Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O', Christmas Tree

This year's Christmas tree undertaking is one for the D-family record books. Yes, it's Had's first Christmas tree...but it was also our first real Christmas tree as a family. And it was completely unintentional and unplanned. Go, us!

I've done the "real tree" thing in years back, in a very different place in my life, so I know the deal. I'm not sure Dave has ever had a real one before, though.

What took us on this path to a real pine scent and kitty free-for-all? (Thank goodness, we asked the vet if Winston's regular stops for a drink at the Christmas Tree Pub were of concern and he said that it was fine -- and that we're lucky the cats aren't getting IN the tree or toppling it over. Score 2 for us.) That would be the fact that our beloved Beardslee took it upon himself to sit upon tall presents the past couple of years, inadvertently bending (and even breaking several of) the bottom branches of our old, cheap fakey. I even recall saying, as we packed up the tree last year, "I guess I'll have to keep another eye out on Black Friday next year." Oops. Forgot about that. Minus one point. *wop wop*

So, when we started to put the tree together in our front room (much more room for it to "shine", and be out of the way of the baby-cluttered living room), it became apparent that it had seen its last days. And, of course, it was already heading for 9pm on a weeknight. Dangnabbit.

Being the dutiful, cheery husband that he is, Dave shlepped over to Kmart (while I was on baby duty) to see what they had in stock. Cheap-o crappola or over-priced nice? Eh. Neither, thanks. Then, he realized that Lowe's would have some more fake-os in stock. So, he drove there (with minutes to spare before they closed). Moments later, he calls me to give a very brief description of their artificial trees, but cuts himself off with, "But, they have real!!! I know we were going to wait until we have a bigger house to do the real thing, so you can totally say 'no', but it's an option." By this point, I was getting exhausted (can't imagine how tired he must've been!), so I did the, "Okay, whatever, get what you want" thing. Shortly thereafter, he's pulling an un-bundled tree through our side door, needles spraying every which way.

The cats were in heaven. I was a tad surprised the thing wasn't tied up, at least.

We got the thing up, with a glitch or two, in pretty good time. I had to saw off some of the bottom branches so that it would actually fit in the stand (which Dave had to buy). I didn't bother cutting a half inch off the bottom (our saw's dull and it was a pretty thick base), but it seems to be thriving just fine.

Of course, because of this lil' glitch, we couldn't decorate right away. After all, our previous tree was pre-lit and in case you didn't know, Santa doesn't make pre-lit real trees. Just not possible. *shrugs* So, Dave bought a lengthy strand one night and we finally got to (eventually) decorate it.

I've gotta admit that, while it's more work (watering), the cats LOVE it (they haven't gone AS nuts over the ornaments this year -- just broke one! New record...knock on tree) and it turned out to be the perfect size and downright gorgeous. You can see a little of it on our annual Christmas greeting (Dave's news station does several of these every year) --

So, what kind of tree do you use? Is it a tradition? I'm not sure if this is a tradition or not, but it has made for quite the memorable "Hadley's First Christmas"! Oh, and I've heard that the eco-friendliness factor is 50/50 -- reuse from year to year (but eventually ends up in a landfill) or toss out every year (with possibility of having it mulched, woohoo!)?

***Side note: Christmas card outtakes -- a million shots of kitties running away or getting loopy, Hadley was coming down with the bug so the fact that we got the "smiling baby" shot astounds me, and he totally had poop up his back the whole time -- I didn't know that 'til just before we finished. That outfit is a frickin' poop magnet. (And I totally look like a dork, but it's not about me -- it's all about Hads and his "three wise men".)***

In Your Face!

There was a time when I would stick my hand in my mailbox and find an unexpected rush of emotions. Perhaps stress, perhaps guilt, but always a general sense of negativity. Damn you, mailbox. Damn you.

But, I'm friends with the mail again. (Really, it's not Mr. Mailbox's fault. He's just doing his job, quiet and stalwart.) Aside from the rather normal frustration of bills, those "surprise" packages and large envelopes don't get to me anymore. The only remorse I feel is the fact that I'm adding to the waste issue in America by dumping the contents in the garbage or recyclables.

I've gotta say, though, Enfamil and Similac really have their marketing schemes tuned perfectly to the New Mom Channel. Considering the cost of formula, I'm sure some parents are grateful and even relieved to find a $5 off coupon here or there, or even a whole box containing a free, full-sized sample of their product. I get it, I do.

