Thursday, March 28, 2013


Well, there seems to be some serious interest in the recipes for some of the dishes Aaron and I have prepared recently. Since all of these recipes were found elsewhere, I will add links and give credit where credit is due.

In this dish we substitute baby bok choy for the chinese broccoli (we like the taste better). We also double the sauce mixture and egg.

A huge thank you to Heather G. for sending me this link

This is a little bit sweeter and fluffier than tradtitional naan, but very easy and very yummy

I could eat this everyday

I Fell in Love with Food

Perhaps I should say that I fell in love with making food. I've always been in love with food, especially the kind that is chock full of sugar and refined carbohydrates (I wish I could muster the strength to not love those foods). As I scrolled through recent photos I was struck by how many pictures I took of food.

I make dinner, but whether or not I enjoy that process is always up in the air. Making new things tends to stress me out a bit. I don't like going to the grocery store and not being able to locate an ingredient. It's one thing to get to the grocery store with two kids and keep them entertained, but to mosey searching every nook an cranny of the grocery store for some random thing, hoping the kids' sanity stays in tact, makes me perspire to an unhealthy degree.

However, this has begun to change in recent months. Suddenly I have gotten the bug to try new things, expand my horizon, and power through those moments when I can't locate where the garam masala is and Grace is crying because Christian poked her in the eye.

It started with Pad See Ew, Aaron's favorite Thai dish. He kept talking about making it at home instead of getting at a restaurant, and I kept telling him I didn't want to. One day he went to the Asian market on his way home from school and suddenly I couldn't use my grocery store excuse. We made it, and not only was it delicious but it was ridiculously easy.

Then for super bowl Sunday I wanted to make some game day fare. Normally I'm a run to the store, grab a bag of doritos, call it a day kind of girl. But, this time, I wanted to go all out. I was starting not to recognize myself anymore- making effort in the food department? What? I thought that potato skins, ultimate nachos, and freshly made guacamole were the perfect sides to the boneless buffalo wings our friends were making.

Aaron had a bake-sale at his school to raise money. I think it was for a charity, since a bake sale for an MBA program seems a little funny. He asked me to make a quick batch of cookies to support his classmates. Once again, I went against my own personal grain and busted out 6 dozen cookies.

It snowballed from there. Coconut curry chicken (a personal favorite that my sister and Mom make, that I finally learned how to make).
Fresh strawberry smooties.
Crepes, which are always a regular at our house since my pregnancy with Grace.
Salmon stir fry
Green CCC's for St. Patrick's Day

Tikka masala and homemade naan.

Just the other day, when we made Pad See Ew again, Aaron came home from the Asian market with a bamboo steamer for dumplings. Although we bought the frozen kind I can see homemade dumplings in our future.
With all of this food, its a good thing I also fell in love with going to the gym...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Feeding This Kid Part 2: Solids

I started feeding Grace solids right at the 4 month mark. She was my first child and I was determined to do everything by the book and according to the recommended timelines provided. Despite my best efforts, most of the cereal would just pour down the front of her, and very little got into her mouth. That did not stop me, I powered through. At no point in the following weeks did Grace ever show an interest in solids, but I never stopped preparing them and feeding them to her. She would normally eat a bite or two then clamp her mouth shut and I would coax and stress (and sweat) over trying to get her to eat more until I got frustrated, and stopped, and threw the food in the sink. She never liked it more beyond that point. Ever. Which was merely a foreshadowing of how she would feel about food later in her life.
Because of that experience I had a negative association with solids. When it came time to start Christian on solids I wanted to put it off a little bit longer. I was going to start with him at 6 months. Two more months of maturity for him, and two months that I didn't have to stress about it.

At 5 months, as mentioned previously, I had finally gotten the nursing thing down. I had also, formally sleep trained Christian. His naps were flawless, rock solid, wonderful. I'd lay him down, he wouldn't cry, and he would fall asleep immediately. But regardless of letting him cry it out, five nights in a row, I could not (for the life of me!) get this child to sleep through the night. A made another valiant attempt in Utah to get Christian to sleep through the night. I figured this would be fool proof. Big house, no worry of disturbing neighbors, we were in the basement, etc. etc. It took Grace all of 24 hours of sleep training before she figured it out and sister friend was only 5 weeks old, Christian at 5 months, and round two of sleep training should catch on, right? Wrong. If I let him cry he would become hysterical and then the more he cried the more he woke up. It was a vicious cycle and despite the method working for Grace, it did not work for Christian. I was so tired and desperately thought that perhaps instead of crying it out adding solid foods to his diet would keep his tummy full and help him sleep better.

