cub trays to freeze.

*Handy tip* If freezing the puree, first stick the tray (without the lid) in the refrigerator to cool down before sticking it in the freezer. This, along with either a lid or plastic wrap (or even both), helps to prevent freezer burn.

Step 5 (for freezing): Once trays are completely frozen, empty into plastic bags for storage. Make sure to release as much trapped air as possible.



And you're done! I usually spread this out over the course of one weekend and freeze the majority of prepped food. Depending on how much I've made, I'm set for at least a month. It's so nice knowing what exactly my daughter is eating...and it's way cheaper than buying premade baby food! 

Per the pediatrician's instruction, we introduced a new food once a day everyday for three days. This helps to not only pinpoint her dislikes (nothing so far!) but also any allergies (we've been lucky). Once the three days are past, that food makes it into the rotation. Since she's eaten pretty much every fruit/vegetable available to us/appropriate for her age, I'm now starting to combine ingredients to make blends.



This book has been so helpful! Each chapter is designed for a certain age group. In addition to the food I've made, we also give her baby cereal (aka "paste") and meat purees. Sometimes I'll add dry cereal to thicken a watery puree. My girl loves to eat! Here are some of her favorites so far:

-Apples or pears with a little bit of cinnamon
-Spinach and mango blend (just like mama's smoothies!)
-Corn
-Avocado (mama likes this one too-it doesn't need to be cooked, just stir to desired consistency!)
-Broccoli

Don't be afraid to use frozen produce! The majority of fruits or vegetables are frozen at the peak of freshness-sometimes I can buy frozen produce that's fresher than what's available at our commissary.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

LIFE: Accountability

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to have a healthy pregnancy. I mean, who doesn't? But by that I mean I did not want to be one of those women giving into a burger craving at 2 in the morning. I wanted to eat healthy and continue working out; not just for the health of my baby but also because I wanted to get my pre-baby body back as soon as possible. The maximum amount of weight I wanted to gain was 20 pounds, which was right at what would be considered a healthy amount for someone my size.


The first few weeks, I did great! I'm talking green smoothies, quinoa, you name it. And then came the "morning" sickness. I lost five pounds over the course of my first trimester because not only did the thought of most food make me sick, even the food I was able to eat I threw up.  Once this subsided around 26 weeks, I was feeling great! I was able to eat again and return to the gym with my doctor's approval. I stayed more or less healthy food-wise. That said, if I wanted pizza rather than grilled chicken for dinner, I was going to have pizza. I didn't diet but ate the foods I wanted within reason. I also committed to going to the gym at least twice a week plus took our dog on 1+ mile walks on non-gym days.


And then came the third trimester. There was a point about midway through the trimester I just could not go to the gym anymore. And not just because people were starting to give me weird looks (has no one seen a pregnant woman work out before??) but because the time and effort it took for me to get to the gym just wasn't worth the crummier my workouts were getting; for example the time in which it took me to do a mile's worth of cardio pretty much doubled. I kept walking the dog and occasionally lifted some light dumbbells at home but that was it. Until about 35 weeks at which point even getting up from the couch was an effort!


Ultimately I gained about 30 pounds. Almost eight weeks after baby girl came, I am about 14 pounds from my pre-baby weight. I just received clearance from my doctor to start working out again, so no more excuses! I hit the gym yesterday for the first time in about three months and was positive it was going to be the worst workout of my life. But it wasn't. While definitely not back at my normal activity level, I was able to do a slightly below-average cardio workout. Next visit, I'll incorporate weights. As I am resuming my workouts, I also want to eat healthier--that way I can splurge a little on  Christmas, etc without feeling guilty!


So here is my commitment:
-Gym twice a week (includes cardio and weight lifting)-would love to go three times but we'll see what's possible with a baby who's too young for the kids' center
-Free weights OR yoga once a week at home
-Walk baby girl and Tino weather permitting
-Follow adapted version of 21-day fix


What do I mean by "adapted version"?
-Instead of paying $80 for the containers & tutorials, I bought the containers off a local Facebook sale group for $10. I found the following helpful graphics on Pinterest.


https://jmkpeterson.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/21-day-fix-review/

http://thefitnessfocus.com/21-day-fix/sample-meal-plan-grocery-shopping-list-21-day-fix

As it is the holiday season, I will not be sticking to this religiously. I will eat meals as directed by the charts but if I want a Christmas cookie, I'm having one. I will also take days off (dieting on Christmas? I don't think so.) I am also operating under the assumption I can have as much coffee as I want--to do otherwise means I would have no husband and no friends!

