Friday, July 20, 2012

Pregnant and I Know It

Now that I've had some breakthrough with nausea and fatigue from the pregnancy, and I feel the urge to get back to blogging.  For those of you who don't know, I'm pregnant again and due in early January! I had an awesome pregnancy with Ada, and this one is pretty good with just a little more nausea and much more fatigue.  

Besides sleeping a lot and craving comfort food, the last few weeks have been filled with going to the pool with Ada, experiencing cabin fever in Summer due to the intense heat, attending my grandparent's Awake Wake (they are both still living), camping for the first time in 10 years, continuing to help breastfeeding moms in Marshalltown, and getting hooked on the show Mad Men with Chris.   

I've been getting more nostalgic and sentimental now that Ada isn't going to be an only child for much longer, so let's have an Ada update.....

My 19 month-old, sweet, affectionate, and joyful little girl is learning words like crazy!!! She is constantly asking me what the names of things are and attempting to repeat them after me.

She really likes to help me with chores around the house such as unloading the dishwasher, picking up things on the floor, throwing trash away, loading and unloading the laundry, etc.  She especially loves to help me cook and bake.

Ada is very girly, which has made me sooo thankful that I have a little girl!  She loves when I do her hair in pigtails (which we do at least twice a day), paint our toenails, pick flowers, etc. I feel like our bond has grown even stronger since being able to share some of these little things, and I look forward to when Chris can hopefully experience this with a son.
                                               





She loves little babies and is so affectionate to them.  Whenever we go to the grocery store she is constantly scanning around her looking for babies, and when she finds one she excitedly starts pointing and loudly screams "BABY! BABY! BABY!" She also somewhat understands that I have a baby inside me.  She points to my stomach and says "baby," and she likes looking at the pregnancy books with me where you can see how the baby and mom are changing. She's going to be a wonderful big sister. 

Lastly, Ada has really gotten attached to Charlie the last two months or so.  She's very affectionate with him, and they are great entertainment for each other.  The other day Charlie was gently rough-housing with her (tugging at her shirt, rolling around) and she was just squealing with joy and laughter.  It was one of those moments where Chris and I stopped what we were doing and just watched them, taking in the absurd silliness.  I can't wait for us to have those moments when it's siblings playing together, giving each other belly aches because of laughing so hard, and Chris and I will just stop and take in the memory.





Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breastfeeding at 18 Months

Last week I ran into a woman around my age who said that she was still breastfeeding her baby.  I asked her how old her son was, and she replied somewhat shyly, "13 months."  I affirmed her and told her how great it was that she was still breastfeeding, reminded her of the health benefits for continuing to breastfeed, and how the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years.  I asked her, "Do people give you funny looks when they find out you are still breastfeeding?" She said yes, and I told her that I am still breastfeeding my 18 month old daughter, and people are usually confused and give me funny looks about it too.

I never thought I would be one of those women who breastfed their walking talking toddlers. Back when I was breastfeeding Ada around the clock 8 to 12 times a day, I kept reminding myself "only for a year, just a few more months, then I am so done!" My original breastfeeding goal was to breastfeed Ada until late February, when the flu season started to end.  When the end of February came, I thought why? Why should I stop? Because other people think it's weird?

 Actually, worldwide the average weaning age is 3 years old, and the rest of the world would call us "weird" for weaning at one year or sooner.  Breastfeeding has been such a normal, consistent thing that I've done with Ada several times a day for the last year and half. The day we do end breastfeeding, whenever that day will be, that day will feel weird to me.  I imagine it will feel like how I felt when I wasn't pregnant anymore.  Feeling Ada's kicks inside of me, carefully balancing while I put on my shoes and my pants, rubbing my stomach thinking about my unborn child--all of that stopped when Ada was born, and it felt weird to not be pregnant anymore because I had gotten so accustomed to it.

