Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FOR SCIENCE.


So remember how yesterday I was all like, I wake up at 4 a.m. every day now, I'm going to post that Tea Box Express deal by 7 a.m. Eastern Time! Because I'll be up at 4 a.m.! Wheeeeee!

Remember that?

Well, this time I woke up at 2 a.m. and was back asleep by 3:30 (yes, I lay awake that long) and I totally slept until 5:30 and by then between breakfast and the baby there wasn't any time.

So that's what I get for making promises.

In any case, I decided 7 a.m. (or, uh, close to 7 a.m.) Central Time is good too. So I'm going to pretend that I did that on purpose. TRY TO PROVE ME WRONG. Ha! You can't.

Except for the part where I just told you I slept in.

Sooooo this post isn't really going where I expected it to.

In any case, Tea Box Express contacted me so I could let you guys know about a cool deal they're doing for the holidays!

If you sign up for the monthly subscription service, enter the code TBESALE50 during checkout for half-off your subscription! If you have been wanting to sign up but waffling about it, now is the time, people.

If you'd like to give a box or boxes as a gift to someone else (remember, they make really good gifts that you can totally steal from after you give it to your loved one), they've got a deal for you there, too. You can receive 5 dollars off using the code TEAGIFT5.


Either one of those deals would be awesome. They are awesome. Go snatch 'em up! And then make sure you tell the good people at Tea Box Express that I am so wonderful and persuasive that you just couldn't help yourself. Really just talk me up, guys. You know. For science.

To sweeten the pot just that much more, there's a little more to it; normally, in order to receive December's box you would have to order by December 1st. For this month, since we're working with holidays and gift-giving and all that madness, the deadline's been extended - you can sign up anytime through December 15th and still receive December's box!

So get out there!

Go get some tea!

For science!



* This post is part of a partnership with Tea Box Express. They are giving me good deals on their monthly subscription box, I'm telling you about it, everyone wins. EVERYONE. But especially me. BUT ALSO EVERYONE. Or at least everyone who takes advantage of these coupon codes! I'm looking at you, Emily. **







** The best part about this is watching all the Emilys I know try to figure out which one of them I'm addressing here.***









*** It's all of you. It's all the Emilys.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Four Months


Sixteen Tuesdays ago, my baby showed up. That first Tuesday involved a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, then a lot of waiting, then a whole lot of oh-god-we-can't-wait-anymore, then a lot of wishing I could kick everyone out of the hospital room because I was so tired and simultaneously not wanting them to leave because I was so proud.

Also, so terrified.

In sixteen weeks of Tuesdays, we're pretty sure she's more than doubled her birth weight, is outgrowing her clothing as fast as I can unpack the boxes of hand-me-downs and new stuff we received for each age grouping, and I am still proud.

And still terrified.

So here is what's new with Audra Grace at four months old:


- Did you know she can get her whole fist in her mouth? She can. She will happily show you that she can, and will spend twenty minutes idly and cheerfully chewing on her own entire hand. We introduced pacifiers way way back. She liked them for all of three days and is decidedly 'meh' about them ever since. She's a huge fan of her own fist, though. So that's good.

- On a related note, she clearly plans to travel the world mouth-first. There isn't a thing you can put in her line of vision that she won't try to grab and stick in her mouth. I look forward to mobility and then discovering all the pennies we've ever accidentally dropped on the floor, once she finds them and eats them.


- She can roll all the way over and back again! But only once, and only when no one is looking. We did the first rollover, from back to stomach, at my in-laws' house (of course I was in the bathroom at the time). She did a full roll from back to stomach and onto her back again at her sitters' house (of course I was at work at the time). She has no trouble rolling from back to stomach, but tends to get confused and anxious once she's there and usually needs help rolling back.