But, for those of us who are making attempts at nursing (and I won't get into the "breast is best" stuff -- doing what's best for YOU and YOUR situation/family is truly what's best, no judgment!), those packages can be a punch to the gut. Actually, yeah. It does truly feel like someone's punching you. Best way to describe it.

There are even reminders on the envelopes saying, "If nursing isn't working out..." or "Breastfeeding can be hard, there's no harm in supplementing with formula" or "You've reached the 4-month mark, it's time to give yourself a break". ARE. YOU. KIDDING?! *words that aren't really words but I utter them in my own language to avoid extensive profanity* Yes. Words. Blerg.

They've got their fingers on the pulse, alright. They know that breastfeeding is a downright challenge. I've never ran a marathon before, but I imagine it's similar -- ups and downs, a very long trail to a very emotional end that, once accomplished, you feel victorious for. And, for those who can't make it through, it must feel just like quitting a race -- deflating, demoralizing, downright depressing. And they're playing right into that emotion.

I'm lucky. We've certainly had our ups and downs, but aside from some mysterious issues that are non-food-related (we hope), it has been what I like to call "an eventual success." We no longer have to fight to get a proper latch. We no longer have *ahem* glorious, obnoxious, unexpected fountains. We no longer find him crying during meals (other than when he WANTS to eat). We no longer have an ounce of pain. It might have started miraculously, then reality sank in, but our new reality is that we're a BFing family. I have an awesome son who now does exactly what he's supposed to, an incredible husband who has the perfect instinct (definite Papa Bear going on), and I have finally learned, through trials and tribulations, how to feed my son. Not everyone is this lucky.

My supportive family, luck and general stubbornness have brought me to this point, and nothing else. So, thanks to those reasons, I find that I have developed an armor -- an armor that Similac can *poink* bounce off and a shield that tells Enfamil to kiss my...erm, hand.

If there wasn't such a fast expiration date, I'd try to put aside the coupons for anyone who may use them (but you find out so-and-so only uses the soy version of Similac and you only have Enfamil, or vice versa). No one at school has babies that are using formula (got another BFer in the house, though, yay!). And, in a horrible excuse for humankind, we're simply too busy to drop them off at a home for women in need. So, the guilt of waste (and being unable to help) is still there...but my mail emotions are no longer of guilt. Triumph? Yes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Shopped Walmart

I haven't set foot inside our local Walmart since my uber awesome sister-in-law helped me escape the doldrums of "life with a newborn" (back when he was nursing every 2 hours and I didn't have a pump). Although it was at WallyWorld, I welcomed (with massive amounts of anxiety thrown in) my first bit of time away from the little man. Let's consider that my annual trek.

Except, this holiday season I purchased Walmart goods. Sure, I didn't go TO Walmart, but I shopped their online wares, which in my mind is still patronizing the place. Needless to say, I'm simply not a fan of the place these days. Their unsavory business practices and maltreatment of workers leave a nasty taste in my mouth, and I'm not in the habit of tasting yuckiness.

Anyhoo, why did I "shop" through After lots of searching, I found that their clothes were the cheapest option I had. See, we're giving to a couple of kids off of our "giving tree" at school, and their wishes consisted of clothes. I went elsewhere for the (admittedly overboard) toys and activities that we gave. And since I'm sure you're wondering (or not, hee hee), there was a girl and a younger boy (not sure if they're in the same families or not) and I got everything for the girl, the clothes for the boy, and Dave picked out toys for the boy. She got a coat, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, and since it said her interests were "jewelry" I got some costume jewelry and a set that she can use to make her own jewelry. The boy got snow pants, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, some Batman/Joker toys, and a comic book. Oh, and they each got new crayons and a coloring book, and, of course, a container of Play-Doh -- because what parent doesn't want their kids grinding that into the carpet? Mwahaha.

Yeah, we overdid it. Not to say our son isn't making out well this year -- but he's not even one yet, so mass amounts of toys aren't necessary.

But, it made me think -- is it okay to go against one's principles when you're helping someone in need (buying cheap-o stuff, be it toy or foodstuff)? Or should those in need get items that are just"at a premium"?

