Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Days Were Merry & Bright!

Merry Christmas from Queen Ketchup!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

We got back yesterday from 5 nights in St. Louis with my family.  It was such a great week!  Five of our family members from Las Vegas came to town, so we had a "good old fashioned family Christmas" (can you name that movie??).

It was so nice to arrive at my mom's house because it was intensely decorated for the holiday (which was a welcome contrast to ours).  They did a lot of St. Louis-y Christmas things before we arrived (since Bates' nap sched and 7pm bedtime make it a little difficult to get out), but while we were there we went down to the Botanical Gardens one day to see the Christmas trains and wreaths.  And we went another day to the Butterfly House, which Bates loved!

Other than that, it was a lot of hanging out time.  Games were played, movies were watched, and food was eaten.  Oh the food.  I could not eat until next week and still probably function pretty well because the calories consumed in those 6 days could carry me through.  (But don't worry, we came home with a container of Christmas cookies and a ton of other food [including a whole casserole.])

Other highlights: I got to see two of my best guy friends from high school (one who I haven't seen in probably 5 years).  I got to see my good friend Ali, her husband, and their 17 month old baby boy.  And Jonathan and I had dinner with Sarah and her boyfriend at a cool restaurant in Webster Groves.  We also went to see a movie one night while my mom babysat (Silver Linings Playbook - highly recommend).

Overall it was a good trip.  We didn't get snow on Christmas day, but there was a little bit later in the week so Bates got his first glimpse.  Santa was very kind to everyone (bringing me a "B" charm necklace, an ear warmer headband, a dress, and a scarf).  I was worried Bates would get too many things, but it ended up fine.  He got a lot of clothes and books, which is great (I was worried he would get hundreds of new toys and not really understand/fully appreciate them).

I hope your holiday was filled with love and family!  (And food.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busy Up In Here

I wouldn't say I'm overwhelmed with Christmas-related stuff, but this week has been ridiculously busy.

Side Note: Maybe I should be overwhelmed with Christmas stuff?  I haven't wrapped a single present; I still haven't bought some presents (craaaaap); and my child still has not seen Santa.  But there's time, right?

We've been doing fun stuff, though!  Monday night was my book club's annual Christmas dinner/book exchange.  Everyone brings a wrapped book and we do a dirty Santa draw & swap.  The first book I picked up was The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian.  But it was stolen by Meagan, so the next one I opened was The Typist by Michael Knight.  I'm excited to read it.  Apparently the author went to the same high school as Elizabeth and is now an English professor.

On Tuesday, Bates and I went to "storytime" and had lunch with a dear friend (and her 6-month old) who just moved back to town.  We went to storytime again today and it was packed!  And I saw quite a few people I knew - so it was fun catch-up time with different folks.

On Wednesday we ran out to the pediatrician to check Bates' ears (since he's been tugging on them), but they were clear.  He's most likely been tugging because he has 3 new teeth that are swollen and about to pop out.  Then in the afternoon I dropped Bates at my in-law's and headed to get my hair cut and run some errands.  When I got to their house to drop him off, they weren't home.  As soon as I opened their door, the alarm started beeping, and since they don't usually set the alarm, I didn't know the code.  It was this comedy of errors as I ran back out to my car to get my cell phone, tried to get them on the line to get the code, tried to calm Bates down once the alarm started going off (but ended up just putting him on the front porch outside while I ran to turn it off [which freaked him out even more]), etc etc...  I finally turned it off and got Bates to calm down.  We called ADT and they weren't sending the police because I'd turned it off in time.  But suffice, it was a less-than-relaxing start to my afternoon of alone time.  My hair cut was nice, though.  I never used to think anything of a trip to the salon, but now it's nice chitchat time and nice relaxing time while I sit and wait for the color to process.

Tomorrow morning we're taking Hank to get a bath and haircut before the holiday.  And I think tomorrow afternoon (Friday) we're going to try to see Santa.  And hopefully I can get a couple more Christmas presents purchased.  And maybe I can even make it out to the Baby Gap to return/switch sizes of a few things bought for Bates.  That might be pushing it, but we'll see.

