Friday, January 28, 2011

Broccoli and Quinoa Salad

I have to share this amazing recipe that a friend shared with me. I made it for dinner last night and it was delish!

Did you know that quinoa is considered a super food? It's full of protein and fibre and has all the essential amino acids. It is perfect for those on gluten free or vegetarian diets. I cook with it all of the time and I'm always finding ways to throw it into baked goods like muffins and cookies. Little E's day care provider let me borrow her book, Quinoa 365, last year and I have been hooked ever since.

Broccoli and Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup of quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 light mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of liquid honey
pinch salt
pinch of black pepper

In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 11/3 cups water to boil. reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed. Transfer to large bowl and let cool. Add broccoli, cranberries and sunflower seeds to the quinoa. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss to coat.

I made a few adjustments to make it dairy free for little E (ie. no yogurt and Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo), but it was still a hit. I will be adding this to my weekly lunch plans.

Any other great quinoa salad recipes out there?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Work it

I’m finally getting back into the groove of working out again.  This week I officially jumped on the one hundred pushups band wagon and convinced my best friend to join along.  I’ve been seeing this challenge all over the blogosphere and finally decided to join in.  I did a session with the Ottawa Adventure Boot Camp a few years ago and loved it and learned to love push-ups.  I wish I could afford to do it year-round.  I know that circuit training works well for me and before getting pregnant with little E I was the in the best shape I have ever been.  Now, I’m longing to be back in that type of shape. 

I cancelled my membership with the gym and decided to take on a new membership with the gym that is located inside my work building.  It’s so much more convenient and makes it easier to take a quick workout lunch break.  I only signed up for three months (starting in February) and will take it from there.  I think I might try switching to running outdoors once spring hits. Lunch time seems to be the only time I can get a good workout in other than some pushups and crunches in the evening when little E is in bed. Last night, I pulled my big blue yoga ball out of the closet and dusted the cobwebs off of it.  The last time I used it was when I was getting through contractions and preparing to head to the hospital before little E was born.  Sad. Time to get back into shape!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My buns are cold

Remember when I took the first step to stop the RUSH that I call my life? Well, it went okay, I guess. In November, I kept a great routine of waking up when my alarm went off. In December, I think I only pushed the snooze 4 times a morning (I fell off the food wagon AND sleep-in wagon).

But now, in the New Year, we have a whole new ball game. You see, Hubby started a new job and now needs to be out of the house at the same time as me most days. Our previous morning routine included me getting myself ready while Hubby got up with little E and dressed and got him ready. He would then hand him to me and we were out the door. Hubby didn't need to be at work until on hour later. But now, we are still working on who showers first and who dresses little E. It's been an interesting change that we just need to get used to. We are going to pick up a second car seat to make things easier so Hubby can take care of some of the drop offs.  It's nice getting home around the same time and I don't feel like I am scrambling as much to get dinner on the table with a toddler attached to me.

We've made a few more changes too. Hubby cut back on his evening coaching commitment, which allows me to slip away a little more. I have also been working hard on staying on top of meal preparations and making lunches the night before.

And, remember how I ranted and raved about how
I loved having a second vehicle and how it made life so much easier now that we have three people to get places in a day? Well, a majority of that love came from the fact that I got to drive that second, newer vehicle with heated seats. But you see, Hubby is a now in a position where he needs to drive a presentable vehicle (seriously, I asked for proof and it is clearly stated in his contract that his vehicle needs to be a 2008 or older). So now I'm stuck with the old car and I really, really miss toasting my buns in the morning. How did I get the shatty end of this deal?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Golden Arches

A friend of mine posted on Facebook last night expressing her disgust after seeing a McDonald's commercial that showed a pregnant woman eating their food. Have you seen this? I can't find it! Apparently she is dunking her McNuggets into to her sundae and as my friend explains it, that is just McGross!

I'm not going to lie to you, I love a good McChicken. I know, it's bad. Though, I honestly can't remember the last time I ate there. I'm sure we've all done it; had McDonald's or succumbed to a McDonald's craving while pregnant.  (Actually, my craving was for Harvey's.)  But the fact that they are promoting it just irks me.

About an hour later I was sitting around the house reading through some pamphlets and brochures I picked up at the Early Years Centre during last weekend's play date. One that particularly interested me was that of the First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa.

