Cam 9 – 12 months

OUR BABY IS A ONE YEAR OLD!

I generally find it hard to believe that a year and some change ago I was preparing for a c-section to meet our little Camaroni.

This post rounds out a year of Cam updates on my blog; his first 365 days documented here every 3 months or so. In a way, these posts have been how people have gotten to know him. They have served a dual purpose: an artifact for us and a close to real-time way for friends and family to read about what Cam is like.

March 2020 will always be a standout month for us. It is the month we became parents. Of course it is also a time that bears significance for the world…

Life is (still) different from what we were used to. And because of that, Cam’s first Christmas was just the 3 of us. I can explain it as wonderfully weird. Weird because we didn’t imagine friends and family being physically absent during Baby’s First Christmas. Wonderful because … it was Baby’s First Christmas! We managed to incorporate a few family traditions while also sampling new tastes for the holiday.

You know we had to get matching jams to sleep and wake up in on 12/25. I remember my sister and I opening new jams on Christmas Eve (matching before it was trendy, mind you) so there were sweet ties to the past doing this with Cam. Mike and I also prepped his mom’s famous Land of Nod bread to bake for breakfast.

In a pandemic plot twist, we were actually able to join a tradition we typically miss. Most years we are in Canada for Christmas and I miss opening presents with my stepdad’s family on Christmas Eve. In 2020 though, everyone was virtual. (I might need the family to set up a computer for me to join from afar in the years to come.:) Cam was spoiled with sweet gifts while Mike and I indulged in a charcuterie.

Christmas charcuterie!!!? Sounds like a new tradition to me.

On Christmas we woke up and opened more gifts, munching on Land of Nod and sipping coffee. Of course this was all before 9am because kids wake up so early! Hah. The next few days were spent cozied up watching Christmas movies (all THREE of The Santa Claus movies in rotation), getting endless Cam cuddles, and generally enjoying the magic of the holidays with a little one.

Excitedly Cam was able to meet his cousins a few days later (!!!) when Mike’s sister and her family had an overnight layover in San Francisco en route to Melbourne. We met them outside and stay distanced at a park near their hotel. What a strange time. Overall we were grateful that we at least got to see them but it was hard when Ella wanted to hold and play with her baby cousin and she couldn’t. How do you really explain what a pandemic is to kids? Waaaah.

Over the holidays, Cam was waking up almost every night around 8pm. What!? Since we didn’t have work the next morning, we broke the Parenting Rules and let him come downstairs to watch movies with us but we knew the habit couldn’t last.

It turns out he had outgrown his early 5pm/5:30pm bedtime and could hang for about an hour longer. Since then he’s stuck to a mostly consistent schedule of waking up between 6am – 7am, taking his first nap 2 hours later (between 8 – 9am) for about an hour and then his second/last nap 3 hours after (between 12pm – 1pm). He goes to sleep for the night 4 hours after he wakes up from his last nap, which is typically around 6pm. I love having him awake for the extra hour because it’s usually the only time all 3 of us spend together (aside from the weekends). It’s actually hard to imagine life pre-pandemic and how long day care/office hours were. If Cam went to day care – like we had planned before covid – I would have dropped him off at 7am and picked him up around 5pm; leaving about one hour to spend with him all day. The positives of the pandemic are very few and far between but spending so much time with Cam is at the top of our list. (I think I write that in all of these updates.)

We had some really nice weather in the early part of the year – even by California standards – and were able to walk to a local park and have a few picnics. Soaking up the sun on a sprawling blanket? Count me in every time. And twice on Sundays when it includes a trip to the Farmer’s Market for pastries (which has become a family favorite).

Cam experienced his first Inauguration Day and, whew, what a slice of history. Obviously he didn’t know what was going on but it was a really emotional day for me. Such hope for his future and our country. God bless!

Around this time, Cam also discovered we have stairs. He LOVES to climb on everything. Mike’s parents (Nannie & Grandpy) got him a kid-sized chair that he scurries up on – smiles huge at us like “look at me being so big and the cutest ever” – and tries to get up on the couch.

Cam has a few party tricks now. My favorite being when we say “YAAAAAY!” he starts aggressively clapping. He takes clapping very seriously and has the look of pure determination in his eyes as he slaps his little baby hands together.

It tickles me that we don’t even call it clapping though… I will literally say to him, “can you do ‘yay?'” and that is his cue.

Ya know how they say you learn what your babies different cries mean? Cam doesn’t really cry that much but he does his “baby grunts” and we (kind of) know what each one means. There is the low, throaty excited grunt. And his quick, almost squawk like I-want-this-grunt. He also sometimes just shouts really loud but closes his eye when he does it. Like he knows, this is going to be real loud and I’m ready for it.

Recently he’s added pounding the floor with both hands and making …gorilla noises? to his lofty hand gestures. Mike and I often join in the pounding which cracks him up, and then, in turn, makes us laugh.

Since we’re still working from home, we decided to unconventionally hang a swing for him in our room. Under other circumstances, it would have gone outside but sometimes when we’re double booked for meetings, we need to put Cam somewhere that he can’t really move from – and that he enjoys so our colleagues don’t hear him cry (or frustrated grunt) while we are trying to present. Luckily Cam loves the swing and it dose the trick every time. He’s joined many Upwork meetings swinging peacefully behind me.

Aside from swings, Cam loves; Trash Truck on Netflix, goat cheese (still), watermelon, pureed soups or food with a bit of spice to them, playing with cars and trains (complete with the “buuurrrrummm” sound), typing on dad’s keyboard, mom’s snuggles and silly antics, being INDEPENDENT, bath time, and going on walks, especially if there is a pitstop at the parks for a ride in the “outside” swings.

