From 0 to 2014

At this time last year, I was just starting to feel pregnant. My baby bump was more than just possibly too much dinner the night before, and we were weeks away from finding out whether the littlest Trenton was a prince or a princess.

We had just signed the papers for our house, and we were looking forward to all of the ways our life together would change.

Boy, has it changed.

Today, I’m spending a quiet morning snuggled up with Arthur. Later we’ll meet some of the family for lunch, and then I’ll make a last-minute run to the store for dinner and maybe something fun to snack on while we watch the ball drop to welcome 2014.

Tonight, this little boy will cross a new threshold – being alive in two different years. We’re so blessed to start a new year with him, and we have a lot of great new changes ahead of us still.

Happy New Year from the Trentons!

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Half a year passes like a moment.

Our baby boy is six months old today.

Half a year.

I thought I would have a whole book full of eloquent things to say about the passage of time, how amazing it’s been to see his personality emerge from small moments of recognition to something quite like a sense of humor, or even the fact that he’s learned to ignore us when we leave him with his Grammy because he knows we’re going away.

I was sure that I would talk more about his developing eating habits – the peas he tolerates and the sweet potatoes he can’t do without, or the funny look he gives me when he eats the apples that look just like the pears. I figured I’d share a laugh about the chomping face he does whenever he watches one of us take a bite of food.

But half a year…and I find myself nearly speechless.

The small bundle I could (just) hold in one arm has become a little person who laughs, stands, and is already half as tall as his GG and three times larger than he was at birth. He is funny, inquisitive, and so full of innocent joy that it breaks my heart to watch him even as it fills that same heart to the top.

six months

My sweet boy, who will very soon sleep in a bed all his own and have teeth and say words, and walk and run and one day call me “Mommy”…and then, one bittersweet day, just “Mom”.

But today he is still a baby, and today I will hold him and remember the wonder of our first moments together.

Happy half birthday, Arthur.

Photo Dec 18, 17 31 49

A guilty Thanksgiving, first foods, and Christmas with (no) Santa Claus.

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the middle of our first holiday season en famille! Arthur is going to be six months old next Wednesday (just writing that has me shaking my head in denial), and just one week after that will be his first Christmas.

Of course, we kicked it all off with a three-part Thanksgiving. Brian has two siblings, and since we are all coupled up that means there are a lot more family obligations to meet when the holidays rolled around. To compromise, my mother-in-law proposed a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with everyone in attendance – conveniently scheduled for the same day we met for family portraits. It was a fun evening, and Arthur enjoyed sitting in his high chair in the middle of the crowd. What he didn’t enjoy was being oh so close to all of the food without being able to eat it.

This photo session went MUCH more smoothly.

This photo session went MUCH more smoothly.

But guilty Thanksgiving wasn’t over.

We split Thanksgiving Day, spending the first half with my mom at her house and then traveling all together to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving Part Deux. Both meals were delicious, but between noon and five that day we learned an important lesson:

It’s incredibly difficult to eat when a five-month-old is staring at your plate.

Poor Artie. Every time one of us lifted a bite to our mouths he would stare, and gape, and lean ever so slightly toward the table as if pleading for a taste. He wasn’t hungry, per se – he had a bottle right before we sat down – but he wanted that food more than he’s probably wanted anything in his half a year on the planet.

I had a somewhat difficult decision to make over the next couple of days. I read all of the books and listened to all of the advice that said “No food until six months!” but here was my baby, only weeks away from this threshold and clearly interested in trying the scrumptious goodies on our plate. I could stick to my guns and watch him grow progressively more upset, or I could pull out my blender and my baby food books and give him his first taste.

So, I fed him.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to the store and picked up half a batch of pears. I made enough for a few days and fed him the small remainder to gauge his reaction. To say he loved them would be a horrible understatement; I think if I had given him the entire batch that night he would have inhaled it before a long tummyaching night. That was all the response I needed to know that for us, this was the right decision.