Skimming through the developmental milestones for little E's age, I jumped ahead to 30 months to see what types of things we will be looking forward to in the next 8 1/2 months.

This is what is baffling me:

By 30 months
  • recognizes familiar logos and signs - McDonald's golden arches, stop sign
Really? I hope they mean familiar by recognizing the neighbourhood or as a landmark as being close to home or another familiar place. I hope they don't mean familiar by = fast food. Although, in today's society I am sure it is the latter.

Currently, at 21 months little E has no idea what the golden arches are. I don't plan on teaching him in time for this 2 1/2 year old milestone either. Why couldn't they have chosen another universal symbol like a train or bathroom sign?

At 30 months if I child recognizes the golden arches, I am only assuming they recognize that this a place that they get to eat "yummy" food like french fries and chicken nuggets and ice cream .  At 30 months!?

This morning little E woke up asking us to get his skates and helmet to go to the canal.  Imagine he woke up asking us to go to McDonald's? This just worries me. 

Maybe I am just more careful because I know little E can't eat there anyways with all the additives that contain dairy and soy.

Am I the only one that finds this disturbing?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dinner Diaries - Week of Jan 24

Monday - pork chops, brown rice and mushroom pilaf
Tuesday -whole wheat pasta with meat sauce, caesar salad
Wednesday - crockpot vegetarian chili and home made gluten free bread (wish me luck!)
Thursday - broccoli and quinoa salad, chicken paninis (huge hit last week!)
Friday - baked salmon, sweet potato mash, spinach salad

Yesterday, I made a Curried Red Lentil, Quinoa and Spinach Soup. I got the recipe idea originally from Epicurious.com and amended it slightly. Little E loves anything with curry in it. When he was old enough to try a variety of spices I would put curry in his lentils or sweet potatoes or anything really. This recipe soon became a favourite and I add quinoa for some extra protein. It will last me for a few lunches this week.

Curried Red Lentil, Quinoa and Spinach Soup

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
• 9 1/2 cups (or more) water (I used 3 cups of chicken stock)
• 1 16-ounce bag dried lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
• 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves (I used frozen spinach)
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
I also threw in some quinoa (about 1/2 cup)

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 4 ingredients; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger, and dried crushed red pepper. Add 9 1/2 cups water and dried lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired, about 25 minutes. Add spinach and cilantro; simmer until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Yum yum yum yum yum delicioso!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Again

I’ve researched a ton on dairy intolerances and protein allergies in infants and children. I've read that perhaps, back in the day, babies were diagnosed with colic when in fact they had milk or other food intolerances. If their diet or the nursing mother's diet was just changed slightly it may have made a huge difference.

Hubby was not breastfed and had colic. Was it actually colic? Or could he have been born with a dairy protein allergy? Hubby was fed soy formula after his pediatrician recommended the switch because of his “colicky” behavior. My MIL told me this when little E was 6 months old (it would have been really nice to know earlier!). Hubby suffers from an array of stomach issues and I’ve been bugging him to get checked out for what seems like forever. I’ve been telling him that’s it’s not normal to feel like this. Something is not right. So I’m beginning to think…maybe he never grew out of this? Maybe little E has inherited this from his Daddy?

Mama needs answers.

Over the holidays I had 2 weeks off work and decided it was a perfect time to trial little E so I could monitor reactions closely. For lunch one day, he happily ate two small cubes of cheese. An hour later, he was very irritable and would not go down for a nap without a fight. In the afternoon he seemed fine with the normal grumpiness that comes with waking from a nap. But bedtime...bedtime was a disaster.

He woke up very unhappy around 10pm and I suspected the cheese right away. We brought him into bed with us and he went back to sleep. From 3am-5am he woke 5 times to throw up. Each time, he would wake up with a cry and lift himself up to his knees and say in the saddest, most heart wrenching voice ever, "again".

How could I do this to my baby? I felt horrible. I was responsible for all of this pain.

In the morning he woke up happy and was back to normal other than a couple of messy diapers.

So it seems instead of getting better or going away it's actually getting worse. During my last post on this topic, it took a couple days for symptoms to show. I will not be trialing him again in a few months (as per doctor's orders). Enough is enough.

This month, I helped Hubby with a dairy trial of his own. Little E and I both don't eat dairy (I cut it out while nursing him and haven't gone back other than eating small dairy items here and there outside of the house) and it was time Hubby joined.