Recently, Cam went from his signature army crawl to mastering the regular, on all fours crawl, after lots of practice with my mom. He has started to pull himself up on everything and has done a few seconds of free standing but isn’t quite walking. He likes books but is a speed reader so you have to talk fast.

Cam continues to be a good sleeper, aside from a 6-7 day rebellious stint he played where he would immediately pull himself up to standing the second we put him in his crib and start crying and crying. It seemed to come on out of nowhere and gave me a good scare that my easy sleeper had vanished. Luckily he’s back into his regular good-sleeping grove, more or less. I have a theory that he sleeps way better if we give him a big portion of oatmeal for dinner… Keep the oats in full stock over here!

He’s just the happiest, sweetest little baby and I feel like the luckiest person to be his mom. I love you.

From me, to you; mama

Hi mama,

I’m writing you a love letter, of sorts. Something for you to tuck away and read when you need a reminder of solidarity – weather it be in middle of the night when others are sleeping or almost frantically between sips of coffee in the morning.

What a thrilling time in your life! A time that few other experiences will rival, I’m sure. All of the physical and emotional transformational, juicy stuff that happens over the next few months is incredible. But also – based on my experience, at least – melancholy. I didn’t expect the lingering, passive sadness to be part of the program…

Yes, I knew about baby blues and the influx of hormones dancing around inside of me but adjusting to being a new mom in a pandemic? There wasn’t a medical term that I was aware of for that.

When your littlest love arrives, your life is brand new. You world is colored in never-seen-before hues. Most of the time it is a gorgeous view: a love truer and move divine than ever seen before. But even with that impenetrable love, some days feel never-ending. Little sleep. Mounting stress. All of the oxytocin in the world can’t prepare for the abrupt pivot being a parent brings, particularly during such an isolating time; when family is supposed to be near but, to keep everyone safe, they have to stay far.

Many of us know the mantra, we can do hard things. Which we can. But I found it important to add on to it. We can do hard things and we can do new things. Everything is so damn new, isn’t it? A new little roommate (who might not be a great sleeper). New expectations of visits (through windows instead of huddled close on couches). A new life. A new person. A new world. In my opinion, new is almost more difficult than hard. We can conquer both though. New things. Hard things.

Pandemic or not, parenting is a reckoning and there is no room for righteousness…

Truth be told, I was smug when breastfeeding came easy to me. I wore the Exclusively Breastfed badge with great, inflated honor. After all, breast is best, right? Right… Until your supply takes a dip and your baby has decides breast is best and formula is a no-no. No negotiating. No recall.

I already said it but it bears repeating; there isn’t room for righteousness in parenting. Whatever works for you and your family is best. Remember that. Don’t get caught up in any silly pride game. If I could go back, I would have found a good quality formula from the beginning and introduced it early on; if only for the flexibility it would later allow me. Of course, you will have your own “if I could go back…” tales to share one day soon too. We all do.

Although, ours will be a bit different than others, won’t they? We are still in a pandemic. And I still don’t know if there is a medical term for becoming a mom during a global crisis but it is a particularly interesting time for such a transition…

I am certain this experience is far from how you envisioned it would be. Family and friends can’t come over to visit or help or hug or meet your baby. Confetti can’t be tossed and cupcakes can’t be shared. I’ve learned though, this is no reason to believe you and your baby won’t be celebrated. You will be! It looks very different than what was expected but the love is still overflowing for you. The support is still there, albeit likely virtual and not physical.

We can feel light and joy from miles away. I’m sending it to you right now! Can you feel it? This time is new and hard and exciting and scary. It might feel impossible to stay bright but a perspective that has helped me is to remember that every baby cuddle that is missed with a loved one, is another one that I get to treasure.

The pandemic will eventually end. And the second that it is safe to, I can’t wait to meet your little one and for you to meet mine. We’re in this together; even if we have to be apart.

It’s a new year. We can do new things.

xo


Cam 6 – 9 months

Cam is 9 months old! Christmas is in 5 days! An hour might feel long but, stacked up, they are flying by.

Nine months seems big because he’s now spent as much time “outside” as he did growing inside me. 18 months of knowing this little guy. ♡

Cam has changed so much since my last post. Around 6 months old he started sitting up fully all by himself. I don’t know why but it is sooooo cute to see him sitting up. He seems so small and so big at the same time.

His 2 bottom teeth also officially cut through, which are – you guessed it – adorable! I feel like I am waiting every day for the next ones to come in but nothing more yet.

In early October, we celebrated our first Canadian Thanksgiving with Cam. Since 2013 we’ve gotten together with friends to drink Canadian beer and eat poutine. It’s usually a big event; last year we even told everyone I was pregnant during Canadian Thanksgiving because so many of our friends are in the same place at once. Of course, because of COVID, this year was a much smaller gathering. We only had 2 friends and their little one over so we could all sit outside, far apart. Nonetheless it was still really nice to spend an afternoon with friends.

The other big event in October was obviously baby’s first Halloween! Cam had 4 (!) outfit changes that day to squeeze in all of his cute Halloween wear and his costume. We were able to keep up with another loved tradition this year and had my uncle, aunt, and cousins over for pumpkin carving; which marked our 10th year doing so!! I loveeee traditions and was really glad we were able to keep this one alive. And it was relatively covid friendly being that we all stay outdoors, 6 feet apart, and wore masks. I’m also happy that Cam was able to get in on the action. He loved playing with some of the carving tools.