- Unless she's tired or not feeling well or is feeling particularly snuggly, she is no longer content to just lay on either my or Jason's chest, on her stomach OR on her back. Now she will push herself up immediately and stare around, fascinated at our nose hairs. I assume that's what she's looking at, since she tends to jam her face as close to your own as possible. If I lay her on her back, she will never stop trying to sit up. Her little chair, which has served us well since her birth, is rapidly becoming a problem since she can't sit all the way up in it yet. Unacceptable.

- With just a little help, she can pull herself into a sitting position and hold it. Then she drops back onto her back where I'm holding her on my lap. Then she'll grip my fingers as tightly as her little hands can grip and pull herself back up. And then fall back. It's a game she both loves and finds immensely frustrating.

 
- She is so heavy. I mean she's not, really, and I am easily adjusting and still able to carry her basically everywhere around the house with me if I want to, but mealtime is hilarious. I pick up what feels like a light baby, we sit down, she drinks 5 ounces, and when I pick her back up it feels like she's gained a full pound. Although she tends to freeze up because she hates being burped, so it might be a dead-weight issue there.

- She is impossibly good so far. Our transition from sleeping in our room to sleeping in her crib at night was a breeze (well, for her it was. For me, not so much.). She's a great eater. Her spitups have scaled back hugely and now are just a little bit here and there after big meals. She's a smiler. She's either going to turn into some kind of Gremlin-style monster in a year or so, or the next baby will come out a monster. Either way it's going to be fun.

- We are prepping for Thanksgiving, when my entire immediate family (plus my Grandma!) will be coming for the holiday. I've put more care and thought into the outfits Audra will wear those three days than I have ever put into a single outfit I have worn in my entire life, counting my wedding dress. I've already got two outfits planned for the Christmas holidays. And I'm planning at least three more.

- She. Drools. On. Everything. My in-laws have taken to sticking her in a bib, because just mountains of drool come out of this child. I usually forget bibs exist, but then I also routinely go through three T-shirts a day, just during the times I'm home and not at work. Everything she really loves is obvious and easy to point out, because it's whatever thing is covered in spit at any given moment. I think teething isn't supposed to start for two more months, but she is clearly getting ready. She's training for teething like it's going to be the Olympics.


- My next round of photos for five months will happen on January 5th. That's when I'll switch over to her date of birth rather than the day of the week she was born. Who knows what that extra week will do. Maybe she will be the size of Godzilla then.

On an unrelated note, if you check back here tomorrow around 7 AM Eastern Time - or, uh, whenever you get up, for those of you who don't just routinely wake up at 4 AM now like SOME PEOPLE I KNOW (Me. I mean me), I will have a cool deal for you from Tea Box Express! Trust me. It will cause happiness and cheer and joy and whatnot. Just check back. Check back and be amazed. Or just super happy. Whichever. I'm gonna go stare at more photos of my baby now.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'd Say I'll Just Sleep In Tomorrow, But We'd All Know It Was a Lie.

Source

This is what magazine stock photos think working moms look like.


This is what this particular working mom actually looks like.


Audra slept through the night last night. She was asleep in the evening for a bit, then woke up and snuggled with Jason on the couch for a while until she was able to go back down. We went to bed shortly thereafter, and I slept straight through from 10:30 PM until 4:30 AM.

... when I popped completely and totally awake in less than a second with a single thought in my mind.

The baby didn't wake up to eat.

I lay very still, listening to the monitor.

Nothing.

The baby isn't making any noise.

No sound.

Come on, baby, make noise.

Just static.

Oh God, why isn't the baby making noise?

I all but took a flying leap out of bed, traversed the room in what felt like two steps, and was down the hall to the nursery in maybe four steps more. The baby was lying on her back, exactly like she should be. She seemed more still somehow than she normally is.

I lay my hand on her stomach and felt her little chest rise, and fall, and rise, and fall. She twitched one arm and made a little mumble-y sound, just the barest hint too quiet for the monitor to pick up. Her father makes very similar sounds when my alarm goes off a half-hour before his does.

