Archive | Family Memories RSS feed for this section

No Filter: The Mommy Definition of Gross

6 May

Before I had a baby, I thought it was gross to clip your toenails in the living room. I thought drinking out of the milk carton COULD be considered gross — although PoppaNut knows I sneak a swig or two out of carton from time to time. Things like chewing with your mouth open, digging in your ears and wearing dirty underwear are certainly gross, motherhood has completely changed my grossness radar.

It started with pregnancy, when my belly served as my lap tray and catch-all. My belly became a magnet for all things sticky, like ice cream, jelly and BBQ sauce — and I’d sit blissfully unaware for hours that my shirt had been stained with “insert random sticky thing” and I was proudly displaying it everywhere I walked. Yeah, gross!

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly

 

Then, there was labor. Let’s just say a lot of gross things happened within those hospital walls, and everyone has been sworn to secrecy. Between the blood and the bodily fluids, I’m pretty sure PoppaNut and I are both still scarred from the experience. I mean, there was a morning when I literally had to pee with a lady two inches from my hoohaa while she used a spray bottle to clean said area — and that’s the most mildest gross part I feel comfortable sharing. Again, I’m pleading the fifth on the rest of it, but it was beyond gross.

Then, we brought baby home, and within five minutes of our big arrival, I managed to get poop on our freshly painted nursery walls. That beautiful Quicksilver hue now featured spots of Reece’s infant tar, and no amount of scrubbing seemed to diminish it. Double gross!

Fast-forward to Reece’s gastrointestinal appointment, where PoppaNut and I try to keep our little one entertained for 20 minutes while we wait for the doctor to arrive. We bounce, we tickle, we play games, he pukes … all down the side of my shirt and arm. And the crazy thing is I don’t even flinch. I don’t rush to clean it up, I don’t make a gross face, and I don’t even move like something gross has happened … because at this point, it’s happened a billion times and now I’m used to it. When the doctor walks in, I’m still casually dabbing it off with a burp rag, and without any hesitation, I go right into Reece’s symptoms. It’s like “Yeah, nothing to look at here, folks … just puke down a new mother’s favorite top … keep it moving.” But it’s still gross!

Now, for the grossest story to date … Reece was about one month old when he woke up at 3 p.m. for a nighttime feeding. Sluggishly, I threw on my pink fluffy robe and headed in to assess the situation. Reece was making some grunting noises, so I placed him on the changing table and checked his diaper. No poop. But the pushing continued. So, I took off his old diaper, put a fresh diaper right underneath him and pressed his legs up to his chest, foolishing thinking the diaper was well-positioned to catch anything that might come out. Well, I know personally now where the phrase “Shit has hit the fan” comes from. Shit hit everything BUT the fan in this case. It shot out like a Supersoaker Max D 6000 Water Blaster, minus the water. I received one hit to the chest and one to the arm. The wall and diaper genie were blown away, and I sat completely frozen for a good minute solid.

How in the heck do you clean this up? If it was in the morning hours, I would’ve hosed myself off on the side of the house … that’s how bad the destruction was. No one told me poop could fly! 300 wipes, 30 minutes and a scrubbed bath robe later, most of the remnants were gone and the poop explosion became my motherhood fodder. Nasty!

Now, there’s a whole new host of things I do that my before-baby self would gag at. I talk about poop at the dinner table. I pick crap out of Reece’s ears and nose with my bare finger. I regularly find lint hiding in my baby’s formula-collecting neck rolls. I’ve found a dirty diaper in my purse (and my mommy brain has no recollection of how it got there). I get puked on a few times a week, and sometimes, I don’t even change my clothes. And when Reece farts, I almost always laugh.

I could go on and on. In a way, I’m kinda proud of this new me. Who knew I had an iron stomach and balls of steel to deal with this motherhood crap … yes, the flying-across-the-room, hitting-mommy-in-the-chest crap. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Advertisements

No Formal Training: Learning to Be a Mommy

3 May

I was never a baby person. In fact, the first baby I remember interacting with was my brother … and that started out pretty rocky. My first memory with him consisted of me dancing around the living room in my fancy new plastic headbands and then biting him when no one was paying attention. I’m not proud of it, but the good news is that we’ve come to love each other as grown adults.

