Chia seed pudding [breakfast]

I was in Australia the first time I tried chia seed pudding. I needed something portable and nutritious before a day of sailing. At the grocery store the night before I spotted a little pot of pudding that enticed me so I read the ingredients. Not bad, I thought – always a sucker for clean ingredients – and scooped it up. I savored it the next morning on our sailboat before heading to the Whitsunday Islands.

The next time this powerhouse breakfast came into my life was camping in Yosemite one summer. One of our friends set up a chia seed buffet and I loved all of the combinations you could make with the pudding as your base.

In my former life (before COVID!) when I would take the train to San Fransisco for work, I would make chia seed pudding to eat during my commute. It is easy to make ahead of time and keeps me full for a long time. A win for the workday.

From adventures down under, to camping, to hours of meetings and emails, this is one of my favorite breakfasts. Although lately it’s been fueling endless days at home because of COIVD and shelter-in-place…

Every other week or so, I’ve been batch-making chia seed pudding to enjoy for a few days. I like to think of it as the oatmeal of summer, since it served cold, making it a perfect way to start a warm day.

I defrost mangos in the refrigerator the night before to give a bit of fruit juice to mix in with the pudding. I’ve also added cocoa powder for a more decadent breakfast. The options are limitless!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20200706_094244.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup plant based milk

Optional toppings:

  • yogurt
  • berries or any fruit
  • nuts
  • coconut flakes

Directions:

  • whisk chia seeds into plant based milk and let sit for at least 3 hours or in the fridge overnight (easy peasy!)
  • scoop out and top with your favorite pairings

Before going in the fridge
The next morning, after the chia seeds have expanded and gelled together
Spot the chia seed pudding

4th trimester – part two

Read my first post about the 4th trimester here.


Here we are, 3 months since Cam was born! We are now officially out of the newborn stage. The saying “the days are long but the years are short” is already ringing true.

The world feels heavy right now. Devastatingly police brutality and systematic racism are major problems here in the States. And we are still dealing with the wrath of COVID. I am desperately grasping at thinking of this year as a cocoon year of sorts; 2020 feels stifling but I have to believe we will come out of it changed. For the better. (I’m looking at you, November.)

It’s weird because I’m simultaneously waiting for 2020 to be over but also relishing in these sweet months with Cam. I know this is a time I will reflect on and want back, despite how isolating and scary things might feel some days.

To be honest, I can’t help but feel jealous of moms who had their babies before COVID and got to experience a “normal” mat leave. If I’m not careful with my thoughts, my mind drifts to all of the things we are missing out on; like friends and family visiting (and helping!), weekend getaways, and even something as simple as going for a leisurely coffee as a family.

I am endlessly thankful for our health. And at least we have technology. Cam has continued to meet and chat with family either over Facetime or in person with masks and socially distancing. Here are some pictures we have for the baby book. What a crazy time!

Meeting his Great Grandparents
Having a virtual tea with his cousin, Ella!
Our first family members (my uncle, aunt, and cousins) to meet Cam in person …through the window
Facetiming with Grandma!
More Facetime and big smiles for Nannie and Grandpy!

(If you look closely in the background of photos taken in our house, you will notice we still have a fair bit of work to do as far as renovations go! We’ll get baseboards one day.)

Given COVID, we have still spent the majority of our time at home. Mike went back to work this past week so now it’s just me and Cam during the day. One of the few sliver linings of COIVD is that Mike is working from home so we get to see him a lot more than we would have if he was back in the office (ha!!! office life… seems like such a distant way of life now).

The day before Mike returned to work things got real wild and we drove to another trail to take a walk. We grabbed coffee/tea at Peet’s before parking and walking around Almaden Lake Park. The sun was shining, the trail was beautiful, kids were there playing soccer with masks on……..

Cam pretty much slept the whole time but it was so nice to get out and do something different.

Speaking of sleep, Cam is still a pretty good sleeper. We wake up between 1 – 2x/night. This seems solid for his age in my opinion. I’m still trucking away reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and if I massively reduce the ~300 pages I’ve read so far, it breaks down to the following:

  • The more sleep your baby gets, the more your baby will sleep. This might sound counterintuitive but the reasoning is that if your baby is overtired, they will have a difficult time falling asleep and go into “sleep debt,” which should be avoided that at all costs! Cam isn’t the best napper – often opting for 20 – 45 minute power naps 3 – 4 times a day – but he is a really good nighttime sleeper soooo small wins?
  • Another key point is an early bedtime (the author suggests really early like 6pm or 6:30pm) is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Sleep is compared to food, in the terms of you wouldn’t deprive your child of food when hungry and the same is true for sleep. Don’t deprive your child of sleep when they are tired! Basically be a good parent and put your child to bed EARLY. I agree with this in theory but in practice, we’ve found Cam does not go to sleep before ~8pm. If we try to put him down earlier, it is a nap and he’s up shortly after. I have heard counter advice to the early bedtime that says before 4 months, babies will fall asleep easier between 8pm – 10pm, so we’ve kept bedtime later for now.
  • Once you have an early bedtime established (ideally around 6 weeks but, as mentioned, this isn’t our story), you can start building in the scheduled mid-morning nap around 3-4 months, and then the mid-day nap. Eventually I will have to figure out how to get Cam on a better nap schedule…
  • Sleeping while in motion (in the car or a stroller) is “junk sleep” and can’t be counted as a decent nap. This is a downer but we’ve started putting Cam upstairs in his bassinet for naps now and, although they are short, at least he is (hopefully) getting good quality sleep.
  • Apparently the key to unlocking all of this sleep magic is to put your baby down when he is drowsy but still awake. Then, ideally, your baby might fuss for a few minutes but quickly self-soothe to sleep. It’s hit or miss if this works for us. Sometimes we catch Cam at that perfect point and he is able to put himself to sleep, other times he falls asleep nursing or while we are rocking him. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason! I hope to eventually get in more of a routine at bedtime so we can anticipate his sleep schedule better but, so far, we’re taking it day by day, nap by nap…
  • Extinction is what you have to do when you spoil your baby (probably like we are doing) and they don’t self-soothe. It is just letting your baby cry until they fall sleep. The author basically says “you shouldn’t feel bad about your baby crying themselves to sleep because you are allowing them to learn how to sleep well.” I try to remember this advice but so far we haven’t left Cam to cry longer than ~5 minutes and even that short amount of time was hard. We’ll see if we have to use the extinction method as we’ve been pretty passive on a sleep schedule. We agreed at 3 months, we’re cracking down though. Stay tuned…
Cam and I snoozing during morning cuddles!