So he started an elimination trial. For one week, he did not have a single food item with dairy in it. And guess what? He felt like a million bucks! Then when introducing a small dairy item, like a Caesar salad dressing containing cheese and modified milk ingredients - the bloating and running to the bathroom returned within 30 minutes of consumption.

So riddle me this? Is it a dairy intolerance, a dairy sensitivity, a dairy protein allergy or lactose intolerance? Who knows. The quick reactions are now making me think lactose intolerance but all along I've been told dairy protein allergy. Lactose intolerance is rare in children and usually doesn't development until later in life. The symptoms in both conditions are extremely similar.

Last week, little E had horrible diarrhea. I let it slide Monday thinking something must have snuck in his food at day care by mistake. That night I confided in Hubby in how I could approach Mrs. X. Tuesday was worse and he started developing a rash on his bum. So I questioned Mrs. X on everything he had eaten the last two days, being very careful not to try to point fingers. It came down to butter made in some bread rolls she made and a scoop of yogurt that was included in a Thai sauce served over chicken and rice for lunch. That was it. She felt horrible. And I felt horrible for making her feel horrible, but it was for the best. She told me the diarrhea had started before his nap, which was in line with approximately 30 min after he consumed the yogurt and butter.

We took a detour to the doctor's office that night before heading home. I explained everything to the doctor and told him about my personal research about a lactose intolerance developing if a dairy protein allergy is agitated enough. He assured me that he would get me in to see the allergy specialist to do some more testing and to rule out any other possibilities like lactose intolerance.

Last night I received our appointment date. March 31st - are you kidding me? I have to wait this long? In the meantime, the three of us will remain dairy free and will sit tight and hope that this doesn't happen again.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baby Mama

People.com is one of my guilty pleasures. This week a surprising story broke. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban had a second daughter. Well, er, kinda. A gestational carrier gave birth to their biological daughter.
 
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick did it last year and landed twin girls.

I wonder if surrogacy will be a growing trend among celebrities and with the rising infertility rates?I find all of this fascinating.

I wonder how they came to the conclusion to use a gestational carrier. I remember reading their troubles in conceiving their first children. I wonder how they chose the perfect fit and what their criteria was. Most of all, I wonder how much they paid (to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses that is) this woman! (You can be fined from $500,00 and up and face 10 years in jail if you pay a surrogate mother in Canada).

The topic of surrogacy came up with my girlfriends at one of our dinner clubs months ago. We found ourselves going around the room asking each other - would you do it?

I remember watching a baby story on TLC years ago and it was a story about a woman carrying a child for her sister and husband. It was a beautiful story and their journey seemed flawless. The surrogate already had children of her own and wasn't planning any more. Her sister could not conceive and exhausted all other options. She wanted a child and put the offer on the table. The surrogate seemed so selfless and caring. It truly is an amazing gift to give to someone. But could you do it?

I think I could. But maybe that's just my baby fever talking and the fact that I am young and only have one child right now. I would however, have a few limitations. I would do it for a family member or close friend, but I wouldn't do it for a stranger. I would want to be part of the child's life. And I too, would wait until I had finished having my own children.

There are many guarantees I would request too - but obviously couldn't control. If we could guarantee that if would be a easy pregnancy that would be great. Knowing how great my first pregnancy was and how much I enjoyed being pregnant makes the decision much easier.


And what about seeking a gestational carrier to carry a baby for me? That would also be a tough call. I would find it hard to find a balance in trying to take some kind of control over the pregnancy. I would obviously want this carrier to be healthy and exercise and carry out a pregnancy like I would. But you can't control this. My criteria would be tough - but who knows, perhaps at this stage of desperation you drop the criteria and just be thankful that you will be getting a baby once all is said and done.

After doing a quick google search on surrogacy in Canada I found that there are many different types and options (6 in fact) and that there have only been estimated around 50-100 in total in Canada. There are some more FAQ's answered here. I have many more questions and I wish there were more stats out there. For example, I wonder how many of the receiving mothers initiate breastfeeding like some adoptive mothers do? Or how many gestational carriers stay in the picture? I wonder how involved mothers are during the pregnancy?

I also can't stop thinking about the movie, Baby Mama, starring Amy Poeler. That movie was hilarious, no? I laughed. I cried. But maybe that was because I was pregnant when I watched it.


