Saturday, October 24, 2015

Remember When We Ate Sandwiches and Cold Cereal for Most Meals?


One truth I've stumbled across as an adult is that it's a Good Idea to look back occasionally at goals or aspirations or habits you set a long time ago and compare them against how you're doing now. I've often found myself pleasantly surprised upon doing so because many times, the change has happened so gradually that I haven't really taken the time to appreciate the growth, and the new skill or the improved mindset or whatever it is just kind of melts into my current identity, and I forget to celebrate the victory.

I had one such revelation last week when I was looking back at food journals on My Fitness Pal from the time I lost ten pounds in a month soon after we got married. Since I've decided to focus all my spare time and energy on losing the rest of the baby weight (or at least not gaining weight while I'm still on the steroids for my AI disease), I was looking for inspiration as to what I actually subsisted on for those 5 weeks or so (since I distinctly remember having been able to successfully restrict myself to about 1200 calories a day and not be *too* hungry all the time).

I had to laugh at what I found:

Sure, there were days when I made nutritious, filling meals made up of foods such as beans, grilled chicken, and steamed vegetables. But you know what I found we ate for most meals?

Sandwiches. And cold cereal. And then more sandwiches.

Ah, how times have changed.

Now I feel guilty if I don't squeeze in at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, something I didn't worry about until about three years ago, which requires a lot more meal planning. I also feel a bit guilty if I don't cook something on most nights because it means that not only does Matt then resort to eating pretty unhealthy (or nothing at all) the next day, but it also means that I usually have to buy my lunch while at work because of the lack of leftovers.

Before, we regularly ate boxed mac and cheese, went through multiple boxes of cereal in a week, and regularly participated in the "fend for yourself" meal because I just couldn't bring myself to cook.

What's ironic is that now I have less time than ever before to cook, but I'm pretty good to cook something most nights, even if it's just creamed eggs for dinner or our favorite loaded tostadas. Even if I have zero energy or motivation to make dinner, I still end up doing it most nights anyway (instead of getting the $5 pizza yet again, like we used to do pretty regularly).

So here is me taking a moment to step back and appreciate how far we've come when it comes to dinner at the Meidell home (a fact which was further proved when I just "whipped up" a classic margherita pizza the other night from fresh ingredients I'd actually bought that day from the farmer's market---I mean, I wouldn't have even recognized this woman I've become had I seen her three years ago!). 

So here's one for the long-time-in-coming victories!

(P.S. I know this isn't an example of The Healthiest Meal of All Time---remember, the victory is in the 
cooking-most-nights thing, not the always-eating-super-duper healthy thing, lol)


Saturday, October 17, 2015

I Thought I'd Be Ready to Move Her Into Her Own Room at 2 Months, But...

You know what's crazy?

Parenthood has been about 20% what I expected, and 80% (mostly delightfully) not what I expected at all. 

I guess my problem has always been that I tend to pay much more attention to all the negative hype around something rather than the positive. That was definitely true of marriage--for a long time (at least until my early twenties), I had little desire to get married because I believed all the negative stats found in the news, the depressing (and much publicized) marriages of many celebrities, and the offhand comments made by the general populace that often made marriage sound like a whole lot of work and a whole lot of putting-up-with-everything and a whole lot of not-rewarding.

Thank goodness I found that that has not been my experience of marriage. 

The same thing went with having kids--although there seemed to be a slightly more positive spin on things when compared to the whole marriage situation, I still found myself sucked into all the negative comments (usually made by a parent in the throes of exasperation trying to wrestle a two-year-old) like, "You'll never have a good night's sleep again!" or "My kids are just making me want to tear out my hear and run off to Bermuda" or "Parenthood is the most unappreciated job on the planet."

Now, don't get me wrong--I am no expert on parenting any child other than Raven, and I am positive that the future will have me wanting to say some of those very comments myself on occasion.

But I will say this--for someone who was SO AFRAID of becoming a parent, I have absolutely shocked myself at how much I seemed to, well, embrace it. Before we had Raven, I was determined that we were not going to raise ourselves no sissypants kid who was attached at the hip all the time to her parents--I wanted a fully independent child who could make her own dentist's appointments by 17 (heck, even 15!) and not want to hide behind my legs every time we encountered a new situation.
 

Trust me, I had fully planned on moving Raven to her own crib (in our other bedroom) the very second she started "sleeping through the night" (more or less). To me, that meant she would be out of our room by about 2 or 3 months in, no later.