At this point I am breastfeeding her for about 10 or 15 minutes, twice a day, right before her nap or bedtime.  It is no inconvenience or burden to me, in fact, it is way more convenient. When it's time for sleep, she gets her bunny and blankie, climbs up into our pink rocking chair, and waits for me.  I breastfeed her, sing her a song, put her in her crib and tell her goodnight.  Breastfeeding before bed helps make her sleepy, and means fewer tears at bedtime.  Also there were two different times where she was sick  (a weird fever and rash, then an ear infection) and breastmilk was the only thing she really wanted to eat.  The breastmilk also helped her fight the infections she had so that no trip to the doctor or medical intervention was necessary.

I know breastfeeding a toddler isn't for every mom.  Some women are happy and relieved to be done when they reach the year mark, or whatever goal they set for themselves. Any breastfeeding goal is a good one, because every ounce of breastmilk is great for your baby.  If you are like me, who feels this weird pressure to wean your toddler to fit in to our culture, even though your instincts tell you to continue, I just want you to know that your instincts are great and you should totally follow them!

In other news, Ada has been learning the sounds of all kinds of animals lately, so we took a fun family trip to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.  This was a great trip to take with a toddler because most of the park is shaded and you can see everything in about 2 hours.  Our favorite thing was feeding the cute giraffes! When you are face to face with them you really realize how HUGE they are, but they are so gentle and sweet.  They have very long purple tongues that stretch out and twist around the leaf you feed them. So fun!





Monday, May 7, 2012

Ada is....housebroken? -- 17.5 month update


Ada is 17.5 months now and it's time for an update!

As you can see, her hair is now long enough for pigtails, and I'm having way too much fun playing with her hair!  The pigtails definitely make her look more grown up.  

She understands a LOT of what we tell her, but she's not able to communicate much back to us.  She uses sign language for "milk" "more" "all done" "please" and "thank you"

Words she can speak: baby, dog, Mommy, Dadda, Wa-Wah(water), ball, and bye-bye.  However, lately she has only used "bye bye" when I'm talking on the phone.  Usually when I end a phone conversation I will say "ok, sounds good.  Alright, I'll talk to you later. Bye."  As soon as she hears "Ok, good...talk to you later," she says "bye-bye."  It makes me chuckle every time.  I've heard that talking parrots do this too.

She knows what dogs and cats say--"woof!" and "mao"

She LOVES to read books! Both with us and on her own.  

She can follow simple directions if I ask her to do something.

She helps with a few chores around the house. Her specific chores are to help Mommy unload the dishwasher (she hands me the dishes and I put them away), put the clean clothes in the dryer, and put Charlie in his kennel before we leave (she picks out a treat for him and walks over to his kennel and waits for him), and gives Charlie a treat when we return home.  She is a very enthusiastic helper, and sometimes cries when we finish a chore!

She likes to put phones, remotes, and calculators up to her ear and talk.

She started walking independently the week before Easter.

Lastly, she is housebroken.  Not potty trained, but housebroken.  You may have read my post about Ada learning how to become fully diaper free.  Well, the last few days we've had some breakthrough....sort of.  When she is diaper-free, and she has to pee or poop, she will go out on the deck and do her business there. She does number 1 and number 2 only standing up.  I've observed her as she's busy playing,  then will stop, walk out to the deck, and relieve herself. When she does this I give her lots of praise and a bite of marshmallow. I've tried to get her to sit down on her potty seat, but she usually gets upset (tantrum) at this I've even tried a different potty seat to see if that was the problem.  Maybe the sunshine, sounds of the birds, and fresh air help her to relax more?  Maybe she's been learning from Charlie? Maybe she knows she gets a treat if she goes outside to relieve herself?  So, I have mixed feelings.  I'm thrilled, because after months of doing diaper free trials, I feel like we've made a big step!  However, I'm don't know where to go from here to get her to willingly sit on her potty and go.  Currently, I've put one potty seat on the deck and one in the bathroom.  I welcome any suggestions!


My two loves

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From PB to FFRB: Homemade Fat Free Refried Beans and Tortillas

About 6 months ago, we took Ada to see an allergist to get tested for allergies and discovered she is allergic to peanuts, egg whites, dogs, and more recently, strawberries and cantaloupe.  Though her initial reaction to peanut butter was mild, her doctor has prescribed an epipen for us to start carrying around.  Since Ada is still breastfeeding, I've had to cut peanuts out of my diet as well, which has drastically improved Ada's eczema (skin rash) and she began regularly sleeping the whole 13 hours at night.

