Archive for June, 2013

  • How My Day Got Pooped On

    Date: 2013.06.30 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Sarah | Response: 12

    Oh my gosh TODAY.

    Today we dove head first into potty training. We’ve started some training leading up to this and Sarah has had some success with it at school. Plus she was showing all the signs that she was ready and I am firmly against having two in diapers if at all possible.

    So we dove in. Or should I say, Sarah and I did because Mark had to work today.

    That was the first mistake I made: going at this alone. The second one was not getting enough sleep the night before.

    After trying a few things the night before, we quickly discovered that naked training was indeed the way to go for Sarah, and the first part of today she had about as many successes as misses. The main problem was that she was tired of sitting and waiting on the potty. She threw tantrums, threw toys, jumped up and slammed my jaw, sending shooting pain through the joint where I constantly have jaw pain (note: that was the first time I cried today). Leela got smacked in the head by a Lego and meekly came crawling to me. It was rough and I was at the end of my rope.

    But, I figured lunch was on the horizon and after that we could attempt a nap. After all, I was praying for a nap for her as much as myself.

    Not sleeping enough, physically and emotionally battling a two-year-old, scrubbing accidents off the carpet and floors and growing another person in my body was exhausting.

    So off to bed she went. But then she got out of bed. So back in she went, then ripped her curtains down once…. twice. Then she laid down and got quiet.

    I said a silent prayer of thanks and crawled into bed and immediately fell asleep. A short while later I heard a noise next to me in bed. I was in the middle of a dream and my head was having trouble making sense of it. “Cat” was my first waking thought. I moved my head and Sarah bounded over to me and grabbed my head. I opened my eyes and she was looming over me, PERMANENT MARKER in hand. I sat up quickly to discover that she had used the marker to color the palms of both her hands, all over both her legs and all over our brand new and freshly laundered sheets.

    I think it says a lot to my exhaustion that I usually wake up when I hear her feet hit the hallway floor and I somehow managed to sleep through an entire coloring session with her in the bed next to me for who knows how long. I’m just thankful my body managed to wake up before I had a newly decorated face.

    I whisked her to the tub and started scrubbing with moderate success. Her hands look a lot better, but her legs still bear trace marks of black ink.

    From there we went back to the potty, where she, in anger, promptly picked up a book and hurled it at me, hitting me in the eye. Mark was late getting home from work and not answering his phone. Cassie was sending me links about getting permanent marker out of material and Sarah, well she was still pitching a fit.

    It was in this state that Mark found me when he walked through the door. You guys, I try not to air confrontations between Mark and I on the internet, but I don’t think you could appreciate the gravity of this day unless I tell you this one. Mark was so upset about the permanent marker all over the new sheets, and on his side of the bed no less, that he immediately started yelling at me, assuming that I had let Sarah sleep in our bed (WRONG). After I pointedly corrected his misconception and thanked him for his support on this terribly stressful day, I stormed out of the room in tears and sobbed in bed for 30 minutes. To his credit, he came in the room a bit later and apologized.

    Sarah followed him into the room, crawled up in bed to check on me, and then peed all over his side of the bed. Although he was furious at the time, I have to look back and laugh a little. The sheets, of course, came off the bed and went back into the wash.

    We both agreed that we were too angry, tired and frustrated to cook, so we picked up dinner.

    I think by that point Sarah realized that things were only going to get worse for her if she didn’t start behaving, either that or maybe she just felt better after her big meal of chicken quesadillas, but the rest of the evening she promptly used the potty as she should, earning wild praise and celebratory dances from Mark and me. Man, how our lives have changed.

    She’s finally in bed. I am exhausted and Mark went to Lowe’s. I think a 9:00 bed time is in order.

  • Meanwhile Back on the Home Front…

    Date: 2013.06.27 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Mark, Sarah | Response: 10

    I left Sarah home with her daddy for six days and five nights. Once upon a time, I think this would have made us both upset and nervous, but Mark and I have worked really hard at moving some of Sarah’s mommy attachment over to daddy in preparation for Baby R.’s arrival. I am definitely one to just take on all the responsibility instead of letting someone else help me, so that was a big step for me.

