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.