Tuesday, December 6, 2011

La la la la la la....Our Bluesday Night

We had a bluesday night party tonight, and screened the newly released to DVD/BluRay Smurfs movie. It was actually pretty good! I didn't see it in the theater, because in addition to never having the time/money/energy/childfree time to go to the movies anymore, I'm constantly being disappointed by remakes and makeovers of things I enjoy. Especially movies. They always seem to mess up something!! I could  make a laundry list of disappointing remake movies, but I won't! Smurfs didn't do that. The smurfs I love were still there and their personalities were fantastic, there were even well placed jokes about smurf culture delivered by the ever lovable NPH. The fun twist that brought them to live action was played well and some of the voice acting was really good. I served up some blue corn tortilla chips and salsa, some sugar cookies iced with smurfs hats on them, and blueberry apple cider. The blue snacks and blue clothes set the mood for a fun movie night. I'm going to have to have movie nights more often. Themed parties are fun! Pictures for your enjoyment! (P.S. I've written a few new recipes recently, so expect them to come soon!)



Saturday, November 5, 2011

UNprocessed Recipe - Green Bean Casserole


I've had some bees in my bonnet recently to work on creating recipes that can either stand up to or one up their traditional but overly processed counterparts. This one is one of my favorite holiday meal sides, that creamy green bean casserole with the crunchy onions on top. Yum! The Hero absolutely loves this casserole, and he was my inspiration to start with this one in the unprocessing process. It turned out fantastic, even better than the original, we thought. Here's how I did it:  

Green Bean Casserole

  • 1.5 lb. fresh green beans, cut in 2 in. lengths

Mushroom Soup
  • 2 cups diced or chopped fresh mushrooms (crimini, shitake, or portobello)
  • 1 pint whole milk or coconut milk + 1/2 cup reserved
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 3 T. Butter or butter substitute
  • 1 rounded T. flour

Crispy Shallots
  • 2 or 3 medium-large shallots, sliced thin and separated
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 tsp. house seasoning blend, or salt and pepper
  • 3 T. water
Steam green beans to desired tenderness, pour in 8x8 square glass baking dish. Simmer chopped mushrooms in the milk or coconut milk with salt, pepper, thyme, and sage until mushrooms are well done. While mushrooms are simmering, prepare crispy shallots by tossing thinly sliced and separated shallots in seasoned flour. I use a tupperware with a lid to shake them. I used Old Bay to season mine, but any seasoning blend or simple salt and pepper will do. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Once the shallots are well coated in the dry flour, sprinkle in the  water to make a batter, toss again and let sit while your oil heats. In a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat some oil and test a piece of shallot in the oil to see if it's hot enough. fry up the shallots leaving enough room in between that they don't become one whole fritter! It took me 4 or 5 batches in my small skillet. Turn them over once in the middle of the fry so both sides cook evenly. Remove to a paper towel or newsprint covered rack while you finish the soup. In a larger skillet or pot, create a roux with the butter or butter substitute and enough flour that you have a peanut-butter consistency roux. Stir with a spatula to keep it all moving, once it is a light tan color, slowly add in the simmered mushroom and milk or coconut milk mixture, stirring vigorously to smooth. Add extra milk to reach an easily pourable cream soup consistency. Pour the soup evenly over the green beans in the pan and top with fried shallots. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot, preferably bubbly. Let cool for just a few minutes before serving!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We had this with a whole chicken in the crock pot. It was a tasty combo! I can't wait to dig into the leftovers for lunch this week sometime. I'm excited to get into some other traditionally processed recipes and bring them back to real food roots! If you have a dish you love that's usually heavy in the processed foods and you'd like to see my take on it, drop me a line!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

God I hope they get it...

Ok, so it's a cheesy reference. Musicals run through my head 23 hours of the day. :) This is not a recommendation, but it is a share! There's a new company launching this month, and I'm really excited about what their goal is. They aim to be a buying club, much like Sam's or Costco, but for natural and organic foods. They will be a delivery service and intend to source produce local to your region. This is good for people like me, who would like good deals, but this is fantastic for people who live in organic food "deserts" where there are little or no options for buying these types of products. They are currently offering free memberships (usually $25 a year for the lowest tier of membership). I got one, and thought I might share the opportunity with you. They have a non-GMO promise, which I love, and their prices that they have up right now are very good. I've spoken with their customer service department on several occasions and I can tell you that they are really attentive and personable when dealing with customer relations, so I hope that translates well when they start real orders. I thought long and hard about whether to share or not, because I didn't want to recommend something I hadn't tried out yet, but I figured that by the time I had tried it, the memberships would all be paid only, so I'm just putting this out there for you to consider! I'll definitely update you on their performance once I've started ordering, but if you'd like to check them out before then and take advantage owaf the free memberships, you can visit them by clicking on the banner here. (You may have to watch *or leave running while you do something important...* a video about founding partner membership, or investing in their company before the free membership option will pop up, FYI!)

**EDIT: I forgot to mention that they have an exciting shopping option where you can sort products according to dietary needs, for example, you can see all their dairy-free options with one click. Same with gluten, etc. How exciting is that!?!**

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sausage and Cabbage remixed!

When I was a kid my mom would make sausage and cabbage in a steamer with some lemon pepper and smoked sausage, it was so tasty, so simple, and a taste that makes me think of fall. A comfort food for me, almost. I made the original a few weeks ago, but this week at the market I was inspired to do a different twist on the dish, by the star of my tweaked version:  Applegate Organic Chicken Apple Sausage

The meal is chicken apple sausage with carrot quinoa on a bed of wilted cabbage with chunky apple ginger sauce. I served some steamed cauliflower on the side. It turned out very tasty! I'll detail the meal here, if you try it, please share your feedback! This meal contains dairy in that I used butter, to make it dairy free, use a dairy free margarine or coconut oil in it's place. If you want to use a meat substitute to make it a vegetarian meal, I think that would be tasty too.

Apple Sausage with Chunky Applesauce, Quinoa, and Cabbage

  • 1 C. Quinoa (rinse well in cold water in a sieve or cheesecloth)
  • 1 Medium carrot, finely grated
  • 1 T. Butter (or oil of your choice)
After you've rinsed your quinoa (rinsing helps eliminate that bitter taste it can take and brings out it's richer flavor), add it to a generous 2 cups of water and a dash of salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and simmer until the water is gone. Add the butter and grated carrot once the quinoa has had plenty of time to rest and absorb the water. As you fluff with a fork, integrate the carrot and butter. Cover and let rest while you work on the apples and sausage.

  • 1 package organic Applegate Chicken and Apple Sausage
  • 4 small apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (you can use sweeter apples or tart apples, but be sure they're fresh and firm to hold up to the heat and still have texture)
  • 2 T. butter (or oil of your choice)
  • 1/4 C. un-filtered 100% apple juice (or another liquid, just don't use sweetened, filtered juice! It'll turn out far too sweet or caramelize too soon)
  • 1 T. grated ginger
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 salt
  • a bit of fresh ground black pepper
In a large skillet with a lid, melt your butter or oil over medium-high head and add the cubed apple pieces. toss to coat evenly and brown a bit on each side. Add sausage, cover, and lower heat to medium. Turn sausage every minute or so, once the sausage is browning visibly on all sides, add the juice and spices, stir to coat the apples and sausage evenly with the spices. Return to simmer the fluid out, covered, while you get the cabbage ready. When the liquid is gone, turn the heat off and let rest.

  • small head of cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced. ( I used purple for the color and flavor, but you could do any cabbage)
  • 1 T. butter or oil
  • 1/3 cup liquid, broth or water
  • pinch of salt and pepper
Melt the butter into a large skillet or wok with a lid. Toss cabbage in hot butter, add liquid and put the lid on to steam and wilt. When the cabbage is finished, plate in this order: bed of cabbage, top with a scoop of quinoa, sausage either in links or cut to diagonal medallions, and finish with the chunky applesauce. You could have fun with the sides and beverage choices. I'd love an oktoberfest beer or a hard cider, I'm thinking next time I cook this some warm homemade sourdough might compliment it. :) I hope you enjoy our new twist on cabbage and sausage!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

ABX and BF - Day 30!

We did it! Completely done! Yesterday afternoon, I got to nurse without thinking of when we couldn't nurse again. All night we slept with no screaming, no sippies of water. It was glorious! I haven't had any symptoms in a little over 3 weeks. I'll have a blood test in 30 more days to make sure there isn't any sign of an active Lyme infection. I appreciate all the support during our crazy month. It wasn't easy, and it never got easier, but it was manageable, one day at a time, we managed. Today has been a marathon nursing day, I had somewhat anticipated that. We'll see if he slows down a bit in the coming weeks. I'm incredibly happy to have stuck to my plan. I can't imagine having lost my breastfeeding relationship over this. I was so scared when I was faced with this decision, and I don't regret the choice I made, on the contrary, I feel relieved that I chose what I did. I'm happy that we can continue to nurse until DB feels like it is time to stop. I hope that by sharing my story, perhaps another family facing the scary medical advice to "just wean" will look at their other options. There are always options.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ABX and BF - Day 15

Halfway through! If you haven't been following, you can catch up to speed on our Lyme, Doxy, and Breastfeeding story HERE: Acute Lyme, Treatment, and Breastfeeding  and HERE: ABX and BF Day 1 .

