Friday, December 31, 2010

Adventures in Mommyhood: 2010 Year in Review

So, I really didn't want to leave off 2010 with a post about how I'm hating life right now and don't feel like posting. I do have a positive outlook. There are so many things that are going well and so many things I really am thankful for. I am looking forward to 2011, a year that I hope will be all that I thought 2010 would be. And hopefully more!

Here's a little recap of some of my favorite posts from 2010:

January: Carpooling? -- I've got quite a few new readers out there and I'd love to hear your take on this!

February: Up a Notch on the Crunchy Meter -- Read about how we finally trusted our instincts and transferred to midwife care at 34weeks pregnant.

March: Bubby's birth story -- Self-explanatory.

April: Reflections -- Reflecting on how switching to midwife care probably saved my birth experience.

May: It's a fine line -- Walking the line between being a passionate parenting advocate and giving unwanted advice.

June: Just what I didn't want to see -- What made us go on the elimination diet, eliminating all top eight allergens from my diet.

July: My evolution -- How I evolved from a mama worried about doing things "right" to a mama who trusted my instincts

August: Breastfeeding Bubby -- Breastfeeding the second time around was a whole new game.

September: Absence makes the heart grow fonder -- Just taking a breather.

October: A proud babywearer -- How babywearing saved my sanity with a colicky baby.

November: Today I made the call -- Finally reached out for help with my PPD/PPA

December: Time for myself -- On the road to feeling better.

Happy New Years! Stay safe. Me? I'll be hoping the kiddos fall asleep easily and Glenn & I can watch the new year ring in on the east coast. Midnight? Hmmm...maybe I'll be dream-feeding Bubby.

Sayonara 2010.

Me at the beginning of 2010
Apologies for my lack of posting lately. We've been busy and I've had a lot on my mind, things that I doubt anyone is really interested in reading. The holidays were busy, the kids were sick, Glenn's cornea got scratched (bad!) by Bubby, I've been feeling very down and anxious about things, etc etc. I want blogging to continue to be a creative outlet for me, not something I feel like I have to do. So, if I feel like I want to read, or watch TV, play Fruit Ninja, or just do whatever after the kids go to bed I am. Glenn's work schedule has been different and we've been able to hang out after the kids go to bed. He's been able to help Beanie lay down while I nurse Bubby to sleep. It makes things so much easier.

2010 has been an interesting year for us. Not bad, but definitely not what I expected. I started out with lofty goals. I was going to get my life together. Then we had our second child, our first son. We survived colic. And an elimination diet. Food sensitivities. And thrush (times four!). And finally succumbed to the realization that I needed some help, that how I was feeling wasn't normal, that I had PPD/PPA. We got involved with an amazing mom's group and I am so thankful for that. Beanie has blossomed into an amazing three-and-a-half year old. We're having some difficulties right now, but we're working through them. I'm excited to dedicate some more one-on-one time with her in the coming year. Glenn has proven over and over (and over) again that he is the most amazing husband, father and partner. I don't tell him enough, but I should shout it from the rooftops.

Towards the end of 2010.
I'm looking forward to the proverbial clean slate that comes with the new year. I'm still considering all I'd like to accomplish. For now, I'm keeping it simple:

Add myself to the list of people I take care of.

I want to be in good physical, mental & emotional health. The rest can, and will, come later.

I'd like to explore some new avenues with my blog, but, like I said, I don't want to get sucked in to worrying about page views, followers and statistics. I want to write, to share, and to enjoy it. Hopefully the rest will come along with it.

Do you set New Year's Resolutions? Care to share?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
These are an adaptation from the blueberry oat bars I made earlier. I've been wanting to try them with the pumpkin and finally got around to it. I think I could've eaten the whole pan in one sitting! They were delicious.

