So Long 2009.

December 31, 2009

I won't lie. This wasn't my favorite year. I'm actually pretty happy to see it ending and a new one beginning. Of course, that doesn't mean there weren't amazing things that happened. To wit:I am grateful for the opportunities this year provided: healing, growth, endurance, becoming a mother one more time. Also, in spite of challenges, immense joy and love. Especially from spending life with these two small people:
And perhaps especially, knowing our family is complete and that we are finally all here together. I hope 2010 is brimming with good things, happiness and fulfillment for you and your families.


all photos by 180/360

Meet My Baby Daddy.

December 28, 2009

He's a very nice baby daddy (who may or may not have bed head in this photo). He sent me to get a massage the other day and took *all* *three* *kids*. It helped that Little E slept the whole time snuggled up next to him. :-)

Insanely Good Salad Alert.

December 20, 2009

We have been making this salad non-stop for the last month. It started as a way to use up persimmons and pomegranates from our trees, but then began haunting us until we made more and more and more. B just made it again today. So I thought it was time to share.

Persimmon Salad With Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
adapted from the L.A. Times

2 pounds Fuyu persimmons
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2-3 tablespoons walnut oil (I usually use olive oil)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/4 pomegranate)
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted (I used more)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Cut off the tough green calyxes and slice each persimmon in 10 to 12 wedges.

2. In a small lidded jar, combine the lime juice, cumin, about half of the chile, a dash of salt and the walnut oil. Tightly cover and shake hard to mix well. Taste the dressing on a small piece of persimmon. There should be just enough chile to add a suggestion of heat. If you'd like it hotter, add more and shake again.

3. Combine the persimmons and the dressing in a work bowl and toss to coat well. Turn the salad out into a decorative bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary.

Sometimes It's Tough Being Two.

JuJu has been having a tough time lately. That's a real tear there on her cheek.
Poor baby.

Baby Legs.

December 14, 2009

You moms out there probably already know about Baby Legs. Those cute little legwarmers for babies and toddlers (one size fits all!). Perhaps, however, you hadn't considered using them for potty training (I hadn't). You see, JuJu is potty trained but for getting her pants off in time. If she is bottomless or just in her undies, she has no problem. But it's too cold for that nonsense. Enter Baby Legs:

Baby Cocoons.

I'm crazy about these hand-knit baby "cocoons." Don't they look so warm and snuggly for your little one?

This Is What I Look Like Now (By Little E).

December 12, 2009

I'm two months old. I'm getting good and chunky. I like to smile a lot and I like to talk too. I will look deep in your eyes and tell you everything I know. My mom's pretty crazy about me...she doesn't even let anyone else hold me. Which is just the way I like it too.

I Don't Mean to Brag.

December 11, 2009

But I got to nap (finally!) between these two lovies this afternoon. While it rained even.

The Birth Story: Part 2.

December 3, 2009

At long last. Part 1 is here, by the way.

The car ride. Ugh. I was dreading that before I even went into labor. If you have experienced major contractions before, you know what I'm talking about, right? Being confined for an unknown period of time in a small space is the last thing you want. But it had to be done because I really wasn't prepared to have this baby at home. I waited for one last contraction to pass and got in the passenger seat of B's car, which he had ready to go. Elise was there in the backseat.

Just the night before, I was reading some old Mothering Magazines for a little labor inspiration/motivation. There was a really nice letter from the editor by Peggy O'Mara about childbirth and the (perceived) pain that goes along with it. So many women are so afraid of it, and I won't lie, I was too. But it isn't true pain, which happens when something is wrong and is constant (until the problem goes away). With labor, you have many contractions, but each comes with a respite that is guaranteed. A break. With absolutely zero pain. I would dare say you feel normal between contractions, even near the end when it is very intense. So I decided that night before I went into labor that this time I was really going to take one contraction at a time and look forward to that break that was coming right after. This thinking is what got me through that car ride.

