Friday, November 4, 2011

Has it been a year?

I wear my age proudly, like a child.

Each year that passes, I look back at what I've come through. I thumb through old journal entries and letters. I think to myself, I have survived this. I made it through the difficult days and the wonderful ones, too. Each year just seems to get easier.

So, why not? Be proud of how I get older, I mean. It's fantastic, isn't it? Like a puzzle I am building - aiming for a picture of grace, wisdom, humour, and compassion.

February 2010
Sometimes this motherhood thing can be intense. It's true that everybody tells you, everybody says: it changes you. But what they don't say is that it can rip the you right out of your body for a while. Right out of your experience. That you will find yourself watching your life pass by as though you aren't even living it anymore.

You are so quickly thrown into the fire of passion and motherhood that you don't even have time to notice how you are not you. You are other. It isn't necessarily bad. It is just so scary, at first, and so different. It can be hard to know exactly where you are going, anymore, and if you are going anywhere at all. I used to be a steam engine, laying tracks seconds before I powered over them. And now I ask myself if I am even going anywhere at all. We've scaled this mountain side, and now we take pause. Which path leads this train to happiness?

Even now, as I explore this new role, I'm still dig dig digging into the back of my mind, deep in self-reflection. Even now, nearly a year later. Nearly a year since I walked out of the hospital wide-eyed in disbelief that they were letting us take this tiny fragile human being home in our care. To our home. Forever. Even now, I'm still not sure who I am.

But I can see myself, coming through the forest, with a steady pace and a more confident step than I have had in years. I can see all the strength inside myself, the willingness to be magnificent and electric. Without ego. Simply to be the best human I can be, for myself, for my son. Within my own boundaries. 

And I like that the glimpses of my old self still shine through in so many tenacious and spectacular ways.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

#31. This Moment: Hummus Face

This week I am going to shuck the rules on my "This Moment" post! 

Firstly, it is a day early. I know. But I have a blog post scheduled for tomorrow and it is weirdly important for me to be a stand-alone post. And second, there are words on this This Moment post. WORDS! ILLEGAL WORDS! But all is forgiven once you look at the hilarious face Squeaky D is making in this picture, nomming on a brown rice wrap with chicken and hummus. 

Sorry I keep posting pictures of Baby D eating in his high-chair. But, I'm not actually sorry. This baby is ON THE MOVE and all pictures work best if he is secure strapped down. Maybe next week I'll have something different. Until then? Enjoy laughing at my little animal:
Squeaky D's best Hummus Face
 {this moment}
A Friday THURSDAY ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from the Angriest Squid

We decided not to go trick or treating this year because most of the candy would not be edible, for us. 

So I didn't put any time or effort or money into a costume of any sort for Squeaky D. At the last moment I had pangs of regret at not taking the opportunity to dress him up for his first Hallowe'en. I quickly filled long dark socks with fabric, pinned them to a soft elastic to go around his waist. I plopped a grey toque with felt eyes on his head. He was a squid.
Happy Halloween from the Angriest Squid
The angriest squid of all time. He was in the "costume" for all of 1.5 minutes. Next year we might have to practice leading up to the big day. But he loved handing out the candy with me!

Link me up to photos of your adorable children, whether they hated on Hallowe'en or loved it! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Secret to great Sweet Potato Fries {rookie Recipe}

Remember weeks ago when I tweeted that I had discovered the secret to amazing and crispy home made sweet potato fries?

Yes. Just yes.
 Well. First, sorry that it has taken me so long to make the big reveal. And second, I lied. There isn't one secret, there are two. And one came about because of the other. A tangled web of delicious secret fries!

After chopping my humongous sweet potato into thick baby-hand-sized frenched fries, I debated between using olive oil or coconut oil to coat the fries and settled on what is now the first secret - Coconut Oil - to bake the fries. I set the oven to 350F and began to smear on the coconut oil, but the cool moist fries hardened the oil and it would not spread. This is when I realized I could parboil the fries, the second secret, in the mircowave for two minutes to heat the oil as well as seal in the tastiness! Huzzah! Parboiling the fries is really the difference between soft and crispy sweet potato fries.

As the fries came out of the microwave, I made sure each fry was coated in coconut oil and sprinkled on some cumin, fresh ground pepper, and mrs. dash, my most predictably favourite spice mix. I made sure to spread the fries out evenly, not a single fry was touching another fry, and left them in the oven around 25 minutes, until the ones around the edges were browned. This is where the little known half-secret comes in: don't add salt to your fries until after they come out of the oven.  You'll thank me afterwards.
More for Mama.
Unless you are Squeaky D. Because quite frankly, he hated the sweet potato fries.

Friday, October 28, 2011

#30. This Moment: Please, no pictures.

Please, no pictures.
 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My first handmade trade: SUCCESS!

I make no secret of my love over twitter. The biggest reason, of course, is that it has connected me to some pretty spectacular people.

Many of you reading these exact words, probably.

But one person who was brought swiftly to me after joining twitter was @chasingthenuns, or Sarah from I have freaking loved this woman since BEFORE I WAS A MOM! Which seems like a lifetime and a half ago, okay?