I wandered back out into the hallway and thought about going back to bed. My heart was pounding and I've never been so wide awake. The part of my body that retains some dim memory of a savannah 50,000 years ago was ready to fend off like nineteen lions with nothing but a stick and my teeth and curse words.

The cats began meowing to be fed. The dog stretched lazily and came over and did his best 'no one has ever ever fed me' face.

Well, I'm not going back to sleep.

I went into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee.

It's going to be a very long day, I thought to myself.

And it sure has been.

Isn't it funny that we daydream about the first time the baby sleeps through the night as though it will be some sort of pillow-covered wonderland, where we drift lazily in and out of consciousness until we are good and ready to be awake. Just like we used to. Just like we pray one day we will do again.

Then, when it happens - when she finally sleeps all the way through from 10 pm til 6 am - I woke up early anyway.

Parenthood is just super magical.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are Goats Especially Impatient? (Tea Box Express Review)

A couple of days ago, something wonderful happened.


This box arrived on my doorstep.

Kaelah Bee wrote about Tea Box Express pretty recently - and I even mentioned them in one of my Five Things Posts. I ended up purchasing a box as a gift for a friend. I hadn't actually planned to sign up for the subscription itself at first, until Kaelah mentioned pumpkin cookies might be involved.

Then I felt like maybe I needed to check this out.

You know.

For science.

Tea Box Express is a subscription service; you've seen these all over the internet recently. You pay a monthly fee (in this case, $25.50 per month, plus I think $5.99 in shipping - you can also send it as a gift without signing up for more than one month!) and receive a box each month. StitchFix does a clothing version, Fabletics does workout gear. Tea Box Express, you guessed it, does tea.

And tea accoutrements.

Oh, what accoutrements they are.


Of course, I had to get to them first. These packets of chai mix were on top. I've had this brand before - in fact, I've probably spent a small fortune on them over the course of my life - so I knew already this was going somewhere wonderful. In each box a little label is placed at the top, walking you through the month's theme and describing the items inside.

Then, I started diggin'.


I ended up having to take them outside, where the light was fading fast, but it lasted long enough for me to take a couple of photos.

We've got the chai mix on top... I had planned to save it and parcel it out over the next couple of weeks, but we had a pretty bad, late night at one point this week and it seemed like chai mix would probably be the only thing that could rescue us. So I made hot chai and added cinnamon whiskey. This chai mix is pretty much my favorite winter drink ever. I'm now on a mission to buy myself some more.

Well, some more chai mix and some more cinnamon whiskey.

You know.

Like you do.


The pumpkin cookies Kaelah talked about. I've been forcing myself to eat this in small amounts, and already half the package is gone. I will mourn their loss, when I eat the last one.

They're perfectly crispy and sweet and taste exactly like I wish gingersnaps actually tasted. The pumpkin pie spice is a really strong flavor, which I love. Cookies aren't usually this crispy, and I hate soft cookies. These are basically God's answer to how I want cookies to be.

I may or may not have dipped these in whipped cream and turned it into dessert.

I think they would also be amazing crushed up and poured over ice cream.

Or put into a milkshake.

Or turned into a pie crust

I'm turning into Bubba from Forrest Gump now, aren't I?

I'll just say I really, really liked these cookies and stop there.

Cooooooookies.


The non-edible items in the box included this tea-measuring spoon (the text on it says "1 cup of perfect tea") and the bamboo tea-steeper you see here.

I immediately put these two to use.

As in, the next morning.

With this:



Each month you receive a different kind of tea in your box. This month was chai, which was really honestly what had me signing up for November. I am a chai fan. It always shows up in my lists of my favorite teas, and I am very very very very very picky about the kinds I like.

Most chai these days sold commercially seem kind of watered down. The flavor isn't strong enough, or the black tea they use as the base isn't very good. It's easy to get by with subpar black tea, and lots of companies don't go the extra mile for the good stuff.

