Vibrant Brights + Bolds

thoughts + anecdotes from my right brain

Done-zo. October 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michele Tillotson @ 10:39 am

Yep. I know. It’s been so long… I don’t even know why I keep a blog anymore. I used to do it every single day. Sometimes twice.

To be honest, I’m frustrated with this one. It doesn’t feel fresh to me anymore. It feels… well, old. It has stories from long ago, which are nice, but no longer relevant. I think I might copy and paste them into some Word documents and archive them deep in my computer somewhere and delete this blog and just… start over.

At any rate, I have a new blog! It’s fresher, funner (yes, I said funner) and it’s here ———–>

So quick – click the link and enter your email address so you never miss another recipe. Catch you on the flip side.


New Year, New Family. January 6, 2011

Filed under: 2011 — Michele Tillotson @ 12:53 pm

So the newest, littlest Tillotson is now two months old, so I figured with it being a brand new year, it was high time I update with a blog.

Forgive me for not updating sooner, but SOMEONE I know doesn’t like to sleep at night. Like, at all.

In the span of the last 9 weeks, Milo averages a good night (and by “good” I mean waking up merely twice) about one night per twelve. Other than that, he’s up anywhere from six times to twenty-two times a night (yes, sometimes he’s up every 20-30 minutes ALL night). There is virtually no information on this phenomenon anywhere on the web, and the best resource I’ve found so far has been Dr. Sears’ website, which describes Milo as what he calls a “high need baby.” Well, that’s certainly an understatement, but nonetheless true. My pediatrician, while I love her, has given me quite useless advice on this so far, at his one month checkup telling me to let him cry in five minute increments before picking him up (this doesn’t work, by the way — he’ll just cry in 5 minute increments all night) and at his two month checkup telling me I need to “play with him during the day more” and to try to “keep him up” during the day. What?! I already play with him until he gets so overstimulated he cries; and the more I keep him up, the more overtired he gets, the harder it is for him to settle, the less he sleeps.

C’est la vie.

I’ve had my fair share of judgements and unwarranted advice regarding diapers, babywearing, co-sleeping, crying it out, swaddling, breastfeeding, cereal, when to start solids, and on and on since Milo has come along. It always shocks me how many people want to shove their beliefs onto you and try to push you into something, then judge you when you don’t agree.

Along those lines, I have been cloth diapering the little dude since a few days after Christmas. I absolutely love it. Not only am I doing what I feel is best for his sensitive little bottom (he has eczema and has problems with fabric softeners, fragrance, body wash [the kind I was using], and dry air), but I’m doing what is economically better for our family and infinite times better for our environment. I feel good about that. We’ve had no problems with leaks, blowouts, diaper rashes, increased laundry, using them while out and about, or any other issue disposable diapering mommas usually throw at me. I made and started using cloth wipes while we’re at home too, and it’s surprisingly easier than using disposable wipes, since you just toss them into the laundry along with the diapers. Love, love, love.

I’m a huge fan of babywearing. There are so many articles on the benefits of wearing your baby. Milo is a hundred times happier in a sling than simply being held in my arms (which causes him to be shifting into different positions constantly). And that way, I have my arms free. He has very happy times during the day, and smiles and laughs a lot when he’s not fussing.

So what have we tried in regards to sleeping, you ask? We have tried:
> co-sleeping
> a bassinet
> his crib
> pre-heating his bed with a heating pad
> letting him sleep on one of my worn shirts
> crying it out for no longer than 10 minutes
> swaddling
> white noise
> music
> no noise
> a night light
> no light
> on his side
> on his back
> on his belly
> placing a blanket over him instead of swaddling him
> using a sleep positioner
> not using a sleep positioner
> propping him up
> changing his diaper at every feeding
> not changing his diaper all night in hopes he won’t wake all the way up
> prayer

As of yet, none of those things have seemed to make an iota of difference. We will continue to try, because what else can you do? It’s not like you can return or exchange these creatures.

So, we’re tired. To say the least.

But we do have a few resolutions this year. One of them is actually in progress. We’re condensing our big walk-in closets down into one (Justin’s) so we can make a little bitty sewing and craft room in what’s currently my walk-in. That one’s about a third finished. We took a lot to Goodwill, and Justin’s going to raise the shelving in his closet to accommodate everything, plus putting in additional shelving (that he’ll rip out of my closet). I’m looking for cheap dressers to put in the closet for all of our non-hanging stuff, so I think a trip to Habitat’s store is in the works for next week. I also need a smaller sewing table to put into my craft room.