Where are you guys with all your Christmas stuff - is everything bought, wrapped, and under the tree?  Or are you taking an approach similar to mine?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One More Point for Whole Foods

I had a wonderful experience with a return at our local Whole Foods back in January.  You should read the account of it if you haven't - it was a store going above and beyond what many grocery stores would do, I think.

Well, Bates and I were at Whole Foods earlier tonight.  He was in his Ergo (a baby carrier where he faces towards me) and was being really silly.  He was putting his hands in my mouth and also trying to eat my necklace.  I attempted to be stern with "no" when he grabbed my necklace, but you can imagine how well a 9 month old listens and how "stern" I am with my sweet baby boy.

Anyway, we walked into the section with all the prepared foods behind a counter.  It's a sort of narrow area because it has the prepared foods on one side and a cooled aisle on the other.  It was packed with people (probably because it was 5pm and they were picking up dinner).  All of a sudden, Bates yanked on my necklace and it snapped!  It was a longish necklace with big, chunky beads - so beads flew everywhere.  Because there were so many people around, and because there were so many big beads, it sort of caused a commotion.  People were trying to gather the beads to give to me or were trying to move them out of the way (so no one would slip on one).  I had a cart of food and the baby in the carrier, so I wasn't really able to do much in terms of gathering them up.

I quickly announced, "it's gone - I can't fix it" because a lot of people were trying to get the beads to give me.  I had a bunch of beads in both hands and was trying to maneuver myself and my cart to the garbage can down in the bakery section.  A man in Whole Foods clothes came up to me and said, "here, give me all the beads and I'll put them in a bag for you."  I thanked him but said I was just on my way to the trash can.  He offered to take them to the trash for me.

All of this was so nice.  It's actually pretty incredible how much strangers will help you when you have a baby with you.  So I was waiting in the long checkout line later and the same man in the Whole Foods gear came up to me.  He had a beaded necklace in his hand (from the clothing/jewelry section of our store) and said, "I'm not sure if this is your style, but you need a new necklace now."  The man gave me a new necklace!  It's short and has tiny colorful beads with some big ones spaced around it.  I mean, how nice was that??

I guess you never really know what will happen until you're in a certain situation, but I feel pretty confident that the people at Midtown Kroger would not be so helpful if this had happened there.  One more point for Whole Foods.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Hulk Baby

If you don't have kids, you've maybe never heard of a "growth spurt."  Or maybe you have?  Now that they are on my brain because of Bates, it's hard to imagine anyone hasn't heard of them.  But when he was born, I never had.  A few weeks into Bates' life he was sleeping a ton and my mom said, "it must be a growth spurt."  I googled this unknown term and, in fact, he probably was going through one.  Basically for the first couple years of life (but mostly in the 1st year) kids go through periods of a few days when they eat a ton and sleep a ton and then dramatically grow.  The timing of growth spurts is pretty universal for every kid.

When Bates has gone through previous ones, it's been noticeable in his eating and sleeping schedule, but I've never seen the dramatic growth.  In the past he'd maybe bump up to the next pound if he had been hovering near one, but nothing crazy.

Well, 9 months is the timing of one of the growth spurts.  I noticed he was taking longer naps during this one, but I only noticed a small increase in his eating.  But then?  A week later, he was huge!  He wore a pair of hand-me-down overalls on Thanksgiving and when I put them on him the next week?  They were too small!  Like, 3 inches too short.  Last night all his size 9 month pajamas were dirty so we put him in some 6 month ones and he looked like the Hulk.  They were skin tight and so short that he couldn't really straighten his legs all the way.

At Bates' 6-month check up, we were concerned about his weight gain: he'd pretty consistently been in the 30ish% for weight (80% for height), but at the 6-month mark his weight had dropped into the 7th%.  We thought (and hoped) it was related to bad reflux.  The doctor suggested we put him on reflux medicine but I told her I wanted to wait to see his growth at the next check.

A couple weeks after his 6-month check up, basically overnight, he stopped spitting up.  Like 100% stopped.  (The doctor later told me that the muscle that keeps food down can tighten and thus end the reflux.)  Just a quick note: I'm so glad we didn't put him on medicine!  When the muscle tightened, we would've just assumed the medicine had started working and who knows how long we would've left him on it unnecessarily.