What else? I started writing in a notebook that I will give to Cam one day. I only have a few entries so far, and I started it on a whim, but want to continue writing in it until he is at least one. Most of it is really just about how much I love him =) and what we did that day (which is a lot of the same thing because of COVID) but I still think it will be nice for him to have when he is older. I would love to have something to read from my parents about those early days.

We’ve started reading a lot more to him, and set up a little play area in our living room with his soft books and some toys. My mom-voice is probably so annoying for Mike to hear during these readings. Ha. Oh well! (I also love saying “oh Camaroniiiiii” in a pretty theatrical voice that I’m sure is only funny to Cam. Which is it. Btw. Funny. To Cam. He laughs when I do it. …Or he did, once;)

In other news, I’ve essentially given up on trying to enjoy any alcoholic beverage. Mike and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary (!) and I indulged in 2 cocktails, thinking the babe was sound asleep. Of course he woke up shortly after and was starving. It was stressful frantically defrosting bags of milk while trying to gauge how hungry he was and if we should pull another one out of the freezer. That instance plus having to do a lot of prework for a drink has lead me to the conclusion that it is basically not worth it at this juncture. I keep saying a glass of wine is meant to be enjoyed, not to be a source of stress where you are constantly checking the clock and the baby monitor! Maybe when he starts eating solids I will feel more comfortable about having a drink, but for now sparkling water for me it is. (I’ve also joked that Cam’s 1st bday – when I think I will likely stop breastfeeding – will be like my second 21st bday; shots, shots, shots…!) (Kidding) (Kind of)

Cam has started to giggle/laugh and it is the bessssttttttt ever. His smile is so cute I can’t handle it. I love talking to him and will do anything to make him laugh, no matter how ridiculous I look. He also loves our ceiling fan downstairs and we often joke that it is his best friend, since there’s no one else around (#SIPjokes). Around 10 weeks he let out his first excited squeal while staring at the fan going round and round and it was so stinkin’ cute.

Bath time is another favorite. He is so chill when we put him in the water. Cam is a SNUGGLE BUG and loves to be held. He likes his pacifier but spits it out on accident sometimes, so mom & dad spend a lot of time rushing to try to put it back in his mouth before he wakes up. One of my favorite parts of the day is getting him from a nap, when he is so happy to see me get out of the bassinet and curls into my shoulder for some sleepy extra love. We’re still going on daily walks, which is probably more for our benefit than his.

Cam is starting to be quite chatty and loves telling us stories through lots of grunts, arm waving, and furrowed eyebrows. He has found his hands and loves to suck on them. I think he is pre-teething because the drool is unreal over here. We’ve been playing some throwback jams and dancing around with him. I think my best hits have been Mambo Number Five and Miami. Mike and I have discovered we have very different taste in music…

Overall things have been tricky given COVID – and the general adjustment to having a new little roommate – but Cam is “the best baby ever,” to directly quote me and Mike basically everyday. He is so fun to hang out with and watch grow. I can’t wait to share him with our friends & family. Until then we’ll just be here snuggling, chatting, listening, and loving our favorite guy.

Snippets

I wrote the following while breastfeeding (one handed, on my phone) and instead of trying to string them together in some coherent post (because, honestly… no time!), I’m just going to leave them as fragmented thoughts and feelings from those early days.


So many texts and messages left unread… the notification icon serving as a reminder to respond; send a picture, tell his name, birthweight, how we were adjusting.

..

We don’t really have a sleep strategy right now. Aside from a tired glance at each other around 9pm asking if we should start thinking about going upstairs, and, if so, who should take the first shift. Until we learn another way, we are sleeping in 2 hour shifts. Sometimes one of us is successful at getting Cam swaddled and to sleep in the bassinet so we are able to sleep a little longer – and at the same time – but this is rare so far.

..

For me, the nights are hard. This has already been tested and true for my personality though. I’ve been a home-sickness sufferer my whole life and nights are always the worst. It’s weird because I am technically home but feel the weight of sadness still creeping in sometimes… To be fair, I guess my home is completely different than what it was before and now night time is basically battle time. **Cam became an all-star sleeper probably around 3 weeks so I am happy to report my sad nights were very short-lived!**

..

Of course the playing field isn’t level when one of you has to breastfeed essentially every 2 hours, but we are trying to grasp some resemblance of fairness.

