Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time with Kimmy

I haven't written in almost a week, and I have a really good reason. I have been so thoroughly enjoying my time with Kimmy! We have had so much fun since Thursday, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. I started Weight Watchers last Wednesday (thanks to a very generous friend who bought me a 3-month subscription), so Jarrell and I have been focusing on eating healthier and taking Kimmy on evening walks whenever possible. Kimmy and I have been eating our lunches together at the table, and all three of us have been eating our dinners together. I love family time!

Over the weekend, we walked to a few parks and to campus, got her 8-month pictures made, and on Sunday we walked 3 miles for the March of Dimes's March for Babies, for which I was able to raise $95 from friends and family. Sunday afternoon, we went to Jarrell's voice teacher's house for a studio party, where Kimmy crawled around like a mad woman. She slept all through the night Sunday night and last night because she's worn herself out so well during the day (and also probably because she's finally recuperating from her Easter ear infections).

While we're on the topic of sleep, I guess I should mention that I accidentally stayed up until 7:30am today. I couldn't get comfortable last night, and I never did fall asleep. I've been very tired today, but I didn't take a nap. Instead, I stayed up to play with my sweet girl! Jarrell is cranking out his finals-week work at the library, so it was just us girls today. It was about 75 degrees and sunny outside, so I dressed Kimmy in a pretty purple-and-white drop-waist sundress and her new (size 4!) multi-colored flower sandals. I can tell she felt so girly in her outfit today because she kept playing with her dress hem and prissing around. She is so cute! We ate our lunch together, and then we went outside to play with the other neighborhood babies (and also to get Kimmy a good vitamin D treatment for her eczema from the sunlight)! She had so much fun splashing in the neighbor's water table and crawling all over the grass. She is so enthralled by other babies and children that she barely made a peep and didn't cry the whole time, preferring to stare and smile the whole time instead. She eventually got drowsy from the hot sunshine and playing for an hour straight, so I took her for a 45-minute walk and let her take a stroller nap. We came in and ate dinner together after that, and then I gave her a bath and put her in bed early. It was just a really fun day!

I love my daughter. I wish motherhood on every female on this earth. There is nothing more entertaining or fulfilling than having a silly, creative, happy baby to hang out with all the time!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A word on reassurance

I feel very under-appreciated lately. Each day for me is full of the same routine: taking care of Kimmy, taking care of myself, cooking, doing laundry, looking for/applying for jobs, etc. It gets old. It feels old. I have not been away from Kimmy for more than about 6 hours at a time since the time she was born, and I have never had an evening off. I'm not saying that I'm tired of being around her or that I wish I had more time away from her--that's not what I'm getting at. But it would be nice to hear some reassurance more than every now and then that someone appreciates how I spend each day and that I'm doing a good job. (No, this is not a plea to hear those words, even if anyone feels they are the truth.)

Tonight after going on a long walk, going to the grocery store, carrying in and putting away said groceries, cooking dinner, and doing the dishes (all while dealing with abdominal crampy-ness and a pretty bad headache), I sat down to eat my dinner and then proceeded to relax for the night. I wasn't fishing for a compliment, but after a rough evening and a long week, I definitely wasn't in the mood to be the victim of someone's mood swing, yet that is what happened. So here I sit with hurt feelings, feeling unimportant and insignificant as I so frequently do when things like this happen. Will I bounce back and be fine tomorrow? Yes, because I have Kimmy to think about. But I won't forget this feeling. It burns in me and makes me question myself, as all negative things, people, and situations do these days.

However, my point is this: If you appreciate someone, let them know as often as you feel that appreciation for them. It's much better to be overly reassured than never reassured. If you love someone, let them know. If you value someone's company or advice or influence, let them know. If you see a genuine good trait in someone, compliment them. If someone looks nice, and you can tell they really put forth a lot of effort in their appearance that day, say so. You never, ever know what deep, dark place someone may be stuck in mentally. Treat everyone with sincere thoughtfulness, as if they are in their darkest place on a daily basis.

Okay, back into my shell. I like to spend nights like this in prayer for a while before I go to sleep, so that's what I'm about to do!



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Breakfast for dinner

I don't have much to report today. It was a pretty lazy day with lots of Kimmy cuddles, a nap, and some cable TV. I really, really, really wanted to go on a walk tonight, but considering it was in the low 40s outside, I decided I'd stay inside with my still-recovering sick girl.

Jarrell and I have been making an effort to get into the habit of family dinners (and lunches whenever possible) together at the table while Kimmy is still  little. She seems to really enjoy having a parent on either side while she refines her finger-food technique, and she especially loves to watch her momma cook! Tonight Kimmy ate chicken, pasta, mandarin oranges (fave finger food), and tomatoes. Meanwhile, I cooked up breakfast for dinner for Jarrell and me: homemade pancakes, tater tots, and bacon. Was it healthy? No. (Although, we do use sugar-free syrup.) Was it good? Yes! Kimmy ate all of her food, so she got to try a few bites of pancake, which she essentially inhaled.