Anyway - the reason I say all this is because when we went for his 9-month check up, his weight had moved into the 40th%!  The highest it has ever been!  And actually, I'm sort of curious if it's even higher now, because his Hulk-like growing didn't happen until the week after his doctor's appointment. It's so funny what these little babies do in their first year.  I love my little hulk!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Card

We've never sent Christmas cards before.  I've thought about it every year, but every year decided the cost and time weren't worth it until we had kids.

Well, we have a kid now.  And it dawned on me a couple days ago that Christmas is right around the corner.  So considering the time it takes to have the cards made, sent to us, addressed, and then sent out, I went into panic mode and told Jonathan we needed to take a picture NOW.

I was on a walk through our neighborhood the other day and noticed our friends Jonathan & Patrick (who just bought a beautiful house a few blocks away) had tons of Christmas decorations up.  So we asked them if we could borrow their tree to take a family picture.  We didn't realize we were also asking to borrow their awesome camera/photography skills, but they were more than happy to help.

Bates has always been a little overwhelmed around them (probably because they are loud and energetic, which they would self-admit [so don't think I'm talking badly about our friends]).  But Jonathan and I wondered how the babe would do in our picture since he tends to get a "stone face" when overwhelmed in new situations.

After about 10 pictures with a stone face similar to this (taken at Halloween)...
...we tried a new tactic.  (Ie, Patrick would jump in making funny sounds while waving a toy and when Bates would start to smile, he'd jump out.)  It worked and we got a good shot.  I'll share it on the blog after the holidays.

Once we got home, I jumped on the internet trying to find the best deal on cards.  I had been saving coupons for different picture card websites for the past month.  Our four options were: Minted, Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Card Store.  I wanted a cardstock card with room for one picture.  I knew I could find a cute design on any of the sites, so I was searching for the best deal.

The prices were pretty similar except for Card Store.  In fact, Card Store cost almost $100 less than the other sites.  Some of the details were ambiguous (like what type of paper they used to print the picture), so I decided to skip them (when a deal seems too good to be true...).  The winner in the end was Tiny Prints.  I'm so happy with the way the proof looked on the site - hopefully it will look good in person, too!

I feel so proud of myself for finally making this happen!  I can't wait to get them in the mail!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Blog Features!

I finally got around to filling out all the little tabs at the top of my blog's homepage ("Meet Jackie," "Pregnancy," etc.) - so check them out!

We're off to church and then possibly to visit a certain man in a big red suit.  We'll see.  Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Have you guys fully jumped on the holiday bandwagon this year?  Decorated your house?  Bought all your presents yet?

I've not really tackled any of this.  In fact, there's still a pumpkin on my front porch and two Halloween lanterns.  Ooops.

Initially, I didn't want to celebrate Christmas too early (ie, right after early Thanksgiving).  I told myself I wouldn't listen to holiday tunes or decorate until December 1st.  But then that day came and went and it just didn't feel right: it was 70 degrees outside and all the Fall colors were still bright.  Now it's December 7th and I have no decorations up and still have that pesky pumpkin lingering on my porch (because it hasn't moved itself to the trash).

So I think at this point, we won't decorate our house.  On one hand, this is sort of sad.  It's Bates' first Christmas and he'd probably love looking at the lights on the tree.  But on the other hand he'd also love trying to eat the tree/lights and it takes forever to bring the tree out of the attic, set it up, and decorate it.  Then it all has to be put away after the holidays.  Bah humbug.

We have started listening to Christmas music, though.  So there's that.  Our fancy cable has a channel of it, I have a holiday station on Pandora, and soft rock 104.5 has all-Christmas-all-the-time until the 25th. And we plan on taking Bates to meet Santa at some point.  And we're lighting the advent candle at our church next weekend, so that's fun.

