Nice holiday (with pics)

We had a nice holiday around here. Even though Santa didn’t come through with his promise to make us all well and it was kind of weird not having any other family around, we still had a nice day. 😉

Ava enjoyed her presents of Legos, pajamas, clothes, Aquadoodle, lots of books, and a Little People doll house, as well as some money for classes (music classes probably).

Jody and I didn’t exchange gifts, but we still got some presents from our parents. I got a honey bath set, a soy candle, and money from both sets of parents for my photography business. Also, my mom spent some long hours making a beautiful two-sided tree skirt for us. It is quilted and has our names on it, as well as the year.

I made a nontraditional meal for Christmas dinner (because I didn’t buy a turkey in time to thaw it). We had chicken milano (with a few additions – spinach and artichokes), with a spinach salad and brownies for dessert. 🙂

We are all feeling a lot better now. Jody and I still have some congestion and Ava has a lingering cough, but we are all doing so much better than we were. Yay! Jody’s off of work until Thursday and it’s been wonderful having him home. 🙂 Both Ava and I have enjoyed having him around the house.

Jody has been playing with Ava’s Legos since nearly the moment she opened them. It was always a tradition in his house to get out all of this Legos around Christmas, but since the sets he has have such tiny pieces, he’s had to settle for playing with Ava’s this year. Today he made a very nice looking duck and alligator. She’s enjoyed destroying whatever he creates. Although she did get a big kick out of the duck and alligator and carried them around for a while. 🙂

Today we went to the library for a free dog show. It was pretty cute. Ava loved watching it and applauding the dogs as they performed their tricks. After the show, we let Ava pick out some books to bring home. That’s the first time we’ve hung out at the library with her, but I think we’ll do it more often. I’m also going to look into taking her up there for storytime each week.

Here are some pics from Christmas.

Presents!

Playing Legos with daddy.

Wearing the tree skirt. 🙂

Cutie in front of the tree.

Hope you all had a nice holiday and have a great new year. 🙂

How crunchy are YOU?

Want to learn your “Granola Factor”?

Take this quiz and find out just how crunchy you really are.
Be sure to report your scores back here. 🙂
(This quiz really only works if you are a woman with children. Sorry.)

I got 123 and barely made it into: Super Nutty, Ultra-Crunchy Granola Earth Mama 😉

Brown rice, millet, quinoa – oh my!

Having a child can make you examine your own eating habits a bit more closely. It’s true that Ava is only consuming breastmilk and baby food at present, but soon will come the day when she’s eating table food alongside Jody and me and I want that food to be as healthy as possible. Also we just found out Jody’s cholesterol is a little on the high side, so that’s another motivating factor for me to attempt to cook a bit more healthfully.

I have to say that for the most part our eating habits aren’t that bad. We rarely eat fast food (thanks in part to how turned off we were after watching “Super Size Me” – definitely worth watching if you haven’t yet seen it) or when we do it’s Taco Bell, and I try to make a lot of our meals from scratch though I do use box mixes or prepared foods as well.

I’m happy to say that since an organic co-op market opened up in our neck of the woods, I’ve been buying more of our food there (at least what I can afford). And I’ve discovered the wonders of bulk items like brown rice, millet and quinoa. I feel like a kid in a candy store filling up my bags full of these things. Hee hee. I used to be all about buying boxed instant brown rice, but now that I’ve made slow-cooked brown rice I’m never going back to instant! There’s a huge difference in the taste and texture of it. Slow-cooked is so much tastier! 🙂

It’s thanks to some of my friends that I’ve added words like millet, which is a grain, and quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, who knew?!), which is like a grain, to my vocabulary, and now I even know how to prepare them. (Woohoo!) Both are very healthy and I didn’t even know they existed. I have a feeling there are a lot of healthy foods out there that I’ve been missing out on. 😉

So far I’ve made the millet in a stirfry, using it as a substitute for brown rice. It’s really tasty. The texture is kind of crunchy, and I guess it feels almost like a nut. I made the quinoa with black beans which we used as a filler for burritos. It was pretty good, but I think I prefer the millet over the quinoa.

Anyway, I’m excited to have come across this grain and pseudo-grain. Now I need to go scour the ‘net for some recipes to incorporate them into our diet in new ways. 🙂

My very first meme

I’ve been tagged by R2Ks. I have to admit that this is my first time answering a “meme” and I had to look up just exactly what a “meme” is! I found this explanation on I am Pariah.com:

meme n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.