..

“Rested” is a word for the future and a feeling of the past. Survival is the new mantra. Sleep 20 minutes to get you through the next 60. Don’t look in the mirror.

..

You don’t know true reward until you’ve tasted that sweet, sweet glorious coffee after another night endured.

..

It’s strange when nights are broken up into 2 hour increments (and whole days in 6 hour chunks… until you get your next dose of pain meds). The stretches of time in the middle of the night are pure maddening magic. Nothing compares to being bone tired and hearing Cam hungry cry. Then negotiating how to move my body in the least painful way to feed him. One leg up, grab on for support, rock forward and hope there is enough ofph to propell me forward. Scoot my butt back. Inch by inch. Pain in my incision if I move too fast. Deep breaths and lots of groaning but finally in position to expose a chaffed nipple. Latch. Suck, suck, suck. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Breatheeeeee. They say breastfeeding gets easier

..

Oh the sweet soul candy hours I spend in the early morning staring at my new baby. My heart explodes a thousand times a night for this kid. The sight of his perfect button nose. His little curved lip. Those moments of brief eye contact turn me upside down and inside out. My baby.

..

Mike’s snoring is becoming a favorite sound of mine; with each inhale and exhale another minute is added to my sleep stock. Yes babe, keeeeeeep on sleeeeeping. I’ll match your 1.5 hours for my own soon enough.

..

Then you wake up, have a cup of coffee and eggs that were scrambled in butter and start a new day.

4th trimester – part one

Happiness. I’ve been thinking about the difference between real-time happiness and in-the-past happiness. For me, “in-the-past happiness” is something that time and distance produce. Space from the moment is what allows you to register that you were, in fact, happy then. Real-time happiness is when you know while you are living something: I am happy.

I am a semi-regular offender of experiencing happiness in the past and it pains me. But sometimes it is easier to realize how much brighter and beautiful and happier it all was in retrospect.

In a day and age when living in the moment is held as highly as eating well and exercising enough, I feel twinges of guilt when my happiness is sourced from memories instead of the actual moment. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the case for the 4th trimester.

The 4th trimester is commonly referred to as the first 3 months of life with your new baby. It is a time laced with adjustment. From those tortuous sleepless nights to the magical bonding with your baby, these months are unique. Despite the lack of sleep, it is obviously a time to be cherished. A time of happiness.

But my question is: can it be more real-time happiness than in-the-past happiness? I’m hoping to work hard at making it as real-time happiness as possible. I don’t want to look back to know that I am happy now. (Could this be a sliver lining of a global pandemic? Having the time to think about all of this…?)

Our son is 6 weeks old – halfway through the 4th trimester – and he hasn’t been held by anyone but me, my husband, and a handful of doctors and nurses. This is not what we expected. Every day is limited to what we can do in our home, aside from our daily walk(s). Some may say this is true of most days with newborns – to which I probably agree – but ours are limited by not just a baby but also the government.

Days are tedious. But, as I’m trying to remind myself constantly, they are also joyful. Every day I get to spend another 24 hours with only my husband and my son. We’re in the middle of the Great Pause and I’m navigating it by soaking in the first few months of my baby’s life at home. …Literally government mandated to stay at home. What a bizarre, beautiful, perplexing thing.

Despite the fear of COVID-19 and the monotony of social distancing casting it’s shadows on our days, I know these short months are so special. I am grateful – and want to be present – for these moments filled to the brim with my boys.

Right now, at 6 weeks in, our days look a bit like this: Most days Cam wakes up between 5am – 6am for a diaper change and a feed. After this we either put him back down in his cradle or remove all of the pillows on our bed and let him sleep with us for “morning cuddles.” I love starting the day with our morning cuddles, despite actually sleeping way better if he goes back down in his cradle. Babies are loud and squirmy when they sleep, which makes sharing a bed with them decidedly less restful.

Between 8am – 9am we head downstairs and, in-between pulling shots of espresso and toasting bagels, we take turns dancing around the kitchen with Cam. Then it’s time for his morning nap, which is usually downstairs in his vibrating seat. (Although I am reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and it says for meaningful sleep babies should be in their crib and not be moving. Ek! We’ll work on that eventually…)

The next 7 – 9 hours are spent changing diapers (usually Mike), breastfeeding and pumping (obviously me), going on walks (sometimes 2-3 a day), managing to feed ourselves lunch / clean up (so many dishes), and soothing Cam (which means STANDING with him – why do babies prefer to be held standing vs. sitting and how do they know the second you sit down? HOW?!).

All of the sudden it is dinner time and it’s a shot in the dark on who will be cooking it, if Cam will be awake, or if we will be eating in shifts. We’ve had all sorts of evenings. I’ve managed eating a burger one-handed while feeding him but we’ve also had nights where we’ve cooked, ate without a babe hanging on either of us, and even tag-teamed the kitchen after. Once timing even worked out where I fed him and pumped right before our pizza was ready… meaning I was able to have a beer with dinner.

Every other night we give Cam a bath, which he seems to really like. And then it’s time for bed – something we haven’t figured out the exact science to yet. Typically though, I feed him and then shower while Mike burps him and tries to get him down in the cradle. Sometimes he’s successful and it’s early enough for us to watch a show together before going to sleep ourselves but other times Cam is wide awake when I out and needs some extra calories before snoozing.

