Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana (Copycat)

I have minimal time (like 10-15 minutes) during the week to cook, so now I plan my recipes the week before by going on Pinterest and pinning easy, fast (and healthy) looking recipes. I have like 250+ recipes pinned right now. YAY! I've made a bunch and all are AWESOME. This one caught my eye because I LOVE OLIVE GARDEN and it looked fairly easy. Maybe not the healthiest with the heavy whipping cream, but still AWESOME! ENJOY!
serves 5-6
Just like Olive Garden!

1 lb. Italian sausage (I like mild sausage)

2 large russet baking potatoes , sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices

1 large onion , chopped

1/4 c. bacon bit (optional)

2 garlic cloves , minced

2 c. kale or 2 c. swiss chard , chopped

16 oz. cans chicken broth

1 quart water

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1. Brown the sausage links in a pan OR cook it in a 300 degree preheated oven on a sheet pan for 25 minutes (or until cooked).

2. Cut links in half lengthwise, then dice into 1/2-inch slices.

3. Place cooked Italian sausage, chicken broth, water, garlic, potatoes and onion in slow cooker.

4. Cover. Cook on High for 3-4 hours until potatoes are cooked and soft.

5. Optional: Mash the potatoes a bit with a potato masher for texture.

6. Turn the crock pot off and add the kale.

7. Return the lid and let sit for 5 minutes.

8. Add whipping cream and serve.
My take: Love it! Should have chopped up the Kale a little better, but really good! I'd even add more bacon. I cut everything up the night before so all I had to do was dump in the crock right before I left for work. I put on low for like 10 hours just because that's how my schedule works. No way around that. Still turned out amazing! The more garlic, the more flava flave!
Karl's opinion: "You could do without the Kale, babe. Otherwise super good." (That's the healthiest part!!) 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is Making My Own Baby Food Really that Hard? - Month 5

Trying New HEALTHY Baby Foods
Jackson has now been eating solids for a full month. I was a little nervous about him eating solids at four months just because all these studies show that if you start babies on solids too soon, they have a higher chance of getting food allergies. Are these studies accurate? I don’t know. One day we’re supposed to be drinking coffee. The next we’re not. We can eat egg yolk. Then we can’t.
So what is it???

But Jackson was definitely ready, and I knew it. He was giving us all the signs, especially going from sleeping 5-7 hours a night to 2-3 hour spurts a night and needing mom's milk a LOT. He was guzzling 5.5 ounces three times a day at day care too and cried for more. He was growing and moving tons and burning through all that milk and our pediatrician saw that first hand.  
Yep, holding his own spoon!!!

First thing we offered Jackson was organic whole grain rice cereal mixed with my breast milk. He did NOT want anything to do with it the first feeding. Made me sad just because he was looking at me like what are you doing??? Help me! But we were also battling his evening meltdown. So we learned that we had to feed him around 5:30/6:00, any later and we were in trouble.

Day two, things weren’t that much better. More crying. And more looking at me like…NO! I want you, mom!!!

Finally day three, he seemed a little interested. Took a couple spoonfuls and thought about it. Then was done.

Day four, he was grabbing the spoon himself and wanting to feed himself and making “mmmm” sounds. So CUTE!

After each meal, I nurse Jackson too. Right now he'll maybe eat 3-10 minutes per side after eating solids. There are times he arches his back and screams though. But I have noticed he's very efficient at eating now. I also nurse him right before he goes to bed an hour or two later. It's a short feeding. Sunday night he FINALLY slept through the ENTIRE night. YESSSSSSSSS.

I wouldn’t say eating all of a sudden became easy after he accepted the food because it’s a messy process. Jackson loves sticking his hands in his mouth while he has just taken in a bunch of cereal. He loves grabbing for the spoon. The food runs down his chin, down into his neck, onto his clothes. Sometimes he’ll sneeze or cough and it goes into mom’s eye. All that fun stuff.
Healthy, yummy goodness

What we needed was a good bib. And thanks to Karl’s cousin (who has three boys), she gave us a few bibs after Jackson was born and said they were a must. She had to search all over for them but found them at K-Mart! She was right. Nothing compares to these bibs. The brand: Dex Baby.
Best bibs ever!

