Shortly after the Bunny was born, my mom sent me four UPromise rewards cards for Publix grocery stores (if you aren’t familiar, Publix is a Florida chain and is THE best grocery store ever). She told me I could sign up for a UPromise account online, register the cards, and send them back out to the Bunny’s grandparents (who all live in Florida). I promptly stuck the cards in the “to do” file and forgot about them until last week.

Last week, I finally started Little Man’s 529 Plan. We certainly are not financial experts, but we did some research, and decided to go with the Ohio plan based on the advice in this article and because California’s plan doesn’t offer any special benefits to its state residents. While I was at it, I figured I would check out the UPromise thing. Do you all know about this? If not, you should! There is absolutely no reason you should not be taking advantage of this.

Here’s why:

  1. UPromise accounts are completely free.
  2. You do not need to get a UPromise credit card.
  3. Once you have an account, you can register credit, debit, and store reward cards that you already have and receive UPromise cash for certain purchases.
  4. You can also “shop through” the UPromise website to earn even more UPromise cash with tons of stores.  Incentives change constantly, but as of today, for example, you can earn 5% on all of your purchases at Drugstore.com (Drustore.com has everything you would buy at your local drugstore – paper towels, diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, cleaning supplies, prescriptions, baby food, snack bars, makeup, anything! – with free shipping on orders over $50).  You can also get 15% on all of your purchases at Restaurants.com (and currently Restaurant.com is offering 50% off to UPromise shoppers, which means that you can get a $25 gift certificate for $5 (normal $10)).
  5. Your family and friends can also earn money for your child, either through their own UPromise account, or by linking their credit, debit, rewards cards to your account.
  6. You can direct your UPromise money to a UPromise affiliated 529 plan or YOU CAN JUST REQUEST A CHECK!
  7. College is expensive.
  8. We don’t want our children to be burdened with excessive debt because of their education.
  9. Our babies already have so much potential!

 

Already Hitting the Books

Already Hitting the Books

Yes, I am aware that I sound like a UPromise commercial (as a friend has already told me), but you know you should do it!  

So, just do it!

September 7, 2008:

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September 7, 2009:

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This is the third in a four part series.

It was the day before the Mayor gave up veganism. I was 34 weeks and two days pregnant with the Bunny and we could not wait to meet him. We were baby crazy!

Despite all of our preparation, our doctor had insisted that we take the labor and delivery preparation class offered through her office (she didn’t have much confidence in Hypnobirthing preparation). We couldn’t bear to sit through another multi-week class, so we signed up for the private tutoring option (in our case, the doctor was probably right about the lack of actual “preparation” involved in the hypnobirthing class – it was kinda funny).

That morning, the teacher arrived early and taught us everything you never wanted to know about childbirth. We practiced breathing and she told me that I should sunbathe topless to prepare my nipples for breastfeeding (too bad I never got to follow her advice). With two hours of doctor-approved private tutoring behind us, we were officially ready to give birth.

That night we went to dinner with our friends Greg and Bridget. Before we left I looked online for restaurants that offered vegan cuisine for the Mayor. We all settled on a Thai place in Pacific Beach (a notoriously colleg-y/spring break-y/potentially sketchy area). We had been there before, and thought it was cool because of the tables that allowed you to sit with your feet basically in the floor.

We should have known better.

Greg, Bridget, and I all ordered chicken pad thai and the Mayor ordered vegan. I remember feeling a little bit bad during dinner, but nothing noteworthy. But just a few hours after going to bed, I woke up SICK. Ever had food poisoning? Yeah, like that. Bad. And I was 34 weeks pregnant. Good times.

I called the on-call doctor and she assured me that the baby would not be affected. She told me to stay hydrated and monitor kick counts.

The next day was the day the Mayor gave up Veganism. It was one year ago today. It was the best day of our lives and the most terrifying day of our lives. I was still sick. I called the doctor again around 5 a.m. and she again assured me that the baby should not be affected by my sickness. But as the morning went on, I began to worry about kick counts. They were just barely under textbook “normal,” but they were way under what I knew was normal for the Bunny.

Mother’s intuition.

Oh yeah, and Remember that doula I hired? Well, I hadn’t asked her anything during my whole pregnancy (just sent her email updates). I understand that she is not the doctor, but she is supposed to be a support. I decided to call her and tell her what was going on. I asked if she thought I should be pushing more to go to the hospital. She blew me off and told me she was sleeping.

