Archive for January, 2011

Lil Z-Bear hit a big emotional milestone this weekend – Stranger anxiety.

I have mixed feelings about it.  I must confess, part of me thought he may skip it all together.  He has a sweet, happy temperament and is a very social and interactive baby, so I thought maybe he’d continue to take to strangers just as well as he does to those familiar to him.  But much to our surprise, when handled a couple of times by people he doesn’t know too well, he shed some big, fat tears and was scrambling to be held by mama or papa to be comforted.

It has caused some anxiety in us as well.  It created quite a stir to see him so unsettled, even by our nanny who just came back after a 3 and half week vacation.  Even though he has always been quite fond of her, it seems that he has forgotten who she is.  Or maybe he has gotten too accustomed to having mama and papa around.  And nothing piles on the mama guilt more than watching him wail when I leave the house to go to work (or even when I leave the room, he seems quite upset when he sees mama disappear). 

However, a part of me is thrilled also.  Not because he is upset, but because I can’t believe this little boy of ours who means more to us than anything in this world feels just as attached to us.  It really makes us feel like superstars, the fact that just mama and papa alone can make his day.  But even so, we are already making plans on how we can expose the little cub to more people so he becomes at ease with everyone.  And because we want our Lil Z-Bear to freely give and receive love from as many people as possible.


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Z-Bear and snow

Our bear takes to snow like a duck to water…

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Picture from Google images

Our nanny is on vacation so this past week I took 5 days off to take care of Lil Z-Bear.  Combine that with the MLK holiday and weekends, that is 10 days I got to spend with the cub.  And I LOVED every second of it, and I can’t believe it flew by so quickly and now it is back at work. 

It is great staying at home with Lil Z.  The days I get to stay home with him, I practice a form of attachment parenting.  I stop everything else and focus simply on caring for Z-Bear.  I carry him around, give him endless hugs, kisses, cuddles and massages, don’t let him cry, and I read, talk and sing to him all day.  I want to make the most out of the precious days where I am home for him.

However, I will be lying if I said that I want to stop working altogether and be a stay-at-home mom.  All you SAHMs out there have my respect: It is not an easy thing to do.  I know there are days I have a really hard time getting out of bed and dragging myself to work.  But I enjoy working.  I like to do be productive, make a contribution, and interact with other adults.  And then when I come home, take off my coat and hold Z-Bear in my arms, it feels like heaven.  The days I am at home I miss that moment when I come back from work and Lil Z rewards me with a huge smile.

It’s hard to reconcile the guilt of a working mama for leaving the baby combined with how terribly I miss the baby with the need and desire to go out and work.   I have shed a tear in the bathroom at work because I missed the smell and feel of Lil Z-Bear, but I have also felt a sense of relief at getting dressed and heading out to work after an especially long night with the baby. 

I cannot help but wonder if other mommies feel the same way I do.

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It’s been a lovely weekend spent with Lil Z-Bear.  Here are the highlights:

I gave the cub a haircut!  His hair was getting a bit long in some areas, and I wanted to even it out.  He looks way too adorable for his own good…and he is sitting up all by himself!

I made some amazingly good banana bread (recipe from a fellow mommy blogger!) and nothing quite like starting the day with freshly baked banana bread and a nice, strong cup of coffee.

We spent Sunday in Philadelphia, having brunch at Day by Day with my sister for her birthday.  All I have to say is poached eggs over smoked salmon over potato latkes covered in hollandaise is definitely my new favorite brunch food!

Check out for (somewhat) matching hats!

Waiting at the entrance to be seated for brunch

After brunch we stopped over at the Flying Monkey Patisserie for some yummy goodies.  I can’t think of a better combination for cake than banana, chocolate chips, and peanut butter buttercream icing!

Thank you Z-Bear for being such a happy, well-behaved baby who loves to explore new things as much as we do!

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Dear Lil Z-Bear:

Here is the story of how you came into our world.

8 months before birth

We weren’t really planning on having you just yet.  Then, in November, it just happened.  It was the week after Thanksgiving and I had a hunch.  I didn’t tell anyone since I wasn’t even sure.  I woke up in the morning after your papa left for work, took the test, and there, staring before me was the plus sign that meant that you were coming.  I smiled, I felt so content.  And I felt so grateful.  The first thing I did was wash up and pray.  I felt so humbled that we were given such a precious gift.  The next thing I did was send a text message to your papa that said “Little one is on the way.”  His response was: “God is great.”  I knew then that all would be well.

Your birth

We were 33 weeks into carrying you, and all was going swimmingly.  I was having a very easy pregnancy for the most part, and we were very excited.  We had undertaken an ambitious goal of moving before you were born.  All the boxes were packed, all your stuff was bought but it was still in boxes ready for the move.  Your papa and I had a 4 day weekend ahead of us, some movers ready to help out, and we were going to get everything done, 6 weeks before your arrival date. 

