Monday, July 21, 2014

Our New Normal: Weekend

Before Marshall was born, I felt a lot of anxiety about how a baby would change the dynamics of our marriage. Terry and I have always been go-go-go people, packing tons of fun into our weekends. I wondered if we would feel trapped at home or if we would start to become total homebodies.

So far, I think we've found a great balance for this transition into parenthood. We definitely don't pack nearly as much into each weekend, but we also don't want to. We're tired! So each weekend contains one "big" outing or event and then we spend a lot of time trying to sleep in, catching up on chores or errands, and relaxing. It's a new kind of fun, though, because watching our baby do tummy time is suddenly as exhilarating as a trip to wine country! Here's a little glimpse into a typical weekend with baby on board.

On Friday, Terry volunteered to take over baby duties so I could enjoy a little time to myself (my first extended "break" since baby arrived!). So I laced up my shoes and went out for a run.


It was short, but I can tell I'm already improving my endurance and strength. I only moved 1.5 miles, and I definitely walked at least a third, but I'm trying to ease back in to workouts, so it felt fine to limit myself. Also, I'm taking my time on the 100 Push Up Challenge (FYI, I'm using the "Level 1" column for each day...again, we're easing back in here). I started last Monday but felt sore for about three days, so I just completed Week 1 today.

I've also completed a few very mellow lower body strength training workouts. They've been indoors, bodyweight only--squats, plie squats, stationary lunges, glute bridges, etc. It's great to feel a little sore! While I have a LONG way to go before I feel "normal," at least I notice a difference in my mood, outlook, and body image when I do something active daily.

Friday evening we finally got to see Jenn and Justin's new place and had a blast catching up with them. I'm always excited to hear updates about Jenn's wedding planning, especially since the big day is only about three weeks away!

On Saturday, Terry and I took Marshall on his longest drive so far (1.5 hours) to visit our friends for a 30th birthday party. We had a great time catching up, being outside, and relaxing with friends. Marshall and Kayla (Heidi and Ed's daughter, who is three weeks older than our little guy) are a crime-fighting duo now!

(Thanks for the onesie and the photo, Heidi!)


Terry joined in with his Captain America shirt, too.



Yesterday was a wonderfully mellow day. Terry let me sleep in a bit after a rough night with Marshall, and then we took a family walk to our new favorite bakery for pastries. We also took advantage of a free afternoon to do some laundry and chores, and the house feels cleaner than it has in weeks.

My spectacular chef of a husband grilled some chicken for dinner--a perfect end to the weekend, along with some Cribbage and Parks and Recreation after Marshall went to bed.


Today's outing was a fun meet-up with my friend and her toddler. We checked out a new-to-us park in the area. Marshall and I arrived about a half hour early and took a lovely walk. It feels so great to be outside now that the weather isn't sweltering!

My parents are coming into town tomorrow, and I can't wait. I know they were just here a few weeks ago, but already Marshall has grown so much. I wish they could see him more, but I know I'm lucky that they've already visited three times since he was born. I'm thankful that we already have plans to see them twice in August!


And here's a random photo from a few weeks ago. :-)


Hope your week is off to a great start!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

British, Hates Sports

How life has changed since our little guy entered our lives.

(I'm convinced that he's doubled in size.)


The highlight of my week so far was a casual dinner out, all three of us, on Monday night. It was our first time out to dinner in about two months, a mellow and delayed nod to our anniversary. We haven't exchanged gifts this year (we gave each other the gift of a beautiful baby boy and no more sleep), and maybe that's bad. Maybe we should have acknowledged our three years as a married couple more profoundly. But when we got to dinner and settled into a booth, the car seat next to me with Marshall snoozing happily, Terry across the table deciding which beers we should order (he always chooses, because he's good at it), I didn't need a gift. Our family is my gift. (At least this year.)

Another highlight was yesterday afternoon, when Terry took the bus home and got off several stops early. Marshall and I met him, and the three of us enjoyed a walk near the beach. First we strolled through several blocks of fun shops and restaurants, a neighborhood we hadn't really explored until this little walk. Then we took the long way back to the car, weaving the stroller around bikers and runners along a path by the beach. I fed Marshall on a bench overlooking the ocean, and Terry carried him back to the car so he could check out the surroundings.



We laughed at how serious he is all the time. He's slowly and very infrequently starting to smile at us, but I think he's going to be serious, just like his daddy. In fact, from what I can tell so far, he's essentially a clone of his dad.