She approached me to do a handmade trade and I said YES! And then we had a postal strike. And then I ruined the thing I was making for her. And then I was just the WORST INTERNET FRIEND of all time and just dragged my ass for weeks leaving the project unfinished while I trudged through sleeplessness and grumpy life.

But in the meantime, Sarah was timely and thoughtful and mailed me my half of the handmade trade.

When I opened up the package, the first thing I saw was my first (of hopefully many!) handwritten letter from her.

I pulled out the bag and immediately fell in love with it.

I just have to show you a close up of the adorable appliques she made! Originally I had hinted we might be using this bag for shopping.

So cute, right? Even crumpled up right out of the box, this bag is perfect, with gorgeous vintage fabric lining. Even though we don't use the bag for groceries anymore. It has officially become our library bag! So perfect for books. Plus, if Sarah lived here, we would for sure be library buddies, I just know it.

She even gifted me some of her son's cloth diaper covers for our own cloth diapering adventures.

And she never once complained (out loud) about how late and horrible I was. I can only hope I made up for it by sending her something she will really love... truly the hardest applique I have ever put on one of my stitched hand-bound journals! But she deserves it.

Love you, Sarah! So glad you found a way into my life and my heart.

Snail Mail Friends Forever,

Ps - Here is a sneak preview of the applique I made for her hand-bound Journal:

Go take a peek HERE to see the journal in its completion!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Going dairy-free for my nursling was the easiest choice.

I spend a lot of time talking about gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, yadda yadda yadda-free eating. And this is why my recipes are gluten free and dairy free. It's not exactly my idea of the perfect diet, says the cheese-loving egg-nog-missing me. But it has been by far the best choice I could ever make for me and my family.

Allow me to explain.

Around August of 2009, I started to put two and two together (OMG, FOUR!) and realised that I was not healthy and in denial. For a large part of my adult life I had been sick and still did nothing about it. So I started reading. I talked to a doctor, I talked to many friends with similar afflictions, and I decided to reduce gluten in my diet.

I started feeling a lot better. I reduced it even further. I immediately noticed that my skin was better, my stomach felt better, I was less bloated, I didn't spend hours in the bathroom every morning. Within a month my depression had lifted. Within two months, my lady-cycle was regular.

After I became pregnant, I noticed anything gluten made me much sicker than before and completely stopped eating anything with gluten. Now even a slight slip up and I am violently ill.

Easy peasy, right?

I wish that were all. After the birth of my son (almost a full year ago? holy balls.) there was a steep learning curve. He threw us for a loop. Why was he always coughing, sputtering, and screaming? Why did his breath smell like acid, why does he hiccup all day and arch his back away from me when I try to nurse him? Don't babies like to nurse? The doctor diagnosed him with reflux, gave us a prescirption and sent us on our way. We used it, and it helped with the reflux, but not with the tummy pains. And definitely not with the mucousy, frothy green poops. Yeah, that's right, poop talk. I'll try to keep it limited.

All of this, of course, was accompanied with one very unhappy baby. So we searched for answers. Several mothers recommended eliminating certain things from my diet, especially dairy, so I played around with it and saw results. Three weeks off dairy completely and we were able to ditch the reflux medicine. This led me to try a full elimination diet, eating only rice, chicken, some vegetables and few fruits for two weeks, and then slowly re-introducing foods.

At first it was very apparent that Squeaky D reacted to dairy, egg, soy, and peanut, and at the time I also suspected beef, beans, citrus, and tomato, though I can thankfully eat those now!  Lately I have also stopped eating cashews and shellfish because of recent reactions. Some of these we have actually let him try, like egg, and he has had rashes across his face and chest almost immediately afterward. Scary.
Eczema Baby D - Still getting rid of dairy
For a long time I had nothing but the anecdotal experience of very wise Mamas to back me up, and a lot of defending to do about my diet and our restrictions to family and friends. I've been told to give it up and "just wean to goat's milk" because this all must be "fake" or "too hard." But then I read Dr Jay Gordon's article analyzing dairy protein allergy in children and nurslings and I felt vindicated. More and more literature supports nursing moms who decide to eliminate dairy and other foods from their diet.

And honestly. It hasn't been that difficult. There have been times when I have forgotten to read ingredients and had a slip up, and ohh boy. There is nothing inside me that wishes that kind of pain on my little boy, no amount of delicious applewood smoked gouda could convince me to go through the terror that the following two days (and three nights) would bring. No matter how drool-worthy.

So that is why all my recipes are weirdly dairy free. And egg free. And gluten free. And all that other stuff free. I have enjoyed the challenge of teaching myself to cook, especially within these interesting restrictions. And I love me a happy, healthy baby.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#29. This Moment: Follow the Yellow Leaf Path...

Lovely Autumn Path
 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#28. This Moment: My Autumn Baby

Autumn Baby
 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#27. This Moment:Teeths

SnuggleBug. Featuring: Teeths.

 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From a Breastfeeding Mom to All Moms, Everywhere.

From a Breastfeeding Mom to All Moms, Everywhere.

I'm a breastfeeding feminist. I believe that breastmilk, evolutionarily, was made for human consumption. It is complex and, scientifically speaking, ideal for babies.