I just gave her a bath and put her down for bedtime. She's fighting sleep, but she'll be out like a light in the next 5 minutes or so. She rolls over on her little tummy and sighs so deeply right before she falls into deep sleep. I love listening to her self-soothing routine. She is such a good, sweet, smart baby. I can't express my thankfulness for her enough. She is the most precious gift, and I will treasure her always.

Happy hump day!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baby food

Well, since yesterday was sort of a big disaster (okay, it really wasn't, but I was really stressed out and anxious all day), I will skip the long explanation. Here's a quick rundown: got up, got myself and Kimmy dressed, left at 10:30am after discovering a gigantic dent on my car, drove to Cincinnati, went to the pediatrician for her ear re-check. Kimmy's right ear is still infected, and her doctor ordered a blood food-allergy test because we think she is allergic to wheat and eggs. Plus, my sister was severely allergic to so many foods, had asthma, and had skin issues. Kimmy's already got the skin issues (eczema). So, after her appointment, I went to Kroger to have pharmacy wars (there are always issues with my insurance and birth date from a mistake at a Rite-Aid long ago). Got Kimmy's antibiotic, Claritin, and Zantac, but had to go to a different pharmacy for my Flonase. UGH! After that ordeal, it was off to the hospital lab for the blood test, then finally home to Indiana.

But, that's enough of that. I owe a friend a list of baby-food recipes, and I thought I'd share them publicly, as well. I absolutely love making Kimmy's food myself from fresh, organic ingredients. It's such a joy to watch her reaction to brand-new flavors and combinations. And when home-making baby food, it's actually way cheaper to buy the ingredients (yes, even organic) and make it yourself than it is to buy pre-made stuff. We also feed Kimmy store-bought organic food at times for convenience's sake, but I make it myself whenever possible.

Baby food purees are really quite forgiving. If the texture is wrong, you can add and adjust pretty easily, blend it longer, or you can leave it a funky, chunky texture and combine it with infant cereal or yogurt (from 8 months on) to smooth it out. It's been a learning process, but I've created some really fantastic combinations. So far, Kimmy's favorite single foods are bananas (#1), carrots, squash, beets, yogurt, peaches, and sweet potatoes. Anyway, here goes.

For starters, baby foods need to be soft. Kimmy doesn't have any teeth yet, and although she is great at chewing and swallowing, it's especially important for her foods to be smush-able to prevent choking. Almost every fruit and vegetable needs to be washed (try a 5-minute soak in a large bowl of water with 1c. white vinegar, followed by a rinse and pat dry with a paper towel), peeled, diced, and boiled, baked, steamed, or sauteed before pureeing. Exceptions off the top of my head are avocado, bananas, and berries, which are smushy on their own. As a general rule, the smaller the dice, the quicker the cooking time. I actually purposely overcook (2-5 minutes extra) most things to make them extra soft. That being said, you don't want to overcook to the point of disintegration. Always save your cooking water, so you'll have some nice, clean, flavorful, vitamin-rich water to add to your puree if you need to thin the texture.

Whenever possible, organic is best. Babies' digestive systems are just learning to process solid foods, and the less interference with whole, natural ingredients, the better. It's especially important to buy organic for produce that you can eat the skin/peeling on. This is because pesticides can be absorbed through such fruits and vegetables more quickly, and, really, who wants to feed her baby a bunch of unnecessary chemicals? Baby foods are good for up to 6 months in the freezer and up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Single-food purees are sort of self-explanatory, so I'm going to move on to some combinations that have been big hits. I only wish I had pictures! I'll have to take some the next time I have a baby food-making day.

2-3 cups organic, unsweetened applesauce
1 large ripe organic avocado

Half and shell the avocado and toss it in a food processor or blender with the applesauce. Puree until you achieve a really smooth texture. Avocados tend to brown easily in the fridge, even with the acidity of the apple, so I like to freeze this mixture in 2oz. containers and thaw overnight before serving.

2 ripe organic bananas
1 pint organic blueberries

Break the bananas into smaller chunks, pop it all into a food processor or blender, and puree away! Try to puree for at least 2 minutes to break down the seeds and skins of the blueberries as much as possible. You can also push the finished product through a strainer, but Kimmy doesn't really seem to mind the texture of the skins/seeds. I store mine in 2oz. containers in the freezer to prevent the bananas from browning, and I thaw it overnight before feeding. Because of the texture of bananas, they tend to make the mixture a congealed, Jello-like texture. This is fine. Just smash/stir it up before feeding your little one!

