Archives for the month of: February, 2013

IMG_4593Today is my birthday, and today Catherine is 8 months old.  We were both born on the 23rd (pretty cool!).  We are also both water signs.  I’m a pisces, and she’s a cancer.  According to the signs, we’re mother and daughter soulmates.

Today I’m also picking up a caramel birthday cake from Piece of Cake.  Normally my mom makes my birthday cake.  I don’t think there’s ever been a year where she didn’t.  But this year she bought a special caramel cake from a bakery with tons of thick caramel frosting as a surprise.  Next year she can resume making my birthday cakes herself. 😉

IMG_4638 IMG_4646 IMG_4647 IMG_4648A little about Catherine at 8 months…

Throughout the day, I think about her and spending time with her and I get this happy, excited feeling.  Not that she doesn’t keep me on my toes.  I’m not trying to make this sound all sappy perfect life-ish.  But the truth is, life is just so good and I recognize that.

I always try to capture every detail of what makes Catherine so special, and it’s overwhelming.  So I’ll just describe a moment we enjoyed last night, that we enjoy often.  It of course involves breastfeeding, which has been a bonding experience for us.  Chris was out of town, and Catherine woke up due to a stuffy nose at 3:00am.  It was cold outside and I pulled her into bed with me and snuggled her close to breastfeed.  She always puts her warm little hands on my breasts while she nurses.  She props her legs up on my side.  I don’t know why she does this but she always has.  She pauses every so often to look up at me and smile, then goes back to nursing.  When she’s finished she reaches her arm up and grabs my nose, examining me.  She’s getting bigger and bigger and eventually she won’t be a baby anymore.  And then, we will be on to even better and more fun and amazing things.  But right now, I treasure these moments while she’s still a baby and just hold her close and squeeze her chubby little thighs and stare at her.  Sometimes I run my hands over her skin giving her goosebumps and putting her in a trance, it’s adorable.  She stops everything and stretches out and stares up at the ceiling and is very still.  I think she’ll want me to scratch her back when she goes to sleep, like I want Chris to do to me.

Another moment I wish I could bottle up and keep forever – bath time.  I discovered something Catherine loves.  I lay her facedown on my legs and put a warm washcloth on her back.  Then I take these little stackable toy cups with tons of tiny holes in the bottom so the water comes out like it would out of a shower head.  And I drizzle cup after cup over her back, giving her a warm-water back massage.  Her eyes practically roll back in her head, she loves it so much.  I do not know why but I really love doing this to her!  I think it’s because so much of what we do to try and make our kids happy goes unappreciated.  You know, one day she may love the sweet potatoes I roasted, peeled, pureed, and served to her with a touch of cinnamon.  But the next moment, she may throw them on the floor and scream, as if I served her something awful.  So this is something I can do for her that I can see makes her feel good and I just love that.

Oh – something else to document on her 8-month birthday.  She has tantrums now.  Like, arches her back and screams and throws things.  At first I was caught off guard.  I would leave the store instantly or give her what she wanted just to stop the screaming while I puzzled over what the heck just happened and wait, how am I supposed to handle this again? Do I need to buy a book for this?  Then I realized that I can just ignore her tantrum and it passes very quickly and she’s all smiles.  The tantrums were alarming until I realized she was being very dramatic but not actually hurt or upset.  I had to remember that I’m in charge.

IMG_4669She isn’t crawling yet, but she is oh-so close.  She still says mama, dada, and she GROWLS.  A LOT.  Especially at Meeks.  It’s so funny!  It all started with “what’s the bear say?” and just took off for some reason.

Speaking of of Dada…he’s been working late, and traveling a lot.  I’ll be honest – it sucks.  But it isn’t forever.  It could be worse – thinking of military families.  And most importantly, I fully understand what it feels like to be very absorbed in something I’m working towards (though I don’t know if Chris or I have actually defined that concrete thing that Chris is working towards).  Anyway, I expect to be this way again at some point – I can only hope that I get there again, because what’s life without big goals and totally immersing yourself in something you are so passionate about and driven towards?  It’s very rewarding, but it requires sacrifice.  When this day comes again for me, I will have to ask the same of Chris that he’s asking of me right now.   To be understanding and supportive.  You can’t achieve big goals without the support of the people around you.  Right now, there’s just nothing more important to me than being mommy.  And as for today – we have Chris all to ourselves. 🙂

Happy Birthday to me and Happy 8 Months to Catherine!