It was 6:45 am and we were up laying in bed planning the weekend out, I got out of bed and realized that I had water running down my legs.  I thought my bladder had simply given up on me, but when I rushed to the bathroom, I realized my water had broken.   Your papa and I looked at each other in disbelief.  I took a quick shower while papa got dressed.  He asked me what he should pack on the way to the hospital.  I said no need, I don’t quite know why, somehow I still thought that the doctor would take one look at me, say it was nothing, no worries and send me back home.  I guess I wasn’t quite ready for you yet, so my mind couldn’t get around the fact that you were coming.

The ride to the hospital was a quiet one, your papa and I held hands, our lips moving as we both prayed silently.  It was a warm, sunny Friday morning, and we walked hand in hand from the parking lot to the hospital.  We still didn’t say much to each other.  We were both so overwhelmed with feelings, even if we had talked, I don’t think there are words on this earth that could have encompassed all we felt.  We walked to the maternity ward, the doctor did a check up, and yup, indeed you were coming.  The doctor decided that since I was two days shy of 34 weeks, we would wait for two days before delivering while monitoring you closely to see if anything changed.  Since you were head up, the delivery would have to be a C-section, and I would get steroids to ensure your lungs were mature enough to breath.  8 months of careful planning of how I wanted the birth to be didn’t matter, all that we wanted was for you to be ok.

The two days spent in the hospital were tough.  I stayed in bed and worked on keeping you snug in my belly while your papa spent the two days moving into our new place before you arrived.  I passed the time between praying for your safe arrival, reading up on C-sections and about babies who arrive before their due date, and watching the World Cup games that were going on at that time to distract me a little. 

The morning of your birth, I took a nice long shower, and was ready 2 hours before the scheduled 10 o’clock surgery.  Your papa and I were excited, nervous, and scared at the same time.  When I was in the operating room, I felt cold and apprehensive; it just seemed like it was happening so fast, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for you yet.   Once they gave me the anesthesia and I felt numb, I felt a little calmer.  Then your papa came in and sat down next to me, and I did not feel nervous anymore.  We held each other’s hand tight and we both kept praying the whole time.  I prayed for your health and your safe arrival into this world, I prayed for you to be a righteous person.  I prayed for forgiveness, I prayed to be a good mother, I prayed for my family and their wellbeing, and I prayed for the end of suffering of the needy in this world, and softening of the hearts of all the people in the world: I wanted this world to be a beautiful, kind place for you.  I turned over and looked at your papa and I saw him praying too, and I knew we were both praying for the same things. 

Then there was a moment when the room went quiet and there was the sound of shuffled feet and quick hands, and then we heard a wail.   The sound filled the room, yet it still was dainty and small.  Tears sprung to my eyes, and your papa and I held hands, we smiled while we cried.  A few minutes later your papa brought you close to me and I got to see your face, your eyes closed, your skin pink, and I couldn’t believe you belonged to me.  It was a brief minute before they whisked you away to the special care nursery.  But it was enough to know that you would be ok.

I have heard a lot of bad stories about C-sections, but I was very blessed that everything went so well, both during the surgery and during my recovery.  I was on such a euphoric high after your were born, either my own body releasing endorphins, or the stuff they had put in my IV.  I was so glad that you had come into this world, I felt fantastic, if I could, I would have hopped off the operating table and jumped for joy.  While I was wheeled in to the recovery room, I called my parents, who were oceans away, and told them all had gone well.  Your papa went in to the nursery to check on you and then came back to tell me everything was ok.  A bit later I was wheeled into the nursery and I got to hold you for the first time.  You were absolutely perfect, and there are few moments when I have felt as happy as I did then.

It was not how I had imagined it to be, I had expected an on time, normal delivery, to hold you in my arms once you were born, I had expected to have you in my room and feed you instead of spending the night pumping breastmilk.  I had expected we would have moved and have everything set for your arrival.  I had expected to take you home with me when we left the hospital.  But none of that mattered, things don’t always happen the way you plan, but everything happens for a reason.  And now, exactly 7 months later, I don’t think I would have wanted it to happen any other way, it was all perfect.

Love you my Z-Bear.

Your mommy

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A dollop of organic yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika - One of Lil Z's favorite snacks.