After two solid weeks of the rice cereal mixed with my breast milk, we moved on to homemade avocados also mixed with my breast milk. He liked those a lot and didn’t make any disgusted faces at all.

I let him enjoy for a week and then moved on to organic whole grain oatmeal. He made some faces with this. Three days of oatmeal and we’ve moved on to homemade sweet potatoes.
OK...but the honest problem is: I have been flying through my breast milk when mixing with the cereal and a lot of times he doesn’t eat it all. So I have toss. What!??!? Toss my hard pumped liquid gold breast milk??? Such a waste. So I made the tough decision to mix in water and a little formula when it comes to the cereal. Does that mean I’m a bad mom? Does that mean I don’t “exclusively breastfeed”??? Who knows. Labels. Annoying. It's like I'm not part of the popular crowd anymore or something.  
Getting ready to freeze the sweet potatoes

Pretty simple to make all Jackson’s fruits and veggies though. I simply heated the sweet potatoes up in the microwave and scooped out all the goodness and pureed it. Same with the avocados. Scooped out the insides and pureed (didn’t heat those up though)….sometimes still adding my breast milk to these to smooth it out.
Glad we registered for this awesome wedding gift. Putting it to use now!

Now Jackson opens his mouth as soon as I sit down in front of him. And he smiles and says, “Mmmmm.”

I’m going to have a lot of fun with this!!! Jackson gets to try all kinds of fruits and veggies and I'm hoping this will make him less of a picky eater in the future and give his immune system some “good army guys” to battle off all those bugs out there.
What's your baby's favorite dish?

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

Yummy (healthy) Breakfast Goodness

I wanted to make something healthy to kick off fall. I think of apples and their aroma (especially when they’re cooking). YUM.
Throw this together at night and it's ready for you in the morning!

I saw a recipe on Pinterest (my new obsession) of apple cinnamon steel cut oats in the slow cooker. I was so excited to try it but I didn’t have any baking apples at the time or steel cut oats. That was, until I went to work and remembered there are several apple trees loaded with tart apples. I picked about five of them with the intention of making this delicious hot breakfast.  

Steel Cut Oats are incredibly healthy.  A little bit of information I found on them since I'm always like...what the heck are steel cut oats and what's all this buzz about??  

Steel Cut vs. Rolled Oats

Steel-cut oats come from the same plant as rolled or instant oats and other oat products. The difference between steel-cut and rolled oats is in their processing. Steel-cut oats are never cooked and start from the whole grain that is then passed through slender blades that cut the oat kernel into thin slices.
Steel cut oats could be considered a "power food" because they are an excellent source of protein, soluble and insoluble fiber and select vitamins and minerals. The benefits of steel cut oats exceed the benefits of rolled oats because of the way they are processed. Steel cut oats are dense and chewy as a result of being passed through sharp, steel blades that cut them into thin slices that helps retain more fiber and protein. Steel cut oats, just as any whole oats, make a healthy addition to your regular diet.

Read more:

3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (or more if you're like me and have a wicked sweet tooth)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2tbs butter
1/3 cup raisins
a bunch of apples, cored and diced*

Mix it all together in a slow-cooker on low for 8 hours. I added more liquid than the original recipe because I like my oatmeal a little looser and also, I started it at about 10pm, knowing no one would be awake to eat it until at least 6am, so I didn't want it to get too thick and clumpy.

*I used apples from a tree in my backyard and the apples are pretty small. I used about 4 or 5, which seemed like kind of a lot, but we LOVE apples, so it certainly wasn't too much.

My take: AWESOME. YUM! YUM! YUM. It's not too sweet (don't like anything too sweet in the morning otherwise I get uber tired) like the individual packaged apple cinnamon oatmeal. This tastes healthy to me and that is a good thing. I topped with flaxseed and ate. For next time, I would use ½ cup less water and use all milk instead - no water. But I usually make my oatmeal with milk so I'm used to the creamier taste and I think I'd add a slice of butter too. 
Karl's opinion: I poured some in a coffee cup for him so he could eat while driving to work. He was actually behind me at a stoplight. He was nodding his head as he ate it and looked like he was enjoying thoroughly! I haven't heard a peep from him so that means his belly is full and he's happy!



Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing Mommy-Style

Can you still be a writer AND a mom?
I think most of you know I have this major dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes I can even visualize myself as a published author. This is how it plays out.... Supermom to my son Jackson by day, writing and living out my dream by night AND being able to provide for the three of us. I don't want to give myself false hope, but that is what I see. Yet sometimes things don't always happen as quickly as we'd like them too or at all like we planned them. And we have to keep trying until maybe...just maybe... one day that new door of exciting opportunity will open for us.

Yes, oh,'s easier to give up on all those personal goals and dreams than keep fighting for them sometimes. Okay, a LOT of times. But those who keep at it and keep believing are usually the ones who grow and make it. 

Back in 2010, I wrote my first novel and then in 2011 started to query it out to agents. I had a lot of bites, but no offers of representation. What I did get was a lot of great feedback from agents and learned a lot about my writing and the ins and outs of the publishing industry. In short, it's very subjective out there. Currently I have a few requests out to read my first 100 pages of my manuscript (yay!) but am also in the midst of revising from all the feedback I have received.

The problem I'm dealing with is finding time. I work full time. I have a five month old. I'm a wife. I am the keeper of our finances and house and nutrition....OK...pretty much everything. So how does one still follow her dream, not lose sight of oneself and all those big goals, AND still be a good mom and wife?

I don't want to lose myself! I'm deathly scared I am and sometimes I cry because I grieve the old Christie and the life I used to have. Oh...all that time I used to have. Where did it go? And all that control... buh bye. 

While writing my first book, I joined a critique group. This group is full of wonderful woman - with all different backgrounds. Some are just getting married, one lives in Brazil, others are having babies and one is a full-time mom of three kids. I can relate to her. She's quite the amazing woman. She drinks coffee like water, sleeps little and powers through novel after novel, even finding time to read too. I admire her so much and asked her how she does it.

In honor of her latest book, Love Blossoms, coming out (which I was able to critique for her), she wrote a guest post on my blog!!! This is how awesome she is. She even makes time to leave a post for me. Wow. Where on earth does she find the time, you ask???? Read below...

Writing Mommy-Style

Hi, Christie! First, let me thank you for inviting me over to your blog. I’m super excited to be here. It’s been seven months since my debut novella launched the new Honey Creek imprint at Turquoise Morning Press. Now, I’m back with book two in my Seeds of Love series. I’m hooked on this enchanting little town and can’t keep myself away for long. But, sometimes, life demands I leave the books alone. A mommy’s life is like that.
The fabulous Julie - author (and mommy) of Seeds of Love Series

My youngest child is four now. She was a tiny little thing when I started writing. She was waking a few times a night and nursing every time I turned around. I had a potty training son at the time and was starting my first year as a home schooling mom for my five year old. Times were crazy. Time was nutty nuts wrapped in nougat. And I discovered writing helped me feel sane in the midst of it all.

Four years have passed since that time. I’m still out of shape and caffeine addicted. (Some things didn’t change). But, I’m still in survival mode. Today’s format is just different. It’s still a circus over here. Things get easier, but more complicated. I get more sleep and I’m done changing diapers, but my kids need more things than they used to. Rides to ball games and gifts for friends’ parties. Homework help replaced potty training, and dating advice will soon replace that too. I’m glad to have something just for me, even if I don’t get as much time as I want to do it today. Words makes me happy. I try to find time to read and write when I can because it’s my escape. Thanks to the Kindle, I learned to read on the treadmill. Multi-tasking at its finest. And it makes me a nicer person. Trust me. My love of writing will be here when they’re gone.

I think having an escape is the key to semi-sanity. And really, semi-sanity is what I aspire to these days. Sadly, as my kids grow, they need me less and less. *sniffles* And one day my house will be spotless because I will be alone all day, wishing the house was still cluttered with kids and their friends eating chips on my couch and wearing shoes on my carpet. But that’s then, and this is now. Today, I’m trying really hard to embrace the now because too soon I know it will be gone.

About Julie:

Mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus. Most days you'll find me online, amped up on caffeine & wielding a book.

