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Sometimes I just need something quick and easy. (I'm referring to food here, people)

11. September 2014

In some ways, life with Clara is exactly as I expected, and in some ways it is not.

At first, Tim and I were surprised at how bored we were. For the first four weeks (or so), Clara slept in 4-6 hour chunks all day and all night. I expected to be sleep deprived, and I've actually slept more with a newborn than I did during pregnancy or even prior to pregnancy. (But the thing is, somehow I'm still more tired now than I ever have been. I'm not necessarily sleepy, but I'm mentally/emotionally/physically worn out each day, if that makes sense.) 

Those first few weeks, we really had nothing to do, and there were two of us to help with everything. Let me tell you, that makes a difference.

Then Tim went back to work, and Clara started staying awake longer. I love when she's awake. I could stare at her little blue eyes forever. Plus, she's a happy baby and spends lots of time by herself, just staring at the ceiling and grinning. I have no idea what she finds so amusing, but she's clearly a self-entertained little one. In the past few days, she's started to focus on our faces and smile back if we smile at her. It's seriously so freakin' precious. 

This is why I can't get anything done, Clara and I spend a lot of time staring at each other.

I feel blessed that we don't have a fussy baby, and that she can eat in 20 minutes or less (which has always been the case, thank goodness) and that we generally have a pretty easy time during the day. But, I say this relatively. We have an easy day compared to other moms with newborns - life is by no means easy compared to what my 'old' life was like!

When Tim went back to work, this is how I thought my day would go: Clara would sleep, I'd make myself a healthy lunch, we'd walk around the block if the weather was nice, we'd maybe run an errand, I'd find projects to keep me occupied and I'd spend time doing laundry and organizing the house, I'd have time to read, and then I'd prep dinner... you get the idea. (I clearly didn't know how messy babies are.)

Obviously, my life is not like that. What actually happens is that we finally get out of bed in the late-morning because Clara doesn't really wake up until 10am and so neither do I, and at that point I try to decide if Clara needs a bath or not (based on how much she pukes on her hair in the morning), then I give her a bath, she poops in the tub or on her towel and I need to rush to change her and then she pukes on her outfit and I change her again, and then I realize I'm still not showered or dressed and I try to decide if that actually needs to happen and right when I decide to take a shower Clara decides she's hungry so then I feed her again and she pukes again... and seriously by the time this all occurs it's 2pm and the bathroom is still a mess and Clara is wide awake staring at me and I'm in pajamas with 'Divorce Court' on in the background wondering where my day went. 

I consider it a major victory if we get out of the house at all!

And then, sometime in the late afternoon, I realize I never ate lunch and the thought of preparing dinner is just too much for me. 

This is about the time I pull out a box of crackers and decide that the term 'lunch' can apply to just about anything.

Lately we've gotten a little more prepared, though, and we've stocked our freezer with frozen meals. We've been trying different brands and meals, and so I was very excited when Chili’s® at Home gave me the opportunity to try one of their meals.

Chilis At Home Frozen Meals

I chose the Pepper Jack Mac 'N' Cheese because, I mean, it's mac & cheese, and I happen to be obsessed with all things noodles and cheese and used to eat at least one meal of mac & cheese each day. I'm not proud of this... or maybe I am. 

Anyway, the other day it was 3pm and I hadn't eaten lunch and Clara was asleep so I didn't want to bang around anything in the kitchen to make anything, and I was so freakin' excited that all I had to do was reach into the freezer, pull out a box of goodness, throw it in the microwave, and 4.5 minutes later I could enjoy a delicious meal.

Honestly, I loved it. It had way more flavor than I expected - I'm not sure if it was from the pepper jack cheese or the peppers - and I devoured the whole thing within minutes. This was one of the best frozen food meals I've had in quite a while - yay!

It's the little things that make my life easier and happier as a new mom, and this frozen meal did it for me! 

So now I'm going to be stocking up. Breastfeeding makes me ravenous (this is something else I didn't expect) and it seriously makes such a difference to eat a 'meal' rather than a snack when I get hungry.

This is my advice o' the days for new moms: stock up on frozen meals.

(To help you with this, Chili’s® at Home is offering you a $1 off coupon for a frozen meals - every little bit helps!)

Yes, in a perfect world you'll be able to whip up dinner each night, but lunch is a whole different ballgame, and you may not have time to prepare meals ahead of time. I think setting realistic expectations in the beginning is important, and you should definitely have a back-up plan! Friends and family might bring you meals, but in our case people brought us lasagna and pasta dishes and dinners that still took a lot of time to reheat/cook. 

I'm telling you, fast and easy will be your friend.

(This post is sponsored by Bellisio Foods, but my love for their tasty, bold, and quick meals is all my own!)



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Things I'm loving today

10. September 2014

Obviously, I love this little nugget, but other than that...

