Thursday, August 14, 2014

Clara Rocks Our World

Nicky and I welcomed Clara Louise into this world on Saturday, July 26, 2014. I did not know I could love another human being so much. We think she's absolutely wonderful!

With that said, she's not quite three weeks old, and I will not even try to paint a perfect picture of life with a newborn. It's stinkin' hard! While I was pregnant, I had all these perfect plans for my perfect child - and then reality happened. Everyone was so quick to tell you what their experience was with a newborn, and everyone has advice to share...sometimes (most of the time) unwarranted. I felt like I was prepared for it all. Then we brought our sweet girl home...

 So I decided that I wanted to put my struggles out there in case there's another new momma that feels just as blindsided as I did.

First of all, breastfeeding is just not for everyone. It's frustrating and painful. Don't let anyone tell you that it shouldn't can be doing everything right, and it still feels like your nipples will be sucked off at your baby's next feeding. I was determined to go the full 4 weeks before introducing a bottle because my baby was supposed to "eat every 2.5 to 3 hours for 20 minutes per side." Yeah right. Try 30 minutes or more per side and hungry 30 minutes later. I felt like a milk cow. So, she got a bottle at two weeks, and life is much sweeter...for everyone I come in contact with. You have to do what's right for you and your baby, not what everyone thinks you should do. You are the mom. Make the decision, and don't wait for someone to tell you it's ok. If you can pump, pump. Breast milk is breast milk. And if you can't pump, then give that baby formula...that's why they make it. Don't let anyone make you feel like a bad mom or less of a woman because you choose not to breast feed or can't.

Second, no one told me how distant I would feel from Nicky. As soon as we got home from the hospital, our focus shifted to Clara. This meant that our time together was limited/nonexistent. This was so hard. It's just been us for 4 years, and I was not prepared to miss him and our quality time so much. So my suggestion for new moms is to line up a sitter within the first week so you and your hubby can squeeze a little date in. We went to Burger King for 30 minutes and it was awesome! You are not a bad mom because you want to get out of the house and away from your baby for a bit.

The next thing that made me question my mothering instincts was Baby Wise. I read the book, flagged important pages, and was prepared to start a routine with Clara immediately since all the mommy bloggers raved about their success with this "since the day they brought their babies home from the hospital." Whatever. I can barely shower/eat/brush my teeth each day much less get her on a schedule right now. Why aren't there mommy blogs out there that talk about how they really couldn't even TRY to start a routine until week four? Or even later than that? And is my baby supposed to magically take 5 naps for 1.5 hours each, or will she have to cry it out for a while? And why don't they tell you how long it takes to get the schedule perfected? Is it one day? One week? One month? Help a tired/frustrated/insecure sister out! Give me some hope!

Well, I'm going to give you hope: your newborn will not remember how you messed up, or cried along with them in the middle of the night, or said that you really love them but don't like them right now. They won't even remember the four letter words you whispered (screamed) when they latched onto your bleeding nipples or woke up for the 6th time in the middle of the night. There is so much grace in that. So do your best and trust your instincts. Trial and error will reveal what works, and you have to run with that. And find another new mom with whom you can laugh, cry, complain, and share successes. This will not make those sleepless nights any better, but hopefully it alleviates some of the guilt and insecurity we feel as we figure all of this out.

As my husband's grandmother said, "Keep the faith! It will get better!"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Oh no! H2O!

Almost 2 weeks ago, Nicky was working in the yard and noticed that the water heater pipe that drains from our attic had a slow drip coming from it. He called a plumber first thing Monday morning to come out and look at it. The plumber showed up around 1:30 that afternoon, and he and I climbed into the attic to check out the tank and pipes. He took one look at it and said he could be there at 7:30 the next morning to replace it. One hour later, I had a water fall coming through the light fixture in my pantry and about 1/3 of my house had an inch of standing water.

I called Nicky, then I ran for the FIVE towels that I had in my house. Realizing that would make no difference, I grabbed a few blankets... Note to self: buy more towels. I called Nicky to see what I could do until he got there. He knew I didn't know how to turn off the main line in the front yard, so he told me to go into the attic and try to shut off the line that ran to the water heater. I pulled down the attic door in a bit of a frenzy, and the ladder popped out and hit me in the head. That's when I started crying. (Side note: I had a dull headache the whole next day and took a 3-hour nap. It's been theorized that I had a mild concussion...)

