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Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Mornings & Meal Plans

Good morning!

Will is still working on those upper teeth, so we were up bright and early at 1:30, 5:30, and 6:15. I've been able to see the whites of his two big teeth for about a week, and I think I see part of his gum bubbling (is that a thing?), but they still haven't broke through. The thought of molars makes me want to poop my pants in utter fear. 

Yet somehow it just isn't as bad as when he was younger, and it doesn't hurt that our mornings look like this for the most part:

He cries until you go retrieve him from his crib, but once you go in, he giggles maniacally for the rest of the morning.

He is happy to be alive, that's for sure.

I nurse him (or at least I'll try), pop him in his high chair for a banana and/or scrambled egg while I brew some coffee, and then I get to leave him to his own devices barricaded in the living room, for the most part, until he's ready for his morning nap.

Not a bad spread:


And yeah, we keep very few toys in this room. What a poor, deprived kid. I put them in our entertainment console and slowly ration them out to keep things exciting - though he usually ends up gnawing on the DVD remote, my phone, or the baby monitor. Whatever lets me sit and enjoy my coffee and muffin.

Switching gears. Nell started a new link-up to help you meal plan, and I need such inspiration and motivation, so here goes. 

// Sunday - Chicken noodle soup. I go off this recipe. Sort of. It's something that's really hard to mess up. I made a huge batch and gave half to the fam of a deployed airman!

// Monday - Broccoli cheddar soup (from Nell's own post!!) with easy bread

// Tuesday - Chicken and rice casserole. (I'll have to post the recipe at some point because I can't find anything similar online!)

// Wednesday - Grilled pork tenderloin, roasted red potatoes, and peas. 

// Thursday - Chicken pesto pasta. Basically an opportunity to throw in any and all veggies that have been sitting in my fridge! Spinach, tomato, peas, peppers. Anything goes.

// Friday - Eggplant parmesan. Trying out a new recipe I found on Pinterest.

// Saturday - Out. The plan is to head to Schlafly's with our Air Force Ball door prize gift card after hitting up the St. Louis zoo.

I have most of these ingredients in my kitchen already, so that's a win. And I should probably plan next week ASAP because pay day is Friday and we all know . . . 

. . . or the weekend immediately thereafter for that matter.

Hope you all CRUSH this Monday. 

Until next time.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

All Very Interesting Things (7QT)

So I took some pics of baby Will yesterday and since this is my mom blog I get to share them with you and discuss the very interesting things that come to mind with each photo. (Seven photos to be exact, therefore linking up with Jen.) 


Now that we're home, we are back in cloth diapers after a two month hiatus. One month was due to a rash misdiagnosis (not yeast - just eczema) and one month was from all the travel. I spent upwards of $40+ on disposables the past month. The agony.

Anyway, I'd been suspecting the diapers weren't getting clean enough with our current wash cycle, and after two months of sitting in our storage closet, my answer was yes, these are smelling a little weird. Fellow runner/blogger/mother-of-a-baby-Will, Julia mentioned that she'd be stripping her diapers after joining a little Facebook group called "Fluff Love & CD Science," so good blog follower that I am, I joined up, got sucked in, and my world has been rocked. Rocked, I tell you!

I got away with my former wash cycle for so long because between breastfed poop and using liners, the diapers just weren't getting that dirty. Suffice it to say, after starting solids and ditching the liners . . . they get reaaaal dirty now. So, I stripped and bleached all my diapers the other day and changed up my wash routine. (Despite what you've heard, stripping is easy.) I can only share SO MANY pictures of my baby over and over again, so head's up, I'll be sharing all my wonderful laundry findings with you this week. Keep your finger on that refresh button! ;)


Will she ever stop talking about diapers? Fine. Sometimes when I'm changing Will, I think, my goodness he's thinned out so much. And then I see pictures like this and I'm like, nah, still a fatso.


While he's certainly not famished, I've been worried lately about how much breast milk he's been getting in his diet. I went from crazy strong overactive letdown, to now barely feeling letdown. I'm just not sure whether he's getting enough when I'm not letting down, and I'm only feeling good letdowns about 3-4x per day, typically in the early AM (~4am), before his morning nap (~10am), sometimes before his afternoon nap (~2pm), and before dinner (~5:30pm). I'm also offering when he wakes up around 6:30am, after his afternoon nap since he normally doesn't take much, and before bed. Opinions on a new routine are welcome!!! I'm sick of offering and him doing the sucking/popping off/sucking/popping off/whining/whining/sucking/repeat/repeat/repeat.