Although I still didn't love the idea, I made an attempt. He hated it.

We got a kick out of his reaction. It was the first try, no surprise that he didn't love it. The next morning I tried again. He gagged, made faces, and started to cry. I bagged the endeavor. We were on vacation and making my child cry in an attempt to eat rice cereal was not on the agenda.

When we got back home, I bought oatmeal cereal (instead of rice) having heard that some babies prefer it. And he hated that too.

I waited a few weeks and then tried again. Don't let the smile fool you, he gagged on every bite and most of it is on his face, in his hair, and all over his shirt.
We took another break from it. I got some advice to skip the cereals and go directly for the goods, fruits and veggies. Sweet potatoes seemed to be the poison of choice according to the Moms that I talked to.
I'd make him laugh, sneak the spoon in...
And he would shudder and gag.
And then let the food sit on his tongue until he either spit it out, or mustered the strength to swallow it.
I got lots of advice. My sister-in-law Ashley told me she would use cereal to beef up the baby food and then she would sing the whole time. I tried it. It worked! I declared it the answer to all of my problems and Christian would now eat baby food and life was good.
But he wised up to my new method, and refused the food no matter how well I sang. We were back to square one. I continued different methods of tricking Christian into opening his mouth so I could sneak the spoon in. Sometimes he would eat it, and other times he would spit it out while simultaneously rubbing his hands all over his face. Let's just say he required a lot of baths.
I had the thought to use his pacifier in an attempt to prevent him from spitting everything out. I would sneak the spoon in, and immediately get the pacifier in. He would suck on his pacifier and ultimately swallow the food. It worked!
This method allowed me to be the most successful at getting food in his belly, however, by the end he knew that the pacifier meant swallowing and I wasn't fast enough. It became ridiculously messy, and I knew he wasn't really eating but just being tricked into doing so.
Honestly, I was ready to throw in the towel. After Grace disliking solids, Christian's nursing battle and solid foods battle, I was chalking myself up to be the worst feeder of babies on the planet. My sister was waging the same war with my nephew Blake when she struck gold. If she fed Blake cereal in a bottle (with a wider cut slit in the top) he would eat it.
Perhaps the spoon was throwing a wrench in my system. So I tried with Christian. Aaron got him to eat two (yes TWO!) whole containers of bananas through a bottle nipple. And then with the next attempt he wouldn't even take it, and he wouldn't take a bottle full of milk either. He was onto our newest attempt at "trickeration" and wasn't having any of it.
It was at this point that I gave up. He was 7 months old and had barely made any progress. I wasn't sure what my game plan was. Perhaps I'd try again, perhaps he'd skip this phase and go straight into softer more solid foods. Regardless, I wasn't ready to try again.

While we were in Virginia my Mom started feeding Christian some puffs. I warned her that when I made the same attempt he choked on them and it scared me. She broke the puffs into smaller pieces and Christian seemed to be enjoying it. He made chomping motions and even fussed until my Mom fed him more. She turned to me and said, "He seems to like these, maybe he might be open to eating solids." I probably scoffed and said something to the effect of "Knock yourself out." She gave him some banana baby food, and he ate it without gagging. To say I was shocked would an understatement. He would open his mouth, lean into the spoon until he had it in his mouth, he would eat and then swallow. I just stared at him. The next day I tried, and the same thing happened. My Mom filmed it so we could show Aaron that miracles really do happen. In the video you can hear me say, "Are pigs flying right now? Is this really happening?" Just a mere week from turning 8 months and Christian magically started eating, and liking, solids. It was as if a switch was flipped and he was suddenly open to the whole idea. When we got home I tried all sorts of different flavors and varieties and he ate everything I offered him.