I decided I needed to stop worrying and just do something about it. I called the doctor back again and told her I thought I should come in. Because it was a weekend, the office was closed, and I would have to go into the labor and delivery unit at the hosopital. We packed up and brought our hospital bag with us….just in case. We had no reason to think we would be meeting the Bunny that day, but it seemed like the thing to do. I felt silly about going to the hospital, but thought it was better safe than sorry. I was a mother now. I had to take care of my Bunny.

When we arrived they hooked me up to the monitor and immediately saw the Bunny’s heart rate dropping. Suddenly a C-section was planned. The Bunny was six weeks early, which meant there was a chance his lungs might be underdeveloped, but there was also a good chance he would just need a little help. Before we went into surgery, the Anesthesiologist bought us a disposable camera (our camera wasn’t in our hospital bag). I told the Mayor to stay with the Bunny. The doctor held my hands and put her forehead against mine while I got my epidural. I was completely calm. Why was I so calm?

The surgical team gossiped and small talked during the C-Section to keep us calm. Suddenly our little boy was in the world. We all held our breath. And then he cried. And we cried. We were so relieved. So happy. I have never felt such joy. We had our bunny and he was healthy. They laid him on my chest and the anesthesiologist took our first family picture with that disposable camera.

family picture

And then they took the Bunny away and the Mayor went with him. We thought he just needed a little oxygen…a little help breathing. They took me back to my room and I called our family and friends and told them the Bunny had arrived and was doing great.

But suddenly he wasn’t doing great. It was a blur. It was confusing. Had we misunderstood? He wasn’t responding the way they thought he would. I went to visit him and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I couldn’t control the tears, the sobbing. He couldn’t control his breathing. The level 2 ventilator wasn’t strong enough and made him look so uncomfortable. His chest caved in and out like he was struggling to survive. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. At that point it was possible that my baby would die.

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The next day the Bunny still wasn’t responding to treatment. They started asking me more questions about what I had eaten that made me sick. In the middle of the night, the doctor knelt by my bedside and woke me up to tell me that the Bunny would be transfered to a different hospital. He gave us a consent form for a blood transfusion. The Mayor left to go to the new hospital and I went to visit my boy before the transport team took him.

After his first few days of hospital living and complete terror, the Mayor was once again a meat eater.

On Friday I took the day off and decided to go on a field trip to the New Children’s Museum with the Bunny. Because he was still under one, he was free, and with a military discount, I was only $5 (regular price is $10 for everyone over one). The Bunny is still a bit young to fully enjoy the museum, but for $5 it was a great time. We started out in the toddler room which is set up as a forrest with trees, pillows shaped like rocks, fake grass, mushrooms growing from the ground, and leaves hanging from the ceiling. The Bunny was a little timid at first, but eventually started crawling around in the prickly “grass” and banging on the “rocks.”

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Then we moved on to the pillow room. Oh the pillow room….a child’s fantasy! The floor of the pillow room is lined with mattresses and blankets and the room is filled with pillows in the shape of tires. The older kids bound around the room in one big pillow fight. The Bunny tentatively climbed from tire to tire, but I think he had just as much fun as the “big” kids.

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(I cleaned his hands thoroughly after this activity because I am crazy like that).

We ended our visit in yet another room of pillows – this one filled with sunlight.

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We spent about an hour there, but it looked like older kids would have even more to do. There are employees stationed throughout the museum organizing arts and crafts activities (the museum considers itself a contemporary art museum as well). The best part was an old beat up Volkswagen bug on the front patio that the kids were encouraged to paint. The museum supplied aprons and painting supplies and let them go at it. We will definitely be back when the Bunny is old enough to do that! They also have a cafe with organic to-go food. All in all a great place to spend a few hours with kids in San Diego!

If you’d like to grab some breakfast before your visit, try Richard Walker’s Pancake house. Its right next door.

I cannot even believe it is the Bunny’s First Birthday tomorrow. We are not having his official birthday party until next weekend, but we couldn’t let the day pass without a proper celebration. So, the Mayor and I made these Bunny cupcakes tonight. Tomorrow we’ll go sit in the park and watch our one-year-old Bunny demolish his first cupcake. Yes, these are good times.