Me and My Brother

Me and My Brother

 

Flash forward to high school, when everyone babysat for extra cash. A woman in my neighborhood asked me to babysit her three young children, and I jumped at the chance. How hard could that be, I thought. Four hours later, covered in macaroni and cheese and watching “Dumbo” for the third time after a “falling down the stairs” incident, I literally met that momma at her front door with her destroyed children and vowed to never babysit again.

When I was in my twenties, my sister and her family came to visit, renting a beautiful condo on the beach. She asked if I’d mind watching her youngest son while she took her other older children to an amusement park for the day. Condo on the beach? Yes, please! So, that morning, I said goodbye to my sister, changed into my swimsuit and headed to the pool with JR in tow. Well, I had no idea that babies don’t really lay out and lounge by the pool, so our stay lasted a whole 10 minutes at most. But when I lugged JR and all our beach gear back upstairs, I realized we were locked out. So, there I was in my bikini with no shoes and a baby on my hip crossing the ever-busy, tourist-lined Gulf Boulevard to get an extra key from the rental office. Beyond embarrassing and one of my biggest redneck moments!

Since that last incident, I hadn’t spent more than maybe two hours alone with a child, and then we got pregnant. Luckily, PoppaNut has far more experience, but that “plus sign” meant it was time to learn a thing or two myself. So, I poured over baby books, mommy blogs and family testimonials. I Googled everything I could and spent hours watching YouTube videos like “How to Wash a Baby,” “How to Feed a Baby” and “How to Swaddle a Baby.” Yes, I literally YouTubed this stuff, and it was actually pretty helpful.

Then, I signed us up for the baby class, “Childbirth Preparedness.” I came with a notebook, pens and my academic ethics. I was going to sit at the front of the classroom and learn EVERYTHING I could because knowledge is power. And PoppaNut was a great sport about it — he participated in the question/answer session and even walked around the room with me while I stomped and squatted (techniques I was told help the baby drop). I learned about the birthing ball (yoga ball you can use during labor), signs of labor and a whole host of other things. But when it got to the C-section portion of the class, we scooted out. We aren’t going to need that anyway, I thought.

Boy, were we wrong! After being induced and spending 12 hours in labor, I had a C-section. I didn’t get to use the birthing ball and I didn’t need to know the signs of labor. I completely forgot most of the things I read in the baby books and blogs. And from then on, I just did what I thought was right. I still make jokes about how I’m completely not qualified to have a baby, and it’s still quite unbelievable that I’m somebody’s mommy. And suddenly, that same girl who never was a baby person now can’t imagine her life without this amazing baby in it. Amazing how becoming a mommy can change you. But I guess what I learned is love is the magical ingredient. With love leading you, you find your way. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Hell on Earth: Coping with Acid Reflux and Getting Insurance to Pay for Your Formula

14 Apr

I shared last week that my little one had terrible colic, acid reflux and milk-protein intolerance, which all started shortly after we brought him home from the hospital. He would scream all the time, for long stretches of time. PoppaNut and I were beyond frustrated — what could we do to help our little angel? He was clearly in a lot of pain and nothing we tried seemed to help.

I decided to think of Reece as my Rubik’s cube. “I will master you before my maternity leave is over,” I proclaimed, as I scoured the internet for hours each day. I’d make a list of products to try, products that other mothers were swearing by, and I’d head right to Walgreen’s.

We tried Colic Calm, Mylanta, gas drops, gripe water, fennel seeds … you get the idea. I’d hear a mention of something I hadn’t tried, and I’d run right to the store to buy it. With each purchase, I’d come home all excited to give a whirl. And I’d notice some relief, and the happy dance would start. Then, four hours later, I’d retire that product to my collection of “didn’t work after all” buys. We reached out to all of our friends who had similar experiences for sanity tips and home remedies, but we couldn’t quite figure out that right mix for Reece.