    Being six months pregnant with an ever expanding belly and a heart issue means I’m not really supposed to be picking up my nearly 30 lb toddler. This includes loading her in and out of the car. We make her walk just about everywhere now, and when she needs to be carried, Mark has taken over most of the carrying duties.

    I even instructed Mark before I left on how I get her dressed in the mornings – she gets to pick the top, I get to pick the bottoms (though I hear there were still some rather interesting outfit choices some mornings!)

    While I was gone, Mark handled things beautifully. He cooked, prepped her lunches, took her to school and played with her. The only thing he couldn’t ever quite manage was the ponytail holder, but I’ll cut him some slack on that. Getting a two-year-old to sit still long enough to do her hair every morning is always a task, and I’ve been making pony tails for more than 20 years!

    Sarah also spent quite a bit of time with both of her grandmothers while I was gone and was doted on with new toys, new clothes and lots of her favorite foods. I think all of that fun took away much of the sting of mommy being gone. It was such a relief to know that I didn’t have to worry about her at all while I was gone. She is always in good hands with our families.

    Playing at Nana's House

    Eating Mexican food while I was away.

    Not to be outdone, Mark also managed to (mostly) combat the getting out of the big girl bed problem while I was away, which is a miracle in and of itself.

    Oh, and while I was gone Mark and his dad drove to Baton Rouge and picked up my new (used) vehicle and had it waiting on me at the airport when I returned!

    I’ve always loved this man, but he continues to impress me year after year, month after month, especially as he continues to embrace daddyhood head on. Baby R. is certainly lucky to be joining the group of girls he so readily loves and supports every day.

  • Denver or Bust!

    Date: 2013.06.25 | Category: Food, Friends, Me, Sarah, Travel, Work | Response: 10

    I spent most of last week in Colorado at a conference for work.

    I had a great time while I was there, but I’m still trying to recover from the overwhelming exhaustion of the constant work, travel, late nights and altitude changes. And I haven’t even had a change to zombie out since I returned because I have so much more work waiting on me. But, as my husband always says, best to make hay while the sun is shining.

    So let me tell you a little bit about my trip (in bullet points because I’m tired).

    • They have direct flights from Denver from our airport now!
    • When we flew into Denver there were tornadoes everywhere, which meant we had to stay in the air and fly around for a bit until it was safe to land. The view from above was sort of creepy. But at least I didn’t end up in an airport tornado shelter like many of my colleagues!
    • My friend Becki traveled and roomed with me.

    • Her boyfriend’s family is from Denver and he was there too with a vehicle, which meant we had an extremely kind and dedicated chauffeur the entire time.
    • I think our hotel room bathroom had a poltergeist. We had to call maintenance FOUR times to repair our tub drain and toilet. At least we scored some breakfast room service as a consequence.
    • The conference was mostly great. I feel so much more well versed in the ins and outs of social media in the workplace.
    • I got to hear a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist speak on “finding the story” and it was amazing.
    • Lots of free swag!
    • We won a national award for our family life column! I am so proud of Katie for all her hard work each month.
    • My friend and counterpart in New Orleans, Peter, won the highest journalistic award there. So proud of him and our state!
    • There was an awful cheer camp going on outside my hotel window. Soooo many teeny boppers!
    • In my free time, Becki and I sampled two Diner, Drive in and Dive locations: Bagel Deli (a Jewish delicatessen) and Steuben’s (a hipster diner). Both were amazing. Katie Ett should be especially thrilled that I finally ate a lobster roll.
    • Oh we and also went to Downtown Denver. It’s really beautiful down there and very pedestrian friendly!
    • I went to the top of Pike’s Peak (elevation 14,110) on a cog train. There was snow at the top and I only got a little dizzy!

