Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Treasuring each moment without going insane

First time at a water park.

Right now my sons are 5 and 2 and sometimes I feel like all I hear is how I’m supposed to treasure each moment.

I know I’ll probably lose Mommy points for saying it, but it’s become somewhat of a sore spot. Don’t get me wrong – I try, but when I’m really concentrating on it, I start to get overwhelmed. How am I supposed to treasure each moment when life is moving so fast? As a working Mom, there’s a lot of scheduling to contend with and small milestones feel like they’re flying by: kindergarten Christmas program, a second birthday, Christmas morning, playing in the ice (they thought it was snow and at one point I just gave up and let them play in it.) So there I am, snapping pictures and trying to burn the images into my memory – all the while treasuring. Each. Moment.

It’s just too much.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meeting our children

It felt like a first date even though I haven’t had a first date since I first started dating my husband 20 years ago. I guess looking back on it now; it was our first date and also the prelude to a few more “first dates”.

My husband and I were both shuffling around in the bathroom  trying to figure out what we were going to wear,  discussing what would we say, and chatting about what questions may be asked.

I really didn’t give it much thought as silly as it may sound but I could tell my husband wanted to make a good first impression.  He wanted to make a good impression when meeting David and Grace for the first time.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Breastfeeding woes to joy

When I was pregnant and people would ask if I planned to breastfeed my answer was always I hope to do so. I had seen too many friends struggle with breastfeeding forced to go the route of exclusive pumping or just plain not be able to make it work. So while I fervently hoped, I also was realistic that it could be tough and that ultimate success was out of my hands.

Little did I know what was in store for me though.

First we’d struggled with infertility (strike one). I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m told that the hormonal issues often tied to infertility can also affect breastfeeding, according to one of the many lactation consultations I met with in this journey. Born at 36 weeks and two days my daughter was a preemie (Strike two). I had a c-section(strike 3) because my daughter was breech. If this were a baseball game we’d be out. Yet the strikes kept coming. Nursing sessions left both of us frustrated and in tears (another strike because stress is about as anti-successful breastfeeding as you can get.). I desperately wanted her to breastfeed for many of the reasons she was having trouble which made me feel like I was failing her at something that was supposed to be so natural. A family friend pulled me aside about six weeks in and half joked that there’s nothing natural about breastfeeding. I had to agree, at least with learning how to breastfeed. There may be natural instincts but it isn’t just getting your child in position and nature takes over. At least not in our case, that’s for sure.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why Do You Like Christmas?

The task was simple, or so I thought.  For this post, I wanted to ask my kids why they like Christmas.  When the camera was off, the question was easy, but once the camera started rolling, it was a little more difficult, apparently. 

I asked Preston and Emory to introduce themselves, tell how old they are and share why they like Christmas.  Preston went first. 

Preston, Age 6

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree!

What a difference a year makes.  This time last year I was certainly very happy and blessed to see Shelby enjoy her first Christmas, but fast forward to 2013 and what a transformation!

Though she has not fully grasped the entire concept, to see her excitement and wonderment over the decorations, the presents, and Santa takes Christmas to a whole new level.  She is fully obsessed with Sesame Street and all of its fuzzy muppets, so shopping for gifts has been really fun versus last year when a pacifier or a sippy cup of milk was higher on her list of favorite things.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What my toddler really wants for Christmas

Jake, my 2-year-old, is finally old enough to kind of understand Christmas. He can successfully identify Santa, he’s obsessed with watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version), and every time we drive past one of the many flamboyantly lit-up houses in our neighborhood he points and exclaims “Christmas!”

But when you ask him whether he wants to open presents on Christmas morning, he shakes his head no. I’m not sure why. I can only guess it’s because he suspects his parents will be oh-so-unoriginal and gift things like Mega Blocks and Fisher Price doodads and not anything he really wants.

Here’s what I think Jake would really want for Christmas:

Unlimited bath time
If he could, he'd live in the bathtub.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (And Busiest)

How is it already just a few days before Christmas?

It has felt like the last three months have flown by and I don’t know where the time has gone. Starting with Thanksgiving week until now, we have had multiple things on our calendar and “to do list” every weekend and most weeks.

I wanted so badly to have time to relax and enjoy the Christmas Season at home with my family, but just knew that would have to wait until after Christmas Day. Until a change came our way in the DFW area, 2013 Ice Storm!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sam’s wearing me out

Sam’s wearing me out. We’ve been doing Elf on the Shelf for several years now, and I’m really looking forward to H. figuring out that the parents are moving the elf.