I’d say 60% of the time we get a decent night sleep. Cam’s longest stretch so far has been 7 hours (!) but it is typically around 5 hours from the initial time we put him down to the first time he wakes up, and then about 3 hours, and then down to ~2 hours (this is our morning cuddle stretch). We have certainly had our hard nights, but thankfully these are more of a rarity than a regular practice.

Just this week Cam started giving us small social smiles and OMGTHEYARETHEBEST. He has a good appetite and is able to take a bottle now with pumped milk. Initially he loved his pacifier but now he makes a face like we are trying to poison him when we put it in his mouth. He LOVES being on his side. Tummy time is usually spent on one of our chests and he can hold his head up for a decent amount of time. He also strains his head up from our shoulder when he is hungry or tired and then inevitably slams it back down when he his neck muscles give way. For some reason Mike and I both find this slightly amusing.

When he wakes up, he does the cutest “baby stretches,” as we call them. Like he’s had the longest day at work and just needs to stretch it out. When we take him out of his cradle and unzip his swaddle (more on that in another post), we like to say “FREEDOOOMMM!!” because he instantly pops his arms out to the sides. Cam has the uncanny ability to be crashed out on a walk but wake up right when we hit our driveway, basically every.single.time. He has a hungry cry and an I’m-bored-cry. His hungry cry is as ferocious as you’d expect it to be. His favorite sleep spot is dad’s chest, where he sprawls out like a starfish. Socks are hard to put on but once secured in place, he doesn’t seem to mind them. Diaper changes aren’t a big thing to him, like he knows “yeah yeah this is just apart of the deal, isn’t it?”

He’s our little light and the best thing about our days.

Little baby, big bed

Our birth story!

Earlier in my pregnancy, I imagined this post to be about laboring at home with our doula before going to the hospital for a natural childbirth. Our reality of brining our baby into the world was very different. Instead of a natural childbirth, I was scheduled for a c-section because our baby was breech. This meant our doula wouldn’t be able to be there for my delivery, as only one person is allowed in the OR.

We were still planning on having her come to the hospital for support before and after, until, of course, the Bay Area went on a mandatory shelter in place because of COVID-19. On top of this, hospitals put restrictions on the number of visitors that could come to the hospital. One support person (obviously Mike) was allowed to be there with me. No one else; doula, family, or friends!

Like I said… a completely different birth experience than I imagined BUT I am happy to report, an overall positive one nonetheless.

The morning of my c-section, Mike and I woke up early so I could capitalize on my last hour of being able to drink something before the 2 hour NO FLUIDS rule before surgery. I got a decent amount of sleep the night before, all things considered, but still had a big cup of black coffee in bed while finishing season 2 of The Crown. We were scheduled for a 1pm surgery with an arrival time of 11am, which meant time for one last short walk before going to the hospital. I didn’t know how my recovery would go, and when I would be able to get out and walk again, so taking a stroll was definitely something I wanted to do. I got a little emotional on our walk because – as corny as it may sound – I started thinking about all of the strong women and mamas that I know. I actually began listing their names, one by one in my head, and just knowing that their thoughts, love, and strength was with me that day brought tears to my eyes.

When we got back to the house, we packed up the car* and headed to the hospital. What a different experience it was than going into labor naturally must be! The morning, and the car ride, were both pretty calm and controlled; none of the “drive faster!!!” or “grab the bag, it’s time!” stereotypical birthing scenes we see in the movies! Instead I had the chance to call both of my parents on the drive (which again, made me a little teary eyed because I know they were both nervous for me).

After dousing our hands with sanitizer and walking down eerily quiet hallways (birth during a pandemic), we checked into Labor & Delivery. Through mild small talk and anxious half laughs, we were led to a small room. For the next ~2 hours various medical staff came in, checked on me, introduced themselves, took my vitals, inserted an IV, shaved my legs (not joking), answered my questions, and tried to console me when I started to cry. It was all very emotional and a bit overwhelming for me (!) but everyone was calm, patient, and very kind.

At 1:30pm it was go-time. We walked to the operating room but Mike had to wait outside while I got my spinal tab. The OR is as bright, cold, and sterile as you imagine it would be. I was sat on a table that was way smaller than I expected and (you guessed it!) started crying. I could see Mike sitting outside from the window and it made me EVEN MORE emotional. I didn’t like that he could see me because I imagined it had to be hard watching your partner get prepped for a major surgery and there was nothing you could really do from outside the room.

Luckily the team who performed my c-section was AMAZING (and all women, which felt pretty badass!). They continuously comforted me in between doing a round robin of introductions. There were about 8 medical staff, who introduced themselves via their name and their role during the procedure. I found this to be a little amusing (although I know it makes sense for them to do it) because it reminded me of an office meeting – like, okay… let’s start with a round of introductions, shall we?

I particularly loved my anesthesiologist, which was comforting given she was sticking a needle in my spine. I forgot her name now but she expertly walked me through each next step – what to expect physically but not going into too much detail, because …gross. My spinal tap was done before I knew it. I was instructed to lay down and put my arms out into a T. I was suddenly so cold, I started shivering uncontrollably. I actually read about this happening to a lot of women so was prepared for it but was still thankful when they put a blanket to cover my arms that had warm air shooting through it. Nothing better than feeling nice and cozy in the operating room, amiright?

Next Mike got to come in (yay!) and there were a lot of questions on what I could and could not feel. And yes, it is as freaky as you expect to try to move your legs and not have them budge. That was probably my one moment of real panic. I quickly gasped “is this normal?!” and was reassured that it was. My catheter was put in place, something that I had been dreading but obviously didn’t feel at all, considering I couldn’t even move my legs… Although I will say there are some poorly designed lights in hospitals that are rimmed with a mirror. Not great for an abdomen surgery that you are awake for.