That said, there are times when mothers choose to quit breastfeeding. There are times when mothers choose to quit pumping breastmilk and bottlefeeding. There are times when mothers do not breastfeed at all.

And you know what bugs me the most out of all of this? That those mothers consistently feel the need to explain to us, the breastfeeders, the world, why they formula feed. Formula feeding moms feel the need to justify to the world - "This is why I'm not breastfeeding!" - they have to explain to us the reason why they made that parenting decision.

And yeah, that makes me pretty sad. Do you know why? Because I trust those moms to make that parenting decision. I am not those women. I do not live their lives, I do not know what they have gone through, I do not know the challenges they have faced. By that fact alone, I have no right to judge the choices they make regarding how they feed their babies. Even Jessica Valenti said that formula feeding was 100% right for her. Why should we ask her to justify that decision? We don't know her and we don't live her life.

A friend Sarah and I were out with a group of moms recently, and when I disappeared to talk to someone else, the topic of breastfeeding - and struggling with breastfeeding - came up. Sarah told me later that two other moms out of the large group professed having difficulties before my friend spoke up about her experience with public health nurses telling her she was starving her child and the subsequent the guilt trip she faced on the internet when she blogged about supplementing with formula. And she confessed to me that as soon as she put it out there, as soon as her story hung over the group in silence, she was nervous about what the other moms would say. Thankfully one wise mother piped up and said something I have said before, too: "We as mothers have enough to worry about, we need to be free to make the decisions that are best for our babies without being made to feel guilty."

If you formula feed or if you breastfeed - your baby is fed and loved and cared for. You are an amazing mom.
Squeaky D raises his fist in Solidarity

I do talk about breastfeeding a lot. It's what I do these days. But I've also shared the story of a Formula Feeding mom. I am a close supporter of many moms who formula feed. I want people to know that you can support and encourage breastfeeding without leaving formula feeding moms behind.

In the last week or so, things have become very heated in the feminist twitter community. Yes, there is one, it's weird and awesome all at the same time. Of course I love it.

Firstly, it must be addressed that there are some women who are not kind. Bluntly, that is it. There are women who champion breastfeeding without being considerate, without being kind or compassionate. Some of them even spread a hateful message. I do not stand behind these women, and I encourage everyone I meet to be inclusive and kind. This is very obviously a sensitive topic and I don't think there is anything wrong with treating it as such.

And secondly, breastfeeding in this modern time has become, unfortunately, something that is mysterious. There are a lot of misleading half-truths that are consistently spread by older generations, doctors, nurses, hospital "lactation consultants," and formula companies. We desperately want to spread truth about breastfeeding, and sometimes that means questioning things that women have heard.

For instance, someone shared in the midst of the kurfuffle that her mother could not breastfeed because she was intolerant to breast milk. Babies are not intolerant to breast milk. A baby could have an allergy or a sensitivity to something a mother is eating, but maybe that mother would have made the choice to eliminate peanuts or eggs (or whatever) from her diet and continued breastfeeding. Maybe not. But maybe so! And isn't it her right to know that and make an informed decision? It is hard for us breastfeeding mothers to stay quiet when we hear people repeating misinformation and all at once respect the relationship that mother may have with her choice to formula feed.

We know about the "mommy guilt," all of us. I know of it so deeply that sometimes it is crippling and I can feel weighed down and crushed by it. I can't imagine what it might be like to be bottle feeding publicly have have someone shame me for parenting my child. As a breastfeeder I fight for the right to breastfeed publicly but I have never had someone insinuate that I was a bad mother for breastfeeding. How upsetting, how demoralizing, how infuriating, how utterly cruel. This is not a comfortable position and I myself would probably also take a defensive stance. My worth as a mother is hardly defined by how I feed my baby. 

Please, my formula feeding moms, my fellow moms. Please understand that so many of us, we don't think you are stupid. We don't think you are uneducated. We don't think you didn't try hard enough. We don't think your baby is eating poison and we don't think your kid is going to be stupid.

We just want formula companies to stop their false advertising. We don't want them to lie to mothers anymore. We don't want them to pretend to offer breastfeeding support.

That's it, really. We just want the truth and the experts on breastfeeding to be the ones offering breastfeeding support. We want educated doctors, nurses, and internationally certified lactation consultants handing out unbiased information and support. I don't mind that formula companies exist and I think formula should be available, I just want them to keep a respectful distance from a mother's right to educate herself about feeding her baby.

We want all moms to make the best choice for them and their babies and their families. And you don't have to justify it to us, the breastfeeders, or anyone else.

Can I say it again? Your baby is loved and cared for. You are an amazing mom. We can all support all mothers so that each one knows her rights and has the access to make her best decisions, no matter what they may be.

Friday, September 30, 2011

#26. This Moment: Friday Flashback

Squeaky D Flashback: Three Months Old

 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He was refusing to breastfeed. What was I to do?

My baby refused to breastfeed at four months old. Was he trying to wean? 

