Sunday, July 17, 2011

Raw Week, Day 1

So I've decided to adhere to a raw vegan diet for one week. Today is day one.
I should lay out my goals and expectations first:
I'm hoping that this week will jump start my weight loss. I expect to have more energy, feel more healthy, and lose some of my unhealthy food cravings. I'm also hoping that it introduces me to more recipes that include high amounts of produce and lower amounts of simple sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats. I'm also taking this day by day. This is quite the challenge! If I find food that I enjoy, I'm hoping to eat 75% raw vegan on a daily basis.
Here is what I DO NOT expect. I don't expect to lose 50lbs or 6 dress sizes. I don't expect to want to become 100% raw vegan at the end of the week.

Now that I've laid that out, here is Day 1

For breakfast I had a chocolate cherry smoothie with Swiss chard. With my new food processor makes smoothies so much better than my old blender. Finally there weren't little bits of leaves in my glass! I didn't take pictures of the smoothie, sorry.

For lunch I had the most delicious salad! I purchased a "Half & Half Spring Mix/Spinach" salad mix and topped it with raw vegan taco filling and an awesome ginger lime dressing. It was fantastic! Of course, I'm trying to stay away from soy, so I didn't have any vegan mayo for the dressing, so I made some! I also used almond milk instead of soy milk and olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

After that fantastic salad, I really wanted something sweet, so I had some peanut butter fudge I made last night and covered it in a chocolate sauce on the side. For the chocolate sauce, I just mixed together some agave syrup and cocoa powder. Delicious! The fudge tasted more like coconut than peanut butter so I'm either going to try adding more peanut butter next time, or I'll use almond butter instead of the coconut butter. It was still good, just not what I wanted.

I'm going to make tuna salad for dinner, not quite sure what I'll do with it just yet. I'm not sure I can do 2 salads in one day. I'm also hoping to make some raw ice cream this afternoon so it sets in time for dessert tonight!
Eating like this is very labor intensive. It requires quite a bit of prep. Maybe it will get easier as the week goes on, but this is definitely not a diet for people who are really busy. Also, with my weird allergy to raw fruits and veggies, I'm quite itchy right now, but as has happened in the past, I'm hoping that it will stop after a few days.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oh no!

So I bought a pair of new pants the other day. Just one pair of pants and 2 pair of shorts were my goal. I'm trying to lose weight, so I didn't want to spend a ton on clothing. I'm also trying to limit the amount of clothes I have. Who really wears 30 t-shirts? When we got to the store the hubs said "You always take a long time to try on clothes." Fine. Challenge accepted. So I went into the fitting room with my 20+ items and tried them all on under 20 minutes. That's less than a minute per item. I would put the item on and quickly check if it fit in the right places before tearing it off for another item. I got 2 great pairs of shorts. They feel like I'm wearing pajamas! I've been wearing them every day since shopping. But today, I felt like wearing jeans.
So I grabbed my new jeans and put them on. They felt really good in the fitting room, I was surprised that the first pair I tried on fit. So I pull them up, button them, and realize.... I'm still standing on the pant legs. They're too long. Way too long. I grabbed "Long" pants. Anyone who knows me knows that I might have long legs, but I'm still a shortie. So, boo. I'm going to have to have them tailored. And lesson learned, no more rushing in the dressing room.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Neti Pot Review

As a long time allergy sufferer, I've gotten tired of popping pills that might or might not work or that might or might not cause side effects. I got especially leery of allergy medicines while I was pregnant. Of course, at that time I had to resort to wearing those nose strips all the time just so I could breathe because it was before I discovered the Neti Pot. What a relief! It's an easy, safe, natural way to keep your nose and sinuses clear!
The Net Pot uses a saline solution to flush out your sinuses and nasal passageways. You fill the pot with saline and pour it through one nostril and out the other. I decided to try it when I received a free offer from NeilMed. They offer their Nasal FloNeti Pot for free. The first time I tried to use it was awful! I couldn't get the water to come out of the opposite nostril. It went down my throat, into my ears, anywhere but the other nostril. I tried a few more times and then gave up for about 6 months. Enter allergy season. The worst allergy season in the history of Michigan (or so I've heard). I decided to try again and finally succeeded. Sort of. The water kept coming out from the lid and making a huge mess. So I decided I needed a different pot.
I went out and purchased the Sinu Cleanse Neti Pot.  It seems much smaller and is easier to handle. This one worked even better and I can breathe again!

