A (very unconventional) baby shower for #2

When my sisters emailed me about the need to start planning a baby shower for Kiwi, I told them no. “People don’t throw a shower for second babies,” I told them.

The idea of registering for things we didn’t need, playing games and opening a mountain of presents in front of guests—read, the usual baby shower—didn’t appeal.

Undeterred, my sisters convinced me by proposing a thoroughly unconventional baby shower (or sprinkle, as some folks call the more minimal baby showers).

Pirate Putt-Putt Baby Shower Black light putt putt baby shower Read more

Spook Club Vice President, at your service

Old photo preschooler Catherine Ryan Gregory
Even as a kid, I delighted in an innocent scare.

When I was little, I was fascinated by feeling afraid.

One night, for example, my dad, sister and I walked from his office to his car past the graveyard on the University of Oregon campus. We made up an entire song (“The werewolf is howling, the vampire is prowling, it’s a fu-u-u-ll moon”) that I still hum to myself when I catch a glimpse of a moon anywhere near full.

And we formed the Spook Club, complete with a “secret” set of hand motions that we’d sign to each other with knowing looks and raised eyebrows. We mostly scared ourselves silly by watching black and white horror flicks, along with some movies of questionable suitability for an 8-year-old. I still get chills thinking of the bleak desperation of The Last Man on Earth, in which Vincent Price spends every day hunting vampires. I remember lying awake on my parents’ bedroom floor after the credits finished rolling, thinking that I’d never be able to carry on if I were that utterly alone.

This is a bit strange to be writing after my last post about children’s books to quell childhood fears, but I found myself thinking about Spook Club last night as I was reading before bed. I’m about halfway through The Boy Who Drew Monsters, by Keith Donohue (thanks for the rec, West Metro Mommy!), and I realized I haven’t changed that much since peeking from behind a blanket to watch The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock flicks. Read more

Learning to feed myself—again

One late night when I was in college, my roommate Cedar walked into the kitchen and found me eating cold refried beans out of the can.

He was mortified. I was mortified.

“At least heat them up,” he said. Oh, the shame.

I had a few semi-legit explanations for my sorry excuse for a meal. I was operating on an average of five hours of sleep a night, was the editor-in-chief of the journalism school’s magazine, tutored other college students 20 hours a week and maintained a 4.0 GPA. Cooking was not exactly at the top of my priorities.

The truth is, though, when things get tough on the home front, I’m terrible at that most basic skill: feeding myself. Worse, I have a very fast metabolism and burn through food like a hummingbird. I’m also the world’s most indecisive person if I haven’t eaten in a while.

Take, for example, one time (or, ah, multiple times) when I was pregnant with Peeper. I came home from work, sat down in the middle of the kitchen and bawled because I was so hungry but didn’t know what to eat.

Thank goodness for cereal, amirite?

Anyway, the notorious night of the refried beans popped into my head this week when I was ravenous and had stuck my head in the fridge for the fourth time only to see that, disappointingly, no fully prepared meals had mysteriously appeared. I ended up microwaving some refrieds and eating them with cheese on a tortilla. Not quite as pitiful as that college snack, but still.

Anyhow. This is all to say that especially because I’m growing another tiny life inside me, I need to be a little more conscientious about feeding myself (and the rest of my family).

You and I already know the reasons to meal plan. It reduces food waste—a huge problem in the US, where we throw out 133 billion pounds of food every year. It saves money. And it saves the stress of having zero clues or inspiration on what to put on your plate each night.

I’ve been utterly crap at my previous attempts to plan our meals ahead of time. But we should never let the past define our futures! (Ok, I’m getting a little ridiculous, but you know what I mean!)

So help me, Internet world: What is your best advice for planning meals? Or are you like me and find yourself settling for canned refrieds for lunch?

“Baby in there!”

Kiwi ultrasound - Ten Thousand Hour Mama“Baby in there!”

From about the time I began to show, Peeper started to talk about how a baby was growing in Mama’s belly. She would point to my bump and sometimes wave to the baby.

One night, when Peeper had eaten a particularly large portion of tuna mac, Eric remarked on how big her belly had gotten.

She looked down at the round drum of her middle. “Maybe baby in there,” she said.

We, of course, were floored.

After that, she got a little confused. “Baby in there!” she’d say of just about everything—Eric’s belly, Finn’s belly and, particularly, my breasts. (That last one was slightly awkward in public.)

Now she makes it a game, naming everywhere the baby isn’t. “Not a baby in there,” she’ll say about everything. “Not a baby teeth. Not a baby mama mole. Not a baby dishes. Not a baby rocking chair.”

So she may not know exactly what’s going on—the details of a growing fetus are a little beyond a 20-month-old’s comprehension—but she well knows where the baby is not growing.

Kiwi feet ultrasound - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

That’s a start.

End of second trimester blues

Woodburn Tulip Festival - Ten Thousand Hour MamaTaking Peeper to the Tulip Fest outside Woodburn earlier this week was wonderful (more on that later!), but it carried a very unwelcome realization: I’m getting too pregnant to continue doing everything I want to.

When lifting my 20-some-pound toddler off a swing at the festival, I pulled some of the round ligaments in my belly, the muscles that stretch to accommodate my soccer ball-sized uterus. On top of that discomfort, I felt crummy and overextended the rest of the day—a condition not helped by Peeper’s skipped nap. (Ugh, why won’t this child sleep in the car like a normal kid?)

I was utterly spent. The exhaustion I felt by the end of the day plus recalling that I’m mere weeks away from my third trimester overwhelmed me. What’s more, a good friend was recently put on bed rest when her baby tried to make a very early appearance, which pushed me to consider the possibility we could have an early bird, too.

So though I’m still rocking the ease of the second trimester, I need to scale back a bit. That is not easy. Read more

Super-protein quinoa enchiladas and coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies

When you have a baby, all your attention hones in on feeding the newest member of your family. Moms keep track of feeding times and lengths, visit the lactation clinic, figure out latches or bottle flows, and worry if Baby is getting enough to eat.

Brand-new moms spend a lot less time working on feeding themselves, and that’s no good: Parents have enough on their plates without being hangry on top of everything.

So when two friends had babies a few weeks ago, I took the first opportunity to bring them each a meal. Since I’m not terrific at feeding myself, either, I chose recipes that would feed all three of our families!

These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.
These precocious baby buddies are already perfecting their secret handshake.

When flipping through my Pinterest boards, I looked for functional foods. I decided on this super-protein-packed quinoa enchilada slow-cooker dish because research shows protein is crucial in repairing damaged tissues—something especially important for mothers who had c-sections.

I also made these coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. Yes, it’s important for dinner to meet all your nutritional needs, but in those early weeks of raising a newborn, sometimes a bite of something sweet can get you through that moment when your munchkin poops all over you the second you’re showered and wearing clean clothes for the first time in a week. I added a salad, threw in some tortilla chips and called it a meal. Read more

Pregnant at the beach 2

Burned belly button - Ten Thousand Hour MamaI just wrote about how I prefer to wear a bikini even though I’m pregnant. I think my growing belly is beautiful, and I don’t mind letting other beachgoers see.

Another pro to wearing a swimsuit while pregnant: You can eat a giant burrito and not worry about slipping into a tiny suit. You can be all, “Hey, that’s totally my baby bump!” and it’s true.

But as I’ve discovered, bikinis while pregnant are not all fun and games. The inside of my poor belly button, which has pretty much never seen the light of day, is a bit sunburned.

So along with putting vinegar on the tops of my feet (gah! I always miss that spot!), I’m using the sunburn-soothing home remedy on my belly button, too. Now I smell like Easter eggs from belly to toes.