7 Months Pregnant

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I had every intention of sitting down and blogging over the past, cold, holidays. Obviously, that didn’t happen; and once again, I underestimated the exhaustion that comes with pregnancy!

I am now 7 months pregnant, with another little turning 2 next month, and our oldest approaching 4 in the spring. With almost three kids, we decided to stay home and not travel for the holidays. It was really relaxing when I was ironically expecting it to be lonely. I’ve been learning to be more aware of my limitations and finding peace in respecting them, even if it means missing out.

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Both S and C are becoming more helpful to me as they see my mobility limited each day by an extremely swollen tummy. They pick up the things that I drop, bring me their cups, and throw away their trash. Of course, they still act like normal toddlers still… but these little acts of childlike kindness have been a huge consolation to me.

The one thing still making me anxious is giving birth. Even though I have done it twice now, each time has involved fighting with doctors, arguing with nurses, and having to advocate for myself and the kind of birth that I want. I’m afraid I’m attempting a medication-free birth this time around, which is typically met with a lot of resistance from the medical community. Just the thought of having to advocate for myself is exhausting. There is also the fear in the back of my mind, one which the medical community would love to convince me of, that I can’t actually do it naturally, on my own.

The truth is, I actually have been complacent in preparing to have a natural birth. Despite gathering books on different methods and downloading birth meditations, I haven’t read or listened to any. I’ve made the excuse of being busy, and surely I am with 2 toddlers, however, the time has come to make it a priority. This gives birth to yet another fear… the reality that this IS happening. I’ve been able to just daydream about those ideal moments one has with a newborn: the cuddles, the coos, the surprise smiles. I’ve ignored the trial that will come before those treasured times to the point where I now resist the inevitable.

Well, it is a goal for me in the next week to crack open a book and listen to a meditation. The time has come!

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Sister, Sister

I can’t tell you how much time and energy I invested worrying about how Sophie would transition to having a newborn around. Would she act out angrily? Would she be devastated? Well, so far she just seems indifferent

She was a little confused when she walked into my recovery room, early on the morning I had given birth to Cora. Everyone was eagerly watching her reaction to the bundle in my mother’s arms. Sophie walked up, and ever so sweetly leaned in and pursed her lips. My mom lifted Cora up so Sophie could plant a nice little kiss on her forehead. After that, it was business as usual. She wanted to play on some one’s cell phone and eat a snack. That trend has continued ever since the first day and I have to say, I’m quite relieved.

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Every once in awhile she gets curious, or concerned when the baby is crying, but otherwise she doesn’t detect any reason to act out or think that anything is different. She’ll approach this little rock ‘n’ play cradle that we keep by the window and say “oh, bebe!” or some times she’ll gently rock it, wanting to “help,” and those are the moments that melt my heart. Hopefully, her love and interest will only grow and we will continue to have a smooth transition. I truly believe that having the girls close in age will help, as Sophie will never quite feel “dethroned,” in fact, I think very shortly she’ll hardly remember a time without her baby sister.

Comfort and Joy

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I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother here helping me nest for the past 2 weeks, but he leaves on Monday. Besides spending time with his [sassy] goddaughter, he’s been helping me clean, organize, and been cooking us meals from scratch. If you’ve followed my blog for more than a year, then you know winters are especially tough on this former Southern California girl, but having my brother here has really helped me from feeling overwhelmed and isolated.

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Another thing that has helped, is baking! [My blog is named after a cookie for goodness sake…] While I’ve been trying to take care of my [and baby’s] health, winter time always calls for comfort foods. See, my brother never left the golden state after he turned 18, like I did, instead he stayed there for college and wasn’t expecting the winter wonderland that appeared here over night when he planned this visit. He too, has been needing comfort food during his stay, and so after my kale smoothie in the morning, the day usually progresses with either some fresh baked cookies, or a pan of baked mac’n’cheese. I’m not going to go as far to say that is a “balanced” nutritional diet, but it’s all about survival here in the winter. J got me a fitbit for Christmas, and that in and of itself has helped me to be more aware of my habits and how to improve on being a little more active.

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Though I’ll be sad to see my brother go, as I’m sure Sophie will be sad to see her playmate disappear, I rest assured knowing my mom will be here in less than a month for the birth of this new baby! In the meantime, I have J’s birthday to look forward to, as much as some well-deserved alone time I’m planning for us.

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Despite having a pretty mild winter here overall, it is still hard for me to cope when the snow starts falling. How do you all survive the winter months?

5 Things I Love About Winter

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Being a Southern California native, there wasn’t a lot for me to love about winter when I first moved to the Ohio Valley. I mean sure, witnessing your first snowfall is pretty magical, but after that — then what?

In fact, I remember an encounter with my roommate during my very first winter here. I was shivering as I came back from class, complaining about the cold when she said, “Well, of course you’re cold… Where’s your winter jacket?” I was so confused and responded in all seriousness, “This IS my winter jacket,” while pointing down at the hoodie I was wearing. Um hello, when it’s below 60 degrees, you throw on a hoodie, duh. While my hoodie was adequate for San Diego winters, I was totally clueless about how to handle a real winter.

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As of this year, I will have spent a total of 5 winters back east, so I wanted to share with you, some genuine reasons to love winter. These are the little things I have to hold on to when I haven’t seen the sun shine for a week straight.

