Monday, 28 February 2011

Oh I am just so domestic now...

Since  I've been home, I've been baking an awful lot of cookies.  I don't know if it's the whole idea that I'm someone's mom now (still a scary thought) and therefore I should bake cookies, or if it's just the fact that I'm home all day and rarely have two hands free to eat.

The chocolate chip cookie recipe that I use is awesome.  They come out chewy and amazing.  That's also probably why I bake them so often - they get eaten insanely quickly.

Here's the recipe if anyone is looking to bake some cookies!  Thanks to my mom for giving me the recipe!

Cowboy Cookies

- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar (side note - whenever I get to this part, I sing the recipe in my head to the tune of the "Backin' Up" song.  Instead of "One with a white hoodie, one with a black hoodie" I sing "one cup of brown sugar, one cup of white sugar...brown sugar, white sugar, white sugar, brown sugar."  Yeah, I'm awesome."
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla (I play it pretty fast and loose with the vanilla - I love vanilla)
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I always use milk chocolate chocolate chips.  Anything else just won't do)

Mix ingredients together, put on a baking sheet in balls.  You know the drill.  Bake them at 350 for 8-12 minutes.  I set my oven timer at 8 minutes and usually take them out just a little bit before the time is up.  You want them to look a little doughy in the middle still and just golden brown around the edges.

I usually get just under 3 dozen cookies out of this recipe.  You could probably get at least 3 dozen if you didn't eat as much cookie dough as I do.

(And in case you had no idea what I was talking about, here's the Backing Up video)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Velcro Vivian

Here are some of the more common things that I say to Vivian over the course of a day...

  • "Be a normal baby"
  • "You're fine, I'm right here"
  • "I'm coming, just give me a minute"
  • "Okay, fine.  You win.  You always win."
Vivian has started making strange.  At only 11 weeks old she has turned into velcro.  It's not only with people that she doesn't see often, she freaks out with my mom and sister too.  (Poor Courtney was holding her on the weekend and Vivian was freaking out, leading Courtney to say "I just want to get to know you!")

It's been fun.  Especially since Vivian doesn't just get a little worked up.  She'll go from "Oh this is nice, I'm totally happy and relaxed" to "I HATE THIS WHY IS THIS HAPPENING MY WORLD IS OVER!!!" in an instant.  

She's a special little girl.

In other Vivian news, she's started grabbing at toys...

And we've started giving her rice cereal.  I know it's a little early, but after several nights of being up with her at 12:30, 3:00, 4:00-5:00 and 7:00, I had had enough.  A little tablespoon of rice cereal before bed seems to help keep her full enough for the night.  Now our nights are more like down to bed at 11:00ish and up at 6:00ish to eat, then back to sleep until 9:30 or 10:00.  Much better.  I still have to get up a couple of times in the night to give her back her soother, but at least she doesn't want to eat.

At this rate, who knows what she'll be up to next week!

Wish me luck in another week of having a 12 pound piece of velcro stuck to me!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Potato Cake with Bacon, Sour Cream and Apples

Potato Cake with Bacon, Sour Cream and Apples
Serves: 4  Prep: 35 min  Bake: 35 min

4 slices bacon
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
2 red apples, cored and cut into 1/4 inch wedges
1 bunch kale, tough ribs discarded and leaves chopped
sour cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a 10-inch, ovenproof nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; drain on paper towels, then crumble.  Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the potatoes and 2 tablespoons olive oil; season wiht salt and pepper.
2. Using the same skillet, add half of the onion adn cook until softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and arrange one-third of the potato mixture evenly in the pan; sprinkle with half of the cooked onions.  Repeat with another layer of potato mixture and cooked onions, then top with the remainig potato mixture.  Cover ith foil and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Transfer to the oven and bake until browned on the bottom, about 35 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges using a spatula.  Invert onto a platter, cut into wedges before serving.  (That did not work at all.  There was no "cake" for us, just roasted potatoes really.  It was fine, it tasted good, but I don't understand how the potatoes are supposed to set as some sort of cake)
3. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, cook the apples in 1 tablespoon olive oil until browned, about 10 minutes; transfer to a bowl.  Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the kale, lower the heat, cover and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.  Serve with the potato cake, sour cream and apples.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Warning - Pity Party ahead.