There seems to be a stigma attached to it all, but I find the job of a "9 month babysitter" pretty amazing!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mom Friends

I met so many wonderful Moms while I was on maternity leave. I was the first to have a child in my groups of friends and I didn't have any family in Ottawa to share my days with so I made a point to get out of the house not only for fear of going stir crazy, but to make some friends that I could relate to. It was so nice to chat about lack of sleep, breastfeeding and baby food recipes - things that wouldn't normally come up in my child-less group of friends. Many of these Moms I met through Ontario Early Years playgroups, library programs, Kindermusik and swimming I have stayed in contact with over Facebook.

About a month before my mat leave ended I started a stroller group in my surrounding neighbourhood. I invited Moms through a Facebook group page and before I started there were 22 Mom's interested. I've always been active and I knew that other Moms in my area loved going for walks through the trails in the park so I figured it would be a perfect fit. And my sales pitch? Stellar. How could you resist these reasons to join the group...
  • Stay in touch with friends you’ve met though playgroups/programs in the area
  • Meet new moms in the area!
  • Enjoy the convenience of a fitness program in your neighbourhood!
  • Stay in shape with the help of a strong support group
  • Have fun!
  • Get those buns of steal and six pack abs by doing what you’re already doing – pushing your stroller! (Yes, I actually said that).
  • Reap the benefits of fresh air and sunshine for both you and your child
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your child

Well, at most throughout the summer we got a turn out of 5 Moms, but there was usually only 3-4 of us there. I loved meeting up with these Mom's, don't get me wrong, but it was hard to keep it up, especially in the summer when everyone is travelling and going to their cottage on the weekends (I wish). So, I ended it after a couple months and that was that. I valiant effort.

A small group of us have stayed in contact through play dates, activities and birthday parties. We are actually starting a monthly play date plan this weekend and I'm really excited that we have committed to a schedule. Little E gets a lot of social activity with day care, but to be honest with you this is kind of for me. It's so nice to catch-up with these Moms and our children are all the same age so it's fun seeing them interact with each other.

This weekend I have also signed up for an activity hosted by Kids in the Capital at Starr Gymnastics. I started going to Starr Gymnastic when little E was only 14 weeks for their Mom on the Ball class. Since he started walking I've been taking him to weekly drop-in play times. It's such a great way to run and bounce some energy out of him at the end of the day. So I'm really excited to meet up with the other Moms that will be there, especially the Mom bloggers that I have only 'met' online - I'm coming out from behind the computer! I'm looking forward to more activities in the future with this group of 'mom friends'.

Along with having 3 nephews born within the same year as little E, I now I have three friends that have had children in the last year and I feel a sense of relief. I get so worked up and excited talking baby and mother things with them - finally! It's just so nice to have that connection with family and friends that you are close to. I struggle to find time to meet up with them because they all live out of town but it's something that I look forward to scheduling time for. And I can't wait until we can have play dates when their children get a little older to run around with little E.

Thank goodness for my Mom friends. Mom friends rock!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dinner Diaries - Week of Jan 17

On the menu this week:

Monday - beef fajitas on whole wheat tortillas, refried beens, guacamole, house salad
Tuesday - thai chicken thighs, carrots, brown rice, mandarin spinach salad
Wednesday - chicken pesto panini, whole wheat rotini pasta salad
Thursday - tuna and sweet potato cakes, quinoa vegetable salad
Friday - crock pot meatloaf, roasted new potatoes and parsnips, chef salad

Little E has been taking an interest in all the salad we have been eating, but only if there is a creamy dressing on it.  He stole some caesar salad off my plate when I wasn't looking last week, but won't touch plain lettuce.  Apple cider vinegar based dressings that I usually make seem to be too tangy for him yet. Since he can't have any bottled dressings due to allergies I have found a few variations of dairy free dressings that I hope to try this week.  I will share the recipes if they turn out and win him over.

Do your children eat salads? When did they start? How do you make your salad appealing to your children?

Friday, January 14, 2011

TGIF!

This week I experienced many unpleasant events that lead to:

Bruises on my back and arms.
A serious leg cramp and charlie horse in my leg…still lingering and causing a slight limp.
A cracked license plate and minor bumper damage.
A cranky, night-waking, diarrhea filled and diaper-rashed toddler.
Inedible soup.