At first, the reasons why we didn't move her were logistic--we didn't have a crib mattress that fit the crib we'd bought (nor did we have the money to buy one until our hospital bills were all paid off), and so in our room she stayed.

Then after about four months, the reasons become more complicated and were no longer money-based, and I found myself making excuses like, "She doesn't even wake us up at night!" And, "This way, my paranoid-parent self doesn't even have to get out of bed to check that she's still breathing!"

Basically, it became pretty apparent that I was going to have trouble "cutting the cord" on this particular issue, so to speak. I tried to give myself deadlines ("By 5 months, we will definitely have ordered the mattress"), which came and went with no change.

It was only when I thought that the current sleeping situation was starting to get a little dangerous because she's pretty close to being able to sit up herself from a lying-down position that made me finally just grit my teeth and do it.


So today, my baby girl was put down for her very first nap in her very own bed in her very own room.

And while I didn't cry, I had one of those weird, inexplicable Mom Moments (that every other mom will intrinsically understand) where I wanted to cry even though I knew I was being just plain silly.

After all, who cries over a child getting older?

(Every mother apparently, that's who.)
 

I am starting to get a glimpse that the future only holds constant moments when my heart breaks over and over again over the realization of what I can't have back.

Motherhood is the craziest.

For the other parents out there--when did you move your child to sleep in his/her own room?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Raven: 6 Months


My original plan when the school year started was to continue trying to blog at least three times a week so that this beautiful season of our lives could be documented, but I honestly haven't had the time and/or energy to devote to it like I'd originally hoped. But I did at least want to try really hard and keep up with the Raven updates because I know I'd really regret it down the road if I didn't keep up on those.

So here goes:


Quick Stats

Weight: about 16 lbs.
Height: 25-26" (guesstimate)
Clothing Size: still 3-6 month sizes, but I wonder if it will last too much longer...


Milestones Reached:
  • sits independently
  • reaches for toys
  • can roll in any direction to get at what she wants (and do "the clock walk" to get the angle right)
  • full-on laughing (apparently, Mom and Dad aren't that funny and we need to get a tiny dog in order to make this one happen more...)
  • can scoot back while on her back (by arching her back and pushing off her legs)
  • makes much more articulate sounds, including strings of da-da-da and ay-ay-ay and variations that sound a lot like "hi" and "glee"
  • finally "gets" peek-a-boo and finds it hilarious
  • can stand holding onto something (like the couch)
Physical Appearance

Since she is now exclusively being fed by formula and some solid foods (since my breastmilk stash ran out about a month ago), I think her growth has slightly slowed down, but maybe that's just me being paranoid. (I have her 6-month appointment at the end of the month, so that will tell me for sure.) She's still as roly-poly as ever, but the biggest change in physical appearance has got to be that her fuzz head is pretty much all but disappeared since her hair has gotten so long. It's actually long enough now that we can put it into a mini little faux-hawk, so you'd better believe I'll be getting some pictures of that and posting them very, very soon... (well, once life stops getting in the way of blogging, ha ha). Two things I was sure couldn't get any chubbier were her hands and feet, but apparently I was wrong--she just has these adorable little fat fingers and toes, and it's pretty much awesome.

What I Love About This Stage

There is so much to love, I'm sure I'll forget stuff, but I can probably summarize it in a sentence:

Raven is really learning to "play" now!

She would kind of play before, but now she "gets" when we're trying to make her laugh, peek-a-boo is her new favorite thing, she likes to watch and listen to my hand "eat" her hand, and she is starting to have little "conversations" with us, which get more and more excited the more we try and mimic the sounds she's making. (Speaking of her talking, I'm pretty positive she'll learn to distinguish "daddy" first because not only does she already say "dada" all the time--several times upon him entering the room although experts say babies this age can't distinguish yet--but she also sees him more than she sees me generally because of my work schedule (and I think he might be purposely trying to teach her to say "dada" first in the several hours he has with her each morning...)). 

I also think it's fascinating to watch her brain at work; she stares at the light for a really long time with a funny expression on her face if it's turned off--I just know she's trying to figure out why sometimes they're bright and sometimes they're not. She also likes to stop on her stomach between two different surfaces and repeatedly touch the two different textures in front of her with a knitted brow. And even though according to some sources, it's too early to read full stories to her, we've been doing it for months anyway, and she loves to reach out and try and grab the pictures, and repeated sounds with lots of alliteration or rhyming make her laugh or start babbling.