I use regular oats since I am eating gluten-free for Bubby, who is intolerant to wheat, but if you are gluten intolerant or have Celiac's you may want to seek out gluten-free oats (and baking soda, vanilla, etc etc) for yourself. Please double check that any ingredients are suitable for your diet.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

4 1/2c rolled oats
1 cup GF flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free baking flour)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c DF "butter," softened (I used Earth Balance dairy-free soy-free buttery spread)
1/3 c honey
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1c pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
dash of cloves
1c chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life chocolate chips)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Press into a greased (I used Spectrum palm shortening) 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-22 min. Let cool. Cut into squares & wrap individually in wax paper. Refrigerate.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 12/27

Well, we're past the holiday madness. I realized that the holidays have been extra difficult for me this year. The PPD is getting better, but obviously, there's a long way to go with that. Our holidays are very food centric, and while I was able to feel adventurous about Thanksgiving, Christmas sort of seemed blah without all the usual suspects. Everyone else ate lasagna on Christmas Eve and I had an overcooked chicken breast and salad. My gluten-free monkey bread looked delicious, but just didn't taste the same. We couldn't go out for Chinese food Christmas night (although Glenn, great hubby that he is cooked a delicious dinner of sweet and sour prawns). It just wasn't the same. For the most part, I don't miss anything I used to eat. I feel better without the dairy and I know my restricted diet has made all the difference in the world for Bubby. That said, the holidays this year were hard; I'm sure the food stuff just compounded that.

Onward and upward though; here's our menu plan for next week. As always, we plan from Saturday to Friday -- that's how we roll. All meals are gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, or easily adapted to be.

Saturday: Sweet and Sour prawns with green peppers and pineapple. Served over white rice.
Sunday: Pulled pork, homemade french fries and green salad (I use Kinnikinnick hamburger buns)
Monday: Tacos (we use ground turkey) on corn tortillas
Tuesday: Chili with cornbread and green salad
Wednesday: Leftover Buffet
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas
Friday: Our New Year's Eve tradition -- Spaghetti (mine with brown rice pasta)

We may try reintroducing wheat into my diet pretty soon here, maybe even the end of this week. We're playing it by ear. Bubby is working on getting four teeth (two are just about to cut through) and he's just getting over a cold. We want to make sure he's feeling well before adding anything else into the mix. I'm excited. And nervous. Probably more nervous than excited; wheat has been the easiest thing to go without or to substitute for me. I'm sure it's different for other people, but there are so many products and places that cater to gluten-free individuals now that it isn't so bad.

I'm linked up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie so click on over for more menu planning ideas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


As I commented over at The Irreverent Mama, I realized that I never "came out" from my anonymity on this blog. For whatever reason (and there are a few that I'll go into in another post), I decided to take ownership and use my name here. So, if you see "Kristen @ Adventures in Mommyhood," that's me! The blogger formerly known as Semi-Crunchy Mama.

That's all. Happy Festivus. Merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Beginning Baby Led Weaning

Beanie circa 2008. Excited about cheese.
Bubby had his nine month well check last week. He weighed in at 20lb 1oz. He's almost tripled his body weight since birth, almost entirely on breastmilk. He's had negligible amounts of solid food, but, really, he's not interested. At least not in purees. I made homemade baby food, but he shuns it as he eyes the food on our plates. Beanie has been eating most of the purees; they seem to be a treat to her. I'm not worried at all about his lack of solid food intake right now. The pediatrician noted that he has fallen a bit on the growth curve (to be expected as he's more mobile, can't sustain a growth of 4lbs a month forever, etc). She did encourage us to try new textures with him.

Glenn and I talked and I went back and forth. We had mostly given up on trying to get him interested in purees. It just wasn't worth it. I'd rather just nurse since I know Bubby doesn't really need solids during his first year. At first, I wanted to offer purees with more regularity, but now I think we've decided to go with a baby led weaning approach. If you don't know about baby led weaning, it really has nothing to do with weaning from the breast; it's about letting your child be in control of the food they eat. Kelly at KellyNaturally just wrote a great overview of baby led weaning and I encourage you to check it out if you're looking for more information.

He still doesn't eat much, but I'm not worried at all. He is much more interested in real food than the purees. He explores it and, lo and behold, some of it makes its way to his mouth. When I think back now, Beanie was much the same way. We made homemade babyfood, but she wasn't much interested in food at all until she was about a year old. We never pushed babyfood, but it is nice to see Bubby having fun with food now. We'll just keep taking it slow and enjoy our new adventure.

Anyone else practicing baby led weaning? What foods are you giving your little one?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On motherhood, self image, and raising our children

Image credit: thompsonwood on Flickr
When I look in the mirror, I don't see what I should. I don't see someone who's lost all their pregnancy weight and then ten-or-so pounds. I don't see someone who had to rummage through the garage and find the bin of jeans I swore I wouldn't go through until next summer.