I miss jeans.  

I miss everything about them.  I miss wearing them and then leaving them on the floor to wear them again the next day.  I miss the way they drag on the ground and get crunchy salt stains in them in the winter and the glorious feeling of wearing sandals and jeans when things start to get warm.  

I miss having pockets.

Since Vivian's been born, I've been pretty much stuck in jogging pants.  I had one pair of fat jeans to wear immediately after she was born so I would have something decent to wear over the holidays, but they literally fall off me now.  My pre-pregnancy jeans still don't fit, despite many sessions of trying to shoehorn myself into them.  I can't even get them on quite enough to just use my Bella band to keep them together even though they're not done up.  It sucks.

I know that to some people, wearing jogging pants everyday would be a dream, and at first it definitely seemed awesome to me.  Lounging around all winter in jogging pants and Jagger's old T-shirts sounded heavenly.  Unfortunately, the novelty has really worn off.

What's getting to me is the complete lack of choices.  I have 3 pairs of jogging pants that I rotate through and a variety of T-shirts for around the house and about 5 shirts that are decent enough to be worn out in public.  Yeah, it's getting a little old.

I know I'll be able to wear my jeans again, even if they never quite fit the same way, but for right now it seems like it's ages away.  Sure, I could cave and buy some fat jeans to get me through right now, but to me that would be like admitting that I'm the size I actually am, and I'm worried about getting comfortable at this size.  I'm definitely not comfortable.

My sister just gave me some jeans that she's outgrown (she's lost her baby weight and then some - I hope I'll be in the same boat!) and they actually fit me, but they're too short, and it's definitely not warm enough yet to roll them up and get away with calling them capris.

Sigh.  This sucks.

Here's me in my favourite jeans...I miss them.

See?  They're so awesome that I climbed a mountain in them.  Well, okay, I didn't climb it, but I rode a train up the mountain in them!

I know I should stop being so hard on myself and just give myself time to lose the weight, but I'm finding it's a real struggle.  I'm just too impatient.

Okay, I got that out of my system.  Hopefully I'll have a pair of jeans to wear soon.  Until then, I'm the mayor of jogging pants town.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The DVR Rules Me

The DVR is easily one of my all-time favourite things.  I fought against having a DVR for a long time because I figured that the only thing stopping me from watching everything was the fact that I couldn't.  I had to choose what shows to watch in what timeslot and just go from there.

Of course, the moment we got the DVR, there was no going back.  It completely changes your life to the point that you have no idea how you ever used to live without it.

Probably my favourite show to watch on the DVR is Saturday Night Live, or as we call it now, "Sunday Morning Taped".  It's definitely a better way to watch it.

Since I've been home with Vivian, I've been using the DVR like crazy, recording all kinds of shows I wouldn't normally watch because I have a lot of time on my hands when she insists on napping in my arms.

The only problem with the DVR is that it seems to be a little selective on what I should and shouldn't be watching.  For whatever reason, it always screws up on recording "30 Rock" and "The Defenders".  I don't know what it's trying to tell me, but those two always seem to get missed, even when I set it to record "any day in any timeslot".  I'm starting to think the DVR has some sort of hidden agenda or something.

Anyone else have any problems with your DVR being selective?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Vivian Vendredi - She Zigs When I Expect Her To Zag

If there's one thing that Vivian has taught me in our 10 weeks together it's that she is a different baby every week.

Last week, she was a baby who was sleeping well at night and enjoyed napping during the day.  This week, she's a baby who is still sleeping pretty well during the day, but is back to preferring to be held while she does nap.  At night, she's now a baby who wakes up every two hours for me to give her back her soother.

It's been great.  Sigh.

Of course, she could be a completely different baby again next week.  I'm crossing my fingers for sleeping through the night baby.

