Passing out candy for Halloween – the highs and lows

Since we moved into this building five years ago, we’ve signed up to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters every year we could. The last two years due to COVID, the building did not allow for this. But this year, they’ve resumed the tradition. As an adult who never really got into dressing up for Halloween, I do enjoy seeing little kids and babies in their Halloween costumes. Babies especially are super cute in the outfits their parents come up with, particularly the edible ones. My absolute favorites that I have seen include spaghetti and meatballs, Cup of Noodle, and sushi (as a whole family). I also love it when families all dress up in a theme. It’s so sweet and makes for great family photos.

The lows of passing out candy? When kids don’t want to say “trick or treat” or even thank you, but try to barge into your candy bin/basket. They begrudgingly seem entitled and give you the evil eye as they want candy and nothing else. Also, another sucky thing is when there are teenagers who are nearly adults who show up at your door, barely even in costume. You’d have to wonder why they even think they should get a single piece of candy from me and didn’t just have me slam the door in their faces. But I’m still nice to them and give them candy, but I make them say trick-or-treat… because that’s so difficult to do.

When my almost 11-month old is ravenous

The last couple of days, Kaia’s solids eating has been sporadic. She’s been drooling a lot, sticking her fingers and fists in her mouth, and exhibiting irritation due to teething. I guess from the age of about 4 months to 3, pretty much any type of annoyance or pain for a child can be attributed to teething. Upset? Teething. Not eating? Teething. Rejecting her bottle? Teething. Teething likely can cover about 95% of all grievances at this stage of development, as it’s been said that teething is the most painful thing that human beings go through.

Today, I made something new for her: Instant Pot keema with peas and potatos, made with ground turkey. Making keema with ground turkey is a bit unconventional, as it’s traditionally made with lamb, goat, or beef, but I happened to have turkey, as I originally got it since Kaia still hadn’t had any turkey yet. Plus, I figured this would be an easy way to introduce it to her, along with more Indian spices.

I originally served this to her without salt as usual, but with rice. I had quite a large helping of keema in her bowl, and I figured whatever she didn’t eat, I would just finish. But I was shocked to see that she ate the ENTIRE portion I served, which looked like an adult portion of keema! She loved it so much and kept sticking both hands into the bowl to try to self feed whatever chunks of turkey and tomato her little hands could grasp! It was the cutest thing. I wish I had recorded her doing this, but I unfortunately had both hands dirty from feeding her food. But sometimes, we just have to live in the moment. It was such a happy thing to see her really get into the food and enjoy it, barely pausing to take breaks and constantly “mmm”ing the entire time. I love watching my baby enjoy the food I make her. It is one of the best feelings.

My sweet little strawberry (and milk bottle)

I’ve never been much of a Halloween person. My parents never really cared about any holiday. I was only ever allowed to have one costume that I was supposed to wear until forever (that ended up being a crappy jack-o-lantern costume). I went trick-or-treating, but I usually disliked about 80 percent of the candy I was given. I always used to wonder why most of the candy I got from trick-or-treating was crappy — mostly things I didn’t like, such as candy corn (the WORST), Hershey’s kisses, too many tootsie rolls. I can’t even remember all the junk and what we ended up doing with all of it because we definitely didn’t eat it. But I always wanted Twix or Skittles, or the “good” stuff. I rarely got those.

Now that I have a baby, I knew I wanted to dress her up and as something edible for Halloween. I really wanted to dress her up as a mango, but alas, I couldn’t find any baby mango costume (or any mango costume for that matter). So I went for the next closest thing that was sweet (and not too expensive): a strawberry. The added bonus of this 3-part costume was that outside of Halloween, she could still wear the base pink shirt and white stockings.

Chris thought my strawberry idea was “meh” in his words. So he got her another costume that was also simple but effective: a bottle of milk, complete with a red hat with a “nipple” on top. Not only that, but there’s even a millimeters measurement on it, as we measure Kaia’s milk in milliliters and not in ounces.

Dressing up my baby as edible delights was a predictable route for me to take, but I didn’t realize we’d become THAT family that got our child more than one costume per year. 😀

Always things to buy when there’s a baby

When there’s a baby at home, there’s almost always something additional you need to buy, whether it’s more diapers, diaper cream, wipes, clothes, supplies… It feels like you’re in a never-ending cycle of constantly consuming more products. Chris just placed an order for more diapers and noted that for the same size box of diapers, quantity and size of diaper, the price has gone up about 17% since the middle of the year — seriously? All I have to say is — our salaries have definitely not gone up by that much since mid-year.