She’s so close to figuring it out, too. I downloaded a calendar of Elf suggestions off the Internet and had it folded up in my purse. H. was rummaging through and pulled it out and read it out loud. “Elf on the Shelf calendar. Mommy, why do you have this in your purse?”

The best defense is a good offense. "Aren’t you supposed to be doing something else? What are you doing in my purse?”

Attention diverted.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do you really need your one-a-day?

With vitamin shops popping up everywhere and stores lining the shelves with different supplement products many people wonder if they need to be purchasing one-a-day vitamins, vitamin C, B vitamins and the like. Magazine and store advertisements lead us to believe that we only get vitamins and minerals from a bottle on the shelf.  While vitamins and supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Two newly published articles indicate there is no clear benefit for healthy individuals to consume vitamin and mineral supplements.  If someone is deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, then supplementing might benefit that person by helping them get back to normal levels in the body.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Needing a super simple dinner idea in the midst of holiday hustle and bustle? Toss this recipe in the slow cooker tomorrow morning for a delish dinner in the evening.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

1 pound chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 can black beans, drained
1 can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
Cheese, guacamole, sour cream and/or green onions for garnish

Place chicken breasts, salsa, beans, green chiles and chili powder in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.  The last 30 minutes, add in corn.

When ready to serve, take two forks and shred chicken right in slow cooker.  Top tortillas and add your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD is a dietitian in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Mom of twin girls.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Secrecy

Elliot is 2 ½ years old this holiday season, and his level of engagement compared to last year’s is quite remarkable. Last year he was able to open his presents and was genuinely excited to see what he received. However, leading up to Christmas, he didn’t exhibit much in the way of anticipation or even awareness.

This year is quite different. I knew something had changed when he noticed that our local shopping center had put up its Christmas tree around Thanksgiving time and immediately started asking me when I was going to put up ours. This continued as he joyfully “assisted” in the tree decoration and has generally been in the holiday spirit 24/7 – as the little toy snowman who loudly sings “Frosty the Snowman” can attest. The fact that I haven’t broken that toy speaks more to my character than any public act of charity ever could.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sharing the Holiday Spirit

Today Santa brought gifts for preemies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth -- little caps he knitted himself! Who knew Santa was so crafty?

He shared some of his caps with newborns in the hospital's mother/baby unit, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby's First Christmas

I’ve never been one to go all out for presents for little kids until they are old enough to really realize what’s going on. I figure between grandparents and others, little kids get enough “stuff” – and then some usually. But as my first Christmas as a Mom approaches, I find my head and heart are on two different pages.

My head: I want to stick with what I’ve always done for others. Our 12-week-old daughter has no actual material needs this Christmas. She still has yet to even really understand a rattle and she’s got several of those already. She’s got plenty of clothes. And honestly she’s not going to understand what’s happening anyway.

My heart: But it’s her first Christmas! Shouldn’t there be a picture of her with the most perfect and meaningful first present from her loving parents? What will she think if she sees photos and her only presents come from the grandparents who I know aren’t planning to listen when we say she doesn’t need anything? I will admit some of this is probably coming from the dreaded Mommy guilt as I have returned to work.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moving Forward

A day I believed wouldn’t come soon enough finally happened. I had my doubts and concerns, but my baby girl started crawling forward, and that accomplishment made us both very happy.

Since she was nine months old, Talia had been crawling backward and rolling. She’d even get up on all fours and rock back and forth, as if motivating herself to jump out of the starting blocks and crawl her way into a wonderful world of exploration.

Then, a day before she turned eleven months old, my chunky baby crawled to me on wobbly legs and arms. I started clapping and singing her name. After repositioning herself into a sitting position, she began smiling and clapping her hands, too.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why must high fashion models be worship worthy?

For 14 and a half years I’ve done my best to raise strong daughters with compassionate hearts, impeccable manners and lots of smarts. I’ve worked overtime emphasizing brains over beauty and kindness over material things.

As any parent knows, it is a daily challenge to instill quality over quantity and flash, what with the barrage of social media and media sites our teens are immersed in daily.

I thought we were doing pretty good (all three were making all As, using their napkins at the dinner table, being responsible in all facets of life) and then the suggestion was made to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. (It was all Twitter, Instagram and CNN were talking about!!)

We’ve caught glimpses of the show in past years and the girls are already giddy year-round about VS’s PINK store at the mall, you know the one with all the glitter, sparkle and “crazy about you” and “email me” pajamas.

