Sunday, July 27, 2014

A different kind of growth spurt

After Miles's bath every night, we put on his lullaby CD* and snuggle for a few minutes before we put him in his crib for the night.  I have a routine: whether he's awake (usually) or asleep, when I hear "Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf" I know cuddle time is over and it's time to put him down. He will fuss for a bit, mostly protesting that we are out of his line of vision, and within minutes [most nights], will be peacefully asleep.  

Tonight, however, was different.  I was holding him as usual, rocking to the lullabies, as his eyes were getting heavy.  His blinks became slower, his eyes opening less and less each time, as the rest of his perfect little face began to relax as well.  His mouth opened in a crooked little yawn, and he melted into my arms, growing heavier with each deepening breath.  He took a few sucks from a phantom bottle (or breast?), falling further into sleep.  

I found myself overcome with love.  I wanted to ball him back up into the tiny little cantaloupe he used to be when he lived inside of me, and tuck him away inside my belly all over again.  I wanted to hold him there forever, "Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf" be damned!, and never, ever, ever let him grow or change any more than he already has. I wept.  

Why do I love him so much when he is asleep?  He is such a busy toddler during the day: always rearranging our apartment (he seems to think that the items from our Recycling bin should be peppered around the apartment rather than gathered together in the bin, for example), eating things he shouldn't (e.g., cat food), or trying to build his expertise as a climber (he is part mountain goat).  These moments are frustrating, to be sure, but I think it's too simple to say that's why.  

Because it's also while he's awake that he gives hugs (so many!), shares all his snacks and toys with us, plays along with our silly jokes (I'm sure my jumping around the corner a million times isn't really that startling or funny, but it always gets a reaction!), and gives us that giggle that makes whatever it is that we were worrying about a moment ago a thing of no consequence.  It's while he's awake that we see him learning new things every day.  It's while he's awake that we see him turning into the new and ever-changing version of himself, that we are fascinated by his growth and development.  So why do I love him so much, lying there, heavy in my arms?  

He isn't doing anything.  

I think that's precisely it.  

He doesn't have to do anything for me to love him.  In fact, even though he does so many adorable, fun, and amazing things every day, those distract me from seeing him. The infant I met 13 months ago had very few of the skills my busy toddler now exhibits, yet I loved him, too.  And when I see that toddler sprawled across my lap, his beautiful dark lashes guarding those green-brown eyes, his mouth in a perfect, tiny little pout, and his button nose punctuating such innocence, such magnificence . . . I also remember the tiny newborn version of him.  We knew nothing about him, and yet, we loved him.  When he sleeps, there is nothing else to distract us from him.  And each time I catch a glimpse of him dozing, his breathing deep and measured, or hear him sigh contentedly in his sleep, my love for him grows.  

I suppose it will (and must) continue to grow, to accommodate bigger challenges as well as bigger triumphs. My love will need to grow so that the first time he decorates the walls with crayon, or gets sent to the principal's office, or gets escorted home by the police, I will be fully equipped to love that version of my sweet son.  It will need to grow so that when he finally learns how to say, "I love you, Mama," or picks a bouquet of "flowers" / weeds from our yard for me, or dedicates his Nobel prize to his father and me, that my heart will be ready to accept all that love.  

And I think that's why, when he sleeps, I feel so much love for him.  
My love, just like his little body as he sleeps, is growing.  

*CDs are what people used before they could put all their music on their computer, phone, or brain chip it's

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chubby Girl, Running (Part II)--I Ran 13.1 Miles and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

One week ago today, I ran the Big D Half-Marathon.  13.1 miles.  I did that. 

It was cold and rainy (48F and threatening thunderstorms, to be exact), and before the race started, it wasn't even clear if it would go on.  But it did, and so did we.  

Training for a half-marathon is hard.  We trained through winter, and while Texas winters are not as bad as many places, there were still days getting out was just hard.  There were days with ridiculous wind that knocked over the jogging stroller (sans baby, thankfully) that forced our long run inside--135 laps around the indoor track.  There were days that the ground was covered in ice, forcing us again to that indoor track. (It's really not as bad as it seems--pretty good people watching, plus the added benefit of that smug feeling when you've outlasted everyone else at the track).  

When you're training for a distance run, you will likely hear a lot of people say, "Oh, wow.  I could never do that."  I used to be one of those people.  I remember a girl I met in my undergrad who was training for a marathon, who said, "Anyone can run a marathon.  If you can walk, you can do a marathon."  I thought she was nuts.  Surely she didn't mean anyone. There must be concessions for chubby girls whose thighs rub together.  Anyone but them.  