And the car ride ended up not being so bad after all. We didn't hit any traffic and I only had about 4 contractions. I'm pretty sure I chatted with B and Elise between them as if nothing was wrong (they may remember it differently!). Just as we pulled up to the hospital, I felt a big one coming on. Thank goodness, there was Ann standing there waiting for me at the entrance. I quickly got out of the car and before I could even say hello to her, I fell onto her shoulders and had a huge contraction. I had my arms around her neck for support and I buried my face in her shoulder. That one passed and we hurried to elevator and went one floor up to Labor and Delivery. We walked to the nurses' station and I had another. I'm sure the contractions were about 2 or 3 minutes apart.

It was 7:40 a.m. now. The nurse showed us to the room. I have to say, for a hospital setting, this particular one has the nicest ones around. They don't even have that funny smell. I went to change into a gown in the bathroom (I still had some sense of modesty at that point!) and came out to settle in. I remember looking around thinking, "So this is where my baby is going to be born." I looked at all the paintings, the window, the lights. This was where it was all going to go down.

The nurse asked if I wanted her to *check* me and I did. (I can wait my whole pregnancy to find out the sex of our baby but a chance to find out how far I've dilated? Yes, please! And now!) A quick exam and she announced "5 and a half or 6 centimeters!" Hooray, hooray, hooray! I think everyone in the room squealed a little bit (B, my mom, Elise and my two sisters were there). You see, in my prior experiences, I moved much more slowly than this. I remember Ann whispering in my ear that the hardest part was over. And that was so true now that I look back. Those first 6 cm are long and slow and least for me.

The nurse checked the baby's heart rate and what not and everything was great. With C-Man and Juju, I had to be on almost continuous monitoring which really sucked. It meant I had to stay on the bed hooked up to a bunch of cords. Not my vision of a beautiful, natural childbirth. So again: hooray, hooray, hooray! I was given permission to labor as I pleased (which was my biggest hope for this birth).

So you know what I did with all that freedom? I sat on the bed with my legs hanging off the left side and put my arms around Ann's neck to take the weight off my back. For. Every. Single. Remaining. Contraction. Can. You. Believe. It? All that freedom and the the thing that felt right was to stay put. Gah! Anyway, poor Ann must have had a very sore neck, back and shoulder area!

Dr. Greenberg came by at about 8:45 (her on-call shift had ended at 7 a.m. as luck would have it). As Ann says, she really does light up a room when she walks in. (Remember: Ann and Dr. Greenberg are dear friends.) Everyone was so happy to see her. She gave words of encouragement and support and gave me an exam (8 cm!! hooray, hooray, hooray!). She said she had to go to the office but would try to come back for me later. I knew she wouldn't be able to come back once she left, but, honestly, I was fine with that because I was in Labor Land and they could have told me frogs were falling from the sky and I wouldn't have really cared. All I remember from this period was telling Ann I couldn't wait to hold my baby. I was getting really emotional. This had been a very difficult pregnancy, and I was so ready to have my baby in my arms and tell him or her everything was going to be OK now.

As Dr. Greenberg left, I felt another contraction coming on and again, I fell onto Ann's shoulders. I think my *tone* must have changed because I heard Ann say "Tell her to come back." Next thing I knew, Dr. Greenberg was back in the room and she was putting scrubs and those bootie things on. Everyone in the room could tell it was just about time to start pushing. With both C-Man and JuJu, I had very intense transition periods right before I felt the urge to push, but it hadn't gotten that hard yet. I couldn't believe I could be that close. But on the next contraction, I started bearing down, as they say. And I knew.

With C-Man, I pushed for three hours and they had to finally use the vacuum to get him out. His head was ginormous. With JuJu, two pushes and she slipped right out. I had no idea what to expect this time. I remember the nurse rattling off instructions about how to push (something about count to ten, breathe in, and then push? I don't know...). Everyone in the room was giving me words of encouragement. I was trying so, so hard to listen and understand, but again, I was in Labor Land and they may as well have been speaking Mandarin Chinese. I just pushed when and how it felt right.

Let me pause here to mention something called the Ring of Fire. I heard about it before I had C-Man but did not experience it with him or Juju. But I got payback this time around. Actually, it's not that bad because it doesn't last long. But, yikes, it does burn. But that burning moved my baby down to a nice, low position after just one push. The next push or two, and my baby's head was out. Just the head. Which was a little strange. Everyone squealed with delight (except me....I was working hard!). I think I asked Dr. Greenberg if she was going to pull the baby out or something ridiculous like that. She just laughed and said, "No, Jora, you're going to push your own baby out!"