I’ve been pumping at work, twice a day, and it has been going very well.  I am able to pump enough milk for Catherine during the day while I’m gone on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  And work has been very accommodating.  So it just hasn’t been a problem for me.  But it does have me thinking.  How long will I keep pumping at work?

Here’s why I am wondering.  Because I don’t plan on “switching” Catherine to cow’s milk.  Why would I purposefully wean her only to switch her to milk that comes from a different species?  That’s not what Nature, or God intended when they created us human, lactating mammals.  I plan to continue giving her breastmilk as long as I possibly can, whether from my breast or a bottle or a sippy cup or a regular cup.  If she still needs milk after the age of 1 or 2 (which she either does, as the dairy industry would absolutely have us believe, or she doesn’t – I’m not sure of the answer), why does it need to come from a cow and not her mother?  That seems very backwards to me.  If she still needed milk, wouldn’t nature have intended mothers to breastfeed as long as babies need to drink milk?  Or perhaps Nature said, “I’m going to make this cow so humans can drink its milk”  (yeah, don’t think so).

This isn’t a judgment on formula, by the way.  It’s a wonderful thing.  Not only is it an excellent source of nutrition, formulated to meet babies’ needs, but it’s a lifesaver.  It’s there for babies who have no mothers, or whose mothers can’t or don’t want to breastfeed.  It gives us much more flexibility, allowing moms to go to work if they need/want to and can’t or don’t want to pump.  We’re lucky to have it available.  For that matter, this isn’t me saying I’m against drinking cow’s milk, either.  It’s more of the question, “Why does society, generally speaking, expect mothers to wean their babies so early only to switch them to large quantities of cow’s milk?”

Think about it.  You have to admit it’s strange, if you can let your mind go outside the way you might be accustomed to thinking.  I didn’t always think this way.  In fact, I used to think people who didn’t eat/drink dairy were strange.  That’s because I was used to what I was used to, and had never bothered to think about it from any other angle.

The fact is, breastfeeding has me thinking a lot about “breastfeeding.”  And I’m much more sensitive to the fact that, astonishingly, it is a controversial issue today.  It’s truly baffling!

Luckily, I’ve never encountered anything but encouraging, supportive smiles from people who’ve seen me breastfeeding.  So I think it’s one of those “squeaky wheel” things where the annoying people are sometimes louder.  I do wonder what people will think at work if I’m still pumping when Catherine is 2 years old.  They’ll probably think it’s really weird.  And I might feel embarrassed.  But why???  Why is it weird I’d want to continue giving her human milk instead of cow’s milk?  I just don’t get it.  What am I missing here?

I often think about Jamie Lynne Grumet – you know, the mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on the cover of Time – and the controversy it created.  The thing is, when I saw that photo I didn’t thing “eww.”  I thought “supermom.”  I really did!

I saw a beautiful, youthful, fit mom who somehow managed to be what ALL MOMS DREAM OF BEING – beautiful, sexy, and dedicated to their children.  I saw a mom who was challenging society’s perverse views on breastfeeding.  And I was shocked at the overwhelming backlash she received.  I feel sorry for her because the country (notice I said country, not world) was truly against her in that moment.  And I know she was proud of herself as a woman and a mom, and then to face that intense ridicule and criticism…

Yeah, sure, I also thought her son was “getting on up there” in age for breastfeeding simply because you never see a sight like that.  I also questioned her decision to put her son in that position on the cover of Time for the world to see, subjecting him to scrutiny, knowing how very judgmental society can be towards late-breastfeeding moms.  But the photo didn’t shock me and those weren’t the thoughts that immediately popped into my head; they were secondary.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve heard everyone call Jamie Lynne selfish and say that her son is going to be “screwed up” because he’s still breastfeeding at age 3.  But I know one thing for sure.  If he’s screwed up later in life, it will not be because of his mother, and it will not be because he was still breastfed at age 3.  If he faces issues later in life over breastfeeding, it will be because of us.  Because we inflict our own perverse views on him, and make him feel ashamed for something that is natural.

And that is what I have been thinking about.



Well!  Here we go!  I made it to almost 8 months, baby girl.

IMG_4317Tomorrow morning, I will take you to Juliana’s and I’ll head to the office.  To tell you the truth, I’m kind of excited!  I did love my job before I left it to have you, my dear.  🙂  Nothing can ever beat spending all my time with you, that’s for sure, but I’m excited to see what it feels like to be Helen Outside the Home if that makes sense.  To get dressed in heels, be around people, and use my brain in a different way.  To be professionalish.