You can find my blogging about the writer life at Musings from the Slush Pile

Tweeting my crazy at @JulieALindsey

Reading to soothe my obsession on GoodReads

And other books by me on Amazon

If you’re in the mood for a sweet romantic read with a very happy ending, I hope you’ll visit Honey Creek. The sun is setting, bullfrogs are croaking and the crickets are singing, “Come on.” Sweet tea or hot cider. Fresh summer strawberries or crisp fall apples. You’ll find it there. And taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) I hope to see you there!

Love Blossoms:

Jillian thought she had everything she needed until Jackson walked through her door…

There’s a wedding coming to Honey Creek and the whole town’s preparing for the party. When Jillian Parker agreed to host a few groomsmen at her inn, she had no idea what she was getting into. One of those groomsmen is Jackson Tate, and he’s making her concentration completely impossible. He’s funny, fascinating, frustrating, and leaving in a week. Jillian does not have time for that level of distraction. With Jackson nearby, events to coordinate, a bride to please, and an ex-fiancĂ© to dodge, her peaceful life’s getting crazy fast. With any luck, she’ll survive the week and put the whole thing behind her as soon as possible.

…But not if Jackson has anything to say about it.


“You used to cause quite a stir,” Jackson said into Jillian’s ear. “I bet you haven’t danced since you came home.”

Jillian smiled the demure smile she’d perfected long ago and slipped out into the night beside Danielle. A laugh split her friend’s face, and Danielle hollered into the night sky. Watermelon Crawl boomed from the truck speakers. An outrageous smile spread across Jillian’s face until her cheeks ached. Memories flooded over her, and she was instantly 10 years younger. Her muscles tingled, and the steps came back like a reflex to the sound of her friends’ laughter and the sight of embers floating in the night sky.

Her skirt swung left and right along with her toe. Material caught her thighs and infused her with energy. Beth’s squeal blasted out of the kitchen door, and she nearly took Jillian down dashing onto the dirt beside her.


Nothing mattered. How could anything matter?

The small troop of dancers stomped and turned in the firelight. Fireflies and golden embers floated and blinked against the deep navy blue sky. No walls contained them; no neighbors complained about the noise; no traffic sounds interrupted the cricket and bullfrog chorus. There was no more freedom on earth than she had right there. A round of clapping went up as the bodies slowed and ambled in place, laughing and congratulating one another. They still had it.

Giggles seasoned the air, and the music changed smoothly to another lifelong favorite. Fishin’in the Dark . She thought of all the groomsmen planning to night fish before Mrs. Prattle’s punch kicked in the night before. In a flash, men and women sided up ready to twirl and swing in pairs. For a moment, Jillian stepped back to watch the couples, but a massive shadow blocked the light from the fire. Jackson hitched an eyebrow and nodded her way.

In the space of a heartbeat, the group was in motion, and so was she.

“You haven’t lost it, I suppose,” he said as their bodies came together.

She made the most of the time they were apart, enjoying his audience, strutting her stuff. When they met again she said, “You’ve noticed.”

“Honey, every man in town’s noticed.”

The couples began to swing, but Jillian found her body airborne. Like a feather in the wind, her feet swung left then right of Jackson’s hips. Clapping and hooting

ensued. No sooner was she grounded again than she began to twirl. The rush of endorphins and joy shot up from her feet to her hair, and her heart threatened to fly her to the moon.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Peek into a Working Mom's Day with a 4.5 Month Old

We seem to always want what we don't have at the moment
I was telling a couple people the other day how I’m kind of grateful I was single for eight years while in my twenties. If I knew back then I’d be saying this now, I think I would’ve cried. Overtime, I’ve started to accept that God did have a plan for me back then and still does now. He works in such ways…
Why? Well, back then I learned how to become self-sufficient and I learned a lot about myself and that not everything comes easy. That was really the time I became an adult. And I needed to become one before I ever became a mom to Jackson - to be the best mom. I loved how one of my high school friends wrote on my Facebook wall, “God knew that YOU would be the perfect mom for Jackson.  Thanks Megan! Needed to hear that.
Trying out his Johnny Jump Up for the first time