She is busy being a curious baby, and it's so much fun to witness!


Challenges

One thing I'm having a hard thing with lately is the amount of time I'm not at home with Raven; I've especially been gone a lot the last week because of parent/teacher conferences and all the prep leading up to that. I'm still liking my job and my students this year are pretty wonderful, but I'm very divided still in my feelings about being a working mom--on the one hand, I do feel fulfilled by teaching and love to channel my skills and talents into helping so many kids to learn new things. I like knowing I have the opportunity to be a part of an intellectual community outside my home and that I'm constantly being forced to grow and stretch because of the demands of being a middle school teacher. 

On the other hand, I'm saddened that I miss a lot of the little moments that happen each day in Raven's life, including the not-so-little milestones that are going on all the time. Also, I tend to get home right at the most challenging time of the day anyway for caring for any kid (late afternoon/early evening), so I only get to see her most cheerful self (which comes out in the morning or right after her first two naps) on weekends or holidays. I'm sure a part of me will miss work when I'm a stay-at-home mom though, so I'm trying to just enjoy this season of my life while I can since it's not going to last forever.

Another challenge is that Raven has been pretty constipated the past couple weeks, and it appears to be getting worse. We're trying to counteract it by feeding her more things like pears, but I can still tell that she's uncomfortable much more than she used to be, so I'm definitely going to be bringing that up at her next doctor's appointment.

Things I Don't Want to Forget
  • How she still wants me to snuggle her to sleep sometimes rather than just wanting to be put right down into bed (kind of a double-edged sword since it means that she's harder to put down to nap, but I know the snuggle stage definitely won't last forever)
  • Raven excitedly kicking her legs whenever she gets put into the carseat--she still loves to go out on "adventures," even if it's just to go to the grocery store
  • Her putting her fingers next to my mouth hoping I'll pretend to eat them while I'm holding her--like I said earlier, she's starting to really "play" with us, and me pretending to eat her fingers either with my mouth or with my hand (accompanied by loud munching sounds, of course) is apparently hilarious and worth several repeats
  •  The surprise I felt just this week when I realized how much clearer her babbling was getting--she was no longer making general siren sounds, but she was saying pretty distinguishable sounds, including producing "hi," "dada," and "baby" pretty darn closely to how we say them. She used to only really babble or talk a lot when she was pretty tired or had just woken up for the morning, but now she does it all the time, especially when we talk back to her.
  • Her high pain tolerance (once again, kind of a double-edged sword)-- it seriously seems like pain barely phases her, even the shots at the doctor's appointments. She is one tough cookie.
  • How hard she laughed when seeing Georgie (the dog that belongs to my brother- and sister-in-law) run around. (See video below.)
video


Other Notes (Mostly to Myself)

Raven goes in and out of a super set schedule, but it's livable-- basically, she goes down for the night around 7:30 usually and sleeps for a solid ten hours until 5:30, where she'll take in a few ounces of formula before going back to bed for another hour and a half to two hours. She usually takes three naps a day--one around 9:30 or 10 a.m. that lasts about an hour, another around 1-2 p.m. that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, and (if we're lucky) another one around 5 p.m. for about 30-45 minutes. 

We've tried out several solids on her, including sweet potatoes, peaches, bananas, rice cereal, squash, green beans, peas, carrots, pears, applesauce, and a pineapple-orange blend thing. She does really well with pretty much all fruit and all the orange vegetables (including squash), and we gave her green beans long enough to make her at least okay with taking them, but she is currently putting up all walls with peas (think pursed lips, spitting it out everywhere, twisting her body away, trying to swat it away with her hand...). We'll keep trying, though. (And we're in desperate need of a proper high chair now since feeding her in the Bumbo has become somewhat of a joke...)

We finally got a crib mattress that fits her crib, so we will be moving her any day now into her own room for the night. I'm feeling surprisingly emotional about it---it's like the weaning thing all over again...



Happy six months, Baby Rave!


(If you want to get technical, these six months were taken at six months and three days...I know, totally unacceptable, right?! Life has been so hectic lately that we've even forgotten to take our pic-of-the-day a couple days now. Whoops!)
 