My nanny also keeps telling me that Kaia has outgrown the infant bunting bag for her stroller, and I need to upgrade and get a toddler sized one, as it’s getting colder outside, and she needs to stay warm. I’ve been stretching the infant bunting bag for as long as possible since last winter, we barely used it at all, other than to take her home from the hospital after she was born. So I finally sucked it up today and ordered a new, larger one. And to add to the list of things to buy: the nanny also suggested getting layering pieces for Kaia – short and long sleeved undershirts. But that also means she will need more sweaters and thicker clothing, especially for January and February when it will be especially chilly here in New York.

Next thing you know, she’ll be walking, and we’ll need to get her all types of different shoes, as well. And then we’ll find even more things she needs. We’re always in a state of buying more stuff now.

When (baby) formula frees you

Yesterday, I caught up with a neighbor friend whose baby is 5.5 months old. I hadn’t seen her or properly spoken with her since her baby was about one month old, so I wasn’t sure how she was doing or how her pumping journey was going. Similar to Kaia, her baby just wasn’t able to suck well and was also a bit on the smaller side at birth, so she had to resort to pumping quite frequently early on. She knew my journey was still in progress, and so she leaned on me for a lot of advice and tips. She told me that while on a trip visiting family in Utah and Colorado at the four month mark, she finally just decided she couldn’t do it anymore, so she weaned herself off pumping quickly to dry up and switched 100 percent to formula. She said she already wasn’t able to provide even half of her baby’s needs with pumping, so she didn’t see a point to continue. And though she has just gotten comfortable with her baby being exclusively formula fed now, she still has pangs of guilt every now and then, especially since she still hasn’t gone back to work and won’t until January.

“I feel so liberated, though, so free!” my friend said. “I felt guilt, but I have so much more free time to just enjoy her and do other things and not be stuck connected to a pump. I can leave the house and feed her anytime, anywhere! I can hold her just for the sake of holding her. I feel like I can have a life again!”

I hear this a lot from moms who make the switch to exclusive formula feeding, that it’s freeing, liberating, gives you agency over your life and your body. It gives you more time to bond with your baby. I get all that, and last January, I momentarily even thought about just stopping. But I’m still happy I kept up pumping. It definitely has been a sacrifice, and my life certainly has not been that free because of this chosen journey, but my baby will only be a baby once, and so I have no regrets that I went this route. But what this also means for me is that whenever I do finally wean off the pump and completely stop breastfeeding, it will definitely warrant a celebration of some sort. It will be the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, plus open the doors to new ways to bond with Kaia.

When your milk supply drops after your period returns

I was never going to be sure when my period came back, but based on everything I had previously read and what all my mom friends and colleagues warned me about, once my menstrual cycles resumed, my milk supply would drop. I was mentally bracing myself at around the six month mark, since my doctor had told me that around six months would be a “normal” time for my period to come back, assuming actively breastfeeding. My friends told me theirs came back between 8-9 months with active nursing/pumping. Well, lucky me, mine didn’t come back until the 10.5 month mark, so it was later than I guessed. But the decrease in supply was not welcome, and as it started plummeting days before my period, I’d figured that was the sign it was back. Seeing my output numbers decrease day after day and the sharp drop in milk output on my day over day graph hurt. I’d spent the last 10.5 months exclusively pumping. The first 2 months were the greatest struggle. The next four months, I saw my maximum output and was so proud of what I’d achieved after the slow and miserable start. And to see all of that hard work starting to get chipped away with a decrease in output just felt so sad to me. Academically and logically, I knew pumping would be an emotional journey, but I would’ve never imagined at the beginning how much I could tie my self worth as a mother to my milk output. And to see the numbers decrease the way they have in the last two weeks just felt miserable. Even if Kaia is drinking less milk now, it still made me sad. It’s work I did solely to provide sustenance for her and no one else. I saw it as my duty as her mother to do this, to nourish her for as long as I physically could.

One day, I’ll look back on this journey and be grateful and extremely proud of what I’ve done, despite how grueling and miserable at times it was. Even now when it’s “easy” because I have my routine down pat and know what I am doing, it’s still annoying to be tied up to an electric nipple sucker for 4 hours each day. Each day of this journey, I have been grateful for my body. I hope one day, when Kaia is old enough, I can share this with her, and maybe, just maybe she will appreciate all the time I sacrificed, attempting to give her the very best.