We’re following the 3-day rule for introducing new foods. So far, Artie eats Bartlett pears, roasted sweet potatoes, and Honeycrisp apples in addition to a serving of single-grain oatmeal every morning. I don’t want to brag, but he is SUCH a good eater – not yet messy, very excited for each bite (he does try to help a little much sometimes!), and clear about being finished. Tomorrow night we are going to start peas, and I hope he likes them as much as I do.

Onward to Christmas. Everybody is thrilled to have a new baby to experience the magic of the season, though I’m sure a few pocketbooks are moaning at the extra outlay for presents. Fortunately, we were clear from the beginning that we don’t want to surround Arthur with piles of toys higher than he stands (with assistance), so this year we will have a few extra-special gifts with a handful of toys that I know he will use.

None of those gifts, though, will be from Santa.

Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made, this is the one that actually inspired pushback from a grandparent. See, I don’t remember a time when I ever believed there was a jolly old man who lived in the North Pole and delivered gifts to all the children in the world in one night. I understood “Santa” as the spirit of Christmas, giving and loving and joyful but not a real person. That is what I want to instill in my children, and to do that I want to avoid falling into the “presents from Santa” trap. It may become more difficult when he is old enough to ask questions, and if he expresses a belief in the persona of Santa then we will obviously tread lightly, but to me it feels inauthentic and dishonest to perpetuate the myth in that way – and one thing I never want to do is outright lie to my children.

So there will be no gifts from Santa to Arthur under our tree, and no explanations of how Santa knew at which house we would be celebrating Christmas this year. Instead there will only be love, and a few special toys from the real people who love him.

Merry whatever to whomever, wherever! Celebrate the season with love, joy, and openness.

 

5 months old, and the best laid plans…

Our little boy is five months old today.

5 months old

 

I think that face says it all. “All”, of course, being “Yes, I’m totally cute. Mommy, why do you have that thing in my face? Can I eat it?” Makes me not want to go to work in the morning…

This weekend, we went with Brian’s family to do family portraits. They haven’t had a portrait done together since 2006 (which, incidentally, was the year that the siblings went in on a picture of themselves for their parents as well), and a lot of things have changed since then. Everyone is older, of course; all three siblings are married or committed; and then there’s Arthur!

In order to make portraits more successful than our 3-month visit, we planned ahead. We got to the mall at 11:45 and bought lunch. Arthur woke up in his stroller at noon, at which point I fixed him a 4-ounce bottle. It was enough to make him happy, and we were far enough ahead of our 1:00 pm appointment that he would have plenty of time to eat and digest so we could avoid spit-up. Plus, we figured, by the time he’s ready for his next bottle we would be comfortably resting at my in-laws’ house waiting for early Thanksgiving dinner.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans…

We walked into the portrait studio at 12:40, and within the next five minutes the rest of the family had arrived. We checked in – “Oh, we’re running about 25-30 minutes behind so we’ll get to you as soon as we can.” This wasn’t a horrible setback, until 25 minutes stretched into 35 and people who had seemingly just arrived were taken in before us. (In reality, many families decided to stroll through the store after checking in to avoid the inevitable meltdowns of tired and impatient children.) Arthur started rubbing his eyes and giving us his sleepy face, so Brian hitched him up and started walking as well. Within a few minutes Arthur was passed out.

Of course, that was the moment that they came out and said “We’re ready for you!”

Sadly for the story, but quite fortunately for us, Arthur is a champ. We did a few “couple” shots first, and by the time we were ready to include Arthur in the photos he was awake and bright-eyed. He even smiled through most of the pictures, and we ended up with a couple of gems.

All in all, it was a good day – but I dread thinking of how we’ll prepare for his 6-month portraits…

 

Kokkinisto Recipe

I have made this so many times that it’s high time I share it! I first visited Sparkley Pink Lemons when she began following my blog, and while I was there I stumbled on this FANTASTIC recipe. Since then I can’t count the number of times I’ve made it and each time I love it even more.