I went from eating a peanut butter sandwich everyday for lunch for about the last year or so, to eating refried bean burritos.  Once I stopped eating PB sandwiches for lunch, I saw our food budget increase because we were going through so many tortillas, cheese, and canned refried and pinto beans.  So, I decided to give a shot at making homemade refried beans and homeade tortillas.  The results: AMAZING!  CHEAP! EASY!

Fool Proof Fat Free Refried Beans:
Dry pinto beans
Spices (from largest amount to smallest amount): Cumin, Chili Powder, Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika (measure according to your tastes.  Add green chiles, lime, or cilantro if you have it!)

If you eat a lot of beans (great source of protein, iron, antioxidants, carbs, fiber) like we do, I would highly recommend buying a pressure cooker because it will cut your work by at least  50%.  If you have a pressure cooker,cook beans according to manufacturer's recommendations.   If you don't have a pressure cooker then follow the package directions.  I recommend using at least half the bag.  The beans are done when their skins are starting to split. Next, you need to dump out about 95% of the leftover water into a separate container.  Then, add the spices to your taste and depending on how many beans you cooked.  Lastly, mash the beans with a potato masher until you reach the consistency you prefer.  If your beans are getting to sticky, then add more of the reserved water. Store in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for a few months.  If after being stored in the fridge, they got too thick and sticky, then just stir some warm water into the beans.








Then I thought I'd give a shot at homemade tortillas.  I don't know why I keep being surprised at this, but once again, but homemade tastes way better than store-bought and I don't think I'm ever going back.

Homemade Tortillas (adapted from Jenny Jones):
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup warm water

Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Once incorporated, take dough out (it will be in large pieces) and place on a floured surface.  Knead the dough so it all holds together and shape into a round oval.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Start heating a cast iron or a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Cut and divide the dough into 8-12 equal size pieces (8 pieces are burrito size, 12+ are taco or fajita size).  Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten into a disc, and roll until very very thin.  Once pan is hot, place flattened dough on the pan.  Once large air pockets (about 30 seconds to a minute) start to form, flip the tortilla and cook the other side until slightly golden.  If you want crispier tortillas then cook for longer.  Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag either at room temperature or in the fridge for 5-7 days.






So, that's my story of how I went from eating a peanut butter sandwich everyday to homemade bean burritos with homemade tortillas.  The total work time to make 12 tortillas and 8-10 servings of refried beans was about a half hour.  And, it's cheaper and healthier.   I don't even miss PB sandwiches anymore; but I still miss Snicker's bars, peanut m&m's, and peanut butter cookies a lot. :)

Today's (and the rest of the week's) lunch: bean tacos with sour cream and leftover salad!



Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Maple Graham Crackers

Lately I've been somewhat annoyed with the amount of crackers we go through in this house.  I feel like almost every time I go to the grocery store I'm picking up a box of crackers.  So, I've decided to try making my own crackers.  They are actually relatively easy to make! And, I know exactly what all the ingredients are.  Store bought graham crackers are very dry, which means if Ada is eating on in the living room then little crumbs follow her everywhere she goes.  These crackers are really soft, almost cookie -like.  Which means they are less messy, and little babies without teefers can easily gnaw on these without hurting their gums.

Besides being super easy to make, even your toddler can help you!  Here's Ada helping me.  She really liked to pulse the mixture in the food processor, eat the measuring spoons, and play with the flour.  Also, it's safe to eat the dough because there are no eggs.  Making these reminded me a lot of playing with play-doh as a kid.  Enjoy!





