A new approach to shopping for groceries with baby

On average, I go to Trader Joe’s about once a week, if not a little less. And when I do, I usually have my eye out for staples that we normally eat, as well as new seasonal items that we either have tried and liked, or could try out for the first time that are temporarily available. But another thought I have that is top of mind is: what is a new food that Kaia hasn’t had yet that would be baby friendly (low or no salt) for her to eat?

This week, it ended up including: ground turkey, shiitake mushrooms, couscous, and acai puree. I also get a few things that only she eats: bell peppers (she loves these roasted), European style whole milk yogurt, and sweet potato.

I told my nanny that this is top of mind when I go to Trader Joe’s, and she laughed. “Kaia has no idea how good she has it! She had…. *only* 7 things to eat for her lunch today! What a life!”

Left hand cortisone shot and tendon adhesions

I went back to the orthopedic doctor this morning for a second cortisone shot in my left wrist. I let him know that the pain had pretty much subsided in my right since he gave me a shot there about two weeks ago, but it was clicking a lot more in the last few days, plus I’d had a little pain in it depending on the type of movement. He told me clicking was normal at this stage and was a sign of healing, which was good. But he did take a look at both wrists and noted there was still a lot of stiffness, likely from tendon adhesions as a result of lack of full mobility from the pain I’d had. So he suggested I do hand therapy, at least 1-2 sessions, to learn exercises to get my mobility back. I didn’t want to cause any permanent loss of mobility in my tendons in my hands; my hands are pretty damn important and integral to my health.

Recovery is on the horizon, I thought, as I walked home and made call to set up an OT evaluation for my wrists. I can’t believe there’s finally a potential to be pain free in my wrists soon. It feels like forever since my wrists and thumbs felt completely normal and I didn’t even notice them. I suppose that’s how you know you take your good health for granted; you don’t even appreciate your limbs until something like this happens, and everything just feels like it’s going wrong.

Baby’s first lobster

While on the road today, Kaia had a few new “firsts” for foods today: lobster, cream, mayonnaise, and oyster. She absolutely loved the lobster. Not sure if it was the lobster itself or the butter/mayo that was in it, but she gobbled it up. We tried to limit how much she had since we didn’t want her exposed to too much salt. Luckily for her (AND us), she didn’t have any negative reactions to it. We also gave her a couple tastes of the lobster bisque we ordered, as well as a small taste of the oysters we got. She’d definitely been teething quite a bit over the last few days, as she’d been drooling a lot more and had a few bouts of fussiness. But while at a restaurant on Saturday night in Wilmington, she started making this strange wheezing sound, which immediately had me disturbed. Why would she make that strange sound? Is it just a new sound she’s learned to use her vocal chords to attract attention, or was she actually having issues breathing? And did it have anything to do with her exposure to shellfish earlier…?

She stopped doing it once Chris picked her up to hold her, which was good news, but it still had me a little worried. So we decided that even though our mains had just arrived, we’d down our drinks and take the food back to the hotel to eat. We’d never done that before with her, but we just wanted to make sure she was comfortable and warm.

In the end, she was fine. I think it was probably just more teething, as I do feel the teeth on her top of her mouth coming in; I can already feel the ridges poking out. But these things will always cause a little alarm, especially when you are on the road and not near home/the doctor.

What people hear about New York on the news

Last night, we stopped by a grocery store to pick up a couple snacks and small food items for Kaia. When I went to ring up my items at the register, the cashier asked me if I had a rewards card. I said no, since I’m not from the area. He asked me where we were traveling from, and I said New York City.

“New York City, huh?” he replied with wide eyes. “Been hearing a lot about the Big Apple on the news. It sounds like the crime is out of control there! How are you handling all that?”

I wrinkled my brow as I paid for my items and took them. “There’s crime everywhere. New York is a great place to live. I love it. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear on the news all the time. It’s a bit of a warped picture.”

Inevitably, whenever we travel to smaller towns, some person will make an ignorant comment about how dirty and crime-filled big cities are, or a specific critique of New York. I’d assume most of these people have never even been to New York, or if they have, they may have visited once or twice at most. They’ll assume we “put up” with rather than willingly choose to live in New York. They’ll assume we don’t like it. But we choose to be in New York. We enjoy living there. Certainly no one has forced us to live there. It must be quite a revelation for them to hear that we actually like New York and would prefer living there to wherever they hell they live. It is an active choice to choose New York City as your place of residence. Delaware has had lots of nice, friendly people so far, so I’m not going knock anyone here. But I wouldn’t willingly choose to live in this state, even with all the friendliness, the additional space, and the pretty autumn foliage.