Thursday, December 31, 2009

Easy as Pie (Mix)

So I'll admit straight out that this recipe for amazingly delicious brownies was created by accident. But it was one of those good mistakes where the outcome is better than the original plan! I started making the Hungry Girl brownie mix variation in which the mix is combined with 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin instead of the oil, water, and eggs. This method is obviously healthier with the pumpkin delivering added fiber, calcium, potassium, and several other vitamins and minerals without adding fat, and using a dairy-free mix like Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge (my favorite mix of all time), it's also an easy vegan recipe.
Today, though, my lack of sleep must have gotten to me and somehow I misread the label on the pumpkin can. Instead of using solid pack pumpkin, I used pumpkin pie mix. Of course, I didn't think anything of it when the pumpkin was softer than it usually is. I just added it anyway. When the brownies came out of the oven, they smelled heavenly... and bit spicy. That was when I finally checked the can. I tried one, and it was delicious! The spices add a complexity to the brownies that takes them above and beyond the run of the mill. I seriously plan to do this again, adding cayenne pepper next time, too. In case you like the recipe format:
So-Easy-It's-Like-Cheating Mexican Brownies
1 box brownie mix
1 generous cup pumpkin pie mix
Mix and cook according to package directions. It's that easy! And so extremely delicious...
I made mini cupcakes with the brownie batter (15 minutes at 350), but the batter also cooks well in larger pans following the regular cooking directions on the box. My mini cupcakes will be topped with Pillsbury Easy Frost Velvety Cream Cheese No-Fuss Frosting, the kind in the can that looks like Cheez Whiz. It's also vegan, and a huge time saver. Plus, I can put down the can at any point to feed or change or cuddle with Tye. She has been watching me, listening to my play-by-play cooking monologue, which eventually put her to sleep in her vibrating rocker.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mmm... Brunch!

Today was Tye's first trip to our favorite brunch spot, Handlebar! She slept straight through brunch, but that's okay- there will be many more trips in the future.
And here's the adorable outfit under all those layers in the car seat.

Merry Christmas 2009!

We decided putting up and taking down a tree was too much this year, so we put our gifts under a miniature tree. That green box with the red bow is Tyler's gift from me (a scarf I knit for him while on bed rest!). The other two are gifts for Tye, wrapped beautifully by Tyler. Tye's Christmas Eve outfit! Another Christmas outfit... Look at that face! This is the closest we've come to capturing Tye's smile in a photo!!!
We had an amazing Christmas. Lots of time with family, full of laughter, generosity, perfectly personalized gifts, and of course, lots of attention focused on Tye! Just holding her is the best gift I could ever imagine.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Over the river and through the woods...

Mico sitting shotgun, Tye sqeezed between gifts as we travel to my
parents' house and then Tyler's... Once again, thinking perhaps we
should look into an SUV.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Today, Tyler, Tye and I went to Old Orchard mall to do some (last-minute) Christmas shopping. We found everything on our list and then some (a nice sweater for Tyler!). Mostly, though, it was a great chance for us to get out of the house and do something seasonal. Since we had no time constraints, we weren't scared off by the mile long backup on the Edens at the Old Orchard exit, and the crowds were simply good people watching. We ate lunch at Frontera Fresca, the Macy's Rick Bayless restaurant (even Tye ate there, from the safe haven of her sling under a blanket). Most of the time, Tye was in the sling on Tyler's chest and everywhere we went, people oohed and aahed over Tye and commented on how comfortable she looked in her sling. She slept the entire time, only waking to eat at lunch. Our family trip was so much fun! Next up, gift wrapping...

Christmas pictures

We took some pictures this weekend while at my parents' home. They aren't the most flattering photos- not quite the Christmas card photo we were hoping for- but perhaps they show us as we are! I don't mind Tyler's beard, but I think we'll wait for him to shave it before we take real family photos. It looks much better in person. I hope the sweater I was wearing looks better in person, too.
It looks like I have a little Tyler on my lap- in a dress!

Meeting Mommies! (and babies!)