But here I am to tell you sincerely, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. My thighs still rub together--and I ran a half-marathon.  To further illustrate this point: when I first started running with Andy, I started a run/walk program that had me running 20-30 seconds for every 2 minutes of walking.  And after those 20 seconds, I was panting, my heart was pounding, and I felt like I was going to die.  I remember the first time I ran for a full 30 minutes--another rainy day--and I thought I had conquered the world.  Even at that point, if you'd told me I'd run a half-marathon, I would probably think you were nutzo.  

In any case, my 13.1 is still only the SECOND most difficult thing I've done in my life.  Interestingly enough, the FIRST most difficult thing I've done is something that way, way more people do than running a half-marathon.  To further illustrate this point, allow me to present a poorly-made Venn diagram:  

Clearly the payoff is greater in Unmedicated Childbirth, though, the windshield decals for your car are less prevalent.  

So, if you've already had an unmedicated childbirth, you can rest assured that you don't need to assert yourself any further--you have already done the hardest thing.  Unfortunately, if you've already run a half-marathon and are considering unmedicated childbirth . . . well, God speed, my friends.  

In any case, now I am assured that I Can Do Hard Things.  Like running 13.1 miles in the cold rain.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chubby Girl, Running

When Andy and I had been married for less than a year, we got a flier in the mail about Team in Training--a fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, wherein its participants raise funds while also training for a distance race.  Andy was very excited--I was mildly interested.  So, we went to a meeting at a local restaurant, and got the information.  

From the get-go, Andy was into it.  "Let's do the 100-mile bike ride!  Oooh, or a triathlon!" I, on the other hand, was more reserved.  

Eventually, we decided upon a half-marathon (which was later downgraded further to a 10k, due to a schedule conflict).  The Cowtown 10k, in February of 2010.  Our "training" was spotty at best, and when I started running, I could only muster about 30 seconds of shuffling at a time.  I worked that up, but still, by race day, I was in no way fit to complete the 10k.  (I did, however, run my first full mile--mostly for fear of being stampeded by the runners behind me.)  

This year, we revisited the Cowtown 10k, and THIS YEAR I CONQUERED.  I ran the whole 6.2 miles.  I had my coach by my side, and we crossed the finish line, hand in hand, victorious.  Now, I am still very slow (slow enough, in fact, that my running pace finish time was only about 10 minutes faster than my 2010 run/walk time), but I did it.  We're working on that half-marathon now.  Andy helped me finish 7 miles yesterday, so we're more than halfway!  I can't believe it.  

As I started the Cowtown this year, I was misty-eyed as I thought of those early days running.  I thought of myself, huffing and puffing and thinking I was going to die in my 30-second running intervals.  I thought of myself, volunteering to be goalie in the backyard soccer game, because the goalie didn't have to run as much. 

It's taken a while for me to adjust to the fact that running is something I can do now.  That I can run 3 miles now on just about any day.  That I can run a 10k.  That maybe, just maybe, I actually CAN finish my half-marathon.  

For someone who has had body image issues since finding the balance point on the seesaw on my elementary school playground, running has changed the way I look at my body.  I used to think I was just incapable.  "My body simply cannot do that," I thought.  Turns out I was wrong.  My body can do lots of things.  It may require more of me to get to the point of being able to run 5k, 10k, or 13.1 miles.  Maybe I'll never be fast, or look cool while I'm doing it.  But I can do it.  

I'm still in shock that I successfully completed 7 miles yesterday.  It started from 30 seconds.  Now, I can run for the duration of a romantic comedy! I'm still chubby.  But now I know I can do things.  Hard things.  I wonder how my life would have been different if I'd learned that lesson earlier in life:  that just because you can't immediately do something doesn't mean that you lack the capacity to ever do it, and you should therefore avoid that activity at all costs.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

If You Can't Stand The Heat, Move the Laminator Out of The Workroom Where The 20 Crockpots Are

Happy Halloween. 

I'm a lame parent.  I haven't posted Miles's progress in a while, but he can roll both ways now.  He has little babble-conversations with us, laughs a lot, and smiles a LOT.  He sleeps through the night (although, lately, he's been opting out of that in favor of snuggles / nursing time), and he's pretty much the best baby that ever there was.  But not writing my doting page anywhere near his month-days makes me lame. 

Even lamer:  today is his first Halloween, and we are staying home.  He is wearing a white onesie.  But, with Andyface doing his Alternative Teacher Certification program in the evenings, I just couldn't bring myself to put in the effort to get him dressed up just to go to the church Trunk-or-Treat, and then leave after 15 minutes because I was bored and didn't have anyone to talk to.  So, sorry, Miles. 
Miles is going as a cute baby this year.

