The days are long…

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Have you ever heard the saying, the days are long, but the years are short? That is how it feels right about now. I’m almost 18 weeks pregnant! I’m almost half way there… it’s mind boggling how quickly this pregnancy is passing by. Most of the days, I’m okay with it. But, when I think of how quickly life changes, I can’t help but feel melancholy.

Yesterday, there was a moment when I allowed myself to feel… sad. It was probably a case of the hormones, but suddenly there I was feeling raw and vulnerable, wishing I was home with my parents. Sometimes, you just miss your family. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and about 30 or so of our close friends and family got together at a local restaurant to celebrate with him. My siblings were so sweet to post lots of pictures on Facebook, but that only made me feel worse. Here’s the point of this rambling, every day we get to choose between happiness or… something else. The opposite of happiness isn’t always sadness, sometimes it’s lonliness, or envy, or indifference. Still, we get to choose how we feel at any given moment. We can either let life suck us in or choose to rise above it, like a surfer riding a giant wave.

Feelings are so subjective aren’t they? Change your surroundings, change your mood. If you’re one of those people who love to rearrange your room often, then you know what I’m taking about. While this is good advice in general, being pregnant adds an extra layer of responsibility towards yourself and your unborn baby. Your thoughts and feelings, whether good or bad, can have an effect on your baby. “Negativity or positivism during pregnancy can alter neural development and affect genetic expression, according to new research in the field of epigenetics.” The field of epigenetics is rather new and at first glance may seem somewhat hokey, but according to neuroscientists, it’s the next frontier when it comes to understanding how life is created in the womb. “It is biologically impossible for a gene to operate independently of its environment: genes are designed to be regulated by signals from their immediate surround,” says Daniel Goleman, in Social Intelligence. The international bestseller continues, “…some of which, in turn, are profoundly influenced by our social interactions.”

So, as it turns out having a positive attitude is the best thing you can do for your baby. So, the next time you find yourself angry or sad or stressed out, why not go for a walk to clear your mind instead of wrestling with negative emotions? Surround yourself with positive imagery. Meditate on beautiful thoughts. Unleash your oxytocin. “Your thoughts and words are literally made into flesh,” says Deepak Chopra, “Every experience has an impact on your biology.” His solution is to consciously “choose your experiences.” Sounds good to me!

It’s not the cake…

“You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, you’d better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone’s hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people’s eyes like they’re the last you’ll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there’s no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it’s the only one left in the world!” – C. JoyBell C.

It’s no secret that I love baking… there’s something special about baking a cake. From the moment you conceive it to the final presentation, a cake is filled with pure joy! But, frosting is a whole other story. It’s the best part of a cake. A good, balanced frosting can make a simple white cake taste extraordinary. Frosting IS the celebration! And, I’m a sucker for the homemade kind, none of that packaged crap, loaded with sugar. Yuck!

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For Thanksgiving this year, I baked a carrot cake. I’ve been craving it for a few weeks now. Okay, let’s face it, no one craves the cake part…it’s the cream cheese frosting that’s the bee’s knees! That perfect blend of not too sweet and not too tangy cream cheese whipped to perfection. Yummmmmy!

Here’s a simple, yet knock your socks off, cream cheese frosting recipe that goes great with carrot, red velvet cake or any kind of bread. Enjoy!

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!” – C. JoyBell C.

Ingredients
3 blocks cream cheese (24 oz room temperature)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
Directions
Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla with a handmixer until soft peaks form, about 2 mins. Add powered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and keep beating on low, scraping sides often. Lastly add lemon extract and combine all ingredients together. Do not overbeat, the total time should be under 5 min. The lemon adds a nice zing to this creamy concoction. Spoon gobfulls on to a cooled cake and resist the urge to lick your fingers. There is more than enough to cover 2 or 3 10″ layer cakes. This frosting is not overly sweet, but just perfect! Goldilocks would approve!

Happy Thanksgiving!

He says… She says…

Conversation this morning as I was rushing out the door…

Him: Are you wearing a white tshirt under your sweater?
Me: Yes, why?
Him: It looks like toilet paper sticking out from the back…
Me: ???!!??!?