At some point, while I was avoiding glancing up because of the small, but very-much-so-there mirror, my abdomen was cut into.

Overall I didn’t feel much pain but could feel slight sensations. I think my physical pain tolerance is actually much higher than my emotional tolerance for these kinds of things. There was some pressure here and there but nothing unbearable. It did take a little longer than I anticipated for him to be out but then finally … his little cry!! Ah, hearing his voice for the first time was the best; it brought tears to both mine and Mike’s eyes; “our baby!!!!!!!”

The doctor held him up over the curtain so we could see him and then he was quickly whisked away to be checked out by the pediatrician. Mike was able to go over with him and “cut the chord” – which was more of a ritual than necessity since it wasn’t actually attached to me anymore.

I remember being so full of joy and pure bliss during all of this. They were still tugging on me and stitching me up, and our baby was wailing, but it was such a relief having him delivered and knowing that Mike was right there by his side.

The pediatrician asked if I wanted to do skin to skin with him next and OF COURSE I DID. She put him on my chest. He was still crying and wiggling all around. Mike was snapping some pictures. We were both instantly in love.

When I was finally fully intact again, we were wheeled out of the OR to the recovery room. We stayed there for a few hours and soaked in our little guy until it was time to go to our room. Our very tiny room. Here we stayed for the next 2 nights. For 6 meals, vital checks every 3 hours from nurses, visits both mornings from the doctor who performed my c-section, multiple pediatricians checking on and testing our baby to be sure he was healthy, HGTV on loop, endless pictures of our precious little one, many phone calls and text messages updating our friends and family, broken hours of sleep, sore nipples, … and the purest, rawest love I’ve ever felt.

Typically c-section patients are in the hospital for 3-4 nights but since I was recovering well, and COVID-19, we were able to leave after 2 nights. On the way home, we uncharastically stopped at Jack in the Box for curly fries and a Dr. Pepper. There was a cute Welcome Home sign from our neighbors** attached to our door that made me cry big, juicy, feeling-loved-on tears. We did another round of updates to family and friends, “we’re home!” and settled in as a family of 3.


*I packed WAY too much stuff, from multiple cozy outfits and fluffy socks to face moisturizer, a book (hahah), and makeup (hahahahhahahahhah). I’m not exaggerating when I say I only needed to bring snacks and drinks, an outfit to go home in, a robe, and my cell phone charger. I didn’t even need underwear because I wore the giant ones the hospital gave me.

**On top of the sweet sign, we have a neighbor who graciously made us lasagna and dropped off diapers on our front porch. Another neighbor made us banana bread that we ate for breakfast for 3 days. Multiple times during those first few days, the mamas of the neighborhood and others texted me to make sure I was doing alright. I am so, so thankful for the outreach of support in our little community, particularly because we only bought our house ~1 year ago and still felt all of the love. I’m glad our little babe will be growing up in such a supportive, loving place.

ILY Banana Bread

Note: I typed up this post way back in October but it’s been living in my Drafts since I didn’t have pictures to go with it. Now we’re sheltering-in-place because of COVID and I’ve managed to carve out a few minutes – in between breastfeeding and diaper changes – to make my favorite banana bread, snapshots included.

What a crazy time we are living through… I imagine many people are baking more since we’re all bored, restless, and probably have varying degrees of anxiety because of the current affairs and how unknown things currently are. Any retrieve or coping we can muster is welcome. We’re consuming news hourly – and, if similar to me – looking for any glimpse of text that reads this will be over soon. We’re rapid-fire reading headlines and digesting them after with our friends and family on video chat.

We’ve seen and laughed at the same memes. We’ve cried. We’re taking more walks; getting outside and noticing things we didn’t before. But we’ve also started to avoid eye-contact when we pass others – is it okay to say hello? …Most of the time, I personally look down at my feet when I would have offered a friendly greeting or at least a smile just weeks ago.

We’re trying to remember that Earth is getting a break during this and pollution is down. We’re calling people we haven’t talked to in years. Things we used to shrug off – or even dislike entirely – we suddenly crave… what I would give for a family game night (my former self was selective about the games I played and the time I spent playing them). Never again will time with others be taken for granted; or a shared bottle of wine, a welcome embrace, or an unexpected visitor. We’re missing our “old” lives and realizing we really didn’t have much to complain about, did we?

We’re cleaning out closets and drawers and garages; and maybe some buried feelings we haven’t had time to sit with before. We’re going deep, turning inward for guidance. Or, we’re not. We’re worried about using too much toilet paper. We’re eating at home a lot more. We’re thankful. We’re scared…

It’s a lot.

I can’t wait to be on the other side of this. I can’t wait to write something light-hearted and jolly again. Reading the words below, I think, what a simple time… But I also think, oh, how we will grow from this and, at least we still have banana bread.


Mike and I love banana bread. Who doesn’t?! I am all about splurging with a white flour and refined sugary piece of it occasionally but for the normal day-to-day, I prefer something healthier. Which is why I am so happy I found / fine tuned this recipe!

It’s made with real, simple ingredients and no added sugar. I love having it for breakfast because the protein from the eggs and almond butter keeps me full. Plus, it’s a pretty good pairing with morning espressos.