A few notes:
-I use the tweaked recipe and haven’t regretted it once.
-I also used sirloin, just because lamb is so darn expensive (and Brian doesn’t like it. Poor Brian.)
-I’ve only used the 1 cup of water once, thanks to an overeager burner that cooked down the liquid too fast.
-I often throw in a third tablespoon of tomato paste.
-To soften the potato without cooking it separately, I add it after 25 minutes and then add the other vegetables at 40 minutes. They’re perfect for us.

Please oh please, if you enjoy hearty beef dishes, give this one a whirl. It cooks quickly, and you can save even more time if you prep the ingredients the night before. Send me pics of the finished product, and tell me how much you loved it!

Hello..I have had this recipe posted on my message board for some time now, it is from the book Feed Your Face  Diet that I had discussed about earlier. The author Dr. Wu explains how tomatoes are great for protecting your skin from freckles, sun spots and premature wrinkling because of the powerful antioxidant lycopene. She also suggest eating a tablespoon of tomato paste with each meal when you are on a sunny vacation for extra protection for sun rays ( still need to apply sun screen as well). So I made this recipe for dinner tonight and it is amazing!! What I liked best about it was the broth, it was too acidy as I find some tomato based recipes to be.

The recipe is from actress Marina Sirtis, its a family Greek dish. Hence the term Kokkinisto meaning “reddening” as you must brown meat ( lamb or…

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30-day challenge and simplifying my life

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of new parenthood is carving out moments to just be me. I am Arthur’s mom but I am also Shannon, Brian’s wife and an individual with my own needs and identity. I have an extremely supportive family that gives me the space to be my own person; the challenge has been making the most of that time and space.

It was perfect timing, then, that my friend Alicia posted pictures of a 30-day physical challenge she is doing to stay on track with her health and fitness goals. I had just been considering a membership to Planet Fitness, but decided that I wanted to start smaller – something I could carve out the time to do without needing to find a sitter or wait for Brian to get home. My first idea was mall walking (which I am totally going to do, and treat myself to coffee while I’m at it!), but these challenges also seemed like something I could work in to my daily routine.

If you haven’t seen them, there are three challenges: an ab challenge, combining sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks; a squat challenge; and a push up challenge. They were designed together so all of the rest days are the same, and each challenge is progressive so you continue to build on the work you’ve done in the days before. By the end of the challenge I should be able to do 125 sit-ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, a 2-minute plank, 250 squats, and 20 push ups.

Help.

Day 1 – Monday – was a breeze, as the first day of any fitness program usually is. Whether you visit the gym with a brand-new workout ensemble and a sparkling water bottle to attack the elliptical or do crunches in your living room, the adrenaline rush of doing something is usually enough to help you power through the workout.

Day 2…yeah, that’s when the realization sets in that it’s called “working out” because it really is work – and if your body is like mine, it doesn’t like being forcibly reminded that those muscles are there to serve a greater purpose than they have been. I did learn, though, that squatting in front of a baby is the most hilarious thing in the world – to the baby. Arthur was more than amused by Mommy’s feeble exercise attempts, though I’m sure he was also confused about why I kept bending down toward him without picking him up.

I wanted to quit, so badly. I did the whole routine yesterday, up to the sit-ups – 8 crunches, 8 leg raises, a 12-second plank, 55 squats, and 4 push ups – and sat there for a minute wondering if it would be so bad to just skip the sit-ups and start again today. But I guess parenthood has changed that part of me too; I looked at Arthur, sitting on Brian’s lap looking down at me from the couch, and realized that I can’t expect or encourage him to keep going through challenges or adversity if I’m not willing to do the same. And I don’t get to put a check mark on the calendar if I only make half an effort.

So I did it. Five at a time, slowly at first and then powering through as I got closer to the finish, and my abs were screaming when I was done. But I did it.

The next challenge will be overhauling the way we handle food in our house – replacing snacks, establishing and sticking to a consistent dinner schedule, and just developing a better relationship with what we put into our bodies. In a little more than a month we will be introducing solid foods to Arthur, and once again we can’t expect him to have a healthy perspective about food if we don’t model that for him from the beginning.