Back then, I whined a lot about how I wished I could find someone to take care of me. I wanted someone with man muscles to buy the 40 pound bag of salt for my water softener and pour it in for me. I wanted someone else to have to remember to change the furnace filters and pay bills, manage the money. I wanted someone to tell me not to worry about money and pay for everything. To change the batteries in the smoke detectors and a flat tire on my car. To balance the checkbook. To have meals waiting for me. I wanted someone to clean all four toilets and empty the dishwasher.
But most of all I just wanted someone to LOVE me for me.
I wanted… I wanted… I wanted…
And I waited.
It was clear this person did not exist…or at least I needed to change my expectations a little.
What I needed was to be single and learn the responsibilities of life. I needed to be patient and just let things be.  "My time would come," I'd hear from a zillion people.
TIMING was everything. Timing IS everything. I realize this more and more the older I get.
This world revolves around time a lot.
Now that I’m a mom… There is NEVER down time. Ever. There are no happy hours. No volleyball games after work. No quick trips to the mall. My break right now is the 20-minute drive from work to daycare Monday through Friday. I don’t count the drive into work because I’m still waking up. Yesterday I didn’t even remember where I was driving to and realized I missed my turn and was going in the wrong direction. Oh, the joys!

A typical day during the work week goes something like this. I’ll start from 12:01 a.m. – a brand new day!

1:20 a.m. Feeding time. Jackson rolls around in his crib like mad (butt high up in the air) and his head crashes into the railings waking him and us up. If he won’t calm down, I change his diapers (sometimes Karl will help with this!) snuggle him up and feed him. Once done eating, I put him back down.
Butt high!

2:00 a.m. Mom goes back to bed. Usually I’ll fall asleep within 15 minutes. Usually.

5:30 a.m.  Alarm is set to go off for work (I have YET to hear it go off – Jackson gets to me first). This gives me enough time to feed Jackson. If his last feeding is anywhere before 2:30 a.m., I feed him again before we drop him off at daycare. If it’s after 2:30, I can sleep until 6:00!!!!! Woot.

6:00 a.m. If I feed him at 5:30, I put a sleepy Jackson back into his crib and jump in the shower. I think about shaving my legs, but that requires too much work. I pretend to sleep as I stand under the water. Quickly apply makeup, sing to Karl to get up (he grunts) and I head downstairs.

6:30 a.m. Water outside plants. Fill out a report for Jenna (home care) to let her know when Jackson ate last, how he slept, and any other notes. Grab frozen bags of breast milk if I need to. Fix myself oatmeal, fill my pumping machine bag with bottles and lids off the drying rack, pump parts, hands-free bra, cooler bag and ice pack. Make sure Jackson’s travel bag has extra pair of clothes in it, with his hat and any teething toys. Sing again to Karl to get up but this time from the bottom of the stairs (it gets louder). Turn on the news. Start coffee. Eat oatmeal. Make sure bowl for rice cereal is out for Jackson, spoon is ready for when I get home from work.

6:45 a.m. Swallow vitamins. Pull out our healthy lunches. Go upstairs and get dressed, fix hair, give Jackson a kiss goodbye and smooch up Karl who is now looking at me like a tired desperate puppy dog, begging for more sleep.

7:00 a.m. Head for work. Try to find a radio station with music, no talking. Hard to do. I need music. Pop in a CD that skips over and over. Fight traffic. Guzzle coffee. Can’t tell you what I think about…other than I just try to wake up.

7:30 a.m. Arrive at work. Email Jenna to make sure Jackson arrived and all is well. She usually gets to me first and gives me a happy report. Then my work day begins.

9:00 a.m. First pumping session. Check in on Jackson. Go over my To-Do list for week. Check email, Facebook, look for easy, healthy recipes on Pinterest (saving grace). Review drafts of any blog posts.

9:30-12:00 Work

12:00 Second pumping session. Check in on Jackson. Go over my To-Do list for week. Hope to cross some things off. Check email, Facebook, look for recipes on Pinterest (saving grace). Review drafts of blog posts.

12:30-12:45 Eat lunch at desk most days. Try to step away for a little bit. Sometimes will call my momma! Sometimes will take 30 minutes to run an errand. Sometimes will just go on a quick walk to breathe.

12:45-2:00 Work

2:00 Go wash all pumping parts in lunchroom.

2:05-3:00 Work

3:00 Third pumping session. Check in on Jackson. Go over my To-Do list for week. Keep adding to it…

3:30-4:00 Work

4:00 Grab bottles of milk from work fridge and ice pack. Calculate how much I pumped for the day. Head out of the door. Tie up hair, roll down windows, turn up music and sing on top of my lungs. Think about if I’ll get to work out. Or if I’ll have enough energy to write a few pages in my manuscript.  What was I going to make for dinner again? Who was I supposed to call back?