In a year that has taken a lot from us, Halloween was a really special day. Not only did we get to spend time with my family and keep at least one tradition alive through 2020… but we also created a new (hopefully) lasting tradition with our neighbors. We live in a little tucked away cove and decided as a community to go all out for Halloween. There are only 5 kiddos on the street so we figured why not make it really special for them? Neighbors decorated houses and cars and created the best goodie bags that were all left outside for socially distant pick ups. After trick or treating – which, side note, score for me and Mike since Cam is too young to eat any treats – a bunch of us grabbed camping chairs and sat in a giant circle outside. This was only our 2nd Halloween in this house but I guess no one has really done anything in the past. Well, not anymore! Everyone kept commenting about how much fun the evening was and how we plan to go all out every year. What a sliver (and chocolate?) lining in a hard year – a new festive tradition with neighbors!

Oh and Camden was an avocado; Mike and I? his toast escorts. A fun, simple, (last minute…) family costume.

It’s crazy what a slower pace of life we’re experiencing now. This year has really taught us to savor moments, which is particularly fitting and sweet with a little babe. We started a Sunday ritual of grabbing coffees and going to pick up pastries at our favorite place. With yummy morning treats in hand, we stroll down the still-quiet streets of a downtown area to a section that has been blocked off and scattered with Adirondack chairs.

After disinfecting the chairs, we take Cam out of the stroller, bundle him up in a blanket, and enjoy our breakfast with him snuggled in one of our laps. It’s something that we probably would have taken for granted in life before COVID… but given the time and the limit of things you can safely do outside your house, it’s become something really nice to look forward to doing together.

gimme that monkey bread, dad!

When Cam was about 7 months he decided he was DONE sitting in his bassinet in the stroller. We upgraded him to another seat attachment where he can sit more up right and he loves looking around at the world. He usually takes a morning walk with dad and an afternoon walk with mom, cozied up with blankets and tagalong plush toys.

A bigger development around this time was the 3rd nap drop. Dunnn-dun-DUNNNNN….

Seemingly overnight he wouldn’t fall asleep during his last ~2:30pm nap. “Should we drop it?” Mike and I nervously asked each other. Listen, Cam has never been the best napper – if we get an hour from him, we’re congratulating him (and ourselves) – but to lose a nap altogether, while we are both working full-time from home with him sounded stress inducing. Luckily my mom, who comes down 3x/week to help us, was able to adjust and stay longer on these days. Whew. Truth be told, Cam sometimes has slightly better naps now that he is down to 2 a day. So…. we’re managing. Also, THANKS MOM!

We also discovered that Cam HATES formula. Like don’t even get it near him. My milk supply took a random dip in the beginning of November and, since Cam was over 6 months, we decided to introduce formula to him. LOLOLOLOOOOLLLL If only it were that easy. I had NO idea your baby might not like formula. Nipple confusion? Not taking a bottle? I heard about all of that. But no one told me, “oh hey you know how they say breast is best and not to give your baby anything but it for the first 6 months? well they might not like anything.else. after those 6 months of exclusively being breastfed, soooo, good luck!”

Ugh. Luckily after a hard week where Cam basically starved himself before drinking a sip of formula, my supply made a comeback. We’ve been going pretty steady since – aside from a day or two where it seems low – so I am just hoping we can make it until he is a year, when he can have regular milk.

Which, speaking of dairy, we discovered Cam loves goat cheese! And basically anything else that isn’t baby food. Because of the cooler weather, we’ve been having a lot of soup and Cam will happily slurp down broth while scoffing at baby food. He also LOVES water and drinks out of these cute doggy sip cups our neighbors gave us.

November was my birthday and, to celebrate, we took a Friday off from work and headed to the coast. We hit up a favorite coffee shop in Santa Cruz (are you sensing a theme to what we love to do? Coffee + pastries all day every day) and walked along West Cliff. Ah, what a lovely day it was! The path wasn’t crowded. The weather wasn’t cold. Cam had fun watching the waves crash.

Although one of the funky things about COVID is having to use the restroom while you are out. I knew I would have to pee at some point but didn’t have a game plan for how to do that… LUCKILY we found a public restroom at a beach nearby and arrived right as they were unlocking the doors. We felt safe using it since we were the first ones there. I was also able to feed Cam in the car in a relatively secluded spot, which was nice.

After, we walked a bit more and then headed home via our favorite local BBQ spot to get lunch to eat by the fireplace. Cozy vibes all the way. Oh, and I also got a Biden WIN for my birthday, which was a pretty damn good gift.

For Cam’s 8 month birthday 🙂 we took him to a local park to go down a slide and on the swings for the first time. It doesn’t sound too extravagant of an afternoon but it was good fun for all of us. Cam loved the swing and would kick his little legs like he was walking when we pushed him. And for us, it’s always fun to see your baby try something new!

My favorite little bear!

Thanksgiving was a small affair this year with only our “bubble.” Next year I hope the holidays are closer to what we’re used to them being – big, merry, celebrations with lots of family and friends; packed rooms, hug, and kisses! But until we can safely get to that point, we’re just so thankful to be spending the holidays with our little guy. He is such a happy, mellow, sweet baby.

Cam usually goes to bed very early but we had one night in early December, he squeezed in a late nap and we were able to take him out to see some neighborhood Christmas lights before his pushed-back bedtime. There is something magical about seeing the holidays through your baby’s eyes. I can’t wait to open presents with Cam on Christmas morning!!

I think the biggest thing to happen in the past 3 months is Cam scooting all around now! Just recently he’s picked up major speed and can army crawl across the living room in seconds. He is also a man on a mission when we are Facetiming family and he wants the iPad.

He also loves walking around in his walker and pulling dish towels down from their hanging spots.

He cracks up when I say “give me that baby back baby back baby back riiiib,” and pretend munch on his (baby back) ribs. Or if I say “give me that TURKEY THIGH!” and nibble his thigh. And it should be noted that I do all of this in the most animated, outrageous voices. What is it about babies that makes us all so magnificently weird?