  1. Citrus season! Blood oranges and clementines, I seriously binge on these fruits in the winter. Not only are they at peak deliciousness, but they are reminiscent of warmer days.
  2. Natural Beauty. Ok so Ohio is pretty ugly once all the colorful fall leaves have disappeared from the trees, but it is redeemed through the beauty of snow fall. My favorite thing about a big snowstorm is walking outside just after the climax, to hear nothing but the sound of fresh snow beneath my boots.
  3. Indulgence. Of course the holiday season is the classic time to indulge, but if you know me, then you know I go hard all the way until spring. Hot beverages and baked goods just should not be limited to the holiday season, people! Nothing motivates me to preheat the oven and sip on hot cocoa like 30 degrees.
  4. Being stranded. Ok so this one is slightly romanticized. Being stranded in your car on the highway during a snowstorm would be bad… Having a legitimate excuse to stay in and cuddle? Not bad. When I see the snow covered road, I start praying for cancellation of any plans. In SoCal we could say “yeah, I tried to come see you, but I saw the traffic was just too bad.” Our 2 lane highway never has any traffic to rival that of the 405, so snow is all I have to work with in the way of canceling plans.
  5. Holiday denial. For some reason, people in Ohio keep lights and decorations up for longer, and not just because they’re lazy… it’s intentional. While I don’t know the exact reason why, I’d guess it’s because they don’t know how to reconcile still having snow, with out the enhancement of twinkling lights and happy snowmen. It’s much easier for the brain to live in a happy place of “Christmas wasn’t that long ago… it’s still the most wonderful time of the year! Surely if this snow is still festive then so are my holiday lights!” At least, that’s my thinking. I typically keep our holiday decorations up until Valentines day, where I then reluctantly pull out some pink and red decor, before the real excitement comes in March and I actually get to bust out the SPRING decorations!

What’s your favorite thing about winter?

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Tis the Season!

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Our house is looking a little different this holiday season as we go forth with a toddler running around the house. I’ve still put all our glass ornaments on the tree, though I definitely secured them with more effort than I ever have in past years, but I am determined to still have out all our special decorations in tandem with our special children running around. However, you’ll notice a few additional decorations, of the cheesy primary colored variety, that are specifically for Sugar Plum [like the advent wreath above, for example. Candle sticks aren’t exactly 18 month old friendly].

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Despite wanting to have a bigger focus on Advent this year, that hasn’t stopped me from  indulging in some Christmas spirit. I mean, the point of Advent isn’t meant to turn us into total Scrooges. And in a more Catholic spirit, we have 3 important feast days coming up: The Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas, and St. Lucy. We have some new traditions we’ll be trying out for each of these days , and I couldn’t be more excited!

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My favorite part about the wee was having a “snowball” fight with Sophie, using a bucket of these plush little snowballs my mom got for J and I on our 1st Christmas. Uncontrollable giggling.

Watching her set up her little nativity was pretty adorable too.

Have a great weekend every one!

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Pumpkin Crumb Cake

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I wanted a coffee cake, but I also wanted some thing a little more seasonal, and so I birthed this little recipe. It’s great to use your leftover pumpkin in, or you can take advantage of all the pumpkin your local grocery store has most likely marked down since it is after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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What you need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin (I use Libby’s)

I begin by heating my oven to 350 degrees, and greasing a pan with some butter. I used a 9×13 dish. In a bowl, I mix all the DRY ingredients together [flour, salt, powder, soda, and spices… NOT sugar]. In a mixer, on medium speed, I mix softened butter with the sugar until beat together. I add the eggs to the mixer one by one, then I add the can of pumpkin. The texture of this mix will be some what chunky, that’s fine. Add half of your flour mixture to the electric mixer. Once it’s blended, add the other half of the flour and stir until completely mixed. Pour into the baking dish and set aside.

Crumb topping:

  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick COLD butter, cut into cubes 
  • 1/4 c. oats
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of flour

Combine all the ingredients in an electric mixer, until the cubes of butter have broken down into smaller balls, and all the cinnamon sugar is sticking. Sprinkle this mixture on top of your UNBAKED pumpkin cake, slightly pressing the sugar into the batter. Bake the entire cake for 60 minutes. Enjoy!

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Weekly Update

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What have we been up to this week? Well, I already shared with you how I’m prepping for Thanksgiving, but I also pulled out, just a few, “seasonal wintry” decorations. You see, we’re Catholic, and I am determined this year to celebrate the seasons of the church in their correct order, by not decorating for Christmas too prematurely. I won’t get into the details of that in this post, since I already have a post lined up in regards to Advent, but I didn’t see the harm in putting out a couple winter things. Since we’re going to be in California for Christmas this year, we won’t get to enjoy our decorations for as long.

Anyway, I’ve also been trying to transition my wardrobe from summer/fall to full on winter, as the temperatures around here keep dropping. In fact, I had to break down and buy a maternity jacket. After trying on my 5+ coats, I couldn’t find any that fit me. I’ve decided to donate 3 of my old coats to Goodwill in order to justify getting a new one. The great news is, this coat isn’t JUST a maternity coat. It has a panel that zips into the jacket to widen it for a prego belly, but that same panel can also be removed, and the jacket zips up normally for postpartum moms too! I considered it an investment for winters and pregnancies to come.

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For whatever reason, this past week has been tough on me. I can’t tell if hormones play a role, or if I have some other underlying anxiety, but I’ve had a bit of a short fuse lately. I’m really trying to get my reactions under control, and be a little more patient with everyone in my home.

What are your goals for the week?