I do plan on updating the blog with my successes (or setbacks). I won't necessarily do that on a regular basis as that would bore you, but when I have sometime to report, I'll do so. My overall goal isn't necessarily to get back to the pre-baby number on the scale but rather to lose fat, gain and tone muscle, and have more energy for my baby and hubby! So until then, wish me luck!

"Today is going to be a great day. I can and i will." - Gina Rodriguez 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

LIFE: Welcome to the World...


On October 18th, the hubs' and my lives changed forever. This little angel decided to grace us with her presence,  three weeks early just like her mama before her did.





The hubs left for drill that morning  (why do all these bug things happen over drill weekends??) He was training at a nearby base so he was actually able to come home that night around 11 for a few hours to catch some sleep. Around 2:30 in the morning, I got out of bed as per usual only this time when I stood up...my water broke.



I spent a good 10 minutes scurrying around the bathroom before I woke the hubs up. I will say, as soon as I yelled his name, he bolted out of bed though I don't know if that's because he still thought he was at drill or not. We hurriedly finished packing our bags (rather I finished packing mine, the hubs packed his) and left a bewildered Tino for the hospital. Another thing we left behind? Our birth plan, which I spent so long researching and putting together!



When we got there, I was put in a temporary room while they made sure my water did in fact break (maybe they thought I peed my pants?) We were then moved to a delivery room where they started me on pitocen, which they then stopped after an hour.



I'd love to say I was one of those women who didn't need drugs...but I was pretty much asking for them as soon as I could. How some women go through 24+ hours of labor with no drugs, I have no idea but my personal opinion is that it is not the 1800s so I will accept all the help I can get! The Harry Potter marathon that was on TV at the time could only distract me so much.



Around 1 pm, they finally let me start pushing and an hour and a half later, she was here!



CEH born at 2:55 pm
5 lbs, 13 oz
18 in



Despite her early arrival, she was healthy! Her sugars were a little low so we had to start her on donor milk at the hospital. She weighed JUST enough to not have to do the carseat check but did have to take the hearing test twice as she didn't pass the first time.



Other than being suuuper sore (best ab/back workout ever), my only health issue was my BP which had skyrocketed a couple of days before. In fact I was supposed to go back to the doctor the following day to be tested for pre-eclampsia. They currently have me on medicine right now which isn't fun so cross your fingers I can go off it soon!



Because she was early, we did have to stay in the hospital 48 hours rather than 24. In fact because of my BP, we almost had to stay an extra day but I oh so nicely informed the doctors that wasn't going to happen. So we made our way home on October 20th,  the hubs' and my 2nd anniversary!



The nurses at our hospital were incredible. Our hospital also did not have a nursery (except for NICU) so this little girl got to stay in our room the whole time, which I loved. She also did skin-to-skin with me for an hour  (probably longer as the nurse was so nice and didn't want to disturb us) right after she was born, which was another standard practice at our hospital. This was so valuable and I highly recommend requesting it if it is not SOP at your hospital. Other than the typical benefits, the baby is also a nice distraction while they're getting you...all fixed up shall we say?



We've been home for about two weeks now and our girl is doing incredible. She's eating like a champ now, sleeps like a log, and really only cries if we don't feed her on time. This,  combined with all the drama of getting her here, makes us so incredibly grateful and appreciative to have her in our arms. It's a cliché for a reason-we truly cannot imagine what we ever did without her.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The One Question I Will Never Ask Anyone...


One of the first questions I was asked after the Hubs and I got engaged was when we were planning on having kids. At that point, I was like "whoaaa, give me some time there," and that was exactly how I felt. The first few months of our marriage, we had fun being selfish; we enjoyed treating ourselves once and awhile and going on dates every so often. After "living poor" while we were engaged (we saved $20,000 over a year to pay for our wedding), we had fun being able to splurge a little.


Initially we had planned to wait a year before having kids. Whenever someone would bring up the question, we'd brush it off because we simply weren't in that mindset yet. Then something happened. I don't think either of us could tell you what exactly it was, but a few months after our wedding, we were ready. So off the pill I went. We both told ourselves we weren't "trying" yet-we just weren't preventing either. I think we both needed that just in case nothing happened; it's ok, we're not really trying anyway.


And nothing did happen. So we started "trying" for real. And still nothing happened. I bought the at-home ovulation tests, the prenatal vitamins. I resumed my pre-wedding workouts and went back to eating healthier. And still, nada.