One of Our Many Trips to the Doctor's with Reece

One of Our Many Trips to the Doctor’s with Reece

We also played the formula rotation, trying to find that perfect mix. Reece was terrible during feedings, frantically moving his head from side to side in pain. His belly would rumble, and you could just tell this wasn’t working for him. So, we tried every formula known to man … again, excited each time we tried one, thinking we were closer to a solution, and then it would end in disappointment when the screaming would start again.

A very good friend said, “Once you figure out the right combination for him, this will all go away.” I’m no doctor, but that’s exactly what happened. Reece needed a combination of medication and specialized formula with gas drops, and he was a happy baby again! It didn’t happen before my maternity leave was over, but it was pretty darn close.

But, as you can guess, that specialized formula isn’t cheap. My insurance wouldn’t pay for the $45-a-can formula, and while I considering selling my non-vital organs to the black market for formula funds, I luckily found an alternative means. A found a blog that outlined the process — find a durable medical equipment supply company (DMEs) that carries your formula (ours was EleCare) and takes your insurance, and you’re golden.

Elecare

You’d think your insurance company would just give you a DME list, but why would they be that nice? I started Googling DMEs and my insurance company, and I found an excel spreadsheet. Then, I took to the phone lines, calling each one tirelessly. I finally found one, and I had Reece’s GI doctor submit a prescription … and just like that, they sent me out two cases of formula! When I got the call confirming my address, I jumped up and down like I won the lottery … and I did — at least the formula lottery!

I learned two really important things through all this. One, you are your own health-care advocate, and that’s true for your child as well. PoppaNut and I were told so many times that everything was fine with Reece but we knew there was something wrong. We had to keep pushing for answers until we got them. I encourage you to do the same when it comes to your health or your child’s health. Two, insurance doesn’t make it easy. You have to fight for it. I’m still talking to insurance about reimbursement for Reece’s medication, filled nearly five months ago. But I think they know now I won’t give up now!

And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

The Heart of the Home: Our Kitchen Remodel

14 Apr

They say the heart of your home resides in the kitchen, and that’s especially true when you marry a sauce-making, Mozzarella-loving Italian. This man loves to cook, and I love to find any excuse to whip up a yummy dessert.

So, when we moved into our new home last May, we both knew a kitchen renovation would be on the list … but that list kept growing and growing considered we moved into a home that had been empty for two full years. PoppaNut painted every possible surface in this home, and power-washed everything else. We overhauled the landscaping, and we were finally ready for the next project: our downstairs bar area.

This was our kitchen just before the remodel. We only replaced the appliances when we moved in.

This was our kitchen just before the remodel. We only replaced the appliances when we moved in.

 

So, when my father-in-law came over, who also happens to be a residential/commercial home builder (Residential Design Corp), we began talking about the bar project … which somehow naturally lead to how much I hated our kitchen. And Dad agreed, saying how super easy and inexpensive it would be to remodel this area into our dream kitchen.

Well, that’s all I needed to get started, and PoppaNut graciously set aside his bar dreams for mine, a sacrifice that still makes me tear up when I think about it. So, together, we picked out every element of this kitchen. And with a ton of full-weekend work sessions and several long late-night weekday projects (and a ton of help from Dad and our friend Brad), our dream kitchen came together. Let’s take a look.

 

We started by priming the cabinets.

We started by priming the cabinets.

 

The sticky tile had to go, so we could make way for the new floor.

The sticky tile had to go, so we could make way for the new floor.

 

And the new floor is in! This tile actually looks like gray wood.

And the new floor is in! This tile actually looks like gray wood.

 

Next, it was time to cover those nasty countertops. And we used the same flooring tile for that!

Next, it was time to cover those nasty countertops. And we used the same flooring tile for that!

 

I've always had my heart set on a farmhouse sink, and again ... my dream was coming true.

I’ve always had my heart set on a farmhouse sink, and again … my dream was coming true.

 

This sink could serve as a home pool! It's huge!