So things are going somewhat better now. DB managed to get a horrible cold this week, which added some complications to the mix A) sick babies really benefit from being able to nurse often, like more often than usual, which was already often, so the "no nursing" windows were very hard, and B) the nursing windows were hard because his nose was so stuffy he couldn't really get a good suction/compression cycle going. A sip or two, then snot, choke, cry, nose wipe, flail about, get latched again, repeat. A couple nights he couldn't really sleep because of congestion, but those nights excluded, sleep has gotten much better than the first couple nights of our new schedule. We've been skipping him going into his little side bed and he's just been in our bed from the beginning, it helps him sleep through that first waking, or just fidgeting a little, snuggling up differently, and falling asleep without crying to nurse, or even rooting, really. Now he tends to wake at 6 AM to nurse and fall back asleep again until he wakes up, usually with The Hero.

   Daytime went OK, the teething DB's been doing was the only real problem there, he's just super fussy. The cold plus teething made for sad and clingy baby. Lots of snuggles, plenty of naps, and we're making it just fine. It's been good for us to both learn soothing methods other than nursing, but I really can't wait for the next 15 days to pass and be able to nurse any old time I please! I've taken to pumping when I remember, in the middle of the non-nursing window, and dumping it out, because it isn't safe to drink, but the emptying of the breasts will help me keep my supply up. We can do this, we're over the hill!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food Standards - All in your perception

  Ok, so when I started this blog, I didn't really intend for it to focus so much on breastfeeding, and I certainly didn't intend to get political, (and promise to try and avoid it, still) but this blog IS about parenting, and raising a family, and there's something both food (yes, grown up food!) and politics related to talk about here, so this post is born.

  Part of what the breastfeeding community, activists, supporters and families alike, are seeking, is the "re-normalizaion" of breastfeeding. Part of that is to stop this whole talk of "breast is best", putting the boobies on a pedestal, like a high and lofty goal. Breast is normal. Normal. The boob juice is nature's intended food for babies. Breastfeeding doesn't give a higher IQ, or help to avoid health problems, or help stave off food allergies later in life. Yes, folks, it's true. Breastmilk does not contain magic. The key here is changing public perception. Formula is sub-par, it has been linked to health problems. These are the facts. Now I fully believe there are instances were formula is a good thing, and I won't get into my personal feelings on how formula needs should be handled here, but let me say I am not attacking formula! It has valid uses. I am, personally, attacking the unethical companies behind formula, but not in this post. This post has a different purpose. So to sum up this paragraph, Let's stop thinking "Breast is best, but formula is widely used and OK too..." and start thinking "Breast is normal, and formula is sub-par and risky..." Same thoughts, different perspectives.

   Now, I promised to chat about grown up food, so here's where I tie this whole thing together. Let's just mad-lib that statement up a bit. At tonight's performance, the role of breastmilk will be played by organic, local, natural food, and the role of formula will be played by standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food. Ready? Ok. Let's stop thinking "organic, local, natural food is best, but standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food is widely used and OK too..." and start thinking "organic, local, natural food is normal, and standard, hormone and chemical laden processed and fresh food is sub-par and risky..." Same thoughts, different perspectives.

Whoa! Mind = blown. This is exactly the thought I had while in the shower, shampooing my hair last week. I've been debating even sharing this thought, it's risky, tying the two things together like this, but in reality, they're the same thing: food companies, twisting around consumer perceptions through very careful, possibly probably unethical marketing. This week a few things happened that made me decide to share these thoughts and what this family is doing about it. One: I drastically changed my shopping method. Two: I woke up and seriously questioned government regulation of food safety.

Ok, let's tackle the first one. For a while now, I've divided up my gweekly grocery budget between two stores, a local organic market, and my neighborhood supermarket. I'd usually buy organic foods first, and commercially standard fare second. This week was the first of many many to come, where I spent my whole budget at the organic market and not at the supermarket. It was super scary, for me and my wallet (especially my mental wallet), but I survived! And my meals this week have tasted so good! I don't have all the kinks worked out yet, but I'll share the journey with you!

Ok, once I realized that I needed to treat the food for The Hero and I the same as I treat food for DB, I knew I had to make this change. As the main shopper and cook in the family, I was the one who had to make the plunge. I explained my thoughts to The Hero, who completely agreed with me (yay!), and we made a plan. I set out in all my hippie-dippy glory the next day, to buy our week's supplies at the organic market, with the goal to buy local when possible. Let me add here that the market I use is NOT Whole Foods. While just walking into that pretty store is like food porn, I'm not totally sold on some of their decisions on a moral level, and they charge insane prices. Ok, enough digression. Back to the plan.

  So I figured step one would just be to head to the market and buy what I needed. Usually, I'd check the supermarket circular and make my choices for the week based around sales, building a menu and a list from there. Not having that this week, I just built a rough menu in my head, planning to get inspiration from the ingredients I found and editing as I went. I had to buy some things that are a bit expensive (Cardamom, bulk oil) that would have driven up my typical bill a bit, and some things I'd never purchased before (baby food items), that were a new expense. I'm guessing at the super market I would have spent about $20 more than usual to get these things. Once I left the market with my week's supply of groceries, I had spent about 18% more than my "typical" bill. This included some really awesome stuff, fair trade plantains, heirloom eggplant, organic grape jam, a dozen local free-range eggs, grass-fed sour cream, organic strawberries and blueberries (The Hero eats some every morning), and much more. What this did not include, the fly in the ointment, per say, is meat.

  Not that the market doesn't carry meat, it does. It has a small meat department with bison, beef, chicken, all  local, natural, and somewhat expensive. Rightfully so, it costs to raise natural meat (chicken breasts at their natural size, which you may not even be familiar with anymore!), so it costs to buy it. My choice this week was to forgo buying meat, and go off of our frozen stash. (I won't be wasting the old food we have, I just won't be re-stocking!) In the future, I'm thinking of having a separate meat budget and buying meats once a month, portioning it out to three or four omnivorous meals a week, three or four vegetarian meals a week.

How to make this work without breaking the bank: the Pyre family will be adjusting portion sizes to the recommended sizes of meat in proportion to veg, fruit, and starch/grain. Perhaps this method will allow us to have responsibly raised meat in our diet still, while being kind to our budget, not to mention, super kind to our health!We will make small sacrifices to come up with that extra 18%, I'd rather have the healthy foods than new shoes. (There, honey, see? It's in writing! There are witnesses!) We're still a single income family, with one of us returning to school this semester, and in need of a few things around the house. We'll just have to see if it works.

It's good that the paragraph about my money ties into the post about big money. So why aren't we all eating the healthy stuff? What about all those tests and rules that are supposed to keep us safe when we're eating? Yeah, well, those rules are made by the people who own the companies. You know, since they don't really know you, they make the rules to protect their money, not you. And it's only getting worse. Wouldn't you like to know if one of the top guns at one of the most corrupt agricultural biotechnology firms, a man who previously tried to keep milk from being labeled with or without rBGH, was appointed to the position of "Food Safety Czar"? Well, this happened! Two. Years. Ago. I found out about it today. And I do far more research into food safety than the average American. Food that's supposed to be safe isn't safe, and it takes an impossible amount of diligence on the part of the consumer to sort out what is and isn't.

  We've been working our way off of the worse foods for a while, the fast food circuit, the over-processed foods. This is pretty much like when I quit smoking. I quit one cigarette at a time, until I was smoking just a couple each week. Those were the very very hardest to get rid of. I'm not really surprised at the "withdrawal" type feelings coming from each of our healthier steps. If the food is laden with chemicals, of course we're going to miss and crave like crazy each time we get rid of something, but, just like the cigarettes, over time, I won't miss them. Over time, they may even start to disgust me (the cigarettes certainly do). Ditching the supermarket is me quitting my last cigarettes. It was the hardest step. This should get easier over time, and I'll make it work. I'm excited! I feel a little scared, but liberated. This certainly isn't over. If too many people do what we're doing, someone's going to loose all their money, and they won't go down without a fight.

I know not everyone has the right opportunities to do this exact thing. This is what will work for our family. There are alternatives! If all you do is start reading labels and choosing hormone free, or buying some produce at a farm stand or farmers' market, or planting a single tomato plant in a pot on your porch, there are small steps you can take. You can eat like your body was made to. It's not easy, but one step at a time, it gets easier.