I probably should point out, I had always been irregular. I could go months without that wonderful monthly visitor. While initially, my teenaged self thought for sure it meant I was pregnant (never mind that I hadn't actually had sex, #catholiceducation), as I matured I came to the conclusion that this wasn't actually a bad thing- who enjoys this monthly experience anyway??


However, at this time in my life all I wanted was to be normal. Because of this, I had to take a pregnancy test every single month- I wasn't getting a period anyway, maybe this month it will be the real deal. I was so not going to be one of those women on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Every single month, heartache and failure. It got to the point I wouldn't even tell the Hubs I took a test-he'd just see the package in the trash and know we didn't get the desired outcome.


I don't know if I can put into words how painful this all was for me. It seemed like everyone I knew was getting pregnant and having babies. We were now at our one year anniversary, the time we initially told ourselves we were going to start trying. Halloween was a killer, it being our first year in a house having trick-or-treaters. After we turned the porch light off, I broke down and cried. It just wasn't fair.


I didn't understand. I felt like growing up, as a teenager, and with TV shows like Teen Mom, you hear stories of women forgetting to take their pill one day and getting pregnant. I had been off for months, why nothing? We so badly wanted a baby and yet others who did not were being given the life I wanted.


I was miserable. This, combined with a stressful work environment (I still had the job I took solely as a means to pay for our wedding), and being so far from friends and family...I gave up. It was completely bitter, I didn't fully accept what was happening, I just felt like for whatever reason I didn't get to have the kind of life I wanted.


As the weeks and months went by, I started accepting it. Maybe it wasn't happening now because I was meant to do other things-quit my job, pursue my Master's Degree...basically do whatever I thought would make me happy. At this point, the Hubs had joined the Guard, providing him with an outlet from the pressures of his job (it takes a special person to whom the military is an escape from pressure!) so dangit, now it was my turn!


I started investing time into working out a plan-finding schools, applying for scholarships, looking for part-time work while I pursued my degree, etc. I was starting to finally get excited about something else.


It was now one year after officially starting to "try"- the time most fertility doctors make you wait before making an appointment with them. We still had not given up on this dream so we made an appointment. But gone were my days of putting all my eggs in one basket- whatever happened I was going to make the best of it.


It was now March. A Friday evening to be exact. The Hubs was getting to leave for his first official drill weekend, meaning I wouldn't see him again until Sunday night. The following week we'd have our first appointment with a fertility specialist. After he left, I decided to take one last test, fully knowing it would be negative. I knew if I went into the appointment not knowing I was 100% NOT pregnant, I'd have that little flicker of hope that the doctor would tell me "Surprise! You don't actually need me!" I didn't want that, I needed to be realistic. So I took the test. Normally, I'd hang around and watch that lonely little line form. This time, I set it on the bathroom counter and went around the house, picking up and doing random chores.


At some point, I remembered I needed to go throw the test away, so I went back upstairs...and there were two lines. Huh?? I thought for sure it was one line that meant negative. So I read the instructions. Twice. Ah well, it was an old test so it probably wasn't accurate anymore. I didn't even allow myself a little bit of hope. I went to the store, grabbed a couple boxes, chugging water the whole time. I took a couple more tests, one brand said "pregnant 1-2 weeks", the other had two lines-the second being so faint, you couldn't see it unless you were looking. I figured I probably wasn't pregnant but I'd take another test in the morning just to be sure.


Needless to say, the test(s) I took in the morning (after NOT chugging a bunch of water) were much more conclusive and convincing. You'd think I'd be happy...and I was, to a point. More than anything, I was scared. Ok so now I was pregnant...surely something will happen. Health problems. Miscarriage. I was scared of being too happy, only to have it taken away.


A couple of days later, the Hubs came home and this happened. We were both so over the moon. Yet the fears didn't go away. A couple of weeks later, I started bleeding. We had to have an early ultrasound to "ensure viability". What a horrible term-viability. Not only did we have to wait a day to have the exam performed, we had to wait another 24 hours for the radiologist to even review it! Everything ultimately was ok but I think we both felt somewhat cheated-our first ultrasound was not a happy experience. And to a lesser point-it didn't even look like a baby at the time!


The weeks went by without any issues (other than such God-awful morning sickness I wouldn't wish upon anybody). I quit my job, needing to remove such a huge amount of stress from my life. We had our second ultrasound-finally time to know if it was a boy or girl! We left that exam feeling elated. Until a few days later, I received a phone call. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you what exactly the nurse said other than "possibility of Down's Syndrome". I was crushed. Not that we would love a baby with DS any less-not at all. I just felt like I had done something wrong.