Terry has always been very serious (though I have seen him loosen up a lot over the last eight years), and Marshall really makes us work for a smile, choosing instead to study our faces and decide if we're worthy. Terry and Marshall are also very patient. We have only heard Marshall really cry a handful of times in his young life, mostly because he very gently lets us know when he's ready for a feeding or diaper change. At night, he'll squirm and grunt for a long while in his co-sleeper, and when I wake up to get him he greets me with wide, calm eyes, as if to say, "Oh, hello there. I was hoping to see you here. Perhaps, if it's not too much trouble, could I bother you for some milk?" I think he'll have a British accent when he begins speaking.


It's fun to speculate what Marshall's personality will be like as he grows up. Will we be right about how serious he is? Or is it just that he has a very dry sense of humor like his mom? Will he continue this glorious habit of not really crying much, just fussing to alert us to his needs? Or is he just saving his energy for future months? Will he be more like his dad or his mom? Or perhaps a blend of both? I love imagining it all and knowing that all our guesses will likely be completely wrong. We joke that Marshall has some pretty solid genes to become an athlete and think about how funny it would be if he turns out to loathe sports.

Anyway, as we get to know him better and introduce him to the chaos of being part of our family, I am plunging into WIAW again! Today Marshall gave me some really good naps, so I even managed to enjoy several meals instead of just grabbing snacks.



(Overcooked) scrambled eggs, because I forgot about them while checking on M, plus a tortilla and some salsa


Cherries, which I munched throughout the day


Simple tuna sandwich. Actually, it was the most bland tuna salad I've ever made, but I forced it down. 


The most epic yogurt bowl with all my favorite things: plain Greek yogurt (we buy Trader Joe's full fat plain Greek yogurt, and we love it), peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, sliced banana, chocolate chips, and sliced almonds. YUM.

Bowl of cereal

Homemade Lara bars (I roll them into balls because cutting them into bars is too much work)

Homemade nachos--we at at 9 pm after Terry got home late from work and we finally got the little one to sleep. I sauteed up some ground beef, onions, and bell peppers, then piled up tortilla chips, cheese, the beef mixture, Greek yogurt, onions, and (unpictured) guacamole. It was actually a fun meal!

And a beer. It was delicious.

Oh, I also ate a few chocolate-covered almonds, but I devoured them before I remembered to take a photo. 

Happy Thursday to you!

If you have kids (or if you plan to), do you (or did you) like to guess what they'll be like? 

An interesting read: You have 940 Saturdays with your child before he or she turns 18. (We're already down 8!)

Also: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fay and David's Wedding and CCC Copycat Salad

This weekend one of my best friends got married! And even better, Fay and David tied the knot at my very favorite place--UCLA. (If you remember, Terry and I visited Fay and David in D.C. this year before they moved to Oakland.)




Terry and I drove up with Marshall on Saturday afternoon and met Terry's parents on campus. They're UCLA alumni, too, and we were grateful that they were willing to hang out with Marshall during the wedding--our first time "away" from the little guy. (He did great!) Truth be told, being on campus with Terry and Marshall made me pitifully nostalgic, and I couldn't help wishing we hadn't moved so far away.

The wedding was absolutely perfect. A close friend of Fay and David's officiated the wedding, and his words were incredible. They were the talk of the reception--everyone sent tons of compliments his way. He talked a lot about how different places take on special meanings. Specifically, he emphasized that UCLA (the actual spot of the ceremony!) was where Fay and David met, and now it's where they got married. They also lived on the East Coast (Baltimore and D.C.), so those places now have special meanings, too. The ceremony was touching and beautiful and perfect for the couple.

I think my favorite part was that Fay arrived in a car! After the processional, the car pulled up at the end of the aisle and Fay got out. It reminded me of the Royal wedding. The couple asked that we refrain from photos during the ceremony, so I don't have any to share, but I loved the details of the day (feel free to stop over to my friend Divya's blog for some photos, though!). Terry and I both commented on the fact that it was such a perfect day that they didn't even need much decor. They kept it tastefully understated, and it really highlighted the beauty of campus (and the beauty of the bride!).

Terry and I sneaked away after the ceremony to check on the little guy and take a few family photos on campus (we couldn't resist), and then we headed in for happy hour. One of the best aspects of the wedding was that Fay and David essentially reunited a TON of mutual college friends. Terry and I had a blast catching up with lots of people we hadn't seen in years. I even chatted for a while with one of my English major friends, with whom I took my very first AND my very last class at UCLA!