4:30 Pull up to home care. Melt when I see Jackson. Nothing else matters except him at that moment. Give him his medicine (needs to take it 30 minutes before eating). Chat with Jenna and her adorable kids. Leave feeling SO blessed to have found her. EVERY TIME.

*4:30-5:00 Drive home. Read Jackson’s report from Jenna at all the stoplights. Find out when he ate last. When he pooped. His last diaper change. The things he did. How much he ate in ounces. Figure in if I’ll have to pump any extra times to make up for any of the ounces drank. Wonder where that milk will come from? Feeling tapped out. Stress about it. Will I make it to 6 months? 7? A full year of breast feeding?

5:00 Grab all ten things of stuff from my car and set them inside. Grab Jackson (who is usually sleeping) and haul him in. Quickly pull out dirty pump parts from bag and put them next to sink. Take out all four bottles of milk and stick them in the fridge. Fill his bowl with cereal and pour b-milk in it – stir up. Pull out recipe for dinner I’ll be making. Try to make it to the bathroom quick before Jackson stirs.

5:15 Pull out an awake Jackson from his car seat. Hug him and kiss him to pieces. Tell him how much I love him and miss him. Breathe him in. YUMMY. Change him if I need to upstairs. Grab My Brestfriend to nurse him after he eats solids. Stir up his rice cereal again. Set him in his highchair. Put a bib on him and start feeding him. He tries to grab spoon every time. Not the cleanest moment.

5:30 Nursing time. Check Facebook, email and any missed calls. Maybe watch a show I DVRd. Who was that person I was supposed to try and get back to? I breathe and listen to myself. Rub Jackson’s hair and head.

6:00 PLAY TIME with Jackson. Tons of fun!
I'm gonna start walking soon!

6:30 Turn TV on for a second to record Wheel of Fortune. Shut off. Run back and forth from kitchen to Jackson playing. Pull out ingredients for dinner. Try whipping together a healthy meal as best I can.

7:00 Eat. Jackson begins to get fussy. Rubs eyes. Cleanup is not an option. Sometimes we try to fit in a walk here.

7:30 KARL HOME!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Smoochie and huggie bear time. He takes Jackson and will either watch Wheel of Fortune or give Jackson a bath. Sometimes I get to watch Wheel too!I clean up as fast as I can (empty and fill dishwasher) and put leftovers in containers for lunch.
Me likey Whole Grain Rice Cereal

7:45 Rats. Didn’t clean up everything or transfer bottles to bags yet. Go upstairs to nurse Jackson. Stick to our nightly schedule of bath or dimmed lights, nurse, book, goodnight prayers and bed.

8:15 Jackson in crib. Sometimes he’s out even before I get him there. Sometimes it’s a little bit of crying. If we mess with the schedule, it’s full out screaming.

8:25 Back downstairs to finish what I started. Karl is back working (but at least I get to see his face)and playing Words with Friends against my brother Mike or talking to his dad. I transfer b-milk from bottles to bags. Bags in freezer. Make sure one bottle is left in fridge so I can add to solids. Clean all parts and bottles first. Hang to dry. Think about pumping. No desire to. When would I?

8:45 Sometimes I’ll have a bowl of ice cream.  Sometimes I’ll throw myself on the couch for 2 minutes.  Sometimes I’ll bust out a draft for a blog post to review while I’m pumping at work the next day.

9:00 SO DEAD TIRED. Up to bed I go. I open one page of a magazine and realize I’m too tired to read anything. Set my alarm, then wonder why I’m even setting it. Say goodnight to my best.

10:00 Sleeping. If my brain shuts off...

*We now have Karl’s parents watch Jackson on Tuesdays. Win win for everyone! This means Karl goes and picks him up after work (if he can and doesn’t have a load of patients) and I CAN GO WORK OUT!!!!!!!!!!
Right now weekends pretty much follow the above, minus pumping and working. Instead there is laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, walking outside and nursing and a lot more playing! Oh, and usually family wants to see us.
So yeah…there are days I wonder why I didn’t enjoy those 8 years a little more. And I get mad at myself for wishing for a different life back then than the one I was walking in. To me, it was pretty AWESOME. That brings me to the question… would I trade this new life in? Not for anything!!!! Bring it on!
Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.