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ABX and BF - Day 1

Well, we got off to a rockier start than anticipated, but it all worked out on the first dose. I had planned on taking the pill at DB's bedtime, and his goodnight nursing would mark the last for the 6 hour window. I then learned that I had to wait a couple hours after a meal to take the meds and we had just eaten a late dinner right before DB went to sleep. I shifted the plan to taking the pill at my bedtime, around midnight. So at midnight, I popped the pill, and managed a decent dream nursing out of my sweet boy. He decided he was done in about 10 minutes, and we all went upstairs to tumble into bed. We slept comfortably until his first (and only) waking in the night, at 3:15 AM. He was rather confused and put out that A. his boobs weren't accessible (I put on a complicated bra and tight tee shirt to prevent sleep nursings, which both of us are accustomed to and I didn't want to accidentally nurse him in the "bad" window") and B. Mommy wasn't doing anything to make them more accessible. We cuddled, but that wasn't cutting it, we rocked and bounced. He stopped crying, he stopped whimpering, but he was clearly waiting for the part of the show where the boobies would appear and we would all get back to sleep. Through my whole song and rocking number he would stare at me with wide eyes, root for a second, and then stare again, interspersed with threats of tears, where I'd just try to calm him vocally and change his position. Eventually, around 4 AM he fell asleep for good, and even rewarded me for my early-morning mommy strength with a sleep smile and giggle. Yay! I needed it, because it was very hard to withhold his nursing from him.

Back to bed we all go, and he snuggles up next to me just fine, though he's a little restless once we lay down, he eventually quiets and we return to dream land. He woke again around 7 to enjoy his first nursing since bedtime and enjoy he did. When he sat up and started playing with my nose, I asked him "do you want leles?" and signed "milk" to him, the excitement was unmistakable and he got right down to business with some hard kicks to my hip bone and some rather adorable little piggy "yummy" sounds. As I type right now, we have an hour and a half left to nurse before dose 2, and we're taking advantage of it. I feel like daytime will be easier, I can distract and entertain him, as well as offer snacks and drinks that I couldn't in the night. We'll see!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  Dose two: took it at 11:30 AM, trying to move the time up to make up for our late start last night. DB was in the middle of a long nap when that time rolled around, so the last time he nursed was around 10:45 AM. When he woke up, he climbed up into my lap and laid his head on my chest, but didn't ask and I didn't offer, as I usually would. We hung out around the house until my fussy could take no more of this new and different leles free world he woke up to. We went out and ran errands, got our geocache for the day, dropped off dry cleaning, went shopping for some summer-weight long sleeve shirts since I'm about to be more sensitive to sun exposure. The errand running (and baby wearing, the two are always hand in hand...) certainly helped to distract the little guy, and some diluted juice to keep the thirsties at bay while keeping some calcium going in. We got home around 4:30 and I offered a snack of steamed sweet potatoes. While it was entertaining, not much got down. Some snuggles, more juice, and playtime were enough to hold him off to his 5:30 milk break! Another happy baby smile! I love it. I also love the much more comfortable feeling I've got going on. He chowed down and was "all done" but I'm thinking he'll be a frequent at Mom's Breastaurant until bedtime. All in all, the first two doses weren't too bad. 1 day down, 29 to go!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Acute Lyme, Treatment, and Breastfeeding - The Beginning

(Nothing in this post is intended as medical advise. If you have or think you may have Lyme Disease, you should seek professional medical help)

  I started getting sick about a month ago. It started with that feeling, the one I can really only describe as the "I'm probably going to be sick tomorrow" feeling. I felt just not quite right, a little achy, a little fevered. I woke up fine, but felt the same way in the evening. Three days of that, then the headache. It wouldn't go away, no matter what! I took Tylenol, it dulled the ache, but couldn't take it away. The headache started to feel like it was running down my neck and in between my shoulder blades. My fever went up a bit, it would run between 100 and 101.5. With Tylenol, it would break, but as soon as that dose wore off, it would spike again. The first headache lasted 8 days. Muscle and joint pain accompanied, with severe fatigue and that flu-ish achey skin feeling. In the middle of this, I had finally seen a Dr. and gone to GigantorLabs for a blood draw. I expressed a concern for Lyme disease (thanks to my medical degree from Google University and the fact that I've had maybe 20 tick bites this summer. We are outdoors often and while we take precautions and remove ticks quickly and safely, the smallest ticks are often the carriers, and believe me when I say, they are very very small.We live in an area with a high rate of Lyme contraction, so it'd been on my mind. )

   I waited 5 days for results, and the tests all came up negative. I had a vitamin D deficiency and that's about it. I was feeling better at my results appointment, so my GP told me to get some vitamin D, rest up, and call if symptoms returned. 4 days later, they did. The headache came first, and within 24 hours, all the rest followed suit. I got back to the Dr. as soon as possible and paid a bit extra to have them draw blood right there in the office that day. The Dr. recommended checking liver, kidney, and a couple other things, as well as the Lyme test again. Another week of waiting, and being sick. I finally got a call that the results were back and at the result consultation my Dr. wasted no time in telling me we finally had an answer and it was Acute Lyme Disease (Acute is the opposite of Chronic, it just means that I contracted the disease fairly recently). Then the Dr. told me "Good news is, it's very treatable with a strong round of Doxycycline. Bad news is, with this medicine, you'll have to wean."

   I felt like someone had punched me in the gut! Dragon Baby is only 8 months old. I am nowhere near ready to wean. Nursing is a very important part of our day, and night, and everywhere in between. I usually just mumble things at doctors I don't agree with, so I shocked myself when I said, quite calmly "That's not an option. What are our alternatives?" I asked about other medicines, there's one, less effective antibiotic, but I'm allergic to it. I really must get better, and so I need the best medicine I can get. The Dr. is telling me that if I'm going to continue nursing while taking the medicine, it's going to be a very careful balance of a schedule, watching out not to nurse during the peak of medicine after the dose, then "pump and dump" (a big myth, but I'll cover that in a different post), then nurse before the next dose. I tried to clear my head enough to discuss what I knew about NOT needing to pump and dump, but the Dr. wasn't hearing it. I left the Dr.'s office with my head spinning.

  I was determined to make the schedule work. The Dr. told me the peak of this medicine would occur between 2 and 4 hours after the dose, so at 4 hours "pump and dump", then nurse until the next dose. I wanted to get in touch with an IBCLC to see what Dr. Hale (the leading MD in the world of lactation and pharmacology) had to say about Doxycycline, and to see if I was correct in thinking that pumping and dumping was the old way of thinking about undesirable things in your milk, and that, unless I was concerned about my supply diminishing, there was no reason to pump and dump. The medicine, just like alcohol, would disperse in my milk the same rate as my blood. Breasts are not containers, they are glands, and milk doesn't just sit there waiting to be drunk, it is constantly changing. The IBCLC provided Dr. Hale's information about Doxy and confirmed my thoughts about pump and dump.

    Dr. Hale doesn't recommend long-term nursing with Doxy, long-term being 60-90 day treatments like the ones needed for treatment of Anthrax, but for my 30 day cycle, our schedule of careful nursing around the peaks of medication should work, with minimal risk.

Our plan is this: Mompyre takes probiotics every day to hopefully ward off thrush, that's not something we want to do again. Dragon Baby takes in high-calcium foods in his solid food diet, as calcium will help to protect from the trace antibiotics he will get. Our day will be divided in to quarters of 6 hours each.
  • First Dose: Bedtime
    • Nurse at the same time I take the pill, as it won't enter the bloodstream right away.
    • Absolutely no nursing for 4 hours, to avoid the peak of the medicine
    • Try very hard to not nurse the next 2 hours, to provide a bit of "cushion" time.
  • Free Nursing time!
    • Nurse and pump as much as I care to in this 6 hour window, anything pumped can be offered in the next 6 hours while we can't nurse. 
Then, repeat! and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

I'm a little concerned about how it's going to go, for us, emotionally, etc. DB nurses quite frequently throughout the day and night, for thirst, hunger, and comfort. I'm going to try to meet his needs in other ways, but it will be a big learning curve for us. I'm going to try and post some of our experiences, simply because in all my research online, I haven't read of anyone doing what I'm doing. I have read of lots of people weaning.

I do welcome questions and comments, though I thought of disabling them for this series of posts. I have run into some really abrasive posters out there in the dark corners of the interwebs on the subject of Lyme and weaning, Lyme and breastfeeding, etc. But I think it is more important to make myself available to others who might need help than to protect myself from the possibility of hurtful words. I'm not here to advise others on what to do, just to share my story. We are confident, as a family, in the choice we've made, and I did not take it lightly. I hope hearing my story helps someone out there. I know it will help me to share it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

If I only had the time, energy, and resources...

I'd create a website where you could shop for a pediatrician like you do a pizza. Click whatever you want: pepperoni, breastfeeding knowledgeable, black olives, current and accurate weight charts, mushrooms, AP, preferred sleep training method, extra cheese, etc. etc. Click order, and get the address, phone number, and an appointment stat. (Maybe even for free if it takes longer than 20 minutes in the waiting room???) I am so tired of looking and looking and posting on every forum trying to find a pediatrician that will see mostly eye to eye with me and has current knowledge on AAP guidelines for things important to us.

Our pediatrician since birth is really a wonderful Dr., he's friendly, he's open to many different parenting choices, he doesn't put a lot of stock in weight/height charts, and his nurses are really fantastic. There are just a few problems I've had with his practice, and I've made myself a promise that when it comes to medical care, I'm going to be more proactive in getting the kind of care and information I want. They're medical professionals, not authority figures, and since this country insists on a capitalist medical care model, (ok, honey, I promise not to start that conversation...) as long as they're competing for my business and offering a service, I will pick and choose as the consumer I am, so once again, I'm shopping. Only thing different is this time, I have a real, sticky, babbling, curious baby and some experience with what well-baby visits are like and what hot button topics apply to our child's healthcare. (In other news, I think it's sheer insanity that pregnant couples are just supposed to go pick a pediatrician, but that's a different post...)

So this time I found what I hope will be the pizzatrician I want. Online appointments and communication, several doctors in the practice, on-staff IBCLC's, and with the modern amenities they offer, I can only hope they are up to date on modern recommendations for nutrition, sleep habits, and care. These are the main things our previous pediatrician was lacking, for me. I add the "for me" because that's exactly what it is! He's a fantastic Dr. for lots of families, I'm seeking something different. Also, I've just always had a bit of uneasiness around him, and hey, I've also promised myself to trust my gut instincts more often. Trust and communication is important in any relationship, including health care providers.

I really do wish someone would put together a database of pediatricians and we could select them by the attributes important to us, but until then, I guess it's just a series of frustrating trial and error! And if you start up the website, hey, cut me in, will ya?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feed me, Seymour! (sacrifices pt. 1)

 This is part one of a mini-series on how we save money by making small sacrifices and smart choices while still enjoying our comfy lifestyle. Read the intro post HERE!

PART 1. That food thing.
       The champagne taste we covered in the intro to this mini-series on how we save money is most apparent in my food choices.

This is a good example of what I want to cook and eat:


This is a good example of what I can afford:

Here's what I do instead.

  • Educate thyself. Learn all you can about whole food. Where it comes from, right down to what part of the animal, if you're a sharptooth, and where it is grown/raised. Learn which veggies are genetically altered, why, and if they're worth the sticker price. Figure out what the "next best" thing is to what you wanted. Local foods, especially produce can be found at a discount and usually with much better flavor, at farmers' markets. Knowlege is power. Profits are easily made off of consumers who don't have the time or care to figure out what they're actually paying for. Learn to read labels. That salad dressing that is $1.50 more because it's "now made with olive oil?" You'd think that means that ALL the oil in that dressing is healthier Olive, but in 99% of dressings claiming this, the main oil is still veggie or soybean, and they add a drop or two of olive just to stick that on the label. Always read the back, ignore the front. Learn to decipher ingredient listings to pick out fillers and other weird things you're actually going to be paying extra for. But why are you buying salad dressing anyway??? You should be...

  • Cooking! Break out those cookbooks and get your domestic god or godess on. I know making things from scratch can be a pain, but if you do it often enough, it becomes second nature, and you can save a bundle while making things that are healthier in the long run. Two things I make often are bread and salad dressing. Things that are also rumored to be made at home for pennies on the dollar include bagels, yogurt (true story.), jam, and others. Just remember to take into account how much time it will take and how worth it the monetary savings are. Yes, you'll still be paying for it some way, but I really like making just two sandwich buns and a loaf instead of throwing 6 perfectly good hamburger buns to the birds when they go stale. Cook with intention to store. The Hero has his own special collection of Pyrex dishes with snap-on lids that hold a lunch-sized portion of whatever we have had for dinner. This way we don't purchase "to go" style foods, at fast food restaurants or in the frozen and prepared food sections. They always cost a ton and are less than healthy. He prefers glass for food storage, and these are incredibly easy to fill with a lunch, stack in the fridge, and he can just grab and go. We also cook up REALLY big batches of things like chili, bolognese, chicken soup base (cook up the noodles per serving), etc. and freeze in large ziplocks. Then be sure to keep an inventory of what's in your freezer! Mine's in dry erase on the door of the freezer.

  • Consider buying in bulk. This requires knowlege of what's better to buy bulk and what's not, and also how much storage space you have available. Buying bulk and then letting it go to waste is just as bad as not pricing it at all. My dry pantry space is about 3 feet by 1.5 feet by 2 feet. Not much. I keep my dry staples, corn meal, rice, flour, sugar, balsamic, honey, peanut butter, etc. in there, with some cans of veggies I can't find fresh easily (read: green chile), and some cream of fillintheblank soup. I know that buying staples in bulk won't work for me, I have nowhere to put them, but it does work for some. Our typical grocery trip includes less than 5 "center aisle" items anyway, so I'll cover that later. I do buy bulk meat often, and freeze it. My mom taught me an easy tool for supermarkets a long time ago, and I use it every week, especially for bulk purchases. Know your price per oz./ct. Check what the product costs at a base comparison. You can find this info on the shelf price tag.

  •  Know how to work your grocery shopping. Plan, plan, and then plan again. I shop weekly, on Monday. I plan seven full meals, plus our favorite snacks and breakfast items. Then I go online and look at the circular ad for our main grocer, and make changes to the menu accordingly. I pay special mind to what meats on on sale. About 1/3 of our food budget weekly is spent in the meat department, and I want the most bang for my buck. I know that every 3-5 weeks chicken breasts go from $4.29 per lb. to $1.99 per lb, and sometimes the meat department can't sell the large cuts of pork tenderloin, so they mark them down from $50 to $30. I buy these big packages and then cut them into smaller portions and freeze them, rotating each week to whatever meat is on sale then, and using the frozen portions until another sale. :) Checking the circular is key. My main grocer posts theirs online, or you can pick them up in store. If you use the circular and any "member" deals, you can save about $30 easily without clipping a single coupon. And my store has an added bonus of a "ring yourself up as you go" gun system, so I'm ringing and bagging groceries as I shop. This way I can see what I'm spending as I spend it, so I never get an unpleasant surprise at the end. And don't forget your re-usable bags, most stores offer a small rebate for each one. My usual grocer refunds 5 cents each, but my organic grocer refunds 20 cents each, and their organics are usually CHEAPER than the big chain store for the same products, so I visit them bi-weekly for my organic and allergen-free must-haves.
What are your grocery shopping tips? How do you balance your time, budget, and wants?

Sacrifices (burnt or otherwise)

    Growing up in a religious family, the word "sacrifice" was a familiar part of my vocabulary, both in the old testament sense and a more modern notion. The Gramps, my father, has an awesome job that makes him feel happy and fulfilled by doing what he loves, but it doesn't pull in lots of money. He is self-employed and we've always worked together as a family to support the business. Combine that with The Gigi, my mother, staying home to care for us, home school, and help with The Gramps' business, money was tight! Start with that and then account for my "champagne taste on a beer budget", (if you use southern colloquialisms the rate my family does!) and you have a good idea of how I grew to be the "fancy saver" I am today.  If you show me 5 items and ask me which one I like best, it's a good bet I'll pick the most expensive one 90% of the time. Awesome skill for competing on The Price is Right, maybe. Not so awesome when you have to "make sacrifices" to make things work. As a kid I spent a lot of time dwelling on what I didn't have versus what I did. Now I see things slightly differently.

   A conversation came up in a motherhood support forum I frequent (but for some reason, cannot log into recently, so forgive the paraphrasing from memory instead of direct quotes), and the topic was being a stay at home mom. On this forum, as in reality, there are moms of every shape, orientation, race, occupation, and otherwise. This thread was focusing on some misguided comments some SAHM's have recieved regarding staying home. Most of them seem to orbit the big F word. Yep, Finances. Lots of moms commenting on the thread had heard things like "I wish we had enough money so I could stay home", "Oh, how nice your husband lets you stay home!", " We just don't make enough money for me to stay home, it must be nice to have that much income!". Most of the SAHMs bristled a little at the implication that they must be rolling in the dough to be able to stay home with their kids (not to mention that they'd need their husband to "let" them...but that's another story). A word that came up in most of their responses to the misguided commenters was sacrifices.


To help squash any misunderstandings right away, let me clarify. Not all parents want to/need to/can stay home, and all parents, regardless of career choices, make sacrifices, both knowingly and unknowingly. It's not just the SAHP set, but since that's the one I have experience with, that's the one I'll be covering. I really dislike when people who have absolutely NO experience with something try to tell you all about it. Thanks, Mrs. Igoogledthis. I'll just go with the person who knows what they're talking about. And yes, now that you mention it, my baby's feet DO look cold. I'll get right on that. I'm going to avoid being that person.