This is what I have learned this week from my experiences:

Don’t forget to put my slippers on before going up and down the stairs with laundry baskets.
Give up on deaking in soccer…I’m just not that good anymore.
Give myself more room between cars during morning traffic in case the women in the fourth car ahead of me gets cut off and slams her brakes on causing a chain reaction and a five-car pile-up.
Don’t feel bad about bringing up issues with little E's child care provider especially when I suspect a milk or soy contamination (so much more to blog about this).
Give up the dream of making a good split pea soup or find a recipe that works. Huge fail on Wednesday’s dinner. Good thing I froze left over’s from last week!


Good riddance! Atleast I am learning, right?

Even though I had a shatty week, these are some reasons why I am still loving life:

Me (as we are getting out of the car): Come on, let's go!
little E: Movie?
Me: You want to watch a movie?
little E: YA!
Me: I'll think about it
little E: I'yo tink abowd it.

Me (as I turn the page in his book): Can you count the lights on the tractor?
little E: one, too, free, fowr, five, ssssix, aaate, nnnine, TEN!, telve, fowrtin, aaatetin!
Me: Wow, good job!
little E: I'yo tink abowd it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Intactful

Excuse my ranting this week, but like I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am passionate about making educated and informed decisions. This is one of the many reasons why I consider myself a natural parent. I research and educate myself on topics that I am unsure of and love to share my findings, but the decisions I make are for my family only. I encourage other mothers/parents to do their own research. The following post is based on my personal research and opinions.

Little E recently learned the word penis. He can say it perfectly and he is so proud when reciting and pointing to all of his body parts.

The topic of circumcision came up when were at a friends house over the holidays (I know, interesting dinner talk - but that's what you get with a bunch of hockey men).

Along with little E's new word and hearing men's twisted views on this topic, Hubby and I have recently had another talk about our views.

Circumcision is a topic that really gets me fired up. Why? Because it is a decision that Hubby and I had to make together from two very different point of views.

Hubby is "cut" (TMI?). When the topic first came up he was adamant that any son of his was to be too. I, from the get-go, was very unsure of it. I found it very disturbing. When I asked his Mom why she circumcised him (because it was not for obvious religious reasons), she told me it was just what everyone was doing. The Doctor did it for free in the hospital and she didn't question it. She said she remembered being told that it was mainly a cleanliness issue.

Hubby's initial arguments were the classic, he needs to look like his father and it looks better. These were not reasons I would accept - ones solely based on looks.

I believe there is a reason why boys are born with foreskins. I don't think it was a mistake. I've read in many articles that a foreskin can be compared to an eyelid. It is there to protect and self-clean. I've also read about it's role in sex. Believe me, I've read a lot.

These are the reasons (and some points that stood out to us) that WE, collectively, decided NOT to circumcise our son:
  • It is only widely practiced in North America, but almost unheard of in Europe. Only 10-15% of boys are circumcised in the world.

  • It is not recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society.

  • My baby would be perfect the way he was born. Why would I surgically remove or change something for cosmetic reasons? Plastic surgery on an infant?
  • Although, it is perceived to the general public to be a subject of cleanliness - newer research shows otherwise. Did you know it was started to try to eliminate masturbation?

  • Human rights. Period.

  • Babies are commonly strapped down during the procedure. Torture?

  • Babies scream in terror and pain. I don't believe for one second that they don't feel the pain and aren't scared out of their minds. In this video clip, they talk about how babies can go into shock and coma's. They appear to be sleeping calmly - not so much.

  • It is traumatic for both the baby and the parents. I can't stand to hear my baby cry from tummy cramps, let alone let some one butcher his penis. Not to mention the post-traumatic stress and issues it can lead to.

  • The thought of a bloody penis trying to heal, but being exposed to urine and feces in a diaper made me cringe.

  • The thought of tending to a bloody, healing penis on top of trying to master the art of breastfeeding and everything else that comes along with being a new mother, completely stressed me out.

  • Although, it's seems normal to those in North America, I believe (and so do many others) that it should be compared to female genital mutilation that we hear about in third world countries.

  • More babies die from circumcision complications than from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This really hit home for me because I lost a niece to SIDS.


I did a lot of research while I was pregnant and I'm happy I did. I have recently done a lot more since starting this blog and finding so many other (amazing) blogs that have written on this topic.

I especially loved Annie's take on circumcision over at PHD in Parenting. She explains that circumcision, like many other parenting choices from the past, is something that now has been proven to be unnecessary or harmful.