Other projects for this year are: building Justin’s music studio in the back quarter of the garage; cleaning enough out of the garage to get the Infiniti into it (I have a furniture pickup scheduled to get a lot of the mess out of there next week); and not getting pregnant. All doable? I think so.

What are your resolutions? Happy New Year, everyone.


Welcome, my Sweet One. November 26, 2010

Filed under: 2010 — Michele Tillotson @ 3:40 pm

Here it is: the official birth story.

Milo was overdue. I was scheduled for an induction on Friday, November 5 at 7 a.m. (he’d be 10 days late by then). I’d received a call confirming this and was told once again that if the hospital was busy that day, I’d be bumped. We have a 40-minute commute to the hospital, so we’d need to leave by about 6:15 for this appointment, and the nurse told me I couldn’t call to confirm it the morning of until 6:00. What?! 6:00?! I was NOT about to get up and get all ready to go in only to be told 15 minutes before leaving that I couldn’t be fit in. I told her I’d call at 5:30 but not later.

In the meantime, on Wednesday November 3, I had a long “talk” with Milo. I told him he had 39 hours (and counting) before someone was going in after him and he was seriously running out of time to come on his own. And once again, I had no labor activity all day long. I went to Verizon to have my contacts transferred to my replacement phone (we’d spilled water on my old one the week before) and did some other errands, including picking up Cody from the bus as usual.

I wanted to make my family a hearty, homemade dinner since it was pretty chilly that night. I spent a couple hours in the kitchen making from-scratch loaded baked potato soup. We finally sat down to eat and I polled the guys —  who thought Milo was coming before his induction? Both boys thought he wasn’t coming before Friday (famous last words…).

About 5 minutes after my “poll,” (at about 7 p.m.) I experienced some pretty decent contractions — three of them, and right on top of each other without a break. I stood at the table, bent over with my head on Justin’s shoulder, breathing through them. The funniest part is that Justin and Cody both kept right on eating, like nothing was happening. I guess that’s how used to my contractions they had both gotten. Finally I sat back down and finished my soup. We made the guys’ lunches for the next day, cleaned up the kitchen, and put Cody to bed. My parents had come over to drop something off, and they were still milling around while I kept saying, “Maybe this is it! This could be it, guys!” but I’m pretty sure after all of our prior false alarms, no one really believed it anymore. At this point. I was having a semi-painful contraction every 30 minutes or so and was sitting around on our yoga ball, hoping. The contractions weren’t really anything out of the ordinary from the previous month of contractions, so even I didn’t really believe anything was going to happen that night. I texted all of my “night backups” to see who was available, just in case, and no one was. This is a problem, I remember thinking. What if something happens tonight?

I took a bath and got Justin to shave my legs, just in case. Then I called mom to ask her what I should do for a night person if something should happen. Who was going to watch Cody? She didn’t think anything was GOING to happen, so I don’t think she was terribly concerned about it.

At about 11 p.m. I was pooped and got into bed with a book, and Justin and I both started reading. Within a couple minutes, I got a really bad contraction. I mean, the “real deal” bad. I had to put my book down and breathe. I looked at Justin and said, “If I have more than 5 contractions that feel like THAT, I’m calling the hospital and we’re going in, I don’t care what they say.”

Five minutes later, it happened again. And then five minutes later, again. After the fifth one, I had Justin try to check my dilation, and based on the chart we had, he guessed I was about 3 cm dilated. I called the hospital. It was about 11:30 by then. I told them I was scheduled for an induction in just over a day, and that my last labor had been only three hours long (with Pitocin) and they told me to head on in. As fate would have it, the same midwife who delivered Cody almost 8 years ago was on call that night. Her name was Tina, and I had loved her then. I was so excited I was practically jumping up and down (practically, I say — believe me, I couldn’t jump at that point).

I called my mom and got ahold of one of my backups. Both headed over to my house and Justin and I got up and dressed and packed our toothbrushes and last-minute essentials. Mom came over and decided she wanted a shower, so she took one at my house. My friend Ebony got to our house around 1 a.m. to stay the night and get Cody to the bus the next morning. By now, I was in pretty substantial pain every 3-4 minutes. At 1:30, Justin put my shoes on me for the very last time and we left for the hospital, with my mom following us.

