the early months / napping

It was a rough first few months.

The ever-growing dark circles under my eyes could’ve told you that though. No amount of concealer could hide the lost hours of sleep and countless crying spells. I even have a really good concealer…at least according to the lady at Ulta. I wonder if she has kids. I wonder if I had mentioned motherhood if she would have said, “Oh, we have something for that,” and led me to a secret back room with Magic Makeup for Moms. Made by elves.

Anyway, it was a trying time, in many ways. I had(have) a good baby though. A beautiful, healthy, happy girl with a strong taste for short naps. She’s 7 months old now, and still, the majority of her naps are 45 minutes long. That’s how it’s always been. I think she may be starting to grow out of it now. We’ll see. We’ll hope and we’ll see.

I fought it for a long time. I tried everything I could think of to make her naps longer. Was she up too long? Put her down earlier. Up too short? Keep her up longer. Not stimulated enough? Take her on walks, dance for her, make her lift weights.

I read so much about it that I finally just gave up reading about it. It’s too tiring. You can find anything you want to find out if you look it up on the internets. You’ll find arguments from both camps on any subject and you can basically just pick what you want to do anyway.

The other thing about researching everything is that every baby is different. You can find a bunch of info, but no other baby is your baby. So your baby isn’t doing x, y and z yet? That’s okay. Nobody else can tell you exactly what works for him or her. Parenting is so much trial and error. You figure out what you can and can’t do, and you survive. There will always be babies and parents that are doing “better” in your eyes, and there will always be someone with a more difficult situation than yours.

So I just accepted the short naps. It took months, but I accepted them. That’s just Simona’s way. And I can’t necessarily change it. But I can change my outlook.

So I learned to become a fierce multi-tasker. Silver lining, people. Those 45 minutes sure fly by though, when you’re trying to do laundry/respond to emails/clean up the kitchen/take a shower/watch Price is Right.

I’m also learning that these times take patience. A baby is not a machine, as my husband likes to remind me. You can do everything ‘right’ and your baby still doesn’t respond as you’d hoped. Babies are constantly changing and growing and adapting. Just when you think you figured something out they change again. This is both frustrating and beautiful. You wouldn’t want your baby to always remain a baby (or would you?). So if you’re in a rough patch, just keep going. It will pass. Your baby will learn and grow, and you will too, in the process. That’s the bonus. Or maybe…that’s the purpose.

spring pastels

It doesn’t feel like spring around here. Yesterday we woke up to a dusting of snow and a high in the 20s. I had been refusing to wear a winter jacket but I was forced to put one on for a windy walk around the block with Simona.

I keep desperately checking my weather app and finally it’s showing some consistent 40-degree weather with a couple days in the 50s. This winter has been cruel, to say the very least, if those temps seem warm. At the end of March.

But I’m gonna keep eating berries, wearing shorts, and looking at pretty pictures in hopes that I can will spring to be here.

images: one two three four five six

wall hangings

I am not one of those people that gets their decorating and painting done right away. I wish I were, but we moved in seven years ago and my kitchen is still the ugly yellow that is was when we got here and awkward spaces remain on walls where I haven’t gotten around to hanging anything up.

It took having a baby just last year to actually paint over the seafoam green walls in our guest room (complete with a painted cloud ceiling, a ‘grassy’ wall, and a bear/moose border). So yeah, safe to say I’m not a go-getter when it comes to those things. Sorry to all our prior guests who had to sleep in that wild room.

I don’t know why it takes me so long. I guess it’s a matter of prioritization, but once I have some free moments I just end up baking something or sitting and doing not much of anything. I’d like to do better, but it might just be a matter of time.

I do keep my eye out for pretty things I might like to hang up someday, so here are some of my wants and inspirations:

For the kitchen. Found here.

Can’t afford these particular ones, but love the idea.

I die for anything by Katie Daisy, these are two faves though.

I’d love to hang a rug similar to this above our bed. That one is sold out, there are other similar ones though. Also expensive :( .

Because it really is. I want this reminder hanging up somewhere. (All the banners by Secret Holiday are pretty sweet.)

starting solids and big smiles

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen a few of these already…sorry. :)

The day she turned 6 months old. Can hardly believe it!

I was so excited about starting solids with her. Turns out she has kind of a love/hate relationship with it. She got suuuper excited sitting in her chair for the first time (picture on the bottom right), and sometimes likes her rice cereal. Sweet potatoes are touch and go, she hates bananas and avocado. She below for illustration of this.

Guess we’ll keep trying.

She’s started this thing where she smiles really really hard and scrunches up her nose and almost hyperventilates. It’s so cute and I almost captured it here.

She also does the scrunchy face for Pooh bear. Such a fun age this is!

baked apple french toast

On Saturdays of the past, we used to roll out of bed sometime after the sun was well on it’s way overhead, then laze on the couch watching golf or a TV movie until our hunger took over and required us to either go to breakfast or make pancakes if we didn’t feel like looking presentable.

Now on Saturdays, Joseph will get up early with Simona (like the champ he is) and then after he puts her down for her first nap, I stumble out of bed and he usually falls back into it for a nap. When we are both finally functioning, we scrounge up some breakfast. So it’s kind of the same as before, but also totally not.

This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to have a day-old baguette sitting on my counter, and leftover apple mixture from making these hand pies, so I mean pretty much the choice was made for me. I threw together baked french toast using this recipe as my guide but substituting the apples for the berries. I also added some brown sugar to the apples. And man it was good. Joseph ate the leftovers later that day before I could even pull a fork out. Just kidding, I always have a fork. Like Joey.