Maple Graham Crackers
(adapted recipe from Weelicious)

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose white flour
1/4 to 1/2 brown sugar (I thought the 1/2 cup was just too sweet for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or 1teaspoon cinnamon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey)
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, mix the flours, brown sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda.
3. Add the butter, slowly in small amounts, and pulse to combine. The mixture should look coarse and crumbly.
4. Mix together the water and maple syrup, then slowly add to the dry mixture and pulse until well incorporated.  You may need to get a spatula to stir it around. Add more or less water or flour as seems needed.  (the consistency should resemble pie crust dough)
5. Remove the dough and place on either a lightly floured surface, or on parchment or wax paper.  Roll into a flat disc about 1/4inch thick.
6. Cut into fun shapes!  I just use circles with the rim of a cup, but this is where you can get creative and use other cutout shapes.  Don't throw away any irregular scraps, you can use them to make cute animals or just bake them with everything else and your toddler will devour them!



7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet (or stoneware pan is the best).  When done baking, let cool on a cooling rack.



After eating these, I will never go back to store bought again!  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Everything but Look For Eggs

So, Easter was last weekend.  Easter makes me feel joyful, victorious, empowered, hopeful, and happy! Happy Easter!  One of my favorite things about being our own little family is starting new traditions that will get passed down to the following generations.

Here's an overview of the Easter traditions we did this year:


Upper Room Night:
On Friday night, we ate a meal of homemade French bread and red wine.  During dinner, we read about Jesus' last night with his disciples. We read the usual "communion" story, but also read Jesus' last words to his friends from John 14 to John 17.  I found so applicable for us as a family, because He taught and showed what kind of relationship we should have with each other, and what kind of relationship He wants with us.


Resurrection basket:
On Friday night, we put in the basket things that are old, worn out, out grown.  For Ada, we put in her church shoes that she outgrew, and a dress she outgrew, then covered the basket with a dark tablecloth.  On Easter morning, a white tablecloth covered the basket, and inside the "old" things are gone, instead there are gifts that are "new" and have "life."  When Ada woke up Easter morning, she uncovered the basket to find her Easter outfit, a flower balloon, and fresh yellow flowers.  The Resurrection Basket is meant to symbolize both what Jesus completed on Easter, and 2 Corinthians 5:17 ("Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; the new has come").


Easter meal:
If we are hosting the Easter meal, then we always make something that Jews would eat.  This is partly because Jesus and the disciples were Jews so it is kind of symbolic, and the other reason is that I really hate ham.Two years ago, when we lived in a tiny one bedroom house, I roasted a leg of lamb.  Last year I cooked fish.  And this year.....Chicago dogs made with the 100% beef Hebrew National hot dogs.

What are Chicago dogs??
It is an all beef hot dog, topped with:
mustard
pickle slice
sliced tomatoes
chopped white onion
sweet relish
sport peppers (could not find these anywhere so we used banana peppers)
celery salt
NO KETCHUP!




 We thought about going to an Easter egg hunt, but then realized that Ada wouldn't be able to eat any of the candy in the eggs, so decided to pass this year.

Chris and I have two goals in creating new traditions for Easter: it must teach our children and grandchildren about what Jesus has done for us, and it must be as or more exciting and fun as Christmas.    Last year, Chris and I read this great book:



 which challenged and changed some of our worldview, and got us super excited about Jesus rising from the dead.  I hope to reread this book again this year so I can better grasp all that it threw at me.  I'm already excited for NEXT Easter and have some more new traditions to start with my family. Yay!

What unique Easter traditions do you do or hope to start with your family?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Princess Buttcheeks

Well, March has gone and past me.  And, not a single blog post.  At first I felt disappointed in myself, but blogging is hard work and it doesn't come naturally to me yet.  Also, thanks to those of you who encourage me to keep blogging.  It's delightful to me that all kinds of people are interested at peeking into the life of this new modern mom.

This is what March looked like for me:
Ada starts calling me "mommy."
Ada takes more and more steps.
Ada makes a few poops her potty.
My mom teaches us the skill of home-brewing.
I turned 24! BUT, I only feel 22.


Today I wanted to talk about a goal that Ada and I have been working on the last few months. Our goal is for her to be potty trained by June 18 of this year.   Around here, we call it "diaper free."