And with that, I gave my last push (ever!) and our sweet, sweet baby slid out and stretched her arms up to the sky and let out a cry. I looked down and now it was time for me to squeal. A girl! A girl! I was so very happy. B had tears streaming down his face. He was happy too. This is what we had both secretly hoped for I think.

Next thing I knew, she was in my arms, latching on for the first time. And I just knew that everything was going to be OK.

The End.

How to Survive the First Seven Weeks.

With a newborn, two year old and four year old under one roof, that is.

1. Just Say Yes. Newborn babies tend to bring out the best in most people. And hopefully, for you, that means people in your world are going to offer to help. Need anything from the grocery store? Can we pick up C-Man for a playdate? I'm coming over to help with laundry and hold the baby so you can shower. Can I bring you dinner on Tuesday? That sort of stuff. I strongly urge you to say, "Yes, please, and thank you very, very much!" Even if it's not your nature to accept help from people, you are going to need it. And chances are, it won't be around forever. People sort of think you're OK at about 1 month in, and well, I'm not going to say whether that's true or not, but take it while you can get it. Enough said.

2. Make Friends With Your Stretch Pants. OK, it's not that bad. Really, what I should say is get yourself a nice, new, pretty set of loungewear because this is what you will be spending your time in. And it's OK. Really. This is a "transition" time, and besides, your days and nights might be mixed up for awhile, so loungewear can act as sleepwear or as an outfit appropriate to meet your friends at the front door for a much-needed big girl visit.

3. Become a Babywearer. If you haven't already been convinced of the miracle that is babywearing, START NOW. Every baby I know is calmer and happier next to mama, and with two other kids to tend to, you are going to need your hands free. (If you haven't heard, there is still much to be done even if you DID just grow and birth another human being: bottom wiping, dragging down the hallway of flailing toddlers, dinner cooking, laundry folding, picking up of toys, emptying dishwashers, husband tending, etc., etc., etc., etc.) There are days when I put the Hug-a-Bub on in the morning and it literally doesn't come off until night.

4. Remember That Babies Are Small For Too Short of a Time. I get a tear in my eye just thinking about this. By number three, you have learned that everything with kids changes so quickly. (The days are long but the years are short, remember?) So when it seems like you will never be able to get away just by yourself, or that you might never wear a non-fug non-nursing bra again, just think. This time next year, everything will be different. It's so true, so enjoy that little yummy baby as much as possible. She will be running away from you to play with her brother and sister in no time at all.

This Was Us Last Night.

(I spotted this photo over at a cup of joe and it totally reminded me of Miss JuJu and C-Man when B and I are on our way out the door for date night!)

We made it out last night! There is an annual lawyer event/party that B and I go to (almost) every year. Truth be told, I would have skipped it, but B really wanted me to go with. I'm glad I did. We had a great first night out since Little E arrived. My mom watched JuJu and C-Man at home and my sister came with us and drove Little E around in the car for two hours. (That must have been super boring, but it worked!)

Gifts For the Babes.

December 1, 2009

Hi there, remember me? I've been a bit delinquent with blog posting of late. I'm busy, yes, but truth be told I haven't had much non-baby stuff to share and my dear hubby pointed out I need to do something besides post pictures of the kids. He's got a point. :)

So, in an effort to Step Away From the Baby Photos, I will share a link to cousin Casey's awesome gift guide she's putting together all this week. I may have even shared some of my ideas for great baby gifts. (OK, I see this post is still baby-related. I'm trying. Really.)

This is What Two Looks Like.

November 17, 2009

Little Miss JuJu is two today, can you believe it? A few shots from the other day in her honor....
A pretty girl with lots to think about.
She's learned how to ham it up for the camera...
....and to let mom know when enough is enough.
She is just about the sweetest big sister I know.
And she's perfect right smack dab in the middle of our family.

This I Know.

November 15, 2009

My daughter and I will always agree on one thing: cookie dough is the best part of baking cookies. Didn't even need to teach her that.

The Tangerines Have Arrived.