I had a crazy busy few days at work and some bananas that were ripe and ready to rumble, so I asked Mike to make the bread while I was away at a work dinner. I scribbled down the directions for him, which coined the recipe “ILY Banana Bread.” Whenever I write Mike a note, I always include ILY at the end for I Love You. It’s nothing original – I’m sure a millions of other couple use ILY too – but we’ve been doing it since we first started dating so it’s special to us. ❀


ILY Banana Bread

Gluten and added sugar free

Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 30 minutes: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tbs baking soda
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  • Vegetable oil for pan
  • Optional: walnuts and flaxseeds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Add bananas to a bowl and mash with a fork
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to bowl and mix together
  • Grease your pan with vegetable oil (I used grape-seed because it has a high smoke point)
  • Put batter in pan and bake for 30 minutes


Third Trimester – Looking back!

January

I started the third trimester right before the New Year with a raging case of sciatica. Not super fun, especially when you spend New Years Eve running through an airport 6 months pregnant to try to catch a flight… Unfortunately we didn’t make our flight and Mike and I woke up in Denver, instead of home, on the 01/01/2020.

Unexpected changes in travel plans aren’t ideal but looking back it was actually a special, cozy New Years Eve for us; and one that we will definitely remember. After missing our flight and eventually succeeding in rebooking it for the next morning … or so we thought … we devoured chicken tenders and salad on our bed at The Westin (the airport hotel we splurged for – vs. staying at the airport motel we were given vouchers for – because it was New Years Eve and we thought we had to be back to the airport by 5am the next morning). Plot twist: we realized later that our flight was actually for 7pm the following evening, not morning.

Cool cool cool…

Living my best pregnant life

Trying to make the best of it, we went down to the lobby/bar to ring in the New Year with a bunch of strangers… I ordered a mocktail and Mike participated in the free champagne toast the hotel offered. We people watched a bit, counted down as the ball dropped, and kissed each other into 2020. Luckily the lobby was actually quite nice, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening in the slightest. PLUS officially being in 2020 meant we were that much closer to meeting our little guy.

But before he made his debut, mom & dad had some serious house renovations to do. Midway through the month Mike’s dad (Grandpy!) came to stay with us for a month and help with the renos. Oh, man how much we owe him! In about a month we had new recessed lighting downstairs, our flooring was ripped out, most of the walls had a new coat of paint on them, a wall and a closet were torn down, and new cabinets were in place to give us a more open kitchen area. I tired to help where I could but being pregnant didn’t make me the best worker. Instead I was in charge of shopping, cooking, and laundry. Plus getting in walks, yoga, and making sure I was sleeping well to keep growing the babe.

Quick lunch break before getting back to work
Last round of dishes before the sink was taken out and we didn’t have water downstairs for a few weeks

February

The renovation continued into February, and ordinarily a control freak who loves a spick and span household, some days were more of a test for me than others. I was also trying to make sure everything was buttoned up at work before my mat leave started. And we had 10 hours of newborn classes to squeeze in during limited time.

The month flew by in a haze of dust from the renovations and ever-growing piles of baby stuff, but we were able to get out and do a few fun things too; like attending our friend’s annual Super Bowl party!

Of course the only photo we have is by our bathroom and not at the actual party…

We had a great baby shower, hosted by one of my best friend’s, Lauren. Our theme was Brunch for Baby, riffing off of my serious LOVE for blueberry muffins during my pregnancy. The menu also included yogurt parfait, eggs, hash browns, and of course a mimosa and beer-mosa bar for others to indulge in. πŸ™‚ It was the perfect way to celebrate our baby-on-the-way with our closet friends and some family. (We had another baby shower planned for March but because of some medical stuff, that one didn’t happen… more below.)

Aside from renovations and our baby shower, I did a lot more yoga in February. My movements were slow and modified but it felt better than ever. And my sciatica was manageable with more practice and a lot of walking. Moving really helped with the pain during the day so it was essential! The only time things got really painful were in the middle of the night when I had to get up to pee (which happened without fail, like everyone says it does). My back felt so stiff and sore in those first few moments of walking after sleeping for hours. It took me a long time and many baby steps to get to the bathroom from bed and most of the time I was literally hunched over like an elderly woman.

Since we were so busy, especially on the weekends, I started a little Sunday ritual of waking up and reading for a bit in bed and then hitting the mat for a quick morning flow. If I was lucky, Mike would agree to join me on a morning walk to get a coffee nearby our house after. These mornings were some of my favorite and I know they will be sweet memories from my pregnancy.

Towards the end of the month, we found out that our little guy was breech at my 36 week appointment. I remember at our 20 week scan the technician saying he was breech. I instantly felt nauseous (almost any medical speak makes me queasy to the point where I think I actually might have a condition that has yet to be diagnosed).

Although the technician assured me many babies were breech at that stage and he still had plenty of time to flip head-down, there was a part of me that knew in my bones that this wouldn’t be the case. Because of this feeling, I told my regular doctor at my next appointment that I was nervous about our baby being breech but, after feeling around, she said she could feel his head down low. Okay, I convinced myself, nothing to worry about then!

Not.

Literally 15 seconds before our 36 week ultrasound, when she was feeling my belly again, she proclaimed that his head was still positioned downward. YES! I remember thinking to myself. In that moment I wasn’t concerned about not having the natural childbirth I was hoping for.

After all, if the doctor said his head was down……

Turns out, like everyone, doctors can be wrong. And when ours started moving the ultrasound wand around my belly, she immediately told us she had been wrong; he actually wasn’t facing down at all. His head was nestled under my left ribs. A hard little bump that I had felt for months, assuming it was his bottom.