I love signing to him the theme song to Somebody Feed Phil, one of my favorite shows, and curling up with him on his play mat while he explores toys and books. He is quick with the touch and feel reads, and knows where all of the textured things are – his tiny fingers quickly grabbing at them as we turn the pages. Daddy’s keyboard is another favorite, where he sits in Mike’s lap and types on a saved notepad reserved for him. So far he’s pasted in some actual code that Mike had copied to the clipboard and has spelled out a few words (all on accident, of course).

Cam is slow to smile for strangers but warms up and gives a cheeky little grin eventually. He seems particularly smitten with his aunt Wendy and always reserves a big smile for her when he sees her while video chatting. He loves his Go Go (my mom) and snuggles into her at the start of their days together.

Cam also likes to “wrestle” and we spend a lot of time on the couch or on our bed with him trying to attack/basically eat my face and me laughing/yelling/trying to escape those little jaws. He’s a belly sleeper. Most mornings we wake up to his fists cupped tightly around his crib like he is trying to break free, which makes me laugh.

He opens his mouth wide right when he sees his toothbrush or a syringe of Tylenol, if he is teething. He loves baths. He doesn’t like like getting dressed after them, though. Sometimes he thinks sneezes are funny. He always likes a good game of peak-a-boo but requires full commitment. No hiding behind your hands. You have to make a real effort and duck down behind something or it just isn’t fun.

Cam’s favorite toy of all time is “his cube” — which if you recognize the words, “the cube. is fun. for everyonnnneee,” you know… You know.

It is fun seeing his personality develop; what he loves and what he passes on. Overall he is just fun! I love spending time with him.


Thanksgiving Leftover Soup

I’m sure many share my sentiment when I say, how is it already December?! Oh what a year it has been. Twelve months ago, we had no idea what was in store for 2020. I was 6 months pregnant, we were just starting on our downstairs renovations and coming off of Thanksgiving with my family / getting ready to go to Toronto to spend Christmas with Mike’s family. I remember I had a bad case of sciatica from pregnancy, generally felt pretty tired every day going into my 3rd trimester, and kind of overwhelmed with traveling and all of the work on the house we had to do. The holidays were a blur, honestly. If I only knew about the slower (scarier) pace of life that was about to hit us…

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the sentiments behind giving thanks and a big meal shared with others. (Christmas on the other hand? I’ve been known to dislike the cheesy music and, to be frank, the forced giving that December 25th brings; although, having Cam does seem to be changing my Grinch-y heart.)

Obviously Thanksgiving looked different this year. COVID – and therefore, the sad but undisputed decision to be socially responsible – pruned down our typical dinner guest-list of 15 and canceled travel plans altogether.

Instead of a big family meal on Thanksgiving Day proper with my stepdad’s family and then a weekend visit from my grandparents for the rest of the holiday weekend, we kept it low key and limited it to our “social bubble.” To keep things extra simple, we ordered catering from Whole Foods to just heat up and serve.

The food was pretty good but of course we had leftovers. Since it was just me and Mike who would be eating them, I decided to throw it all together with some chopped onion and vegetable broth for a Thanksgiving Leftover Soup. We used the remaining turkey meat, a chopped sweet potato, and some green beans, but this is versatile. I can imagine it being served with potatoes that you didn’t use all of for mashing, or with a side of day-old crusty bread. You can add a salad to round it out, or go full on and eat a huge bowl of leftover stuffing and gravy like I did.

There are a lot of options in making this Thanksgiving Leftover Soup and, honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t tried it before. Plus, we ate it cozied up next to the fire with a view our Christmas tree; which is a nice way to spend an afternoon. It was also so fun to wake up on Friday and put out our Christmas decorations as a little fam of 3. 🙂

Between making leftover soup and a few house projects (yes, we are lightweight still renovating), we grabbed chai tea lattes and took Cam to a nearby track for walks. We ordered matching family jams and 3 stockings for the mantel; as Christmas will also be on a much smaller scale and spent at home in California, instead of in Canada with Mike’s family.

It’s sad we don’t get to see the people we love. But it’s overwhelming happy that we have our little guy to celebrate with. It was so fun having him run around the house in his little walker. He had on a cute little turkey outfit that my mom bought him and loved playing with the feet, which had “feathers” on them. His face was a mix of confusion and glee, like there seems to be a toy on my foot and I don’t know why it’s there… but I like it.

Like the rest of the world, we’re hoping we’ll be with family next year during the holidays. Until then, we’re staying home and loving endless Cam cuddles.


Cam 3 – 6 months

Cam turned 6 months last month and I can’t believe our baby is half a year old! You can read about his first 3 months here and here.

When Cam was around 3 months he became much more aware of objects and toys. He started grabbing for almost everything and eventually mastered switching things back and forth between his little hands but I can’t remember exactly when that started. One of his favorite things to look at was/is my morning cup of coffee. …Maybe he already knows the greatness of that black magic 😉 but probably just loves looking at all of the colors and swirls. Plus, he sees me with it everyday so is likely intrigued by that fact alone.

Cam also LOVES screens but I think all babies do? I had a theory that it is because he sees me and Mike on our phones often so he thinks, that must be fascinating! But Mike thinks it’s just because screens are interesting and we gravitate towards them. Either way, I try not to be on my phone around him too much. Mostly because I want to be present and in the moment but also because I’m sure there are better things for babies to be looking at!