November 12, 2009

We've been waiting for these to ripen for months now. They are still a little tart for me, but the kids can't keep their hands off them.
We spent the better part of the afternoon out by the tree, the kids taking turns picking, peeling and eating. Something tells me there won't be many left by the end of December (even though the tree is loaded this year).

World's Most Boring Video.

November 11, 2009

(Unless you're me.)

One of the things I'm determined to do differently, or at least better, this time around is enjoy every second of Little E's baby-ness. Especially these here little sounds (they don't last long enough!!):

Squeaks, Coos and Sighs from domestic reflections on Vimeo.

4 Weeks.

November 6, 2009

Sleepy baby yumminess. That's all.

The Birth Story: Part 1.

November 5, 2009

For some reason, I've had a really hard time sitting down to write this. I knew I wanted to do it, I just ....I don't know. But. Now that Little E is almost four. weeks. old. (how did that happen??), I figure it's now or never. (And yes, this is long and is going to take two entries. Sorry to those who aren't here for the childbirth stuff....I'll try to have some more recipes soon!!)

The place to start seems to be the week she was born. My dear friend Elise was here visiting from Boston, hoping to be here for the birth. She was supposed to go home Tuesday of that week, and we hastily extended her stay for a few more days to give the baby a little longer. On Thursday, Elise and I went for my check-up and there was "no progress." A little disappointing, but that's why the "theys" of the world tell you to not even get those sort of checks. I was especially disappointed because my doctor was on call that day and evening and it would have been perfect timing....

That evening, Elise and B and I sat around chatting, watching TV a bit. I went to bed before them because I was especially tired (and, truth be told, I didn't feel like watching Spinal Tap with them!!). At 1:45 a.m. I woke up to pee (as I did every night for months at least 3 or 4 or 5 times). Right after, I felt a little gush of water. Now. My labor started both times before with my water breaking. I had been told that it was almost certain my labor this time would start the same way. But my first thought is "Did I just....???" (I think that is every woman's first thought when her water breaks, right??) So, I went back to bed thinking that was that. Nope. More gushing. The reality started settling in and my heart started racing a little. I looked over at B sleeping soundly and decided I didn't want to wake him as he surely needed his rest since this was the real deal. He woke up maybe 15 minutes later as I'm sure he sensed my wide-eyed anxiousness and excitement. I told him my water broke and his first comment was "Wow. On your due date!" It hadn't occurred to me before then. C-Man almost two weeks late, JuJu three weeks early, and this one right on time. Third time's a charm, I guess.

B tried to go back to sleep and what did I do? Why, go into further nesting mode but of course! Making sandwiches and snacks for the kids, cleaning off my desk, folding laundry, writing more lists and instructions for my dad (who would be taking care of the older kids when we went to the hospital). Stuff, that in the end, didn't matter at all, but I couldn't do enough.

I hadn't started contracting, but this didn't surprise me as it took awhile for the other two labors to get going as well. I called my doctor (who was still on call at this point) and she told me I could stay home until the contractions came a few minutes apart. I went downstairs to tell Elise (who didn't believe me when I told her my water broke!). I texted my doula Ann to let her know what was going on but told her to sleep too. I didn't expect anything to get going for awhile. I called my parents a few times and no answer. I figured they were sleeping soundly, so it didn't really matter.

Finally, at 4 a.m. I talked to my mom and told her I was feeling some very, very mild contractions, but they weren't regular and I could have easily slept through them. I told her to stay put too. At 5 I started to get tired, so I went to lay down. Then the contractions started coming. Regular -- maybe 5 minutes apart, and starting to get strong quickly. They were long too. Some were a minute and a half, which definitely made me pay attention. By 5:30, I couldn't lay there anymore and got up to tell my parents to come over. B was up too, getting ready for what was ahead (whatever guys do for it, anyway).

Ann told me to eat, eat, eat so I went to make myself some fried eggs and toast. When I sat down, it was still dark and I had a quiet minute or two to really think about what I was going to be going through in the next hours and how all our lives were about to change. Just then, a little head poked around the corner. "Hi Mama." C-Man. H sat down with me and helped me finish the eggs. We didn't talk much. It was so nice to be there, just him and me. I was flooded with memories of my labor with him. It was so long and difficult, so fulfilling and life-changing.

