Monday, November 30, 2015

The Stress Equation

In several weeks our second child, Wyatt James Seal, will arrive...possibly before the end of the year.

In several weeks, we will celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts with family friends.
So much joy and thankfulness, coupled with overwhelming anxiety, sprinkled with panic.
Family fun, quality time with friends, endless lists, sleepless nights, emotional eating, short tempers, lots of money spent.

Can I get an "Amen"?! This little equation above is part of the reason I called my OBGYN last week with some concern over being in pre-term labor. That and the fact that B made a grand entrance three weeks and two days before his due date. 

My doctor, Crista Thomas, has been great. She was not privy to my first delivery, so I have filled her in on the fun and we have adjusted my appointment and testing schedule accordingly. But last week I had some pinching pains in my lower abdomen and tightening around my belly; I felt short of breath and just "not right." I called the office and they told me to go ahead and come in. I was hooked up to the fetal monitor and told to rest for 20 minutes. Instead of resting, I snapped a pic, texted Dad, and answered emails. I was laying down; that counts as relaxing, right? 

The bottom monitor is for Wyatt's heart and the top is for my "contractions" (there were none).
Then I got to see Dr. Thomas. And my suspicions were shot down (thankfully)...not pre-term labor. Probably some gas pains, coupled with second pregnancy and some anxiety. 
  1. The gas pains were a result of a MASSIVE friends-giving meal and being pregnant in general can cause some digestive discomfort. So the pinching question was answered. And the meal was totally worth it. 
  2. Second pregnancy means a looser pelvic floor. Dr. Thomas put it this way - for your first pregnancy, the pelvic floor is a like a hard bowl. By the second, it is more like a hammock. This means the baby feels heavier against your pelvis and can lead to the tightened feeling around your belly. #Awesome #pelvicfloor #onlypregnantwomencare 
  3. Throw some anxiety over the thought of going in to labor early (and the holiday season) and you get a paranoid pregnant woman panting in your office. There is my shortness of breath. 
Doctor's orders - Miralax twice a day and try to sit on the couch, snack and relax. A week later and I am feeling better. Relaxing has been penciled in for some time around April. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

There's a boat in the camera!

Recently we had some family photos taken. It was long overdue, considering the last photos we had done professionally were in May 2014 and didn't include Dad! So we enlisted an old friend, Meredith Carroll, to get some family of three (plus) shots. We had about an hour and decided on a natural setting at Ross Bridge. Per usual, I was anxious about these pictures weeks in advance...
What will I wear? What should B wear? Should we match, coordinate or just see what happens? What if I don't sleep well the night before and look puffy? What if B doesn't behave and we don't get any good shots of him? Is the time frame OK? Should he nap before or after? Should we eat before or after? We all need haircuts immediately. Do I even remember how to put on real make-up? 
Normal concerns; they all seem valid. Luckily, my MIL is a mind-reader and found something for B to wear (for these AND Santa pictures). She is a saint and we are so thankful for her initiative when it comes to things for B, our house, and just life in general! 
B learned the word "reindeer" that day. 
The week of, I made it to the Swanky Stork to pick something out for myself. I quickly found two things that I couldn't part with, so I was set. Now it was time for Dad to select his attire. He went through several rounds of options before finding something just perfectly "Fall" that coordinated.
Coordinating greens throughout, subtle but effective.
Whew! Now it was all down to the day. We got an early start to the morning, thanks to B, but ended up rushing out the door - how does that happen?!? B slept in the car and woke up when we arrived, not in a great mood, but he perked up with some gummy snacks. So we were off. It took Mom and Dad some time to warm up for the camera and focus. Meredith instructed us not to look at B and try to make him smile, but to look at the camera and focus on smiling ourselves! Great advice. This is why half of our every day pictures turn out with one of us looking drunk and the other talking. To get B to smile and focus, you have to get creative. 
Show me your teeth! Cheeeeeeeeessse! Look here at the camera! Do you see yourself in the camera? If you look at the camera you will see a boat! There is a boat in the camera! Do you want some crackers? Give us one more smile and you can have some crackers! See how Dad is smiling, smile like Dad! 
It was exhausting. But Meredith assured me by the end we had some good shots. And she was right!

The framers... 

"There's no boat in that camera, but I'll grin anyway."

Just like Dad.

B loves his boots.

We love our sweet B.

And the outtakes...
B is five, Dad is asleep and Mom looks like she hasn't slept in days.

What happens after an hour and you say "Cheeeeeeeese" for the 400th time.

"Kiss Mommy!" or eat her face...

Mid "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

"No, I will not hug baby Wyatt" - B
"Please get your hand out of my crotch" - Mom

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Healthy Eating Tips

I started to call this post "Diet Tips," but don't want to perpetuate the idea that I am on a constant diet. These are tips I stuck to while trying to lose weight and have continued to use while changing my lifestyle to healthy eating. Some things I have loosened up on for sure.

1. Count your calories. Religiously. Everything. Use an app that already has tons of food in the database. I liked My Plate from but hear great things about other tools. I have read articles from nutritionists recently that don't like calorie counting, but I needed the control and limits while trying to lose weight and learn.

2. Measure your food. The calories on packages are only per serving size, so get the measuring cup out. The one thing I never did was weigh my meat portions.

3. Snack wisely. You will be hungry, your metabolism is cranking, prepare snacks that you like and won't binge on. Nuts are hard for me because you get so few for the calories! But you can eat a good portion of raw baby carrots for next to nothing or a gigantic apple sliced into thin pieces or even pretzels. Trick yourself by eating and chewing more of these foods for less calories.

4. Just stop eating some things for a while. Seriously moderate cheese, bacon, candy, alcohol and other high calorie foods that supply little reward. Hell yeah, cheese is good. It's also incredibly fattening and will suck up your calories. Eat it once a week and make it count, savor it, sip that glass of wine slowly.