The reception was awesome, too, although Terry and I headed home fairly early. We enjoyed catching up with more people, toasting the newlyweds, devouring the delicious meal, even squeezing in a dance or two. The speeches from the best man, maid of honor, and father of the bride were awesome, too. They focused on how kind Fay and David are, which is absolutely true. In fact, I don't remember who said it, but one of the speeches said:

Be as kind to each other as you are to others.

I think that's a terrific reminder. It can be easy, once you're so comfortable with someone, to forget about kindness. But of all the people we interact with, shouldn't we be kindest to the one we've chosen to marry? After all, they have seen us at our worst, stood by us through the tough stuff, and loved us even in the hard times. It was a great piece of advice.



Congratulations to the amazing couple!

And switching subjects...

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you likely recognize that I'm not a salad person. It's strange, because I enjoy quite a few different types of salads, and I even have several salad recipes on this blog. But when I eat out, I almost never order salads. I assume I won't feel full enough, which is also almost never the case.



Anyway, the other day, after my doctor appointment, Marshall and I met up with a good friend for lunch at California Chicken Cafe. I had never been but had wanted to try it out. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the menu was pretty well rounded: wraps, chicken pieces, salads, sides. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of vegetable options!

So it's strange, then, that despite all the options I wound up choosing a salad. The California Chicken Salad looked pretty loaded, and if I'm going to get a salad it needs to have more "stuff" than lettuce. The description said:

California Chicken Salad
lettuce with white meat chicken, feta cheese, avocado, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, croutons, and plain pasta with your choice of dressing mixed in

I thought the combination was fantastic and ended up eating nearly the entire (giant) salad. If I wasn't breastfeeding, I likely would have saved half for later. It was so good that I told Terry about it later and decided to make a copycat salad at home. We already had a few of the ingredients, so it made for an easy Sunday night meal.

CCC Copycat Salad
Serves 2

  • 3-4 cups greens
  • 1 head of broccoli (raw), chopped
  • 1 carrot (or, in my case, about 5 baby carrots), finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • Dressing of choice (optional)
It's a salad, so you pretty much just toss everything together. I whipped up a little lemon vinaigrette, but Terry and I agreed that the salad didn't need it. The avocado was perfectly ripe and did the trick. 

Enjoy!

Of Possible Interest:



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Seven Weeks Postpartum

Seven (and a half) weeks since Marshall was born! What a whirlwind. Thankfully we're settling into more of a routine now and finding ourselves more appreciative of quiet moments where we aren't dead tired. Still, this post took me five days to write and finish, so I guess we don't totally have it all under control yet. Anyway, here's a little update on me since giving birth (more to come on Marshall next week).

Emotions
I'm feeling loads better than I did at first, but I still experience waves of  positive and negative emotions. I'm often overwhelmed by how much I love this little creature and how anxious I feel to make sure we're creating a positive start to his life. Simultaneously, I find that each day brings new challenges--learning what Marshall needs and how best to respond to those needs; keeping my patience when we have a rough day; trying to remind myself that I can only do my best. Sometimes I feel like I really need a break, some time away, and then immediately I feel guilty or start to miss the little guy. Apparently it's all very normal.


Yesterday we attended a friend's wedding, and a lot of college friends asked about parenthood. I remember being in their shoes and asking new parents how they were doing, and I feel like I remember always hearing positive answers: "We're doing great!" "He brings us such joy!" "We just love him so much." While all those phrases are probably true for all new parents (and for us too!), I feel like I rarely heard people say what I wanted to say. So I said it.

We're exhausted.
We're trying our best, and it's very, very hard.
We have a lot of fun, but it's a new kind of fun. The kind where you high-five each other about the fact that your baby put himself back to sleep instead of being rocked.

The Hardest Part
A few times since Marshall's birth, people have asked me what the hardest part is. Interestingly, I read a LOT about pregnancy, birth, and parenting, but I don't think I've read very much--if anything--about how people get through the first few months. So I'm happy to answer when people ask, and I'm not afraid to be honest.

I'm sure this answer will vary a lot throughout parenthood, but over the last seven weeks I think my answer is this: While of course I knew having a child would be a huge responsibility, I'm in awe of the weight of being a mother. There's a heaviness to it, and it's constant. I feel the ever-present pressure of the fact that I now have an infant son. Naturally, I worry about him all the time, but it's a little deeper than that. I'm acutely aware of the permanence of my new role, of the fact that from now on (at least for the foreseeable future), anytime I need to run an errand or want to go on a date with my husband or even have to walk into a different room, I will ask myself, "Will the baby be okay?" Selfishness is not an option. And while I accept that role and truly appreciate the fact that I get the privilege of bearing that burden, it sometimes overwhelms me. This little boy needs me right now, more than he needs anyone else (I mean, I am his food source), and I take that responsibility very seriously.


