Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's For Dinner? Greek Pita Pizzas

Sometimes, on days like today, when I feel like something is depleting my life force, I don't have a whole lot of energy to put into dinner.  I don't like slacking on dinner and feel like my family deserves a delicious and nutritious meal, prepared with lots of lovin' from moi.  Here is one of my go-to meals when I don't have a lot of time and/or energy to put into dinner.  The lack of time it takes to prepare surely does not sacrifice flavor.  Totally and supremely scrumptious!

Brush pitas with olive oil (front and back) and place on baking sheet
Bake pitas for 5 minutes at 475

Cover pitas with hummus
Top with feta and an Italian cheese mix (I use mozzarella & provolone)

Dice 1 small red onion and cut up 1/2 cup of Kalamata olives
Dress onions and olives in red wine vinegar and olive oil
Place on pizzas
Bake for 6-8 minutes or until onions are soft and cheese is melted

Remove from oven
Toss 2 oz of arugula (I used baby spinach) in red wine vinegar and olive oil
Divide and place on warm pizzas

I got this recipe from a really great cookbook by America's Test Kitchen.  It's called The Best Simple Recipes and I totally recommend it. It's full of really easy, quick and yummy recipes the whole family will surely enjoy.


Happy 1st Birthday My Dear Sweet Enzo

My Sweet Enzo,
When you wake in the morning it will be your very first birthday.  Your Papa and I are amazed and grateful for the journey you have taken us on in the past year.  It has been such a wonder, a joy and a lesson in love to watch you grow and develop.  I have never, in all my life, experienced love the way I have over the last 52 weeks.

My love for you is surely the purest kind.  The kind that will never falter, never fade.  I thank God everyday that he gave me the awesome experience and responsibility of being your Mama. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

Enzo, I hope you never lose your sense of humor.  You smile and laugh effortlessly, a trait the world needs more of.  I hope this wonderful quality is something that stays with you always.  You are the brightest little star and your light shines brilliantly.  I love your curiosity to discover how things work.  I could watch you for hours as you test the hinges on the door or flick the lights on and off, your eyes wide with astonishment.  I hope you always have your sense of wonder and the hunger to learn new things.  These are two qualities that will take you great places. And great places is where you will undoubtedly go!

Everyday you amaze me.  Everyday you make me laugh.  Thank you sweet boy. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Love you forever and ever, to the moon and back,
Your Mama

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I recently received the Stylish Blogger Award from Keeping It Simple.  As a new blogger, this was really exciting for me because it means someone actually reads my blog!!  Thanks Christina!!!

To accept the award, you are asked to do a few things. First, link back to the blogger who awarded you, share 7 things about yourself, pay it forward and award 10-15 other blogs with the award, and let those bloggers know that you gave them the award.

I am paying it forward to the following blogs:
Little Boys Are Made of Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
My Life's Stories
Tawna's Plan
A Plummer's Life
It's Your Journey

7 things about me:

1.  My husband and I tell people we met at the dog park, but really we met online.  We met each other for the first time at the dog park.  A little lie by omission.
2.  I love being a SAHM, but I am the world's worst housekeeper.  The worst!  My husband is so understanding.
3.  When I was in high school I got a part time job at the mall as The Easter Bunny.
4.  I firmly believe in natural birth and the benefits of breastfeeding.
5.  I dream of writing, illustrating and publishing a children's book for my boys.  One of these days...
6.  I could eat Mexican every day of my life.  Yes, please!
7.  We cloth diaper.

Stories I Loved Once Upon a Time

While sharing a meal at my Dad's house, my brother, sister and I began reminiscing about stories and childhood books we loved while growing up.  It occurred to me that once upon a time I had stashed several books away in the back of a closet with the intent of finding them one day and perhaps reading them to my own children.  I was truly unprepared for what a powerful experience finding these books would be.  My siblings and I would shout with excitement every time I pulled another book out.  Some of them I had forgotten about completely, which made finding them that much more nostalgic.  A lot of the books really showed their age with tattered and torn covers and water spots.  Some even had my name inside, scribbled in a 4 year old's handwriting.  Priceless.

It became so clear to me what an important role books played in my childhood.  I loved all the colors and illustrations, bright with watercolors or textured with collage.  I loved all the drawings and story telling through pictures, possibly more than the story itself.  I now wonder if these stories and their glorious visuals had an impact on my love of art.  Since falling in love with these stories, I have gotten a degree in art and a Masters in teaching it.  I now have a renewed love of books and all the wonder and imagination they can bring to a child.

I can't wait to introduce these wonders to my sons.  I hope they find them as fascinating and wonderful as I do.  I wonder which books Enzo and Little Bother will reminisce over in 25 years?