This sink could serve as a home pool! It’s huge!

 

Once the white subway tile backsplash was in, we moved on to the island.

Once the white subway tile backsplash was in, we moved on to the island.

 

We couldn't leave the nearby kitchen table untouched, so I recovered each chair in a bold blue fabric to accent the kitchen for just $20.

We couldn’t leave the nearby kitchen table untouched, so I recovered each chair in a bold blue fabric to accent the kitchen for just $20.

 

And this is the "after" photo. This is the kitchen this home was meant to have.

And this is the “after” photo. This is the kitchen this home was meant to have.

 

And that’s life in a nutshell. At the end of this kitchen renovation, I’m thrilled with this new space. It’s everything I pictured and I can’t wait to start using it for big and small occasions. But it means more to me than just a beautiful kitchen. It’s a renovation that PoppaNut put his heart and soul into just because he loves me and always wants to make my dreams come true, it’s a space where our friends and family will gather for years to come to celebrate exciting moments, it’s a warm heart to this home I’ll love forever.

 MommaNut

Knowing Your Roots: A Grandfather’s Gift

27 Jun

So, my blog is not like everyone else’s blog. Yes, I like to talk about fashion, recipes, home renovations, my puppy dogs and more. But I also like to talk about my roots, my values, my love and my heart. And this posting is very dear to my heart because it is years in the making.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend at least a weekend every month at my grandparents’ home. It would be a long drive down an old, stinky country road, followed by hours spent with my cousins playing games and climbing trees. At night, we would gather in the living room to watch “Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest” while we patiently waited for my grandpa’s famous homemade chocolate milkshakes to be ready.

My grandparents used to take us all camping quite a bit during the summer, and we all loved it. My cousin Ashley and I even competed in a dance recital at Twin Mills one year, and I’m sure my grandparents still have a video of that somewhere. I spent so many warm summer nights on my old bicycle, riding around the campground having so much fun with my sister, brother and cousins.

Enter Grandpa into the story. My grandfather is a strong, quiet man. A veteran of the Korean war, my grandfather is not the type that will talk your ear off. You’ll only hear his gentle voice when he has something important to say or if he wants to get your attention. My grandfather has always showed he loved me by with a simple gesture … an arm around my shoulder, a kiss on my forehead, a high five and a delicious homemade milkshake.

Fast forward several years later … PoppaNut and I told my grandparents that we were about to purchase a home, and they mentioned that old bicycle again. It wasn’t in the best condition and it had been painted green, but I could have it if I wanted. Me being in love with all things vintage, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that bike.

But with any home closing, your mind is so overwhelmed with the insurance estimates, closing fees, realtor drama and more that you forget all about what you’ll fill your house with and instead, focus on the list of things you must do today to actually get the house. So the bike discussion completely flew out of my mind, and I focused on the closing.

Just two months after the closing, I received a text from my grandpa with a photo. No words, but just one picture of a vintage yellow bike that looked a whole lot like that one I had as a child. And it turns out, it was. My grandfather had completely taken apart my bike, restoring each piece and renovating it to its former glory. And in that one text, I was 10 years old again with my grandfather handing me my homemade shake. I didn’t need the words to know what he was saying. To anyone else, you would have just seen a yellow bike. But to me, that text said “I love you and I’m proud of you” in the same way my grandpa would convey his love when he made me one of those famous milkshakes.

I’m so honored that my grandfather spent time restoring my old bike. And I’m be thrilled to have it at my home as a reminder of the kind of childhood I had, the value of my Indiana upbringing and the importance of beautiful gestures my grandfather has always shown me.

MommaNut

Easy Dessert: Scotcharoo Family Recipe

5 Jun

When I started college, I was pretty homesick. I had never really been far away from home, and Indiana University was nearly four hours away from my familiar stopping grounds. My birthday is in September, just a few short weeks after my freshman year had started, and I was in desperate need of something from home. And my sister being the most wonderful sister in the world, she must have known that, because a homemade recipe book made its way to my new address.