I started to feel very queasy at this point (I’m telling you, it’s a condition!), and then inevitably started to cry. Mike and I had gone so far as hiring a doula for the natural childbirth I was planning on having and now here we were talking about scheduling a c-section. Through my tears, my doctor told me about doing a version (or ECV) to try to flip him head down. We scheduled one for that Sunday and …

March

on March 1st, instead of having our baby shower with my family, we went in for the version. From what people had been telling me it is a pretty intense procedure. I was nervous but wanted to do everything in my power to try to flip him – in the hopes that it was successful but also for the peace of mind knowing that we tired.

Ultimately the version wasn’t successful. And it was intense. I was monitored for about an hour before, given a drug that relaxed my uterus (while simultaneously making my heart race, not the best when you are already nervous!), and then 2 doctors manually tried to push the baby up and into a somersault. Lots of pressure and yoga-like deep breaths!

They tried 3 times and although his little butt did move up from my pelvis, he wouldn’t tuck his chin to complete the turn. I was so tired and sore at that point that we decided not to try again; if he wanted to stay head up and come into the world via c-section, so be it. We did some more monitoring to make sure all was okay (which it was!) and then headed home for BBQ and a movie in bed.

Selfie before the version

We briefly considered trying acupuncture next but after talking about it, decided that if the version didn’t work, we weren’t going to try anymore intervention.

March was also the start of my mat leave. The first week was all walks, yoga, reading in cute coffee shops, lunch with friends, and getting stuff done like changing my oil and getting my tires rotated. This was supposed to continue into the second and third week, with a manicure and pedicure, and an epic date day with Mike sprinkled in there too. But then… COVID-19.

A nice, sunny morning walk before social distancing…

During the second week of my mat leave most companies already had people working from home (it was nice to have Mike home with me!) and social distancing was taking root. At this point, sadly Mike’s parents had to cancel their trip out to visit us, which was a huge blow but I still wasn’t grasping how drastic this was going to get. I went on one walk with a friend and saw my mom that week… Little did I know how much things were about to change the week my baby came into the world.

Starting the Tuesday before my scheduled c-section that Friday, the Bay Area was ordered to shelter in place for 3 weeks. No non-essential exposure to others or leaving the house. We were told we couldn’t have visitors at the hospital and I was allowed only one support person to come with me for my delivery. Obviously this made sense, given the state of affairs happening, but it was gut-wrenching not to have my mom come meet her grandson in the hospital.

I plan to post my birth story later so will skim on those details for now. The long short is that we are so blessed to be home with a healthy, adorable baby boy. This is the main thing and I am beyond thankful. I am also thankful that we have ours and our families health; we have a home to be in during these uncertain times; we have food to eat; and Mike and I have each other to support and navigate the first moments of life with a new baby. But we’re also missing being able to introduce our sweet son to his family.

This little guy has only met us and the nurses/doctors at the hospital. We’ve had to rely on video calls and sending pictures as forms of introduction to everyone else. Some Most days it’s hard not to get really down during this time. He will only be this new and small for a short amount of time, and our family can’t hold him, hug him, kiss him, or cuddle him. Plus, not knowing when all of this will end has made it more taxing… will our son be one month when he can finally meet his grandparents? 3 months? 6 months? Please don’t let it last that long.

For now, all we can do is wait and remain positive. We’re staying put in our house to do our part in flattening the curve. We’re calling and texting, emailing and FaceTiming family and friends every day. We’re going on small family walks while I recover from the c-section. We’re taking naps and baking cakes. We’re waking up with morning coffee and tea and recapping the night – did he sleep well? how are we feeling? he peed through how many onesies? – and remembering to treasure these moments even if they are far different than what we expected.

Chili Mac

We finally have a kitchen again! After about 2 months of renovating the downstairs of our house, the floors are placed, the new appliances connected, and the (GORGEOUS) counters are safely secured in place. All in good timing because we’re only a week or so out from our baby making his grand debut into the world.

To test out all of the new goods, I made a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a while last night for dinner. It’s vegan and, the version I made, gluten-free. It’s easy and filling. It’s … chili mac!

A mash up – a love child – of 2 major comfort foods; chili and mac n’ cheese. I suggest you make yourself a batch ASAP.


Chili Mac

Ingredients:

  • 1 -2 TBS vegetable oil like avo or grape-seed (something with a high smoke-point)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper (I used red but use your fave or what you have on hand)
  • 2-ish carrots
  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed
  • 28 oz of canned tomatoes (I buy the fire roasted ones)
  • 3 – 4 cups of spinach
  • Spices (added to taste and preference): Cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt
  • 10 oz of macaroni (I used brown rice and quinoa but similar to a lot of gluten free products, it didn’t hold it’s structural integrity when mixed with the other ingredients – something to consider if you are concerned about presentation)

Directions:

  • Make your pasta according to the package, drain, and set aside
  • Chop and sautΓ© your onion until translucent
  • Chop bell pepper and carrots to add to onion mixture
  • Add kidney beans, canned tomatoes, and spices, mix and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes
  • Bring to a boil and stir in spinach until it is wilted
  • Add to chili to macaroni
  • Serve and enjoy (optional to top with guac, green onions, and/or cheese)

Before and After pictures of the house and a post about renovation tips are in the works – stay tuned!