That's what I should see, though, and I'm trying really hard.

I'm trying to be happy in my own skin. To accept myself and just roll with it. To realize that I look pretty damn good and to love myself no matter what.

Beanie will get more than enough societal influence on how she should look. I need her to know, from me, that however we look is just fine. More than just fine -- beautiful, perfect, wonderful. The best way for her to know that? To feel that way about myself. What message am I sending if I tell her she's perfect exactly the way she is, but don't feel that way about myself?

I've been thinking about this a lot as my mom is coming in to town for the holidays this week, my mom who is seemingly obsessed with her weight, what she eats, if she exercises, and on and on. I don't remember her being like that as I was growing up. Maybe because most of her life my mom hovered right around 100 pounds. I worry about the words she will use in front of Beanie, about the way she characterizes how she looks and how & what she (and those close to her) should eat. Beanie may only be three-and-a-half, but words, especially words from those closest to her, have great power and I want those words (and underlying attitudes) to be supportive of good health -- physical, mental and emotional health.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time for myself

Last week the counselor told me she thought I should take an hour each day to myself, leave the kiddos with Hubby and just have some me time.

An hour???

Every day???

Apparently I looked pretty shocked. The idea was almost unimaginable to me. I mean, how would I fit that time in? What about Hubby? When would he get any me time? What about Bubby? Would he scream the whole time? Would be be hungry, tired, or snuggly and want to nurse? What about Beanie? My counselor even commented on how foreign the concept seemed to me. Yes, foreign, that's probably an accurate description.

I've said it before; I'm horrible at taking time for myself. Glenn isn't worried about his "me time." He assures me that everyone will be doing better once I'm doing better, and that if this is what the doctor orders then we should give it a go. And we have. It hasn't been every day, but we have been making an effort, even if it's just Glenn taking the kids to the store so I can be home alone for a bit.

It's quiet when I'm home alone. I'm getting used to it, but I sort of think I like it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

(Sort of) Wordless Wednesday

2010 Christmas tree
Setting up the Christmas tree is always an adventure. Glenn and I make a good team because I hate doing the lights and he hates doing the ornaments. Actually, for Glenn, it comes down to the fact that I love putting up all the ornaments from my childhood, no matter how silly they are. Glenn prefers a "pretty" tree, a la color coordinated.

What "kind" of tree do you have? Do you break out all the ornaments you've gathered over the years, or is your tree themed?

I'm linked up over at Hobo Mama and Natural Parents Network so click on over to check out more Wordless Wednesday posts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holidays, food and family

Image credit: simplegreenorganichappy on Flickr
Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk Traditions
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I think back to the holidays of my childhood, my memories are of food, large family gatherings and decorations. I remember going to my grandmother's house and sitting around the huge dining room table with all of my aunts and uncles and lots of food. I remember sitting in our dark living room with only the lights of the Christmas tree illuminating the room, just sitting and staring, taking in the lights of the season. I remember my dad standing out in the cold, hanging the Christmas lights on the house and wrapping the large white pillars with red tape so they looked like giant candy canes.

We have similar traditions in our family now. We aren't religious, we don't "do Santa," so the holidays are largely about food and family. When I think of the traditions we have as a family, I think of food. Egg stuffing on Thanksgiving. Making cookies with Beanie. Lasagna on Christmas Eve and monkey bread Christmas morning. Spaghetti on New Year's Eve.

As Beanie gets older, we start new traditions -- driving around to look at Christmas lights, checking out local events and light displays, reading books about varying religious and cultural traditions, and making compassion kits to help the needy. We each pick out a new ornament for the tree each year; when the kids are older they can take these with them.

The holidays are an exciting time of year for our family and we love starting new traditions.

What traditions do you have for the holidays?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 December 14 with all the carnival links.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 12/13

I almost missed Menu Plan Monday! I can't believe Christmas is less than two weeks away; things have been so busy.

As always, we plan Saturday - Friday because that's how we roll. All menus are gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free or easily adapted.