I Bunny Cakes

Bunny Cakes

These cupcakes were inspired by this recipe. Unfortunately, I could not make the buttercream recipe work, so I had to try this one instead and substituted buttermilk for the heavy cream. They turned out very tasty!

One of my favorite things about my husband is that he is such an involved dad.  The Bunny is bonded to him just like he is to me.  Dad can do anything mom can do.  One thing that I love is that the Mayor did lots of babywearing, especially when the Bunny was tiny and colicy.  @babysteph asked her twitter readers for pictures of hunky babywearing dads.  Here are a few of mine:

tiny baby wearing dad
Bonding

christmas baby wearing dad
Christmas

Hunky Babywearing Dad
Baptism

Recently, Heather Spohr at The Spohrs are Multiplying asked her readers to help her prepare for a speech she will be giving to doctors and nurses of the NICU.  She asked those of us with NICU experience to explain ways that NICU doctors and nurses could better care for our children and help us parents deal with the trauma associated with long-term NICU stays.  

I am very lucky to be able to say that our experience with the NICU staff at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego was extremely positive (or I should say as positive as that experience can be).  I can’t imagine anything more traumatic than watching your newborn (or your child of any age) sedated and on life support, struggling to survive.   During the first few days of the Bunny’s NICU stay we could not even touch him, let alone hold him.  We were completely dependent on his NICU caregivers.  We were at their mercy.  

And they were wonderful.  We spent every possible hour in the NICU.  The nurses and nurse practitioners were our friends during otherwise lonely and isolated days.  They consoled us when we cried.  They gave us their chairs to sit in.  They taught us how to care for our fragile little boy.  They patiently helped us learn to change his diaper, take his temperature, and eventually feed him.  They helped me learn to breast feed (which is very difficult with a preemie) when the lactation consultant wasn’t available.  They displayed his special blanket just so.  Most of them made sure we knew what was going on and volunteered information that we didn’t know how to ask for.  

The Tiny Tiny Bunny and his favorite nurse

The lactation consultant made the impossible possible.  She instructed me, positioned my pillow, gave me hope and made sure that the nurses gave me an opportunity to try breast feeding every day.  The respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, worked tirelessly to help our boy.  Whenever possible, they tried to plan visits for times that we would be there, so that we could be involved with his treatment.  

When the Bunny first arrived, and he was very sick, the Mayor had a meeting with the neonatologist at the bedside.  The next day, the NICU social worker set up another meeting with us and the neonatologist and made sure all of our questions were answered.  The neonatologist was great.  She was not rushed with us and went so far as to discuss things we should be aware of regarding the Bunny’s future development (things like precautions against RSV, adjusted age milestones, and a trend towards delayed kindergarten starts for boys).  Once the Bunny was starting down the path of recovery, we didn’t see as much of the doctors (though we heard the Bunny was one of the doctor’s “favorites”).  If we were there when they were doing rounds, they always volunteered updates and asked us if we had questions.  We always knew we could ask for another formal meeting through the social worker, but the nurses kept us so well-updated, we didn’t feel like we needed it.

The social worker also volunteered to write a letter to the Mayor’s boss explaining that he needs to be in the NICU with the Bunny.  She had it ready the next day.  Whenever we saw her in the hall, she checked in with us, and made special times to meet with us to make sure we were getting our questions answered.

The only time we felt marginalized or disrespected was when we were checking into the NICU.  To get into the NICU, you  have to use the phone on the wall to call the nurse at your baby’s bed and ask if you can come back.  You then wash your hands and tell the person at the desk that you have already called back.  They then push a button that opens the doors to the NICU.  Often the people sitting at the desk ignored us while we stood there or seemed annoyed or bothered by our need to get in.  If we wanted to ask a question at the window during times the NICU was closed, they were really annoyed with us. This was upsetting.

So, what would I suggest to other NICU workers?  Understand that parents are at your mercy.  You have all of the information about their child, you have the access to their child, you are responsible for the care of their child.  This is not the way the parent-child relationship was meant to be!  Treat the children and parents with respect.  Facilitate their relationship. Treat them as parents and children – not just patients.  Volunteer information to parents.  Try to think of ways you can help them.  Has the parent brought in a cute outfit, a hat, or a blanket?  If not, have you told them that they can?  If they have, use it.  Is the parent changing diapers if that is possible?  If not, have you told them they can?  Have you shown them how to navigate the IV lines?  Have you shown them how to navigate the system?  The child’s health is always most important, but when possible, even if its just for a moment, try to see beyond the monitors and the tubes and think about the bonding and comfort of the parent and child.  The smallest gestures can make a huge impact on how the parents and child will they go on with their lives when they leave your NICU.

