Friday, October 30, 2009


The world's most wonderful, loveable, amazing baby is now five month old.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Granola Cost/Benefit Analysis

I made this granola recipe today, with a few changes: left out the sunflower seeds (because trail mix is trail mix, and granola is granola!), replaced the wheat germ with ground flax seed, used half coconut oil, half butter for the specified "vegetable oil", left out the brown sugar. I was hoping that making it from scratch would prove cheaper than buying the boxed stuff. It isn't and it is, depending how you look at it.

Notes for next time: add cinnamon to the dry stuff, not the syrup. Use food processor to chop the nuts. Buy already-ground flax. Lining the sheet pans was overkill. Use something besides raisins-- dates, maybe. Think about getting everything set up and prepped, but not baking the granola until the evening when Don comes home; it was really difficult to keep an eye on it in the oven while taking care of the baby.

Overall, it turned out delicious, and it made a lot. I'm probably set for breakfast for a month. I added up the cost of everything as best I could, and compared it to the cost of boxed granola, it actually came out more expensive, bowl-for-bowl. This is disappointing, BUT. The problem with the comparison is that there isn't actually a comparable product on the market. Or, if there is, it's probably in the bulk-bins area of Whole Foods, and not in a box with a picture on it. For one thing, this recipe is really, extra nutty. Three cups of nuts total, a mix of pecans, walnuts, and almonds. Nuts are expensive, pricier than anything else in the cereal, but are really healthful. No prepackaged cereal that I looked at has as much nuttiness. Butter and coconut oil are more expensive (and again, a lot healthier and yummier) than, say, sunflower oil. Same thing with the maple syrup and honey: pricier than sugar, healthier than sugar. If there were a cereal for sale made with the ingredients I used, in the same proportions, it would probably cost the moon.

There's a real comfort in knowing exactly what's in what I eat, which is why I generally make oatmeal or eggs in the morning instead of cold cereal. Why, in the example cereal, is sugar the second ingredient? Second? Really? The proportions in the recipe I used are like this:

Oats-- 8 cups
Other grains/seeds (oat bran, flax)-- 3 cups
Nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)-- 3 cups
Fruit (raisins)-- 2 cups
Sugars (maple syrup, honey)-- 1 cup
Fats (butter, coconut oil)-- 1 cup
Flavorings (cinnamon, vanilla, salt)-- 2 1/2 tablespoons

Even so, it was plenty sweet, almost too sweet. I guess having so much fruit and nuts adds its own sweetness, too. As the MasterCard commercials would say, making your own cereal: $18.29 per batch. Knowing that there's no vegetable oil, no white sugar, and--God forbid-- no soy protein isolate: priceless. (I'm looking at you, Kashi.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stress-- or lack thereof

(obligatory baby picture)

A little while ago, my dad asked me whether I found motherhood to be stressful, and if I was handling it OK, or something like that. It reinforces this theme that I've noticed again and again, in books, magazines etc; that adding a baby to the family creates major stress. I'm sure this is true in a lot of cases, maybe even most cases. But I haven't found it to be true in mine. Certainly, the baby itself makes a difference; Robert is a fairly easy-going, manageable baby. We've had a few bad days here and there, maybe even a bad week or two. And those first six weeks or so of breastfeeding were pure hell, no doubt about it. But if he were an intense, high-needs, colicky baby, I'd probably be writing a different post... assuming I'd have time to write at all. As it is, I have to say that I feel less stressed right now, than I have in years.

One overlooked factor in this equation has to be, what came before? What did life pre-baby look like? Maybe it's the couples living their ideal lives who-- poof!-- add a baby on top of it, that have their ceiling fall in. Their lovely relationship that had never been severely tested, suddenly is. Their happy, not-too-stressful lives, changed forever. But I am coming to motherhood from two years of infertility, four miscarriages, and a job that really stressed me out. In a way, I traded two very stressful things (my fertility/miscarriage saga and the job) for one, much-desired and much-less-stressful thing: Robert. Seems a good trade in my book. The major questions that used to keep me awake in the wee hours, like: Are we ever going to have a baby? Is this ever going to happen? What's wrong with me/us? How many miscarriages is too many? How many am I willing to go through before saying, 'enough, no more'?, are gone. Their offspring are smaller and quieter. I worry a bit about the next one, but having one successful pregnancy under my belt makes it so much easier. (I can do this. Look, we did it. It may not be easy, but there's a precedent now.) I used to know, without even trying to think about it, exactly where I was in my cycle. Four days until I ought to be ovulating. Three days. Nine days ago. Too early to take a test? If I was pregnant, I knew exactly how many weeks and days along I was, even as I knew that it didn't mean anything. Really, the first fourteen weeks of my pregnancy with Robert was probably the most stressful time of my life, as I could do nothing but wait helplessly as the days ticked along, waiting for the inevitable cramping and bleeding to start. If I start thinking too much about how I felt then, it still brings tears. Honestly, compared to that, how stressful is waking up to feed a baby, or pacing the house with a crying infant, or changing a poopy blow-out diaper? Not at all, that's how. It's not life-and-death.

Of course, I didn't experience all that alone, and Don and I have been tested hard. The guilt and self-blame, trying to comfort one another when so miserable ourselves, the endless doctors' appointments and rounds of tests... Not to say that we're iron-clad and that nothing can affect us now, but I would have a hard time envisioning that the daily stresses of parenthood could damage our relationship when the major trauma of losing our babies, again and again, didn't. To use the old cliche, it didn't kill us and so we're stronger.