Saturday: Chicken and dumplings (pushed back from last week's plan as Glenn wanted pizza for his birthday -- I had mine cheese-less on a Kinnikinnick crust)
Sunday: Chicken soft tacos on corn tortillas
Monday: Holiday dinner with my dad. Everyone else had lasagna. I had a baked chicken breast.
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes
Wednesday: Meatloaf muffins
Thursday: Leftover buffet
Friday: Teriyaki chicken and rice for Glenn & Beanie; Seasoned and baked chicken for me.

The ingredient of the week for the Gluten Free Menu Plan Monday is onions. Honestly, I'm not an onion fan. I usually cut the amount called for in any given recipe in half. I've started adding a bit more in certain recipes, but I still don't love them. If you are an onion lover, some of the other menu planners have some great ideas. 

I'm linked up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and Celiac Family so click on over for more menu ideas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why we decided not to "do Santa"

Image credit: LadyDragonflyCC on Flickr
Glenn and I have made the decision not to "do Santa" with the kids. When I told my mom her response was, "Why do some parents do that?!??!" as if it was the most horrible and awful thing you could do to a child. We actually have many reasons, which include:

We strive to raise our children in an environment where they learn to think critically, trust their parents, and be honest. Telling a story about a imaginary man who flies all the way around the world on his sleigh (with flying reindeer nonetheless), scoots his way down chimneys and rewards children who have been good (more on that in a minute) does not bode itself to critical thinking. The other day we were driving home from visiting our friend's new baby; Beanie was excited to see the sun, saying hello to it and waving. She commented that the sun wasn't waving back, to which I asked her if the sun had arms. "No!" she replied, laughing at my silliness. I then asked how the sun would wave if it didn't have arms and she replied, "Well, it doesn't!" It's with that same questioning spirit that we will approach the story of Santa.

Santa forces the good-bad dichotomy, of which I am not a fan. Much as I don't wish Beanie to be "good" at the grocery store to get a cookie when we're done, I don't want her to be "good" to get presents from Santa. I've never actually heard of a child getting coal from Santa, but we want to instill in Beanie the idea that we are "good" (I use that term begrudgingly) because those are the morals, values and standards we live by.

For us, Santa is just another story to tell in December. We aren't religious, so there are many holiday stories for us to tell. As I stated in an earlier post, we plan to teach the kids about multiple cultural and religious celebrations during the Winter. The history of Saint Nicholas is one we will be teaching and, from that, we can tell her how the story of Santa Claus came about. Santa is a character, much the same as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, or Frog and Toad.

To us, the idea of Santa puts more emphasis on getting than giving. For our family, the holidays are about being with family, enjoying good food, and giving gifts. Sure, Santa is big on giving but, for children, the big takeaway from the story is all about receiving. We really want to focus on the giving aspect of the holidays and feel that there are other ways, such as the compassion kit playdate we just attended, that more accurately describe the spirit of the holidays for us.

We plan to keep everything age appropriate. This year we are reading stories about Hanukkah, the Solstice, St. Nicholas and Christmas. She's three-and-a-half so we are following her lead and answering questions. We've told the grandparents that we aren't doing Santa; I'm not sure they understand, but maybe this post will help.

Glenn and I were both raised in families that "did Santa." Our traditions were quite different. In my family, Santa brought just a few small things for our stocking. The rest of the presents were from my parents and extended family. We did do the whole oh-look-at-that-light-it's-Santa-and-his-reindeer, the half-eaten cookies and on and on. I believed until I was nine when my mom mistook my smug grin and comment about the tooth fairy to mean that I knew she wasn't real. That wasn't the case and I was crushed when my mom said, "I guess you know we're the tooth fairy." Then it dawned on me that the Easter Bunny was also fake. And (oh my god!) Santa, too. I don't remember any of this really; my faulty memory instead had me thinking I believed until my sister's third grade teacher announced to the class that Santa was a fraud. Apparently, my sister finding out was more of a traumatic experience, even for me. In Glenn's family, Santa was a bigger deal; he brought the bulk of the presents to place under the tree. He found out when his parents asked him to take out the trash after Easter brunch and he found the milk jug bunny he had made. The realization quickly hit that Santa was fake, too.