Butternut squash, yogurt, and cinnamon
3 oz. butternut squash puree (that you've already made by peeling the squash, scooping out the seeds, dicing it, and boiling for 15-20 minutes until fork tender, then pureeing)
1/8c. Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt (or other organic, plain 2% or whole-milk yogurt)
1/4tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix it all together and voila! Kimmy LOVES this combination. Sometimes it can be a little sour depending on the sweetness of the squash, so I sometimes add a tbsp. of smashed banana. If you choose to sweeten it, do NOT add honey. Babies shouldn't eat honey until age 1 because it can cause botulism. Honey is also full of environmental pollens--great for adults, but maybe not so great for babies who might have seasonal allergies.

Butternut squash-banana
2 c. squash puree
1 ripe organic banana

Pop it in the blender and puree until it's a smooth texture. Same thing with the browning bananas, so it's best to freeze/thaw in small portions, either 2 or 4 oz.

Beets, spinach, and pears
1 bunch organic beets (usually 2-3 in a bunch)
4 c. organic baby spinach (non-baby spinach is fine, just make sure to remove the stems before cooking if you purchase the bigger-leaf version)
1 large pear

Preheat oven to 375. Cut leaves from beets (These are edible and actually taste really good, so I used them as greens with my dinner. They're not as mild as spinach, so I don't recommend them as a substitution in this recipe), scrub the dirt off the roots, and bake them for 1 hour or until you can easily stick a fork through them. Roasting them covered may speed cooking time, but you won't get a nice caramelization on the peeling that way. Beets actually don't have to be peeled, but some people prefer to peel them before or after roasting. I just left the peels alone. Steam your spinach and set aside when done, but save your cooking water. Boil the pear for 5 minutes, or until skin comes off easily. Dice up your cooked, peeled pear, dice the beets when roasted and cooled, and pop all the ingredients in a food processor. If the mixture is too thick, add some of your cooking water to thin it out. Kimmy gobbles this up, so we refrigerate or freeze is larger containers.

We still have a few more months of puree-eating, so I'm sure I'll come up with some new combinations after Kimmy eats through her current stockpile. If you have a lot of single foods on hand, don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations of those, too! Kimmy likes squash-carrot, sweet potato-squash, sweet potato-regular potato, peach-pear, squash-banana, etc. If you try any of these recipes, let me know what your little ones thought! I'm also always looking for more combinations if anyone has suggestions for me.

Happy pureeing!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enjoying the present

Today, I spent the day with my beautiful daughter. (Jarrell is in Indy competing in a voice competition for a $5000 first prize.) So, Mommy-Kimmy day it was. We really enjoyed ourselves! We played, talked, laughed, did laundry, ate, and gave each other lots of hugs. Even though she's only 8.5 months old, I feel like she's older; like she's been around my entire life. I just love her so much!

I have to say that my favorite part of the day was our evening walk. I'm trying to make this a daily activity, at least when the weather is nice. I've been waiting until 5:00-6:00 because that's when the temperature peaks, and the sun's rays get less intense. Kimmy loves to look at nature, people, and cars, and she usually hums the majority of the time we're walking. It's such a neat thing to witness. This evening we walked through Southeast Park and then on an unknown paved trail that borders a creek. I have to figure out what this path is! It was amazing. We walked to the serene sounds of a murmuring creek, the scurry of squirrels in and out of trees, and the evening sunlight glimmering through tree branches. Kimmy got so relaxed she fell asleep in the stroller! I got my work out, for sure. Much of the walk was uphill, and we went about 4 miles. Pushing 40 lbs. of baby and stroller is no joke!

When we got home, Kimmy had a dinner of avocado, pasta, mandarin oranges, squash, and a little bit of mashed potatoes. I made myself a hamburger and zucchini tots. Speaking of, here's the recipe:

Zucchini Tots
1 medium zucchini, shredded (approx. 1 1/2c.)
1 egg
2/3c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3c. bread crumbs
1/3c. corn meal
~1/2tbsp. salt, 1/2tbsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Mix together all ingredients until well combined. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and form tablespoonfuls of mixture into flat disks. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Voila! Next time I make these, I will try adding 2 tbsp. minced onion and flipping the tots halfway through to make them crispier, but overall, the first go was a success!

Now I'm going to finish up some laundry, take a shower, and wait for my lovey to get home. Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight for once, since Kimmy has a doctor's appointment early tomorrow morning in Cincinnati. I'm turning in my apartment keys, as well, so the lease from hell will finally be behind me (until they inevitably spring a cleaning fee on me, as all poorly-managed apartments tend to do)!



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wishful thinking

I don't know about anyone else, but being without an income makes me obsess over money. I'm always day dreaming about going shopping, going out to eat, investing in a new hobby, etc. At times when I think I'm not thinking about money, all I have to do is ask myself what I was thinking about for the last 5 minutes when I thought I was zoning out, and guess what the answer is? Money. Yeah, I'm thankful for what I've got, and, no, I'm not materialistic. But, it sure would be nice to have the freedom to spend.