Raven's adorable bow courtesy of my sister-in-law, who runs a hair accessory business

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why I Haven't Bought a Smartphone...and Why It's Both Great & Terrible

 Image via

I don't think you need me to point this out to you, but smartphones are ubiquitous nowadays, it seems. Everywhere I look, people are tapping on screens, bringing up apps, and checking their Instagram accounts.

And then there's me, still with my "dumb phone." (Remember those? They're the ones that flip open and everything?)

Something I've found frustrating about my refusal to get a smart device is that the world seems to be making it more and more complicated for us flip-phone-lovers to keep our non-smart devices. A few examples to back me up:

1. When I went to the store a couple years ago to replace my old flip phone, there were no basic phones out on display--I actually had to have someone go into the back of the store and bring out this dusty box that contained (supposedly) one of the last flip phones they had in stock. And then they charged me like $40 for it (even with my upgrade credit). Now, I know that nowadays, $40 for a phone is nothing. However, five years ago, before the onslaught of the smartphone and smart device revolution, I was always able to get the basic phone for free with my upgrade. To make it more frustrating, I could have used my upgrade to get a basic smartphone for pretty much free (or only like $15), but then I would be forced to upgrade my plan to include data because Verizon doesn't allow you to have a smart device and not have a data plan.

I'm sure the whole thing is part of a marketing scheme, and the sad part is, it's basically working.

2. It seems that phone companies have purposely (?) made smartphones and non-smartphones incompatible. For example, almost every time I receive a text message from someone with an iPhone, I only receive about two or three words out of the message or receive just a blank text. And, when group texts are sent out, my reply is only sent back to the original sender, not everyone in the group (which can be both a blessing a curse, really).

3. As part of my job expectations, I'm supposed to be on the cutting-edge of technology in my classroom. Therefore, almost all of our professional development that has to do with technology only gives ideas and suggestions based on the assumption that the teacher owns a smart device of some kind. Since I don't own a smartphone and few other technology options have been presented to me, I just stick with the tried-and-true technology methods I was using five years ago in student teaching and feel a little guilty that I'm unable to use any of the hundreds of great educational apps available.

4. A LOT of stuff apparently goes down on Instagram, including updates on the student I mentioned in yesterday's post. But guess what? You are unable to get an Instagram account through a computer alone (or at least, I haven't been able to)----Instagram makes you install the app in order to use the program. This is super frustrating because I'm sure I'd actually really love Instagram since I love getting photography ideas and seeing other people's pics of what they've been up to, but I am unable to sign up for an account due to my lack of smart device.

So why don't I just break down and get a smartphone?

It's partly a matter of money and partly a matter of principle.

On the money side, I have *usually* found that plans that include data tend to be more expensive than non-data plans, especially through Verizon (who I go through because they're the only provider whose towers give me phone access at work). If I wanted to stay with Verizon and upgraded to a smartphone, I would likely need to pay at least $10-20 more a month, even if I didn't even need to use hardly any data (because I have wifi access at home and at work).

Plus, there's the cost of a smartphone itself---even with an upgrade available, I'm still looking at spending at least $50 (more likely to be about $100-150) for the phone itself, and I need to buy Raven a crib mattress before I buy myself a phone (since she's still sleeping in a Pack 'n Play in our room...).

But the real reason is much more principle-based than money-based, to be honest. I have noticed that many people--once they make the switch to smartphones--are on their devices All. The. Time. And sure, sometimes they're using them constructively (like to access scriptures during the lesson at church or to call/text somebody), but a LOT of the time, they just seem to be scrolling through endless news feeds, even when they have a real live human person right in front of them. Basically, it seems like a lot more time is wasted when you have endless access to mindless entertainment right at your fingertips, and it seems like a lot fewer real live human conversations happen when there are smartphones present.

Right now, whenever I'm forced to wait in line (usually at the doctor's office), I just take out the book I've brought with me and use the time to read. Or sometimes, if I've really planned ahead, I will have brought a stack of papers to grade and will work on that. I just have this feeling that if I had a smartphone with all its enticing apps and access to pretty pics on Instagram, I would just waste all that wait time playing on my phone...like everyone else.

So there you have it--calculated reasons for remaining in the Stone Age for as long as possible. Of course, a part of me wants to upgrade to a smartphone just for the fact that the cameras on them are so much better, but we'll see how long I can hold out (especially since not having a decent camera on my phone forces me to take out my "real" camera when I take pictures, which is a good thing anyway).

Anyone else out there still have a "dumb phone"? What are your reasons for holding out?
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