Snips, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails

Baby Peebles is a boy!

boy

Unless he takes after his father, who was an abnormally cleanly child.

The ultrasound was an amazing experience for so many reasons. (1) He is healthy. (2) We found out the sex. (3) We got to watch him squirming around for a good 20 minutes. Seeing those fingers and toes was so precious, but the most interesting part was seeing the networks already formed in his brain and all the vertebrae lined up perfectly in his spine. Score one for technology!

I truly can’t wait to be a mommy to this sweet little boy, but I have to admit some trepidation. I have very little experience with boys. My only sibling is a girl. I went to an all-girls high school and a women’s college. Out of the dozen or so little children I have known since birth, only 3 or 4 are boys.

To be honest, part of me secretly believed it would be easier to raise a girl since I know a thing or two about being a girl. That’s some shoddy logic, I know, but I think new parents will take any reassurance they can get!

The unconditional love is already there, growing deeper each day and with every kick I feel. But it takes more than love to be a good parent. Obviously, I’ll be doing lots of web-browsing and book-shopping on parenting advice and how to raise boys. Plus, I have some great resources between the family and friends I know who have done/are doing an outstanding job raising their sons.

For now, I am reassuring myself with this half-formed philosophy: my child is not defined by his sex or gender. I will be raising an individual and unique human being. And my job is not to help him become a man, but a good person.

Hopefully, I can scrounge up a non-baby related post sometime soon. Hang in there! 🙂 And thanks for all the love, congratulations, and support we have received! ❤

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The Love We Believe We Deserve

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day. Bring on the discount chocolates! 😉

The hubs and I didn’t do anything special this year, what with a baby on the way and our anniversary right around the corner. As we munched on fast food and searched for a semi-romantic movie on Netflix, I found myself thinking about my Valentine’s Days growing up.

My very first Valentine was my father. In fact, every Valentine’s Day, my sister and I would wake up to chocolates, flowers, and a sweet card from our daddy. And he wasn’t just great at Valentine’s Day. My dad was a rockstar all year long.

Every birthday, we each got a dozen roses in our favorite color. When he went away on business trips, he would always come back with a small treat or toy. Hugs, kisses, and I love you‘s were given daily. The poor man endured endless Disney movie marathons, and even let us paint his nails!

Most importantly, he was actively engaged and interested in our lives:  a shoulder to cry on, a debate partner to test our ideas, a friend to laugh and joke with, and a man we respected.

He was by no means wrapped around our fingers; the rules didn’t bend if we just asked daddy sweetly. And though he rarely spoiled us, he always made sure we knew we were loved — especially on Valentine’s Day, when so many women feel inadequate if they are not in a relationship.

What is it about this holiday that reduces accomplished and successful individuals to a single facet? Disregard all their unique talents and achievements. On Valentine’s Day, they are defined by one thing: their dating status. It’s such an easy trap to fall into, especially when we let our value as a person be determined from outside ourselves, instead of within.

All those sweet little things my daddy did were part of my parents’ larger plan to make sure we grew up with an unshakable sense of self-worth. What they both did so very well was teach us that we are always worthy of love and respect, no matter what.

“We accept the love we believe we deserve.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Playing at Predictions

Today was the big day! Our ultrasound and anatomy scan. We were scheduled for an 8:00 a.m. appointment. Apparently, mother nature had other plans. Snow, sleet, and icy rain make for dangerous driving conditions anywhere, and when you live in the South, even a little bit of snow means everything closes down.

So, we have to wait a little longer to see the baby and find out the gender. I will admit to tears and excessive pouting … and blame them on the pregnancy hormones! 😉

Hopefully, we can reschedule our appointment quickly, but until then I am taking the great advice of a family member and distracting myself with some home gender predictions while stuck inside for the Snow Day!

There are tons of different “tests” and old wives tales out there. I have picked 10 of the most popular that don’t involve embarrassing details like changes to my breasts.

Disclaimer: not my picture. It's all over the Internetz.