Two experiences have really shaped the way I want to help Ada become diaper free.  The first is a vivid memory of my mom potty training my little brother (who is now 18) John Lloyd.   She potty trained him in 2 or 3 days, by sticking him outside to play all day long NAKED (except for a tshirt).  When he peed, his pee would get all over his legs and feet and he would throw a fit.  So then my mom would tell him that next time he should pee on the flowers, or the trees, or the rocks, and then eventually the toilet.

My second experience is what I saw while I lived in China for six months.  In China, babies wear what we would call "split-pants."
 

I would see babies as young as probably 3 months wearing these.  I saw babies squatting to pee on sidewalks.  I saw a mom RUN out of a grocery store with her baby to make it just in time to hold the baby over the sidewalk for him to pee.  Can you imagine how nice it would be if your 10 month old was already diaper free?  I think split pants are a great idea!

Why does bare naked butt work?  I think it's because babes can see and feel the cause and effect of relieving themselves.  Also, parents can easily see what cues their babes make right before they pee or poo, and specifically when they peed or pooped.  

So, that's where I'm at right now.  About once a week, I let Ada be naked for several hours.  Diaper free is really about training myself to learn how Ada communicates that she's about to relieve herself.  While she's diaper free I watch her as best as I can to see what she does.  Some days are more successful than others, and we've made progress since we started 5 months ago.  And you know what's surprising?  It's actually  kind of fun and exciting!  Ada loves being naked, too.  I call her Princess Buttcheeks when she's diaper free. Neighbors be warned, you probably will see our children squatting in the backyard and front yard for the next several summers!

If you want to learn more about diaper free methods, you should visit http://diaperfreebaby.org/.

Have you experienced or witnessed any odd potty training methods?






Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering at 14 months...Sayonara Diaper Pins!

I recently read a very interesting article about cloth diapering in an old issue of Mothering magazine.  This fact shocked me: it takes SEVEN BILLION GALLONS OF OIL every year to make disposable diapers!

Well, we are still cloth diapering, and I'm still very satisfied with cloth. However, diapering a newborn and diapering newtoddler have been very different experiences.

In my previous post about cloth, I was using pins, pre-folds, and different sizes water proof covers.  If you are wanting to do cloth and have a small budget, this is by far the cheapest option that I've found.  It was a great system that lasted until Ada was about 10 or 11 months, in which diaper changes turned into a battle.  For the last 3-4 months, Ada has been very resistant during diaper changes.  To overcome this, I use a combination of discipline to make her be still while I change her, and have invested in some different diaper covers to make diaper changing faster and easier.

So, I've done away with pins (impossible to pin a squirming, kicking toddler), and invested in some one-size diaper covers (you can adjust the size to your growing baby), in which I am able to place the pre-folds into and snap onto Ada.  The brands I have are Sweet Pea and Flip.  I wish I had known about these and bought these at the beginning of diapering.  Oh well!  The future kiddos will use them!  I prefer the Flip slightly more because it's less bulky and fits Ada better.

Here's what they look like:

Flip diaper cover (left) and SweetPea Diaper cover (right)

Though I paid more than I wanted to (about $10 each), I'm really satisfied with them and they've made cloth diapering easier on us.  I fold the prefold diaper into thirds, lay it in the cover (Flip has flaps you can tuck it into), and snap it on Ada.  EASY!
SweetPea cover has gussets to contain blowouts


diaper in the Flip diaper cover



And the dirty diaper?  I remove soiled prefold diaper and throw it in the diaper bucket (unless poop needs to be sprayed off first).  I use a diaper wipe to wipe out the inside of the cover, and then use it at the next changing.  At the end of the night, I soak all the covers we used during the day in the sink with some hot water and about a teaspoon of detergent for about an hour, then hang them up to dry overnight.

And, though I was using cloth wipes from when Ada was about 6 months to 12 months, I've gone back to using disposable diaper wipes again, until I find something that's as convenient and reusable. They were much easier to use when Ada wasn't so squirmy and mobile.  I don't like forking the money out for them, but I dislike diaper changes (about 4-5 times per day) turning into battle zones more. Now, I can even change Ada's diaper while she's standing up!