I love breastfeeding my baby. Now that we have been doing this dance for over ten months, I can look back on our steps and see the areas where we lost our footing. Where we had become off-beat. How I was steadfast and determined, I simply didn't see any other choice and so I dug my heels in, turned up the music, and kept dancing, even if I didn't know what the dance was supposed to look like.

There have been moments where I was exhausted, confused, raggedly looking into the eyes of my friends and desperately pleading for a moment of sanity thinking - "Am I doing this right? Is this really how it is supposed to go?" Not knowing that when it comes to breastfeeding - and babies in general - there really isn't a "supposed to" about it.

When Desmond was four months old he woke up. That is, he realized he could see the world and couldn't tear his eyes away from it for one moment, not one. He only wanted to be held high enough to see over our shoulders, or facing away so that he could look look look at everything.

q u i e t n e s s
This made breastfeeding very hard. Friends would come to visit us and he would squawk, hungry like a tiny bird. I would gently bring him to my breast and he would hungrily root and latch. And then immediately become angry and arch his back away. Partly? This was a learned behaviour from the reflux. But mostly he did not want to look away from the world. He did not understand that snuggling into my breast meant he would no longer be hungry.

This was more than just a baby bobbing his head into the breast. More than just a baby pushing and pinching the breast. Those actions are signs of hunger often misinterpreted.

This was a baby, my baby, full on refusing to take the breast and suck or feed. This was a nursing strike. At a very young age.

I didn't know at the time but we were going through was something many women go through. At my LLL meeting, mothers saw him squawk in hunger, mothers saw him angry and refusing to be turned into the breast, angry at the suggestion that... maybe he'd like to eat? They offered their sympathy, they offered to help any way they could. Their eyes told me - "It's going to get better." As I packed up a finally full, finally sleeping baby to drive home in wintery darkness, Leaders would put a hand on my shoulder and thank me for being determined, for coming to the meetings. "Keep coming," they'd say.

Obviously I was petrified to leave my house to go anywhere else. How could I go to the grocery store? How could I go to the bank or the mall? My baby would become hungry, but what it took to feed him was at least a 15 minute ordeal that involved a lot of crying, a lot of that very screamy baby screaming that we call Code Red around here. And I was unable to juggle the two of us in any discreet kind of way. I couldn't very well plop myself down in the pickle aisle with my breast out and struggle with my screaming baby for 15 minutes. I wish that I could have, but people today wouldn't understand. Because What would people say? They would say breastfeeding is only okay if it is discreet. Right? We tell mothers No!

Not if a she needs to sit down on the ground and pull down her v-neck and leave it that way and THEN somehow finagle the L O U D E S T infant into quietness just so that she can get some fucking groceries, god dammit. No, not the mothers who really need it, not the mothers who are struggling. They can't be discreet so they are NOT OKAY IN PUBLIC.

There were only two things that I knew for sure in those days:
  1. A four month old baby is not trying to wean. A four month old baby has no concept of those things. 
  2.  A baby can't be distracted if it is already sleeping. 
And so we became very good at putting the baby to sleep without the breast at all. We wore Baby D and walked until he slept. We held him in our arms and danced around the livingroom until he slept. We held him to our chests and bounced gently on the exercise ball, humming and shushing, humming and shushing. Until he slept. And he would cry. But then he would sleep.
He sleeps.
Once his lungs were quiet and his eyes were closed, I could bring him to my chest and he would latch and he would suck and he would eat and eat and eat. And he would sleep. And I would visualize and take deep breaths, anything anything to get that letdown to come as fast as I could. Rushing rivers, gates opening, waterfalls of milks. Breathing deeply, my hand on his tiny head, celebrating; my baby is q u i e t.

We had cracked the secret code. And so all day I would feed him after he fell asleep. If he would fuss during a nap, I would lay beside him and let him eat. I would feed him again as he woke up. He started eating more over the course of the night to make up for the days. I didn't mind. Babies need to eat, and I wanted to feed him. I would breastfeed him anyway that we could make it work.

Every day it became easier until at one point - it stopped. He started making the connection and the dance became so much smoother, we were more than comfortable taking time-outs from the world to nurse. And then it was just gone. I can still remember the first day that he was happy and excited to breastfeed every. time. And I'm so grateful that I powered through that rough patch, that nursing strike, to emerge on the other side.

Now? Six months later I am even happier. This dance couldn't be any easier.

Friday, September 23, 2011

#25. This Moment: Garden Harvest

 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Friday, September 16, 2011

#24. This Moment: It's Autumn, Baby.

My Autumn Baby

 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Home-made gluten-free Turkey Burgs! {Rookie Recipe}

Can we get it out of the way? Can we just say it?

Hamburgers are awesome. And apparently gluten free hamburgers are impossible to get right. In the last two years I have had very few truly amazing gluten free burgers. The problem is usually the bun.

Gluten free buns are bad, mmkay? They just are. They are hard when they should be soft or gooey when they should be fluffy. And they taste like wrong. Just wrong.

And even if the bun was even just alright, the patty is usually unseasoned. No barbecue sauce. Just a round puck of meat. Gross.

So obviously you could understand why a girl's gotta put her foot down and say Enough! I will make my own gosh darned gluten free burger and it will be INCREDIBLE YOU GUYS.

And? It was.
Most delicious burger of all time. OF ALL TIME!

What I used:

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1 package of Glutino Gluten Free crackers, pulverised.
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tblspn of chopped dill
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
a dash of montreal steak spice

Romaine lettuce
hamburger fixins

What I did: 

Pulverising these crackers was harder than I thought it was going to be. I'm not a huge fan of Glutino Gluten Free Crackers for eating. They try to be Ritz crackers and fail. They are too crunchy and too sweet - perfect for cooking with. First I beat the crackers (inside their little "freshness" baggie) with my hands. But they would not be crushed. Then I beat them with a soup can. But, nope, they were still not interested in being crushed. So I got out my rolling pin and I let loose on those crackers like they done me wrong. For a good five minutes. And now I want a food processor very badly. But I crushed them real good.

I put two packages of ground turkey in a huge bowl, added the crackers, the egg, the onion, and the seasonings and mixed. Some people use their hands for this. I used a wooden spoon and a rubber spatula and probably looked like a fool but I did not have gooey raw meat on my hands so I feel like a winner and that is what counts

Amazing Tupperware Patty Press... things.
Once everything is really well mixed, I brought out my secret weapon: My mother's ancient Tupperware hamburger patty press set... thing. You take a spoonful of the ground meat, put it in the mold, and then use a press to flatten it and shape it into a patty. I'm sure it would be easy to do by hand, but baby - this patty press helps the burgs stick together on the grill so well. I'm glad I would not relent and give it up in the great Tupperware purge of ought-nine.

I stacked four patties on top of each other, separated by a small square of waxed paper. This is a great way to freeze them, in groups of four, so you can quickly defrost and grill some gluten free burgers on a whim - any time you like!

We decided to grill 6 burgers right away, topped them with pickles, red onion, mustard, and ketchup, and wrapped each burger in one or two romaine lettuce leaves. The lettuce wrap is actually AMAZING. Better than any gluten free bun you've ever tried, crisp, fresh, crunchy - and it doesn't fill you up so you can go ahead and have a second burger, guilt-free.

Can't wait to try turning this recipe into a meatloaf! I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you make your own burger patties? What are your favourite spices and ingredients?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Who is Mandude?

Who is Mandude?

Well. He isn't my husband. And I'm not his Wife. I'm simply Ms. Square and he is just Mandude, and together we love each other the best way we know how, constantly striving to know how to love each other better and better.

When we first met neither of us gave the other very much of a second glance.

When we second met we could not stop laughing together.  I loved that his laugh revealed his Russian accent and when gushing about him to friends online (livejournal for life) I referred to him as The Russian. As we got to falling in love, moving in together, starting a family... we realized "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" just didn't cut it anymore. Those terms just didn't match our endearment.

So we tried out partner for a while. We still use it a lot to strangers, but it does seem to make people think we are a homosexual couple for some reason. We also tried out the word spouse, which is my favourite word when I'm dealing with the public.
We is serious about Om Noms

And of course there is the ever-popular "Baby Daddy," which is actually a personal favourite of mine but people don't seem to realize that - yeah, we're still together and in love. So darn.

One evening I was on twitter and everyone around me was tweeting about their spouses. Hubby, Wifey. DH, DP, SigOth... none of it seemed to fit us. I thought, who is he to me?

The dude who mans my heart. My Mandude.

So Mandude he became, and he wears the title well.

Friday, September 9, 2011

#23. This Moment: Sick little Snugglebug

My sick little Snugglebug

 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

#22. This Moment: Dapper Baby D

Hey. I know it is Saturday. But if I want a full year's worth (fifty-two!) of these, I gotta play catch up now and then.
Dapper Baby D
 {this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tangy Potato Salad

I love potato salad. Even the really bad, too much mayo, not enough potatoes, are there any spices in this? super bad potato salad.

But I'm dairy free. And I was egg free for so long, mayo has kind of lost it's sheen. So when we decided to host a mini bonfire and barbeque to celebrate the end of the summer, I went on a search for a new and awesome mayo-free potato salad.

And I found it on Pinterest. I freaking love Pinterest. At first I didn't get it. The hippie in me sarcastically drew conclusions (can hippies be sarcastic?) about another website encouraging mindless consumerism. Shop. Shop! SHOP!

But there is a lot more to pinterest. There are a tonne of tutorials and DIY projects, and I am ALL OVER THAT STUFF. Like patchouli on a hippie. Only I don't like patchouli. I'm obviously not a very good hippie.

But life gets a little more difficult with a baby around. And I've had such a hard time etching out space and time to get to all these crafty projects and recipes I've been pinning. In steps the magnificent Sarah Bartlett who informs me about a Pinterest Challenge. AND I CAN JOIN.

So here was my Pinterest Challenge submission. I decided to make this amazing potato salad recipe.

It is a naturally gluten free and dairy free and mayo free AND! Freaking delicious. Here is the recipe, originally found on
Gratuitous use of my antique Pyrex nesting bowls.

What I used:
  • 1 package of organic baby potatoes, skin on.
  • 6 green onions from my garden
  • 6 tablespoons organic lemon juice
  • 12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a bunch of finely minced fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons of capers
  • salt and pepper to taste
What I did: 

I left the skin on the baby potatoes, but since I wanted them all to be bite-sized, I did have to chop a few in half or into thirds. I cooked them and let them cool while I mixed the olive oil, lemon juice, capers, and minced basil. I chopped up the onions and mixed everything together in a large bowl, making sure to coat everything. I added salt and pepper bit by bit - though a few guests decided to add more salt to their own bowls. I can be pretty stringy when it comes to salt!

Though I did leave this potato salad to sit for about an hour before serving, it was even MORE AMAZING the next day. Like, oh my god, I'm so sad there aren't more leftovers this is INCREDIBLE STUFF MY FACE NOM NOM NOM amazing. So. Try to have leftovers. 

Yay! First Pinterest Challenge Complete!  And Squeaky D seems to approve, too.


Friday, August 26, 2011

#21. This Moment: Hello Nine Month Old

Hello Nine Month Old
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is Burning Man about? I'll tell you.

Yes, I have been to Burning Man. And the number one question I hear is, "What is Burning Man about?"

I'll tell you.

No, Burning Man isn't a giant rave in the desert. Despite what you've heard, it isn't really about music. It isn't about sex or drugs or nudity either.

Burning Man 2009 - Open Playa
It is about people. It is about community. It's about coming together and creating a city void of social status, void of judgement, void of consumerism and greed.
A 3-Story woman made from cables.

It is about pushing ourselves to the limits just to see what we can do. It is about respecting our peers and giving them the space to be and do what makes them happiest. It is about realizing your own personal abundance and gifting the excess to everyone and anyone who happens by. It is the realization that everything we do - a hug, a shared story, a smile, a gin and tonic for a friend - is an experience, a gift of its own right. It's about Art. Or the idea that creativity doesn't live within the boundaries of success and failure.
Yes I made this costume myself.

It is about always striving to be a participant and never just a spectator.

And this year I am staying home. I stayed home last year, too, seven months pregnant and no way in hell was I interested in the physical toll that is living in a tent in a dried up dusty desert-hot lake bed. But my Handsome Mandude wasn't going, either, and I was content in taking a year off.

This year I am not pregnant. I am a Mama. And my Handsome Mandude is venturing down into the desert without me. And he is bringing two of my closest friends.

Yours truly, FireHooping before we lit up The Man
It's true that I could probably go. Other Mamas with babies as young as mine (or younger) find a solid babysitter and make the trip. I'm, personally, not ready to be away from Squeaky D for that long. And I'm breastfeeding and that relationship is more important to me.

And maybe it is possible to bring a baby to Burning Man. But I wouldn't, and I would advise anyone thinking about it not to do it. I'm just not sure it is fair to bring a little person into a world so dusty, hot, overstimulating, borderline dangerous, and overwhelming with no real means of escape. At least not until they can communicate to you about it.

I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic about the whole thing. About the freedom of it all, to be myself and to be fearless about it.  Nostalgic about the people that I've met there, the friendships I have made. The incredible art that people work so hard to drag into the desert for me to climb on, experience, and enjoy.
This Cape used to be a tablecloth.

The ability to wear whatever I want; a tutu, a fur bikini, a bad-ass road warrior leather ensemble, or a giant red cape made from my friend's old silk tablecloth. I'm remembering the cool desert evenings filled with rushing to eat, clean, dress, be ready for the chill and excitement of the dark dark night. The laughter and spontaneity of riding our blinky glowing art bikes through dunes of playa dust, veering from structure to structure, covering miles of rock hard earth just to seek out a little bit of adventure and exhilaration. I'm wistful over that feeling at the end of the week, covered in a dust so fine that no amount of washing seems to take it off, bursting with desire to create, create, PARTICIPATE, climbing the highest art piece and shouting my poetry into the dust storms. Seeing The Man explode with fire, the culmination of all our excitement and experience, until he dwindles down to nothing but embers, ashes, nuts, and bolts.

I'm feeling nostalgic about The Temple, the most quiet and sacred space at Burning Man, built carefully with intricate details, then flooded with emotion literally stapled, written on, and pinned to its wooden walls. Then on the last day, fifty thousand people gather silently - absolutely silently - and solomnly watch it burn down. Let me just say, there is something beyond magical about being one of fifty thousand quietly contemplating all that it means to see the week end and the temple burn to the ground.

Temple in Daylight

Temple at Night
I was going to write a post about how experiencing Burning Man - how being a Burner - has made me into a better parent. But instead I was feeling nostalgic and wrote this. So, in the spirit of art and community and sharing, I will leave you with a poem that I wrote after my first year at Burning Man, a poem that will be pinned up to this year's Temple which, eventually, will burn down to the ground. Simply because it must. And I'll talk about parenting another day.