If you don’t happen to make the hand pies and don’t want to follow the recipe there for the apple mixture, you can just peel and dice an apple and mix it together with a couple pinches of cinnamon, a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, a couple teaspoons of flour, and a splash of lemon juice. Add the candied ginger if you like, it gives an interesting dimension. Otherwise, just follow the recipe for the mixed berry french toast.

pinterest in real life – lentil soup and hand pies

Still going with this…we’ll see how long it lasts!

This week I tried two recipes in the same meal. This lentil soup was up first: I’d been eyeing it repeatedly but thinking it looked too complicated. I’m not sure why. Maybe the words ‘brown butter’ had something to do with it. Anyway, it was pretty easy!

The soup was tasty, but thinner than I expected, I guess. I was anticipating a heartier soup. Maybe I did something wrong. Anyway, it was nice and spicy with an interesting dimension from the curry. We really enjoyed it with some toasty baguette.

Verdict: Saved.

For dessert I made these apple ginger hand pies. It was my first hand-pie-making experience, and it wasn’t a bad one. The dough didn’t give me fits, for a change. I always have trouble with pie dough. This one came together beautifully for me, so bonus already.

The pies themselves were good, but I kind of wanted an ooey-gooey-er filling. It mostly felt like just apples and the ginger. I’m thinking if I make these again I will adjust by adding some brown sugar to the apple mixture or something. I just wanted a little more decadence in there. However, these were great with some vanilla ice cream. Then it becomes a spoon pie, but who cares?

Our favorite part about these though? The crust! It was perrrfect. Flaky with just the right amount of crispy-crunch when you bit into it. If I don’t make this particular filling again, I will probably still use the dough recipe.

Verdict: Saved, if not just for the dough recipe.
Like I said, if I make these again, I will be adjusting the filling to my tastes.

images are not mine, they are from the original recipe posts (soup) (pies)

magazine snippets

Every month, the magazines in my house gang up on me. Better Homes and Gardens, Chicago, Bon Appetit…they all just sit there and beckon at me to have a perfect house, an exciting social life, a meal in my crockpot every night. I tend to ignore their advances and just let them pile up. In fact, after I had Simona, I let them go so long that I had two giant (like a foot tall each) stacks to go through. That’s a lotta magazines.

I should have probably just thrown them out, but being kind of OCD about it, I had to go through them to make sure I didn’t miss anything good. Are you like that, or is it just me?

Anyway, I finally got through them but have since let a number of my subscriptions expire. There’s just no time. I do still get a couple though, not to mention catalogs, and I try to regularly go through the old ones to keep up with the clutter. Then I tear out and file the pages I like (told you I was OCD about this…tell me it’s not just me), and I’ve decided to share some of those here.

Planning to make this this week.

Totally a post-workout drink. Now I just have to workout.

You had me at lavender. Then at lemon. Then at cake.

White decor, always and forever.

Exposed brick – check.
Mid-century modern furniture – check.
Lots of light + white – check.
Industrial flair – check.

my favorite things for baby (months 1-6)

If you’ve had a baby or are pregnant, chances are you’ve come face to face with the dreaded registry process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so fun to start picking out things for your baby, but when you walk into the veritable warehouse that is Babies’R'us and are smacked in the face with at least 14 options of every single thing you might possibly need, it can be a little overwhelming.

I remember the day we registered. I remember walking into the store and saying to Joseph, “can’t someone just tell us the things we need?” I knew we didn’t need things like a baby butt fan or a crumb cap, but where to go from there? What was essential and what was a luxury?

Obviously things like burp cloths, diapers, clothes and sheets were essential. We slowly knocked things off the suggested list, but somewhere in between the aisle lined with 25 different baby bouncers and the pack ‘n’ play museum, I was about tuckered out. Being 7 months pregnant isn’t ideal for lots of decisions being made while on your feet and without any food.

So besides the basics, what are the other things that are nice to have without being excessive? This post got me thinking about what things worked for us. Of course every baby is going to be different, and every set of parents has their unique style and priorities, but here are some of our picks.

1. These socks - All the other baby socks we had usually ended up off the feet more often than on the feet, but these actually stay on. It’s a wonder.

2. Lamaze Freddy the Firefly – I was originally against toys like this, thought they were so obnoxious-looking. But you know what, they’re like that for a reason. Baby doesn’t care if you have a stylish looking toy, she just wants to be entertained. And Simona really loves this guy, he’ll occupy her for a long time. (see top picture) But she does love her Sophie, too, if you’re looking for a trendier toy.

3. Infantino Baby Gym – I was also against these. I didn’t want any tacky baby stuff taking up space in my house. But Simona spends like half her day in this sometimes. I seriously wonder what I’d do with her if not for this. I mean, you can just put the baby on it’s back, but then all they can stare at is the ceiling. This is so great for learning to grab things – I remember when Simona started swiping at the dangling toys and we were stupid excited. Now she’ll grab one hard and shake it with a fiery vengeance. We’ve had it for months and she still plays with the animals.

4. Miracle Blanket – This kind of saved us. Simona would continually houdini her way out of a traditional swaddle, and she hated those velcro flap ones. And she wouldn’t sleep unswaddled for quite some time. This doesn’t require any noisy velcro and the baby can’t break free of it. She slept well in this.

5. Aquaphor - I thought babies were inherently and permanently soft-skinned, so I was surprised when Simona would get dry patches on her skin and cheeks. I used various baby lotions, but Aquaphor is fantastic for healing those dry patches fast. This is the ‘baby’ Aquaphor, but regular works just fine.

What are your favorite baby things?