Ada is almost walking!  SOOO close!  She makes me laugh so much! :)  Also, she does the sign language for "milk" and calls her Bunny "Bubba."  She has also started praying with us (by holding our hands) at dinner time.  We are SO proud of her!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First Spanking

The very first time Ada climbed the dishwasher, around 9 months old.  This was back when she had just started learning how to climb on things, and it was really cute and surprising to see here there.

The last few months Ada has started demonstrating her own will.  I'm so glad that she's confident to try new things, take risks, and explore on her own.  With this new found will, she is also discovering her limits, boundaries, and rules of the house.

Yesterday was her first spanking.  It was hard on me. SO hard!   Here's how it went down:

I was unloading the dishwasher and she climbed up onto the door of the dishwasher.  (I let her do this when she first started climbing and weighed much less).
I told her "No climbing on the dishwasher" and put her on the floor.
Then she made another attempt to climb up and I said "No, no Ada. No climbing the dishwasher" and I put her feet on the ground.
She started to climb again, so I took her away from the dishwasher, and spanked her big chubby thigh.
She wailed and bawled, and buried her face on the linoleum floor. And I felt like doing the same thing! It's still very hard for me to hear her cry.
After she got past the long wails and was more in the sniffling stage, I comforted her and said "No climbing the dishwasher"
But she attempted to climb on the dishwasher for the third time!
So, one more firm smack to the thigh. I really didn't want to go through with it again, but knew it was necessary.
Tears, sniffles, and then hugs.
And this time, she obeyed me! She continued to "help" me by rolling the racks in and out, and opening and closing the detergent door.  But she never climbed the dishwasher door again.

Today, I was unloading the dishwasher, and I was thinking to myself "Wow, why does this feel so easy right now?" And then I looked down and realized, that Ada had LEARNED to not climb the dishwasher!  She was definitely still "helping" me, but the disciplining the day before had worked!

I wish I was more prepared for this stage of discipline.  I wish I had started reading books about parenting 3 months ago, rather than just starting to now.  Right now Chris and I are only guided by what our friends are doing and our instincts, and we may be doing things completely wrong! But the spank worked for this one thing this one time.  And it was hard on both me and Ada, but we're over it (were over it really quickly actually), and unloading the dishwasher is much smoother now.

Two books fellow moms have recommended to me are "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp and "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk.  I just got "Shepherding a Child's Heart" from the library today and am excited to start reading it.

On an unrelated note, our long time friend and brother Ben Yu came all the way from Lanzhou, China to visit us!  It was Ada's first time to meet him!  It was so unbelievable seeing him again that it felt like we had dreamed it.  Thanks for coming Ben!




Friday, February 3, 2012

I love both my jobs!


This picture was taken when Ada was about 4 months old or so.  Here I am breastfeeding, but you probably couldn't tell.  Do you spot Ada?? Her foot is sticking out in the bottom right corner!

About 3 months ago I began a part-time (6 hours or less per week), at-home job as a breastfeeding peer counselor for the WIC program.  With this job, I basically build relationships with women in the community and help them get a good start in breastfeeding.  Many days when Chris comes home from work I say, "I just love BOTH my jobs!"

Here are my favorite things about my job:

1. As I continue to learn about pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am constantly amazed at how truly incredible a woman's body is.  Women, have you ever stopped to think about this??  I can't believe all of the changes my body has undergone within the last 2 years! I have a much deeper appreciation for how God created my body, that I want to honor and take care of it more.  I love that a woman's body is beautiful, life-giving, and accommodating to the many changes it goes through..  I am so glad I'm a woman!

2. I love connecting with other moms, especially since it's harder to socialize with other adults after having kids. When you become a mom, you instantly are able to connect with any other mom, regardless of class, race, language, religion, etc.

3. I love holistically helping women and children and making a difference in their lives.

The hardest thing about my job:

The actions of many hospitals (not all) and OBs can make it very difficult for women to breastfeed.   It makes me feel sad because breastfeeding is probably one of the healthiest things for a woman and baby to do, yet  I've discovered that many medical professionals don't make it a priority to be educated about breastfeeding or committed to helping women get started.  Almost weekly, I hear from my clients of truly wrong advice or actions given/done by medical professionals which has prevented women from breastfeeding at all, or made it extremely difficult to get a good start. To be a well-informed patient is to be in charge of you and your children's health.