On the present-front, we're lagging a little bit.  We've bought a couple, but since we buy presents for about 15 family members not including ourselves (holy moly!), we have quite a way to go.  Here's an interesting question for the masses: do you think we should buy Bates Christmas presents?  Of course the instinctual response is "yes - of course."  But then really think about it...  He doesn't understand what's going on; when we give him too many new toys at once, he gets overwhelmed; we just got a TON of new toys from Jonathan's sister; and he has very generous family members who will buy him a lot of stuff.  Also, his 1-year birthday is at the end of February.  Thoughts?  And for parents out there, any present ideas for a 10-12 month old?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to remove that pumpkin from the porch before it rots.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Relaxation Station

This is a little shout out to Claire (not sure if she still reads the blog anymore) - but yesterday I went and got an hour-long massage thanks to her!

Right after I had Bates, she sent me a giftcard for one (since she's incredibly thoughtful and knew I would need it).  I hadn't used it yet, though, because I'm sort of weird about using stuff like that.  I want to wait to use it until the absolute perfect time (and of course, when you're thinking that way, there's never a perfect time).

But when my mother in law called me on Monday and said she wanted to hang out with Bates sometime this week, I knew my "perfect" time had arrived.  (I mean, what better necessitates a massage than running a half marathon?)

And oh my gosh you guys, it was so nice!  Just generally it was nice to have an hour of alone time completely devoted to relaxation and pampering.  But she really got to business with some of my sore muscles.  At the end, she said she could tell my leg muscles had been through a lot.

I left the salon feeling refreshed and relaxed - so thanks Clairee!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Am I Doing??

Ugh - you guys - I just wrote a whole blog post on L'Oreal BB Cream.  And then I read it back to myself and thought, "seriously?"  It just sounded so stupid.  And it's so incredibly inconsequential to my life.

But that's sort of the problem with my blogging at the moment.  There are things I'd like to talk about (L'Oreal BB Cream, for example), but since I only find time once maybe twice a week to write posts, makeup doesn't seem like it should be worthy of one.

And I'm also in this sort of weird spot where I could write A LOT of posts on: my kid, being a parent, stuff babies do, Bates' sleeping/eating/milking/whatever schedule, etc., but I don't want this blog to be borrrrrrring for the readers who aren't into kid stuff.  But at the same time, that's what's going on in the majority of my life right now.  And sometimes, there isn't much to say in one given day.  It might seem terribly boring to some - but I love it.

So who knows.  Maybe I need to figure out if this blog is more for me or for my readers.  Because when it initially started, it was a way to get myself writing everyday.  Maybe it's time to get back to that, even if it's mundane mommy stuff...

(And if anyone is interested, this L'Oreal BB Cream...
Source: http://www.lorealparisusa.com/

...is pretty awes.  I like to wear a little bit of makeup everyday and usually wear some foundation to even out redness.  This is basically a tinted moisturizer, which is exactly the amount of coverage I'm looking for.  I bought the lightest color they have and it looks great.  Highly recommend if you just need light coverage.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Half Marathon Monday: Race Recap!

I can cross an item off my life bucket list: complete a half marathon!  Overall I'm really happy about my whole race experience!

13.1 miles; 2 hours and 17 minutes, which averaged 10:30/mile.

I don't really know where to begin with my recap.  Even though it was only Saturday, I already feel like the whole experience is a little hazy in my mind.

First off, the weather was a pre-race concern (ie, it was going to be too hot).  But in actuality, it was fine.  I mean, a little colder would have been better.  But it never felt too hot and the sun never felt like it was barreling down on me.  And on the positive side, we didn't get that cold air lung thing that sometimes happens when you run in really cold temps.

Another pre-race question I had was which corral to choose for the wave start.  I could go with #9, which was a 10:30-10:54 projected pace; or #10, which was a 10:55-11:19 pace.  I had been training around the upper end of a 10 minute mile, so either would have probably been fine.  I went with 9 and think it was a good choice.  (And as it turned out, I didn't see a pacer the whole time I was running.  Thank goodness I had borrowed a Garmin from a friend and was able to see my pace that way.)

So...on race day.  After one last trip to the bathroom, Jonathan and I lined up together in corral 9 and got near the front.  It was finally our turn, a countdown from 10, and we were off!  (A minor glitch was that my Garmin had switched to auto-save mode right as we left the gates - I had to mess around with it for about 30 seconds, but no harm was done.)