Here are a few of the recent finds.

Ah, On Market Street was such a treasure.  It's is chocked full of eye candy.  I remember staring at the pages for hours.

I love the painterly illustration in Whistle for Willie.

This was a one of those books I had forgotten all about, but don't let that fool you.  Mary Alice was a favorite!

All those sweet little animals made a home in the poor ole mitten.

This was a favorite for sure.  I still love all those silly monkeys.  I especially love the fact that the copyright is in the 1940's.

And who could forget Sweet Corduroy?  I remember being so sad for him when the store closed at night.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kissey Kissey Night Night

Last night Enzo was up a lot and he was quite fussy.  He has a few new teeth forcing their way into his mouth- poor Dude.  I was exhausted, especially because I had had a horrible night sleep the night before and very little time yesterday to nap it off.  When I woke to my boy crying at 3 a.m.,  I stumbled blindly to his room, picked him up and began to nurse.  When he was finished, I swayed him to the sweet lullabies of Led Zepplin and The Beatles.  As I patted his back, he gently picked his head up off my shoulder, looked at me with sheer gratitude, and planted the wettest, juiciest, toothey, delicious kiss right on my mouth.  Just as quickly as he picked his head up, he put it back on my shoulder with a giant exhale.  The moment was pure bliss.

Getting up at 3 a.m. is totally worth it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Enzo's Freak Face

A few days ago, Enzo started making a funny face.  It's the kind of face that one would make during a seizure, or maybe if they had Tourette Syndrome, but he quickly realized whenever he makes this face that Pablo and I would end up holding our bellies in hysterics.  At first, I thought maybe he was having some sort of neurological hiccup, but soon realized his love for being in the spot light.

Click here to see Enzo's freak face

This video was taken after he was already making the face for several minutes.  It doesn't do the moment much justice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tune In Tuesday

I got this idea from one of my faves- Mama and The Dudes

I recently spent some good quality time on itunes making myself a pretty sweet playlist.  Here are some of the tracks...

Nothing puts me in a good mood like good music and warm weather.  Gosh, I miss having a sunroof!

Boy With a Coin- Iron and Wine

In Sleep- Lissie

Factory- Band of Horses

Moneygrabber- Fitz and The Tantrums

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Fire Truck and a Waterlogged Mama

Last Thursday the weather reports in Baltimore looked very grim.  On each channel they were calling for flood warnings and torrential downpours for the entire day.  It was either build an ark or stay home, so I made a deal with myself that Dude and I would stay home allllllll day.  It was a welcomed treat that we had no plans.  It seems even when I don't mean to we end up spending the majority of most days running, running, running.

After a full day of playing, smearing PB&J all over the highchair and himself, napping and singing lots of "If you're happy and you know it" I decided it may be OK to venture out into the monsoon.  We needed several things from Target and I wouldn't have time the following day.  Besides, it seemed like the rain had subsided for at least the time being.  I felt a little guilty about taking Enzo out but pushed the feeling aside like a bad Mommy.

After spending way more money than I had planned, I began to wheel Enzo out to the car.  Actually, I jogged to the car.  Yes, that's correct.  For the first time since high school physical education class, I jogged.  Pregnant belly and all.  I felt like Tweedle Dee, but with more of a waddle.

I quickly unlocked the car, threw my car keys on the drivers seat, put Enzo in his car seat, and threw the Target bags wherever they would fit.  I hurried to the drivers side door and---LOCKED.  Huh, that's weird.  I hurried back to Enzo's door--LOCKED!  Ohhhhhhh my Goooooooooooooood! OMG. OMG.  Was this really happening?  Just then, DOWNPOUR!  As if the universe wasn't punishing me enough for taking a baby out in bad weather.  It had to punish me further by pouring. And I mean POURING! Of course I didn't have a jacket or an umbrella.  Why on earth would one need those items when going out into the rain? 

I peered in the back seat and my sweet little guy was staring back at me.  He looked so peaceful and clueless and for that I was grateful.  The first thing I could think to do was call 911.  Luckily, my phone was in my pocket and not in my purse in the car.  The wetness from the rain made dialing from my touch screen phone as easy as understanding Morse Code.  I tried repeatedly to dry the phone to dial and after several attempts I was finally successful.  I told the 911 operator that I locked my 11 month in the car.  Once I heard the panic in my voice, I knew I had to calm down.  She got my information and told me the fire department would be there shortly.  She asked if Enzo was in any danger or if there was a health emergency.  I said no and feared this meant they would take a while.