But this year was different while watching it with one teen and one almost teen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Still thawing out from the ice storm? Warm the family up with this easy slow cooker chicken tortilla soup recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken breast (thawed or frozen, it doesn't matter)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 package lower sodium taco seasoning
1 can cream corn
1 cup frozen corn kernels
3/4 cup fat free half and half
Chopped green onion, sour cream, shredded cheese to garnish

In your slow cooker, add in chicken breasts, black beans, northern beans, Rotel, stock and taco seasoning.  Cook on low 6 hours or on high 3 hours.

Remove lid and shred chicken right inside of slow cooker using two forks.  Stir in cream corn and frozen corn kernels and keep lid off cooking another 20 minutes on high (this will let some of the liquid evaporate and give you a thicker soup).

 Right before you're ready to serve, stir in your half and half. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish. Enjoy!

Amber Massey, RD, LD, is a dietitian and Mom of twins in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Monday, December 9, 2013

After infertility struggles, an amazing path to childbirth

Shiloh Morris and her husband, Kevin, were married when she was just 19 and he was 20. They always knew they wanted children, but there some health issues that stood the way.

Shiloh has a bicornuate uterus. Instead of the normal pear-shape, her uterus looks more like a heart ― with a deep indentation at the top ― making conception, labor and delivery problematic and often leading to miscarriage. She was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, one of the most common causes of female infertility in the United States.

After seeing a number of fertility specialists, undergoing four unsuccessful tries at intrauterine insemination and experiencing two miscarriages, the couple decided to adopt. Shiloh and Kevin welcomed baby Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) into their lives from foster care three years ago. The Morris family was finally a happy family of three.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Toddler's Snow Day

Step 1: Let Mommy and Daddy layer on the warm winter-wear.

(A movie quote comes to mind: "Getting ready to go to school was like getting ready for extended deep-sea diving." -- Ralphie, A Christmas Story)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Nutrition: Maintain Don’t Gain!

Did you know the average person gains 2-7 pounds throughout the holidays?!  From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails…it is easy to add a few pounds.  So let’s check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season!

Eating on the Run
The holidays bring lots of errands, lots of shopping, and thus lots of eating on-the-go.  From drive thrus to mall food courts it is easy to grab a bite and get back to the shopping.  So here are some ways to eat fast and eat healthy.
  • Order a grilled chicken sandwich, wrap or salad & get the sauce on the side
  • Sub a salad, fruit cup, yogurt parfait or carton of milk for french fries
  • Skip the soda, milkshake, and sweet tea and go with water

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

I absolutely love me some Christmas. I love the lights and the music and the special feeling you get when everything seems to be decorated with tinsel and bells – and of course I love setting up our Christmas tree. But I will admit that as I’ve gotten older I have to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind before I decorate.

Now that I’m solidly in my 30s with a husband, two children and a full-time career, it’s easy to make decorating for Christmas just one more thing on the to-do list. Get the dog groomed, go pick up milk and decorate the house for Christmas – check, check, check. Case in point: last weekend. On Friday night we decorated the house and I was exhausted from Thanksgiving and just not feeling particularly Christmasy. There were house chores to do, I needed to get my children off the Thanksgiving sugar high they were on and I really just wanted a nap. But there I was, dragging totes out of closets to fetch the Christmas stockings, decorations and lights – almost like it was some dreaded chore that needed to be finished.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bedtime Battles

Like most toddlers, mine fights bedtime. He comes by it honestly; he’s a night owl like his Momma and Daddy. Granted, some of it is dictated by Mommy and Daddy’s schedule. We go into the office a little later, which means we leave a little later, so dinner isn’t usually until 6:30. Then there’s bath, downtime (hey, I gotta get my snuggles in!), and finally, bedtime. We aim for 8:30, but many nights it’s closer to 9:00. And when we’re not on a school schedule? Fugehddabout it. . .he’s happily awake until after 9:30. Now, don’t worry, he also usually sleeps in. If we don’t have to wake him up for school, he’ll often sleep until 8:30 or 9 in the morning (please don’t throw things at me – I have plenty of Mommy guilt about how late he’s up at night).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trip Envy

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and as we do every other year, we decided to take a small getaway trip. This year, we chose to visit New Orleans, a city that is near and dear to my heart from growing up in Louisiana.

Once we’d decided, we began mapping out our visit. One night as we’re double checking our itinerary, our daughter, who’d been put to bed over an hour before, yells from her bed that we’d forgotten one thing: her. Nowhere in our conversation had she heard her name mentioned or any activities that she might like for that matter.