Inside, my sister had documented all of our family recipes inside. With a handwritten inscription, my sister brought me to tears with her words. And I have held on to that recipe book with dear life every since. It has accompanied me to my first apartment after college, to my apartment with my cousin Ashley, to my first place with PoppaNut, and now to our beautiful home. I’ve added my favorite recipes over the years, and I consult is each and every time I’m in the mood to make something new.

My favorite entries are the ones in my grandmother’s own handwriting. Her famous Texas sheet cake, which my cousins hid each Thanksgiving in Indiana in order to save the most for themselves, is documented inside, along with her peanut-butter balls, her scotcharoos and more. The only one missing is her famous strawberry jam, which I hope to learn to make someday as well.

So, with my recipe book in hand, I flipped through the familiar, recipe-stained pages for just the right thing to make. Scotcharoos it was! Now, if you haven’t heard of scotcharoos, it is basically Rice Krispy Treats with chocolate and butterscotch chips melted over the top. However, I made a few adjustments of my own.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. butter

4 cups of mini marshmallows

Six cups of Rice Krispy cereal

Bag of chocolate chips

Bag of butterscotch chips

Directions

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Then, add in marshmallows, and mix until well-blended. Add in cereal, and mix well.

Pour into a rectangle pan, and place wax paper over the top. Then, press down and carefully remove wax paper.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add in chips (I actually used chocolate chips and peanut-butter chips). Place in microwave on high on 30-minute intervals, stirring each time, until all chips and melted and blended together. Pour over the top and place in fridge to set. Serve with a tall glass of milk!

I sure hope you enjoy them. My little Cashew literally stretched out and watched me make them. I think he was hoping I might drop some so he could sample it too!

And that’s life in a nutshell … making scotcharoos not only satisfies my sweet tooth but it warms my heart thanks to the family tie.

MommaNut

A Big Thanks: Clifford Field Trip

21 May

You guys might remember my post about my sister’s kindergarten classroom. She wanted to take your kids on a theater field trip to see Clifford, but her budget wouldn’t allow her to schedule the bus. Well, my wonderful blog followers stepped in and made it happen. This is what my sister said about it.

“I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for everyone that played a part in providing the funding for our field trip to Clifford, The Big Red Dog.  With those funds, all eight kindergarten classes were able to get transportation to the play as well as to the park for a picnic and time to play together.  The play was a huge success and the best part was, the actors made it interactive with the audience, which really held our students attention! Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our children.  The majority of them had never seen a play before and I know it was an experience they will hold on to for a lifetime.”

My Sister and Her Students

I second all of those sentiments, and I sincerely thank each of you for your help.

And that’s life in a nutshell … investing in a child’s future is the greatest gift of all.

MommaNut

Home Sweet Home: First-Time Home Buyers

8 May

You all haven’t heard from me in quite a few weeks, but it’s not because I’m sitting around with nothing interesting to talk about. In fact, it is quite the opposite case. PoppaNut and I bought our first home.

This crazy journey dates back to late February, when PoppaNut ran across a new home listing on our dream street. Lined with beautiful palm trees, this perfect road has everything we have ever wanted in a home location: small-town feel, lots of charm, large yards, close to nearby parks and water and more. Every Sunday on our afternoon runs, we would dream about living in one of the houses on this road. We would talk about what it would be like to walk out our front door and see water or to skip next door to play tennis at the public courts. Our large dreams would usually end with a “one day” kinda sentiment, and our minds would fixate on something more immediate. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that we could make it happen.

But I underestimated us. Because we are now residents on that same street. We can see the tennis courts from our front porch and we can see water from the driveway. PoppaNut has two large garages and plans for a GIGANTIC Yankees bar. I have two beautiful porches, where I can sit and write or entertain friends. And it’s a complete blank slate for us to do a million and one things to it in the future.

But more than all the features that it has, it is what we are building there that means the most to me. PoppaNut and I are building our future, one paint stroke at a time. We have a story for every project we have already completed in the home, which needed quite a bit of love after being vacant for two years. And while some may have doubted our ability to make a house like this livable, we managed to do it with a lot of help from family and friends in just 10 days.