There are many different types of sacrifices one makes in the parenting journey, but to maintain a cohesive post, we'll just cover financial ones today. The Hero and I have a saying we use when we're a little too concerned about MONEY. We say "You're always paying for something, just not always in money." What that means to us is, if you're out making money, you're paying for it in another way. It's a reminder to work to live, instead of live to work. But as fabulously bohemian as that sounds, we're not ready to move to a commune in the woods, and we still need some money to make our lifestyle work. The key is to create a balance between our financial resources, our needs, and our wants. The way it works for our family is The Hero has a job in an office building, and Mompyre has a job in a house/car/grocery store/park/chaos. The Hero's job brings in money, and part of the Mompyre's job is to find ways to get the things we want and need for as little money as possible. I've been thinking recently that I'd write a post to share some of the ways I accomplish this, but I'm a rather verbose individual, so to avoid a mega-post, to simplify, organize, and gain clarity, not to mention maximize my writing time allowances, I'm going to do a mini-series on different EASY ways we've cut back on money while still maximizing our health, taste, and fun. After all, we're making *small* sacrifices, not punishing ourselves. I'm only an expert in our family, not yours, so the tips I share work for us, adapt them to work for you if you like!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Behold, My Lasagna!

The Holy Grail of the dairy and soy free diet: Lasagna. It is for me,anyway. I have had this little craving for weeks now and every time I thought "there's no way I'll be able to duplicate a decent Lasagna without real dairy"  not to mention almost all cheese substitutes have either casein (milk protein) or soy in them. The challenge here was to find a combo of something that would take the place of the ricotta/parmesan combo that makes lasagna what it is. I thought about it for around a week, and then I just jumped in. I was pleased with the flavor and texture before it went in the oven, but sometimes you need an outside opinion. I made The Hero taste and critique the lasagna before I told him what was masquerading as "cheese". He was nervous, but he plays along well, and was impressed with the substitution. We both agreed that it wasn't quite like our traditional recipe and we missed the stretchy and chewy texture brought by real mozzarella, but that if we were served this at someone else's home we wouldn't think it was a dairy-free recipe. So here's what I dreamed up:

Liar Liar Lasagna
(get it? because there's no cheese!)

This recipe makes a 9 x 13 Lasagna with three layers of noodles. You can easily change the recipe to suit your needs!

Tomato Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb. ground turkey, beef, or sausage, whichever you prefer
  • aprox. 1 T. minced Garlic, either fresh or from a jar
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can tomato chunks, do not drain
  • 28 oz. can tomato puree or sauce
  • Fresh Herbs! Several sprigs each of:: Parsley, Oregano, Basil
  • 2-3 cups Chicken broth or stock, or water in a pinch.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional veggies: Onions, olives, mushrooms, grated carrots, spinach, bell peppers, etc.
    In a large sauce pot brown up your ground meat, If your meat is lean, add the garlic. If you need to drain the meat, drain and then add the garlic. If you're incorporating any of the optional veggies, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the veggies now. Get the veggies softened up a little, lower the heat to medium and then stir in the tomato paste until it is well incorporated, you want to do the paste first, it spreads through the sauce easier that way. Then add the tomato pieces and puree, chop up the herbs and stir in. Add the broth now, bring the sauce to bubbling, cover and reduce heat to low.

   Simmer for an hour or two. While your sauce is simmering you can prep the rest of your lasagna. The longer you can simmer, the more the flavors will blend. Stir it occasionally. Once you're happy with the flavors, you can uncover the sauce and let it reduce until it is the thickness you prefer. You won't need ALL the sauce you made from this recipe, so once the lasagna is assembled, put the rest of the sauce in a ziplock bag and freeze. Thaw and serve over penne or spaghetti for a fast dinner.

Faux Ricotta Filling
   Break down the cauliflower and steam it well, more than you would to serve as a side, it will need to mash down fairly small, I left it boiling for about 10 minutes and then turned the flame off and left the lid on while I worked on all the other ingredients. In a medium-large microwave safe bowl, mix the water and grits so there are no lumps and cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, until they're ready. Add the Daiya shreds, stir them in well, and then incorporate the MimicCreme. Chop up the parsley fine, and be generous with it. I used about a 1/4 cup, since it's fresh. Add parsley and garlic. Make sure your cauliflower has no extra water on it, pour it in with the rest and use a potato masher to break it down and blend it well with the other ingredients. The heat off the cauliflower will help melt down the daiya shreds and make the mixture start to become one texture. Once the cauliflower is well incorporated, add one egg and salt and pepper to finish up the filling. Leave it to sit in the refrigerator until you're assembling the lasagna.

Boil the lasagna noodles in salted water with a splash of olive oil, cook them until they are very al dente, they will cook more in the oven. Use a 9 x 13 pan, I like a glass pyrex dish for lasagna. Pour just a bit of olive oil in the pan and spread it around to help with easier clean-up. Layer the dish like this:
  1. Olive oil
  2. Tomato and meat sauce
  3. Noodles (4 longways, one trimmed to fit the gap)
  4. Faux ricotta filling
  5. Tomato and meat sauce
  6. Noodles (this time, make the short noodle at the opposite end)
  7. Faux ricotta filling
  8. Tomato and meat sauce
  9. Noodles (use the two trimmed ends instead of a short noodle)
  10. Sauce (need to cover all the noodles so they don't dry in the oven)
  11. Optional: sprinkle extra Daiya shreds on top, but don't overdo it!
Bake uncovered in the oven at 350° F for 45 minutes or until bubbly all over. Let it set for about 15 minutes before cutting into it for serving, it will allow the lasagna to set up. Enjoy with a salad! (and a good wine, especially if anyone in your family may or may not be teething)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rockabye-n-Roll

The Hero and I are both big music fans. Some of our musical tastes are the same, some are different, but no getting around it, music is a big part of our lives! When we found out we were expecting DB we started looking into all kinds of baby products, and music was one of them! We were hoping to find something that was simple, repetitive, and engaging enough to keep DB entertained and stimulated, but not so repetitive and simple that The Hero and I wanted to stab our ears with sharp objects when those songs are repeated over and over. We were thrilled to find out about Rockabye Baby! music, it was the perfect solution.

They do lullaby covers of popular songs from artists spanning from Kanye West to Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC to Weezer. The songs really do grab DB's attention and keep him entertained, so much so that turning a song on will snap him out of a fussing fit and the minute the song ends he cries until the next one starts. They've been a lifesaver in the car, when DB is crying in the back seat and instead of craning my arm backwards to try and soothe him, I can just flip to one of the albums we have for him and he's soothed while I can keep both hands safely in the front of the vehicle!

Now this isn't the only music DB likes, he's a bit of a Bob Marley fan, and he likes a little Plain White Tee's, Jack Johnson, The Beatles, IZ, and of course, The Hero's guitar playing, but I can now also say that he loves Tool, NIN, Nirvana, and Radiohead, broken down into simpler melodies and missing all those fantastic lyrics. This helps me insure DB will get his musical tastes off on the right foot, makes the music enjoyable and appropriate for him and it stays interesting and sane for me. I think this is a win win situation!

Check out Rockabye Baby! on their website where you can browse all their cover albums and listen to samples of all the songs they offer, or plug them into Pandora and have a listen while finding other artists your little one may enjoy! Happy listening!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dairy & Soy Free Treats!

I've got quite the sweet tooth, and I really love baking, but if there's a place that making food allergy changes is really difficult, it's baking. Recipes for baked goods are pretty specific, and the quality of the finished product can be pretty low if some ratio is off in the beginning. I wasn't content to just sit back and go "treat free", that would be way too healthy! So I got online and  in the kitchen and started substituting for dairy products in my favorite baked goods. Here are two recipes that turned out surprisingly well, it's definitely a place to start! I'm still tweaking these, and playing with some new ideas, but here's what I have so far! Rejoice! Eat cake!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (butter free)

Adapted from the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Coconut Oil, room temp
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips (they are free of ALL major allergens, including dairy and soy) or if you prefer chunk cookies, chop up an Equal Exchange chocolate bar. (one of the few dairy and soy free chocolate bars out there, but read carefully, not every variety is allergen free)
 PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat coconut oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 10 minutes, they will be paler than butter based cookies, so don't overbake looking for them to be golden! 

 Vegan Cupcakes with Chocolate "Butter"cream Icing


Cupcakes: I started with this recipe for Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes, but I didn't have any coconut oil at the time, so I used canola instead. The consistency was heavier than I like my cupcakes, so I'm playing with some ideas to get that fluffy feel I like in my old butter-laden recipe, but this is a great substitute to kill that craving! Filling the cupcake papers fairly full, (there's nothing worse than a short and tiny cupcake!) I found it only made 16 for me, not the 18 listed. The Hero likes filled cupcakes, so 6 of them got a filling of raspberry preserves, using a piping bag and Bismark tip.

Icing: My favorite icing recipe is a low-sugar recipe, a meringue buttercream, about 12 egg whites with a boiled sugar sweetener and a full 6 sticks of butter. Really fantastic stuff, but clearly not in the diet plan! I made up this one on the spot while the cakes were baking. I try to steer clear of super sugary sweet icings, but I think this one turned out fairly good, just don't over-ice the cakes, so you get a good balance of flavors.
  • 2 lbs. super fine confectioners sugar
  • 1 C. cocoa powder
  • aprox. 1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk beverage like SoDelicious (if you use an unflavored milk or other milk or cream substitute, add 1/2 t. vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 C. Butter substitute, like Soy Free Earth Balance
Slowly mix the sugar and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl, then slowly add your coconut milk (and vanilla, if needed), just until the mixture is glossy and smooth, it will have a  thick glaze consistency, the Earth Balance will help fluff it up a little, add it and whip the icing for a while, to get a fluffy and even texture. Transfer it to a piping bag and use a shell tip to ice the cupcakes. Tip: If you filled some of your cupcakes, sprinkle some chocolate shavings, chips, or colored sugar on top so you know which is which!