I have waged some serious war in the food and sleep department with Christian, and although frustrating and sleep depriving these battles were it never took away from how sweet, and lovable Christian was. He definitely helped me learn some new skills though.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Feeding This Kid Part 1: Nursing

A long time ago, back when I was horrifically sleep deprived and adjusting to two kids, I promised myself that I would write about my struggles with nursing Christian. Although those struggles have passed, I want to keep true to my promise and give the history. I always falsely assumed that nursing was a no-brainer, simple as pie, an A+B=C equation, however after 4 months of nursing Christian, I learned that it isn't so simple.

Nursing CCB was an uphill battle from day one. Since he was "tongue tied" his ability to nurse wasn't top notch and he had a very limited range of motion with his tongue. I was given a lot of different tips and tricks in the hospital of how to handle the situation. Informed of the pain it would cause me, and the excessive importance of getting a more-than-proper latch. His nursing wasn't perfect, but I was all hopped up on post-birth hormones and melting into a heavenly puddle as I snuggled Christian all the live-long day, so I didn't mind. We had an appointment scheduled in a week to get his frenulum clipped, and I wasn't too worried about it.
My milk came in with a vengeance, think mack truck driving full force into your chest. The days preceding Christian's appointment were full of nursing, pumping, and unfortunately the excruciating pain that the nurses warned me about. On one side it felt like daggers were lit on fire and were stabbing me. I remember squeezing Aaron's hand as tears shot out the sides of my eyes, since they were shut as tight as humanly possible. After a few rounds of that I said "Shine this," and we introduced Christian to the bottle. With my overly plentiful milk supply I had a fridge stocked with frozen milk ready for the using.

After a week, his frenulum was successfully clipped. I was still recovering from the damage done from earlier nursing so I nursed on one side only and bottled fed when necessary. I continued pumping since my milk supply had yet to back off. I pumped multiple times a day and once I recovered I nursed every feeding. I felt really uncomfortable if I didn't pump, and I didn't mind building up a frozen milk supply.
Right after his frenulum was clipped. A little bit of blood and a whole lot of saliva created and Edward Cullen-esque look.

Nursing tiny babies is always an undertaking. You have to position the baby right, get the latch right, keep them awake, and make sure they are eating enough. I always found the "keeping the baby awake," to be the hardest part. Whenever we had to go out, I always defrosted milk for a bottle just for ease.

I don't remember a lot of the specific events but after Christian was a few weeks old to him being 4 months, nursing went downhill pretty fast. I would nurse him and he'd eat great for 2-3 minutes then promptly pull back and scream. His body would writhe and then he'd try to nurse again. I'd burp him for a few minutes and attempt to nurse him again, he'd scream, and repeat for 15-20 minutes or however long I could get him to "nurse." It was awful. When he woke up and wanted to eat I'd feel a little bit of dread, "I have to do this process all over again." During his late night feedings he was peaceful and ate well. I relished in those moments. It was a wonderful bond and connection, and at the end of it he drifted dreamily back to sleep. It was so different than during the day where I would literally bounce on the couch for 20 minutes straight, sweat beading on my forehead as I coaxed my unhappy hungry child to eat. I often wondered to myself, "Do people really have positive nursing experiences? Is it ever a wonderful and beautiful thing?"
My "Aha Moment" came when we were driving home from Houston with my parents. Over the vacation I pumped a lot and bottle fed Christian because we were going here, there, and everywhere and I didn't have the stamina to deal with the nursing battle in public. However, on the drive home, Christian had already eaten the bottle I pumped for him earlier and he was hungry again. My pump didn't have a car adapter, so I decided to nurse him. My parents were in the front of the car and I was in the back wedged tightly between two car seats. We were in a parking lot, having just had dinner, and with my nursing cover in place I started the battle. 2 minutes went by in quiet blissful nursing fashion and then came the screaming. Inside the car the screaming was 10 times louder. Nurse, scream, burp, nurse, scream, scream, scream, burp. It was then that I realized- this wasn't normal, nor was this good.