    • I saw some big horn sheep and a marmot on the way.
    • I made the entire train wait on me while I made a painful and panicked run to the porta potty halfway down the mountain. At least I could blame pregnancy!
    • I went to Garden of the Gods and was blown away by the giant red rock formations.
    • I also went to a great kitschy Old Wild West museum where I learned all about the gold rush.
    • Foods I tried for the first time included: lobster roll, brussle sprouts, boboa tea, matzo ball soup, knish, kishke and latke.
    • We went to a crazy candy store that sold things like ranch dressing and buffalo wing sauce soda, as well as bacon frosting. I played it safe and bought a key lime pie soda.
    • That was the longest I’ve ever been away from my baby and I only sort of cried once!
    • I came home to this beautiful face at the airport.
  • Bring on the Goodies

    Date: 2013.06.17 | Category: Baby, Books, Food, Health, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 6

    Life has been insane! We’re down to about three more months before baby gets here and we’ve been scrambling to line things up in preparation, including obtaining a larger vehicle, cleaning out our guest bedroom so it can house the new nursery and trying to figure out what I need to replace that was either lost or destroyed after Sarah was born. Throw in a toddler who loves to get out of her new bed in the late hours of the night, a busy work and photography schedule, and work conference out of town tomorrow and you get one tired pregnant lady. But it’s all very exciting! Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you the whole story about the new vehicle when I get back next week if all the stars align like they’re supposed to next weekend.

    In the mean time, I give you a list of things that make my very full heart sing.

    1. Chobani Flips Key Lime Crumble. Let’s be honest here. If I could, I would eat real key lime pie every single day. There is something about that tart, sweet flavor that makes me swoon. However, I’m scared of gaining too much weight and I happened to find this little lovely. At 180 calories and made of Greek yogurt, I have no problem chowing down on these nearly every day. Plus, it has white chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs that you mix in and it tastes nearly as good as real key lime pie. They sell these at my local grocery store for about $1.49 a piece.

    2. Apples and peanut butter. More specifically Fuji apples and Peter Pan creamy peanut butter. I seriously can not get enough of this combination, though again for the sake of weight gain I try to keep the peanut butter consumption down to every other day, but have no problem eating those apples all day every day.

    3. Audible.com. I’ve been a fan of Audible for a long time. I’ve only ever started listening to two of the 50 or so audiobooks from them that I own that I didn’t care for. My husband got me a yearlong subscription to them for Christmas and I put it to good use. I like audiobooks on a good day, but now that I’m exhausted at the end of the day, it’s so much easier to just zone out to Solitaire Blitz, or close my eyes and listen. They also help keep me awake when I’m editing photos and would really rather crawl under my desk and sleep. Subscriptions range from $14.95 a month and go up from there.

    4. Jersey Knit Skirts. While pushing through the Louisiana summer heat in my largest months of pregnancy doesn’t rate at the top of my favorite activities, I am so happy that I can still wear all my non-maternity jersey skirts. They stretch, go over or under the belly and, best of all, keep my wardrobe from being limited to the same three outfits. The one shown here is actually a maternity skirt, but really, who is going to be the wiser when I keep wearing it after baby comes? It’s stretchy and pops right back into shape. Old Navy, $29.94.

    5. Humphrey yogurts from Counter Culture. If you’re not from north Louisiana, you may be scratching your head at this one. We have a local eatery called Counter Culture and they dish up these amazing desserts (or lunch, I mean, it’s filled with fruit after all). Traditionally the Humphrey is made with their signature tangy frozen yogurt, granola, honey, strawberries, grapes and bananas. We sub out blueberries for the grapes most of the time. And they are amazing! If you’re ever in the area, get one.

    p.s. No one pays me to do this, I just thought I’d share.

  • Things That Go Bump in the Night

    Date: 2013.06.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Me, Pets, Pregnancy, Sam Cat, Sarah | Response: 8

    Saturday we decided it was time to take the plunge and move Sarah from a crib to a big girl bed. At the time, I had forgotten that my mom was babysitting that night and would have to be the one to put her down for the first time in that bed. Mom took to it with determination, and surprisingly had no problem at all. Turns out she loves her big girl bed and is pretty thrilled with the star sheets and bedding on it too.

    Sunday went equally well, with her taking a nap (!!) in the bed and then sleeping all through the night as well. When she woke up, I heard her and went in her room to find her rolling around in bed and playing with her feet.

    And then there was last night.

    Around 4:00 a.m., I was awoken from a yet another terrible nightmare where I had forgotten to feed my second child and was struggling with breastfeeding, when I heard the familiar *bump* of Sarah’s door slamming open, and then the frantic scurry of feet down the hallway. My first thought was, “That damn cat.”