-William Wallace

Trip to Arizona: A Different Kind of Travel with Baby - Month 4.5

21 weeks

I keep meaning to blog about our trip to Arizona, but I can't believe how quickly time slips away from me these days. Little crazy.
Jackson's first trip to Carefree, Arizona

To recap, we flew to Carefree, Arizona over Labor Day weekend (stretched it to a longer weekend), met some of my family out there and were able to experience the first-time joys of traveling with a little one.

If you take anything from this post, here it is in short...

Before going on vacation as first-time parents, limit your expectations (know this will most likely not be like any of your other vacations in the past and keep an open mind). Discuss any expectations you might have with your significant other going into the trip. Such as, "Honey bear, I can't wait to get up and go for a run every morning." (Hint: You'll have to work out a system if you really do want to get a run in.) or "Sweet cheeks, I'm so looking forward to sleeping in and taking a nap every afternoon." (Hint: Not really gonna happen.) Yes, these things seem ridiculous to discuss because in your old life, you could just do them. But you're a family now and dads and moms have different roles and sometimes when you're not in the other person's shoes, you don't realize all that's going on with them or quite get what they are thinking...or why they are doing the things they are doing. So trust me on this one. Expectations need to be discussed.
I love looking at myself in the mirror! (not talking about Karl either...)

I also want to mention that I mainly blog not because I want to be a drama mama, but because I need to let out what's on my mind and sometimes that's hard to get out in person or over the phone (my brain doesn't work that fast anymore. I need time to let things settle and think things through before I speak because I never know if it's the over-dramatic, over-tired Christie coming out or the real Christie. I don't want people to get the wrong impression.) or I don't quite have the time like I used to to even have a conversation (lots of interruptions these days and a packed schedule) AND because sometimes when I ask newer moms how things are going, I hear about how awesome every little thing is. Say what? How? No freakin' way. I hear about how their babies go down at the same time every night. How their relationship with their husband is better than ever. That everything seems so easy and amazing.  ???


I can't help but wonder...OK... HELLO???? What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? What am I missing? Why can't I have perfect? Why am I such a freak-a-zoid about some things???

So this is why I blog. Not because I have a zillion of hours on my hand, but because it's how I get things out and feel better about stuff (and myself) and I want to share the truth. You can't have perfect. There is no way. I'm sure things are amazing for a lot of people... I look at Giuliana and Bill Rancic. They waited years to have a baby and now Edward is here. Yes, I'm sure they are over the moon right now and don't care how much sleep they are losing. Or I follow Snooki on Twitter... Yeah, don't ask me why. But I wonder how she's managing to fit shoe shopping into her day. She's not tired? She's not dragging? She's not crying at everything???

Something must be wrong with me.

Then I hear back from others who are silently going through a lot of the same things I am and can relate. They *get* it too. I've learned it's OK to admit what's going on inside. I like you a lot better if you just admit..."THIS IS HARD!" I guarantee you're not alone. And the last thing on my mind is, "Whoa...she's failing, big time." Ummm, no. Been there. Done that. If anything, I want to HUG you!

Let's be honest here. I love Karl to pieces. I really do love being a mom. Jackson is my everything. I am pretty happy... But still... There are those days and moments (pretty much every day) where you question everything and realize this mom stuff isn't easy... and probably never will be. Parenthood is hard work and takes a ton of effort. But at the same time it's also VERY rewarding, super amazing and keeps getting better and better. It's the weirdest thing!

Now...back to vacation. (If you call it that...)

In the past, without kids, you could pretty much do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted and nobody would grumble about it. It's a new adventure with a baby.