Well that's what I have so far, I'm working on some other things, namely, pastry crust, for pies and the like. When I have one I like, I'll be sure to share it. Is there something you really like that you'd like me to try and convert to allergy friendly? Share your allergy and what you're craving and I'll try my best!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gotta lose milk to make milk?

     As I mentioned earlier, I'm now dairy and soy free in an attempt to save the DB from terrible stomach discomforts possibly associated with a dairy protein sensitivity. "That's not so bad,"  you may think, "there are plenty of tasty foods out there that have no dairy or soy whatsoever". Well, you'd be right and wrong. There are plenty of delicious foods with none of the offending ingredients, but A. Dairy and soy products hide in the least likely places, especially in foods that are in the center of the grocery store and baked goods, and B. You want what you can't have. I was a big fan of dairy before, but since the verdict was read I've craved things I eat only rarely: pizza, ice cream, etc. So being the go getter that I am, I had a massive, whiny pity party, then I hit up every grocery that looked promising to find things I CAN eat. I'm also creating and modifying recipes to fit my new diet, and I'll share some of the better products and recipes with you here!

The pizza attempt was mediocre, I thought. The highlight of a pizza is the gooey cheese. The Hero had the kind audacity to tell me I could order a pizza sans cheese and it would probably be safe. I said some things that were not so nice. We made one instead, with some low-additive pepperoni, fabulous organic veggies (canned organics tend to have less additives, meaning less risk of allergens, but read carefully!) and a cheese substitute The Hero found at Roots Market, our local organic grocery. We put this onto a simple home made whole wheat pizza crust. The "cheese" is tapioca based, and it was just not pizza worthy, in my opinion. Upon melting, it turned rather creamy, not stretchy. While the pizza was just OK, the creamy texture of the cheese got me thinking what I could use it for that might be better suited. The answer wasn't far off, I wanted a cream pasta, so I got cracking on a recipe that would satisfy that craving, and I took inspiration from one of my favorite dishes.

In my family, you get to pick what you want for dinner on your birthday. I would usually always pick Chicken Joseph Florentine. It's a Parmesan and breadcrumb coated chicken cutlet on a bed of lemon wilted spinach, topped with sherry and butter mushroom slices and pimentos. It's really a fantastic meal. I combined the basic components of that dish with a creamy non-dairy pasta and this is what I got! I really enjoyed it, and I couldn't tell from taste or texture that it was dairy & soy free. Without the chicken cutlet, the recipe is vegan, so you can make changes to it to suit your dietary needs.

Creamy Penne in the style of Chicken Joseph Florentine

Crispy Baked Chicken
Preheat your oven to 400° F, and melt your butter substitute in a baking dish, either in your preheating oven, stove top, or microwave.  Pound out your chicken very thin. Place your rice cereal in a bag and roll it with a pin until the pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 of their original sizes. Place the crushed cereal on a plate and salt. Dip the pounded chicken in the cereal, then the beaten egg, then back in the cereal. Place the chicken in the baking dish, then flip it over, so there is butter substitute on both sides of the cutlet. Place the dish in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 180°F. While the chicken is baking, begin the pasta and sauce.

Creamy Florentine Sauce and Penne

  •  1 package portobello mushrooms, sliced
  •  Pasta of your choice, I used Barilla Plus Penne because it has legumes and whole grains (this type contains eggs and wheat, but a rice noodle would suit to be more allergen free)
  • 5-7 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 T. Butter substitute (see above)
  • 16 oz. carton of Mimiccreme (almond and cashew based cream substitute)
  • 8 oz. package of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
  •  Parsley
  • 1/4 C. Dry Sherry
  • Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 Put your water on to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet with tall sides, melt your butter substitute over medium-high heat. Add your minced garlic and your mushrooms. As you chiffonade the spinach leaves, add them about a half-cup at a time, as they will wilt in the pan and there will eventually be room for all of them! stir this slowly, and when the spinach is all reduced in size but still a nice green color, don't kill them! Add the sherry and stir it around to de-glaze the pan and evenly coat the mushrooms and greens. Add your pasta to the boiling water. Add the Mimiccreme to the sherry and vegetables and reduce heat to medium-low. Heat through, stirring often, and then add the Daiya shreds and herbs, salt, and pepper according to taste. Simmer and stir often until the shreds are melted and well combined. Drain pasta after cooked according to package directions, and plate immediately, topped with sauce and chicken cutlets. 

****************

    I am really pleased with how this dish turned out, and will likely try to create a vodka sauce (my favorite) using the Mimiccreme/Daiya combo soon. If you try out the recipe, let me know how it goes for you!

  For dessert options, I love the cookie recipe from Dairy and Soy Free Mom's blog, also Turtle Mountain's Coconut "Ice cream" is tasty, along with their coconut yogurt, and the beverage in place of milk. Speaking of the coconut "milk", Hershey's Syrup is dairy and soy free and makes a great chocolate milk with Rice Dream or So Delicious Coconut. I'm digging into some of the Turtle Mountain chocolate ice cream right now, as a treat for putting DB to bed while he was in such a challenging mood! Do keep in mind that not ALL of their ice creams are soy free, so read carefully the labeling when purchasing! 

   I'm working on a couple other recipes, and I'll share them with you all as I am happy with them. If you have a dish you'd like me to try and convert to dairy and soy free, let me know! I'll do the best I can!

Monday, March 7, 2011

This was supposed to be EASY!

Warning: we're going to talk about BOOBS in this post, so if that's something that gives you the heebie jeebies, maybe you should wait for a different post...or reconsider reading my stuff, because boobs have become a pretty big part of my life.

Disclaimer: Just because this post is about breastfeeding, don't assume I make judgments about formula feeding. I have many mommy friends who will tell you that I support babies being fed. Period. I think breastfeeding is the best nutritional option, but it is an option. Formula doesn't make your baby a hideous mutant. Don't write me angry letters. If you are confused, please see the first post in this blog. 

When I was pregnant I was really really excited about breastfeeding our DB. I had beautiful fluffy images in my head about rocking my baby, nursing quietly while the house and neighborhood slept in the early morning hours. It was going to be such a fantastic and magical bonding experience. I did my research, like I tend to do, and I was prepared for the potential pitfalls. I learned common nursing problems, I learned solutions, I learned about breastfeeding myths and facts, I learned about babies' digestive systems and development stages. I was super prepared.

I really wasn't. I was more educated than most American moms when they deliver, but I wasn't prepared. Especially not for every problem I'd read about (with the exception of one) to hit us all within the first 3 months. The first problem actually presented itself within 10 minutes of birth. The one thing I had going for me, and still do, is my pig-headed, stubborn confidence that I was going to do this come hell or high water. That, and the support of those closest to me.

When DB was whisked away to NICU right after delivery, there went my hopes of breastfeeding within the first hour. I was disappointed but undeterred, I pumped every 1.5-2 hours and took milk to his nurses. He wasn't ready for it yet, but it went in the freezer for when he would be. On the second day we got to try nursing, I figured within the first 48 hours is better than never, right? He wasn't really on board by that point, it was a rough first week. There was no soft filter nursing and rocking, there was a lot of harshly hospital lit screaming and crying. (one of us screaming, both of us crying)

Upon returning home, it got better, but it was nowhere near my beautiful visions. We spent hours trying to get latched on and fed, but it wasn't really coming easy for us. Hard for him, painful for me, messy for both of us, nursing was a huge production! There were so many accessories needed to get anything accomplished, and I was feeling pretty deflated (emotionally) and inflated (chestically).

As DB grew, problems were solved and new problems presented themselves. We fixed the latch and fired the nipple shield. Then the projectile vomiting, then the colic. Turned out to be an oversupply and overactive let town, which also accounted for the screaming and choking at nursings (yes, still no peaceful shiny soft glow snuggle time, it was a bit more like keg stands for babies). So I started a new schedule to try and get my supply and thus my letdown under control, and things were better. Then the thrush. Oh this stuff is evil. We're still fighting that one off, but its better. Don't just wait for it to go away. Get some treatment, homeopathic or otherwise, trust me! That overlapped with the colic-turned-reflux symptoms. That's what we're currently trying to sort out. I feel like we're winning, but it hasn't been easy.

The reflux thing is no joke! Poor baby would scream like someone had just pinched him, had really nasty "wet" burps and hiccups, smelled like acid, had a stuffy nose, pulled away during feedings, was generally REALLY unhappy. Makes for pretty unhappy parents. The only problem is that a sensitivity to dairy proteins in the milk can and does mimc GERD in infants, so I had to cut out all dairy and soy products, just to fight on both fronts while we treated him with Zantac and Prevacid, to cover all our bases.