When my mom arrived, I was contracting fairly hard. For some reason, I counted out loud through the contractions, sort of as a timing thing and sort of as a distraction thing. (Funny how each labor is different. I didn't count or walk through my contractions with the others.) I marched up and down the hallway and up and down the stairs. I walked from the living room to the kitchen and back again. It was the only thing that helped. I was very soon at the point of not being able to talk through them.

I kissed my babies goodbye and we got in the car. It was 7 a.m. I was really dreading that drive. The hospital is about 20 minutes away without traffic and there we were in the middle of morning commute time.

Stay tuned......

Golden Winter Soup.

See that sad, sad sidebar over there to your right? And all those "Recipes in the Queue" that never change? Well, I decided to finally do something about it and try a recipe. Golden Winter Soup. I first had it at Supper Club probably a year ago and have been wanting to make it ever since. It's going to be lunch today. Yum.

I've made and enjoyed many versions of Butternut Squash Soup over the years. I like a slightly sweet version, I like chunky ones, spicy ones. This one is simple and hearty. Perfect with a salad or a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce. Which I plan on having later on.

Golden Winter Soup

From Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half.

43 Weeks (Last Friday).

November 2, 2009

This tripped me out. She was in my belly just three weeks ago?? She looks huge to me. So hard to believe.

Sisterly Love.

October 29, 2009

I am so, so, so glad JuJu got a sister. Not that there's anything wrong with brothers. There's just something about sisters, you know?Also, I am so, so, so glad I got another girl. I hadn't realized this until I looked down and saw Little E for the first time. I thought I was fine with either. And I would have been. But there's something about a girl, you know? (I don't mean to rub this in, as a couple of friends right now are really hoping for a girl next time around....Hi Mel! Sending pink thoughts your way!)

A Fall Party.

October 25, 2009

We made it out to our friends' Annual Fall Party this weekend, and the kids had tons of fun. (I guess I posted about it last year too. Predictable, that I am.) JuJu had her first caramel apple. Not surprising, she loved it and it made a HUGE sticky mess.
C-Man got his face painted. "Batman!" he demanded. I didn't know he even knew who Batman was.
JuJu and Nana (B's mom, who was in town this week) watched on as C-Man as he got his face painted.
It turned out cute, no?
JuJu worked up the courage to get painted herself.
I love this look. It's her "I'm being real brave and sitting real, real still, mama" face.
Taking a little break from the festivities.
Little E was there too...snoozing the afternoon away.

How I've Been Spending My Time. Plus a Cookie Recipe I'm Seriously Digging Right Now.

October 22, 2009

In case anyone has been wondering, this is what I do now. Stare at my baby girl while she sleeps. Yes, she is still in the sleepy newborn phase....nursing, snoozing, nursing, repeat. It doesn't last long, so I'm trying to savor every second. Besides, how could a mom not stare at that sweet face?? (I'm trying to work on the birth story so stay tuned if you're into that sort of thing...)

I realize most of you are not here for the baby-photo-a-day routine, so I am gifting you this super awesome oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookie recipe. I consider myself an oatmeal cookie expert of sorts (not to be boastful or anything). I had one of those moms who baked cookies once or twice (three times maybe?) a week. And she regularly made different oatmeal cookie recipes. This is hands down the best version I have tasted. Super chewy just the way I like them. Let's just say I have eaten way more than my fair share of them over the past ten days or so. It comes from my sister's roommate who happens to be a little burgeoning domestic type herself: knitter, crafter, baker, you get the picture. Sadly, I have no photos to offer you because I only take photos of the baby now. (See above.)

(The only caveat I offer you is that she claims her measurements are "estimates." But my mom and I made these the other day and they turned out great.)

Erica's Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
3-4 tbsp of milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups oats
About 2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease baking sheet/ parchment paper. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by milk and vanilla extract. Gradually beat the flour into the sugar mixture, add salt. Stir in oats, coconut and chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 mins. They will seem underdone, but that is how you want them. (I baked them at 325 degrees for about 13 minutes, but I think my oven runs hot. You might want to experiment baking these at different temperatures.)
(Little E likes them too!)
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