(WOW! First week home vs. seven weeks--we've got a growing boy on our hands!)



So again I have to say how grateful I am to have such a wonderful husband who gladly bears this responsibility with me and who helps ease my anxiety about doing everything "right." We have also been blessed with two families who are eager to help us and lots of friends who are supporting us.

Okay, enough of that. More updates...

Getting Back to Normal
We're still getting lots of help--mostly from family providing us with groceries, meals, mental health breaks, and diapers--but we're also slowly starting to get back to our normal routines. Terry has been back at work for three weeks, and Marshall and I look forward to his return every evening. We've started meal planning again, and we haven't resorted to eating out much at all. We're also getting pretty good about a routine of chores. Terry usually takes care of laundry (we don't have laundry in our unit, so we have to wait until both of us are home to go downstairs for a wash). I do my best to wash dishes throughout the day. I'm back to cooking most of our meals, usually after Terry gets home and can hang out with Marshall while I cook. Everything takes twice as long as it used to, but thankfully neither of us is terribly concerned if the apartment gets a little messy. Luckily, Scout is adjusting pretty well now.



Exercise
This week, I went to the doctor and got clearance to start working out again! Hooray! He said I can tackle whatever exercises I want to do, but I definitely plan to ease back in. I've been walking since right after Marshall's birth (building up from painful, slow walks around the hospital hallways to 3.5 mile treks around our hilly neighborhood). Other than that, I have completely refrained from any sort of exercise for the last seven weeks.

Weight-wise, I'm five pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I feel far from "normal" still. Also, I've never based my health on my weight, so while the doctor was happy, I am more eager to fit into my old clothes again. I'm still wearing maternity pants, mostly because A) my incision and stomach are still pretty tender from my C-section (buttoning up skinny jeans does NOT sound fun) and B) honestly, I haven't even tried on any of my old pants. Luckily summer means sundresses are totally acceptable, because those are working out great right now. And I did have to breathe a sigh of relief when I finally got around to trying on a dress for the wedding we attended this weekend. Thank goodness it fit!

As for exercise, I'm most excited about running and strength training. Terry is currently working on the 100 Push Up Challenge, so I decided to join him. After months of avoiding core exercises, push ups are no joke! Luckily my increasingly heavy child (we think maybe 13 pounds) has kept my upper body a little bit in shape. The challenge is great because it's a quick way to squeeze in some minor toning, and we have no excuse at the end of the day if we haven't done it. It truly takes about seven minutes daily, so we have to get 'er done.

On Thursday we attempted our first very brief jog/walk. We brought Marshall along in the stroller (walking) and took turns running out and back for two miles. My body protested loudly at first but ultimately relaxed into it by the end. Still, it's going to be a long road ahead to get back in shape.



But timing aside, here's my plan:

  • Start with a few miles at a time, alternating one or two minutes of running with one or two minutes of walking
  • Gradually increase the running intervals and build to two or three miles of just running
  • Within a month or two, start incorporating some more high intensity intervals and HIIT workouts
  • Once we get the go-ahead from our pediatrician to use the jogging stroller, sign up for a local race!
I think a 10K would be a great motivator for Terry and me to get back into the swing of things. We have always loved evening or weekend walks or jogs, but we're both pretty exhausted in the evenings now. I'm hoping that as Marshall gets a little bit older and more predictable (maybe?), we can use training for a race as motivation to get outside once or twice a week in the evenings instead of just doing laundry and then collapsing on the couch.

I'm excited to start up my favorite boot camp style workouts and yoga, too, but I want to take things slowly. Once I get a sense of how running feels, I'll reassess what I want to do for more variety. For now, I think three days per week of running and/or walking plus one or two days of strength training is more than enough! (And we'll see if I'm even able to manage that with this little rascal taking up all my attention.)

Overall
I think we're starting to get the hang of things. This update obviously focused on me, but next week when Marshall has his two month appointment I plan to write a more detailed post about him, his routines, and his growth. For the most part Terry and I are just trying to enjoy and appreciate this time. Snuggling with that little guy is the greatest feeling, and I know the day will come all too quickly when he won't want to cuddle with his mama. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Year Wedding Anniversary

Three years of marriage to my favorite person. Time for a major public display of affection...in writing.


As I said in our vows, you make every day good. And you still do.