NeilMed Nasal Flo-
Pros: Free, large, comes with great booklet.
Cons: Bulky, leaky lid, only comes with a few packets of saline powder

Sinu Cleanse-
Pros: Easy to handle, doesn't leak, comes with 30 packets of saline powder (at least mine did), lighter, easier to clean
Cons: Plastic seems fragile (but is holding up fine), cost (it's inexpensive, but not free), small

I was not compensated for these reviews. These are my own opinions that reflect my own experiences with the aforementioned products.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A new week, a new goal!

I really need to form some new habits.  I feel as if my life is... poorly spent. I spend far too much time playing games online and my son spends far too much time watching television. Yes, I know. I'm a horrible mother and my son is probably scarred for life. Actually, sarcasm aside, I do feel quite guilty about this, but when I feel so down and exhausted I tend to shut down. I just need to realize that I can't afford to do that anymore. I have a very small person who depends on me.
For the past few weeks I made it my goal to have a morning routine that really gets us going. I pick out clothes for both my son and myself before I go to bed. Those clothes, and a fresh diaper for him, get put in the bathroom. As soon as he wakes me up we give good morning kisses and then we go to the bathroom and get dressed, brush our teeth and our hair, and I give the bathroom a quick clean up (no more than a few minutes). Being fully dressed and ready helps me feel more productive. For some reason I'm more likely to start the laundry and clean the kitchen when I come downstairs in clean clothes. I tend to spend more time lounging if I remain in my pajamas (not to mention that I typically stay in them all day if I wear them past noon).
So, we've got that down. Yay! Victory for mommy!

This week I've decided to add something else to that list. Craft time. W is really at an age where crafts can be a lot of fun. He already colors, draws, glues, and finger paints. But I would really like to set some time aside just for the two of us, every day, to create. Tomorrow we are finger painting. Then I'm heading to the store for some beans, pasta, beads, and liquid glue. Maybe I'll check out some paint brushes and tempera paint. I think it's going to be a fun week. Here's what I have planned:

Monday: Finger painting
Tuesday: Glue and pasta
Wednesday: Paint the glue and pasta creation
Thursday: Stringing beads
Friday: Gluing shapes and colors

They're simple, easy ideas. I want to start slow. Hopefully we'll be getting some holiday baking in as well, and of course, W will be helping as much as he can! I'd better find some cookie cutters!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Enough of the bull

Not that there are too many people who frequent my blog. But for those who have been anticipating an update here it is. I've had enough of the bull.
And all of the bull is coming from... myself.
When I was pregnant with W, I had no clue what to do about anything. Nothing. Not a damn clue. I didn't know  how I was going to do anything. So, as I tend to do, I started to research. And research. And research some more. It's a hobby, I suppose. I joined a ton of message boards. I subscribed to a ton of mommy blogs. I started getting a ton of magazines and buying a ton (and I mean a ton) of books. I eventually heard about Attachment Parenting.
When I first heard about AP I knew it was right for our family. I craved peace and security and this seemed like the perfect way to make sure my child had those things. I wanted him to grow up to be exactly who he was meant to be, exactly as he was created.  Now that I had a label I really started to research.
I read and I read, and then I read some more. I continued to read after W was born. I had a great start. Breastfeeding was great, bonding was great. I was feeling pretty awesome. I was going to rock this mom thing.
Then, I stumbled upon two things that would render me insecure for a long time.
The first was a blog I found in a Mothering magazine article, Soulemama. It's a truly inspiring blog written by a loving mother. Sometimes her blog really makes my day, so don't think that I am putting Amanda and her blog down. She is the mother, wife, citizen, woman, that I desired to be. She is kind, thoughtful, intelligent, wise, patient, crafty, and grateful. I read her blog and I told myself, "I want to live like that. I want the life she has." And I started cooking her recipes, taking up her hobbies, using her words as my own personal "how to" guide, and reading her books. Which brings us to insecurity inducing item number 2, a book called Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear, 2nd Edition.
I read the book and it made so much sense! Of course! I need to be patient, look for intent in all my child does, and by all means, I must strive to obtain, keep, and strengthen the connection with my child. I read the book from cover to cover. I made notes, wrote down daily goals, tracked my parenting faults and failures as well as my victories.
So, you're probably asking,  "if these two items were so great, how did they make you feel so insecure?":