Not this company.

Tali's Masala Chai is exactly what I like - the flavor was strong and spicy. The base black tea is Assam, which is super woodsy and strong and takes really well to the added cardamom, ginger, and other spices. It can stand up to the flavor, so you're not just drinking a cup of flavored ginger water, it's a good black tea.

We had it with breakfast the next morning. I used a little more than the suggested amount of looseleaf, but in my defense I was up at 3:30 in the morning staring blearily at a child who insists on needing things at night.


I of course measured it using the teaspoon and steeped it into the bamboo steeper on top of a mug made for Jason by our talented friend Stevie a few years ago. The mug just seemed really appropriate.

It smelled divine before it was even done. It was peppery and it definitely had a very strong cardamom scent and flavor. Not enough chais go heavy on the cardamom.

More should.

I added honey and milk, because I never drink hot black tea without both those things. Jason just takes a little milk.


Loved it.

Have had it twice since Tuesday, and will probably drink more tomorrow morning.

I'm definitely signing up for December.

Although, actually, that brings me to my next point - Tea Box Express did a call for bloggers to partner with last week, just after my box had shipped but before I had actually received it. I kind of jumped on it - I've never partnered with a brand before in any way, but this seemed like a great way sort of dip my toes in it and figure out how all this madness works. I emailed them a horribly clunky newbie "I have no idea what I'm doing but I think this sounds sort of like what I should say" email and they took pity on me and we hashed out a deal.

So I'm partnering with Tea Box Express!

I'm getting a bit of a deal on my December box in order to share its contents with all of you. This kind of works out for everybody included, because I was going to do that anyway. Now I get to do it as part of an official partnership!

Keep an eye out for December and I might have something pretty cool to show you. I'm looking forward to what I'll receive then, and I'm looking forward to something pretty fun for January's box for those readers who have put up with me for so many years!

You're saints, all of you.

In the meantime, if you're interested and want to look into signing up (or even ordering a box from a previous month, which you can do here - I highly suggest picking up November's box!), hop on over and take a look at the pricing and how it works. Maybe mention me in an email, post on their Facebook page page or Twitter to let them know I gave you the idea and that I am wonderful and you love me ever so much and listen to my opinions because they are made of gold. It makes me look good, and I think we all want me to look good.

Suspiciously good.

Maybe think about giving a box as a Christmas gift, but only if you actually really like the person. Don't waste a gift like this on someone you feel 'meh' about. This is not a 'meh' gift. This is a gift you give to someone and then show up at their house and ask them to make you tea and then you eat their cookies because they're delicious while they stare at you, horrified at the crumb-covered monster you've become.

Do that.

I'll be over here, already waiting for December's box because I don't have the patience God gave a goat.
















Pssst. While I am about to start a partnership with Tea Box Express, and will write about future boxes as part of my deal with them (this one was not sponsored and I wrote about it out of sheer enthusiasm), all opinions will be 100% honest, entirely my own, and probably so full of digressions and rambling that you'll wonder how we started talking about tea and ended up discussing the very strange noses of elephants. Thanks for coming with me as I start discovering how to work with brands and still maintain the weird stories, photos of my daughter, and LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY CATS attitude you've all grown to love. Or read out of pity. Whatever. I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It Was Totally Fine.


Last night, Audra Grace did her first night in the crib in her room all by herself.

Now, we hadn't exactly planned it this way; originally, before she actually made her appearance we were sure we'd start putting her in her room at night by eight weeks. Once she appeared, I turned into a surprising Attachment Mommy and while we didn't exactly co-sleep, she stayed in our room with us and I stopped being willing to put any real date on when she'd move on out.

In her twenties, maybe. Once I feel like she's safe.

The thing about babies, though, is that they make their own choices; we had two nights in a row where Jason got very little sleep because Audra snuffled and grunted and snorted and mumbled her way through the night. She only woke up once or twice, but her sleep was anything but restful.