Thank you to our NICU workers for taking such good care of us and our Bunny!  We can never thank you enough.

I know I have been missing in action.  My excuse?  It is too hot to THINK!!

I’ve mentioned my frequent Starbucks visits many times on this blog.  I often take the Little Man to Starbucks in the mornings after our run/walks.  The Mayor, the Bunny, and I also like to go to Starbucks in the evenings on our way to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner.  And we even sell rice cookers to Craigslist buyers at Starbucks.  

This love of Starbucks is actually a love of coffee shops in general (notable favorites were Maudes and Panera), but Starbucks is so prevalent that it has become a theme in my life – from city to city; from year to year.  I remember the first Starbucks popping up while I was in undergrad.  By the time I left Gainesville for good seven years later, there were at least four stores in the college town.  

In law school many many hours were spent at Starbucks and Panera “studying.”  You may ask why this “studying” could not occur at a proper library.  Well, that just wouldn’t be any fun.  At Starbucks many pleasant distractions await when you need a mental break.  You can check your email with the wireless internet; you can order a pastry or beverage to help you muster the will to go on; you can make small talk with your barista; you can analyze the new display of mugs and summatra blend; and you can eavesdrop on the conversation at the table behind you.   What could be better?

Given my extensive Starbucks experience, I think I am particularly qualified to present the following Experts’ Guide to Starbucks.  

Register Your Card

One of the best pieces of Starbucks advice I can give you is to buy a Starbucks gift card and register it on Starbucks’ website.  This will entitle you to free re-fills on coffee during the same visit; free “customization” (including soy milk, which is usually an extra 40 cents, and flavored syrups); a free beverage with the purchase of whole bean coffee, and two hours of free wireless internet every day, and even a free beverage on your birthday. Note: The free customization will not be reflected in the initial total you are given, but it will be reflected in the total that appears on your receipt after you use your registered card.

Be a Smart and Polite Long Term Visitor

If you plan to “study” at starbucks or otherwise campout, pick your table carefully.  You don’t want to have to re-locate later.  Think about where the sun will be coming in later in the day and where the plugs are (if you have a laptop with you).  Plan to buy something.  You do not want to be the person who comes in and asks for a glass of water and then stays for four hours.  Also, please do not ask for a water cup and then proceed to fill it up with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla powder from the condiment bar (true story).  The registered Starbucks card is essential for “long-term visitors” who can benefit from the two free hours of wireless internet and free refills.

Bring Your Own Cup

Of course, Starbucks displays an amazing variety of insulated mugs to tempt you every time you stand in line.  But there is no need to buy a special mug.  You can bring any mug you have at home and receive 10 cents off any drink.  

Order a Short

If you are just going for the ambiance or you don’t need a huge amount of coffee, consider ordering a “short.”  A short is a little bit smaller (and cheaper) than a tall, but it doesn’t appear on the menu, so it is often overlooked.  I generally order coffee in a short size, but I am told that any drink can be ordered in a short size (except iced beverages).  This may depend on the store, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Order the French Press

If you are going to be spending some time at Starbucks with a friend, try ordering the French Press. They come in a few sizes and have enough coffee to share.

Get to Know Your Barristas

Even though Starbucks is basically the man, the people who work there can be quite personable.  Make it a true coffee shop experience by getting to know your barrista.  When we walk in the door of our neighborhood Starbucks in the morning, the barrista always greets the Bunny and I by name.  That makes the coffee and scone taste that much better. Update: On Saturday, the Mayor ran into Starbucks to get us Vivanos (it was ridiculously hot) while the Bunny and I waited in the car. Our favorite barista asked the Mayor where the Bunny was and he told her that we were waiting in the car because we were on our way to the aquarium. This morning I took the Bunny to Starbucks and we ran into that same favorite barista. She greeted us by name (of course) and then asked how the Bunny liked the aquarium. Awesome, right?

This is the second in a four-part series. Sequels to follow.

I had an extremely easy pregnancy with the Bunny.  No morning sickness, no concerns about my health (except for that time I gained six pounds in a month – whoops).   No concerns about the Bunny besides a brief Cystic Fibrosis scare when we found out I was a carrier.   I never even got sick.  Everything was looking great.