We've been really busy this week - lots of walks, classes at the Early Years Center and visiting.  Today we're on our way out the door to visit Jagger at work, stopping in at my work, chiropractor's appointment and visiting a friend.  Tomorrow is also full of visiting since it's my sister's birthday.  Vivian loves her Aunt Courtney so of course we'll be stopping by to visit.

Wish me lots of sleep!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Getting To Know Nonsense...

Here's a little secret for you...

I'm obsessed with checking my stats.  See, there was once a time when I blogged but didn't know who was reading.  I figured a few people checked it out here and there, but didn't really have an idea of who my "audience" was.

Then, in June, Blogger started keeping track of stats.  I was hooked.  I couldn't help it, I was obsessed with checking out who was reading and what they were reading.  
This week, I broke 10,000 page views.  That's 10,000 views since June.  I'm sure only about half of those are from me.  In honour of this, I thought I would show you guys a little bit about the ins and outs of the blog.

The most popular post by far is my post on the Guest Book Time Capsule.  So far, it's had 199 page views.  I would hazard to guess that this is the most common post that people come across just by random Googling, rather than regular readers.
What surprises me is that the next most popular posts are all baby-related.  The post introducing Vivian is  the next most popular with 136 views, then the birth story with 113.  I've been trying so hard not to make 
this blog too baby-heavy, but it seems that those posts are going over well.

It surprises me that the cloth diapering posts don't score higher, since my initial post about cloth diapering 
generated the most comments, and the most commenters from random people, rather than people I actually know.
Most of my traffic comes from Facebook, which is nice to know that people I actually know are reading the blog.  Beyond that, I get a lot of hits from being mentioned on other blogs (like my friend Dan's) or  from commenting on other people's blogs.  
Google results are pretty boring, most of my Google references are for searches like "Ashlie Nonsense", 
"Madamclerk nonsense" and stuff like that.  So, people who know about my blog but can't remember the
address.  I've gotten a few hits from people searching for "Talize Finds" though, which I find kind of  amusing.

Most of my audience is in Canada (over 7,000 hits) and the States (over 1,000).  Not surprising.  What is 
surprising to me is the countries that follow - Netherlands, Russia and South Korea.  Apparently I also have readers in the U.K., Latvia, Ukraine, Germany and Slovenia - who knew!

It is so nice to know that so many people are reading (and hopefully enjoying) the blog.  But it makes me 
interested - what do you enjoy reading?  Is there something you'd like to see more of/less of?  I'd love to 
hear your input!

(Yes, I know the formatting is all messed up.  Sorry.  I never said I was a good blogger)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Glorious Sleep!

This week has been an awesome week for Vivian.  Tuesday night she slept for 8 hours (!!!) and she has decided that naps are no longer for losers.  It's been awesome to have her sleeping on her own during the day - I can actually get some things done!

 Yeah, I need to get her an actual head rest thing for the swing. 

She's two months old now and has gotten a lot sturdier.  She's really holding her head up and likes sitting in our laps looking around now. 

She's also started taking baths in the big bathtub, which is hilarious.  She's quite the little fish - there's no turning back to the little baby bathtub now!  Sorry, no censored pictures though!

It's awesome to see her turning a corner and sleeping more - but, because she's still a newborn, and because she's Vivian, who knows what she'll be like next week.  Will she start consistently sleeping through the night (last night she was up at 4:30 and 7:30, same as the night before - there's only been the one 8 hour stretch) or will she decide she's having a huge growth spurt and needs to eat every two hours (lately she's been doing really well with eating every 4 hours during the day - so much nicer).  You just never know what Vivian is going to throw at you!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Apple Cheeks!

We started using the cloth diapers with Vivian a couple of weeks ago.  As I blogged about before, we decided to go with Apple Cheeks as our primary brand.  I chose them because they seemed simple and could be used in a couple of different ways, and also because they are Canadian-made, which was really important to me.

I would say that we are part-time cloth diaperers right now.  I use them when we're at home and use the disposables for outings and overnights.  So far, it's been going great!  I know a lot of you were wondering how it was going, so here's my review.  I'll try to be really clear about how they work and not to use "cloth diapering slang" so everyone knows what I mean, in case you were considering using cloth diapers yourself.

