Sweet potato pancakes

sweet_potato_pancakes_amyomSweet potato puree has become a staple in our house, so these were easy to whip up. I topped mine with a little butter and syrup, but (as you can see) Max happily gobbled them up plain!

Ingredients (makes about four servings)

  • 1 cup pancake mix (I used Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Cooking spray


  • Whisk together pancake mix, milk, sweet potato, egg and pumpkin pie spice
  • Cover pan with cooking spray and heat to medium
  • Use a quarter cup to scoop batter onto pan; cook for about two minutes on each side until golden brown


Adventures in breastfeeding

breastfeeding_amyomMaxton is 13 months old today, and tonight I gave him a bedtime bottle of whole milk for the first time. I’ve been weaning for a month and saved his nighttime feeding for last, and the last time I breastfed him was two nights ago. Last night my husband put him to bed while I cried in the bathroom… He’s out tonight so I thought I’d be even more of a mess, but I actually feel pretty fine… it’s fitting that our breastfeeding adventure isn’t ending how I expected because it has been full of curveballs from the start.

Five weeks early, Max was whisked away to the NICU shortly after he was born. A nurse showed me how to pump before I was able to try breastfeeding. When I finally did he wasn’t really able to latch, so the nurse tube-fed him my colostrum. I think she said something like, “It’s okay – his first feeding is still from you,” and it wasn’t until she tried to make me feel better that I started to feel bad. Or it may have just been the drugs wearing off.

Max was on donor milk until mine came in, and then I pumped away while he was in the NICU for a week. I would go the hospital every day and try breastfeeding for a few feedings, and then set an alarm to pump at night. Trying to breastfeed apparently burned more calories than he was taking in, so sometimes he would be too worn out to drink a bottle after and have to be tube-fed. Another issue keeping him in the NICU was jaundice, which takes longer to go away in breastfed babies.

My desperation to get Max home and my determination to breastfeed were turning out to be conflicting interests. I talked to every lactation consultant at the hospital, and the only thing they all seemed to agree on was an inexplicable obsession with the “football hold” breastfeeding position… I tried the Supplemental Nursing System (which requires four hands to operate), “sandwiching” my boobs (still don’t understand what that means) and nipple shields (godsend). Little by little, feeding by feeding, I figured out how many pillows and what positions worked for us, and we started to get the hang of it.

After being discharged and seeing yet another lactation consultant, Max and I finally got into a groove. In the beginning it felt like I would never be able to breastfeed without the perfect back support and pillow placement, but one day I found myself sitting on a hale bale, nursing Max under a scarf in the middle of an apple orchard.

We spent a few glorious months in that sweet spot, and then Max changed the rules again. When he was seven months old, he started getting really fussy when he nursed. At first the pediatrician thought it was because he had a virus, then they thought it was reflux… and then after medicine and giving up dairy didn’t make a difference, I consulted Dr. Google and realized I might have just been feeding him too much. Turns out you can’t keep a baby on the same schedule for seven months! Oops!

Prematurity, reflux, dairy sensitivity… these are things I was determined to power through, but what really scared me – teeth – ended up not really being a big deal. Max did bite me a couple of times, but after frantically Googling what to do (Google to the rescue again!), the seemingly idiotic advice to tell him to chew on something else actually worked. (Shouting “NO!” just made him laugh.) What ended up being more irritating was the constant boob slapping, hair pulling, nose grabbing and nipple scratching at 10ish+ months. But then he would fall asleep on me or take a break to smile up at me, and I would forget all of the abuse. And there was that one time milk squirted out when he pinched me, and we both started cracking up.

I was afraid those moments would end when I stopped breastfeeding, but tonight Max smiled up at me when I laid him down and kicked his legs when I fluffed out his robot blanket on top of him – just like he’s been doing all week. Then he waved at his mobile when I turned it on (a new level of cuteness) and went to sleep without a peep. I think I’m ready for our next adventure, and so is he.

My new moms’ group is famous!


My brave new mom friend Leanne was featured on a local news show last week about postpartum depression. The group at the hospital where I delivered was a great resource for her, and WGN interviewed Dawn, the nurse who runs it, and filmed some b-roll of our babes (and me shoving a banana in my face).

As Dawn mentions in the segment, new moms’ groups are so important because there isn’t the community support these days that there once was. And let me tell you, Google and Facebook are no substitute for the Red Tent.

The first time I went to the group I didn’t know there was no shame in being late, so I had frantically wrapped Max in a Boba and was power-walking the few blocks to the hospital, trying to hold my bouncing baby steady with one hand while shielding his head with the other when I realized halfway there that I didn’t have a hat for his virgin scalp, which was being assaulted by the blazing August sun.