Oh, and he will eat his body weight in solids after a full nursing session. Last night I had to cut him off after he'd mooched half my dinner off me and was making me shovel Greek yogurt into him. Something tells me these eating habits are hereditary, but I don't know, I'm only on my fourth bowl of oatmeal (probably because he mooched so many bites . . .).


Speaking of breastfeeding woes, I can tell you that those two little fangs pictured above are very, very sharp. His top two fangs are also juuuust about to pop through. I live in a constant state of fear when he nurses. I am getting better at anticipating when he's going to take a chomp, but . . . I hope this is a phase. If not, we are eagerly counting down to his first birthday. 


Go home, baby Will, you're drunk. Just kidding, he doesn't drink alcohol. Not until he's 6! (Good old, Catholics.)


His sleep schedule is back in a nice routine and he is so happy. I know I mentioned before that he won't let me sit on the computer while he entertains himself, but yesterday he did. And he is right now!

Yesterday, I gave myself the day "off" because, in addition to stripping/bleaching/laundering diapers, roasting a chicken, baking bread, and cleaning too much the day before, Will was on a recruiting trip all day and we knew he wouldn't be home until late. So I watched more TV than usual in the morning, and perhaps spent more time on social media than usual in the afternoon, and this kid could not have cared less.



Mommy blogger.

No shame in my game.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Dawn of Mobility

In the spirit of contradicting parenting advice, everyone told me that I would either (a) love when Will becomes mobile because he can entertain himself or (b) hate when Will becomes mobile because he will get into everything.

I'm just gonna go with YES.

At first there was a comedy of parenting errors that had me seriously considering buying the kid a helmet. I was all about helicoptering when he would fall safely on his bottom, and attempting to play it cool "no rescue" style when he proceeded to fall flat on his face. Now I get the whole mom guilt thing. 

A few weeks later, here we are.

Just trying to ruin our stuff one wobbly death-grip at a time.

For the most part, I love that he can happily entertain himself without any parental involvement. Notwithstanding the fact that I injured my shoulder doing a ninja roll in our living room yesterday trying to get him to laugh. You definitely have to supervise (see below), but it takes a lot less energy to reactively supervise than to proactively entertain. In my opinion.

While there are still a few bumps and bruises now and again, I'm mostly having to adjust and come to terms with the fact that nothing is safe. His two little fangs mixed with his acidic drool can cut straight through anything. I must know - what kinds of enzymes are in that drool of his that can tear through thick paperbacks like a knife through butter? It is an anomaly of the physical world, I tell you.

And he moved the little turtle walker over there to sit next to him . . . ? Best buds . . . ? I hope he makes the turtle his lovey because that would be the WEIRDEST. Talk about "grace-filled parenting" if I started letting him take the turtle into his crib. 

But SERIOUSLY what is it about dog bowls that attract crawling babies like a moth to a flame? I know I'm not the only one who wonders with a shaking fist to the heavens. He makes a bee-line straight for the water bowl every. single. time. I set him down and try and do a load of laundry. He can't wait to dive in head-first and start splashing around! But put him in the bath tub, and he immediately tries to stand up and get out. Only bacteria-ridden liquid for this little aquatics lover.

FURTHERMORE, why must he lick all the things the dogs lick? He seems to have a penchant for winding up with the one, single dog toy in the house in his mouth each time I turn my head. 

These questions, they need answers.

Babies. They are so weird.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Recipe Roundup

There's just something about Fall that makes me want to spend all day in the kitchen. Part of it is probably that Will can happily occupy himself while I am either cooking or doing dishes. Sadly, he mysteriously does not behave this way when I am sitting at a computer.

PicMonkey had mustache graphics and I just could not resist.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite fall recipes that keep the oven toasty during the cooler months.

Tyler Florence's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

First off, I'm always roasting chicken. I use the meat for various recipes throughout the week and then make my own chicken stock. It's THE BEST.

Then, I use the Tyler Florence recipe, only I use about 12 cups of chicken stock, the whole bag of noodles (12 oz.) and about 4 stalks each of carrot and celery.

You can never make too much chicken noodle soup.