From what I have cobbled together since then, the main reason the nurse called was because the baby was being so stubborn about not moving during the exam, they didn't have any good views of her spine (we have decided she's stubborn like her mama). So they wanted to perform another exam so they would be able to get those views. The other reason was because there was a bright spot on the baby's bladder which is one indicator of Down's Syndrome. They offered to have me come in later that day for the Quad Screen, which I had initially refused. This would provide us with a probability of the baby having DS, among other diseases. This was designed to put my mind to ease as we would have to wait another month before doing the additional ultrasound.


So I had the blood test and was again told results in 24 hours. The next day right before the office closed, I hadn't heard anything so I called and was told the results had just come in (amazing how that happens right before you call, isn't it?) and there was a next to no chance based upon my age and other genetic factors in my blood that the baby would have DS or any other disease the Quad Screen tests for.


Relief. I didn't do anything wrong. A few weeks later, the additional ultrasound was performed, alleviating any additional concerns as the bright spot had faded.


After all this it has pretty much been smooth sailing. I won't lie and say it's all been pleasant (hello 100 degree summer with no A/C) but the fact that we're only four weeks away from welcoming our baby girl...I didn't think we'd ever get here.


So that is why I will never ask someone when they are planning on having kids. Maybe they were planning having them a year ago...and they can't.


We'll see after this little girl is here how long it takes before we are asked when we are having another...because we honestly don't know. I don't know if I can go through everything again. Or if I want to. Or if I'll even be physically able to. We don't know what our future holds so I think we'll just enjoy our present.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

32 weeks







Some pics from an impromptu indoor maternity session with my friends Amber and Brittney!


How far along?  32 weeks
Total weight gain/measurements: Around  25 :( :(
Maternity clothes: oh yes. My baggy t-shirts no longer fit either so I had to move on to the hubs'!
Stretch marks: Just noticed the first a couple of days ago. I use lotion 2x a day and just ordered Mederma's Stretch Mark Therapy so we'll see if that works.
Sleep: Once I crash, I crash hard but it's falling asleep that's the problem! 
Best moment this week: We started our baby classes :) it's mostly been about the breathing and pain management I always thought was useless  (I mean, I know it's going to hurt, that's why they invented drugs). I was hoping it would be more about what to do once the baby is here! But we discovered one of our neighbors is in the same class so I'm hopeful it will help us become friends- it would be nice to know another mama with a baby the same age as mine.
Miss anything? Wine and unlimited coffee.
Movement: My god she's gotten STRONG and more active! Some of her movements actually make me really uncomfortable, I think she's running out of room! 
Food cravings: Nothing weird, I'm off my Spaghettios kick finally :)
Anything making you queasy or sick? Not really, I'm more tired than anything now.
Gender: girl
Labor signs:None
Symptoms: Other than being bigger, none really. 
Belly button in or out? In still thankfully 
Wedding rings on or off? They don't fit over my knuckle anymore :(
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy for the most part, unless I'm hungry. Or have to pee. Or am sleepy.
Looking forward to: Maternity pictures and WA shower next week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

28 weeks




Tino was so exhausted, he slept the whole way home!

How far along?  28 weeks
Total weight gain/measurements: 19 lbs
Maternity clothes: oh yes.
Stretch marks: Nada, still using lotion and cocoa butter religiously.
Sleep: It's starting to get rough. Last night I got up SEVEN times to pee before I finally fell asleep at 2 am. And even with my pillow it's hard getting comfortable. I miss sleeping on my back!
Best moment this week: We went to Cannon Beach with friends! The weather was gorgeous, we brought Tino, and I got lots of color!
Miss anything? curling up on the couch or in bed. Curling up is currently a thing of the past.
Movement: She definitely has her patterns but overall seems to like her sleep which makes this mama happy! 
Food cravings: Still Spaghettios. So weird.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Our neighbors have been grilling/smoking their meat. Because we don't have air conditioning, all our windows are open and it pretty much makes me want to die.
Gender: girl
Labor signs:None!
Symptoms: Other than being bigger, none really. 
Belly button in or out? In
Wedding rings on or off? Off with the heat.
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy for the most part, unless I'm hungry. Or have to pee. Or am sleepy.
Looking forward to: I think I deserve a pedicure, don't you? ;)