Now me, my body has figured out an amazing ability to sleep through anything that isn't her actually making noises of distress, because I am not going to lose those precious six hours a night I am averaging right now. Granted, that's one four-hour bloc and one two-hour... but it's still six, gosh darn it, and I love it. Sometimes on Sundays I get two three and a half hour blocs of sleep. On those Sundays I rejoice.

In any case, this means she's woken Jason up more than she has me, and it was just becoming something we couldn't keep up. So we decided yesterday, we'll put the baby monitor together and we'll put her in her crib.

At which point we discovered, at 8 p.m. last night, that the baby monitor has to charge for fifteen hours.

We looked at each other. We discussed (of course, by 'discussed', I mean Jason was logical and I was emotional and somewhere in the middle we figured out a emogical solution) what to do. We'd be doing the whole night without a baby monitor, if he tried it tonight. Jason left it open for me to keep her in the room one more night. I waffled back and forth, not wanting him to lose sleep again.

"Well, we got along somehow before baby monitors," I said. "Then again, until about a hundred years ago everybody mostly slept in the same room unless they were Rockefellers."

Okay, I didn't say it that cleverly. But that's mostly what I said!

So... we decided to try it. I've done my research. I know that baby monitors do not, statistically, actually make babies any safer. But there's always that one person who says, If it weren't for the monitor and so what if I end up that person? Only without said monitor? She's only three and a half months old. That doesn't seem old enough to be put in charge of her own sleep, does it? To be in a room by herself?

Still, I told myself. Still.

If we laid her down on her back like they say, it would be fine. I told myself it would be fine. I hugged and held her and she fell asleep on my chest and then I went in and laid her down.

She did not like this idea. Oh, not at all. She fussed and made either sad or annoyed sounds - it's hard to tell with her, they sound exactly the same - and I sat on the couch and cried for sixteen minutes.

Like a baby.

Or, I guess, like a mommy who didn't know she wasn't ready for this until she finally decided to try it.

I know it was sixteen minutes, by the way, because I counted each and every single one. She never cried. If she had cried, we had an agreement we would go in there and get here and hold her and then we would try again. She just fussed and muttered and was kind of displeased with the situation. For sixteen minutes.

After sixteen minutes she was actually starting to sound a little worked up, so I went in and got her and held her and she fell asleep again in less than thirty seconds.

This time, when we laid her down, she stayed asleep. Jason and I went to bed, and I cried in bed for like twenty minutes because the silence was both wonderful and something I was grateful for... and also terrifying and kind of shameful because I was grateful for it, but what if it wasn't good silence but bad silence and oh god and it just goes on like that for a while... and he kept offering to bring her back in, and I kept saying no because I'm going to have to do this eventually.

She woke us up at 2:30. She was just fussbucketing again; not crying, just making herself known. I think my feet were on the floor before I was fully awake and I went to her room and she was absolutely, one hundred percent totally fine.

She ate a few ounces and dropped back off to sleep and back into the crib she went. No fussing, just right into contented sleep.

I laid awake for about an hour afterward, and then I managed to fall asleep, too.

She was fine when I got up for the day at 5:30. Ready to be awake and start her day and completely fine.

Completely fine.

So I'm fine!

It was fine!

Everything is fine!

Except here's the thing, you guys.

I have to do this again tonight.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Feel Like I'm Not the Intended Audience For These Things




Making: NOTHING. I did all my making yesterday - I made this buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese recipe, with added spinach and butternut squash from our veggie delivery service. It's enough to feed us for at least two days. So today I make NOTHING. I guess I made coffee? That's like making, I guess...

Cooking: See above. ALL MAKING ALREADY DONE WITH THANK YOU.

Drinking: Coffee. Duh.

Reading: Mark Twain's autobiography, in fits and spurts. Any magazine I can get my hands on that has Thanksgiving stuff in it. Planning actual decorations next year for my house for Christmas, when I'll hopefully have an almost-toddler who will be able to enjoy it.