We got there just around 2 a.m. I was put into triage and hooked up to all the monitors so they could verify I was indeed in labor. Tina came in, checked me, and informed me I was 5 cm + 80% and I squealed with happiness. Justin and my mom were shocked — I don’t think any of us could believe I was already at the halfway point. Personally, I was pretty proud of myself for getting that far — I have a pretty low pain tolerance. We talked pain management with Tina and my nurse and I said I was going to go as long as I could stand it without the epidural but that I’d likely need one before it was all said and done.

We got into our room and Justin went to get the bags out of the car while the poking and prodding for a vein began. I have bad veins — it took 15 minutes and a blown vein, plus a lot of digging, before the nurse (Kris) finally got my IV needle in. I didn’t want the IV yet, so she just taped it all up in case I needed one later. I just didn’t want to be all hooked up to stuff yet. Mom unpacked my bags while I got into the jacuzzi. It was about 2:45 when I got in, and things were definitely progressing. Justin was a champion birth coach — he was so encouraging the whole time, and breathed with me a lot. He kept telling me how “easy” I was making it look, and how proud of me he was. I honestly think I made it as far as I did without that epidural because of him.

About an hour after I got into the jacuzzi, I hit transition, and I hit it hard. It was 3:45. I had one final contraction in the water and got out to throw up and turned to Justin and mom and said, “Someone get Kris. I need to order that epidural now. I’m still ok, but it’ll take an hour before I get it and I’ll be out of my mind by then.”

Kris came in and I was 7 cm (I was shocked) and got me hooked up to the IV, and told me they had to get a bag of fluid in before they’d administer the epi. The pain was better when I stood, so I spent the better part of the next hour hanging on Justin while that bag took its sweet time to empty. At some point I realized I was bleeding and freaked out — one of the midwives I didn’t like had said if I bled at all during labor, they were doing an emergency c-section because of the location of my placenta. We got Tina in there and she said I was fine and my bleeding was normal rupturing of capillaries caused by dilation. By then I was really, REALLY in excruciating pain and 8 cm dilated, so Kris put a blood pressure cuff around my IV bag to squeeze the rest of it out, and fast. I was dilating quick and I was afraid I was running out of time for the epidural.

At 4:45, the anesthesiologist came in to do my epi. Mom was required to leave and Justin was required to sit. I threw up again and then I hung on Kris, whimpering, while the anesthesiologist got to work. It took about 15 minutes to get it all in because she had to take it out and reposition it a couple times. Whoever says epidurals don’t hurt going in are liars. Epis are hellish until they kick in.

At 5:00 a.m., everything was good to go. Mom came back in, I laid down, and then I ceased to feel my legs. Mom and Justin took little catnaps for the next hour and fifteen, and I had Kris let up on the epi a little bit. I was way too numb and I still wanted to feel what was going on. We got it adjusted so I could actually move my legs and feel my contractions.

By 6:00, I could feel his head coming down and I knew it couldn’t be much longer. Fifteen minutes later, Tina came in to check on things. She asked me if I was feeling any pressure yet, and then she delivered the best news of my life: “Sweetie, you’re 10 centimeters and he’s down. My shift is over at 7, so we’re having this baby before I leave, ok? We’re going to break your water and have you push now.” I was ecstatic — my 9-month-wait was over. I was about to have this little person in my arms, in a matter of minutes.

The baby nurses came in and got the bassinet and I thought my mom was going to lose it, she was so excited and emotional. We got me into position and got everything ready, and at 6:25 Tina told me to start pushing. Tina asked Justin if he wanted to catch the baby when he came out, and he said yes. I gave it everything I had in me and at 6:29 a.m. on November 4, just four and a half hours after our arrival at the hospital (and four minutes after I started pushing), sweet Milo was born into my husband’s arms. The cord was around his neck three times but that was remedied quickly (before his body was even out) and he was fine. He was immediately handed to me for skin-to-skin after Justin cut his cord, and Justin and I both cried and held him. I was able to nurse him right away. About an hour after he was born, he was weighed and measured. My teeny 9-day-late baby was 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 inches long. I had a perfect delivery with no complications or tearing. We were discharged the next day.

I’ve now had two amazing (and quick!) childbirth experiences. I’m proud that I went natural for so long and I’m not ashamed that I got an epidural. My sweet baby arrived just fine, healthy and perfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my labor and delivery. Welcome to the world, little Milo.