Around 4 months we started a more strict bedtime routine, which was as follows:

  • bath (one of my favorite parts of the day! Cam is so calm and happy in there + Mike and I bathe him together most nights and we are completely enthralled by our perfect, happy, splashing baby)
  • get into jams and sleep sack
  • books with dad
  • feed with mom

Then sometimes I would walk around until he fell asleep and others times I would put him in his bassinet with a pacifier, hoping he was sleepy enough to fall asleep. This actually wasn’t all too bad until his pacifier popped out and he couldn’t put himself back to sleep without it. And yes, that typically happened in the middle of the night. Multiple times. I had to fish around his bassinet in the dark to find the pacifier and then try to find his mouth. It was exhausting. And I knew it wasn’t sustainable soooo at exactly 4.5 months, we sleep-trained Cam.

Our little roly poly

If I’m asked one piece of advice from new parents it will be this: sleep train your baby.

We decided to go with the extinction method, which is a bit controversial because it is basically letting your child cry themselves to sleep. I read a few books about sleep training before we started and my take was: it’s hard to let your baby cry it out but in the long run, it’s what is best for them. It is how babies learn to put themselves to sleep, which means parents also get the rest they need.

At this point, I was going back to work in 6 weeks and didn’t want to try to function on broken sleep. So, one Wednesday we decided it was time. We also went full on and took his pacifier away too. It was the hardest evening! Cam cried for just over an hour, loud screams with real tears. I had to sit outside for most of it, rereading the evidence that sleep-training does not emotionally scar your child.

Eventually he did fall asleep. And LUCKILY for us that was the worst of it. The next night he cried for about ~20 minutes, and on the third night he was already used to the drill. The next week he transitioned to his crib and we’ve been generally coasting in the sleep department ever since. YAY YAY YAY!

About a week before he turned 5 months he started rolling over from his back to his tummy like a pro. During the first days that he was mastering his new skill, both of our parents and my grandparents were able to see him roll over during our video chats. We would put the iPad behind Cam, up towards the corner of his mat when he was on his back and then the sounds of family encouragement got him to flip every time. It was so special for me to have my dad see him do this on our call because it’s almost impossible to get that man to commit to Factiming. 😉

Faceiming with G-pa

Around this time Cam also decided he had opinions about our daily walks. Suddenly he wasn’t my sleepy baby on a walk, letting me venture out all the way to the park near by our house and back; about a 45 minute walk (the same walk I did multiple times a week with him when I was pregnant). He started crying and protesting being in the stroller, cutting our walks down to about 15 minutes. Occasionally I could do our normal loop, but it was hit or miss. And then wild fire season started aggressively early and the smoke kept us inside for the last 2 weeks of my maternity leave.

Cam is still breastfeeding and I’m realizing the time we spend in his rocking chair after feeds is really sweet. After eating, he sits on my lap and looks all around; grabbing for objects nearby or scratching the material of his rocking chair. I hold him up on my legs to practice standing. I talk to him and he coos back. He’s typically pretty happy because he’s full and well-rested after a nap.

I was most looking forward to Cam trying solids! So far he’s tried sweet potatoes, avocado, banana, carrots, a kale & pear combo, and winter squash. Surprisingly winter squash seems to be his favorite, although he isn’t entirely all to interested in food…

I went back to work right before Cam turned 6 months but because of COIVD, Mike and I are working from home and Cam isn’t in daycare. My mom comes down to watch him 3 days a week and we take shifts the other 2 days. It’s a mixup of shifts and scrambling to get things down during nap time but we’re getting better at it every week. As I know everyone can relate, we are ready for this pandemic to be put to an end… particularly so Cam can meet the rest of his family!

Half Moon Bay harbor views

In the craziness that is 2020 we finally managed to get away for a quick family vacation. Mike’s birthday coincided with my last week of mat leave and we decided to book a few nights in Half Moon Bay, a nearby beach town. This was our first time taking a vacation since my birthday/our baby-moon combo weekend in Vancouver last year. It was also Cam’s first getaway!

We stayed at the Oceanano hotel & spa, which is a great location with beautiful views and next to a good number of places to eat. Our patio faced the harbor and Mavericks Beach was off in the distance. If you don’t know, Mavericks is a huge big wave surf spot where a famous competition is hosted between November and March.

After we settled in – which took much loner than it used to, given I disinfected every surface in the hotel room – we walked across the street to Barbara’s Fish Trap. This place is a Bay Area classic. I remember when I was little, my aunt and I would go to the beach and we would always stop at Barbara’s for an order of calamari. Sadly, this time Mike and I were disappointed with our fish and chips and the calamari we spilt…

We put Cam to sleep, oddly in the bathroom because it was the only place dark enough for the little guy to doze off (we moved him next to us when we went to bed later!). Then I took full advantage of our view and rolled out my yoga mat for a patio session. Happily I managed to get out there every day to flow with a side of sea breeze.

After yoga, Mike and I had dessert and wine on the patio while we watched the sunset. Romantic!! When it started to cool off, we came in to crack open new books by the fireplace. Ah, the simple pleasures of parenthood!

Cam didn’t sleep well that night, waking up 3 times! He is usually a great sleeper so I was surprised every time he fussed and needed cuddles. He did end up sleeping better the second night so I think he just wasn’t used to a new place?

Morning snuggles by the sea!

The next morning was Mike’s actual birthday! When we woke up we walked to get coffee/tea and breakfast at a cute little cafe we’d been to a few times before (once when Mike’s parents were in town and when we went kayaking last summer). Because of Covid we ate all of our meals back at the hotel, which honestly isn’t a big deal to us and is one of the things I’m actually handling okay during this pandemic; I don’t really care about eating out, I just want to see friends & family!!!!!!

Anyways..

Mike tried to surf after breakfast but the waves weren’t great so he was back to the hotel shortly after he left. It was a bummer Mike couldn’t surf since it was one of the main reasons we went to Half moon Bay, but we made up for it with our favorite lunch spot: Dad’s Luncheonette. We went all out and spilt a burger, homemade chips, mac n cheese, and a fresh herb salad. I cannot emphasis enough how much we love this place!

