Archive | April, 2013

Toddler Smoothie

28 Apr

My poor pumpkin got a high fever on Friday. Last time Hadassah got a high fever (of 105.1 degrees) we had to be admitted to the hospital. When Hadassah’s fever read 103.2 I started getting nervous.

Hadassah is such a picky eater and with being sick, I knew she needed to stay hydrated. I prepared her a smoothie before going to bed and she downed the whole thing, so it made me feel better knowing she was cooling off and getting hydration and nutrition!

Several months ago I discovered Hadassah loves smoothies! I throw smoothies together frequently and change up the ingredients, but I thought I would post the most nutritionally packed recipe and it is still really yummy. I am able to get Hadassah to eat more fruits and veggies in one smoothie than I am able to raw in a year.

Toddler Smoothie

1/2 stalk of celery
2-3 peeled carrots (optional; use these with care and caution, and a really good blender! The smoothie might be a little chewable if you use them, but still good)
A GIANT fistful of baby spinach
2 strawberries (frozen makes it really good!)
1/4 – 1/2 of a very ripe banana
1/4 of red plum
2 cups of whole milk

Throw all ingredients in a blender. Blend on the smoothie setting until you can hear that all chunks of food are blended. Serve in a straw sippy cup!

I usually end up making a smoothie for myself because my mouth starts watering after I “taste test” Hadassah’s smoothie.

My most basic smoothie recipe just includes the banana, strawberry and spinach, because we almost always have banana and strawberries in our house. I have even thrown in cooked zucchini to a smoothie, but I’ve never thrown raw zucchini in so I cannot vouch for if it is good.

Here are my recipe tips:
Leave out blueberries… The skins are kind of weird (for Hadassah anyway) and the flavor is really strong

Don’t use blackberries, ever. The seeds are not pleasant to chew on.

I once made a smoothie in a food processor with spinach, banana, and pineapple. I’m not sure what the problem was (the ingredients or the appliance), but it tasted like vomit.

Enjoy making your own variations!

Breast feeding essentials

25 Apr

I was recently talking with a friend about nursing gear and she asked me for my recommendations. The most essential item for breast feeding is the nursing tank. It makes nursing a cinch around the house and in public.

I have three different types of nursing tanks, all with pros and cons.

The nursing tank from Target:

This tank was, I think, the cheapest of the ones I own. I do not recommend it at all because the thread at the bottom completely unraveled, rendering it useless.

Pro: Cheap ($)
Con: Cheap (quality)

Thankfully, I only purchased one.

The nursing tank from Motherhood Maternity:

The great thing about motherhood is that they are always having sales! Sure, everything is probably marked up and then put on (quote, unquote) sale, but it makes you happy anyway.

I own about 5-6 tanks from Motherhood. They are not as cheap ($) as Target, but they weren’t that much more expensive as I recall. I think “on sale” they averaged out to $24 each.

Pros: They are really economical, and a decent tank for the price, hence the reason I have six of them.
Cons: After they get stretched out (like if I try to wear them more than 24 hours), they aren’t as supportive. In addition, they start rolling up at the torso area… a lot. Usually by the middle of the night I feel like I am wearing a belly shirt because they inch up so high.

The other con is that, while they are sufficiently supportive for me in my day-to-day life, I cannot jump around in them. Also, if someone is a little more endowed than I am (I am a DD/E while nursing but use a small tank), these tanks might be too flimsy.

Lastly, due to the thin material, I don’t really feel comfortable wearing this tank by itself in public.

Bravado Nursing Tanks:

I have one Bravado tank. I love this tank. It cost about $50.

Pros: The tank is made from a thicker material. I would feel much more comfortable wearing this tank out in public by itself compared to the others. It does not inch up at all and it doesn’t stretch out.

Cons: Besides the hefty price, I do feel a little bulkier when I am layering this with other clothes in order to nurse discreetly in public. Also, I don’t feel like Bravado has the perfect size tank for me. The tank I have is just slightly big for me, and the size smaller was just a bit too tight. Lastly, even though the clasps are more durable than my other tanks, they are a little more difficult to undo quickly and one-handed (which is quite important when you have a screaming baby in a public scene.)

Out of all my tanks, I would definitely recommend Bravado above any others. However, they are a little too expensive for me to fill a whole drawer with them, hence the reason I stocked up on the Motherhood tanks. I still would like to invest in one more Bravado tank.

I’m really not sure if there are other nursing tanks out there, but if there are, I’d love to know how they compare!

Below: the Bravado Nursing Tank

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I found the money tree! (Money doesn’t grow on trees)

22 Apr

“Money doesn’t grow on trees,” so I heard many times while growing up. If you haven’t ever heard this saying, it basically means we don’t have an unlimited supply of money that we can use without working.

Many times in my youth I wished desperately that I had a money tree (What for? I have no idea. How many needs does a teenager really have?!). I think several times I prayed and asked God if he might find it in his desire to plant one outside in our yard for our family. This is all quite embarrassing to remember, especially since I didn’t live in poverty or anything like that.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees,” I heard more than a few times in my life, and I believed it.