So incredibly sweet that I had to share… September 9, 2010

Filed under: 2010 — Michele Tillotson @ 9:05 am

I went to our church’s new d:Track series last night and Justin couldn’t make it after working a 13-hour day. When I got home at 10 p.m. he was asleep, but he had left me four notes taped to the banister and the bedroom door for me to find.

Note 1
If I’m not awake when you get home,
I’m probably dreaming of you.

Note 2
Of your warm embrace, and the way your lips taste,
And all the laughing that you and I do.

Note 3
I could stay in these dreams, and be happy, it seems,
Of reality I won’t have a clue.

Note 4
When you come to bed, please wake me instead,
And make all of my dreaming come true.

I have no idea how I got so blessed by this man.


If houses had souls August 27, 2010

Filed under: 2010 — Michele Tillotson @ 12:46 pm

But the boy stayed away
for a long time
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.

“Come, Boy,” she whispered,
“come and play.”

That segment of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree came to mind today, as I silently walked around the perimeter of 9020 Agnes Park Lane… the address I knew as “home” from the time I was eight years old until the time I was eighteen.

For the first time in ten years, I parked my car in the street in front of the house and slowly walked up the driveway. Not much looks the same from the outside, anymore. The house was beautiful when we lived there. Now it’s surrounded by falling-down fencing, weeds, trash, and hunks of marble slab against the house where my mom used to plant impatiens. It’s white siding is horribly dirty. The trim, which has been painted an awful shade of brown, is cracking and practically falling off the house. Back then, there was no warning sticker on the front door that declared the house vacant. The house looked… dead. And sad. It had been very much alive when we lived there.

I peered in every window that wasn’t covered. I felt a lump catch in my throat to see the same wallpaper on all the walls that my mom had picked out so many years ago, that my dad had painstakingly hung from high atop a scaffolding. The same carpeting was still there… a deep shade of burgundy that I clearly remember trying to argue would not go with the vintage paper doll wallpaper in my little-girl room. From where I stood, I could see the spot where I wrote a time capsule style letter on the concrete floor while the carpets were being replaced. I wonder what it said — I certainly don’t remember now. But my fingerprints and DNA are surely all still there, underneath that burgundy carpet.

I wondered if the house knew who I was. I wondered if she was so happy she could hardly speak. I wondered if I heard her whisper, “Come, Girl. Come and play.”

I stared at her for a long time. I cried. I told her that I’d never forgotten her, promised her I’d come back for her someday. Then I got back into my car and drove away.


Cedar Planked Salmon & other adventures in the kitchen August 24, 2010

Filed under: 2010 — Michele Tillotson @ 7:13 am

Justin’s 27th birthday (that old man) was yesterday. On Sunday, my parents and my brother came over to celebrate since everyone was working last night, and we just grilled burgers. Justin had been asking me to make him cedar planked salmon for quite some time now, and kept subtly dropping hints that he’d like it for his birthday (“Hey baby, can you grill some cedar planked salmon for my birthday?”  “Hey, when you go to the store today, can you get some salmon for my birthday?”). Fortunately for him, I’m a bright girl and I was picking up was he was laying down. I’m sure it would have been even more scrumptious with fresh salmon, but I went to Trader Joe’s and got fresh frozen Alaskan salmon and just defrosted it in the fridge. I happened to have a couple of cedar planks lying around already, and I found the recipe below. Following it are the recipes for the asparagus tart I made as well.

Now when your husband/fiancé/boyfriend/neighbor man asks you for cedar planked salmon, you can be ready.

You will need:
1 Tb brown sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 – 6 oz salmon filets
honey for drizzling

You need to make sure you soak your cedar plank for at least an hour before starting. I soaked mine for about an hour and 15.

Heat the grill to medium-low heat (about 350º).

Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl, and rub the salmon with the mixture.

Place soaked plank on the heated grill (don’t remove it from the water until you’re using it, but shake off the excess water), close the lid, and heat the plank for 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the plank over and place your salmon on the now-heated side of the plank. Close the lid and grill for about 12-15 minutes, until it flakes easily with a fork. Note that the fish will be more tender than you’re expecting, though. Remove from the grill, drizzle with honey, and serve immediately.

You might also note that I halved this whole recipe and just made two filets. Neither Cody nor I are huge fish fans, so we split one and gave Justin the bigger filet.

I was going to make steamed or grilled asparagus as well, since it’s one of Justin’s favorite veggies. Cody and I are also not huge asparagus fans (do you see how much I love this guy? I made him all of my least favorite foods for his birthday because I adore him) so I opted for a tart instead. Don’t let the name fool you. It wasn’t tart at all.