Anyway, also today there was a chili cook-off at work. 

Normally, I'm not a competitive person.  I'm way too much of a people-pleaser to do that. 

When it comes to food, however, I am secretly very, very, very competitive.  Or maybe not so secretly.  Food is something I do (I think) quite well.  For me, every potluck is a competition, and I get my feelings hurt if my food doesn't get eaten. 

Case in point:
Ward Chili Cook-off, 2011

Andyface and I came up with a brilliant recipe for a Jamaican Jerk chicken chili, with pineapple and jerk seasoning, and it was darn good. (Not a true "chili," but we were hanging out with a bunch of Yankees in '11, so that was irrelevant.)  However, there was also a pie contest.  So, we entered two of our favorite pies: chocolate haupia and chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake swirl. 

Unfortunately, we bit off a bit more than we could chew, and none of our entries actually made it to the table in time to be judged.  The two pies didn't have time to properly set, and so we just ended up being really bitter about the whole situation.  We knew, just knew, that if we had had our chili on the table in time, it would have won.  Alas. 

We were angry about it for a good two weeks, even then calming down only enough to face people in the ward without wanting to punch them in the face.  Still, when someone would reference the chili cook-off, we would fume (quietly, to ourselves). 

[Side note: Yankees don't know about chili.  The accoutrements were severely lacking.  Cornbread is a must.  Cheese is a must.  Hot dogs are not an acceptable substitute.] 

Yet, when I saw the sign-up for the cook-off this year, I had to enter.  Because it's FOOD, and I do food.  I'm new at this school, and I have to make it known that I'M GOOD AT FOOD. They have to be like, "Oh, blah blah blah, food?  You should ask RACHEL.  She'll know what to do about FOOD."  They have to be like, "Oh, Rachel brought the Crock Pot this week, so you know it's gonna be stellar."

So, I made a chili.  Normally, my chili is a hodgepodge of whatever we happen to have in the pantry, and it usually turns out pretty well.  I haven't used a recipe for my basic chili in years, so I felt pretty confident in my ability to make a pretty good one.

Thankfully, this year, my chili placed.

Here's (most of) the recipe.  There are still some secrets omitted.  A lady never tells.

RACHEL'S ROJO (Roasted Poblano-chipotle chili) 

1 large Poblano pepper (stem removed)
1 medium Anaheim pepper (stem removed)
3 Roma tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 large white onion, thickly sliced 
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper 

1.5 lbs. ground chuck 
1 (14.5 oz.) can of Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can black beans (drained and rinsed) 
1 (14.5 oz) can chili beans (undrained) 
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce 
1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 
1 chipotle chile (from can in adobo sauce), finely chopped 
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
3/4 cup chicken broth 

1.5 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder 
2 T. brown sugar 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
1/4 cup fine-ground cornmeal 
1/8 cup Secret Ingredient #1 
1 T. Secret Ingredient #2 

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Place both peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender and starting to char, about 20-30 minutes ( I wasn't watching the time. Don't blame me if yours get too charred!).  Remove from oven and let cool.  Turn off your oven.  It's not safe to leave it on like that.

Brown ground chuck in a skillet.  Drain with a slotted spoon, and place in crock pot on "low." 

Add next eight ingredients (through chicken broth), and stir. 

Coarsely chop the roasted peppers, onion, tomato, and garlic.  Add to crock pot.  

Add spices (through cumin), and stir.   Let cook on Low for 3-4 hours. 

Add cornmeal (other acceptable thickeners: masa harina, crushed corn chips, corn tortillas, or even corn cereal).  You may need more or less, depending on how thick you like your chili. Add Secret Ingredient #1, stir, and cook for 2-3 more hours.  Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Just before serving, finish with Secret Ingredient #2. 

Serve with cheese, chips, sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, corn bread, crackers, etc. . . .

Hot dogs optional. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


Since we welcomed Miles into our family a little more than three months ago, a lot has happened.

We moved when he was 2 weeks old.

Andyface went back to work after his paternity leave.

I quit my job at Heart House, though doing so made me really sad.

The grant funding Andy's job wasn't renewed, so...

Andy was laid off (last day of work is October 4), so...

I decided to re-enter the workforce, working full-time as a bilingual teacher's aide in an elementary school (first day was September 9--so far, so good!).

We went to Pittsburgh.

Also, both our cats got tapeworms, and Annie-cat almost died from hepatic lipidosis.

Life just doesn't stand still.

Monday, August 12, 2013

2 months?!

Guys, my calendar is broken.  I don't know how a calendar stops working properly, but obviously that's what happened, because there is NO WAY Miles could be 2 months old.  Just not possible.