Not working, after working in a job that didn't suit, is of course a smaller matter than having a baby after dealing with infertility. But in its own way, it's also a big relief. Those small things-- the sales goals not met, the endless meetings, the corporate double-speak, the coworkers one likes well enough in small doses but that drive one nuts with constant exposure-- they all add up. I hadn't liked my job in a long time, but didn't feel able to leave. It was dreading Monday morning, hating the alarm clock, never having enough time to do the things I wanted to do, always holding my tongue. A little baby is a whole lot less demanding than a corporate job, and I'm lucky as hell to be able (so far) to stay home with him. I get more sleep now, than I did then. If Robert keeps me up during the night (or even if he doesn't, but my old friend insomnia does), I can sleep late in the morning, or take a nap later. I eat better, too. Partly this is because I had fallen into the deadly cycle of I'm stressed, I deserve a Snickers bar. After that customer, I need another Starbucks. What a day-- we need to go out to dinner. I'm too tired to pack a lunch; I can buy one at work. With a convenience store across the hallway, a coffee shop next door, and the student cafeteria nearby, temptation was close at hand and I had the cash to indulge myself. Now that I think about it, probably some of the weight that I've lost since having Robert is simply the effect of not having multiple caramel macchiatos, candy bars, fast-food lunches, and restaurant dinners every week. I've not been making a special effort to cook healthy meals (working more on the look, isn't it nice to have a partner at home? aspect, which involves more butter) but pretty much any home-cooked lunch and dinner is going to be better than Pizza Hut for lunch or Chili's for dinner.

This is not to say that I am never stressed out, or that being a stay-at-home parent doesn't have its own challenges; rather that, given where I was before, I personally am experiencing much less stress now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good grief, 4.5 months old already!

Amazing: no matter how much I try to slow down time, Robert keeps getting older at an astonishing rate. Despite my best efforts, he is already four and a half months old. Not a newborn anymore... not even still in the "fourth trimester". This rate of change is impossible to adapt to. As soon as I think I have "it" down, it changes. For example, Robert used to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere, any time. I didn't have to worry about whether he got enough naps because he could nap in the stroller, in the car seat, in the Mei Tei. He also slept fairly soundly, once he got to a certain point. Now, for the most part, he sleeps much more lightly and it's much harder for him to fall asleep. I didn't realize how much of what I did was dependent on that sound sleep until it changed! Our routine used to be that we'd put him down to sleep in the middle of our big bed, then (usually) move him to his bassinet when we went to bed. I used to trim his fingernails during his naps, and do the dishes. For the last week, though, he's spent every night in the bed, his nails are terribly long and scratchy, and the kitchen is a wreck.

People keep asking me "how he's sleeping", and I don't know how to answer that. He usually goes to bed around 7-8pm, and stays in bed until 8-9 in the morning. During that time, he gets up to nurse three or four times. So, he's certainly not "sleeping through the night", but it's not very disruptive, either; it's not as though I have to haul myself to the kitchen and make up a bottle four times a night. If he's in bed with me, I don't have to get up at all.

Robert learns something new practically every day. Actually, it probably is every day; most likely some of the things he's learning aren't obvious to us. He's so interested in everything around him, even stuff that seems trivial to us, like the red numbers on the alarm clock. Nursing during the day is becoming difficult as well, because he wants to stop every thirty seconds and look around. For one thing, he doesn't really "unlatch" to do this-- he stretches me to the breaking point instead and suddenly 'pops' off, which is painful. Also, this is impeding my fledging efforts to feed him outside of the house more often (to facilitate our being out and about), since it leaves me rather suddenly exposed. More importantly, though, his distractedness is keeping him from eating enough at any one time, so he's hungry again very quickly. I think I'm nursing him more often during the day now, than I was when he was a newborn.

The most obvious new things right now are his interest in his hands, and the new squeak. He's transitioned from batting impotently at interesting objects, to actually reaching for and grabbing at them. He can hold his rattle, bring it to his mouth, and only occasionally smacks himself in the head with it. He can grab our faces, to scratch us with those sharp little fingernails. He reaches for the cat and dog. The squeak is basically awful. He's replaced all of his previous noises with the new one he's discovered, which falls somewhere between 'bats leaving the cave' and 'nails on chalkboard'. Sometimes it's a happy squeak, sometimes demanding or fretful. Don and I are hoping that it's a short phase.

For the record: at his four-month doctor visit, Robert weighed 18 pounds and was 27 inches long, which puts him in the 95 percentile for weight, and "officially off the chart" for length, according to his pediatrician. She also declared him the picture of health, and was very impressed with him overall. I like her. At four and a half months post-partum, I've lost all of the 50 pounds that I gained during his pregnancy, plus an extra few. Being the sole source of nutrition for a baby this size is a better fat-burner than any workout DVD: most breastfed babies don't get to this weight until they're closer to 6-8 months old, at which point solid foods would most likely be a part of their diet. I am, however, expecting him to slow down pretty soon, based on this quote from Kellymom:

For comparison, a picture of Robert at four months, and a very early one taken on the same pillow:

Monday, October 05, 2009

Grandma's Visit

I know they're all blurry. I need to learn to better use my camera. But the scenes were cute, even though the documentation sucks.