Pick a Day, Any Day

This is a behind the scenes look at what a day as a SAHM with two rambunctious cubs looks like on any given day at the Grizzly Bear household. There’s laughter, there’s tears, and there’s a whole lot of mayhem. Ready to begin?

6:30 – 7:00 : My cubs wake up early. Before they started rooming together, one of them would normally wake up earlier than the other. Usually it was Patrick and I could get the coffee maker going while he quietly ate his breakfast before Olivia would be insistently calling for her breakfast. Now it doesn’t matter which one of them wakes first. First peep out of them and it’s all over; everyone is up for the day.

7:00 : Breakfast time!

7:30 : I turn on PBS for the kiddos so that I can eat/drink my cup of coffee in peace/get dressed. Most of the time the cubs might stop and glance at it for a few seconds, but they’re either too busy eating their breakfast or are already engaged in another activity to care too terribly much.

8:00 – 8:30 : Time to head outside. This, I think, is my favorite part of the day. I know they love going outside as much as I do. Patrick automatically goes on the hunt for shoes once he’s dressed and even knows that he should bring Olivia and me our sandals. Once Olivia is dressed, she starts waving bye-bye and standing by the door. Me? I’m just glad I can grab a second cup of coffee as I herd them outside!

We try to spend at least an hour to an hour and a half outdoors every morning. Here in Tennessee, it’s hot, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so blasted humid all. the. time. That means that by 10:oo or 11:00 it’s pretty much unbearable to be outside without a considerable breeze blowing. Thankfully our backyard is in the shade of the house and we have a shade tree, so early morning is just about the perfect time to go outside.

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They say that breads are high in salt, so I thought I could make a better go of it making things myself. A biscuit recipe I made the other day called for a teaspoon of salt, which I realized was 2,325 mg of sodium in the 15 biscuits it yielded – that’s 155mg of sodium per little 1.5 inch biscuit, and babies under one are supposed to have no more than 200mg a day!

Cooking and sharing food with a baby under one has led me to rely heavily on spices as salt-free seasonings. Usually I turn to Indian cooking for this, but there are many more spices and combinations to be found beyond our borders – there’s so much more out there than just meat and potatoes in a broader sense. And “spices” don’t necessarily mean “spicy.” One such spice blend is za’atar. I first came to it in Hong Kong when I was pregnant. We had been eating out 2-3 times a day at fantastic restaurants for three weeks, but at the end of it I was craving something healthy in that crunchy sense. Then we found this super hippy restaurant that served simple flatbreads and, intrigued, I picked one that had za’atar…. then I couldn’t wait to get back home and make flaxseed tortilla shells filled with avocados, tomatoes, hummus and za’atar.

For babies I would add za’atar to homemade bean spreads, tahini, yogurt, eggs, avocados, roasted squashes, and soups. My baby won’t eat veggies plain, but add some flavor with some spices and she’s all over it. You can fry za’atar in oil to deepen the flavor, and then add some more at the end to keep its herbal notes intact. You can even use it for dusting popcorn. Here are some great online recipes to try it out. I’ve bookmarked Ottolenghi’s butternut squash recipe, these olive oil crackers, and I made an adaptation of this sardinian flatbread below. I love these pita shells from Costco because they make great personal sized pizzas or permutations thereof.

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The Darkest Days: Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

I knew well before I gave birth to Little Oats that I would need to be on the lookout for PPD. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for the majority of my life, and I remained on a mild dose of antidepressants throughout my pregnancy. Screening tests at the midwife gave me a high likelihood of PPD, and by the time I had gone through the emotional ups and downs of a long labour, I would have written myself a prescription if I could.

By three days postpartum, the crying was nonstop. Not Little Oats’ crying…mine. Everything set me off, and I found that as soon as it started to get dark outside, I got an overwhelming sense of foreboding. Any new mama is going to struggle with exhaustion and emotions, but this was just the beginning of something much darker.

Late one night, as I was walking Little Oats in circles trying to calm her down, an image flashed through my brain. ‘What if I dropped her?‘ I gripped her extra tight, now carefully watching each of my steps to make sure I didn’t stumble or fall.

Later in the week, as I was coming down the stairs, I got a vivid picture in my head of slipping down the stairs. It wouldn’t go away, and I was nauseous, panicked and absolutely terrified that something might happen to Little Oats.

This continued to happen at various points during the day. I won’t share some of the more disturbing scenarios I imagined; they still haunt me to this day. I was never afraid that I would hurt Little Oats, but there was a deep-seated fear that something out of my control would happen. I couldn’t leave the house, because I was worried about driving with her. I couldn’t make myself lunch while holding her, for fear of spilling something on her or dropping her. Every time I panicked about something, I scolded myself. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t be a normal human being? Was this the ‘postpartum psychosis’ that is whispered about behind closed doors and in the most gruesome of newspaper articles?