***Pick Up Limes inspired this post***

Second Trimester Highlights!

Telling Everyone

I think one of the most fun parts about being pregnant is telling everyone! I mentioned in my first trimester post that we told our immediate family early on (basically only our parents). Once I hit the 2nd trimester we slowly started telling other family and friends in creative ways.

We told part of my extended family by hosting a brunch at our house. With the craziness of the year, they actually hadn’t been to our new house yet so it was the perfect opportunity to do a reveal by saying our second bedroom was THE NURSERY! I scanned/printed a picture of our ultrasound and stuck it to the room. All in all, I don’t think anyone was actually that surprised as I passed on a glass of wine a few weeks before at a another family function haha but it was still fun to tell our news!

We told my grandparents by brining our wedding book over to their house and taped that same ultrasound picture in the back saying “Chapter Two: coming in March” – it took my grandma a second to put it together but once she did, she exclaimed “oooh, so soon!” and my grandpa “oh my!” which was pretty cute.

The big reveal for most of our friends came at Canadian Thanksgiving where I wore this custom shirt Mike made me. It was fun to see everyone’s reactions after they read the shirt, especially people who were generally surprised.

We had Mike’s parents tell a lot of the Canadian family by showing them the same picture on Thanksgiving. I wish I got to see the reactions there!

For friends and family that weren’t at Canadian Thanksgiving, I either sent them that picture too or another ultrasound one when we found out what we were having!

It’s a…

Which, speaking of, we found out we are having a boy! Personally I can’t imagine not finding out what we are having for planning, naming, and just general day dreaming purposes. πŸ™‚

I always thought we would have a girl first so it was crazy to find out he’s actually a boy in there. Obviously I can’t wait to meet him. I love the idea of a little mini-Mike!

Travels + date nights

We spent a weekend in Monterey with friends, flew to Toronto for a wedding, and then to Vancouver to celebrate my birthday in October/November.

We’ve also been enjoying date nights with just the two of us. I imagine I’ll really want to ramp these up in the next few months since it will be our last chance for time alone without the baby or finding a sitter.

We’re spending a lot of time with friends too. The day after Thanksgiving we had brunch an old friend’s house, where my friend had the best idea to putting out different breads, nuts, seeds, berries, and dried fruit instead of a traditional bacon and eggs type thing. It looked so nice (I forgot to snap a pic), was nom, and a lot less prep/clean up. An all around win!

We went to a Marvelous Ms. Masiel dinner and premiere, where a group of us got together for a traditional Jewish dinner and the first episode of the new season.

We’ve also seen a few movies and I’ve been trying to take long walks with friends when able.

The growing bump

Every morning I wake up and my first thought is about this baby bump. Sometimes I can feel him kick before I even get out of bed and it’s such a sweet moment to steal while tucked away in the sheets still.

I love getting ready and scoping out my profile to see how much he’s grown.

The 2 pictures below that were taken ~6 weeks apart; one at the wedding we went to in and early November the other the night before Mike’s holiday party mid December. Talk about a risky last minute move… waiting until the day before to confirm a dress still fit.

The Holidays

Per usual, the holidays were busy. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family (baby name debates included, of course), attended both of our company’s holiday parties, and flew back to Toronto for Christmas.

It’s always nice to see family and make memories!

Falling in love with our little one

I mean, do I even need to explain this one? ☺️ I can’t wait until March to meet him!

A New Year | 2020

Another New Year! I know it is hardly unique for this time to be one of reflection and forward looking. Although there may be some who fall into the camp of not setting resolutions or intentions for the next 365(6) days, I side with likely the majority of people who look at January first as an opportunity for a fresh start.

Over the years, I would say, my expectations have become less invasive and more realistic. (For a wayback playback, here are my past New Year posts; 2016, 2017, 2018 …kind of a copout post but including it anyway, and 2019.) I used to aim for perfection – starting on the first it used to be all: No alcohol during the week! Yoga every day! – I inevitably veered of course and poured that glass of wine on a Wednesday instead of rolling out my mat.

Note this year is different given that I am pregnant and can’t have alcohol, which has actually been a pleasant way to spend the holidays; absolutely no grogginess or guilt in the mornings!

Speaking of being pregnant… 2020 will obviously be one of the biggest years of my life, having my first baby! Naturally this must change how I see and feel about some things. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the home I want to raise our little one in. I’m finishing up the book Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter and questioning the things I want to adjust or reset in our house. Specifically letting go of the idea that my way to tidy, keep, and maintain our house is the right way. Mike does a decent amount of housework but I am definitely the main home “do-er” in our relationship, and this isn’t because he’s not willing or able to help. To be frank, it is because I like things done my way.

For example, Mike can make the bed, but when I do it, the sheets are tucked and the “right” pillows are fluffed and placed in front. For this reason I take on the responsibility of making the bed most days. I’m beginning to realize… a bed made is a bed made in the grand scheme of things though.

I want to reframe my perspective on many things similar to this so Mike has an equal chance of doing house work his way (even if it is less polished than my approach). Our son is my motivation for this change of mind, and the critical fact that I want him to grow up in a house with his mom and dad doing equal work in the house (and, of course, in their careers but that is a longer post).

Ah, how children change you …before they even arrive!

In terms of other New Year resolutions, the same applies from year’s past: continuing to move every day; eating well; reading lots; being kind, compassionate, and authentic; choosing joy whenever possible; and any other feel-good, be-better buzz words you can think of. πŸ˜‰

Cheers to 2020!