After feasting, we drove to the Ritz Carlton to walk along the Coastal Trail. I don’t know how we haven’t done this before! It is such a gorgeous walk through the golf course at the Ritz right along the ocean’s edge. On the way back to our car, we stopped at a little beach to put Cam’s toes in the ocean! It was by far my favorite part of the weekend — so fun to do a “first” with Cam, particularly when we’ve been at home most of the summer.

The babe leaning in for a SQUEEZY (my mom word for hug…)

Going out with Cam means we have about 2 hour before it’s nap time again. Half Moon Bay worked out well for this reason, since everything we did was nearby. After our walk, we went back to the hotel for Cam’s last nap.

For dinner we ordered to-go from Half Moon Bay Brewing company and then did a repeat dessert and wine night on the patio. We came back inside as it cooled off and watched some Shark Tank, which is an inside joke for us because that is basically all we watched on our Honeymoon – from Florida to St. Martin to St. Barts – Shark Tank was on every night!

The next morning it was back to our same coffee spot but we went on a harbor walk after. Little did we know this would be our last walk for ~a week and a half because of all the smoke from the California wildfires.

On our way home, we stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road and bought strawberries, wild flowers, and a pumpkin for Cam. It was such a nice weekend away with my little family. I can’t wait until we can go somewhere else fun!


1st week back to work

I am officially back to work after my mat leave. Whew, what a week it has been! Before I was even pregnant, I was interested in the topic of mothers coming back to work after their leave and how, sadly, most of the time, they were suddenly at a disadvantage.

I feel lucky to work at Upwork, where initiatives are in place to try to combat women being disproportionately negatively impacted by having children. For example, the same leave is offered to both mothers and fathers. And, even more important, it is encouraged for all parents to take it. But, despite being at a supportive company, I still was nervous to return to work. As most parents are, I’m sure.

The work from home set-up

Uniquely, because of the pandemic, we aren’t sending our 5.5 month old to daycare (as we originally planned, pre-covid). Instead, we are alternating between some days where we work in shifts and others where my mom comes to help us with Cam. …I’ll cut to the chase here and say the days are intense.

I am an executive assistant. A women of a Schedule. I love clean start and end times, consistency, and strict order. Babies do not adhere to predictability. Breastfeeding seems to be the trickiest to navigate as, obviously, only I can do this. I found myself constantly counting hours in my head this week; okay he ate at this time so he’ll have to eat again then… please say I don’t have a meeting scheduled.

I’m hoping next week will be less stressful in regards to feeding times because Mike and I have finally conceded to the fact that our baby is a power napper. We just can’t bank on him sleeping for a full hour. Instead I’ve readjusted my work blocks and have accepted that 45 minutes is all we will get. (If anyone has tips on how to extend naps, I’m all ears!) Luckily Cam goes to bed pretty early and typically sleeps through the night, which gives me time to catch up on things in the evening.

Our guiding light in keeping up with eating healthy meals has been food prep. Over the weekend I prepped overnight oats and these egg quinoa power bites that we like for breakfast. We also took a few minutes each night to prep lunch for the next day. I’m proud to report that, sticking with my New Years resolution, I didn’t fret when things weren’t necessarily done my way. For example, one night Mike prepped some PB&J sammies and I thought: wow… messy. But, as quick as the thought came, I simply shrugged and put the lid on our Tupperware. The sandwiches were made. Who cares about the rest?

Mike’s messy PB&Js

All in all it’s good to be back to work but I won’t lie, it’s daunting that this work-from-home-with-a-baby arrangement doesn’t have a end in sight… I’m very thankful to have flexible hours though; and besides, I can’t really complain about getting to spend more time with my cute co-worker Cam, can I?!

Cam entertaining himself during a meeting
Legitimately how I took a meeting one day
Stunning flowers sent to me for my first day back!

Friday Favorites – mat leave edition

Obviously the baby!

Of course the star of my mat leave has been Cam. I feel so fortunate to have had the past ~5 months to bond with my baby. I can’t begin to comprehend parents who only get 6 weeks of leave but we’ll save the politics there for another post…

Right now, our days typically look like this:

  • Between 7am – 8am Cam wakes up and eats (he is still breastfed)
  • 9am – first nap for about 45 min to one hour
  • 10am – feed
  • Play until 12pm, when he takes his second nap for about 45 min to one hour
  • 1pm – feed
  • Play until 3pm, when he takes his third nap for about 45 min to one hour
  • 4pm – feed
  • Around 4:30pm/5pm Mike comes downstairs and plays with Cam while I cook dinner. We usually eat aggressively early, between 5pm/5:30pm, so we can start Cam’s bedtime routine; bath, books with dad, feed with mom, bedtime at ~6pm (a note that we sleep-trained him at 4.5 months so most nights he goes to sleep right when we put him in bed …after a cuddle and a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, of course)
  • Right before we go to sleep, we change him and he eats again
  • For the past 3 weeks or so, he’s been sleeping through the night after his dream-feed 🙌

I feel excited to go back to work, but also nervous. We’re still in the midst of the pandemic and won’t be sending Cam to daycare so days are going to be more full on than they were while I was on leave. We will have to be very organized but I am beyond thankful my job allows me to work from home, and that I will still get to spend a lot of time with Cam.

I wrote about the 4th trimester here and here and love going back and reading them. I want to write more updates about Cam – what he is loving, learning, etc. – but haven’t quite nailed down a schedule. Maybe every quarter? Stay tuned. 🙂

Tummy time!

Sweet moments

Almost the entirety of my mat leave – aside from the first 2 weeks way back in early March – took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had little physical support because of social distancing rules but, despite greatly missing our friends, family, and doing “normal” things, we’ve had some really sweet times that I always want to remember.