I tell you all this because one reason that doesn't factor at all into our decision is the idea that our kids would be traumatized or distraught at the impending realization that Santa was a big charade. I'm sure that some children are traumatized at the realization that Santa was for not; apparently my sister, myself and Glenn all were, but none of us carry that trauma into adulthood. It's more so a decision based on the values and morals we want to teach our children and how we choose to parent.

I've read a few other great posts on Santa, so read up if you wish:

Anyone else not "do Santa?" I know a few friends that don't, but I'm sure we're in the minority. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on the topic.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 12/06

We had a really busy weekend, so we didn't get around to grocery shopping Saturday morning like we usually do. But, now we are armed with our weekly menu plan & list and ready to shop. I am really happy with how well we stuck to the plan last week. We did change it up one day and had breakfast for dinner (one of my favorites!), but we had everything we needed at home so I count it as a success.

We've been having a lot of difficulty with Beanie wanting to eat dinner, so we had her put a little more input into the menu planning. She chose our Sunday night dinner of chicken tender salads (I ate my salad with baked chicken breast to stick to my diet). Lo and behold, she ate almost all her dinner!

As always, we plan Saturday - Friday because that's how we roll. All meals are gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, or easily adapted to be.

Saturday: Chicken fajitas (on corn tortillas)
Sunday: Big green salads with chicken, avocado, and tomato (and cheese for the dairy-eaters in the house)
Monday: Chicken enchiladas
Tuesday: Chicken and dumplings in the slow cooker (I make the "cream of- soup" with gluten-free flour, rice milk and Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread, and make the dumplings with Bob's Red Mill biscuit and baking mix)
Wednesday: Pasta with homemade sauce, probably spaghetti for Glenn & Beanie and Trader Joe's brown rice penne pasta for me
Thursday: Sausage and Bean Soup
Friday: Leftover buffet

Image credit: swanksalot on Flickr
The ingredient of the week for the Gluten-free Menu Plan Monday is mushrooms. We don't make a lot of meals that really highlight mushrooms, but we do use them in a lot of recipes. In fact, two of our meals from this week include crimini mushrooms - our homemade spaghetti sauce and the chicken and dumplings. Glenn says the mushrooms are the secret ingredient to our sauce (eh, not so secret anymore, honey. Sorry!). We slice the mushrooms and then pan fry them in olive oil before putting them in the sauce (olive oil and all). Delicious!

I'm linked up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and Celiacs in the House so click on over for more menu-planning ideas.

Slactivisim in action

I'm sure you've noticed the trend on Facebook over the last few days. It goes something like this:

Change your FB profile pic to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a real human face on FB till Monday December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse. Copy and paste to your status & invite your friends to do the same.

What, you ask, does posting a cartoon picture have to do with the fight against child abuse? The answer is simple. Absolutely nothing.

We've seen it before. Post the color of your bra to raise breast cancer awareness. Post the location of your purse and join the fight against domestic violence.

The result? First, the clueless are left wondering why there are cartoon pictures everywhere. Then, a whole lot of people feeling like they've done something when, in actuality, they've done nothing. Slactivism at it's best. I'm not faulting anyone with a childhood cartoon as their profile picture; I'm sure their intentions are good. Who doesn't want to join the fight against child abuse? However, someone very close to me who suffered from childhood abuse actually used the term "offensive" to describe the Facebook campaign.

If you want to join the fight against childhood abuse, here are a few ideas:

  • Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) to get help or report abuse.
  • CASA for Children - From their site, "CASA volunteers are everyday citizens judges appoint to advocate for safety and well-being of children who are victims of parental abuse and neglect."
  • Childhelp 
Thanks to my friends who suggested these ways to help.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Small Victories

Most of my current anxiety relates to safety issues. That's always been the case, but it's more prevalent right now with the PPD. One of the worst things right now is driving, especially in traffic or when the weather is bad. We've mostly been staying close to home and avoiding the freeway at all costs. As soon as we're in the car, I think we're going to get in an accident, the kids will get hurt, etc etc. Glenn does most all of the driving. I am anxious even as a passenger. I thin it drives him nuts, but I can't help it. I try.

But, this week I made two trips farther from home than usual and they went well. I didn't panic. I'm always a little anxious in traffic, but I think there's a level of normal I-hate-traffic anxiety and then there's the level I've been at, even in normal driving conditions.

It's the small victories lately that really make me feel like we are having a good week.