Handsome Mandude and I

there were good things and magnificent things 
and bad things and horrific things and i saw them all, 
i experienced them all, and they made me different. 

i blocked the sun and i made it shine, 
i helped and hindered time 
and allowed this mass to hurtle onwards. 

i rolled my eyes and rolled my tires 
over dunes of pure dust, through walls of it, 
rolled in it, slept in it, basked in it. 

i climbed on creation and filled my eyes 
and my hands, my mouth. 
my heart. 

i was part of an awe-filled silent crowd 
and i joined gangs of animals 
surging out loud. 

it seethed and was frigid, 
it was comforting, chilling. 
i swung and was flung, 
and we laughed, we wove stories, 
we shimmied, we shared, and we cried. 

we created community and we burned it all to the fucking ground
just to see if we can do it again next year.

Farren Square

Friday, August 5, 2011

#20. This Moment: Sunny Days

Sunny Days with Squeaky D
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Breastfeeding is a crazy (wonderful) thing.

You know, breastfeeding is a crazy thing.

Forget the fact that it is a hot-button issue these days. Forget that it is often disrespected and women are shamed for nursing publicly. Even forget the fact that people who don't understand it, often, for some INSANE reason, sexualize it.

Just think about how, for thousands and thousands of years, it was the only choice. It literally IS how our species has survived infancy since the beginning of our time. Wow. Not only that, but think about how truly complex and fantastic our human bodies - our mammal bodies - are for being able to not only create and store milk, but to transfer it to our babies in such a loving and comforting way.

Before I go any further, I want to make a disclaimer. I want everyone reading this to know how I feel about breastfeeding and mothers who do otherwise. There are no hard feelings here - and I want to stress that we all love our babies and we all share, cultivate, and bask in this love in meaningful ways no matter how we feed them. It is true that, unfortunately, some mothers have more success than others. But to all of you who have put a baby to breast, who have breastfed at all - think back to the calm quiet moments, even if those moments can be so few in those early weeks. Think to yourself - My body made colostrum, my body made milk and I gave it to my baby. I did that! 

Breastfeeding Then.
Maybe it is just that, in all my life, I had actually never considered my body's potential in this way. In the last decade of my life I have noticed a very profound appreciation for my body's potential in many different ways. I could jump, and climb trees, ride my bike pretty fast. I could swim fairly well. I rode horses and ran races and drank an obscene amount of alcohol in my early twenties. My body was great.

In the last four years of life, my appreciation grew deeper. I started sharing my poetry. And people other than me liked it! I met a handsome mandude who taught me how to view each experience as an opportunity to see art and creativity. I went to burning man and experienced a real community, a life lived without fear of judgement - FOR REAL - for the very first time. I realized that the most single important and incredible thing that we could do as humans was to create. We can create something from nothing at all - a painting, a poem, a novel, a dance, a warm moment, a hug, a crazy wild experience - from nothing but the pit of our minds and maybe a bit of legwork. My body was amazing.

And then I became pregnant and I realized that, though we both had a hand in it, I was completely on my own in growing and creating this tiny little life inside me. I couldn't help but ponder, as it squiggled around in there, how fantastic it was that I had a factory inside me for making more of me. I felt very connected to the women who came before me, who had carried the beginnings of humanity. I could sense the juxtaposition of how far we have come laid against what has not changed, will never change. But mostly I ate. And grew. And ate and grew, and the baby did, too, and my mind expanded along with us. This is crazy, I thought. I made a HUMAN BEING with thoughts and preferences and an idea about the world someday. And I'm going to push it outta me and then what!
Breastfeeding Now.
And then what? I started breastfeeding. And my baby emptied my colostrum. And my baby brought in my milk. And then, through those first days, that haze so thick with love, and soreness, and obsession, and sleep deprivation, and love - it struck me. Breastfeeding is so intricate; a mix of hormones, knowledge, support, instinct, circumstance, confidence, and science. Breastfeeding is at once complex and natural. It is so easy and perfect and yet at times it can be a struggle. And you know? It wasn't all easy for me, and I think it is okay to be honest about that, but I grew to love it. Ultimately, I was sustaining human life. An entire life, outside of mine. I was nourishing his every need with my body. This blew me away. Here he was, my son. And we could lay, stomach to stomach and doze. And he was being fed.

And then I realized. Our bodies are good and amazing. They are fantastic and spectacular! And breastfeeding is a crazy (wonderful) thing.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Camping with a Baby doesn't have to be Out of Control.

One of the most daunting things about camping is packing for the trip. Particularly if you are are tenting. Especially if you have a tiny car. But specifically if you are packing for a tenting trip in a tiny car and also CAMPING WITH A BABY. 

Do not forget the baby carrier!
I mean. It does kind of sound crazy. I am going to take my completely dependant squidgely child away from the home where I have collected all of the things that make our lives infinitely better. I'm going to pack him up and drive far far away from civilization and hide out in a forest where anything could go wrong. And... gasp... I might possibly be... UNPREPARED!

As a generally unorganized 20-something, being unprepared was something I avoided - radical self reliance, my friends! - but missing small details seemed generally unavoidable. Until I had a baby. Then I realized that he needed us, really needed us, to completely draw the line between roughing it, making do - and the much more horrible disaster that awaits those who are... gasp... UNPREPARED

We have been camping three times already this summer. The first trip was ideal. The second trip was soggy, windy, fun, but soggy. And the third trip was beautiful, but a long drive and very hot. All three times I freaked out before we left - What do I pack?! - and all three times I did not feel unprepared - at all!