Less than a month into motherhood and already accustomed to feeling judged for every parenting decision, I immediately launched into a self-shame during my rambling introduction. There were only a few other moms there that day, and instead of letting me dwell on the forgotten hat, they veered the conversation toward my baby wrap and how impressed they were that I had figured out how to use it.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of the moms gently offered to lend me her swaddle blanket to cover Max on my walk home. And I didn’t feel judged; I felt supported – and like maybe I had made a new friend.

My kid is too happy

According to my baby app and every random person who thinks I want to engage in small talk, my nine-month-old should be mobile by now… even adjusting for his prematurity. He isn’t even really interested in sitting up, however, let alone crawling. He’s just too content laying around. Apparently I’m supposed to put his favorite toy out of reach to encourage him to go after it. The problem is he doesn’t have a favorite toy – he loves everything. And if I take all his toys away, he’s happy to play with his feet.


He also loves everyone. He has no separation anxiety whatsoever – couldn’t care less when I leave the room, or country… which was great when we had to go to a wedding in Mexico but kind of bums me out. When you give your body over to the task of growing and nourishing a human for nearly two years, it would be nice to get a bigger smile than the pizza guy. Especially from someone who doesn’t know what pizza is.

A good problem to have I suppose… and one I’m sure I’ll miss when he’s a stinky, surly teenager who can’t stand to be around me… that might just be the motivation he needs to finally figure out how to crawl away!

2 reasons we still need feminism


Erin Andrews



This week Erin Andrews was accused of orchestrating the creepy Peeping Tom video of her as a publicity stunt, and had to defend the fact that she went on to have a successful career after her naked body went viral on the Internet without her consent.

Last month Kesha was accused of trying to “extort money and gain contractual leverage” by a lawyer of the Sony producer she says raped her shortly after her 18th birthday. The judge denied her request to nullify her contract with the record company.

No matter how successful a woman is, she can still be reduced to her genitalia – humiliated and victimized – and then have that success used against her if she dares to fight back. So yeah, I’d say there’s still work to be done on the feminism front.




Your new favorite workout playlist (47 minutes)


Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t gone for a run in months, or the freakishly warm weather we’ve had this week in Chicago, but the playlist below definitely contributed to the spring in my step – although it’s now back to winter outside. I originally put it together for my “Sprint” Ryder (spin) class, which I haven’t taught since Maxton made his appearance. Every song contains at least one sprint-worthy pickup in the music, which works for biking, running or miscellaneous energy boost!

  • Love Runs Out – OneRepublic
  • Sweat – Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
  • Shot Me Down – David Guetta
  • Take Me to Church – Hozier
  • Black Betty (remix) – Die Hoerer
  • Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
  • It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
  • Geronimo – Sheppard
  • Juicy Wiggle – Redfoo
  • All Night – Icona Pop
  • Take Me Home – Cash Cash
  • No Diggity – Blackstreet

Photo credit: https://www.spotify.com

Newborn shadowbox: NICU edition

When we finally got to take our surprise babe home from the hospital, I almost threw out anything I thought would remind me of our baby jail NICU experience. Luckily I listened to my mom (a new thing I’m trying), who said I might want to look back on it one day. Almost five months later, I am so glad I hung on to some of that NICU debris because it turns out I do want to commemorate Maxton’s dramatic entrance into the world. In fact, I am putting it on display in his room and plan to look at it every day without crying!


My mother-in-law gave me the idea of making a shadowbox, and it was super easy… once I got over the humiliation of dropping and shattering the first one I tried to buy at Michael’s…

Things I pinned that I thought I would never want to see again:

  • The “caregiver” bracelet that replaced my “patient” bracelet after my lonely discharge, which I had to flash at the hospital front desk every time I wanted to see my baby. It looks just like an all-you-can-drink bracelet, which just seemed like insult to injury to me.
  • Maxton’s anklet, which I was always afraid was digging into his little ankle and reminds me of all the blood draws they had to take from his foot to check his bilirubin levels (the main reason he had to stay in the NICU).
  • The newborn hospital hat, which my husband tried to switch out with a Wisconsin Badger hat, but was told he couldn’t because it wasn’t sterile, even though everyone was allowed to bring their filthy phones into the NICU, and no one seemed concerned that there was nowhere for me to sterilize, or even properly clean, my breast pump parts…

As I mentioned before, I also wasn’t crazy about Max’s sweet face being obscured by tubes in our first family picture, and the onesie we took him home in had to be rush-shipped because there weren’t any preemie-sized clothes in those loads of baby laundry I had thought I was getting a head start on while I was pregnant. And while I’m on a roll feeling sorry for myself… the “It’s a boy” sign I repurposed from my Friends shower kind of reminds me of the Family shower I missed because Max decided to make his appearance that day.