We make a damn good team, from traveling together (without you, I would end up crying on the Metro trying to figure out which stop is which) to cooking in a tiny kitchen to surviving labor and raising a newborn.


I am so proud to stand by your side, and I cannot believe how lucky I am to be your wife.


I love laughing with you, I cherish that I can cry with you, and I know I can always count on you.


Every day gets better (unless you're traveling for work, in which case I just anxiously await your return).


Nothing makes me feel as good as being near you.


I love creating friendships with you and am so grateful for the friends and family who have strengthened our marriage.


Even in challenging times, like when you broke my Steam Whistle pint glass, I know we'll come out stronger (the glass, on the other hand, did not).


Plus, you're a great kisser. And damn good looking.


And watching you become a father has made me melt with joy, pride, and how-could-life-get-any-better? type feelings.


Happy anniversary to you, my very best friend.

In our third year of marriage...

We built a puzzle (well, most of a puzzle). We attended a show at the Hollywood Bowl. We (I) celebrated baby Prince George. I turned 28. We hiked a lot. I said goodbye to my childhood home. Terry had to travel a lot for work, and I visited him in Buffalo and then we traveled to Toronto together.

In September, I got super sick and wound up in the hospital. We traveled to Switzerland, Austria, Germany for Oktoberfest, and the Czech Republic (hmm...never did get around to that Prague post). Chris and Ashley visited for a Disney trip and a UCLA Football watching party. My parents visited and we carved pumpkins.

In November, I visited Terry in St. Augustine, Florida while he was there for work. I took a part time job at Sur La Table. We ran in a 5K with my brother and Ashley and celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. We spent Christmas with Terry's family. The biggest event, of course--I was pregnant (starting in September, but announced in December)!


In the new year, we traveled up north to see my family to celebrate Christmas. Also, we traveled to DC for our babymoon and to visit our friends Fay and David. We traveled again to Lake Arrowhead for a wedding. We enjoyed wonderful, simple weekends that I wouldn't remember without this blog.

With the impending arrival of our little one, we stressed ourselves out as much as possible. My parents visited again. We started a more conscious budget. We said goodbye to our beloved, tiny apartment in West LA and moved to the South Bay to make room for baby.


My family threw me a wonderful baby shower, and Terry's family did the same. We prepped for the baby and loved having another couple pregnant at the same time we were. Terry turned 28!

In May, we finished the nursery, and we packed our hospital bag. Good thing, too, because a certain someone joined us two weeks early! Since then, we've just been working on survival with a newborn.



These adventures are so fun to document and look back upon! I'm so glad to have this journal of sorts to remind me of the amazing times Terry and I have shared.


More wedding posts (and more wedding pictures):

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Recently

A little update on our goings-on around here:

A walk to our new favorite bakery for fancy pastries.


Approximately one million yogurt bowls (usually with some combination of berries, sliced almonds, honey, and peanut butter)


Uncle Chris and Aunt Ashley (or Auntie Shlee or T-Shlee...we haven't decided yet) finally got to meet Marshall! It was so cute to see them with him, especially when Chris got to see Marshall's new Chico State jersey onesie (my dad picked one up a few weeks ago to surprise Uncle Chris).


We had an awesome time with those two. They stayed with us two nights, and they were so helpful around the house--running errands, helping with chores, cooking food. Chris made an awesome chicken dinner on the grill.


We went for a walk, tried a few new restaurants, and loved catching up. I'm already sad they're gone and back home several hours away, but hopefully we'll visit them soon.

I tried my first acai bowl and loved it.

On Fourth of July we stayed close to home and went to lunch with Terry's family to celebrate a birthday. Marshall was all tuckered out.


Yesterday my friend Amanda was in town from Vegas and got to meet Marshall. And she brought some sweet gifts! I had never heard of Harold and the Purple Crayon, but it's such a fun story.


Another friend from college sent along a few gifts from England! Terry and I were so excited and shocked by her generosity. Thanks so much, Vic!

We also got our hands on some of Terry's baby pictures...look who looks like his daddy!


We even enjoyed an outing this week to meet Dad for lunch. Two stud muffins enjoying a beautiful day.

And now we've just passed the six-week mark! Marshall has brought so much joy to our lives, and we're finding the whole experience to be a blast, even among sleepless nights and exhausting evenings of rocking the little guy to sleep. I'll be back soon (maybe I'll mean it this time) with a more thorough update, but I was itching to get something published for once, so I made this post a quick one. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! Ours was way too quick, but it was wonderful to spend it together.