    You see, Sam Cat has a nasty habit of opening Sarah’s door to wake her up when he can’t get us out of bed for his own nefarious purposes. He knows that if she wakes up, we get up.

    So I tiptoed over to her door and looked into her bed to make sure she was still sleeping. Then I hear “Mama!” and look over to see her standing at the end of the hall, holding on to her little stuffed animal, shaking and confused.

    I scooped her up and put her back in her bed and told her it was ok, that she needed to go night night again and closed the door.

    Then, while I was relieving my ever full bladder, I hear the bump and scurry again down the hall. I called to her and she came running in the bathroom and promptly sat on her own potty and looked at me.

    Back to bed. This time I laid down with her, which is no small feat. It involved me wedging my increasingly large self between her and the wall, while she laid her head on my face. In the mean time Baby R, who has been suspiciously quiet during the day time hours, decided to throw a dance party in my stomach. After about 15 minutes of this, I got up and told her it was night night time.

    Back to the bathroom. From my perch I spied that evil cat sneak past me and go straight to her room where he opened her door AGAIN. This of course sparked another round of running through the hallway, this time with me muttering curses under my breath at the cat.

    I rounded her up, yet again, and got her in bed. I tucked her in tight and reaffirmed the night night. I’m not sure if she was scared of the growing anger in my voice towards the cat, or if by that time she was just worn out, but she finally laid down and stayed down.

    In the mean time, I chased the cat through the house, finally caught him and then chucked him out the back door. Sam Cat has officially lost inside night privileges.

    I managed to get about an hour of sleep before Sarah was up at 6:30, coming through her bedroom door about 30 minutes before her usual time. Although I had dressed for my walk, I ended up just throwing up my hands, putting Bubble Guppies on for her on the iPad and laid next to her while I dozed for 45 minutes.

    I know consistency is the key with these things and I’m going to stick with putting her back in her bed every time… but next time I’m making my husband do it.

  • Leg 3: The Beach!

    Date: 2013.06.10 | Category: Family, Friends, Life, Mark, Me, Sarah, Travel | Response: 6

    Our family loves the beach. We drove from New Orleans to Ft. Walton Beach, FL where we met up with my best friend Susan, her 10-month-old daughter Livvy, and her parents. We shared a three bedroom beach front condo, ate a spectacular amount of food and enjoyed being outside in the gorgeous weather. Both babies loved the sand and the ocean water. The first thing Sarah would say when she woke up in the morning was “Water!” and then immediately ran for the balcony to stare at the ocean. Not long after she’d yell “Swimsuit!” and grab her floaty. It’s safe to say that girl loves the beach.

    There’s not much else to say about the trip except that it was the relaxing time away we all needed and we’re already planning our trip back for next year, baby and all.

    Enjoy some photos!

    Her dad taught her that by adding a little water, those castles will stay up… at least until she stomps them down.

    Daddy kisses.

    Play time for kiddos.

    Our first evening out onto the beach.

    Dinner at AJ’s.

    Walking along the wharf, watching the deep sea fishers come in with their big catches.

    We met a totally legit pirate.

    Beach side snoozes in mom’s lap are the best.

    Daddy hugs are pretty great too.

    Strike a pose.

    Me and my bestie with our girls.

    I could really post a thousand more of these photos, but I’ll spare you and myself. I’m already ready to go back now.

  • Getting My Confidence Back

    Date: 2013.06.05 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Health, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Pregnancy | Response: 12

    We interrupt this vacation story to talk about exercise (I know, boo, HISS back to the New Orleans pecan pie on the griddle).

    You see, back before I got pregnant I was working out a lot, spinning and lifting. I was really proud of myself and got that great endorphin surge on a regular basis. I got to know my workout instructor and appreciated the lunchtime ritual of going and working hard.

    After I got pregnant, the heart stuff started and I was basically told to keep it just to walking. I was bummed, but knew I could keep up the walking at the very least. But then I didn’t. I couldn’t find the time to do it. After work all I want to do is come home, crawl on to the couch and try to muster up the energy to play with my daughter. Lunchtime became out of the question for time reasons and I quickly caved to just skipping it all together.