I climbed into the attic and started turning every knob I could find. Nothing happened. Nicky made it home and got the main line turned off, and we started making phone calls. Service Master was there within an hour to start pulling out baseboards and sheetrock, and setting up fans and a dehumidifier. He was there until 8:30. On Thursday, everything was dry and Service Master was able to finally pull everything out. On Friday, the plumber installed a new TANKLESS water heater. A hot shower never felt better!

I need to give a shout-out to my friends. I was hosting book club at my house that night, and when I sent a text to the girls letting them know what happened, they came to the rescue! My friend Layne, who is on maternity leave, showed up with towels and baby Sloane in tow. My friend Rikki's husband was working from home, so she called him and asked him to bring towels. He also stayed to help Nicky shop vac the water. My friend Natalie picked up a trash bag of dirty towels and washed and returned them to the others. Layne and my friend Leah let me do laundry at their houses until I was able to get my machines hooked back up. Amazing!

Here are a few photos of the chaos that was my house. It's not all put back together just yet, but we're making progress...

View from the living room - my washer, dryer, and freezer are partly in the living room, partly in my breakfast area. My refrigerator is in front of my kitchen sink.

The pantry, also known as the site of the "waterfall" - removed baseboards.

The refrigerator cubby - removed baseboards.

The laundry room - removed baseboards and some sheetrock.

The 1/2 bath - removed baseboards and molding.


Here is the new TANKLESS water heater in all her no-leaking glory!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What if...

Nicky is a news junkie. I, on the other hand, could never watch it again and be perfectly content. So negative, so judgmental, so one-sided. But the thing that has grabbed my attention the most lately is all the news about same-sex marriage. And it has my heart heavy...

I am a Christian. I have my own convictions about same-sex marriage. But most importantly I have my own convictions about God's greatest commandment: love.

What if we stopped for a moment and really thought about what we were doing. When we throw up our "religious beliefs" we throw up a barrier that immediately stops any sort of productive, loving conversation. And more importantly, we point people to our judgmental hearts and we stop pointing people to the merciful and graceful heart of Jesus. I mean, isn't that the point of this life? Jesus is the easy one to fall in love with...not His Christians. We get it wrong way too often.

When we spend our time, effort, and energy fighting against all that we believe to be wrong, we don't have anything left for what is so right...the love of Christ. How would we feel if someone called out our sins and decided to make it a national political issue? I'm a liar, a gossip, selfish...I've had my fair share of struggles and challenges. AND I STILL GET IT WRONG EVERY DAY. But I thank my God that I don't have religious extremists picketing in my front yard telling me that I'm going to hell because I'm a sinner. I don't know about you, but THAT would sure win me over for Jesus! (Please note sarcasm.)

What if we stopped focusing on what everyone else is doing "wrong" and we spent time in prayer simply asking Jesus to give us hearts that are pleasing to Him...hearts that love others outside our comfort zone...hearts that point people toward the hope, love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that Christ so amazingly offers. I mean, how do you not fall in love with that?

2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus doesn't throw stones, so why in the world should we?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What You Need to Know About Fifth Grade

I had my students complete a "Top Ten" list of things the fourth graders needed to know about 5th grade. I was not prepared to laugh as hard as I did when I read their lists. Enjoy this list of my favorites!

1. For Teacher Appreciation Week, Mrs. Prather likes chocolate!
2. Be ready to spell words that don’t make sense. (Ex. pseudonym)
3. Don’t whine if you lose a fun game.
4. Mrs. Prather may look nice, but if you talk or forget something, watch out! She’s coming!
5. I sure hope you listen because she does not answer the same question twice!
6. Never roll your eyes or say, “What?!”
7. Never question what she says.
8. Mrs. Prather will make you laugh. She says, “Holy cow!” all the time!
9. Don’t use slang words like ‘cause.
10. Don’t fix your hair during class!
11. Be good to your enrichment teachers…they tell her everything!
12. Be good because Mrs. Prather is always planning a sneaky surprise!
13. Mrs. Prather is a kind teacher, but do not underestimate her.

You learn alot about yourself when you look through the eyes of a child...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Prathers Go Low Sodium

Nicky has high blood pressure. I always sort of knew he did, but it was never really on my radar when it came to my cooking....that is until I was standing next to him when he took a blood pressure test at Sam's two weeks ago. The screen did something along the lines of flashing red and beeping that he was in danger of heart disease! This was the wake-up call I needed.

I started researching causes of high blood pressure, and discovered that the three biggies are diet, exercise, and genetics. We can control two of those, and you know what they say...two out of three ain't bad!

Exercise: Check! Since his eye-opening blood pressure test, Nicky has only missed 4 days at the gym. As his teammate, I've also been waking up at 4:30 A.M. (that's MORNING!) to go to the gym, as well.