1) Chinese Gender Chart: This test is based on the mother’s Chinese lunar age at the time she got pregnant, and the Chinese lunar month in which she conceived. Our result? BOY

2) Mayan Gender Test: Combine the mother’s age at conception and the year of conception. Even number means girl. Odd number means boy. Our result? BOY

3) Baking Soda: Put baking soda into a cup. Pee into another cup, and then combine. If the baking soda fizzes, it’s a boy. No reaction? You’re having a girl. Our result? GIRL

4) Heartbeat: If the baby’s heart rate is 140 beats-per-minute or above, it’s a girl. Below 140, a boy. At our appointment in December, the heart rate was 162. Our result? GIRL

5) Cravings: An old wives tale says craving salty foods while pregnant means boy, and sweet cravings means girl. I have also seen one that says craving sweet means boy, while craving sour means girl. Either way, I have craved pickles and apple turnovers in equal measure. Our result? N/A

7) Carrying: Supposedly, if you are carrying your baby high, it’s a girl. If you are carrying low, it’s a boy. Since I barely have a bump at all, I would also consider this test inconclusive. Our result? N/A

6) Clumsy vs. Graceful: If you remain graceful throughout your pregnancy (assuming you’re graceful to begin with), then it’s a girl. If you become clumsy, it’s a boy. I have always been clumsy, but I will say it has gotten much worse! Our result? BOY

8) Morning Sickness: If you have mild morning sickness, it’s a boy. If you have extreme morning sickness, you are having a girl. Interestingly enough, there’s some truth to this one … according to WedMD. 😉 “Levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, which triggers morning sickness, tend to be higher in mothers who are pregnant with female babies.” Our result? BOY

9) How You Rest: If you prefer to lay on your left side during pregnancy, it’s a boy. Right side? It’s a girl. I used to sleep on my stomach all the time, but no longer. Our result? GIRL

10) The Ring Test: Put your wedding ring on a string. Have someone hold the ring over your belly. If it starts to swing in a circle, it’s a girl. Side to side like a pendulum means a boy. I made sure to not tell the hubby what the results meant before I had him do this test. Our results? BOY

BOY = 5               GIRL = 3              INCONCLUSIVE = 2

Based on these tests, it’s a boy! I haven’t had any strong “mother’s intuition” one way or the other. Both the hubby and my mother have had dreams that it’s a girl … which apparently means it will be a boy based on another old wives tale.

We shall see what the ultrasound says!

Pork Carnitas

I teased all my Facebook friends with a post about my delicious meal on Monday. Time to repay them!

This recipe from The Novice Chef has become one of my all-time favorites for dinner. It’s really great for company because it makes a ton of food! Not ideal to make on a weekday, since there’s nearly a 3-hour time investment, but the steps are really pretty simple.

I’ve made a few small alterations, but here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water
  • corn tortillas
  • avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

1) In a large heavy bottomed pot, mix the pineapple juice, lime juice, garlic, jalapenos, cumin, salt and water. I’m a sucker for fresh lime juice, but you can always use bottled. 🙂 Add the pork to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours. Don’t stir! Just let the meat cook.

2) After two hours, bring the pot to medium-high heat. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated. Your house is going to smell delicious! Unfortunately, it may also smell like lime and cumin for several days …

3) Towards the end of the timer, you’ll start to hear the pork sizzle. After 45 minutes, let the meat cook some more in bits of fat, long enough to brown at the edges. The meat should be tender and just about shredded.

4) Once the meat is done, lightly fry the tortillas in a small bit of oil so they’re crispy. Then pile on the pork, sliced avocado, cilantro, and a few more squeezes of lime!

Pork carnitas with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

Pork carnitas with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

I’m sure there are tons of other toppings that would compliment this dish, but those are my preferences. 🙂

Preggo’s Best Friend

Confession: I am a cat person. I grew up with three cats: Rajah, Jasmine, and Minnie. I am now the mother of two cats, brother and sister tabbies named Oliver Twist and Penny Lane. And I believe with absolute certainty that I will always have a cat in my life.