5. Hot beverages are your appetite-curbing friend. Few things can cut your appetite like a mug of hot tea or black coffee. Limit the use of sugar, artificial sweeteners and cream. If you use it, put it on your calorie count!

6. Don't starve. You might feel like it at first, but you will get used to a smaller amount of food after a week or so. But don't be miserable all the time. If you are hungry, eat something...just eat something healthy (a piece of fruit, baby carrots, popcorn, etc.). See item #3.

7. Eat food that you like! Grilled chicken doesn't have to be boring; eat pork and red meat and fish! Change it up with all sorts of spices or, literally spice it up with hot sauce! Don't eat the same food every day or you will be dying for a cheat meal by Tuesday.

8. Don't obsess over protein, fat, and carbs. Try to eat everything evenly without going overboard on one or the other. And I know fruit has carbs, but's fruit. Just be sure to track it in your calories because it will cost you more than veggies!

9. Eat the rainbow! The color of food is an indicator of it's nutrients, so eat everything. Don't just eat the green veggies, try orange (sweet potatoes and carrots), red (tomatoes, peppers, radishes, red onions), white (onions, cauliflower), purple (eggplant, cabbage).

10. Make it easy on yourself.

  • Buy frozen vegetable steamers that are unseasoned or lightly seasoned.
  • Bagged salads are super convenient and provide variety.
  • Cook a couple pieces of chicken one night to have leftovers.
  • Have canned tuna or other easy to grab proteins on hand.
  • There are tons of items in individual servings. Buy those if you are crunched for time even if they are a little more expensive. (i.e. nuts, yogurt, hummus, carrots)

11. Watch liquid calories. Alcohol is always what people try to avoid, but be careful with juices, smoothies and soft drinks. Just don't drink soft drinks, they aren't made of anything real!

12. Learn how to order at restaurants. I learned from my sister that you can basically make up a meal at a restaurant. She has some of the most difficult orders there are, but most places are more than willing to accommodate. Try a salad, no cheese, no bacon, no egg (unless you need the calories), dressing on the side (at first, just don't use it), add grilled chicken, steak or fish. OR a grilled lean meat with veggies and a side salad. Just because the menu details the side items doesn't mean you have to stick with those. Double up on veggies.

13. Drink more water than you thought possible. I started at 8 glasses a day. I now drink closer to a gallon of water a day because I am thirsty! Keep a LARGE bottle with you at all times. Go for the liter and try to drink one before lunch, one after lunch and more water with dinner.

There are so many more little things that I could share, but hopefully this is a good start and helpful!

Mom and B's Day of Fun

Recently, I took off work for Columbus Day because the daycare was closed. Not a problem, right? A day off work should be welcomed! To be honest, I wasn't super excited. Being a working mom keeps me sane and smitten with my adorable child. Not to mention, Columbus Day was a Monday and Dad had been out of town that weekend. So really, we had almost three full days together.

Over the weekend, we had been to Let's Play Birmingham (BIG HIT) and spent the evening playing with soon-to-be-because-we-said-so BFF, W. So that was for him, but that morning we had been to Target, the farmer's market, and picked up around the house. Not fun for a toddler.
The ball pit was a hit for W and B.

Aunt Mantha also enjoyed the toddler area!
Shot of the toddler maze at Let's Play. Aunt Mantha mastered it all!

By the time Monday rolled around, I was a little tired. When I decided to take the day off I committed (myself) to doing nothing but activities that B would enjoy; hence, "Mom and B's Day of Fun." 

We loaded up early and headed to the McWane Center. We were the third people in line, got our tickets, and set out to the exhibits. We quickly breezed through the main floor because there were mainly older kid activities. Then we got to the main event - Itty Bitty Magic City. The look on B's face was similar to mine when I find out my mother-in-law is cooking Italian food for Sunday dinner - HELL, YEAH.

There were trains, a firetruck, a water play area, house setup, mini grocery store and diner, vet's clinic, car workshop and jungle-gym thing I can't really explain. He spent about two hours exploring and LOVED the trains. I knew we were broaching the "too tired to leave peacefully" so I bribed him with the promise of a cookie. We left around 11:45 am and walked to Edgar's Bakery downtown. He noshed on goldfish and a peanut butter and honey sandwich in the stroller. Once at Edgars, he got a M&M cookie and I got a cappuccino and enjoyed them on the terrace overlooking 20th street to watch the trolleys, buses and busy people. B promptly fell asleep on the walk back to the car, slept the entire way home and for another hour once we got home. Just enough time for me to enjoy a lunch at home with Dad.

Huge train set.

Driving the spaceship!

And the firetruck. When the front seat opened up, he was all over it!

Putting his tray in the oven.
The oven mitt! He watches mom cook a lot.

After nap time we packed up again and headed to the park. Trussville has great play space in the "downtown" area. There is a large mall with tennis courts, a community pool, and two good parks. Aunt Shell met us there. B snacked on pistachios and ran Aunt Shell ragged. Mom was already tired...and a little pregnant!
Loving the swing!

Does this whale go any faster?

The horse doesn't move quickly either...
After the park we headed home for dinner with Dad. B was in a great mood and the day was fun! Why wouldn't he be? I wasn't trying to direct him all day. While at home we have rules and chores - laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc. If I had tried to actually work from home it would have been a nightmare and, honestly, consisted of lots of cartoons.

And I enjoyed the day seeing him try new things and experience activities that are on his level. I was impressed by his focus and curiosity at the McWane Center. He was able to navigate the new situation and really learn from his surroundings. And it confirms that our sweet baby is getting so big and changing every day. 

Now...back to work for some down time. Need to rest up for the holidays and baby #2!