I've heard people's stories of driving newborns home from the hospital without a proper car seat, but now you have to have your car seat checked before being discharged. Or what about all the drinking and smoking while pregnant in the past? Now we have research that shows the negative effects these habits can have on our unborn children. The list goes on and on. Circumcision to me seems to be one of those, "I wish I knew then, what I know now".

Another blog I frequent is Peaceful Parenting. In her post, "Are You Fully Informed?", she states that circumcision is rarely an informed choice. Just last week her post, "Neonatal Circumcision (A video for healthcare professionals)", really disturbed me. To sum it up she writes, "No national or international medical organization in the world recommends infant circumcision." I think this post and video should be read and watched in full by all parents considering circumcision.

Hubby and I are definitely on the same page again now. It's amazing what a little peer pressure in the hockey dressing room can do to a guy. He still has a small concern that that our son will get teased in the locker room when's he older. I told him it's a dying breed. By the time little E is old enough to be concerned about this, circumcised boys will be the minority. There has already been a drastic decrease in the last few years.

I know some parents that didn't even consider circumcision because the father wasn't. I also know some that want to circumcise their son because the father wished he was. It's hard for me to understand why parents are still circumcising their sons with all of the facts out there.

What I do know is that our boy is perfect just the way he his and I couldn't be prouder of OUR decision.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mature or Educated?

After telling me how much of treasure little E was one day last week, his day care provider added that I am very mature (despite my young age) in my parenting style and know-how. As I travel along this parenting journey I am finding that it is extremely important to be educated and informed and I am proud that this shows.

Stereotypically, young mothers are bad mothers making bad choices. In my own experience I have met a lot of young mothers that just listen to what their elders and peers tell them or raise their children the way they were raised rather than doing their own research. I am sure in a lot of cases these mothers are doing what works for them, which I encourage - but only once you know all the facts behind each decision.

This past weekend I stopped on my way home to the farm to make two separate visits with two great friends that also happen to be new, young, informed and educated mothers. It is just so refreshing to sit and chat with them about different parenting choices and ideals. I love that they share many of the same passions as me. The three of us come from very different backgrounds and experienced very different pregnancies and births but we are united in our passion for educated and informed parenting. I can't wait for my next visit!

Doing my own research has spared me many headaches so far...

If I listened to little E's Great-Nanny, I wouldn't tickle him for fear of making him stutter.

If I listened to his Grandma I would just feed him milk and soy products because "his body will get used to it" or I would have circumcised him because that's what she did.

If I followed what my Mother did (and what the Dr's recommended to her back when my oldest siblings were born) I would have started solids at 6 weeks rather than 6 months.

I often hear my elders say, "Jeez, I wish I had that when my children were young", or "I got by just fine without that". But in most cases I think a lot of our elders parenting choices have fallen into the I wish I knew then, what I know now category. How can all the research and evidence out there be ignored? It's easy I guess if you don't look.

I often refer to myself as an "information junkie" because I love reading about new things. It's how I become comfortable in a new stage or event in my life.

For my wedding, we had a year and a half long engagement and married soon after college. During this time, I researched and read every book and website published about wedding planning. We were so young and broke and I made every last dime count, but I wouldn't have been able to do that if I hadn't found a way to make it work. That day went off without a hitch and the lead-up only included a couple true bridezilla moments.

Then the next huge step was our first child three years later and I read and read even before trying to conceive. Damn if I do something, I'm going to do it right baby (yeah, that's the Dutch in me that I get from my Dad along with the sugar addiction). We planned everything to a tee, but that didn't mean we didn't hit bumps in the road. I was fortunate to have had a healthy pregnancy and a natural birth, but I really put in a lot of time and effort.

Not to sound too cliche, but these were the two best days of my life. Not only because I married my best friend and was blessed with a little angel, but because I was so prepared and educated about these events that I was able to relax and enjoy them to the fullest. Because I created this level of comfort, I was successful in my plans.

Like I've mentioned before, when we first brought little E home, I was trying to be perfect. It took me awhile and a lot of books to figure that this was unattainable. But I'm glad I found this out on my own and now I can embrace it.

So what I am trying to get at here is that I don't think age should be a factor in parenting. Mothers need to be more educated period. They need to go out and find what works for them. And they most definitely shouldn't follow each and every thing Grandma or Aunt Paula is telling them to do.