PoppaNut literally worked around the clock, fighting back hunger and sleep on several occasions, to make my dream of what this house could be come true. Just like the song “The House that Built Me” says “Brick by brick and board by board, Daddy gave life to Momma’s dream,” PoppaNut has certainly given life to my dream. He is my super hero, my prince charming and my best friend. And when this house tried to take down our spirits along the way, like a broken A/C our first night sleeping there, PoppaNut was always by my side.

So, be patient with my postings. We have taken on quite a challenge, but I know we are up for it. Get ready for a front-seat view! And that’s life in a nutshell … every dream is possible if you are up for the hard work required.

MommaNut

At Last, Atlantis: Visiting the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas

9 Apr

I’m crazy about pink hotels. This is not the first time you have heard this. You’ll probably remember my pink-house story. When I was a little girl, I dreamt that my dad built me a pink house with rainbows and diamonds on the outside. A girl can dream, can’t she?

And while I don’t have diamonds outside my home, PoppaNut always takes me to pink hotels for special occasions as a tribute to making all my dreams come true. Our wedding night was spent in a pink hotel, and my birthdays are always spent at a pink hotel. And now, our second anniversary also involved a pink hotel: The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

Now, I don’t know that I can call that a hotel … it’s more like a city in itself! There are a ton of things to do in this hotel, but I couldn’t help but just look in awe of the overall beautiful of the resort’s design. Once I was able to shake the fact that I wasn’t in “Couples Retreat,” we took our map and set out to explore!

I have to say we were lost the majority of the time, but we didn’t care. Everything around us was gorgeous! We jet-skied, we laid out in the sun, we went through the aquarium, we ate delicious food, I saw a shark (and a million of his friends) and we found a gift shop.

And that’s life in a nutshell … there is something magical that happens in a pink hotel, and I’m lucky enough to get to explore each one I come across.

MommaNut

All Aboard: Cruising on the Yacht StarShip in Tampa

3 Apr

If you leave anywhere near the Bay area, you have probably heard about the Yacht StarShip cruises that leave out of Tampa and Clearwater. You have probably put it on your wish list of places to visit around the area, and month after month, you never take part.

I was the exact same way. Every time I would see a commercial or someone talking about Yacht StarShip, I burst out, “Oh my gosh, I want to do that so bad!” But, then I would forget about it until the next commercial aired. Well, I decided to make a change, and I purchased two tickets through LivingSocial. I mean, who can pass it up when it’s at such a discount on LivingSocial. I no longer had an excuse not to try it.

So, in honor of our two-year anniversary, PoppaNut and I boarded the Channelside yacht for an unforgettable evening. Yacht StarShip, America’s First 3-diamond rated Dining Yacht by AAA, ranks in the top 28% of all restaurants, and the food was amazing. Our exquisite dinner cruise offered tableside service with exceptional dishes. The calamari was so fresh and tasty, we ate it in about two second flat. With cocktails in hand, we chatted about everything under the sun, while watching the sun set in the distance. With our meal finished and dessert wrapped up to-go, we headed to the top floor to take in the spectacular views from the deck.

Wow! The views of some of the houses nearby were amazing. I couldn’t help but imagine what each person inside those houses were doing and what their lives were like. I could have sat up there for hours, but the dancing had begun inside. After some foot tapping and another few cocktails, PoppaNut and I deboarded the beautiful yacht to look at some of those amazing houses a bit closer.

And there, in the shadows of the night, stood Derek Jeter’s humble (or not so humble) abode. With the faint glimmer of a TV on inside, we knew the Yankee legend was just a few yards away. So, I’m just going to say we celebrated our two-year anniversary with Jeter. And for PoppaNut, that was a dream come true!

And that’s life in a nutshell … explore the amazing things this area has to offer. Make a new wish list, and make a point to actually partake in each one. You’ll lead a richer life because of it.

MommaNut

 

%d bloggers like this: