Saturday, January 29, 2011

The View From Here.


I've been taking a bit of a breather from the online world. I cut back on my online message boards awhile back and now have tried to unplug from Facebook, Twitter, and (turns out) blogging.

A few things led to this. I've been wanting to unplug for a while and doing so was one of my goals for the new year. I read Melodie's post for the January Carnival of Natural Parenting titled My Kids Have Taught Me It's Time to Stop Blogging, I saw a Blogging without Obligation button on a friend's blog and I've really been doing a lot of thinking about what I want (and need) from life right now. Back in November, a few friends and I had a conversation about the difference between wanting to blog and feeling like you needed to blog. I want to make sure I'm in the place where I want to blog, not that I feel like I have to.

My New Year's Resolution was to add myself to the list of people I take care of. I've been working at that, but, I won't lie, it's quite a struggle right now and I have a long way to go. I'm in a difficult spot and, while I've found touching PPD blogs* (and I love that people are blogging and letting moms know it's okay to get help), I'm just not in the place where I feel like blogging about each and every one of my struggles. And, lately, the struggles seem like a lot.

I've also been working to improve my relationships with family, mostly Glenn and Beanie as Bubby has the lion's share of mama's attention right now. Glenn's work schedule has shifted a bit lately and often he is awake after the kids go to bed. It makes things easier with bedtime and it's nice to have some time to talk, reconnect, dork around, watch reruns of The Office and on and on. Beanie is having a difficult time with some things. I'm sure part of it is being 3 1/2, having a little brother, and etc. It really helps us to unplug and reconnect as mother and daughter.

I've been reading a lot. Mostly parenting books. I finished Positive Discipline and am reading Playful Parenting and Unconditional Parenting. I have Parenting Beyond Belief sitting on the end table, too. On the nights Glenn does have to go to bed early, I've been reading instead of staring at the computer. I find it easier to fall asleep that way, too.

It's been harder getting out and about. My neck and back were acting up again, but I am happy to say I found a chiropractor I really like. He practices Jeet Kune Do so we talk about martial arts, he does deep tissue massage along with the adjustments, his office is right across from my counselor's and I am happy to say I'm feeling better. Step one in taking care of myself. I've been six times and am already feeling a lot better. Bubby has been all over the place with his morning naps. Once I think I've got his "schedule" (I use that term loosely because we really don't schedule at all, just let him get into his own rhythm) figure out he switches it up again. I know we have better days when we get out of the house, but lately it has been such a struggle that it seems easier to stay in. That is, until we're all bouncing off the walls about 1 pm.

So, I'm here and I will be blogging. Just when I want to. I've also vowed to stay away from looking at my statistics for awhile and just get back to enjoying writing.

*There's an amazing community for PPD/PPA support on Twitter. They have weekly chats. Search for the hashtag #ppdchat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 01/17

We're back on the gluten-free adventure. Once Bubby is feeling better we will try to reintroduce dairy, then soy, and then we'll come back and reevaluate the wheat thing. I don't know if that was what was bothering him, but we can come to no other logical conclusion. And, apparently, my memory was faulty; when we reintroduced wheat on the elimination diet in July, he wasn't so bad off in just a day or two, it did take longer (like a week) and was less obvious -- cranky, yucky diapers, allergy ring on his bum. The same old suspects as right now. The immediate bad reaction was with the dairy.

I'm feeling good about the decision to re-eliminate. While surely there could be other compounding variables in the mix, it just wasn't helping my anxiety worrying about Bubby and wondering what was going on. I hate seeing him in pain. Best to eliminate the variables we can and come back to it later.

I've also started seeing a new chiropractor (more on that later), so we are planning a few crockpot recipes for this week as I have appointments in the late afternoons, right about when we usually start settling in to make 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.

Italian Sausage Soup

Saturday: Sloppy Joes with green salad and homemade french fries
Sunday: Italian Sausage Soup
Monday: Chicken and Dumplings Soup
Tuesday: Spaghetti with green salad
Wednesday: Leftover Buffet
Thursday: Arroz con Pollo
Friday: Cranberry Roast with mashed potatoes and green salad

Image credit: twohelmetscooking on Flickr
The ingredient of the week at the Gluten Free Menu Plan Monday is winter vegetables. We've been making a lot of side dishes with russet potatoes. We started buying a big ten pound bag at the store (so much cheaper than buying the bigger by-the-pound ones) and have been making homemade fries, hash browns, mashed potatoes and etc. I'd like to make some sweet potato fries soon; I wonder if Bubby would go for them. I have some butternut squash in the freezer (cubes and puree) and I'd like to try out my pumpkin bread recipe with squash (especially now that I'm better at adapting gluten recipes). I've also been wanting to make this squash soup so perhaps I'll finally take a stab at it this week.

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

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wheat Free Once Again

Image credit: Photography_Gal on Flickr

I wrote previously about the fact that we reintroduced wheat into my diet. At the time, things seemed to be going swimmingly for Bubby and not so hot for me. It's been almost two weeks now since I've reintroduced wheat. While I have started to feel better, Bubby has seemed to go downhill. I still don't really know with any certainty if it is the wheat bothering him right now. There hadn't been anything that really stood out until last night. Earlier this week, I thought I may have seen tiny blood specks in his diaper. As I said earlier, it's hard being the poop police and I wasn't really sure. As of last night I am sure. Bubby has been crankier (so much that Glenn jokingly called him Baby Godzilla today) and I feel like his diapers have been going downhill. The ironic part is that I was just starting to feel better with our wheat introduction, although I still have some undesirable gastrointestinal issues.

Before last night, my thinking was to introduce wheat directly into his diet (although who knows how that would go as he doesn't really consume anything beyond breastmilk). I thought it was our best bet to figure out if that was really what was bothering him. Now, I feel like our only logical option is to re-eliminate. As I said earlier, for me eating gluten-free really isn't that hard. And, if dairy and soy were back in our diet eating gluten-free would be very easy. So, back to the drawing board! We'll re-eliminate the wheat, wait a few weeks and try the dairy.

At least, that is our thinking for now. I feel like it really is for the best.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life Lessons From My Children

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.


I've grown so much as a person in the last three-and-a-half years. I'm not the person I once was and my growth has definitely been for the better. Along the way I've learned quite a bit. I've learned that it's not all about the lessons we impart on our children (not even close!). It's more about the lessons they choose to teach us.

Here are ten life lessons I learned from my children:

1. There really is such a thing as love at first sight. The second I saw her sweet, vernix-covered face I knew there was no going back. I was so in love with Beanie. It was instantaneous. Not that there wasn't a lot of love for her before she decided to make her entrance into this world, but when I saw her it all changed. I knew there was nothing I wouldn't do for her. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I still can't. You hear people talking about the love they have for their children. Let me just tell you that you have no idea. As Glenn and I discussed becoming a family of four, I wondered how I would ever be able to love a second child as much as I loved my first. As any parent of two or more knows, that question is moot; the love for your children, whether you have one or seven, is exponential and grows daily.

2. Learning happens all the time. Every moment is an opportunity to learn. Take the time to think about things, ask why, and let your curiosity lead you. I've often said I could be a professional student (if only someone would pay for my tuition!); there's no better "student" than a three year old. They are full of wonder and curiosity. I try to remember that as I'm being asked "why?" for the ten-thousandth time. We learn as we go.

3. It's not about the destination; it's about the journey. Before I had children, I'd hike to the waterfall or the top of a mountain. Now? Not so much. Go for a walk or a hike with a toddler and you'll quickly learn exactly what I mean. That bug on the leaf you never would have noticed? Fascinating. The beauty of a field of flowers? Take it in. For an hour. That slug who you thought looked the same as all the others? Different. You may not even make it to your destination, but taking the time to enjoy the journey, the process, makes the destination less important.

4. Plans are made to be broken. That grand scheme I've had to clean one room a day? The plan to make it to the grocery store before naptime? The checklist of things to get done? They don't really seem that important when the other option is snuggling with your daughter while your son takes his morning nap.

5. Cooking and baking are fun... There are a few reasons this lesson has been important to me. Partly because, being gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, I have to cook for myself now. And, more importantly, the joy on Beanie's face when we get to bake together is priceless. It's a new found hobby of mine, and one I've learned to enjoy.

6. is doing the dishes. I hate doing dishes.They're just like laundry. You do them and, as soon as you're done, there's more to do. But, doing dishes with Beanie? So much fun. She's taught me that there really isn't anything you can't make fun.

7. Trust your instincts. Whether in regards to switching to midwife care at 34 weeks pregnant or being the parent your gut is telling you to be, becoming a mother has taught me that my instincts are usually right. Trust yours.

8. There is joy in the littlest things. The other day Beanie's eyes lit up as we shared a banana. A quick hug. A family dance party. A simple "I love you." An ear-to-ear grin as she learns to ride her bike. Heading to the park, going for a walk, reading stories together while her brother sleeps. It's not the big things we do or places we go that really make an impact; it's the little things each and every day that bring us the most joy.

9. Life without wheat, dairy and soy "ain't that bad." Sure, there are times that are harder than others, but being on a restricted diet due to Bubby's food sensitivities has been rewarding. I feel a lot healthier. The change in Bubby has been remarkable. We've explored new foods and found that different isn't bad. In fact, a lot of times it's better.

10. Take time for yourself. You're worth it. I struggle with this, but have found that I really am a better mom (and wife and all-around person) when I take time for myself. You can't be everything to everyone. Or, if you're like me and a mom who really tries to be, you need to make sure and include yourself on that list. I'm trying to share this lesson with Beanie as she gets older; she no longer naps, but she does need a mid-day refresher and I want her to know that's okay. She has even started to ask for some "quiet time for herself."

What lessons have your children taught you?


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

Menu Plan Monday 01/10

Time for our weekly menu planning. As I posted earlier, we did reintroduce wheat into my diet last week, but we are still keeping our dinners gluten-free. I am starting to feel better, but the reintroduction was a lot harder on my system than I thought it would be. Whether I'm sensitive to wheat or not, I imagine I will never eat it quite the way I used to. I just feel better without it. Bubby seems to be doing well still. If this continues we will probably try to introduce to him shortly, or at least as soon as he starts eating a bit more table food.

A few of our dinners are "recycled" from last week as we had a crazy few days. We had leftovers twice and ended up going out for pho one night.

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

Indonesian Chicken
Saturday: Breakfast for dinner. Egg scramble with potatoes, peppers, sausage, bacon and avocado.
Sunday: Chicken fajitas
Monday: Indonesian Chicken
Tuesday: Beans & Rice
Wednesday: Leftover Buffet
Thursday: Meatloaf muffins with mashed potatoes and green salad
Friday: Kielbasa with potatoes, peppers & onions

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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Banana Bread

Banana Bread
I've tinkered with this banana bread recipe a few times, but we finally got it to turn out perfect! This is Glenn's grandma's recipe.

Banana Bread


1/2 c Earth Balance dairy-free soy-free "butter"
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
3 mashed bananas (very ripe)
1/4c chopped nuts (if desired -- I always leave out)

  1. Cream "butter" and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and beat well, then add flour, xanthan gum, and baking soda.
  3. Crush bananas and mix in. Add nuts.
  4. Place in greased pan (I use Spectrum palm shortening) and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Check with toothpick to see if it comes out clean.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Reintroducing Wheat: Take Two. And What to Do?

Image Credit: Photography_Gal on Flickr

On Monday of this week we reintroduced wheat into my diet. I've been meaning to write this post since then. Friends have been asking how it's been going. I haven't been updating on Facebook as much as usual (mostly because I am trying to unplug more this year). But, the main reason I haven't updated on how it is going is because I really don't know.

I know one thing. For the last five days I've had gastrointestinal issues the likes of which I haven't seen in quite a while (maybe seven or so months??). I'll spare you all the details, but I feel like there are fireworks going off in my stomach, I have horrible cramping and pain, and I've had a headache off and on. I've gained two pounds. I'm bloated and can't fit into jeans I've been wearing (with a little room) for the last four months. I'm in more physical pain than I have been in awhile too, although I've been in pain ever since I went to the chiropractor in August and they messed me up even more than I was when going in. I'd read before that I would probably feel poorly as I reintroduced the wheat. Is it normal to feel this bad though? I have no idea. It has gotten a little better in the last day or so, but I still feel horrible. Is it temporary? I can only hope. If I continue to feel poorly, I guess I'll look into finding out if I *I* have a gluten intolerance.

And Bubby? I really can't tell with him. When we reintroduced last time, it was obvious within two days that he had a problem with wheat. His poops were green, mucousy, and blood-streaked. I told Glenn I feel like I'm the Poop Police (which Beanie overheard and said, "what's the poop police??"). I mean, it's poop. And breastmilk-no-solids-yet baby poop to boot. It's obviously not to the point we were at last time, so that is good. He has been a little crankier, but nothing that really stands out. Babies have cranky days, right? Since I've reintroduced so slowly (and even more slowly than planned since I feel so crappy) I wonder if it'll take a bit longer to really impact him. We shall see.

The actual reintroduction has been a bit anti-climactic. If there's one area you can really find good tasting food in, it's gluten-free. I've become quite good at adapting gluten recipes. I like the taste of quinoa or rice pasta. And, the things I really want to eat, like a doughnut or a big tasty cupcake from PCC -- hard to find without dairy or soy. Most all vegan tasty treats are made with soy. So, really, all I've had is some bread. And, even that you have to watch because many sandwich breads contain dairy and/or soy. We bough some Dave's Killer Bread at Costco. I had a Sin Dawg for breakfast. I had a beer from the Pelican Brewery in Oregon (that was probably the most exciting as the first time we went I was pregnant with Bubby and the second time I was avoiding wheat, so we bought some and brought it home for me). Some fancy baked bread with our pasta, although I still ate brown rice pasta. I imagine I'll still be baking a lot.

I'm glad we reintroduced since Bubby seems to be doing a lot better with it. It's nice to have the reassurance that he may not always have food sensitivities. I guess I'm also glad because it might have opened a door into figuring out what has been wrong with my GI system (since I've been to the doctor in the past for it and had differing opinions).

I feel like right now we're still in wait-and-see mode, so keep on wishing us luck.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Zen Lessons.

At our last library excursion, Beanie picked up Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. As we were reading the story (which is a great one that I highly recommend) the moral of one of the Buddhist tales hit me. I am carrying a heavy load.

Have you heard the story of the two monks and the heavy load? It goes like this:

One day two traveling monks reached a town and saw a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. There were deep, muddy puddles and she couldn’t step across without getting mud on her silk robes. She impatiently scolded her attendants, who were burdened with heavy packages.

The younger monk walked by the young woman without speaking. But the older monk stopped and picked her up on his back, carrying her across the mud. Not only did she not thank the monk, she shoved him out of her way when he put her down and scurried by him haughtily.

As the two monks continued on their way, the younger monk was brooding. After a long time, he finally spoke out. “That woman was so rude but you picked her up and carried her! She didn’t even thank you.”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk responded. “Why are you still carrying her?”

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed my little rant the other day. It went like this:

Tweet 1: The old owners of the house are across the street at their rental.

Tweet 2: I hate them. I hate that they screwed us over.

Tweet 3: I hate that we trusted our craptastic realtor.

Tweet 4: Vent over.

You see, for the last twenty months I've been angry. Angry that the previous owners of this house didn't do the repairs they were obligated to. Angry that our realtor didn't have our best interests in mind. Angry that we signed the closing papers and trusted our realtor, even though it was apparent the sellers had a lot of work to do still. Angry that the realtor threw us a bone of a gift card to Home Depot when we approached him about the sellers breaching contract. Angry that we didn't do anything about it right away. Angry that the inspector said the water pressure was fine when it was so blatantly obvious the second we turned on the tub faucet that it wasn't. Angry that we had to re-pipe the house. Angry that we need to re-do the roof. Angry that the sellers also owned the house across the street and were living there. Angry, angry, angry.

Every time I saw them I got more angry. I got anxious, panicky, and just obsessed over every little detail that I hated about the situation and this house. Our house.

Last week I told Glenn that if we won the Lotto we could bulldoze the house and build a new one. He replied that that idea was silly, that we could rent this house out and build one elsewhere. I told him he won for being logical.

I can't carry this load any longer. I've got to let it go. This is our house, for better or for worse, and it's time I made it my home. I need to meditate on it and let the anger go. It's not helping anything. I haven't done any meditation in ages (minus during both of my labors), but maybe I should start incorporating it into my days.

I realize no one probably really wants to read about my house hatred, but I thought the overall message was a good one. It isn't the first time a children's book has taught me something. Remember Frog and Toad?

Are you carrying a heavy load? Is it time to let it go?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 01/03

My first menu plan for the new year! Glenn really wants to exercise and eat healthy this year and, since my goal is to take care of myself, I think planning our menus follows along nicely with this. I'd like to venture into have one meatless meal a week, but Glenn isn't too fond of that idea (yet??). It's also hard to get enough protein in our meals without meat since we can't have soy. Any ideas?

As I said last week, reintroducing wheat is on the horizon, but I haven't yet. I think we'll take it nice and slow and see how it goes. Even as we reintroduce, we will keep our dinners gluten-free for the time being. Wish Bubby and I luck with our first reintroduction (well, our first reintroduction in round two, I guess); I'm a lot nervous and a little excited. I think the nervousness is winning out!

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 to be.

Saturday: La Bamba casserole with blue corn tortilla chips (we omit the corn and top Beanie's and Glenn's with cheese afterward so it can be dairy-free)
Sunday: Chicken and broccoli with quinoa (this is a new recipe adaptation we'll try from Glenn's Men's Health Muscle Chow. It originally calls for turkey cutlets and couscous, but we have chicken on hand and will use quinoa for a gluten-free dinner. Recipe below.) Monday: Sausage, beans & rice
Tuesday: Indonesian chicken (I use balsamic vinegar + a dab of molasses in place of the soy sauce)
Wednesday: Leftover buffet
Thursday: Baked chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and green salad
Friday: Bean soup

Chicken and Broccoli with Quinoa
 Chicken and Broccoli with Quinoa

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Pinch of black ground pepper
12 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into 2" strips
1 tsp dried sage
1c quinoa, cooked according to package instructions with chicken broth (instead of water)
2 1/2 c broccoli florets

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions (usually 1 part quinoa to 2 parts chicken broth).
  2. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp olive oil in deep skillet; heat over medium heat.
  3. Add the bell pepper, onion and black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, about two minutes or until onion is slightly translucent.
  4. Add chicken and sage. Cook until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Add broccoli. 
  6. Stir in cooked quinoa.
  7. Serve.

Image credit: Frank Jakobi on Flickr
The ingredient of the week for the Gluten Free Menu Plan Monday is pomegranate. Confession: I've never had one! (Glenn is totally making fun of me right now.) I always think they look yummy and interesting and neat, but I've never had one. I don't think POM and vodka counts. I'm off to buy one. NOW! Should I just eat it by itself? Or I've been craving some chocolate, so I might have to try the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds I saw on Gluten Free Goodness a while back.

I'm linked up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and Angela's Kitchen, so click on over for more menu-planning ideas.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Compassion Kits: Part Two

Image Credit: dskciado on Flickr
I wrote previously about how we made compassion kits with our mom's group. It was a great experience and I was so glad we could participate.

Today we gave out our last compassion kit. Upon handing it out and driving away, Beanie said, "But there are more people with no homes and we don't have anymore bags!" (I was so proud!) She was a bit sad, but I assured her we could (and would) help in other ways. We talked about donating food and she mentioned she'd like to draw some pictures for people.

It was so neat to see her reaction and to see how it evolved as we gave out each of the five bags. With the first one, she asked what I was doing. I reminded her of our previous conversations, talked about the event when we made the bags, and talked about how we were helping someone who needed it. Ah, she remembered! The second person we handed a bag was very happy and thankful; you could see his face light up. By the third bag, Beanie was clapping and cheering and looking for more "people with no homes."

I'm excited to continue this as one of our holiday traditions, but even more excited to find ways to foster this giving spirit year-round, even if it's only donating a bag of beans while we're at the grocery store. She seemed to "get it," or at least get it as much as a three-and-a-half year old can.