We also gave two full-sized meals to needy families this year. I went to Aldi and grabbed two of everything (except the protein) -- 2 boxes of stuffing, 2 boxes of mashed potatoes (ick), 4 cans of veggies, 2 cans of fruit (in fruit juice!), 2 packages of gravy, 2 boxes of pudding and 2 graham cracker pie crusts (dessert!). Oh, and a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese, considering not everyday is a holiday, and you still need to eat. Now, not that we're elitist, but we wouldn't eat any of this stuff if we were purchasing food for our house. If someone OFFERED us a meal of this, we wouldn't say anything and would eat it happily (but probably feel yucky later -- not figuratively, it's really true what they say about feeling better when you eat better quality food), but our daily choice veers in the all-natural/organic arena. It's just how we live.

I should probably feel happy that I was able to give at all, but it's hard not to feel a little guilty. Heck, even when my husband's work was sponsoring a "Stuff the Bus" campaign for toys, I stopped by with two toys -- from the cheap toy section at Kmart. Mind you, they seemed like wicked fun toys (and I would know!), but does it matter that they were $5 each?

So, what do you think? Is it better to give at all? Or does equality factor into the equation?

Side note: I found ORGANIC BUTTER at Aldi yesterday!! I nearly fell over!!! (And HAD to text a picture of it to the hubs. Confused onlookers be damned.) Last time, I found Kerrygold Irish cheese (grassfed, INCREDIBLE cheese!!!) and this time organic butter! I am growing more and more impressed by the place.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

From Super Slow to Friggin' Fast

*crickets chirp* It's been over a month. Sorry 'bout that!

Anyhoo, time to talk about my eating since Hadley came along (exactly what you've been waiting 41 days for, I know). No, not diet -- which is slightly limited but is pretty much an "I see, I eat" diet. That's nursing for you.

What I mean is the fact that I've done a 180. There are ongoing family jokes about my slow eating habits growing up (several involving my being the only one at the table still nibbling my sandwich, talking a mile a minute, while everyone else's Happy Ending sundaes are being devoured). Those habits followed me into adulthood. What can I say? Apparently, I talk. Who knew?

This is no longer the case. Well, I still talk, but my eating tendencies have flipped. In general, I'm starving most of the time (as I said above - thanks to BFing), so while at work I have to suck down my huge lunches at intervals throughout the day. When home, however, the baby seems to have a keen radar. The moment I sit down with my hot plate o' food, he starts fussing or decides he's hungry or whatever. Almost never fails.

This started on Day One in the hospital. I recall my first "meal" (all clear liquids or Jell-O or...wait, coffee?? That thing I didn't drink for 9 months and still don't to keep the caffeine out of the little buddy's system??), but folks were busy snapping pictures with our new lil' bundle of joy. I only remember one other hospital meal. All the others involved getting a few bites in while learning to nurse or visiting or trying not to murder some gosh-darn impolite nurses. Besides, it was mostly about drinking constantly - although I'll never forget the 2am feeding when a nurse kindly handed me a tumbler of ice water that inadvertently ended up all over the baby and myself. 

The thing I remember about the one hospital meal I ate, start to finish, (aside from the ever-present chocolate pudding) was creamed spinach. It. Was. Divine. Never had it before, and probably won't, but I was so literally starved by that point, the fact that the baby was getting checked over and I got to the food HOT, I found it to be the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten. I still find myself having cravings for it. Weird, I know.

I don't, however, want to forget to mention the first "real" meal I was allowed post-surgery - provided by my sister/best friend, Mary. She knew that I had craved a bologna sandwich (on soft white bread, with yellow mustard) during my entire pregnancy. The only cold-cuts I had were all-natural...needless to say, not bologna. She came with a huge bag, including several sandwiches, an entire bag of my other guilty pleasure (Jax...I know I've mentioned them here before, but they SERIOUSLY kick Cheez Doodles' arse) and soda, plus I'm sure some other goodies I have since forgotten. But, again, I was too busy to enjoy it all in one sitting. It seems life has followed suit ever since.

Take this post, for instance. I started it while eating my dinner and simultaneously nursing the monkey. It has been written entirely one-handed. But, as long as I can eat enough to sustain both baby and mama, I'm happy. And, if I can keep punching out s-l-o-w, one-handed posts more frequently, I'll be even happier. :-)

P.S. If you'd like a different perspective on our new little family, be sure to check out my hubby's posts on fatherhood at Currently, you can find out about a new little family member, Dougie, and how he came to join the clan. (No, he's not another cat.)