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast

When I was pregnant with Will, I would buy the little individual serving bottles of wine just for this recipe, and then finish off the last bit of it as a treat to myself. Nowadays, I'm sure the big bottles will do just fine.

Cream Cheese Chicken Chili via To the Heights

We had this last night because I dropped the ball and forgot to take chicken out of the freezer to thaw. I cut her recipe in half and we still have enough leftovers for Will to have lunch the next day. Her double-sized recipe is just a little too much creamy goodness for our Crockpot.

Easy Bread via Romancing Reilly

I make this bread all the time. I break down the recipe into thirds to make an individual loaf fresh each time we want some. The triple batch is just TOO MUCH bread and since there are no preservatives, the mold typically gets to it before we do. 

1 C lukewarm water
1.5 t yeast
1.5 t coarse salt
2+ C flour

Combine and let rise for a few hours. Knead in quarter turns and let rise on pan for 40 minutes. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

Ain't nothing like fresh-baked bread.

(We also use this recipe for chicken pesto pizza and other homemade pizzas.)

World Market Spicy Tortilla Soup

This is another recipe that I make when I don't want to think too hard about what to make. Add extra veggies to feel better about yourself!

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Originally taken from this recipe and then adapted by the wonderful Kallah in such a way that makes you feel healthier about your life, and then adapted again by me.

1 C canned pumpkin
1 C pure maple syrup
1 stick melted butter
1 egg
2 C whole wheat flour

1/4 C all-purpose flour (optional)
2 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon

1 t pumpkin spice
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 T vanilla extract
2 C semisweet chocolate chips

Combine pumpkin, syrup, butter, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients and slowly add to pumpkin mixture. Here, I typically add about 1/4 C of all-purpose flour to thicken it up a little more. (When you're working with syrup rather than sugar, things have a tendency to be a little more gooey.)  Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips. (I take a couple scoops out without chocolate chip to feed to the beast known as my son.) Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

Whirley Pop Kettle Corn

Yes, I've blogged about the kettle corn obsession before, BUT! BUT! there is a life-changing update here. USE COCONUT OIL. The flavor is perfection.

Whirley Pop on the stove at medium.
Add 2 T of coconut oil. (omgomgomgsogood)
Put in 3-4 kernels and wait for the pops.
Add 1/2 C kernels.
Wait for more pops and add 1/4 C sugar.
Crank until popping slows.
Add salt to taste.

Any recipes you totally forget about during the summer and just LOVE once cooler weather hits? Do share!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Motherhood Lately

I thought it's been too long since I've blogged about poop, so let's check in and have another motherhood discussion.

As you know, we were recently in North Carolina visiting with friends and family. Traveling with a baby is a fast road to burnout. Most of you already know this, but indulge me for a second if I may elaborate.

First, little Will came down with a cold and down with it went any expectations for sleep. When it cleared up, we had just one day of reprieve, when then, he started cutting his four top teeth and has had explosive diarrhea for over a week. (If you were lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a photo of a blowout. . .  you are very welcome! Also, it's finally subsiding, so worry not.) And I think Will wins the prize for slowest teether ever, but that could just be my momness coming through, thinking my kid is extra special and all.

The point is: Blowouts. Sleep problems. Crankiness. So. Much. Friggin. Poop.

It was a constant battle for self-control over extreme anger ("ANOTHER diaper change?!!"), extreme pity ("My poor baby!"), extreme paranoia ("Is he DYING?!"), and extreme sleep-deprivation (likely contributing to the paranoia, but here we also have to blame the old, interminable Internet).

For our return trip, Will braved the skies with sick little Will on a nonstop Raleigh to St. Louis flight, and I was tasked with safely navigating the Subaru home. (Yeah, we bought a Subaru. Give her two additional points on the crunchy scale. Boo ya.)

I was perhaps a little too excited for this drive. Twelve uninterrupted hours of sitting still, yet in a very concrete way being extremely productive? A mom's dream come true. But let's also just say I had a lot of time to both come to know current events via satellite talk radio and also process my thoughts on them. 

Boy, there's a lot of noise out there these days. 

War. Panic. Outrage. Competition.

And I have the type of personality where I'm easily swept up in it. Supreme Court, Church Synod, Political Campaigns . . . Picture my little brain as a hamster on a wheel relentlessly chasing a dangling carrot just out of reach. With sweaty armpits and everything. That represents my brain sometimes. And, actually, my armpits.