So I am going to share my secrets to preparing and packing for a camping trip with a baby. Number one? Bins! Bins work really well, especially for car camping, because you can leave it stocked and ready to go into the car - and making a "must have" list for each bin simplifies the last check and re-stocking the bins before you venture into the wilderness.

Tent naps are the best naps.
We have three main small bins that come everywhere. The first is the Baby Bin. This bin holds essential baby items. Wipes, diapers, baby sunglasses, sound-blocking head-phones, a few toys, the baby monitor, an extra receiving blanket and a bath towel are just some of our essentials in this bin. The second bin is the Kitchen Bin. This one has items like a table cloth, dish towels, cloths, and soap, as well as garbage bags, a cutlery roll up, and cooking utensils. The third bin is what I call the Pharmacy Bin. In here you'll find all the sunscreens, bug sprays (from the most natural, to the eucalyptus, the the DEET-filled neurotoxin), extra toilet paper, plus a basket holding vitamins, tylenol, baby advil, baby butt cream, skin lotion, the thermometer... You know, fun stuff.

These bins are wide and square but not too tall and have lids that snap and lock closed. Lids that lock closed are a gift from the universe. Exploit it! What I like most about this setup? These bins stack nicely inside our tent beside the bed as a night table, providing easy access to the diapers and wipes for quick changes, and a spot to put the baby monitor if we so choose to bring and use one - which we most certainly do for events where we are camping with friends.

We also have larger bins that hold gear like our tent, mattress, and air pump, our propane stove, extra tarps and pegs, kitchen pots and pans, and hot dog weiner pokey stick things. You know the ones.

There are a few tips and tricks to making a complete camping trip into a completely successful camping trip:
  • Bring an extra tarp to throw over large toys and items at night to avoid rain and dew
  • Toys that can go right into the dishwasher or washing machine are the best to bring (a tip I collected from Jule Ann!), and try to save some as surprise toys for the car ride, especially if you have a long way to go. 
  • We like evening baths, but the dishwashing basin gets double use as a bathtub while Baby D is still small. 
  • Plan for cold nights and bring layers for baby to wear. We bed-share so we get pretty warm snuggled together, but before we crawl into bed, Baby D can be pretty cold. We have a Polar Fleece sleeper with a hood that we use to double-up on warmth before we come in for cuddles. 
  • If you have a mobile baby - or even if you don't - it is nice to have somewhere safe to put him or her for set up and take down. We have brought a jumperoo and used it a lot when it was there - but we get along without it, too. 
  • Another great item? Mosquito netting. It can be hung from a tree and then Baby can chill out underneath while you set up a tent or cook nearby.
Lap baby, iced coffee, and bacon over the fire. Camping win.
Besides all that, the dry food bin, the cooler, the lawn chairs... you're all set, right? Well - maybe and maybe not. Only you will know what your baby needs when you decide to venture away. Sometimes it may be possible to bring more, and sometimes you will have to do with less - but there are some items that you should never leave at home, including a thermometer and medication - just in case - sunscreen, and shade for baby - plus food, of course, but we are breastfeeding so that is convenient!

In case you are still feeling frazzled, I have compiled my full list of must have items for camping and tenting with a baby, even though we tend to pick and choose based on our destination, we more or less bring everything on that list. And so far it seems pretty perfect to me!

What are your experiences camping with a baby? Do you have any must-haves when you go camping with your babies?

Friday, July 15, 2011

#19. This Moment: Bouncy Ride with Grandpa

Bouncy Ride with Grandpa
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smoked Salmon Gluten Free Penne {Rookie Recipe}

I haven't done a recipe in a while but when I posted on twitter that I had made a gluten-free smoked salmon and mushroom penne with white wine dill sauce... people started asking how I made it.

And I have to admit. This is the best accident I have EVER thrown together. Ever. This meal turned out accidentally amazing and it is dairy-free, too. My go-to pasta yum sauce used to be pesto. Now it is this. Yes pasta yum sauce is a thing.

Gluten Free and Dairy Free and IMPROVISED? Unbelievable.

Smoked Salmon and Mushroom Gluten Free Penne in a white wine sauce.

What I used:
  • 1 Bag of Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice Flour Gluten Free Penne
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • smoked salmon, sliced
  • fresh garden dill
  • fresh garden chives
  • sage
  • four cloves of garlic, minced
  • a handful of mushrooms
  • around a cup of white wine 
  • dill
What I did:
I always over cook the pasta. I happen to love over cooked brown rice pasta. But I reccomend you cook the pasta to your taste, strain and put it aside. In olive oil, saute the chopped fresh chives, and garlic. Add a sprinkling (or more) of sage, sliced mushrooms, and the smoked salmon, stirring over medium heat. Add white wine - I suggest starting small and adding more. Too much is too much, so go easy. As the white whine bubbles down, add the cooked pasta and fresh dill then stir until everything is coated.

Hell yes, right? So easy, so delicious, so simple. I'm having seconds right now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

#18. This Moment: Cuddlin' with Great-Grandpa

Cuddlin' with Great-Grandpa on Father's Day.
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.