A letter to my son…

My dearest boy,

The very first item I bought for you, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, was a pair of curtains on eBay for $12. You will find out soon enough that eBay is great! People will sell perfectly good, functioning items, some with tags still on them, at a fraction of a price on eBay. If you take the time to research you can really find some treasures. I love to bargain shop! More on that later… 🙂

wpid-wp-1447960296464.jpgThese curtains that I bought for your room have little Indian elephants marching in a parade with whimsical arches and little red flowers… they’re precious! I love elephants! They are majestic, yet gentle souls. They say, an elephant never forgets and can listen with their feet, and that’s just a couple of reasons why I love them so much. I can’t wait to read to you about elephants; maybe we will go on a safari when you’re older?! I digress. You will find out soon enough that I digress a lot. These curtains look brand new, but I know they were probably hung in a kid’s room for years. Still, it makes me happy to think that they have found a new home with us where they will be cherished for a little while longer. Always remember that just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it’s worthless. With a little imagination and creativity, we can breathe new life into almost anything. As I look around our home, I see so many such transformations and I can’t wait to show you the power of your imagination when you’re ready.

The other day, your father and I were talking about our hopes for you, and we both agreed that there are only two things that we want for you… to be kind and confident. We want you to charge boldly into this world knowing that anything is possible. Make mistakes, push boundaries, run towards life with wild abandon, question everything! The world is your oyster, my love, and it needs leaders who aren’t afraid of their own shadows! Your father and I will be there to correct you and set you straight, should you ever need it. That’s our job and one we take seriously. We will never limit you to our silly hopes and dreams, but will always be there cheering you on. We want to see you succeed at your highest potential as a human being, whatever that might be. And, it will be our greatest joy to nurture your gifts.

We want you to grow up to be kind and compassionate towards all beings, not just humans. The only way we can teach you that is by being kind and compassionate ourselves. The world needs lovers and peacemakers desperately and your generation will have a heavy burden of making things right. Go ahead and love the world unconditionally. Don’t be afraid to have your heart broken, it will heal, I promise. Have the courage to spread joy wherever you go and choose happiness every single day.  Never miss an opportunity to say a kind word or share a warm hug… everyone needs a hug, especially me! You will find out soon enough that love, and love alone, matters in this world.

But, little one, the world is vast and getting scarier by the minute. There are genuine bad guys out there, and as your mom, every fiber in my being wants to protect you against those negative elements. It makes sense that I bought those curtains for you as a first gesture. I wish I could pull the curtains close and shun all the bad in the world, but I can’t. I wish I could eliminate all the threats that could potentially harm you along the way, but I can’t. None of us are immune to pain and suffering. I’m no God. You will find out soon enough that I’m only a mortal. But, I will teach you about all the Gods, yes plural, that you can call upon in your hour of need. I will teach you about prayer and how to have a dialogue with God. He’s omnipresent and always there to listen to your heart, no matter how small your yearning. I will teach you how to navigate through life’s perils using your brain and wit. Your father is the funniest man I know and I swear he will make you laugh every day! I will teach you to read, to seek out knowledge about those things that you don’t yet know or find hard to understand… You will find out soon enough that there is much you won’t understand about the world!

Whatever happens, my son, we’re a unit. My mother used to say that when I was a child and it has just stuck with me. Your grandmother is an amazing woman with great determination and she once told me that the reason why she never shared her dreams for me was because she didn’t want to stifle me. What a selfless thought, still I wish she had confided in me… so that I could’ve at least tried to become the kind of daughter she had yearned for. But, with you and I, a new chapter awaits to be written and with this first letter I open the door to a different kind of love between mother and child- one that doesn’t expect, but asks freely for what it needs.

I can’t wait to meet you!

Love,
Your Mom

Baby Lelan- 15 Weeks

wpid-wp-1447436231572.jpgHow far along? 15 weeks! Baby Lelan is the size of an apple weighing 2.5 ounces and 5 inches long. His lungs are developing by pumping amniotic fluid and his arms and legs are finally catching up to his big head. This kid is already preparing himself for a life outside the womb!

Total weight gain/loss: 9 or 10lbs maybe… who’s counting? J Thankfully the scale in the break-room at work is broken. I’ve started doing some light yoga and deep stretching at home.

Symptoms: My body is stretching in places which I never knew could stretch. My feet are achy. I’ve woken up with swollen feet a couple of days this week and at the moment trying to avoid catching a cold.