I hope to include more posts about breastfeeding in the future to help you (men and women) to be more informed and excited about breastfeeding!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greek Geek

I'm a little disappointed....one blog post for January.  I'm still trying to get the hang of this blog thing, while balancing life of stay at home mom, and being a breastfeeding peer counselor.  Ok, but here is something I've done in January...I've fallen in love with Greek yogurt!  It is more natural and simple, much cheaper, and tastes way better than store bought!  And, it is SUPER easy to make!  I regret I didn't learn to do this years ago!

How to make Greek yogurt!
It's so easy, there's really no need for pictures...

What you need:
Already prepared yogurt with active cultures (look on the container to make sure it says this)
1/2 gallon milk (any kind of cow's milk, I haven't experimented with soy milk yet)
Thermometer (digital is best)
Mesh strainer
Cheesecloth (found in the fabric section of Wal-mart for about $5.)

1. Heat 1/2 gallon milk (whole, low-fat, or skim) on the stove until it reaches 180 degrees. Stir constantly to keep the milk from burning on the bottom. (about 20 minutes)
2. Transfer heated milk to another large container, preferably one that is plastic or glass.  Do not cover.  Let the milk sit until it cools to between 105 and 110 degrees. (about 25 minutes)
3.  While waiting for the milk to cool, mix together in a small cup 2 tablespoons milk, and either 2 tablespoons already prepared plain Greek yogurt or 3 tablespoons already prepared plain yogurt. (Make sure the yogurt contains active cultures! It should say on the label of the container).
4. When milk cools to between 105 and 110 degrees, stir in the milk-yogurt mixture.
5. Cover the cooled milk with a lid or plastic wrap.  Wrap the bowl in a towel.  Turn on your oven light. Put the wrapped bowl in the oven (make sure the towel is not near the oven light).  Leave in the oven for 7 to 8 hours. If left in longer than 8 hours it has a more tart taste.

At this point you have made regular yogurt! Good job! Wasn't that easy? and CHEAP?! Read on for Greek yogurt...

6. Put the homemade yogurt in the fridge to chill for about 2 hours.
7. Over a large bowl, place a mesh strainer lined with 3-4 layers of damp cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-mesh strainer and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to strain for 4-6 hours, or until it reaches in the thickness you like. (The yellow liquid leftover is called whey, which is super healthy for you, but I haven't found a good use for it yet.)Then transfer the Greek yogurt to a convenient container for storage.  Remember to save about 2 tablespoons to use for your next batch of yogurt!

How to eat Greek yogurt:
1. Mix with some sugar (or honey or agave syrup), vanilla extract, and thawed frozen berries, or fresh fruit. (My favorite)
2. Make tsaziki sauce and use in gyros or kabobs.
3. Plain--a healthy alternative to sour cream (Ada's favorite)
4. Plain--dip herbed foccacia bread into it. You can also add some spices and herbs to the yogurt. (Chris' favorite)

Price difference? With the half-gallon of milk, you make about 6 containers of Greek yogurt at the store.  Greek yogurt sells for about $1 per container.  So, with a half gallon of milk (about $1.50) you made about 6 servings of Greek yogurt.  That's only $0.25 per serving!  A savings of  75 percent!

Anyways, Ada is now 13.5 months old.  She's not walking unassisted yet, but I know she is close!  I absolutely love this stage that she's in right now.  I'm amazed at how much she understands and how much she is communicating (though I don't always know what she is saying). She is definitely a chatty girl!  Ada has also been somewhat consistent at communicating with sign language for things like "all done" "more" and "milk." and points to things she wants. She says "mama" "dada" and "DAAAHdah,"which means doggie.  Here is a pic I snapped of her recently that shows her infatuation with the dog.


Ada walking with mama

Ada loves to read in her chair!