What I liked about Apple Cheeks was that they could be used as covers and inserts or as all in one diapers.  For a cover and insert diaper, you use the flat diaper (usually called a prefold) folded up into thirds and then laid in the middle of the cover.

 Diaper cover without insert

Diaper cover with insert

This was appealed to me because you can get by with less covers.  By using the flat, prefold diaper as an insert, you can reuse the cover when you change them.  The prefold is super absorbent and the rest of the diaper stays dry.  This saves money and laundry - which is definitely key.

The downside of using the diapers this way is I find I'm changing Vivian more often because the wetness stays against her skin.  The inserts are made of bamboo, so they are really soft and absorbent, but I find that her wetness tolerance is pretty low.  To get around this, we use the diapers as an all in one style.

To make them all in ones, you just stuff the insert into the envelope part of the diaper cover. 

 Partly stuffed

All stuffed in

By using the diapers this way, the fleece lining of the diaper cover goes against the skin, keeping the skin drier.  I find using them this way means I can go longer between changes, but when you do change the diaper, you have to change the cover and insert.  I only have 6 covers right now, so this means a lot more washing.

The other good part about these diapers is that they are super flexible to fit lots of sizes of babies.  These are the #1 size which should last until she's about 17 pounds.  She's 11 pounds right now with pretty chunky thighs, so I find it's best to snap at the second snap on the top and the first snap on the bottom.  You can get a really customized fit this way to prevent leaks. 

Are cloth diapers bulkier than disposables?  Absolutely.  She doesn't seem to mind it though, but it can look different in clothes.

 Beware the front butt

This sleeper is a bit big on her yet, so you can't tell that she has cloth on.  It all depends on what you usually dress your baby in.  If you like them in pants, you might find that they need a bigger size when they're in cloth diapers.  Vivian is usually in sleepers, so I don't notice it as much.

The biggest problem I've found so far with the cloth diapers is that I'm constantly checking to see if she needs to be changed.  With disposable diapers, you can always feel when they're starting to get a little full.  You don't get that same option with the cloth diapers, so I find I'm checking to see if she's wet every hour or so, especially if she is fussing a bit. 

The laundry hasn't been much different, just an extra load every 3-4 days.  This is probably because I'm only cloth diapering part time though.  If you were using them all the time, it would definitely be more laundry.  They are small though, so it's really only another load, it's not like it's 60 loads of just cloth diapers or anything.  I use Charlie's Soap to wash them (as was suggested by Cheeky Monkey) and Buncha Farmer's stain remover.  Both are working great so far.

 Has there ever been a cuter model?

Bottom line, I really like the cloth diapers and am super happy with the Apple Cheeks.  So far, she hasn't had any blowouts with them (and she blows out of disposable diapers all the time) and they've been super easy to use.  Somedays I just find I have to remind myself to put them on her instead of the disposables if I've had a few busy days where we're constantly on the run.  I do notice I use them a lot more when we start running low on disposable diapers too!

As she gets more mobile, I'll definitely post updates on how we're doing, but so far, cloth diapers work for us!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

It's Camera Easter!

Remember how I broke my camera?

Well, tonight I decided to try it again, just in case.

Miracle of miracles, instead of taking pictures like this...

(Yes, that is actually how my camera was taking pictures after I dropped it)

We're back to this!

Hooray for no unnecessary purchases!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Vivian Vendredi - We Love Grammy!

Today is my mom's birthday.  Since Vivian has been born, I've found a new appreciation for my mom.  My mom's always been awesome, but now she's super-awesome.

She's been such a big help for me since Vivian's been born, and she's always there for me to express my concerns or to ask questions.

Vivian loves her Grammy.  Grammy's house is a magical place where Vivian will nap on her own, take a soother, take a bottle, and generally do everything that I've been trying to get her to do at home.

I'm so glad that Vivian has the chance to be close with my mom.  I can't wait to see what adventures Blair and Vivian get up to when they're at Grammy's house!