He's feeling better, I'm not sure if its from the diet change or the proper medicine combo, but for now I'm just glad that it's working, whatever it is. It's been very difficult to find foods that are safe, you'd be surprised how many things contain dairy by-products, and how many more contain soy. I did find a great resource in the blog Dairy and Soy-free Mom, she's posted some great recipes and product resources, but her blog hasn't been updated in a couple of years, so I'm hoping to continue her work, sharing what products and recipes I find that make it a little easier to do the dairy and soy free thing! For those of you who asked for the cookie recipe I've been using, it's on her blog. (I make it with whole wheat flour, that's the only difference) Don't overcook them, or move them before they've cooled enough! So I'll try and post some more recipes and resources here, I've found they're difficult to come by, and it isn't an easy diet to master.



For the record, it is getting easier. I'm enjoying our breastfeeding relationship now. It's become a time for us to snuggle and breathe in the day, even when things are getting hectic, I have to sit and relax for a while when DB starts clamoring for a snack. We have some rocking and nursing while the whole house is asleep, but its certainly not quiet, my little piglet is not a subtle eater. I'm really glad I stuck it out, but I can't help but wonder how many others in my situation didn't have the support or confidence it took. The trouble we've had have inspired me and spurred me toward making the decision to study to become an IBCLC, and try to help other mommies who might need a little support and help. Sure, its a natural process, but its not always an easy one. I told a friend who's expecting  her little girl soon that just trusting your body to do its job is a fantastic start. I do think so, but when times get really tough, it doesn't hurt to have a little pig-headed stubbornness in you too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Belly!

Ok, so at first the idea of a whole post about my belly was a little weird to me. Like I don't post a ton of facebook statuses about breastfeeding, or DB's poops, or what I did within the first 2 hours of waking. I just think there are some things that you, my readers, don't really need or want to know! I just keep thinking about my belly, and what I start to think about, I start to think of writing about. It dawned on me in my think think thinking that this isn't about my belly, its more about self-image. And THAT is something I can write on.

Before DB, I had a decent body. Other people seemed to think it was great! I didn't. I just didn't like how I looked, with the exception of a brief period (after a hard-fought weight loss) from around November 2009 onward. We got pregnant February of 2010. Prior to that, I fluctuated weight, and I wasn't ever really thrilled with my body, but I didn't really feel like I needed to hide out in swimsuit weather. I just donned my two-piece (and a biscuit??) and off I went. Even after I felt good about my shape that November, I still had nagging doubts and thoughts that just wouldn't go away. I just wasn't really "proud" of my body. I spent a large amount of time jealous of other women (or more often, teen girls) who had what I wanted: THAT body. This was all before baby.

Now my body's a wreck. A really hot mess. Sometimes my boobs are different sizes, by a lot. I resist the urge to squish my hand into my stomach like a memory foam mattress, though that's about what the consistency reminds me of, and the stretch marks running down my belly, around my killed dead belly button, and across my newly hugenized hips are proof enough that you can make indentions, and they stay a LOT longer than a hand print in memory foam. It's certainly nothing you'd say was ready for swimsuit or lingere modeling, but that's ok with me, because those aren't jobs I hold, I'm just a mommy. And now I LOVE my body.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to lose some more of the baby weight, and I'd love to be a little more toned. Its really been a strange journey from there to here. I hear some women say they want their pre-baby body back. I can relate, kinda. But one thing's for sure, I don't want my pre-baby body image back. Weird or not, I feel like my body accomplished something, and this, plus that precious, puking, giggling, chunk of cuteness sleeping over there is the result.

Some of this may be because The Hero and I walked a long path of infertility together on our way to here. I really thought, somewhat naively, I suppose, that you pulled the goalie and BAM, you're so knocked up! That's what you learn in health class, right? And there's all those people with "oops" babies, too. Well, I guess it does work that way for some, for some it takes a little longer, and for some, well, it takes a lot longer and a little help. The testing began! The Hero is cleared as having fantastic swimmers, the problems are with me! Oh great, not only to I have like a whole 5 extra pounds of insecurity around my middle, now my body is failing me from the inside too. That's how I felt, like I was being failed. Not only that, I felt like I was failing The Hero, and even, at some of the darker points, my parents, who would be fantastic grandparents if only I weren't failing so epically.

I know that's not quite fair, nor is it the bigger picture, but we're not discussing how things are, we're discussing how things are in my head. If you're like me, or if you're human, you know that things in your head don't always reflect clearly things in reality. I felt like my body was a massive failure. Then the day we were waiting and hoping for finally came. I peed on the magical sticks that had driven me into the arms of chocolate and wine on many previous occasions, and lo and behold, a magical second line. B. F. P. (Big Fat Postitive, Big F****** Positive, you get the gist) I was immediately on the quest for a bigger belly. Bugging The Hero constantly to feel my tummy, did anything feel different? Hours of inspection in front of the mirror, suck it in, let it out, repeat. Finally, it happened, I was noticeably a different shape! Hooray! Then I was a much larger shape. Then I was shapes I didn't think could happen. Then I was shapes covered in a pattern of lines. There were tears. Tears over the shapes, tears over the marks, tears over the sheer uncomfortable puffiness of the whole thing. The Hero was supportive, or terrified by the hormonal whale on the couch and mimicked support to avoid being screamed at and then eaten. Either way, it was nice, but I felt sore, huge, and hideous.I felt like I'd be that way forever.

Well, like all things (good or otherwise) it came to an end, or a beginning, depending on your perspective. DB was here, and I still looked pregnant (WHAT?? yes, you'll still look pregnant, but only for a little while), more tears. Then I deflated and looked even worse than when I still looked pregnant. Grass was not greener. Proceed with the wallowing in self-pity. Lightbulb! My body had accomplished something! Something epic, monumental, awesome! This didn't hit me after labor, or at the end of a long pregnancy, it was weeks later, but it hit me. My body was no longer a failure, and this was indelible proof. DB will grow up, I won't always get to wake up right next to him, but I will always wake up in this skin, and now I have his little signature there, a reminder of accomplishment and love.

Fortunately The Hero doesn't mind the changes, he's even admired the stretch marks as looking "cool" and "like a phoenix and flames" (that does sound pretty cool, I have to admit), but now I'm accepting them too. I can honestly say that while I still have insecurities sometimes, I feel better about my body than I have in years. I can't wait for swimsuit weather, but not to show off my body, just because the sunshine will feel so good, and I can't wait to show DB the beach. I'll be there, but I won't be focusing on other people's bodies. I'll be focusing on my life, and how it's changed me, and I'm loving it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things!

 Its like Oprah! Only I'm not giving you any of these things.  And these companies probably won't benefit too much from my recommendations. Ok, so I guess its nothing like Oprah. I'm alright with that. Anyway, baby stuff. The stuff part of a new baby is a booming business. Everyone has really pricey things you absolutely need before you welcome your new bundle into the world. Babies really don't need any of these, but these are things we really love having to help out!

The Moby Wrap!
We love love love this thing! We have an Ergo too, but I just prefer the Moby at this stage. I can put it on when we leave the house, drive with it on, etc. and not take it off til we're home, or leave it on at home too! Around the house I can get chores done when he just doesn't want to be put down, and it gives me two hands. Out and about I don't look like I'm backpacking at the mall, it's almost chic. Some people are even surprised he's there when he's napping. I've heard several "Oh, there's a baby!" when he's finally spotted. Wearing him out keeps me from having to haul his bucket in and out of the car and stores, especially cramped for space older buildings in the city and again, leaves me with 2 hands for shopping and errand running. It's machine washable and DB thinks its super comfortable.


"Tim" our Cloud b Twilight Turtle!
We use Tim every single night! He was a total life-saver when we were up every 2 hours for changing and nursing., I only wish we had him from the very beginning. It's way cool, it clearly projects constellationson the ceiling and walls, and the shell glows enough to see what you're doing, but not enough to wake the baby, making it easier to transition back to sleep. I also really like that when you turn it on, it doesn't shock your eyes painfully, its easy to fall asleep with it on, and it can be clicked back off, or it shuts off via timer after about 45 minutes, so you don't have to get back up to shut it off. Also, it projects in 3 colors, so you aren't stuck with the same old thing, even if you're incredibly sleep deprived. DB loves looking at the stars while we rock to sleep at night.

The Woombie!
We registered for a few other swaddling products, and its a good thing we did, because it just so happens our little DB is a light sleeper with impressively powerful and control-free arm movements. He will wake himself up by jumping violently and then becoming very upset. We loved the ones we had, they were less expensive, and they did a great job, but had some drawbacks, like DB's hands would work out the middle, or he couldn't move his arms at all, even to stretch a little, so we had to re-swaddle every few hours. Then I bit the bullet and bought the woombie. Best. Decision. Ever. It does cost a little more, but I think its worth every penny! First, it has two zippers, so you can unzip from the bottom and leave the arms swaddled for a swaddled diaper change! *score!* Second, its all super stretchy, so DB can stretch his limbs gently, without waking, and the woombie just snuggles his arms back to him in whatever position he chooses, so he feels safe but can still move. Bonus: They're Velcro free! I'm a big fan of Velcro free, to avoid crazy baby clothing laundry chains. Worth every penny! 


