Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games. Duh.

Caution: Spoiler alert. But not too bad.

From the time I found out I was pregnant with Audrey, back in September of 2010, up until the week before she was born, I read all things baby. I read the pregnancy books. I read the baby gear books. I read the working mother and breastfeeding books. I read the baby sleep books and the happy baby books. I read the 411 books and the 911 books. And that was all I read.

Even after Audrey was born, the only reading I did was of the baby books. The ones about diaper rashes and distinguishing between coughs and what to do when your baby rolls off the bed onto the hardwood floor. I also read the blogs. All the baby mommy motherhood blogs on the Internet. I read them. And that' was all I read.

But at Christmas time this year, I somehow found myself with some time to read and no questions about my baby, boobs, sleeping, feeding, diaper rashes, or head trauma. And holy goodness I remembered how much I LOVE to read. In short order, I finished a book by the Dog Whisperer and the second book (Stones into Schools) by the Three Cups of Tea guy (Greg Mortensen, who I've heard made it all up...), re-read my favorite of the Harry Potter Series (number 4), and flew through a murder mystery about an attorney with a depressed son who is suspected of killing another kid at his psychiatric hospital. I read the Girl who Played with Fire and liked it okay, better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but they both suffer from the same issues. I will not review either for you. Ever.

And then. It happened. I jumped on a bandwagon the same way I did when the Twilight books got popular... I saw previews for The Hunger Games, the movie, at the beginning of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and I immediately went to Target (literally, right from the movie theater next door) and bought the book. I read it in 2.5 days and it only took me that long because I have a baby who requires me to function. So, on the eve of the opening day of the movie, probably just hours before the most die-hard fans will stream into theaters for a midnight showing dressed in leather hunting gear and toting a bow-and-arrow and fresh mockingjay tats, I give you -

A Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is entertaining. (so is this serious blog). This is what I say about movies, books, stories, and other art and "art" that I thoroughly enjoy, but that is not necessarily a fine piece of, in this case, literature. The story is well-conceived from the beginning, though it has its moments of strain. Like the giant dog wolf things that seem to have human eyes and the ease with which the citizens of the Capitol worship The Games and ignore the horror of kids murdering kids.

The love story is also frustrating. But so is love in real life, so it works. One just wishes that Peeta could understand Katniss's struggle to figure out what she wants in a man at the exact same time she's trying to save his life and not get hacked to death by a beast name Cato. You kind of want to shake him. But he's going to be cute in the movie, so maybe it won't bug you so much.

Much tougher than Kristin Stewart.
The end - prepare to be spoiled - is an absolute failure. I think it is anyways. A cop-out cliffhanger with no purpose but to leave you, the reader, pissed-off and angsty all over again. Just like you were when Rue died. Sorry. I wanted to be a spoiler of something.

Anyways, I enjoyed it. I can't wait to see the movie tomorrow. I actually don't know that I've been this excited to see a movie ever before. Not even Harry Pottery 4 or Twilight. It had better deliver.

May the odds... be ever in your favor,

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Perfect Pea Puree

For the first six months of Audrey's life, I fed her with pretty much just the perfect food that my body made for her. I'm still nursing at 10 months (though she is also getting a healthy dose of formula, too). I'm kind of proud of myself for making it to and then blowing through my goal of six months. I mean, I'm not all in-your-face-my-breastfed-kid-is-better-than-your-formula-kid (cuz I don't think that's true), but I'm kind of proud.

Proud that once I decided to give breastfeeding a good shot, I did. Proud that I've done it in the middle of the night and at 4am and then again at 6am. Proud that I stuck with it in the early days and weeks when it hurt like hell. Proud that I worked through a bout of pending mastitis without panicking (too much). Proud that I spent some of my hard-earned wardrobe budget on good nursing bras. Proud that I didn't even give it up when it almost sidelined me with the equivalent of a running injury.

I can go on and on about the feats of my nursing Audrey this long. The lengths I've gone to to keep it up... Pumping on business trips with colleagues, in airports, in cars, in my office 3 times a day for 8 months, in the bathroom at an IU basketball game. Nursing in the backseat of the car, in the women's restroom at Nordstrom's, on a plane, at all of our friends' houses, in front of my dad and Blake's dad, poolside in Aruba. But I'll stop. I am proud. But I also feel like I've just been doing what I'm supposed to do and what my body is meant to do and what my baby wants me to do. So, no awards, trophies, or parades, please.

Besides, all mom's do their best to nourish their babies, whether it be with breastmilk or formula. And both take work. This post is not about that debate or putting anyone up or down. The fact that I've been able to do the breastfeeding thing this long is only a tribute to how lucky I am to have a private office at work (albeit, sans lock...), a super supportive husband and family, and a relatively flexible baby.