In Blogspeak, a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs

So now that we all know what a meme is, let’s get down to business. 🙂

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?
a) Proceeded to meet some people in person that I had corresponded with on the Internet. That’s all I’m gonna say about that one.
b) Obsessed over guys who no longer had an interest in me. (Think high school years.)
c) This is pretty general, but – Let other people’s opinions influence what I do or do not do. I sometimes find it hard to trust myself to do the right thing for me.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?
Easily, hands down, my daughter. My world revolves around her and I wouldn’t change that for a minute.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up five people to dine with, who would you pick?
In no particular order.
a) Jesus
b) Gandhi
c) My Aunt Gina who died when I was 5
d) My daughter in 30 years (hey, nobody said we couldn’t go into the future, right?)
e) Julia Ward Howe

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
a) That this country (the USA) had a much better leader in office.
b) That all children around the world would have access to healthcare, clean food and drink, clothing, an education and people who loved and took care of them.
c) That there would be less stupidity in the world.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

Regret not having:
A big movie theater.
Whole Foods!

Avoid:
A place called “Group Therapy.” Despite the fact that you may think it is affiliated with a 12-step program, it is a bar where many a stabbing and other altercations have taken place.
Bella’s. Juice bar/strip club. Unless, of course, that is your thing.
Sheesh, sounds like I live in a GREAT city, eh? 😉

6. Name one event that has changed your life.
If I can name only one, I will go with the birth of my daughter. Having her has changed me in so many ways. I am now not concerned only for her safety and well-being, but for the safety and well-being of children everywhere.

7. Tag 3 people.
Maggie
Elizabeth
Blog writer

Everyone likes to feel validated ;)

Since Attachment/Gentle Parenting isn’t the philosophy that the majority of U.S. parents subscribe to, it’s always nice to see a study (by Harvard, no less) that validates what we as APers are doing.

I’m lucky to live in an area where I’ve met families who have similar parenting philosophies to my own. But I know many others – who I’ve met on the ‘net through message boards – who don’t have that same kind of support network. I imagine that articles like the ones below are even more valuable to them because without support, you’re more likely to doubt yourself (at least I think I would). So that’s my motivation for sharing it, to let those APers know that they aren’t alone. Even though the Dr. Phils of the world may not agree with co-sleeping and it seems like so many people advocate CIO, don’t fret, Harvard researchers say it’s OK (and even good) to let your baby sleep with you or comfort your crying little one.

(This article dates back to 1998, but it recently surfaced on a Yahoo Group I frequent. Being that it’s 7 years old, it makes me wonder why this kind of information hasn’t made it’s way into mainstream society yet.)

Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say

By Alvin Powell
Contributing Writer

America’s “let them cry” attitude toward children may lead to more fears and tears among adults, according to two Harvard Medical School researchers.

Instead of letting infants cry, American parents should keep their babies close, console them when they cry, and bring them to bed with them, where they’ll feel safe, according to Michael L. Commons and Patrice M. Miller, researchers at the Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry.

To read the entire article, click here.

I also ran across the following article (from the United Kingdom) that says much of the same thing re: crying, though this one is more recent – from November 2004.

Science shows up Supernanny

A mental health expert warns that fashionable advice to ignore your child’s tears may cause lifelong harm

Amelia Hill, education correspondent
Sunday November 7, 2004
The Observer

Nanny no longer knows best, the Contented Little Baby Book could undermine a child’s development, and Dr Spock’s advice that a child should be left to cry could cause psychological damage.

When it comes to the crowded and hotly debated world of how best to bring up baby, there is a new theory that uses brain scans to argue that controlled crying not only damages babies’ brains but produces angry, anxious adults.

For the entire article, click here.

Add gardening …

to my list of things I enjoy doing! 🙂

This past week I spent two evenings and two mornings watering and weeding at a community garden plot I participate in along with six other families. After we got all the seeds and plants in the ground in the spring, we each signed up for several weeks to take turns with the weeding and watering. Last week was one of my weeks.

The first week I was on duty, earlier in the season, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. Sure, I can hold a hose and water plants without much difficulty, but many of the veggies hadn’t sprouted yet, and I didn’t know what was a weed and what was worth keeping! So I erred on the side of caution, and therefore left a garden overrun with weeds for the next person. Oops.

This time, however, everything was well-established and it was obvious to me what the weeds are. Well, mostly. There were a few things that obviously weren’t what we planted, but yet, I wasn’t sure if they were weeds. I checked back in with the master gardener of our group before pulling anything iffy. Turns out we’ve got some “volunteer plants” growing in our plot – a sunflower in the corner of our mixed greens patch, and several dill and other herbs located sporadically throughout the garden. 🙂

I was excited to bring home some zucchini, onions, a carrot, some green beans and mixed greens from the plot this past week. At the risk of sounding like a dork (hey, we all know I am one anyway), I have to say it felt really good to me to be eating and feeding my daughter with foods that we grew ourselves. I know they were grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers and they honestly tasted much better than food bought at good ol’ Safeway.

Our garden veggies:

And so, while I don’t really feel up to planting a garden in my own backyard next year (I’m afraid the dogs would have a field day in it), I may very well sign up to have our own family plot at the Community Garden. 🙂 I know it will be a much bigger time investment than what I’ve had to do this year (splitting up the work between 7 families has been a piece of cake). But I think I’ve learned a good deal about gardening in our community plot venture and, with the help of some books or websites, feel up to the challenge. 🙂

Mama’s lil gardener:

Plus I really enjoyed going out to the plot as a family last week. Ava seemed to enjoy spending time there and “helping” out. She mostly played with weeds that I’d picked and also picked up pieces of mulch and dropped them over the tomato cages onto the plants. Of course she also plopped down into a couple good mud puddles after I’d watered. 😉 And, much to my surprise, Jody said even he liked going out there and helping.