Many people claim that cats make poor pets. They say cats are cold, unaffectionate, selfish, and aloof — and they cannot match the loyalty and unconditional love of a dog. While that may be true of some felines, it has certainly not been my personal experience!

As a child, I could always count on Rajah to snuggle me when I needed it most — like when I got to the part of Little Women where Beth died. He knew my voice, only let me rub his belly, and loved to be cradled like a baby. His favorite spot to sleep was on my pillow, wrapped around my head. He may have been the runt of the litter, but for 15 long years he was the best pet a girl could want.

As an adult woman, expecting a child of her own, I still consider my cats dear and true companions. We’ve had Penny and Oliver since they were just two months old. They groom us, talk to us (and back at us), and they consider anywhere we sit or sleep or eat to be communal property.

They are both bursting with personality, and attitude, but I know our lives would be incomplete without them. During my pregnancy, these two have been a constant source of comfort amidst the nausea, exhaustion, and days when I could barely function.

Pregnant ladies take lots of cat naps.

Pregnant ladies take lots of cat naps.

She does love attention.

She does love attention.

Does that look aloof to you?

A common pregnancy “myth” you hear is that animals can sense when you are pregnant. I like to think all the extra snuggles I’ve received the past few months prove the truth of that old wives tale! 🙂

Regardless of where you fall on the cat vs. dog argument, it is hard to deny the true value a pet adds to your life. All the care and bills are totally worth the laughter and friendship a pet offers. Not only do they become part of your family, they become part of your heart.

Great Expectations

I’ve been working on something big these last few months … hence the absence of posts. Got a bun in the oven, folks! Come end of June, I’ll be a first time momma. 🙂

Baby's first selfie.

Baby’s first selfie.

When we first found out we were preggers, I figured I’d have TONS of inspiration for the blog, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

First trimester symptoms kinda suck the creativity and motivation out of you. Total exhaustion. Nausea. Food aversions. Super smell that picks up everything gross within a 5-mile radius.

Plus, there’s the symptom they don’t tell you to expect: an overwhelming anxiety bred from WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Thank you, What to Expect When You Are Expecting! In my opinion, if you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant, you should stay away from this book.

Along with all the great illustrations and cute produce analogies for your growing baby, they include the most awful, worst case scenario things that can go wrong with your pregnancy. I’m not saying this isn’t valid, useful information. Just put that crap in the back of the book — not mixed in with all the normal milestones. Pregnant women don’t need any help with over-thinking and worrying!

So, second trimester. I’m feeling better. Feeling great, actually! So great that sometimes I forget I’m pregnant … which makes me very jealous of all the other mommas with butterfly flutters in the tummy, weird/funny cravings, and budding baby bumps.

I’m 19 weeks, and other than a teeny-tiny bladder and a tendency to spill things, I got bupkis. I have tried documenting my pregnancy with those oh-so-popular weekly belly pictures.  Seeing as I have lost 7 pounds since I got pregnant and am still wearing my regular clothes, my week-to-week progression is pitiful. Haven’t felt the baby move yet. Haven’t wanted to dip pickles in my ice cream. No bump. Oh, the unrealistic expectations!

More than anything, my pregnancy has reminded me to step back and re-evaluate the way I measure my life. At every age, we take on new and different roles — friend, student, employee, husband or wife, mother or father. Often, we judge our performance in these roles based on cookie-cutter preconceptions of how things should be. Cue the disappointment and feelings of inadequacy!

Everyone’s journey is different. We are all doing the best we can with the circumstances we’re handed. And we are each uniquely gifted with our own talents and beliefs. We just have to let go of the shoulds and focus on living authentically.

My pregnancy has not been what I expected. I gave up on my “pregnancy journal” after 2 weeks. We haven’t started the baby registry. I don’t know if we will use disposable or cloth diapers. And I have no idea if I will opt for a natural birth or demand my IV of happy juice after the first contraction.

Many of my choices will likely be different from the mothers I know in real life, and from the mothers I’ve envied over the internet. Doesn’t make one of us right, or the other wrong. At the end of it all, I will still be a happy momma who will do the very best she can to raise her baby into a shiny, happy Peebles.