Friday morning, Tye and I went to our first play group. I found a group called Bucktown Babies on If you don't know about, it's a really cool site that allows people to start groups based on common interests, and then anyone can view and join those groups. There are groups for everything you can imagine, from veganism to sports to weird things I had never heard of before. Once I joined the hundred or so moms in Bucktown Babies (I had to be approved by the group moderator first), I was able to view the already organized meetups, including one for new moms being held at someone's home Friday morning. All I had to do was RSVP and show up!
Tye may or may not have even noticed the other babies (I think they were all still out of her range of eye sight still, actually), but I loved being around other moms. I was one of 8 mom and baby couples, and I'm pretty sure we were both the youngest in our respective groups- no surprise there, really. Most of the babies were around 6 months old. It was incredible to smile and receive a huge smile in return (although Tye has started to smile real smiles!!! They are still few and far between, but they are absolutely real smiles!!!). We talked about working out, traveling with babies, finding nannies, and photographers, to name a few. All of the moms were super friendly. We're planning to make this a weekly get-together after the holidays. It will be so nice to have a mommy/baby meeting to look forward to every week! A guarantee that I'll see other adults at least one of the days Tyler is traveling.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on Milk Production

I've been doing more reading from A Nursing Mother's Companion and the Medela breastpump guide to breast feeding, both of which address the issue of increasing milk supply. I'm starting to think that during first couple of weeks after Tye was born, because she was falling asleep so quickly during feedings, perhaps my milk production never made it to the level that Tye needed. Every source I've read is encouraging, though, and says that if I devote the time and effort, my milk volume can increase in a few days. Right now, I'm feeding Tye every 2 1/2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night (even if I have to wake her). At each feeding, I let Tye eat and then pump an additional 5-10 minutes on each side. Then, after 3-4 of the feedings, we offer her an additional 2 ounces of formula. So far, she has taken 1-2 ounces each time. According to the Nursing Mother's Companion, even satisfied babies will eat an additional 1-2 ounces out of a bottle because they like the comfort of sucking and the milk flows easily from the bottle. That makes me feel better- less like I've been starving Tye this whole time without knowing it. Even still, more milk will help.
One change we've noticed since adding formula is that Tye is spitting up- a LOT more! It's a huge, sudden increase, I'm thinking probably due to the increase in intake. Tye is still figuring out how to breathe when that happens, and often, the spit up comes out her nose and she is left gasping for breath. It's terrifying to watch, and Tyler and I often sit on the edge of our seats, ready to run for the suction bulb or, if needed, our phones to call 911 (it was that scary the first time). We just make sure that one of us has her in eyesight at all times, ready to help her in any way that we can. Hopefully, Tye will learn how to spit out what comes up instead of letting it interfere with her breathing. We'll both rest much easier once that happens.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Month Check-Up

This morning was Tye's one month check-up with our family care practitioner. We had been anxious to see how much weight Tye had gained since her last appointment, hoping for big numbers to match her obvious growth in length. Fortunately, measurements and weighing are done at the beginning of the appointment. Tyler and I both followed the nurse down the hallway to the baby station, where Tye weighed in at 6.6 pounds. I know we both visibly deflated at that number. I was holding back tears as we walked back to the exam room, now extremely anxious to speak with the doctor. That Tye was now 21 1/2 inches in length (up from 18 one month ago) went uncelebrated as we waited.
We talked with the doctor, who covered all the bases we've been covering- sufficient poopy diapers each day, strong latch and swallowing pattern, appearing satisfied after nursing. When we asked, she assured us that a vegan diet is completely sufficient for nursing. Even if I am lacking in any nutritional area, my body will take what it needs from me and give it to Tye. The doctor recommended that I try pumping regularly to be sure that I'm producing enough milk. She also suggested supplementing with one bottle of formula a day, offered after a nursing session in order to boost intake at one feeding, and returning in one week to re-weigh.
I had brought a suggested vaccination schedule, one that spreads out the vaccinations but includes them all, to discuss with the doctor. We talked about the vaccines while Tyler entertained Tye, and she seemed impressed with the proposed schedule. Before she left, the doctor suggested that we re-weigh Tye before we left, joking that gravity can change around 11 am.
Once again, we undressed Tye and made the long walk down the hall to the scale. When Tyler placed her on the scale, I know we both held our breath as we stared at the red digital numbers as they climbed... and stopped at 7.2! Stuck in disbelief, Tyler insisted we re-weigh her again- and again, she weighed in at 7.2 pounds. That was such a sense of relief! Her weight gain is still less than average, but at least she is gaining weight. The doctor suggested we try supplementing with formula anyway, but thought we could come back after the holidays rather than next week. We left the office feeling relieved that Tye had put on at least a little weight. Only parents get so excited about a fraction of a pound...
Tonight, I dusted off the breast pump and hooked myself up for the first time... quite a sight! My production seems to be adequate. Then we approached the next challenge- bottle feeding. We had Tyler present the bottle since some sources suggest it is easier to take a bottle from someone who doesn't have food on her chest. Tye took to it immediately. The flow seemed to be a little fast for Tye (it was a Medela bottle and nipple since that's what attached to the pump), but she managed well. Then, I breast fed Tye (babies are more efficient nursers and can get more milk out than the pump- and Tye definitely did). After that, we presented the formula (in a different bottle with an infant nipple). Once again, Tye welcomed the nipple. She barely hesitated as she tasted the formula, though I think (or maybe I'd just like to think) that she did make a face as she recognized the difference. The infant nipple seemed to help Tye manage the milk flow. As Tye drank the formula, I started to worry that she had always been hungry at the end of her feedings and wasn't receiving enough milk. All in all, though, Tye only drank about an ounce before letting me know she wasn't interested in more.
Pumping and providing extra formula showed that I could be producing more milk and that Tye would use it. I'm planning to go back to the same methods for promoting milk production that I did the first week of Tye's life (somewhat strangely, exactly one month ago)- milk production herbal tea and lots of skin to skin time. Hopefully, we can get my milk production up to a point that Tye won't want to take any formula after a feeding.
Tye is stirring now... time to go feed her. Quite a day today, huh? It was one of those when, looking back, this morning feels like a long time ago...