I was also an insanely happy pregnant woman. The Mayor even bragged frequently that I was the best pregnant woman ever (Yes, he’s a smart man). I didn’t cry my entire pregnancy except one time when I told the Mayor that the Bunny’s room needed a second coat of paint and he announced You are the mother of my child and I love you, but I HATE YOU. (Not so smart that time.)

The Day Before the Mayor Gave Up Veganism

The Day Before the Mayor Gave Up Veganism

I also followed every pregnancy rule to the letter. I did not drink smoothies or fresh squeezed juice. No lunch meat, no alcohol, no soft cheeses. What else is there? Well, whatever it is, I followed it.

We had taken every pre-baby class imagineable – Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Infant CPR, Daddy Bootcamp (for the Mayor), Hypnobirthing (planning “natural” birth), Bringing Home Baby, etc. You name it, we took it.

We had hired a doula and written a birth plan. I heard somewhere that the longer the birth plan, the more likley the c-section, so I had even made sure to keep it to one page. (Yes, I followed ALL the rules.)

I was 32 weeks pregnant and everything was going along perfectly.  We were getting anxious to meet the Bunny, so I had a little talk with him.  I told him that he was invited to join us in the world on October 4th (two weeks before his due date and after I planned to start maternity leave).  I thought he was on board with that plan.

Around that time I told my Vegan co-worker (she is known in many circles as “the Vegan,” so she would not be offended by this over-simplification of her identity) that the Mayor was intrigued by her moral position on the matter. The following week, she arrived with a plethora of Vegan propaganda literature for the Mayor’s cosnideration. I brought it home and the Mayor went Vegan the next day.

The worst part was that the Mayor’s moral revelation was creeping into my head too. Suddenly, I was thinking, What gives us the right to store animals in inhumane conditions and pump them full of antibiotics only to kill them and EAT them. But even worse, I started thinking, What gives us the right to store animals in inhumane conditions and steal their eggs and milk them with a MACHINE against their will?   This was the scarriest part because, OMG, I wouldn’t be able to get pastries at Panera! Luckily, I was able to postpone this dilemna, because, for God’s sake, I was 33 weeks pregnant, and that just wouldn’t be good for the baby, right? Right.

Little did I know…the day before the Mayor gave up Veganism, chicken would be my demise.

Stay tuned…

The Mayor is out of town this weekend at a family wedding, so that means I am on my own for (adult) dinner. Even when I am alone, I like to eat something satisfying that won’t leave me feeling awful. A bowl of cereal definitely will not cut it.

Individual Burger Bun Pizzas
On Friday night I made individual pepperoni pizzas. I had made pizzas for the Mayor and I the night before, so I had some leftover ingredients. I didn’t have any pizza dough or anything remotely similar, so I improvised and used hamburger buns. I preheated the oven to 400, spread some spaghetti sauce on the buns, covered with pepperoni, and sprinkled with low fat mozzarella. For seasoning, I sprinkled the top with kosher salt, pepper, and fresh oregano (the kosher salt on top really makes a difference). I baked until cheese melted.

Boca Chick’n Tortillas
Tonight I made one of my “cooking for one” staples – Boca Chick’n Tortillas. I have made these so many different ways, since I first invented these in law school. Now I almost always have boca chick’n patties in the freezer and tortillas in the refrigerator. The rest of the ingredients are completely flexible. (By the way, these are vegan.)

Tonight’s version of Boca Chick’n Tortillas was made with cherry tomatoes, onions, radishes, and lettuce. I started with some hot olive oil in a pan over medium heat. I sliced onions and radishes and added to hot oil. When softened, I added cherry tomatoes sliced in half and sprinkled with kosher salt, pepper, and cumin. I cooked one boca chick’n patty in microwave for one minute, then added to pan and broke up with spatula. I then transferred everything from the pan to a plate, and heated one tortilla in the hot pan just until warm (30 seconds should do it). Filled tortilla with prepared ingredients and chopped lettuce.

Other “Cooking For One” Tips
Remember, cooking for one is always a little better with a glass of wine. Check out this one from Spain!

About Me

Mom to a one-year-old Super Bunny. Amateur cook and photographer. Tiny living enthusiast. Lawyer who would rather write about muffins than motive.

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