I am enjoying introducing new foods into Lil Z-Bear’s diet.  There is nothing quite like giving a new food to him for the first time, and the faces he makes before he decides if he likes it or not.  But whoever says baby food needs to be bland and boring?  I am taking my cue from cultures all over the world that introduce babies to all types of foods, not just bland cereal and mashed, unflavored veggies.  When I prepare Z-Bear’s food, I warm it and sprinkle it with a dash of spices, and let the aromatics waft through the steam and let him smell it.  I taste everything I let the little cub eat.  And frankly, it’s quite yummy!  Especially since I have smelled and tried the baby food that comes in a jar, and some of it is rather unappetizing.  I have been introducing Lil Z-Bear to all kinds of flavorings in his food, and here are a few items that have him drooling (more than usual, that is). 

(Of course, I check with our doctor before introducing anything that I am not sure about, and I make sure I prepare food properly so it poses no choking hazard.   Like with any other food, when introducing herbs and spices, wait 3 to 4 days in between to make sure there isn’t an allergic reaction.)

Cinnamon:  A great first spice, it is sweet, mildly spicy, and very aromatic.  It’s perfect over applesauce, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Cracked black pepper:  Great to give food a bit of a kick and to enhance the sweetness in fruits.

Cumin:  Roast a quarter cup of cumin seeds on a hot pan for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking constantly.  Grind in a spice mill or coffee grinder and store in a jar.   Sprinkle some on steamed pureed veggies or poached pureed fruit.  Let your baby smell the delicious aroma that arises when you add it to warmed fruit and veggies and watch him eat it up with delight!

Garam Masala:  A favorite in our house, this mixture of ground roasted spices is great over fruits, veggies, and proteins.  It is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores.

Rosemary, sage, and thyme:  Throw in some fresh leaves while steaming baby food, and simply remove leaves after cooking (This is to prevent choking hazard)

Garlic:  I have read in countless places that babies love the taste of garlic.  And Lil Z-Bear’s delight in eating food flavored with freshly peeled, crushed garlic (added before cooking) proves it.

Paprika:  Mild flavored (it’s made from ground sweet peppers) and vibrant, this is a great way to introduce baby to pepper.

Basil: Sweet smelling and flavorful, it’s great to add in steamed vegetables.

Ginger: This is excellent in poached apples and pears, as well as sweet potatoes.  Add while cooking, and be sure to puree food well before serving baby.

Other great spices and flavorings that I am looking forward to trying for Lil Z-Bear: Coriander, Turmeric, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Lemongrass, and Coconut Milk.  Will keep you posted!

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The cold winter air is no friend to dry skin.  This evening I bathed Lil Z-Bear and put extra lotion on him to make sure his super soft skin stays that way.  Then, after putting him to bed, I moisturized my hands and sat down on my computer, and had a sudden inspiration to write about the stuff I absolutely love to use on Lil Z-Bear’s skin, and the stuff I use on mine.

For baby

I am a big fan of the Weleda Baby Products.  In this earlier post I rave all about it.  And several months later, I love it even more and we keep it well stocked in our house.   However, I have also discovered something else that is a super powerful weapon against the cold weather.  And it is a multitasker – great for wind chapped cheeks, dry lips, and to keep the bottom well moisturized:

And the best part, Aquaphor is non-scented, cheap and available everywhere!


For Mama

Ever since having Lil Z-Bear, I notice my skin is drier than it used to be.  I am a long time user of Clinique, and I have continued to use the mild soap and Dramatically Different moisturizer.  But to give my skin some extra punch,  I’ve been using Bliss Fabulous Foaming wash (I love the gentle exfoliating action this everyday wash gives, and it is never over-drying on skin).  And I follow with L’Occitane Shea Butter Face Cream.  I am absolutely infatuated with all things L’Occitane, and their Shea Butter line is my favorite.  This is some serious moisture we are talking about here.  If you have dry skin, you will feel it almost sigh in relief as soon as you put this cream on.

Looking for a good eye cream  – I have two I love.  Clinique All About Eyes is a perennial fave of mine.  It works wonders to get rid of tired eyes, puffiness, and dark circles.  But I also love Bliss All Around Eye cream, it really moisturizes well to reduce the look of fine lines, and a tiny little tube of this goes a long, long way.

Need to slough away some flaky winter skin?  Then look no further than…..St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub.  I have been using this drugstore darling since I was fifteen!  And I loved it then and I love it now.  Once (sometimes twice) a week I scrub down face and body with this, and it never fails to leave skin soft and glowing.

Between changing diapers and washing hands, try any of L’Occitane hand creams.  I have tried a LOT of hand creams, but these are without peer.  It is uber moisturizing, and hands feel soft and supple, even after washing!

And finally, it’s hard to find time to do make-up some most days.  But these two products work wonders in giving you the flawless look in less than 2 minutes.

I am madly in love with Benefit.  Their stuff is sooo cute, and it works!  For time-pressed mornings, a quick dab of That Gal brightening primer followed by a swipe of Some kind-a gorgeous foundation faker, and you are good to go!

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