Here is a list of things I would do if I had money:

  • Pay off my credit cards, car, and student loans.
  • Join Weight Watchers online.
  • Buy Alex Guarnaschelli's new cookbook.
  • Get my car washed and detailed.
  • Remove my belongings from storage and move Jarrell, Kimmy, and me into a new apartment.
  • Purchase a fishing license, fishing pole, tackle box and related supplies, and go fishing every Saturday morning until my freezer was stocked with crappie, bass, and trout.
  • Get a gym membership at the Y and pop Kimmy in the daycare there for an hour a day, so I could have some me time.
  • Hire a sitter for Kimmy and go on a dinner-movie date with Jarrell (it would be the first time since July 2012).
  • Go to the movies (again, it would be the first time since July 2012).
  • Donate to March of Dimes, Duke Cancer Center, and WVU.
  • Buy gifts for all my sick friends.
  • Go on a vacation to the Outer Banks, NC.
  • Purchase a new cell phone.
  • Buy a ton of groceries and test some new recipes.
That's all for now. Who wants to give me $10,000???


I hesitate to say this in such terms because it implies regret, but it's a stunning realization when you see that your life will never be how you once envisioned it. I have very few regrets in life (despite my best efforts to always live with none), and I certainly do not regret anything that led to the birth of my child. However, this state of anxiety I'm always in causes my mind to circle and reel with negativity and self-doubt. I question every aspect of myself and where I'm going in life on an almost-daily basis. Will I ever be successful? What even defines success? Perhaps my high standards for myself have always been unattainable. Will I ever finish grad school? Will I re-learn to face people, conversations, and events that cause me severe apprehension and cause me to be avoidant? Will I ever regain my motivation and drive to do, be, speak, act, and live better? Will I ever have the luxury of saving money? Will I get a job? Will I be able to provide for my daughter as my parents always have for me? The ponderings of my mind never end. They keep me up at night, and they wake me early. I quite literally cannot turn it off.

Through it all, I continuously realize, again and again, that my life is not my own. My path is not my own. My thoughts are not my own. My timing is not my own. I live on God's time--borrowed time--that has been bled and paid for. No matter what mistakes I made, am making, or will make, God's love for me never ceases. His plan for me never falters. His omniscience of my heart and mind never waver. Still, while I can type this now with understanding and comfort, I am only human, and this realization is not always at the forefront of my mind. I have to tell myself these thoughts over and over, daily, hourly, constantly. I have to pray and read. I have to be knocked down to my lowest mental state sometimes before this whole concept even crosses my mind.

This is not how I feel it should be. At what point in my life did Christ exit the center-stage position in my conscience, my thoughts, and my every decision? I want to put him back on that pedestal where he belongs! I'm done with prayer bargaining: "Do this for me, Lord, and I promise I'll blank, blank, blank." No! I want to be led, guided, pushed. I want to step back and let God show me the path for my feet because, obviously, I'm not able to find it on my own right now.

Lord, show me where to go. Draw me close, shoulder my burdens, forgive my many sins, and plant my feet on the steps you've planned for my life path. I need you. I love you. Show me my way.

Where I stand

Once again, I'm back to my old love: writing. So much has changed. So much is uncertain. So much is scary. So much is happy.

What I want this blog to be is a place to clear my head. It's about mental health, expressions of all things abstract from my brain, and clarity. I can also tell you what this blog is not meant to be; it's not about attention, comparison, or judgment. If you don't like it, please move on.


With that being said, here's a summary of my current self.

I'm 24. Jarrell and I are going strong on our 5th year of togetherness. My life dream of becoming a mother has been fulfilled. Kimberly Jarae was born August 7, 2012, and she's the absolute love of my life!

Speaking of love, I love Jesus. Prayer, Bible verses, and faith have brought me through so much, especially over the last year or so. My faith isn't perfect. My words and actions aren't perfect. But God's forgiveness and love couldn't be more perfect.

I kinda-sorta dropped out of grad school, in part because of childcare issues, in part because I lost my financial aid (I had to withdraw from several classes while pregnant, and I didn't do so hot once I was back in school non-pregnant), and in part because I lost all motivation to be a student when I had a lovely daughter at home demanding my attention as her mother. C'est la vie, I suppose.

I often wonder if the anxiety and crazy emotions I experienced during pregnancy carried over and have permanently affected my sense of self. I also often wonder if I have real, diagnosable postpartum anxiety. I grapple with feelings of failure and ineptitude. I struggle to make new friends here in Bloomington, where, for the first time in my adult life, I am a resident of a city where I am not also a student. I am unemployed and flat broke. I have a bachelor's degree and no job to show for it, and I can't seem to find a good fit for me, exacerbating my feelings of personal chaos.

I am actively searching for myself. If you find me first, please let me know.