So I waited.  In the rain.  In a heavy sweater.  With no coat.  My socks inside my Keens were wet.  My underwear was wet.  I was a drowned rat.  My hair was disheveled.  I was freezing and feeling like a complete Doucher.  Then I heard it.  The sound of a fire truck on it's way to some emergency.  The sound was getting closer.  Surely, they weren't running that siren for little ole me!  Oh yes, they were!  The fire truck pulls up to me in the parking lot, lights flashing and 4 men get out to get my car open.  Within 2 minutes, my door was open.  Whew!

Enzo still was calm, still not realizing what was going on.  Once I opened the back door to check on him he started screaming.  Was I that scary?  Apparently, a waterlogged Mama is nothing to look at.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Along Came Baby

March 31, 2010
7lbs 6 oz, 21 inches
As Enzo's first birthday approaches, I thought it would be a good time to share my birth story.  Birth is something that I find fascinating and I love hearing the stories of others.  It is those stories that have inspired me to share mine.


The afternoon of my baby shower I was all ready to go.  I wore a denim skirt, a purple print long sleeve shirt and a cream sleeveless v-neck sweater that tied at the waist.  Before I headed out the door I went to put on my boots.  As I zipped them up my calf they stopped about 2 inches short of the top of the zipper.  I was shocked.  Had I really gained this much weight?  I was embarrassed and ashamed I had let myself gain gain 50 lbs.  I couldn't even zip my boots!  

It turns out, it wasn't weight gain that made my boots unzipp-able.  It was swelling--lots and lots of swelling.  I had my baby shower when I was 34 weeks pregnant.  Little did I know that in 3 short weeks, Enzo would be upon us. 

It was around this time that my blood pressure started spiking.  In fact, around 30 weeks every time I went in to my midwifes office it was higher and higher.  Finally, it went above the magic number, 140/90.  At 35 weeks I was placed on bed rest.  At 36 weeks I was admitted to the hospital for the weekend due to the worst swelling in the history of the world.  I could push my finger 2 inches into my foot and the impression would stay there-FOREVER!  It was like something from a sci-fi movie.  I was so scared.  After a weekend in the hospital, my swelling was down.  I was sent home to rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.  

Four or five days later, my midwife sent me to the Center for Advanced Fetal Care.  She wanted to see how the baby was doing, if his diaphragm was moving, and check his weight.  They took a urine sample.  That little amount of pee sealed my fate because it had a significant amount of protein in it.  Couple protein with high blood pressure and severe swelling and that's right, you guessed it- PRE ECLAMPSIA!  They wouldn't let me leave.  I was being induced.

Just a little history--I was planning a home birth with my midwife.  I felt very strongly about avoiding as many interventions as possible.  I had imagined a serene, peaceful, comfortable birth in my home, candles lit, my birth playlist playing.  I had taken all the necessary Hypno Birthing classes and practiced daily.  I was confident and prepared to have a wonderful experience.

The word induction absolutely terrified me.   The word induction made me think of IVs and lots of poking and prodding and inevitably a C-section.

All I kept telling the attending OB was "this isn't the way it's supposed to happen!"  

All she kept saying is "you're 37 weeks.  it's time."  Comforting huh?

I accepted the fact that I was not going to have the birth I had hoped for and planned.  I figured I should just roll with the punches.  I didn't want to be scared and I certainly didn't want to be tense.  I tried to be positive and was happy about the thought of meeting my sweet baby boy.  I tried to be as brave as I could and didn't think of all the things that could potentially go wrong.  The power of positive thinking!

I was admitted on Monday morning.  That evening they placed Cervidil by my cervix to see if it would soften and dialate.  No dice.  On Tuesday afternoon they started pitocin and placed an inflatable bulb in my cervix and blew it up to 5 cms.  I became crampy and was contracting, but the pain was totally bearable and my contractions weren't timeable, nothing to warn me I was in labor.  At 4am or so on Wednesday morning, they decided to break my water.  For whatever reason, it was a decision that took 3 different doctor's opinions.  Yes, that's 3 different fists getting shoved into my vagina in less than 5 minutes.  Since Enzo's head was so high, he wasn't putting any pressure on my cervix, thus the reason I wasn't dilating.  They broke my water and within minutes I was faced with the most intense and painful contractions.  I remember being excited that my labor was actually going somewhere. I had no fear.  It was painful, but it was welcomed.  Let's get this show on the road!

For the next few hours I endured the contractions and worked hard to use my Hypnobirthing skills.  Let's be honest people, Hypnobirthing does help with labor, but during transition with pitocin pumping through your veins, I'm not sure even the most zen of women could labor without grimacing.  I was adamant about not having an epidural and I was thankful no one offered because after the third hour of transition I wasn't sure how much more I could handle.  (my midwife didn't offer an epi because she knew my birth plan was to go as natural and intervention free as possible, not because she is a cruel sadist.)