It's simple, really. I got caught up. I got so caught up in trying to be as flawless a person as Amanda Soule and as flawless a parent as described in Connection Parenting that I forgot some very important things. I forgot to be mindful. I forgot to celebrate my victories. I forgot to take a break. I was so caught up in trying to be these things that I forgot about myself. I started to focus on what I was doing wrong, on how my situation was not conducive to my goals, on what I didn't have, what I couldn't have, and what I wouldn't have. Negativity reigned for a long time. I was becoming the exact opposite of what I wanted to be. I was angry, impatient, and not productive. I wasn't happy.

I've decided to let it go. I'll never be Soulemama, and that's ok. I'll never be Pam Leo's ideal parent. I am me, I am the mother my son was born to, I am the woman my husband married. I am me. I need to learn to be the parent that meshes with who I am and what I want, not only for my son, not only for my family, but for me as well. Sure, I can take ideas from Connection Parenting, but I can't be insecure in my parenting. I can enjoy Soulemama, but I need to appreciate it for what it is. I need to enjoy it, appreciate it, and possibly use it as inspiration that fits my life. AP is all about doing what feels right, instinctual parenting, I suppose. At least, that's what it means to me. I will be happier if I let these things go and therefore, I can have a happier family.

So (and if you are still reading, I applaud and thank you), I have decided to do a few things. First, I'm going to strive to be more mindful and to become more secure in my parenting. Also, I'm going to start doing for myself more often. W isn't going to be traumatized if he has to be with a sitter while I get out of the house or while I get something done for a few hours. Our parent/child connection isn't going to be irreparably severed if I let him throw a tantrum, and the world isn't going to end if I take some time to knit something for me as opposed to everyone else. In addition, I need to start to be thankful for what I have and show some patience for what I want.

So, here's to finding security, loving the life I have, and doing what I love! Cheers!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Letter to the editor