BUT all of those things make up our unique story, and no matter how many times you hear it when you’re pregnant it doesn’t really hit home until it happens to you: It’s true that no childbirth goes as planned. And I’m sure some of Maxton’s NICU neighbors are still fighting to go home. I realize we were lucky to have a pretty short stay.

So every time I look at Maxton’s newborn shadowbox, I hope it will remind me that this too shall pass… particularly at 3 a.m. when he refuses to go back to sleep.

What I will not be getting my niece for Christmas

Because she knows how I feel about random men demanding I smile, my mom brought this sweater from Carter’s to my attention the other day:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 4.24.51 PM

And then I found ANOTHER children’s top on their website that made me frown:

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 4.28.42 PM

The first top’s description reads, “She’s all smiles!” Ugh. Although these clothes are just riding the positivity trend (which also annoys me), it’s interesting that none of the boys’ clothes say anything about smiling… although there are an almost equal number of toddler boys’ and girls’ tops that say something about being physically attractive (#HUNK, Super Cute, etc.). Progress toward equality? Or we’re all doomed? It’s a toss-up.

Making out with Max

Among other surprises, something I didn’t anticipate is the uncontrollable urge to make out with my baby. Even my husband can’t resist. When Max was a few days old Dan asked me, “I just want to kiss him on the mouth – is that weird?”

Apparently back in August psychologist Dr. Charlotte Reznick advised parents against kissing their children on the mouth because it is “an erogenous zone which ‘can be stimulating’ and subsequently cause confusion for children.” I think that’s a little ridiculous, but I do remember giving my mom “soap opera kisses” (open mouth, no tongue) when I was little, and the memory makes me a little uncomfortable… There’s also the risk of getting spit up on and into your mouth, which happened to me a few weeks ago but hasn’t stopped my kissing attacks. It was almost worth it to see the shock and awe on Max’s face:

Camera 1


Camera 2


Okay it was worth it! Moms are gross immune to bodily fluids!!

Before Max was smiling on the reg, loud, exaggerated mouth kisses were one of the only ways to get him to show me some love. For the first couple months, babies pretty much just give you dirty looks, which doesn’t help the confidence level of a first-time mom. Those first smiles are critical in keeping you from losing your mind – and also the best thing ever.

Other than the fact that my baby obviously digs my kisses, there’s science to back up my uncontrollable urge. According to Mothering, “When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk.” Babies NEED kisses! It’s biology!!

And finally some anecdotal evidence: Last weekend we were visiting my dad and he went to give Max a kiss goodbye on the forehead, and I exclaimed, “He likes it on the mouth!” That led to a discussion of this very issue, and my dad shared a story from his childhood that made me sad. He said his mom picked him up from school one day, and he was so excited to see her that he lunged for her lips… and she backed away 🙁 “No wonder I’m screwed up about women!” he concluded. And then we went on to discuss his latest Match.com rejection…

So there you have it: Not making out with your son will actually CAUSE future relationship issues. I will enthusiastically kiss Max on the mouth for as long as he’ll let me. I do draw the line at watching soap operas with him, however.

Pick-your-chip pumpkin cookies

pick-your-chip-pumpkin-cookies-amyomAs I’ve mentioned before, I could eat pumpkin all day, and I have indeed been eating these cookies with coffee for breakfast, and for dessert after lunch and dinner, and treats in between… I made half with chocolate chips, as the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction calls for, and half with white chocolate chips, which I suspected I would like better. And I was right! The flavor reminded me of pumpkin spice puppy chow, which my sister-in-law over at Daily Cup of Kate introduced me to a few years ago and has been a favorite fall indulgence since. My husband preferred the chocolate, though.

I took them to my New Mom Group’s Halloween party and thought they might break the tie, but everyone was too polite to take more than one or voice a preference… the babies were pretty pissed they weren’t allowed to taste-test.

12193607_10206901783756510_8904250818703898847_nRecipe (adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/09/04/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies)

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 6 T pumpkin puree
  • 1+1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1+1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1+1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/8 t allspice
  • 1/2 C white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add vanilla and pumpkin and mix until smooth. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Add chips last. Cover the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Take dough out of the refrigerator, and preheat oven to 350°F. Roll the dough into small balls and place onto parchment paper on baking sheets. Press down onto balls with your palm to slightly flatten. Bake for 8-10 minutes – option to press additional chips into cookies after taking them out of the oven… I was putting a baby to bed when my second pan came out via husband, and actually didn’t miss the extra chips!

I usually can’t be bothered with recipes that insist on annoying steps like chilling and parchment paper, but I actually started making this one before I read through all of the directions… and it was worth the extra time! The cookies have a soft texture somewhere between cakey and brownie-y… and a festive fall kick.