So my answer to little E's day care provider and her Husband? My strong parenting ethic or values should not be measured by my age. I simply have a passion to be educated and informed on what is best for our family. Thank you, for this I am proud.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Affection

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Hugs? Um…
Kisses? Um…
How about a handshake instead?

I didn’t grow up in an overly affectionate house. As adults now, we don’t typically hug or tell each other we love each other. We are more of a “Hey, what’s up?”, pat on the back, kind of family.

My friends will tell you that I am by no means a hugger. Hubby will tell you that I like my space. I am just not comfortable displaying affection. But with my own child? I think I might be smothering him.

Since his birth I have learned to embrace affection and I’m making huge strides in my comfort with others. It is with him that I am finally truly affectionate.

Now at 20 months old, if he wakes in the night or wakes up early, I just love bringing him into bed with us to cuddle. I love the warmth of his body against mine, the smell of his hair, the sound of his little snores. I’ve only recently noticed that I really miss nursing him and this precious connection we had. These cuddles help fill the void.

I LOVE YOU’s are constant in our house. When he is upset I stop him to say, I LOVE YOU, which can usually crack a smile and/or distract him for a minute. When he is being silly I can usually calm him down by telling him I have something very important to whisper in his ear, I LOVE YOU!

I love his slobbery kisses and his crashing-into-me hugs. I can’t stop tickling him and kissing his rosy cheeks. Sometimes I just can’t keep my hands off this poor kid!

My son has taught me so many things – but it has been through this newfound world of affection that I have learned the most.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!


Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


Monday, January 10, 2011

Dinner Diaries - Week of Jan 10

We had an amazing weekend visiting with family and friends and I am starting the week off a little pooped. On top of that my indoor soccer game tonight is at 11pm. Ugh.

This is what is on the menu this week:

Monday - Swiss Chalet order-in (too lazy to try and get something together after a busy weekend)
Tuesday - BBQ Steak, Roasted sweet potatoes, garden salad
Wednesday - Split pea and lentil soup (this was on the menu last week but we swapped it for a easier chicken dish since I didn't prepare the peas ahead of time)
Thursday - Rainbow trout, Brown rice, Steamed broccoli
Friday - Shepherd's Pie

Have you seen a theme here the last couple of weeks? Laziness. I am feeling unmotivated at my job and it's wearing off of me at home too. I'm trying to stay positive :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shoeless Joe

Is it normal for a child to always want their shoes off as soon as they get in the car? Especially in the winter?! I am wondering if this is just a phase or if I am going to be saying, "Don't take your boots off in the car! Keep your socks on! Where did your sock go? Don't throw your boots!" forever. I have even spoken to him in a very reasonable grown-up kind of way. This little devil of mine can't keep his boots/socks/shoes on and I can't for the life of me get through to him! Perhaps I should take him out of the car and place him on the frozen ground in his bare feet? Maybe then he'll get the hint? With my luck he'll find that funny and try to do it on his own.

Last night after doing some running around (we picked up our paint, yay!), Hubby offered to get the stuff out of the trunk while I unloaded little E.

"You take care of Shoeless Joe", he said.

So for the sixth time in a day I put his socks and boots on and explained to him the importance and reasonings behind footwear. Oh, the joys of toddlerhood.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Four days

The cravings, the headaches, the fatigue.  I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I am going through withdrawals.

I think my body is in shock.  It’s screaming at me, “Where are the candy canes! The boxed chocolates! Nanny’s homemade fudge! Surely, you must have some cookies left from your cookie swap?!”

I come from a long line of addicts.  My Dad is Dutch and has a serious sweet tooth.  I’ll always remember watching him make his favourite snack - brown sugar on toast – no joke.  I guess it’s a Dutch thing.  He is the easiest person to buy for Christmas because all you have to do is wrap up some chocolate and he’s happy.  On Christmas morning, growing up on the farm, our stockings would not be filled with toys like most families.  They were filled with Dutch chocolates, licorices, candies and nuts.  I think all eleven of us have inherited/learned this addiction.  I know that my brothers’ wives joke about it as much my Hubby does with me.

As a joke, Hubby has often propositioned me for some pretty amazing gifts or prizes, given that I would have to give up chocolate for life. It never works.  Nothing is worth giving up chocolate bars.