    As I gave it up, I also started feeling gross and down – my body trying to adjust to life without that boost. And then mentally I kept blaming my heart and the baby. I needed to take it easy after all, right?

    Well then I went on vacation and hiked it all over the city of New Orleans, and then up and down the beach in the sand, oftentimes while carrying my 30-pound toddler. And you know what? For the most part, my heart was just fine and I actually felt a lot better.

    So I decided to have a pep talk with myself and figure out a solution.

    While talking to a coworker about finding time to read, I started telling her about how I used to get up in the mornings and walk the dogs while listening to audio books. I loved the cooler mornings, the happy dogs, and the time to myself. And then it clicked – of course I should go back to morning walks, why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?

    I still had no planned start date for this, however. But this morning, I woke up early on my own. My brain fought me, “You don’t have to start THIS morning.” But I was up and figured no time like the present.

    When I went to the back door with my walking shoes on and my dogs went ballistic. They were SO HAPPY because they know what those shoes mean. I plugged in my audio book, and we took off. We went just shy of two miles, but it was nice, felt so good and the morning alone time was decadent.

    Plus, my postpartum goal is to be able to walk my favorite local 5k – the Pumpkin Run the Saturday before Halloween. I figure I need to at least give my legs some time to prepare!

    So here goes nothing. Let’s hope I can stick to this and continue to tell my brain to shut up in the mornings.

  • Leg 2: New Orleans

    Date: 2013.06.01 | Category: Family, Food, Life, Mark, Sarah, Travel | Response: 9

    We headed to New Orleans next in order to meet with my fellow editors and have a great farewell luncheon for one of my counterparts who has been in the biz a long time. We met at a great local place called Mandina’s, where we rejoiced in Louisiana and Italian food while sharing stories from our respective locations.

    And can I just say how proud I am that Sarah lasted the whole four hours of that luncheon happily coloring away, eating crackers and spaghetti? She wins the prize that day.

    We stayed over in New Orleans an extra day and got to see the city from the “family” perspective. Aka, we were back in our hotel room at the very early hour of 8 p.m., when nearly everyone else was just beginning to get ready for the evening. But hey, our hotel room had an awesome view.

    We managed to completely avoid Bourbon Street, but we did take Sarah on her first ride on the St. Charles Streetcar in order to go get some good eats.

    We also took her to Jackson Square where she thought that throwing pennies in the fountain was the best (though she nearly went in after them too).

    We also took my favorite photo of the trip there: Sarah having a meltdown in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

    We went to Cafe du Monde where, after fighting our way through nearly 200 high school seniors, the sweet women who worked there spotted us and put us at a table. Sarah was pleased with her first sampling of beignets!

    We also went to the Aquarium of the Americas, which Sarah was absolutely fascinated by! Of course we ran into a giant group of field trip kids that kept nearly knocking Sarah over. But I was totally an adult about it and shoved those sixth graders right back.

    She was fascinated by the fish and terrified of the sting rays. She LOVED the otters and the frogs as well.

    At the end of our trip through, I let her pick out one thing from the gift shop and she opted for the “otter wit a star.”

    Of course you can’t talk about New Orleans without talking about all the amazing things we ate. Since alcohol was sadly off the table for me anyway, I comforted myself with Louisiana cooking and saw it as appropriate calorie substitute.

    In addition to Mandina’s and Cafe du Monde, we ate at several local recommended places, including:
    ZEA on St. Charles Street (Rotisserie with home brew anyone?)
    Camillia’s in the French Quarter, a fantastic, affordable diner complete with hilarious wait staff. (Get the pecan pie that the cook on the griddle a la mode. Trust me.)
    Mother’s on Poydras Street (There’s a line out the door at 11, but Mark saw it on Food Network and wanted to try the Ferdi, so we pressed on. It was worth it! The etoufee was amazing and Sarah scarfed her red beans and rice and ham).


    Slim Goodies (one of my personal favorite diners on Magazine Street with outstanding pancakes).

    Plus, a couple there handed Sarah her very own Mardi Gras beads, which was the perfect ending to her first trip to New Orleans.