However…

Just today I realized that I have actually discovered the money tree!!!

That’s right. It is called breast milk! A common synonym for breast milk is liquid gold. It is indeed just that.

Hadassah was on formula for about 5 entire months. Formula cost us over $80 a month, and we bought the store brand. I’m sure it costs other families even more. By breast feeding, I am saving a nice chunk of change every month.

But how does this relate to money growing on trees?

Let me preface the answer with a drawn out example. Let’s say I want to do a good deed. Maybe I want to fill a shoebox with hygiene products and send it to a third world country. Maybe I want to sponsor a child in need somewhere in the world. Maybe I just want to donate some money or even some clothes or shoes to a struggling family. For all those above and noble examples, I am going to take a hit financially, unless I truly have dollar bills flapping in the breeze on my money tree… Which I don’t. What happened to my money tree!?

Be patient!

Let’s continue with the idea of a noble deed. What can I give a family that costs me absolutely no money and is rather effortless? I can give the gift of donated breast milk. A child/family that is receiving donated breast milk will not only receive amazing health benefits (which are translated into financial savings in less trips to the doctor, less medicine, less time off work for the parents etc), but they will also be saving a minimum of eighty real dollar bills each month.

What better way to help a family in need than this? It costs me absolutely nothing! One might argue that I will need to eat more calories (therefore purchasing more food) if I am going to be donating milk, but trust me, I can sacrifice a bit and drop a few pounds when donating and eat the same amount as always. I’m willing to take that hit.

So there it is – money tree if I have ever seen one! It is just camouflaged as a lactating woman.

One might argue that everyone could do just a noble deed by donating blood. However, a person can’t donate blood every day. Plus, it is uncomfortable to have a needle stuck in ones arm for 45 minutes. I agree that donating blood is great. I just also understand that there are some good excuses for not doing it habitually. With donating milk, on the other hand, there really isn’t a good excuse not to do it in a situation such as mine.

– I have a sufficient supply
– I don’t have to worry about pumping milk for Emmanuel due to going back to work, going on a trip, or going on medicine or having surgery.
– I have time in my day where I am at home with access to a double electric pump.

Ever since I learned about milk sharing and donating milk, I have felt very passionate about it. Please share the information about milk sharing with everyone you know, and if you are breast feeding and have any extra milk to spare, please consider finding someone who is in need of the milk! Blog about this, reblog this, post on social networking sites, and tell all your friends!

Pumping milk in my situation and storing it up in my freezer like a trophy instead of donating it would be extremely silly. It would be like storing up treasure on Earth instead of Heaven. It would be like hoarding manna from heaven.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact me, research your local milk bank, and/or get connect to Human Milk for Human Babies (a space to share milk with fellow mothers at no cost).

Got milk? Donate it!

Babies: Big, small, and real

21 Apr

After putting the kids to bed tonight, Emmanuel woke up three times crying within approximately two hours. Lately he has been sleeping in our bed because he wakes up when we put him in his bed. Tonight I kept putting him in his bed (that is definitely the goal), but after the third waking I laid him down in our bed (little guy is about as picky as The Princess and the Pea).

The final time I was lulling him back to sleep, I sighed inwardly and smiled, thinking how I will be out of this newborn stage before I know it, and I will roll around in my bed and enjoy an entire night of sleep. Ah yes, the newborn stage. Hmm. Newborn?

I knew “the answer,” but at that moment I really realized that Emmanuel is almost five months old. That is way past newborn stage. I know he is developing incredibly each day, but with the lack of sleep and the amount of time I consider myself to be a zombie are significant. I also feel like it was “just yesterday” that we brought him home from the hospital.

This epiphany ignited a light bulb of understanding. I now understand how baby became a term of endearment. When my kids are 25, 35, or 50, I think I will still see them as my little baby. When they become teenagers and roll their eyes and say, “but mom, I’m not a baby anymore!” I will heatedly object their argument of maturity. You sure keep me awake at night like a baby does!

Why is it so hard to advance past the baby stage? Why are we stuck there as parents? I think part of it is that development happens at lightening speed, and we aren’t used to seeing things move so fast. Maybe that is why I call Hadassah my baby still, or respond with “Yes, baby?” When she inquires, “Mama?”

“For always and forever, my baby (babies!) you will be!”

Milk-in-a-box

20 Apr

I penned this while living in Mexico six years ago.  When you visit or take up residence in a new country, there are things big and small that capture your attention.  When I would go to the supermarket in Mexico to pick up milk, I did not grab it from the freezer section… it was boxed at room temperature and was the most common way to buy milk. While supermarkets in the US have soy and almond milk in the aisles, I bet having regular milk in the aisles would baffle many Americans.

Leche!

Leche!

“Tossing. Turning. Sweating. A desire to sleep.