In other news, I’m on a mission to simplify my life. Physical clutter leads to psychological and spiritual clutter, and all of that stands in the way of enjoying all of the wonderful parts of our life. On Monday my friend Amanda posted on The Color Coded Life about a planner that she loves (I am addicted to planners myself) that is designed to – you guessed it – help you simplify your life. It carries a hefty price tag, but the temptation was too great to resist so I treated myself with the proceeds from my paid book reviews. It should arrive next week, and I can’t wait to get started.

This is a daily planner, of course, but it is far more than that. There are lists for planning meals, and making memories, and even for making the time to just be grateful for the people and things we have. As much as I like having a digital calendar, I always need a hard copy within arm’s reach so I can keep everything straight. After all, when I’m juggling two individual schedules, a family schedule, birthdays and anniversaries and my own business, it’s very easy to drown in details. (Besides, let’s face it – I can’t use colored pens and paper clips on my phone!)

Once this lovely planner arrives I’ll do a more in-depth review of it. Who knows, I may even break out the Flip and do a video.

No promises.

Onward with the day, but I’ll leave you with this: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman

 

Don’t grow up too fast…

For all the writing I do, I don’t seem to have stopped in here recently. So brace yourselves kids, it may be a long one.

Arthur is already 4.5 months old. I blink my eyes and he’s growing out of clothes, rolling himself over, and jabbering with a smile on his face that I swear wasn’t there the last time we woke up. It’s amazing to watch his eyes light up, whether it’s first thing in the morning or when I walk in after a long day of work. He’s started reaching out too, and sometimes I think I’m going to cry all the tears because it melts my heart.

Other things have changed, of course. For one, he’s no longer interested in more than the most random nursing. He’s almost exclusively on a bottle, though yesterday he was rather insistent that he nurse (I think for comfort), so for 10 wonderful minutes we went back to the way we were before. He grips the bottle and pulls it to him, and when he watches us eat he mimics our chewing with an eager gleam in his eye. I don’t think this boy will have any problems eating food.

…which, we sort of tried already. I was adamant that we not introduce food of any kind until 6 months, but once he started waking up in the middle of the night and showing such an interest in food I decided that a little bit of oatmeal cereal wouldn’t be terrible for him. (I chose oatmeal over rice because of the constipation factor, even though the rice is otherwise milder.) I put a teaspoon in his 4-oz bottle and he drank it right down, so the other night we tried a slightly thicker mix that I spoon-fed him. He didn’t spit up…though that’s because he didn’t swallow any of it.

At first I thought it was because he just isn’t ready to guide food to the back of his mouth, but now that I’ve had some time I think it might be more that he was uncomfortable with the spoons we’re using. The little plastic feeding spoons are super cute (and cheap!) but they’re deeper than a traditional baby feeding spoon and the hard plastic can’t feel as good as rubber coating in his mouth. I’m going to pick up some different spoons this weekend and maybe try again. We’re also going to begin switching him over to sippy cups soon (using Avent’s awesome interchangeable caps), which will undoubtedly be fun.

***

Being a parent just astounds me more every day. Arthur’s personality shines through more and more, and it’s just amazing to watch him explore and comprehend his toys and observe the world around him. I’ve already decided that he’s probably going to be a southpaw, which everyone sort of goes with because Brian is and as he said, “mother’s intuition is usually right”. But it’s more than that – he favors his left hand when he’s lifting, chewing, or doing anything. It’s just one more part of this little person who is developing in front of my eyes. I thrive on moments when he just settles in to cuddle with me, moments that are happening more and more as we go but that will one day begin to dwindle until he inevitably argues that he isn’t a baby anymore.

We’re doing family portraits next weekend with Brian’s family, which we’re also using as a holiday card shoot. Yes, we’re those people. I love that we have the ability to chronicle his growth and the changes our family has gone through with regular photos, and I love even more that Arthur seems to really enjoy the camera. (Just like his mommy…) I’ll share once we have them, I’m so excited!

That’s it for now; back to my latte and articles and counting down the hours until I get to see Artie’s face light up again.