Diet: We're getting there! I've been on the hunt for low-sodium recipes that are quick and easy. For those of you that don't know, salt is a major culprit when it comes to HBP. The average person should only consume about 2300 mg of salt per day, which is only 1 teaspoon. A person with high blood pressure should only have about 1500 mg per day. The average American currently consumes about 3400 mg per day! Are you as shocked as I was?! And here's the kicker - salt is SO hard to avoid! It seems like everything has it...even milk! I realize many of you may know this already, but I am not one to read nutrition labels. That is until now.

So before I set out on my weekly grocery shopping adventure this Sunday, I scoured the internet and found some great, low sodium recipes that seemed quick, easy, and edible. Then, because I am now officially a Label Reader, my shopping trip took THREE HOURS. There were moments when I thought to myself, "Maybe Nicky could just eat fruit and steamed vegetables for every meal because this 'low sodium' junk is HARD!" Then I caught my head - my carnivorous husband needs more than fruit and veggies!

Anyway, these are the meals I planned for this week:
1. Pineapple-chicken teriyaki with brown rice and steamed brocolli
2. Chili-maple glazed pork medallions with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans
3. Chicken and shrimp fajitas with homemade fajita seasoning
4. Turkey burgers stuffed with mozarella and roasted red peppers with sweet potato fries

I am proud to say that every meal has been great! I decided to share the links to the recipes here in case any of you would like to see how awesome a low-sodium diet could be!

Pineapple-chicken teriyaki

Chili-maple glazed pork medallions

Homemade fajita seasoning

Stuffed turkey burgers

A little lagniappe...
I think I've discovered the secret to brown rice...2:1 water to rice ratio in the rice cooker will give you the best brown rice ever. Nicky is a rice expert and he could not stop raving about it.

I like to cube and boil my sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, drain them, then add cinnamon and honey and mash with a fork. Yum!

OK, this first blog in a year has been long enough. Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beach? Yes, please!

Since the moment I met Nicky, he was very upfront about not being a huge fan of the beach. His idea of fun does not consist of sitting in sand and soaking up rays. He would rather do something...toss a football, play golf, go snorkling, etc. Now, since laying in the sand and soaking up rays is my idea of fun, we probably would not enjoy a beach vacation with just the two of us. But with friends? Definitely!

The parents of my friend Rikki own a beautiful beach home, and since there was an opening in the rentals a few weeks ago, we had the privilege of filling it! 

Beautiful day in the sun and sand!

Walking in the sand is quite exhausting...

Nicky had never been to Fudpuckers, so we made sure to get souvenir cups!

Our dear friends Rikki Leigh and Michael!

We even made new friends on the trip! This is Beth and her daughter Nora. (Rikki Leigh's sister-in-law and neice)

Documenting our Fudpuckers experience!

The GORGEOUS pool area! I could have spent all my time here and been perfectly happy!

We had a great time and look forward to another opening in the rental schedule! :)
Now, Nicky's only beach experiences up until this point were Gulf Shores, Hilton Head Island and (drum roll, please!) HOLLY BEACH! Needless to say, he was pretty taken aback by how beautiful the "Emerald Coast" is. I think I might be able to make a beach bum out of him after all...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lion King on Broadway

This past Saturday night, Nicky and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. It's really not until April 10, but when I found out the Lion King on Broadway was coming to New Orleans, I knew that was how I wanted to celebrate!

We kicked off the evening with dinner at Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse in Metairie. We both had heard great things about this restaurant, so we were anxious to try it out. For an appetizer, we ordered Crawfish Johnnie - this was a crawfish and mushroom sauce over croutons - AMAZING! Then, we both ordered an 8 oz. filet mignon. They were both cooked perfectly, but we felt that the steak needed a little more salt and pepper. Also, the steak appeared to have been pre-cooked because it was not very juicy. The steak was served with Crazy Potatoes, and those were off the chain! For dessert, we just had to try bread pudding - we get this pretty much everywhere we's like a contest to see who does it best. Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed with this too. It had obviously been microwaved and was very dry. All in all, we're glad we tried it out, and we would definitely go back. However, we would order something besides steak.

And then it was SHOW TIME!!! This was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. The entire performance was out of this world. I had chills the whole time and tears in my eyes every time they performed "The Circle of Life". The animals were magnificent, and I was blown away every time they came on favorites were the giraffes and elephants. 

If you ever get a chance to go, GO! I cannot wait to go back to another play...Wicked will be there in May 2013...I'm so there!