The things that stand out aren’t actually the momentous ones. My first Mother’s Day was lovely – filled with well wishes, nice gifts, and an enchilada (my faveee) dinner – but honestly, I look back on the evening when Mike, Cam, and I went on a walk and explored a new part of our neighborhood with more earnest feelings. That random week-day night stroll was so spontaneous. We had no idea we would stumble on a completely unknown section of our neighborhood by deciding to turn right at one street, instead of continuing straight on our regular route. It might sound silly but it was a whole new world to us. We were in the thick of summer so – even though it was later that we normally walked – it was still gloriously light out and we kept asking each other, “did you know all of these houses were back here!?” Cam had drifted to sleep from the constant roll of the stroller as Mike and I alternated pushing him and making jokes about the “hidden” neighborhood we had no idea existed.

Or the time Cam slept in late and I was able to finish a cup of coffee and an episode of Sweet Magnolias in bed, right next to him peacefully slumbering.

Or all of the Kim’s Convenience we watched on the couch eating endless quick meals like ravioli or the burritos I made and froze before having Cam.

Or the day we broke parenting rules and let Cam veg out with us one Sunday. We pulled out our couch to make it a bed, ordered take-out nachos and chicken + avo sandos, and just lounged. Cam rolled in-between us while we ate and watched a documentary. I’m sure he got more screen time than is “allowed” but he also got a relaxing afternoon with both mom and dad; family time.

Cam and I also went on a lot of walks during my mat leave. We typically would go in the morning, before it got too hot. I loved those leisurely strolls, listening to an Audible book and cruising the neighborhood.

Spreadsheets

When I was desperately trying to get Cam on more of a schedule (which didn’t work for a few months!), I would track his sleep and feeds in a spreadsheet. And then I added another tab to start meal planing. Next I added a tab for what else we still had to do for our house renovation… and on and on it went. Now we have this massive, basically living and breathing spreadsheet titled “life admin” and I’m in there literally every day.

Call it extreme but it eases this control freak’s heart; especially the meal-planning aspect. And we barely ever waste any food because everything is planned out, down to the last leaf of spinach. Double win in my book blog!

Blog posts

Reading about past vacations, scrolling through my sister in laws new and old posts, and catching up on my favorite rotation of bloggers has somehow kept me feeling less lonely. Particularly posts about life with new babies. It’s crazy how similar experiences are when we enter this new adventure!

It’s also been nice reading about some of my past adventures like my bachelorette party in New York or our vacations is Bali, Portland, and Chicago.

Some recipe posts have been dusted off and made again too. Which, speaking of…

Our kitchen

So sooooo many meals (and dishes!!!!) because we are basically home all of the time.

We’ve been officially remodeling since last Thanksgiving (when the first cabinets came down) but did the majority of the work in January/February of this year when my father in law came out to help and lend us his handy electrician skills. Looking back now I am relieved we got most of it in before COIVD struck.

Of course we’ve been doing small projects continuously since Camden was born (and still have a number of them to do). Happily though our kitchen is essentially complete, aside from the pesky kick-boards. (Oh, well! Who see ’em anyway?!)

With 100+ meals cooked at home since COVID, it is so nice to have our open-concept updated kitchen.

Ounces of “normalcy”

Mike and I used to have weekends booked solid for months at a times. You name it – baby showers, birthday parties, movie nights, weddings, weekend getaways, dinners with friends, hikes, coffee dates – and we had it on the books. It seemed like we were always doing everything. Just the way I liked it. Of course this was bound to change, at least a little bit, with a new baby but I didn’t expect to go almost 6 months without touching anyone aside from Mike and Cam.

Luckily, we’ve been able to safely see a few people over the past few months. Pre-COVID, these interactions would seem so everyday. Now they are cherished and have to spread thin to last us weeks of social stimulation.

We’ve visited one of my closest friends, Lauren, and her husband a few times in her backyard. Thankfully she moved about 10 minutes from us late last year and it’s been a treat having her so close during this crazy time.

Our first real “outing” was on a hard, copped up Sunday. We needed to get out. I somewhat urgently messaged her, essentially inviting myself over, “hey can we come over and sit in your backyard?”

She gracefully replied something like: “sure thing! hot tub is on too!”

Ah, to have great friends! Cam even did us a solid and actually napped so we could get in there for a quick soak.

Post hot tub baby feds

We’ve done a few dinners back there, too. Masking up after we’ve eaten!

Lauren and I have also walked on a trail nearby and, even though right now it is hard to only have these moments, I know they have cemented our bond forever. When we are grannies we will look back on the time we spent together, 6 feet apart.

Backyard BBQ!

We had another epic backyard get-together to celebrate a birthday. It was the first time we’ve seen this side of our family since early 2020. Amazingly my aunt transformed her backyard into a socially distanced oasis. We ordered take-out Mexican and ate burritos poolside. Cam even got in the water!

All of the protection with masks and umbrellas!

We also crashed my uncle’s campsite, which allowed us a nice afternoon out in nature. Camping during the summer is so much fun (read about some of our past trips here, here, and here) but it sounds like a logistical nightmare with a little babe. I was all but eager when I got a text that my fam would be camping near by us in Big Basin one weekend. We quickly decided that yes, we would love to stop by and enjoy some of the great outdoors with them, even if it was only for a few hours.

It was about an hour drive and, with the car packed (even if you’re only going somewhere for a short amount of time, having a baby – during a pandemic, no less – means you’re bringing it all), Cam snugly strapped in his carseat, and our own sandwiches in a paper-bag, we met them at their campsite. It was so nice to get out, see some family, and do something new!