It comes back to staying grounded. Oh my gosh, how I can lose sight of the important things when I'm not careful. Getting back into a prayer routine is a given. But I've also been reading St. Therese ever since I got back home. (Maurice and Therese: The Story of  Love, to be precise. Thanks, Lauren!) 

Being so burnt out and caught up in all the craziness of the world we live in, finally picking up this book could not have come at a better time. St. Therese has brilliant insight about just forgetting yourself, embracing your smallness---not letting yourself be discouraged by it, a special weakness of mine---and acting in love above all else. Which is a little ironic because she was a brilliant prodigy, and obviously not a small figure in religious literature by any means, but I digress.

I needed this lesson so badly, to stop (literally and figuratively) sweating everything. 

I've never been so happy to just be settled into our little old routine again, enjoying the mundaneness, finding joy and humor in the poop trials, and despite myself, trying and do the small things with great love. Because changing poopy diaper after poopy diaper can be a spiritual exercise, you guys. Lest we forget.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Day That Crazy Built

Blog friends. 

What would I do without them?

Sink into the Illinois cornfields of despair, most likely.

I knew Kallah (who recently took her blog private---ask for access!!) from college, but we weren't close friends. We were both poli sci majors at Belmont Abbey, so we had several classes together and would have intense philosophical conversations during our many study group sessions, but we never really hung out outside of the academic setting. After I learned that she was married on the exact same day as me and Will, we started Facebook messaging occasionally, and then our friendship took off when I started blogging. 

Kallah knew Sarah from some mutual friends, but was also a blog reader. I quickly followed suit and started reading Sarah's blog, but Kallah "introduced" us via a group text that has never stopped since. We could really text each other all day, every day, until the end of time. Thank goodness for the limitless of iMessage.

We'd seen each other through so many trials on that simple iMessage thread. Kallah's adjustment from one to two children with a husband away a lot working full time and earning his MBA at night, Sarah's pregnancy through her husband's deployment, and obviously my own difficulties as a new mom, including but not limited to, Will's leaving for 9-weeks when baby Will was just 2 weeks old. 

During one such iMessage-fest, I mentioned to Kallah that I wanted to go to Charlotte for Belmont Abbey's Homecoming the first week of October. She immediately and generously offered for us to stay at her house. It got a little awkward and sad when we realized it was a week away from Sarah's due date, so she wouldn't be able to meet up with us in Charlotte.

Cue side-iMessage thread between me and Kallah planning a day-trip to Charleston to surprise her. We, perhaps naively, figured she'd either be holed up with a newborn or holed up super pregnant, so obviously our unexpected arrival with three little men in tow would be welcomed with open arms!

In pursuance of our plan, I decided to fly out with baby Will the Tuesday before Homecoming to accommodate our surprise day trip.  . . . Which happened to be the same day Sarah gave birth. We boarded our first flight with news that Sarah's water was broken and she was in labor, and we landed with news that baby Nolan was here.

Will's excitement was palpable.

We had planned all along to visit her on Wednesday, the next day, the day after she'd given birth. After getting approval from Sarah's husband, we loaded up Kallah's car with our snotty kids (no literally, they all had faucet noses) and embarked on the 3.5 hour drive from Charlotte to Charleston.

Best idea ever, I mean . . . 

I mean really. How cozy.

We figured that even if we only saw her for a few minutes in the hospital it would be worth it to make her feel loved. And we really wanted to make the gesture after all we'd been through together! We seriously went into the whole day without a thought of how much work it would be entertaining the kids in the car, keeping them fed and well-napped, and honestly it wouldn't have made a difference. We were overly optimistic and determined. Some would say we were crazy, but I prefer optimistic and determined. So I'm going with that. 

Have I ever mentioned how little Will HATES THE CAR? Well, so yes, he screamed a lot. And Kallah's two boys had the honor of staring at his face for the entire scream-fest. Poor kids. 

We broke up the trip with a perfectly timed Chickfila trip. The itsy bitsy spider mp3 was purchased. The trip was made bearable and we still had eager attitudes to make the day a success!

We arrived in Charleston and stopped first at Sarah's apartment and dropped off food and gifts while we waited to hear whether we should go to the hospital, or bide our time until after they got home. (N.B. Sarah had a rockstar labor and recovery and left the hospital a day early.) We were told to go to the hospital. 