Still. . .

At "two months", Mr. Nugget Man spends a lot more time awake and alert, smiling, cooing, chuckling at who-knows-what (Uncle Jonathan's fingers are really NOT that funny to me, but I guess I just don't get the joke), and being more like a Cute Baby than a crying potato.

Miles at 2 months. 12 lbs., 8 oz. / 23" / 39cm head circumference.  

He's smack in the middle for height and head, but 75% for weight.  Chubby bunny.  That explains why he's wearing 3-6 month clothes.  He's also busting out of his size 2 diapers, on account of his massive thighs.  I think he (like his mother) carries most of his weight in his thighs.  

Hobbies include gazing at lights while contemplating the mysteries of the universe, reading books, punching the owl on his bouncy chair and laughing at it (cruel, but okay . . .), peeing (and sometimes pooping!) during diaper changes and laughing (sick sense of humor, this one), and tummy time.  He can hold his head, push up on his hands while arching his back, and definitely kick his little legs.  It looks like he wants to crawl, and sometimes I think he gets mad that he just can't do it yet.  He's super-strong, though (when he flexes his legs, I can see definition in his quads, even through all his delicious baby chub), so I'm sure he'll be there before we know it.

Oh, and cuddling.  He loves cuddling.

Another new hobby is the Blanket Game, a precursor to Peek-a-Boo.  We cover  his face with a blanket, wait a minute, and watch him wiggle and squirm until he gets his face uncovered again.  He laughs, and smiles, and looks just a little bit relieved.  It's awesome--I'll try and get a video up for the full effect.

We also discovered his Crazy Eyes.  Anytime he goes from a light area to a dark area (or we turn off a light, or pull the shade over his stroller, etc.), his eyes get all wide and crazy.  Hilarious.  

He farts and burps with the power of men more than 10 times his size.  Be not ashamed, little Miles! Blow like the wind!  

Miles and Yunus-cat. 

He now outweighs both cats, too.  When he first came home, we'd pick up the cats and say, "Wow, this cat is so heavy!"  Now they feel really light.  (They also like to picked up a lot more now, since they're starved for attention and affection.)  One night, we were giving Miles a bath, and he was not into it.  While he was crying, Yunus came into the bathroom to see what was happening.  He put his paws up on the bathtub, looked at Miles, and then bit Andy on the elbow.  Maybe he thought we were drowning the kid?  Or he just felt for Miles, since we all know how cats feel about baths.  In any case, it was funny and kind of sweet.  

Miles (2 weeks) and Yunus. 

Most happily (for mom and dad, I mean!), sleep seems to be coming easier these days.  He'll put himself to sleep for naps, and there is less of a struggle at bedtime, too.  And last night--miracle of miracles!--he slept through his 3:30am feeding!  He got almost 7 hours of continuous sleep, which is his record to date.  I'm way into that.

Anyway, he's a great baby, and getting more and more fun and interactive every day.

We love you, Miles!  Keep up the good work.  :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Month 1: A Retrospective

Miles was born (over) one month ago now.  
As a blogger, I suppose I'm supposed to commemorate this somehow. 

He's a good baby.  
He likes to snuggle, he likes his bouncer, and he likes rocking in the rocking chair. 
He hates pooping.  
. . . but he is very advanced in his farting.  
It honestly sounds like a grown-up fart. 
 Like, a sound-effect for a stupid kids' show kind of grown-up fart.  Impressive. 

Today, he (accidentally) blew his first raspberry, too.  I know--he's talented. 

We're very proud. 

He is strong: he's been lifting his head since he was one day old.  Now, he enjoys tummy time so he can work on his planks and mountainclimbers. No pain, no gain. 

Let's look back, though . . . 

He was a puffy baby. 

With surprisingly Asian-y eyes. 

But he was nonchalant about it all. 

Then, he grew up a little bit.  

And then, some more. So, here's our big one-month-old! (So serious.) 

Also, it was a busy month besides.  We moved to a new apartment when he was 2 weeks old (because we're crazy, and mashochists).  That kind of threw off the groove we'd been pretending we had, but we're sort of getting back into it now.  It was crazy--he didn't sleep much, and he was pretty grumpy.  But, we have finally (somewhat) settled in, at least to a certain level of functionality.  

The other thing that happened was . . . Miles got a brand new cousin!  

Asa (son to my bro and SIL) was born on July 5th, after making lots of trouble for his momma.  We are going to FORCE these two to be best friends.  DO IT, or else, kiddos.  

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month.  Pretty soon, he'll be needing that college fund.  So . . . I guess we should get on top of setting that up . . .