The first couple miles were great.  I felt strong and fast.  In fact, I was around a 9 minute mile, sometimes faster.  I had this big question in my head: if I go this fast in the beginning, am I going to have a major crash later?  I decided to risk it.

Around mile 4, I saw Jonathan ahead.  I knew I could catch up, so I didn't take my eyes off him and finally did.  We checked in with each other, and then I was off leaving him in my dust.  The end of mile 4 went through the St. Jude campus and I started what could've turned into an uncontrollable cry if I didn't pull it together.  (Kids with cancer are really sad.  And once you have a kid of your own, kids with cancer become a million times more sad.)

I took my first Gu (with caffeine) at the 5 mile water station.

Miles 5-7 went down North Parkway.  There were 2 pretty big hills that I walked up, but other than that, no real surprises.  From about mile 7 to the end, I started taking walk breaks when I felt the need.  Miles 8 and 9 were through Overton Park.  I know at one point in there, I had to have a talk with myself because I was starting to get a little drained.  (It's hard to explain, but the drained feeling is almost more mental than it is physical.)

I took my second Gu (no caffeine) at the mile 10 water station.

I walked a fair amount between miles 10 and 12.  It was weird because on one hand, I knew I could just slow down a lot and maintain a jog until the end.  But instead of doing that, I decided to take walk breaks and run fast when I was running.  This was fine for me because I had no reservations about walking during the race - it had never been my intention to run the whole time.

By the time I got to the last mile, I told myself it was go time.  I think I might have walked a tiny bit in the beginning of the mile, but the last 3/4, I took it into high gear (or at least the highest gear I could muster up at that point).  Not to toot my own horn, but I passed a lot of people at the end.  I just kept telling myself, "it's almost done, you're almost there, it's almost done and then you can walk."  A wonderful aspect of the St. Jude marathon is that the last .5 miles are downhill and then you run into the Redbirds stadium (our minor league baseball team).

All in all, I'm not sure there's anything I would've changed about my experience.  I broke two rules of long-distance running on marathon day: 1) I wore new shoes I'd never run in before; and 2) I wore a new shirt I bought at the Expo when I picked up my race packet.  Both caused no trouble.

I think the funniest thing about the run was what I listened to in my headphones.  So as you know, I only listened to podcasts when I did my training runs.  Never music.  Before the half marathon, I tried to download some old episodes of This American Life to listen to during the event and for some reason, I couldn't get them loaded onto my iPhone (user error for).  Before the race, I figured I would listen to the one episode of This American Life I did have and then listen to a Stuff You Should Know podcast.  Then for the last 3 miles, I would listen to my "pump it up" music list.

Well, when it first started, I wanted to listen to music; the atmosphere was so fun and excited, I didn't want to go right into something serious.  And as I got into mile 2, I realized the music was working for me.  So during the whole thing, I only listened to music.  And maybe that doesn't seem all that crazy, but you have to know, I only have 15 songs loaded on my iPhone.  Since I didn't plan to listen to anything, I didn't upload more songs before the race.  And because they are completely absurd and so incredibly random, I give you my half-marathon "playlist."

Everybody Talks - The Neon Trees
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Love Me Do - The Beatles
Hey Ya - Andre 3000
All My Loving - The Beatles
I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles
Country Grammar - Nelly
Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio
Roll Over Beethoven - The Beatles
Me and the Major - Belle & Sebastian

And then the "pump it up" aspect..
F You - Cee Lo Green
Dynamite - Taio Cruz
Low - Flo Rida
Stone in Love - Journey

HA!  Gangsta's Paradise is what makes me laugh the most out of this list.  The reason I have some of these on my phone is because they are supposed to be songs whose beat corresponds with either 10-minute miles or 9-minute miles (and I had uploaded them before a 4-mile race we did a few months ago or maybe I'm just a huuuuuge Beatles fan?).

So yeah - there it is.  My first half marathon completed.  Definitely won't be my last.  I'm waiting for all the immediate soreness to g