Movement: I feel him every day now… my son is a little busy bee! As I type this, he is doing aerobics inside my belly.

Cravings: Wendy’s chicken nuggets call for me every night, but I’ve been very good. I only give in to it once a month. Earlier in the week I made a yummy Moroccan dish with couscous, it smelled divine, but when I tasted it I felt like gagging. 😦 Rob says it’s amazing and is happy to eat the rest of it. I can eat yogurt rice with mango pickle and bananas all day long. I used to make fun of Rob for eating so many bananas and now it looks like the joke is on me!

Best moments this week: Wow, there are so many! Diwali, so extra blessings all around! Learning that my mom started walking was the best news ever! C’mon grandma, we need you for daily walks! Spending time with Rob’s mom and grandma and seeing their excitement was priceless. Wow, you’re so loved, kiddo! Finding the perfect nursery blanket and rug to fit our theme… It was on sale! And, getting my sister to guest blog on this site. Her advice was spot on!

Looking forward to: Finding something to eat… seriously, I miss wanting food. Finding a fitness regimen I can stick to. And, start decorating the nursery!

Weekly wisdom: I have been thinking a lot about life after baby and how Rob and I are going to cope. We are both such creatures of habit and it will surely be an adjustment until we find our new normal. This quote summarizes all that I’ve been feeling…

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Are you ready for this? – Advice from a Child Life Specialist!

Are you sure you are ready for this? My sister, a mother of two, asked me. Sure, I thought, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Children are a mirror, she continued, sometimes what you see in the mirror is horrifying. I gave her a quizzical look, are you okay? She laughed, oh yes, don’t get me wrong, I love my kids dearly, but it’s me that I have a hard time with sometimes. Kids have a way of magnifying your weaknesses.

RalhiMy sister, Rakhi, isn’t she gorgeous?! is a trained Child Life Specialist. What’s that, you say? According to the Child Life CouncilChild life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.”

Over the years, I’ve watched Rakhi work in awe with her own children, ages 5 and 3.5. From slight behavior modifications to dealing with complex human emotions, my sister has definitely taught me a thing or two about how children process the world around them. I’ve been bugging her for ages about being a guest blogger and she finally consented to writing one article a month for the rest of my pregnancy. Yay! Here’s the first installment of “Advice from a Child Life Specialist” a special treat to all the new parents-to-be out there. Enjoy!

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By the time you’re six months pregnant you’ve probably read dozens of articles, books, pinned hundreds of pictures on Pinterest, have a running list of baby names, gotten advice from friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, even strangers on what should you do or not do, what you should buy or not buy, if you should breastfeed or not, what should you say or not say. I can go on and on and on… As a mother of two, a child life specialist and a yoga instructor for kids, here’s my advice… and this can also apply to fathers too!

From the moment you realize you’re pregnant, it doesn’t matter if you are eight seconds, eight weeks or eight months pregnant, shift the focus from the baby to yourself. Start inward. Make a list.
What makes you happy?
What sets you off?wpid-wp-1447256690007.jpg
What calms you down?
What are the things people admire about you?
What are the things your closest friends or family tell you you should work on?
How do you manage stress?
How do you multitask?
How do you resolve conflicts?
Was there a time when you had to sacrifice your needs for someone else?
How long did you have to do it for?
How did you feel about it? How long did it last?
And one of the most important questions; If there was one goal you could have for this baby as a adult what would it be? Try to be precise.

Know thyself! Take time to think through these questions and keep a journal of your thoughts. Take advantage of these ten
months or whatever time you have left before your baby arrives to really understand yourself. While everyone around you is focused on the baby, take time to reflect on what kind of person, not just a mother or father, you are and/or want to be… because, once this baby arrives it’s all about him or her ALL THE TIME! You cannot change overnight, but, if you’re honest with yourself now and continue to be so in the future, both for yourself and your baby, then parenthood can become a challenging yet, rewarding journey.

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Rakhi Kreymerman, is a child life specialist living in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and two kids. Her background includes working at Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also a yoga instructor for kids ages 2-12. For more information, email her at kidsyoganc@gmail.com or send her a message through the comments section of this post. To listen to her podcast, please go to: https://www.buildmybod.com/blog/the-yoga-instructing-child-life-specialist-podcast/