There’s another family I’ve seen on their own plot there on a few occasions. A mom, dad and two daughters – one about 5 or 6 and one who looks to be Ava’s age. The older girl wears this adorable bonnet and long skirt whenever she’s gardening and looks like she could’ve stepped right out of Little House on the Prairie. Anyway, that family is inspiring to me. I bet they grow a good portion of their own food right there and I think that’s awesome.

So I aspire to grow more of our foods next year. Maybe I’ll get really adventurous and learn how to do some canning as well.

In the meantime, I really am looking forward to more of our vegetables ripening, especially the tomatoes. After having some nasty-tasting tomato sauce on our pasta the other night, I hope to make my own! 🙂

Right and Wrong?

Something I read recently in a book called “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” really struck me. The jist of it is that even though many people chose to parent differently from you, there doesn’t have to be a “right” and “wrong” way.

The quote comes from a section about “Coping with Pressure from Outsiders” and goes like this:

“Other people nearer your own age may need to put down your decisions as defense for their own parenting choices on the assumption that one of you has to be wrong. (How much better it would be if we could, every one of us, think through what seems right and feels right for our own families and then be neither threatened nor threatening when the neighbors do not make the identical decisions!)”

It made me think about some of the discussions going on here lately and how I and others might come across. While it’s true that I write about things that I believe in here, I would never say that my way is the “right” way or only way. Don’t get me wrong, I feel very strongly about many things, but I’m not going to tell anyone they are wrong because they don’t do things the way I do.

I hope that those who do not parent the same way I do, do not feel like I’m saying my way is the only way. It is not my intention to threaten anyone. I also hope we can continue to have intelligent, thought-provoking and respectful discussions here.

Thank you.

Just doing my part

I’ve always felt lucky, blessed really, that I’ve been able to provide milk for my baby without any troubles. Unfortunately I know that for some women, that’s not the case. I know at least three women who have had trouble either producing enough milk for their baby or not producing any at all.

I bought a breastpump when Ava was 6 months old so that I could express some milk to mix with her cereal. We didn’t end up feeding her cereal for very long because it constipated her. So then I was left with a pump that I didn’t figure I’d have a use for anymore.

During that time I learned about a woman in my area who was expecting baby #3 and, while she wanted him to have as much breastmilk as possible, she knew based on her experience with her other two children that she couldn’t produce enough for him. Traditional formula wasn’t an option either because her older son was allergic to it and there was a good chance this baby would be as well.

She tried contacting the Mothers’ Milk Bank, and while her son qualified for milk with a doctor’s prescription, the milk was just too expensive for her family to purchase.

When I heard that she needed breastmilk for her newborn I e-mailed her to offer up mine. Since I’ve been so fortunate to feed Ava, I wanted to extend the offer to help out her baby. I thought she might be leery, as I would be, since she only knew me from a message board, so I provided her with my medical history, blood work results, and other information that I figured I’d want to know if I were in her shoes. She happily accepted and I’ve been pumping for the lil guy daily ever since (with the exception of when I had vertigo for a week).

I am so happy that I’m able to help her and her baby out in some small way. Now that I have a breastpump, I plan to donate my milk to the Milk Bank if/when I have baby #2. God’s blessed me with such a plentiful supply that I can’t imagine not helping out someone else if I’m able.

I’ve since met the woman and her sweet baby boy in person. And she’s since qualified for financial assistance through the Milk Bank so that she’s able to get some milk for free there as well. 🙂 I plan to continue to pump for them for a while, at least another month or two.

If you are interested in donating breastmilk or learning more about Mothers’ Milk Banks in your area, please visit this web site.

Happy holidays!

From our family to yours – Happy Holidays! Hope you all have a wonderful week filled with family, friends and lots of love. 🙂

This is the Christmas card we sent out this year. Picture taken by yours truly. I only had to run back and forth between the family and camera to reset the timer something like 100 times. 😉

Serious toy warning

Magnet toy leads to 2-year-old boy’s death

“A freak accident involving a popular toy has killed a 2-year-old boy and now, Kenny Sweet’s parents hope that other parents can learn from their tragedy.”

“Doctors found the magnets in Kenny’s small intestine – one at the top and one at the bottom. The magnetic force was so great it connected both ends, twisting his intestine and forcing deadly bacteria into his blood stream.”

This story is just awful, but definitely something to share with everyone you know as these magnetic toys are so popular. At Christmas and always, please be careful with what your little ones play with.

Sorry for the downer on Christmas Eve, but this is very serious and I think people (especially those with small children) need to be aware of it.