// 'The Newsroom'. Does anyone else watch this show?! It's my new favorite. It seems like all of the other shows that Tim and I have binge-watched recently have violence / gratuitous sex in them, so I'm pretty glad that this show is a different kind of entertaining.

// The root beer doughnut that Tim surprised me with today. A man who picks up a fun-flavored doughnut for his wife 'just because' is a man worth keeping.

// Ray Rice being indefinitely suspended from the NFL. I haven't read extensively about this (because I think the entire thing is disgusting and unworthy of my attention), but I am glad to see that the NFL responded to all of the negative attention his original 2-game suspension received. (As a sidenote, I do not believe the NFL had never seen the inside-the-elevator video clip, but I do believe that they were hoping no one else saw it.) I appreciate that we (as a public) are starting to hold athletes/team owners/coaches accountable for their actions.

// The gorgeous weather in Chicago. We've been enjoying awesome weather for almost the entire summer, but I've been inside for most of it. Lately, I've been spending more and more time outside, and I've been loving and appreciating every second of it.

// 'Bachelor in Paradise'. OK, I have a confession to make. I watched 'Bachelor in Paradise' instead of Monday Night Football this week. I know, I know, I'm not proud of my actions. In my defense, we don't get cable and the game was on ESPN here. Also, I loved 'Bachelor in Paradise' way more than I should, considering I've only watched one season of 'The Bachelor(ette)' ever.

// The opportunity to spend time with other moms with newborns. I recently started attending a New Moms Group and I think it's going to be fantastic. 10 of us meet every week (with a 'moderator' of sorts) for six weeks, and we discuss what life is like being a new mom. Thank goodness there are people out there who can relate to me!

// This mac & cheese. (But more on that tomorrow with a sponsored post by Chili's At Home!)

What are you loving today?!



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A Quick August Recap

8. September 2014

We're marching our way through 2014, and it's going by way too quickly for my liking. (This would explain why we're over a week into September and I didn't realize it... whoops!)

If you missed them (or are a relatively new reader here) you may want to check out the recaps for:

January / February / March / April / May / June / July

In August we...

  • Started feeling more competent as parents, even though at any given time we had some form of bodily fluids on us (from Clara, of course). After the first four weeks, parenting got a bit different around here. Clara started being awake more and that made life more fun and challenging for us in the month of August!

Clara turned one month old in August!

  • Spent time with relatives visiting from out of town. Tim and I are blessed with large families so it seems like there's always someone to introduce Clara to!
  • I went jogging for the first and second times. I assure you, it wasn't pretty - at all. BUT, I absolutely loved having an opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy some time by myself. I ran/walked a few miles one day and ran a full 1.5 miles the next time. This is another reason I hate this c-section recovery, my incision still freakin' hurts and I'm still not as mobile as I want to be. I just want to be able to run a few miles, darnit.
  • Went out for drinks with Clara in tow. We finally decided to take advantage of the fact that I started feeling better and Clara continued to sleep for large periods of time, so we could easily take her with us on some dinner and drink dates with each other and with friends.

  • Continued attending our church small group and enjoying the fellowship of other couples.
  • Rode bikes for the first time (together) all summer. We rode to a park to eat dinner (BBQ) with friends, and I felt such a sense of freedom from riding around and from being away from Clara for a while. 
  • Finished watching all episodes of 'Modern Family' and 'House of Cards'. 
  • Tim started CrossFit and is on a mission to become super-buff. I can't say I'm disappointed!
  • Took Clara with us to a park to watch 'Catching Fire' with hundreds of others of Chicagoans.  (Well, basically Tim and I went on a movie date and Clara came with us. She wasn't really interested in the movie.) One of my favorite things to do in the summer in Chicago is to enjoy a nice movie in the park while drinking a beer and snuggling with my husband. This time, we brought Clara along and she quite happily hung out the whole time. She barely made a peep and stared at us the entire time and it made my heart incredibly happy that we had such enjoyable family time.

  • Met with our doula for a postpartum visit. I'll write a post later on why I'm so incredibly glad that we had a doula with us during our pregnancy journey, but the postpartum visit was especially nice because we were able to talk about the difficult labor and delivery and she was able to fill in the gaps of what I remember. Also, she reassured me that with everything she knows and heard, she doesn't think it will be impossible for me to VBAC in the future. Yay!
  • Booked our first trip that we'll be taking in a few weeks with Clara - Portland, Oregon... here we come!
  • Watched the Air & Water show from an amazing penthouse (roof) downtown. We stood on the roof and drank beers and conversed with other people and watched children run around and squirt each other with water guns and hoses... it was a truly urban 'backyard' experience.

(To follow along with our month in real-time, I recommend following us on Instagram.)

In September we're looking forward to a trip to St. Louis for my best friend's wedding, time outside, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying new adventures as husband/wife and father/mother.


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Two Martinis