For a month I spent learning, researching, and trial-and-erroring, different nursing methods. My Mom and I had many a conversation about milk intolerance, and milk allergies. I talked to any and every nursing mother who would listen to me. Picking their brain constantly on what they thought and how I could alleviate the situation. Meanwhile the nurse/screaming continued. I cried in defeat every single day. I would get to the point where he would start to scream- so I would stop and pump (while he continued screaming) and then bottle feed him.  My downstairs neighbors banged on the ceiling a few times during those moments (my poor neighbors). I researched everything- milk allergies, nipple confusion, caffeine,  food intolerances, etc. I went off milk products for a few weeks. I was desperate. I really wanted to nurse, but my sanity was hanging by a thread and I was on the fence about which was more important to me: sanity or breastfeeding. My last ditch effort was to talk to a lactation consultant. If their advice couldn't help me, then I needed to close up shop and regain my mental stability.

I called the lactation group in the hospital where Christian was born. Over the phone I described what was going on. I laid it all out there with nothing but pure desperation in my voice. After my lengthy description of the situation, the consultant said, "It sounds like you're over-producing, and that you have a hard let down." I was baffled. I was always so concerned about losing my milk supply that I wasn't even aware I had too much of it. We talked some more and I thanked her profusely. I got back on my computer and researched my little heart out. Sure enough, just as the lactation consultant pointed out, all of the signs and symptoms babies experience from over producing mothers were the same signs and symptoms Christian was having. He was basically drowning in milk every time I tried to feed him, and with gasps for breath his stomach was getting full too fast and full of air. I read the tips and tricks to help alleviate the situation. 1.) Nurse on one side only (I had always been doing this) 2.) Cut the milk supply back, stop pumping (The pumping was telling my body to make twice as much as Christian needed) 3.) Position the baby upright to nurse to avoid the additional gravitational pull.

I put the 3 points into practice. The first feeding went shockingly well, although I refused to get my hopes up. Then the next feeding went well, and the feeding after that, and the one after that. Then I got my hopes up, this was working, and it was working well.

Nursing suddenly became doable. It was not flawless, but it started to fall into the "beautiful bonding experience" category. This was happening. I no longer cringed before feedings, I no longer cried in defeat daily, and Christian didn't have to scream anymore.
We fell into a predictable pattern and it was around this time that we introduced solids....which is where part 2 of the story comes into play.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CCB @ 8 Months

Christian is a long name, not super long, but one whose length lends itself to a variety of nicknames.
CCB--used anytime we write about him text, email, etc.
Boy-o/Boy-os--I have no idea how this one came about, but it came out one day and stuck
Little Man--A nickname Aaron usually calls him by
Bubbas--I'm pretty sure I say this to any baby
Buggeroo--This is Grace's favorite. She says "Good morning, Buggeroo" to him every day.
That Boy--Aaron's parent's gave him this nickname, its what they used to say to Aaron.
Ceece --It sounds like Reece, with a C. Derived from his initials.
I just love this boy. He is very even tempered and sweet. I honestly cannot get enough of him. He seems to be a constant calming force in a seemingly hectic and chaotic phase of our lives. His sweetness attracts us all like moths to a flame. His cheeks beg to be kissed, his squishy body begs to be cuddled, and those eyes and eye lashes seem to have on-the-spot melting abilities. Aaron, Grace and I all love to be around him. He is going through a pretty hefty attachment phase though. He's a Mama's boy through and through. He seems a little dissatisfied when I'm not around or not holding him. Which I'm more than fine with. (I'm selfish like that--and he is an awesome cuddler).
 At 8 months Christian is
-Sitting like a champ and can go from sitting onto his belly
-Has yet to figure out the scooting thing, but does rotate like a dial
-Is just now willingly eating baby food- the only flavor he'll eat is banana.
-Just started to eat puffs but hasn't quite mastered picking them up and feeding himself.
-Is just now starting to sleep through the night, (more on this later)
-Still nursing with some formula supplementation here and there
-His once blue eyes are slowly becoming less blue and more grey/brown
-While in Virginia he got his first tooth on the bottom right in the front. It looks as if his second tooth will make its appearance very soon.
-He drools like its his full-time job. We have to put bibs on him, otherwise we'd have to change his clothes constantly.
-He babbles "Dadadadada" is his babbling of choice (You win this time Aaron)
-He claps and will sometimes do it on command when you say "Yay!"
I love him. A lot. I thank my lucky stars for this little boy on a daily basis.

Happy 8 Months Christian Clark