It makes it easier that I’m only going 3 days a week.  No matter how hard – or fun! – tomorrow may be for us both, it helps to know on Tuesday I wake up with nowhere to go and nothing to do but snuggle with you.  Oh, and plan a wedding.

It’s a big step, but a fun one for both of us.  I’ve packed you a delicious lunch and Juliana will take the best care of you and you’ll love hanging out with little Emilio.  I love you so much!  Here we go!

20130210-211610.jpgI made Ina Garten’s Company Pot Roast for dinner this weekend.  It’s my second time making it.  We rarely eat meat so when we do it feels extra special, not that I don’t cook plenty of good vegetarian meals, but you know, it’s something different and traditional.  The first time I remember thinking “I need to make pot roast” after about 2 years of being vegan was when Kate (sis-in-law) made one and it seemed so comforting to have in the crock pot.  The second time I thought “Yep, need to make pot roast” was when I came in to the smell of my momma’s roast with potatoes and gravy.  Finally, momma came to visit and we went to the farmer’s market where she bought fresh horseradish and told me it’d taste good on oysters or roast beef.  So I made pot roast and took her advice and it was delicious.

Catherine had homemade lentil stew. 🙂

IMG_4232Do you remember me talking about the weekend we spent with Abby as our guest?  Well, since then I’ve been trying to get her back here but something always comes up that prevents our slumber party reunion.  Finally, I got to steal her away for a night a couple weeks ago!

Just like last time, she was a total joy to have around.  She was more helpful than anything else and did a good job entertaining Catherine.  In fact, Chris and I actually spent more quality time together as a family than we usually do, because we put out a big pallet on the floor and watched Shrek and All Dogs Go to Heaven while we sat there eating pizza and banana splits.  Sans smart phones.  We had no choice but to pay attention to the movie because she asked us questions about it constantly.  We should do that more often.  It was fun.

IMG_4183IMG_4189The next morning we walked to breakfast and then the park.  Abby is by nature a leader of the pack sort of girl, and she had the entire playground following her doing her bidding (causing helicopter moms to silently freak out as their kids played with sticks and got their hands dirty!).  I tried to take some pictures but Abby is going through a phase where she is very impatient about having her picture taken and hides from the camera.  So here they are.

IMG_4193 IMG_4207 IMG_4210 IMG_4221 IMG_4229 IMG_4244 IMG_4246 IMG_4250 IMG_4262 IMG_4265

Oh – this is pretty cute.  Catherine pretty much loves Abby to pieces.  She watches everything she does.  In the morning, she woke Abby by yanking on her arm and hair.  She laughs and smiles when she sees Abby.  And gives her hugs and kisses.  It’s so sweet. 🙂

The only time I had “trouble” was when I tried to get Abby in the car to go home.  She dragged her feet, told me, her tone almost menacing, “you know Hellie, I am not happy about this.”

Next up, having more than one niece/nephew at a time over for a slumber party!  We love our nieces and nephews!  And Catherine loves her cousins.

IMG_4275_2Just popping in, while you finish up your nap, to say today is a wonderful day!  It’s sunny and cold outside.  We went for a morning walk to Flying Biscuit for breakfast – our favorite (we’re really gonna miss that place and our traditional Saturday brunch when we move someday)!  Now we’re back and your Daddy is designing our wedding invitations and I’ve been browsing Amazon for more things to buy you (a guilty pleasure of mine).  I’m not sure what the rest of the day has in store for us, but I’m sure it involves lots of cuddles and kisses and playtime and maybe another walk outside followed by a yummy dinner.  The best part about the day is that your Daddy is home with us.  He’s been working hard and we REALLY miss him.  Your face lights up so bright when he comes home at the end of the day!  It’s only a matter of time before you take off crawling towards him saying Da-da! when he gets home.

IMG_4289Speaking of crawling…you took your first hesitant “crawl steps,” if they can be called that.  And I mean they can barely be classified as a crawl, but I think they just made the cut.

IMG_4272We love you pretty girl!  When years have passed and we’ve moved on to a bigger home with a yard and lots of big, spacious rooms (and a huge kitchen with big windows and a desk and a round oak table and a pantry for me), we will look back on our time snuggled together in our loft in the city with the best memories.  No matter what happens – and there is so much fun in store for us – I don’t think we could be any happier!