Five pounds in the last two months.  That’s how much I have gained.  The thought of this and the fact that my pants are getting a little tight is is enough to curb my cravings.  I can’t believe it’s got to this. But, to be fair to my sugar friend, it isn’t just the sweets that have caused this.  I did participate in far too many food-centered activities including potlucks, dinners and cookie swaps this past holiday season.

As part of our plan to eat healthier, Hubby and I have cut sugar out of our diets this month.  We started back on our daily meal plans, including the dinner plans I have been doing for months now.  Although, sugar is sneaking into our diets in small doses through occasional sides of maple syrup and ketchup and a couple other things, we are mainly curbing our sugar cravings by eating fruits with natural sugars. 

We are also cutting out salt (I went as far as hiding the salt shaker), and continuing to make an effort to not buy over-processed/packaged foods. But the biggest issue is sugar for me and so far we have been off to a great start.

My name is Alicia and I am addicted to sugar. It has been four days since I last succumbed to my addiction.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'll be right back!

Do you ever just feel like sneaking away for an hour or two? Just to get out of the house, gather your thoughts and clear your head?

Sometimes, once little E is in bed, I find an urgent reason to get out of the house. I'll spend hours just browsing a store just to have some quiet time alone.

We are all out of rice milk! I just have to whip up to the health food store! I'll be right back!

I think I need one of those tonight. Maybe I'll visit some home decorating stores or just go to a hardware store to get some painting supplies. But I'll make it last and I'll go up an down the aisles dreaming about all the big ideas I have on a tight budget.

I'll need to execute a sneak attack where I rush out so quickly that Hubby has no time to even think about intervening.

Before the Christmas break, I snuck out of the house to pick up some craft supplies and told Hubby I would be in an out in a flash. His response was, "This isn't going to be one of those - I'll be right back - that turns into an hour is it?"

Darn, he's caught on to me!

Like I said, tonight is going to require a serious strategy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dinner Diaries - Week of Jan 3

Well this morning wasn’t the fresh start I was looking for!  There was crazy traffic this morning that made my usual 30 minute drive into work 1 ½ hours long.  I’m dreading the drive home.  I’m taking a short lunch break to get this post up and a break from plugging away at the 330 new emails in my inbox at work. Ugh.

This is what we are eating this week:

Monday – We had some pork chops (with homemade shake n’ bake), curried sweet potato and parsnip mash, and a green salad
Tuesday – BBQ steak, brown rice, beet and carrot slaw
Wednesday – Ginger lemon chicken stir fry with yellow peppers and zucchini, orzo pasta
Thursday – Split pea and lentil soup, homemade buns
Friday – Tuna casserole

Here’s to getting back into a routine!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

MVP

For the last five years or so on New Years day, Hubby and I have been playing in a charity snow (base) ball game. The teams are made up of friends of my in-laws and we share a lot of fun and laughs and harmless cheating for a good cause. A bright yellow soft ball is used for visibility in the snow and to make it just-for-fun the men have to switch-hit.

It was extremely mild in Ottawa yesterday and it made for great playing weather despite the slick melting ice. I have the war wounds to show it.

Little E had tons of fun playing on the side lines with the other children and one of my best friends, his Godmother (who was playing on the losing team), was happy to offer her watchful eyes while I was on 2nd base.

I came away with the Most Valuable (girl) Player award with my home run at first bat and my last hit scoring our team a run to break a tied game. Yeah, I am a mean snow ball player (NOT). But please don't get too jealous about my prize containing lavender grandma smelling bath soaps (which will most likely be re-gifted as a gag re-gift next Christmas).

Last night, as Hubby teased me about my MVP title, I started to think about my life goals and New Year's resolutions. We often joke about my position as the CEO of the family. I like to think that I call the shots (not to be confused as wearing the pants) and make executive decisions for my family. But being a CEO is a tough job. Quite frankly, I don't like pressure.

Starting now, at the top of 2011, I am declaring myself the MVP. We all know that there is no "I" in team, so we must work together as a team to accomplish OUR goals. As the MVP of the family I must not forget that I am the MVP of my own life as well. I need to take charge and make time for the changes, dreams and wishes I have for 2011.

I am assuming Hubby will be looking for his title and/or place on the team. Perhaps he can have the Sportsmanship Award for playing along with all my big ideas. As for little E; definitely the Rookie of Year.