That meant back in the car. Little Will faces his nemesis again.

We made it to the hospital, where unfortunately for us there is a policy that non-sibling children can't go into the postpartum wing, so we had to go in one at a time. One visits the happy new mom, one stays in the waiting area with the three boys. 

Kallah entered the room first and there was a distinct "um, what are you doing here?" look on Sarah's face. She said hi, and then I came in. SURPRISE! I'm pretty sure she connected the dots as soon as she saw Kallah, but I digress. 

It was the stuff of blog-dreams come true. 

Sarah invited us to her apartment after they were checked out of the hospital, so we could all hang out together. It felt a little on the crazy side to show up at her house the day after she had a baby, but she seemed to sincerely want to visit with all of us, and, like I said, optimistic and determined, we forged ahead.

We killed some time at a nearby park to let the boys run off some energy before heading to Sarah's.

Not before stopping at Publix . . . 

To load our boys up with sugar before our visit to ensure perfect behavior, of course.

And also so I could snap too many photos of the Will-Henry bromance.

Just as it got dark, flirting with the boys' bedtimes, we finally got to Sarah's and all got to visit with each other. The three of us, and our boys, were finally all together in the same room! 

And again:

Note the glimpses of Baby Will's regrown rattail. The dawn of a new millennium.

I bring you to the finale of this photo series, whereby I ask you to please refrain from looking at the hot mess to the left and focus on the Pankus perfection that is on the right. 

"Literally. I can't even."

It was such an awesome day. And totally worth all the screaming (in my opinion - but I think little Will agrees) to finally meet the happy Pankus family with their new, perfect little addition. 

The end! . . . 

Oh what? We still have to drive back? 

Fine, I'll tell you about it.

The return trip actually went a lot better . . . with one hiccup, of course. Little Will slept almost the whole way back because it was dark outside, but we were about to run out of gas about 30 miles from Kallah's house. We knew it was gonna get ugly once we were under the bright gas station lights. 

And oh, it got ugly.

All three boys, screaming at the top of their lungs, overtired from a long day-trip. Itsy bitsy spider to the rescue. For the remainder of our trip. (I was afraid to stop playing it because the boys loved it so much!) 

I remember just turning and making eye contact with Kallah . . . and we just started laughing uncontrollably. Finding joy in the suffering! Or something. 

In all seriousness, thank God for friends who encourage and embrace each other through the crazy. What would we do without them?

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Monday, October 6, 2014

8 Months

Little Will hit 8 months yesterday. We still think we'll keep him. Not too much has changed in the eat/sleep/poop arena since last month. He is pretty much only eating table foods. He does a great job of chowing down bites of whatever we're eating, including chicken, bread, etc. Due in part to the fact that he finally popped a couple teeth! He only has purees these days when we are trying to get prunes in him. For obvious reasons. Breastfeeding has been a lot easier lately, too! He will mostly sit still and nurse. Sessions take a bit longer than before as my supply has slowed down, but he's learned to be a lot more patient. We still give him a 6 oz. bottle of formula every now and then for convenience. He's nursing 4-5 times a day (more when sick!). 

He will mostly sleep through the night . . . when we are home . . . and he's not sick with a cold (which hasn't been much this past month, unfortunately). A typical night is going down at 6:30pm, waking once at 4 or 5am for a feeding, and going back down until 6:30 or 7am. He loves his crib, and only falls asleep in a carrier or stroller if you're moving. Naps in the car seat are short and few, but more on that in a bit. If we're at home, he'll usually nap twice a day, sometimes three times. When we are out and about, it's usually more of a series of catnaps. 

He's still real cute.


The biggest changes have been developmental. During a two-week TDY, little Will went from only being able to sit up, to crawling and pulling up on furniture. He's starting to understand words, like "milkies" (why I went with "milkies" to signal nursing, I know not). He's into everything. I totally understand why a soft baby helmet seemed like a good idea to my sister.

We've been traveling a lot. A trip to Maryland, Wisconsin, and now North/South Carolina (to be recapped in full . . . hold your horses). He handles plane rides like a pro, but still hates the car seat. I broke down and downloaded the mp3 of the creepy itsy bitsy spider song. A constant rotation of toys, plus the song in moments of desperation, makes for exhausting, but bearable, road trips. 

That's it for tonight. Still working on getting him to wave "bye bye."

Yeah . . . . Nope.

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