Monday, December 14, 2009

One Month!

Today is Tye's one month birthday! One month ago this minute, I was working through contractions with Tyler at West Suburban Hospital. That seems like a lifetime ago. At the same time, it feels like yesterday. Our lives have changed more than I could ever have anticipated- even though I had heard every other parent tell me to expect just that. It's been the best month of my life so far.
Happy One-Month, Tye!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Growing Up Already

Tye has grown up so much in the past week! Not only has she grown vertically (she's so much longer!), but she has also developed some visual and social skills that seem to give her so much personality. Now, Tye is able to visually track objects, following a moving item with her eyes. The other night when Tyler placed a piece of dry cereal near Tye's face (long story...), she followed it until her eyes almost crossed from the close proximity. Something about this skill makes Tye look so much more grown up, like more of a "person" than an unresponsive infant. Tye's eye gaze has also changed. While, like all babies, Tye has always stared at faces, she now makes actual eye contact, making her gaze more engaging. Also, when one of us is holding Tye, she makes an effort now to turn her head towards our faces. I don't know if she's following our voices or looking for our faces or both, but it's a very endearing new skill that we automatically perceive to be socially engaging since that is how we adults use the skill. When Tye uses these new skills, it really feels like she is participating in the relationship. Don't get me wrong- Tye still shows that infant affinity for bright objects and often stares at my hair or over my shoulder rather than at my eyes. But those moments of more advanced interaction provide us with a glimpse of the fully-interactive, purposefully-engaged girl Tye will become.
During my pregnancy, I had to make a very conscious effort to fully appreciate each day rather than focusing on looking forward to new developments. I'm finding it was good practice for parenting. As excited as I am for Tye's new developments (that first true smile comes to mind), whenever I think of those future skills with anticipation, I take a moment to stop and appreciate today for the beautiful gift that it is. And then I dream about the future. As is the theme of parenting, "She's growing up so fast!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Catching Up

As you can tell, decorating this weekend was hard work. And we didn't even get the tree yet!
Things around here are still busy. I feel like I'm on the same schedule as Tye- feeding, sleeping, changing table, repeat. I'm so grateful to have Tyler here to help out at home- it's the only way things actually get done around the house. Today I managed to sneak out to Target to pick up necessities and then I came home and made dinner for us. Dinner was soup- white and navy beans that had been in the crock pot all day plus whatever vegetables were in the fridge: potatoes, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, and swiss chard, seasoned with bay leaves, fresh thyme, garlic, and a dash each of cayenne and smoked hot paprika. It was delicious! And while I was making dinner, Tyler was keeping Tye very happy in the sling.
Seriously, how hot is a man with a baby??? As soon as he put on the sling, Tyler realized it allowed for full Wii mobility and put that to use.
Perhaps the best aspect of the sling is that Tye instantly falls asleep when she's put in it, likely lulled to sleep by the close proximity and gentle motion. The sling came in very handy this morning, when we went to Bongo Room for breakfast with Tiana and Traye. It was our first meal out with Tye, and she was wonderful! Through the whole meal, we only heard her whimper once as she slept. She was a perfect angel, and because she was in the sling the whole meal, I got to eat with both hands- a real mom luxury!
Well, my blogging break is over for now. Tye is feeding and I don't quite have the patience for much one-handed typing/pecking. I much prefer non-typing web surfing (once Tye's eyes close, about 10 minutes into the feeding), especially looking at baby clothes online... Goog thing I can't easily reach my credit card with Tye latched on!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

We're decorating our home for Christmas today. Even Tye is happy that
the holidays are coming...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving in

Fear of nipple confusion and a pacifier-addict are nothing compared to
a screaming babe in a car seat on a long trip home from Tyler's
parents. This is why I bought the all-natural rubber pacifier in the
first place, and I have no shame admitting that I would have given her
absolutely anything to end the heartbreaking wailing. Just look at how
peaceful she is now...


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