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Birthday Banners

I’d consider myself to be a semi-crafty person. I like crafting, to a degree. A little project here and there is fun, but too much of one, especially one that requires lots of precision and exact measurements, and I’m stressed out and frustrated. Because of this, when it comes to Lil’ CB’s birthday parties, I keep the crafting and DIY to a manageable minimum. I’ll throw together enough small projects to pull a theme together, but I’m definitely not one of those mommas that will fold and create hundreds of paper flowers for a backdrop! Don’t get me wrong — I adore that kind of decor and find it lovely, but I would probably walk away from that in tears and with cut up or burned hands… because in addition to being wary of difficult crafts, I tend to be on the klutzy side! ;)

Given all of that, the one DIY craft that has remained consistent for the three parties I’ve thrown for Lil’ CB is his birthday banner. It’s a simple enough craft where I can get it done in a few hours (or even less with some help!), but has enough of a presence to make a theme stand out. Let’s take a look back at Lil’ CB’s past birthday banners, shall we?

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I’m Starting to Sound Like a Broken Record…

Sometimes I find myself repeating the same things over and over to my kids. After another night of saying, “we don’t eat play-doh,” it made me think back on some of the common sayings I heard from my parents growing up!

- “If you say that one more time I’m going to clean your mouth out with soap!”

- “Do you think money grows on trees?”

- “Don’t sit too close to the TV; it’ll ruin your eyes!”

- “Don’t read in the dark, you’ll go blind!”

- “I just want what’s best for you”

- “This hurts me more than it hurts you”

- “Who said life was fair?”

- “When you have your own house, you can make your own rule.”

- “As long as you live under my roof, you do what I say.”

- “I don’t care who started it.”

- “Don’t cross your eyes, they’re going to freeze that way,”

- “You’ll understand when you’re older”

… and of course, the ever so popular, “I’m starting to sound like a broken record!”, which is how I’m feeling these days!

What common sayings did your parents say to you growing up?  Which ones do you find yourself repeating?

Disney Prep: Secrets & Extra Stuff to do at the Park

The Chocolates will be Disney bound in just a few short weeks. I have been up to my eyeballs in Disney for the last few weeks reading websites, forums, books to get us ready for this trip. To be honest I think I am just as excited, if not more so, than my children (since one doesn’t know what Disney is and the other only has a vague notion). I will be doing a series of posts leading up to our trip about what we are bringing, what our tentative schedule breakdown will look like as we balance a 4 year old and a 1 year old, our hotel review (we are staying in a family suite at the Art of Animation), food reviews, photography tips (and fails) and anything else that comes up.  This post is dedicated to Disney extras or secrets I have been trying to find before we arrive.

Ever since I learned about the Disney store opening ceremony, I realized that Disney truly is a place that wants to make magical memories for children. If they do a special ceremony at their stores, you have to imagine their parks must have a few wonderful things hidden up their sleeves. Since Drake and Juliet are both still young and not really Disney lovers to begin with, I am really keen on finding ways to make this trip memorable for them. These are some tips I’ve gathered:

- If you board the Liberty Square (a large replica steamboat), children who ask may be allowed to go into the steering room with the wheel and get to “steer” the boat. They also get a certificate at the end as a souvenir.

(image via disneyworld)

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Moving House with a Toddler

I’m writing this from a phone. We moved to our new home this week and I have no idea where the charger to our laptop is hiding!

A few weeks ago I shared our family’s plans to downsize. With the housing market in recovery, I did not expect that our house would sell anytime soon. But much to our surprise, we had an offer within three weeks, and after some hectic negotiations, we accepted! It took about six weeks, from listing to closing, to sell our house. We had about three weekends to pack up. It was a pretty eventful time for us! Here some of the things that worked out for us, plus the things that we found difficult:

Purging: I took moving as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of the clutter around our house. I figured each thing I got rid of would be one fewer item to pack. Also, our new place is quite a bit smaller than our old home, and we don’t have a lot of storage space, so it was necessary to pare down. Over the course of about three weeks we got rid of probably a third of our belongings. The first two weeks we cleared out all of our valuable, but unused items. The weekend before we moved we had a garage sale. We priced things aggressively to ensure they sold. We also donated a lot of odds and ends. Now that we are in the new house I am planning to get rid of even more stuff as I unpack and can better determine what we need and where we have a surplus.

Use it all up: Once we put our house on the market, I made it my goal to use what we had instead of buying anything new. We managed to eat almost everything in our fridge, deep freezer, and pantry, which made it a lot easier to manage moving those appliances and their contents. Same goes for beauty products, medicine, gift wrap, craft items, and office supplies.

For the last few days, buy shelf-stable foodstuffs: We ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches in the days leading up to our move. We also did a lot of takeout and fast food, but any time we could make a meal out of food we had on hand was healthier and better for our budget.

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