And if you're nursing, you will more likely be the one who will recognize the changes the most. And you'll end up feeling a titch bitter when the vacation you had hoped for, turns out nothing like you expected. Catch my drift? So yeah...OPEN YOUR MOUTH.
This kids smile melts my heart every time

The exciting moments:
Jackson swam in a pool for his first time! So much fun to watch. He seemed to love it. We didn't spend too much time out in the pool because we didn't want the little guy to burn from the hot Arizona sun (my sunscreen was confiscated by the airport. Boo-hiss!) but we wanted him to experience the pool a couple times. Funny part was I bought his swim trunks when I first found out I was pregnant, figuring I was having a boy. They were $.97 on sale - not a huge loss if Jackson turned out to be a girl. Then I went to Old Navy the day before we left for our trip and saw the matching swim shirt (a year later) for $.97 too!!! The trunks were a little big, but super cute. And boy....did he kick those legs.
First swim in the pool. Thinking about it....
He's liking it!
Loving it!!! And loves swimming with daddy!

Jackson was able to meet my grandma and my aunts and uncles out in Arizona for the first time. Growing up, I only saw my mom's side one time a year for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. That was it. So I'm glad he was able to meet everyone at only 4.5 months.
Jackson's Great Uncle Dave and Great Grandma Edith
Jackson LOVED Great Uncle Mark. Smiled every single time he saw him

Great Aunt Doris loved speaking German to Jackson

Jackson began teething. is this exciting, you ask? Exactly. But it's a first and needed to be noted because he was extra fussy and I'm not sure this was because of his teeth, new environment, strange schedule or the different time zones. Could have been many things... Tried to just go with it.
Me? Teething? Fussy? Naaaah. I'm too cute.

Jackson experienced his first flight. I mentioned this before in my post about flying with a baby. I don't think he quite knew what was going on but all in all, everything turned out OK. We survived!
First flight

Jackson absolutely LOVES being outside. He can't get enough of it. He stared at the mountains and cactus and birds flying by. If we ever needed to calm him down, taking him outside was the ticket. No matter how hot.
Our nature boy.

On to the other stuff....

Before we left, I had all these ideas about how relaxing our trip to Arizona would be and that I'd finally be getting some kind of break, only because Carefree, Arizona always stands up to its name. There's always time to hike up Black Mountain. Time to walk/run in the breathe in the fresh air. Time to sit outside and read through magazines and sip coffee and soak up the beautiful scenery. Time to read a book. To nap. Time to walk down the street to the local resort and sit pool side and order cocktails, finishing up in the hot tub. Time to sun bathe and swim laps.
Grandpa and Grandma Powalish soaking up Jackson as much as they could

Oh my, my... How vacation changes with a little one. Ninety eight percent of the time I was stressing out because Jackson was fussier than normal, wasn't going down for his naps, not sleeping through the night and could never be left alone. I needed to keep reminding myself he's still a little guy and needs lots and lots of attention. In short: there was no downtime for momma. And it probably wouldn't have been so hard if I had let Karl into my world a little more from the beginning.

I shouldn't say "no" time. I did have some quick quiet moments. I was able to get one 40 minute run/walk in early in the morning and was able to sit outside and read all four pages of one of my magazines and get two sips of coffee in. And I was able to sit outside a couple times in the sun (frantically checking the baby monitor every 30 seconds). I also had to be in bed around 8 just so I would get enough sleep through the night. Kind of crazy.
Schedule was a titch messed up, so sleeping anywhere worked for us!

Everything is ALWAYS a learning experience when you become a mom. But at the same time, you must at least try going about your normal daily life...and then learn from it. For instance, I learned a lot on our first vacation and I'm glad to have it under my belt now. I'm ready for next time!

This time around I spent a lot of time downstairs in a dark bedroom by myself nursing Jackson while everyone else enjoyed drinks and good conversation. I felt totally left out. I LOVE Jackson and the bonding experience that comes with nursing, but it's not often my family is together. AND I WAS MISSING THEM. Plus, we don't get to Arizona a lot either. I clearly could've worked up the nerve to nurse in front of everyone, but I'm still not there. *Sigh*. There are insecurities I still struggle with. And I get frustrated when they get the best of me. But now I know for next time.

In the end, I was kind of bummed I didn't come home recharged and rearing to go, but I will say I still enjoyed the time we did have. Karl and I both took Tuesday off to catch up on laundry and work around the house, and that felt more like a vacation to me than any of the days in Arizona. Kind of weird. Like I said before... limit those expectations and just go with it.

Mostly, I'm glad Jackson was able to get see family and experience a new state. I love that little guy.

Learn anything on your first vacation together?