But here's where the true pride sets in... if the breastfeeding wasn't taking up enough of my free time, at 6 months, I started pulling double duty to feed Audrey. I started making her own baby purees. And then, and only then, did I face the biggest struggle of my Audrey-feeding-life. Peas. Frozen peas. Look simple enough, right? But the consistency after they come out of the blender? Sick. Vomitus. Slimer. Lumpy pond scum. Audrey-no-likey. The culprit? I never add enough water. Or, it appears that I add enough water but then when I go to reheat the frozen cubes in the micro, the water evaporates. And all I end up with is a dried out pea paste that I essentially have to rehydrate like space food. I wouldn't feed that to my dog. Okay. I would.

But that's a thing of the past. I finally did it, folks. Something to really be proud of. In-your-face proud of. I MADE THE PERFECT PEA PUREE. The perfect, most delicate balance of tender peas and cool, clear water from the Brita. The peas are vibrant green, despite the cooking, thanks to the coldest of cold ice baths. And the pour into the ice cube trays? MUAH! FANTASTICO! Even, clean, smooth. I can't wait for Audrey to try it. New favorite food. I just know it.

Making and serving breastmilk for 10 months? Piece of cake. The perfect pea puree. A real achievement. Drum major... start marching. I'm ready for my parade. A perfect pea pureed.


P.S. I'd also settle for a tropea.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Conscientious Parenting in a World of Drugs, Sex and Uggs

A modest blogger's words (and the nasty comments people left her) have me thinking. Thinking about something I've written about before with respect to Audrey and raising a daughter and my job as a mom. Thinking about all of the tough decisions that Blake and I will have to make as parents over the next two decades. We often find ourselves saying "not my child" and "no she won't" and "not on my watch" and "not under my roof" about the things you'd expect. Dirty words like drugs, cigarettes, underage drinking, sex, tattoos, excessive piercings...

But we also say those things about other, less obvious, less dangerous stuff like cell phones, television, an iPad, sleepovers at friends' homes, video games, bikinis, short-shorts, cleavage, Uggs, junk food, skydiving, boys, some girls, cheerleading, guns, spring break...

Not on my watch
This is crazy. I am crazy. You probably think I'm crazy. I mean, I say "Audrey will not smoke cigarettes" with the same disgust and firmness that I say "Audrey will not sleep over at a friends' house."  According to my list, Uggs and tatoos have the same conotation. (I'm honestly not even sure what conotation that is, other than this image of Britney that comes to mind whenever I think about them. Plus, I myself kind of covet a pair of Uggs... hypocrite. I know.) Junk food, premarital sex, video games, and drugs should be equally banned. Underage drinking and cheerleading? Essentially the same in my book.

What is wrong with me? Have I turned into my over-protective parents? The Duggers? Am I setting Audrey up to be a rebellious teenager before she even learns how to walk or write her own name?

No. I'm not. There is nothing wrong with me.

Only acceptable on a 10-month old.
I am being a parent. I am conscientiously planning (way) ahead about how I plan to deal with the challegnes that will surely face both me and my daughter in the years to come. I don't have all the answers now. And I've not decided on the boundaries. But there will be boundaries. And they will be firm. There will also be battles won and lost over things like cell phones and Uggs, I'm sure. But Audrey will always know that the decisions we make for and about her as her parent will be because we love her and want what's best for her. Even if she doesn't get it at the time, she will know. And hopefully, above all else, she will learn, how to make the right decisions for herself on her own, without me telling her.

Because a parent with convictions like mine? A crazy person. 
But a teenager with convictions like mine? A child of a great parent.

Here's to conscientious parenting,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Backstreet's back, alright!

Okay. No, Backstreet Boys are not back. Unfortunate. I know. But, the Erdel family is back. And blogging is back. Work is also back, though, so I don't have much more than a few minutes to devote to this post. In the minutes I do have, I'd like to share the following observations and photos from our non-vacation trip to Aruba:
Vacation with a baby is not a vacation. It is many things. And it can still be fun and contain relaxing moments. But it is NOT a vacation.

Healthy babies are much more fun than sick babies. I am thankful that my baby is mostly healthy and that her sickest is still pretty un-sick.

The current weather in central Indiana is wondertasticalamazing. Rivals Aruba. Seriously.
Self-feeding babies should all be taught to do their own laundry. Immediately. My kid? Her clothes are technically clean. They will just will never appear to be clean again.

Girl Scout cookies are the devil. It's best to just eat a whole sleeve in one sitting and get it over with.

That's all I've got for now. But there is much photo goodness on it's way. January and February were pretty cute months for Miss Audrey.

Now get outside and enjoy the sunshine. We're going to pay for it one way or another.