Wanting: it to be Thanksgiving already.

Looking: at the Pack n Play that we FINALLY set up in the living room.

Playing: Not just yet. She's asleep for her morning nap. We play when she wakes.

Wasting: time. Just... wasting time. It's delightful.

Sewing: abuh who the what now?

Wishing: I had a house in Illinois and the money to fly there whenever I please.

Enjoying: it finally being cold enough for sweaters almost every day. So happy to say goodbye to South Carolina's humid heat for a few months.


Waiting: for Audra to wake up. She's been making little peeping sounds for a while now, then settles down, then peeps again. I'm supposed to leave her in there until as close to 10 am as possible...

Liking: my cold toes. Is it weird that I actually enjoy having cold toes? It means it's cold outside!

Wondering: if I can have another cup of coffee or if that would just be going too far.

Loving: the colors on the trees, Sundays with Jason, Mondays just us girls. Although I'd prefer TWO days with Jason instead of the one. I think I could last count on a real weekend when I was in college. 

Hoping: for the chill that's meant to sweep over our state later this week to bring pretty, sunshine-y clear-sky days with it. There's nothing like a clear winter sky, even if you can't see as much of it in a place with this many hills. Also hoping I can get myself off my duff early enough to drag Jason and Audra up to Caesar's Head or Table Rock this weekend.

Marveling: doesn't this seem the same as wondering?

Needing: a new fridge, probably. Was that boring?


Smelling: Uh... my house. This questionnaire is getting a little weird, right?

Wearing: Well, I'm home and don't have anywhere to go today. Sooooo yoga pants and a sweatshirt. NEW MOM UNIFORM REPRESENTIN'

Following: ... the leader? Seriously, who wrote this?

Noticing: that whoever wrote this really decided to just drag it out as long as possible. 

Knowing: that this questionnaire must end eventually.

Thinking: "Yeah, I'm probably going to get that second cup of coffee. Even if my 'cups' are 16 ounces..."

Feeling: vaguely annoyed that I am STILL ANSWERING QUESTIONS.

Bookmarking: I'm currently working on a Pinterest board for wardrobe ideas for the next three years to try and get my wardrobe to LOOK like someone who is about to be thirty and is a parent and needs to look more grownup sometimes. Only with color explosions. But grown-up color explosions.

Opening: the Pumpkin Spice creamer, because I REGRET NOTHING.

Giggling:
 I'm... not giggling.


IT'S OVER.

THE QUESTIONNAIRE IS OVER.

Coffee time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Weekend I...


... wore my favorite hooded sweater to work on Friday
(I was thematic)
and it was almost too warm for all of them


befriended this lizard on my lunch break
we sat quietly in the sun together, both of us
half asleep
while a group of kids and their moms played soccer
in an open field nearby


woke up Saturday to over an inch of snow on my back porch
filled my car up with gas before heading to work
next to a car wash where I could hear it dripping as it melted...
grabbed a doughnut at an Ingles where the clouds seemed close enough
to touch
 

went to a Halloween party with a handsome fireman
and the cutest lion cub in the whole world


woke up Sunday morning and snagged groceries at Publix
came home and made maple apple chicken sausage, scrambled eggs
and toasted some cranberry walnut bread for breakfast


this little lady napped in my arms while I
gorged myself on Property Brothers


had lunch at my in-laws' house, where Audra
played until she passed out
at which point we took her over to see Jason's Nana and Grandaddy
and she was in no way the center of attention at all


came home to a house I filled with lit candles
a husband who cooked us pork chops and collard greens for dinner
a baby who was very skeptical about her bath
a dog who wants nothing more than to help us eat our food
two cats who are sleeping wherever it is I want to sit at that time
I am wearing my biggest, warmest, least flattering sweater
and it is very cold outside
but I am warm.
 
Welcome, November.
Hang around awhile.