Monday, December 26, 2011

Listening for Heartbeats and Cranberry Margs

We had a just a wonderful, beautiful Christmas weekend filled with lots of sugar, laughs, family, and presents.  It is so much fun to give and receive gifts!  Chris and I also celebrated our 2-year anniversary with a little getaway (baby-free) in Des Moines.  Ada and I both survived and did wonderfully away from each other.  It was actually harder on me being away from her!

My favorite part of Christmas this year though, happened late last night, just a few minutes past midnight.  Ada was in a nearby room fast asleep.  Chris had just dipped off into a deep doze, and I was laying peacefully awake, my head pressed against his back so I could hear his heartbeat.  It was so still and quiet in the night, that when his heart would beat, I could feel it pulse against my ear.  I laid there, just enjoying this quiet moment, and thanking God that I had my living, breathing, heart-beating, warm, wonderful love of my life with me.  God is so good to give me a partner and lover to walk this wonderful life with me.

On another note, I just have to share this recipe for Cranberry Margaritas by yours truly.  This is by far my favorite holiday drink.  Here it is:

Cranberry Margaritas (makes two 7oz drinks)
Ingredients:
Tequila (gold)
Triple Sec
100 % Cranberry Juice
1 orange
Sugar
Ice cubes

Line rim of two glasses with sugar (get wet and dip in sugar bowl), and put 3-4 ice cubes in each glass. Cut a 1/4 section out of an orange. In a cocktail mixer or bowl or something, mix 1.5 oz triple sec, 2.5 oz tequila, 14oz of cranberry juice, and the squeezed juice from the orange piece.  Mix or stir well.  Cut the leftover squeezed orange piece into two pieces and stick them in the glasses.  Pour the drink into each glass and stir to distribute coldness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Miss Ada

Well, I no longer have a lil baby, Ada is now my "lil girl."  She's let me know the last two months or so that she is definitely not my baby anymore, but yesterday we finally got to celebrate my lil girl turning ONE.

Ada was completely oblivious that it was that party was for her, and she was pretty disinterested in her birthday cake, but she did think the glowing candle was pretty cool.  She only had about two bites of her cake, which I was totally OK with.  I've heard of babies devouring their birthday cakes and having crazy sugar rush highs, and I was happy to avoid that.  For the special birthday treats I made strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  I'm really not much of a baker, but they were a hit!  If you want the recipe, click here.   Also, my sister and I have been on a big sangria kick.  We've been serving it at the last 3 parties we've hosted, and it's delicious!  Here's the recipe for that:

Sangria for a Crowd:
1 bottle pink wine
some brandy (to taste)
Peach sparkling water
Strawberry sparkling water
fresh or frozen berry fruits

Add the wine, some brandy, the fruit, and some each of the sparkling waters.  Taste.  Add more brandy or sparkling waters to taste.  Serve in a punch bowl, pour over ice in individual cups. ( guessing it makes around 40 4oz. servings)




Grandpa John (my Dad) and Ada






Miss Ada's Birthday Outfit

Here's what I learned:
Chris and I really love our family a LOT!  It was so great that there is so much love and joy crammed together in a small space when both of our families get together.  We are so thankful that our families really welcome and love each other to create an even bigger, louder, funnier, more loving family.

To keep your sanity and maintain your stress, do the one thing you're good at.  For me, that was the food prep.  I delegated everything else to other people.

Lastly, as I was cleaning up and throwing away all of the streamers and other disposable decorations, I realized that I need to come up with a better solution for party decorating.  I want to build up a supply of reusable party decorations (streamers, tablecloths, vases, signs, centerpieces, etc).  I came up with this after thinking about how many more birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, ladies parties, that I will be hosting throughout my lifetime.  I really don't want to buy new paper products each time, but would rather just open up my linen closet and pull out the few things I already have, saving time and money.  I could even have a set that is "girly" (girls birthday parties, bridal and baby showers) and a set that is "neutral" (for things like boys birthday parties, or parties that aren't girl only).  I could make all of these things myself or buy them secondhand from garage sales and Goodwill.  I'm not convinced that I should give up disposable dinnerware (plates, napkins, cups, silverware) just yet, only because cleaning up is soooo much easier with them.

On to ,more adventures with a one year old!!