Note: since writing this California has been experiencing an early start to wildfire season because of a freak lightening storm. Sadly much of Big Basin was burned in the fires. It feels so strange having just been there. My heart bleeds for my home state and the destruction that has been done.

YOGA

Since June 1st I’ve done at least 10 minutes of yoga every day. My goal is to get to 100 days, which will coincidentally also mark my first day back to work. I am hoping it will serve as a beacon of sorts; a reminder that I can still find time to do yoga, even while being back at work!

It’s weird to me that I thought I didn’t have time to get on the mat everyday before having a baby. For the past 12 years I’ve done yoga a couple times a week but, aside from a 30 Day Challenge here and there, have never been this consistent. It just goes to show you that you make time for things that are important to you. And, after carrying a baby around all day long, yoga is essential to me.

Madam Sectary

Netflix has been recommending Madam Sectary to us for a while. We finally gave it a try and I am so happy we did. It is 6 seasons and probably took us about 2 months to watch. I don’t know if it was because I am in desperate need for some functioning government, or if it was Dr. Henry McCord (maybe a combination of both?) but I LOVED THIS SHOW. I’ve never been so sad when a show ended. Téa Leoni, or Madam Sectary, is such a boss throughout the whole 6 seasons. And I enjoyed the family/work dynamics of the show. Gaaaaaah, it was just so good. I might re-watch it.

Lolë Leggings

It’s weird going back to work but not going back to the office. This might be the dream for some, but I loved my office. It isn’t too far from my house; my company is simply amazing and provided a clean, safe, fun, snack-and-booch-filled environment; and I generally just enjoy the people I work with so it was nice to chat with them in between meetings or while grabbing a perfectly steamed oat milk latte (I know, aside from millennials, most generations are cringing at that last workplace indulgence).

All of that to say, until I can safely return to office-life, I’ll be wearing a lot more leggings to work. And this might be controversially but I’ve discovered a legging that is better than Lulu. …Lolë!

My mother in law got me a pair of Lolë leggings for Christmas years ago and they are my favorite. They fit nicely but don’t squeeze me in the way a lot of Lulus do. After probably the 50th time I went searching for my Lolës (I may have pulled them out of the laundry a few times in those early days home from the hospital….), I finally decided to buy some more! I rarely do this – unless I really love something – but I purchased 2 of the exact same leggings. They are so comfy and flattering! Plus they were having a sale…

So even though no one will be able to see me from the waist down, I’ll be wearing them, ready to rock n’ roll at work!


WIAW

Back when I had endless hours to scroll around the internet, I used to love reading What I Ate Wednesday posts from bloggers I followed. It might seem weird to most, but for some reason I am fascinated by what folks fuel themselves with throughout the day.

Some of it might stem from me being pretty particular about what I eat in a day… I am a firm believer that you can eat everything and anything, just not in the same day. Nothing is “bad” in our house; bagels loaded with cream cheese, whole pizzas in one sitting, double servings of ice cream. We indulge in it all. However, if we are having a loaded burger with fries for dinner, we’ll eat lighter for breakfast and lunch.

I typically try to follow the general rule of one protein-heavy meal, one carb-heavy meal, and one combo (protein/carb) meal throughout the day. For this precision, I spend a good amount of time meal planning but I don’t mind because strangely enough, I actually enjoy it and, more importantly, we rarely have ANY food waste. I account for all of the food in our house, down to the very last spinach leaf.

Eating this way works for me (and by default, Mike). It’s something I am able to stay consistent with because I don’t feel like I am depriving myself. Nothing is off limits. No day is a diet day.

…Whew, ok, what a longwinded intro just to share the damn thing!

Below is what we ate today. Granted it’s a little fancier than we normally go but I’m trying to get in some longer prep meals now before I go back to work early next month and it’s basically quesadillas and fish sticks every day.

Breakfast: overnight oats with berries, coconut shavings, and mint

This was my first time making overnight oats and yesss please, count me in. I used this recipe and think the mashed banana really made it yum. Next time, I am making a double or triple match so we can enjoy for more than one breakfast.

Lunch: fish tacos with guac and pickled radishes + corn on the cob

Three things here. 1. I made a blacked fish spice blend a few weeks ago but doubled the recipe so I would have some on hand for another time, which I recommend doing! 2. Do you know how easy it is to pickle radishes (and red onions for that matter)? Just slice thin, cover with vinegar (I used apple cider), sprinkle with S&P, and let sit for at least 10 minutes. An easy way to get a lot more flavor bang. 3. I’ve started using corn on the cob to replace other lunch sides like chips and I’m loving the healthy swap.

Snack: mini orange (a cutie) and a kids Z bar

This snack takes me right back to the early days with Cam. Usually during our afternoon walks, I would take a bar and an orange with us while Mike pushed the stroller. As a loose rule of thumb, if I am having a snack that is packaged (like a bar), I like to pair it with something whole (like a piece of fruit). It might be more calories (although, marginally as fruit is usually pretty low cal) but I feel better eating grown-in-the-earth food.

Our first family walk!

Dinner: ratatouille and chicken with a creamy dill sauce

Since COVID I’ve been pan-frying a lot of our meat and have to say I like it more than baking. I love the brown crispy bits. Tonight I fried up some chicken using a bit of coconut oil and made a quick sauce with chicken stock, sour cream, mustard, and a bunch of dill. I paired the chicken with previously made, frozen, thawed, and heated up again ratatouille. Along with forgetting to take a picture, I forgot to roast our potatoes (!) so dinner was pretty light, which brings us to…

Dessert: milk shakes and onion rings + fries

Sweet and savory! Mike and I knew we were going to be hungry after such a light dinner so indulged in milkshakes and a bit more food.


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!

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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