I remember I was so hot.  All I could do was strip.  That's right, completely naked, probably the way it was intended.  It still amazes me I could get naked in front of so many people and not think anything of it.  The power of labor, I guess.

Then, it happened. I felt the most intense urge to push.  The human body is amazing isn't it?  If you trust it and listen to it, it'll let you know what you need to do.

Enzo was crowning but his heart rate was dropping.  Finally, it dropped to 60bpm.  I remember the nurse disconnecting my IV and there were what seemed to be 30 people in my room.  What I wasn't aware of was the fact that they were getting ready to cart me to the OR.  My normally very calm and gentle midwife looked at me and said very sternly, "Carmen, you need to push.  You need to push this baby out NOW!"  I was so focused on managing labor that I was pretty unaware of the baby's heart rate and the crowd that had formed but I understood the urgency in her voice.  My doula gave specific instructions on how to focus the pushing, and with 3 pushed my boy was on my belly.  I DID IT!  WITH NO MEDS!  BY MYSELF!  I couldn't believe it. 

I felt so proud and empowered.  After a three day induction, I had so much energy I could have done cart wheels.  Those endorphins are no joke!  I was elated.  Unbelievably elated.

Enzo latched within 30 minutes of being born and has been obsessed with my boobs ever since.

It wasn't the birth I had imagined but it was still the most profound and amazing experience of my life. 

The day we became a family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Name Game

Pablo and I had decided on Baby Boys name a few months ago.  It was a daunting task, one we spent hours discussing and debating.  We would lay in bed for hours or stare at each other over dinner, wheels turning and burning thinking of the next great name.  Finally, we had it!!  Emilio Santiago.  It stuck.  I liked it.  I became attached to it.  I would reference Baby Boy as Emilio in every conversation.  He has become Emilio, it's who he is.  Plus, Enzo and Emilio-how cute does that sound together?!

I like each part of the name individually but I did honestly fear it was a tad too long.  I decided to keep the thought to myself because I could live with it.  Not to mention, it had taken us 6 months to find the name in the first place and the thought of going back to the drawing board was just too exhausting to bear.

Last night, I went to visit a good friend in the hospital.  She had just had a beautiful baby girl.  When I got home it was late, way past Dudes bedtime.  I put Enzo to bed (Pablo was having a hard time getting him down without the boob) and went into our bedroom where Pablo was relaxing in bed.  Then he said it-he dropped the bomb...

Babe, I don't love our baby name. 

Uh oh!  Here we go.  Again.

I'm not upset.  Of course, it's important for both of us to feel good about Baby Boy's name.  I just need to change my mind set.  Emilio is no longer Emilio.  He is a nameless little ball of perfection, growing big and strong in my belly.  I'm sure we will find something else that fits, something that suits us.  I just wish it wasn't such an agonizing process.  I mean, we only have 3 months and I truly can't think of any names worthy enough for this child.  It's such an important decision ya know?  A person's name is the single most important word in their vocabulary.

Baby Boy of mine, Who do you want to be?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Enzo's First Haircut

This past weekend we thought it might be time to give our little guy his first haircut.  I wanted to take him to a barber specializing in babies, but I know it meant a great deal to Pablo to cut it himself so I let him have his special moment.  Over the past 2 months Enzo's hair has doubled in length and it was beginning to look quite ratty, growing over his ears and over his collar in the back.  His bangs were long, scraggly and were about to be sheep dog-esque.  We had intended to wait until his birthday, but decided 11 months was close enough.  Plus, we are getting portraits done next weekend and thought it would be better to cut it now.

I was pretty startled by my reaction to this exciting milestone.  What had seemed so exciting at first suddenly became this heartbreaking moment.  I was never one to be sad as Enzo's months passed during the past year.  I have truly enjoyed every stage of Enzo's development and welcomed each passing month and milestone with open arms and an open mind.  This, however, is the one event that really got to me.  It was as if I had watched by baby turn into a little boy within seconds.  His face changed so much and I was completely unprepared for him to look so different.  His hair was such a cute and prominent part of his look and now it was as if I didn't know him anymore.  I felt like his longer hair really captured his personality- laid back, easy going and fun.  Now, he looked like a 12 year old who just got out of boot camp.

I have since gotten used to the new look but I think we'll let it grow out a little.  It didn't take long for me to recognize that bright personality either.  He's still my sweet, fun hearted little boy with the piranha teeth.
This process started out peaceful, but by the end Enzo was pretty unhappy.  
Animal crackers were the saving grace.
He looks so sad over the loss of his locks.


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