Smoked Gouda Asparagus Tart

You will need:
1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted according to the package directions
8-10 oz fresh asparagus spears, ends evenly trimmed to fit into tart
1 1/2 cups  freshly grated smoked gouda
olive oil
salt & pepper

Heat oven to 400º.

Put the pastry on a greased baking sheet. With a sharp paring knife, draw a square all the way around your puff pastry, about an inch and a half from the edge. DO NOT cut all the way through; just make a line about halfway through the pastry. With a fork, prick the entire inside of the square to keep that part from rising too much. Pop the whole thing in the oven for about 15 minutes, until it’s golden and smells like you want to eat it immediately without any further ingredients.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the inside of your square with the cheese. Add the asparagus spears by placing them next to each other, alternating directions. You might have to add some to the bottom like I did, if your spears started out short.

Brush them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for anther 20 minutes until your edges are getting really golden brown, your cheese is melted, and your asparagus looks like it’s been under a broiler.

I cut mine with a pizza wheel — makes it so much easier.

To round it all out, I just mashed some boiled Yukon gold potatoes with salt, pepper, butter and milk.

He almost died.


A really boring educational blog about the Rh factor. August 19, 2010

Filed under: 2010 — Michele Tillotson @ 7:13 am

It occurred to me that I never properly explained the shot I received, and why I got it. Let me see if I can (briefly) explain:

About 85% of the population is Rh positive (this means they carry a specific protein on the surface of their red blood cells), leaving about 15% Rh negative, or lacking this protein. This does not affect the health of the person whatsoever. However, in a case where an Rh negative woman gets pregnant by an Rh positive man, their future babies (not that baby, but the rest of them) are potentially in danger. Obviously, this is a rarer occurrence, seeing as that with 15% of the population being Rh negative and assuming half of those are women, roughly only 7% of all women are Rh negative… and they’d have to become pregnant by an Rh positive man to have the problem.

The problem is this: if the first baby they carry together is also Rh positive like his or her father, then this puts all future Rh positive babies they carry together at risk for a lot of health problems. The mother and her baby’s blood usually intermingles during delivery. When this happens, the mother’s blood recognizes these proteins as being foreign, and creates Rh antibodies against the Rh proteins. It still doesn’t affect that first baby. But in subsequent pregnancies, if the new baby she is carrying has an Rh positive blood type (which can’t be determined until after he or she is born), the mother’s antibodies again recognize the foreign proteins and this time, they attack. And mom and dad have a 50% chance of conceiving an Rh positive baby with each pregnancy.

The new (Rh positive) baby’s blood count can get dangerously low when this happens, since the antibodies cause swelling and rupture of the baby’s red blood cells. The newborn can also suffer severe anemia, jaundice, brain damage, and heart failure or death. If the mother already has developed antibodies, blood transfusions can be given to the fetus in utero or after the baby is born. The Rh immune-globulin I received prevents the development of these antibodies like a vaccine would.

Cody’s dad was Rh positive, but I got the shot during week 28 of my pregnancy with him; and fortunately after Cody was born it was found that he had an Rh negative blood type like me — so didn’t need a second shot, and the first was precautionary anyway. If his blood type has been Rh positive, I’d have needed a second shot within 72 hours of his birth. My husband is also Rh positive, so we did the precautionary 28-week shot this pregnancy too. We’ll see if little Milo spares me that second shot in October — it’s given in the hip and it’s not a lot of fun! I’ll need the shot with every baby Justin and I conceive from here on out, as well.

Not much else to report — I got a lot of sleep last night, since there was a massively loud thunderstorm and the pounding rain lulled me back to sleep after every time I got up to pee (and after Cody came in scared of the loud thunder). I’ll probably take another nap this morning, too. I’ve been getting up at 6:15 every morning and we haven’t been going to bed until midnight nearly all week… I am exhausted! But at least Cody’s back in school and it gives me time to get some things done around the house. Countdown to Milo is 8-10 weeks! I am going to start taking my evening primrose oil in 6 weeks (another educational story for another day).

I also went to my first La Leche League meeting yesterday. It was awesome! One of my neighbors is a leader, and she invited me to a meeting before Milo arrives, which is good. It’ll be great to get pre-help with breastfeeding before he gets here. I’m not anticipating any of the same breastfeeding problems I had with Cody, but the monthly meetings are a really great resource. If you have them in your area, you should check them out at and go to a meeting.