(Sorry for the general lack of pictures and for not doing the cloth diaper post yet - still no new camera at our house, but hopefully next week!)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I Shoulded All Over Myself

Honestly?  I have been trying to write this blog post for a month.  It started out all hearts and stars and rainbows about how lucky I was that I hadn't had any problems with the baby blues and how lucky I was that I had such an easy-going baby.  I thought that after a few weeks, I was out of the woods of what was going to be the most difficult.

See, I assumed the hardest part about having a baby would be the first couple of weeks.  Turns out, they lull you into a false sense of security in those first two weeks, then show their true colours around 4-5 weeks old.  At least, that's how it went in Vivian's case.  It was around that point that I hit a wall.

See, I'm one of those people who have a hard time asking for help and admitting that they need help.  So when it got to the point that I wasn't sleeping enough, wasn't eating enough and was getting down on myself, I still couldn't bear to ask Jagger to watch Vivian for an hour so I could take a bath or lay down for a few minutes, just to get away.

After about a week of meltdowns and weepiness, I started to realize what my real problem was.

Yes, Vivian is a difficult baby.  She's a good baby, don't get me wrong, but she's a difficult baby.  She requires a lot of work and is very particular.  If you're not doing something exactly right, she'll freak right out.  But my real problem was the S-word.


I got so caught up in what I should be doing and what I should be able to do.

I thought that I should have lost more weight and I should be able to get more done around the house.  Vivian should be sleeping more during the day and should be eating more on a schedule.  I should be able to cook a meal and feed myself during the day instead of eating a granola bar and calling it a day.

I should have it more together.  I should be able to handle this without help.

I shoulded all over myself, and it was awful.

I've been completely uncomfortable with myself because of the weight and was mentally drained from the fact that Vivian was on me all day and all night.  I wasn't getting a break and I was beating myself up because of it.

Things are better now.  I've been trying to let go of the shoulds and have been able to focus more on "can".  Today, I can go for a walk.  I can make dinner tonight, so I'm going to enjoy it.  I can take a bath if I feel like I need a break.  I can take a nap if I need to.  I can put Vivian down and let her cry if that's what I have to do.  I can get frustrated.  I can cry.

It's so easy to get caught up in the negative right now, especially since it's winter and difficult to get out of the house.

Things are never going to be what you expect them to be, and you can't negotiate with babies.  All you can do is forgive yourself and move on.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

So what do the cats think?

I've had a lot of people ask me lately what the cats think of Vivian and how they're dealing with the whole change.  Mostly, they're pretty indifferent to her.  Gibson is starting to pay a little more attention to her though, and will often check her out in her chair or when she's playing on one of her playmats on the floor.

Why is this thing still here?

He's starting to get a little more protective of her and will sometimes come find her if she's crying somewhere.  Hopefully they'll be friends when she's older.

Fender seems to be having a bit of a harder time.  Fender is insanely protective of Jagger, so she hasn't been thrilled that she isn't getting as much attention.  She'll still check Vivian out sometimes though.

They've definitely had a shift in behaviour though.  They used to sleep in our room, but we haven't been letting them do that lately because I don't trust them around Vivian in her bassinet.  I just don't trust that they won't try to get in there with her, and I just won't sleep if they're in there.  The weird thing is though, they haven't been showing any interest in being in our room during the day now.  They used to sleep in our bed for most of the day, but now they're usually sleeping in the office or out in the living room with Vivian and I.

Like I said, hopefully they'll be great friends one day.  It will be so nice for Vivian to have a kitty at the foot of her bed when she goes to sleep one day...until we get a dog, that is.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Weeks to Months

Vivian will be 8 weeks old this week (!!) and I got to thinking - when do you stop referring to a baby's age in weeks and switch to months?  I understand why people refer to babies by weeks, because they can change so drastically from week to week, but when do you stop?  I feel like you shouldn't go over the teens in weeks, does that sounds right?  But then at that point, it begs the question - when do you stop referring to them by their month age and just say they're one, one and a half or two?

So many questions.