In response to "Mother Madness" by Erica Jong

It has come to my attention, through a plethora of ill-researched and inflammatory articles, that some people believe that  Attachment Parenting is imprisoning and victimizing women; that it is anti-feminist. I strongly disagree and abject to these accusations and I would like to explain why.
I am an "attachment parent." I believe  that it is my job to make sure my child is as secure, safe, and healthy as possible. To me that means breastfeeding, child lead weaning, baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, buying or making natural toys, and making sure my child consumes as little processed food as possible. That is my choice. It is a well researched choice and I am extremely satisfied with it.
I actually feel that there is nothing more feminist than CHOICE. I have a master's degree, but I have CHOSEN to stay at home and raise my son. I have family members who are willing to watch my son if I were to work, but I have CHOSEN to politely thank them and stay home to raise my son.  It's nice to know that I can go back to work when and if I want to, but for now I'm CHOOSING to stay at home. I also CHOOSE to use cloth diapers, breastfeed (past 1 year *gasp!*), and cook from scratch.  I do not feel pressure to do these things. As a matter of fact, since the day I announced my pregnancy, I felt pressure to go against my instincts, to ignore my research, and to follow a more mainstream idea of parenting. As a strong, independent, and intelligent woman, I was able to ignore that pressure and continue following my instincts and sticking by my choices. What is anti-feminist about that?
Believe it or not, I enjoy staying home with my son. I think that I have a fantastic job. I get to spend time with my son, spend time working on my hobbies which include knitting,  cooking, researching miscellaneous topics, and preparing to go back to school to obtain my PhD (what can I say, I love learning).  The only expectations I have are my own. No day is ever the same and our hours are spent laughing, learning, and enjoying each other's company. Sure, I have tough parenting moments, but those have little to do with my parenting choices and everything to do with the nature of being a parent. No matter how you CHOOSE to parent your child, you are going to have tough moments, tough days, and tough phases. Parenting is enjoyable but not always easy, no matter how you CHOOSE to parent your child.
Also, I have never felt more liberated! Not only do I get to CHOOSE, for the most part, how I spend my days, but I'm helping our family achieve self-sustainability. And what can be more liberating than being self-sustaining? I enjoy growing, harvesting, and preserving food, especially when that means I won't be dependent on a stranger's quality assurance. I know what's in my food and I know where it came from. You can't often say that about what you buy in the grocery store.  I enjoy knowing that my diapers are free of chemicals. I enjoy knowing what is in my laundry detergent, soap, and household cleaners. I enjoy helping my family save money and prepare for the future. 
If anyone feels trapped, it is my husband. He is stuck going to work every day. He doesn't get to chose what he does with his day, he doesn't get to work on his hobbies during the week.  He doesn't get to spend mornings cuddling in bed with his son. We decided, as a family, that it was best for him to be the one who goes to work, but that doesn't mean that it isn't hard for him to say good-bye to us every morning. That doesn't mean that it isn't tiring carrying the financial burden all alone. I very much appreciate and respect his sacrifice and I try my best to let him know that. He also understands that we are working towards a goal and that it won't always be like this.
We are working as a unit towards a common goal: to become as self-sufficient as possible in the hopes that my husband will one day have to work minimal hours and we can spend the majority of our days together, as a family, just enjoying life.  That, in my opinion, is the way it should be.
The author of the article published on your website asks, " Is it even possible to satisfy the needs of both parents and children?" I would answer, "Yes." My needs are very well met. My son's needs are very well met. My husband's needs are also well met. Has it been a struggle?  Absolutely. But that has little to do with attachment parenting and everything to do with our society's aversion to families. How is it that we have come from "a woman's place is in the kitchen" to "a woman's place is in the workplace"? It's amazing, the amount of flack I have taken because of my CHOICE.
Jong continues, "Indeed, although attachment parenting comes with an exquisite progressive pedigree, it is a perfect tool for the political right. It certainly serves to keep mothers and fathers out of the political process. If you are busy raising children without societal help and trying to earn a living during a recession, you don't have much time to question and change the world that you and your children inhabit. What exhausted, overworked parent has time to protest under such conditions?"
 I'm protesting now, aren't I?  Actually I find that my CHOICES  are a type of protest. Instead of buying from big box stores and large corporations, I chose to make, grow, or salvage most of what our family needs. It is my protest against the lack of ethics shown by such stores and corporations. Buying my meat from a local farmer who pastures his animals is my protest against factory farming. My using cloth diapers is my protest against the diaper companies who, most times, won't even let you know what you are putting on your child's bum. I have never been more politically active than I am as a stay at home mom. Because we have less money, we spend less, we have less. We don't participate in the disgusting  mass consumerism and materialism that is so rampant in our culture. We CHOOSE To evaluate our lives and decide what is important to us. How is that not politically relevant? Also, I would say that I am no more tired than your average person who is trying to earn a living during a recession. Many people are taking second jobs, working over time, and accepting lower wages for hard work just to make ends meet. What makes them more able to question and change the world than me? During naptime I can research political candidates, write letters, make phone calls, do research, and use my voice in a multitude of other ways. What full-time employee can do this on their lunch break? I would say that being a stay-at-home mom has empowered me, if anything.
And, wait, there's more! "In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the "noble savage" view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules."
There are no rules, only suggestions.  I feel no guilt about my child, even though I face pressure every day to become more mainstream. I have CHOSEN to be the PERSON who stays home with my child. It could have been my husband, but since his job paid more, we decided it was best if I left mine, if I wanted to. And I did. Maybe the discrepancy between the salaries of men and women is something that you should spend your time writing about. The last thing I need is yet another person telling me what I'm doing wrong as a mother. It seems that your article is a bit hypocritical.
If you parent differently and you feel that my way is inferior to yours, good!  You should feel that your parenting is superior. If you don't, then you are doing something wrong.
If you ever want an educated woman, who is currently a parent, to write educated articles on motherhood for your website, you know how to contact me.

A satisfied attachment parent, by CHOICE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our "up north" trip and a lil' something for my Twi-fan friends.

Before we leave the Pacific Northwest we're trying to see everything we can. This includes the Hoh Rainforest's Hall of Mosses. We stayed in Port Angeles and had to drive through Forks to get to the rainforest. After our hike we went to La Push beach to relax.

Hoh Rainforest
La Push
Forks welcome sign.
La Push is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, not that I've seen very many beaches.