The Nap Nanny! (*kinda*)
Ok, kinda tricky, this one. Let me start by saying I'm loving having this! We've been fighting some reflux issues with DB, and this keeps him upright but lets his tummy stretch out. For the first time I'm able to sit him down for more than 5 minutes without him going into screaming hysterics and spitting up all over! That being said, I don't think I'd pay full price for it. I mean, I'm a penny pincher, but I think this is over the top expensive! So I guess the bottom line is, I recommend the product, but try and snag one used! We got ours off Craigslist for almost 30% of the original price, and it was very lightly used. 

 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Evolution

I've been thinking recently, now that most of the postpartum hormones have evened out, about my marriage. It's strange, now, seeing how things have changed. Before we had DB, I knew things would be different, but I guess I couldn't really figure out how. Its the how that is the hard part. I miss dates, evenings to just do whatever we wanted with no interruption, the ability to eat meals at the same time instead of tag-team face stuffing. I miss these things but I don't feel this "empty" that I was expecting. I wish there were romance, I wish I had the energy (or arms, since we share a family bed half the time) to snuggle The Hero more at night, I wish I had the time to fix my hair and pick out an Outfit (yes, it deserves a capital O) in the morning so I looked nice when The Hero comes home, but in reality I'm lucky to shower, much less primp, and I'm usually covered in spit, medicine, puke, and milk. Even with all this, its really cool to see how DB's arrival and difficult first months have changed our relationship, in good ways.

  There's less arguing about things that really don't matter. Maybe because we don't have the energy, or a combo of that and we have more things that DO matter to handle. There's more time laughing and talking to DB, sharing his tiny milestones for the day, and bedtime stories, so the time lost playing video games really isn't too bad. There's this incredible sense of accomplishment, even when I feel like I got nothing done for the day, because as a team we have a happy smiling baby who is currently giggling at filling up his diaper yet again.

  I know we need time for just each other, and as DB gets older that will be easier. For now I'm just pleasantly surprised. I miss my husband as I used to know him, but not like heartbreaky miss, just more nostalgic, like missing the car I had in college. I don't want it back exactly like it used to be, I'm just pleasantly surprised how our relationship is now, and I'm not stressing over what it will be like in the future, near or distant. I'm just going with the evolution.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Diaper Situation

I've had quite a few requests for a peek into our diapering routine, so yesterday I used every type of diaper we're currently using and snapped some photos for the curious. My little model was having a pretty good day so he made it easy for me. Here I'll outline the 4 types of dipes we've got going now, and some of the pros and cons of each. I took a pic of each one both off and on the baby, so you can see what they all look like. Cloth diaper jargon will be in bold italics, just like those vocabulary words in your public high school textbooks, so grab a highlighter and trapperkeeper and settle in for a day in the life of DB, Mompyre and the poopcatchers.

Prefolds and Covers:
  These are our "everyday" diapers, we use them most often and always for overnight, they can absorb a little more for DB's longer and longer sleep sessions, ensuring that now that he's only waking once a night, he's not waking in soaked PJ's and blankets. We have about 24 we're using right now, OsoCozy Brand. These are one step above flats, which I have, but have not worked up the motivation to use, and one step below fitteds, which we have but are too big yet, on the easy scale. Flats, fitteds, and prefolds will all still need a diaper cover, since none of them are waterproofed on the outside.You'll still have to fold them a little to put them on baby, but that's kinda cool because it makes them customizable a bit for your child, boy or girl, etc. There are quite a few ways to fold them, we're currently loving the "twist", we just lay DB on the diaper, pull through his legs, give a twist, then wrap the corners around his waist, creating a lot of absorbency in the front for the boy, but girl mommies could make the twist lower to suit.

No more fastening with pins these days, unless you just want to, we use a Snappi, they're cheap, and work kinda like those fasteners you find with ace bandages, stretchy in the middle with little teeth on the end, they go from hip to hip and down to the crotch.



The diaper cover I'm using here is a Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap, it's adjustable to keep you from having to buy one for each size, this one goes from 6-18 lb. We love the brand, we have six of the size one and we'll buy the next size up when we need them. If the cover is a bit wet on the inside, I just wipe it out when I change the dipe. The legs are gusseted to keep poo in the cover if it escapes the prefold, which it does about 30% of the time, but it's never escaped the cover for us so far *knocks on wood*, so I'm pretty happy!

Pros: Inexpensive, really absorbent, customizable
Cons: Takes some practice, a bit complicated, several pieces needed


All-In-Ones (aka AIO's):
   These are the easiest to put on and to sort out of the laundry, that also makes them the most expensive. They have a waterproofed outer layer and then sewn in absorbent layers in the middle with a soft liner.

We have 4, the one photographed is BumGenius brand, and we also have a SposoEasy brand. Both of ours are size specific, but they also come in one-size models where you use a series of snaps to expand the diaper as your child grows.

We mostly use these for the diaper bag, since the changes go faster with these, and nobody wants a long and drawn out public diaper change! With these AIO's and the pockets I get some "wicking" if DB's onesie comes in contact with the soft liner instead of the waterproof outer around the leg gusset area, but that seems to happen less with the BumGenius, could be how they fit? Every baby's different! The BumGenius brand has shown to be super absorbent, in an experimental example, it held easily a half-cup of water.

Pros: Easy, most like a disposable, not intimidating for other care-givers (babysitters, family, etc.)
Cons: Expensive, can be difficult to find the right fit for your baby, takes a long time to dry on laundry day

Pockets:
  On the easy scale these are just one step below AIO's. They are still a waterproof outer with a soft liner, but the absorbent part is an insert that you remove for washing and when dry, stuff back into the pocket between the two. Best of both worlds! They dry faster than the AIO's, and since you can stuff the diaper before the change, they're fast too. We have 6 of these right now, the one in the photograph is a FuzziBunz, we also have a Happy Heiny's and a Monkey Snuggles.
Pros: Easy, dries fast on laundry day, not intimidating for other care-givers (babysitters, family, etc.)
Cons: Expensive, can be difficult to find the right fit for your baby








Hyrbids(aka AI2's):
  These are a blend between disposables ('sposies) and cloth. They are made up of a shell which is waterproof and have the option for a washable or flushable/biodegradable liner. We haven't used the biodegradable liner for ours yet, but we're planning to try them out on a family trip to the mountains this summer. The shells wash and dry easily and quickly so they'll be perfect for hand washing and sun drying. The ones we use are GroBaby (Now branded as GroVia) , and there is another well-known brand of Hybrid called gDiapers, I chose not to try them but some parents really love them, so they're nice to know about, and they've become more mainstream, my Babies-R-Us carries them in store. 

I love the GroBaby's for traveling because they are trim and you usually only have to change the snap-in washable insert, so that means I can fit enough for 6 diaper changes comfortably in the diaper bag and they don't take up too much space in the travel wetbags! These are one size fits all with a series of snaps to make them bigger in the rise and stretchy waist with aplix to fasten. I'm a big fan and can't wait to get a few more sets. Right now we have 3 shells and 6 inserts.

Pros: Trim, easy, shells dry quickly, flushable/biodegradable option
Cons: Expensive, fit may not work for all babies, inserts for GroBaby "smell" wet to some when wet






Now for all the other questions!

   What about wipes? For wipes we use regular terrycloth baby washcloths, color coded in our house so we know which are wipes and which are for bath times. We use a peri bottle to spray a little wipe solution on the cloth before wiping, you can make your own, there are lots of recipes out there, or you can buy some online, I like this kind, made by a work-at-home mom and sold in little dissolving pieces, great price for the amount they make and they smell so good! Punkin' Booty Bits 

   Where do the dirty dipes go to wait for washing? We have two small wetbags by Kushies that go in the diaper bag for on the go changes, and a large hanging wetbag by Planet Wise in the nursery. All the wetbags can go right into the wash with the diapers. They are very good at holding the messy dipes and the smell stays in, even with the bag not zipped shut. So easy!

   What is laundry day like? We wash every 2 days on average. This leaves plenty of diapers in the clean stash on wash day so we're not panicking for clean ones while trying to get the others clean and dry! The laundry ritual is very easy. Breast milk poo is water soluble so no rinsing happens in our house yet, all the diapers and wipes go in a cold short cycle with no soap, then a long hot wash with two rinses and half the recommended soap to cut down on residue, which could make diapers stinky. Covers and small wetbags go on a hanging rack to dry, everything else goes in the dryer with no dryer sheet, usually they get dry with one cycle, sometimes AIO's need to go again.

That's everything I was asked, I think, and everything I can think of! If you've got any other questions, even just curious ones, I'm happy to answer! Hope that's what you were looking for, blog requesters!