From time to time we all suffer from a shade of insomnia. Whether it is a stressful situation at work, drowning worries about the future, or a bubbling excitement that robs you of the joy of counting sheep, these sleepless attacks manifest in the lives of every individual. So, perhaps this is common knowledge. But, the very particular reasons of insomnia that hit me most likely remain a mystery for you. Unless you keep reading…

Then, you will find yourself enlightened…

My biggest reason for being an insomniac, as I have confessed in my IA meetings, is an overwhelming hunger for knowledge. Yes, it’s true, I am somewhat addicted to learning. We all have questions pop into our heads and cause us to wonder, but my questions burn into my brain and call out to be answered. If you were in my position, you would also be forced to answer that call.

How many pathogens are present in the table salsas I eat when I go to a restaurant here in my lovely town of Guadalajara? If you ever come visit, don’t let the statistic of about forty percent scare you too much…

How healthy are those mangoes I eat every week? (Okay, not the greatest, but they are pretty much amazing)

And, my most recent question: How in the world can I drink regular milk that comes in a box and is not refrigerated? It has been a mystery to me for years, and it recently rose to the level of questioning of “plaguing my thoughts” this past week. Hence, my new discovery that I want to share with the world. Box milk is amazing! It is heated with ultra high pasteurization, which completely sterilizes the milk (sterile = completely free of microorganisms) and packaged in a sterile environment. Milk in the US is pasteurized, but that doesn’t kill all the bacteria (oh yes, there are still microbes in your dear, refrigerated, pasteurized milk!). In taking all that into consideration, it is a shame to think that Americans, for psychological problems, could never switch to box milk (if I am wrong, please sign a petition or comment or something). The biggest plus for box milk? Less waste. Less extravagance. But, wait – we don’t know how to be anything but extravagant, do we?

Start questioning. Join the insomniac club with me. If you do, maybe you’d find that twenty percent of the salsas in Texas also carry pathogens…

References:

http://www.hormel.com/templates/knowledge/knowledge.asp?catitemid=108&id=815#Mango

http://itotd.com/articles/220/milk-in-a-box/

Adachi, Javier A. et al. “Enteric Pathogens in Mexican Sauces of Popular Restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Houston, Texas.” Annals of Internal Medicine. Vol 132. No 12. 18 June 2002. 884-887.”

A mother’s compulsion

19 Apr

A few posts ago I mentioned I had taken a Facebook break, and I confessed I felt a weird compulsion to check Facebook after I had just thoroughly checked it. I have been self diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (It used to been really weird like checking my alarm clock 11 times, making sure the alarm was set for 6:32am and not 6:31am, heating something in the micro wave for 27 seconds and not 26, and probably way more strange things that either I can’t recall at the moment or seem so normal to me I can’t remember). I have given up a lot of my compulsions (that statement makes it sound like it is/was a choice, but I can assure you it is not), and note that my biggest compulsion is counting things (mainly my steps!). I don’t think my compulsions interfere with my life or relationships, and they are just a normal internal thing that makes me feel comfortable and secure.

I have noticed a new compulsion. It actually doesn’t happen very often, and perhaps it is on the side of normal, at least for a mother or parent.

Yesterday will serve as a great example. I spent every minute attending to two needy kids that had gotten up especially early, weren’t napping well, and, in the case of Emmanuel who is freshly teething, were fussy. The house was a mess by the end of the night, even though I had cleaned it many times in between episodes of crying and whining. I put both little ones to bed by myself, as is our normal necessitated Wednesday routine, and dozed off for an evening nap. I was exhausted. I woke up around 8:15pm, and thought how I could have a wild hour or so of “me” time. While I could have cleaned, my other options were eat, read, or waste time on the Internet. I did engage in those activities, and although I wasn’t super tired anymore I found myself zoning out. I didn’t really want to read. I was having a hard time concentrating. What was I thinking about? How much I missed my kids. I wanted to crawl back in bed and snuggle with Emmanuel. I had just peeled my two fussy and needy kids off of myself for the evening, and I felt the compulsion to go be with them again.

I have been fantasizing about being kid free for a few hours, a half a day, or maybe even a full day (doing something fun, not grocery shopping), but I don’t know if I could do it. I realized that, as long as I physically have enough sleep under my belt, I only really need about a half hour to recharge after a long day with the kids.

Right now Emmanuel is napping and, even though he has been a teething bear this morning, I’m ready to scoop him up and kiss his chubby cheeks. Is this a normal, mother’s compulsion?

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Running like a leaky faucet

18 Apr

As I mentioned in my last post, I currently have no need for nursing pads. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

After having Hadassah, I only leaked milk two times in my whole nursing career. I was a little sad, as I thought it would

Milk!  Moo!

Milk! Moo!

be nice to feel like I had some sort of over supply.

With Emmanuel, my wishes were granted and I was leaking like crazy for about 6 weeks. It was during this time that I felt like I had two faucets running at all times. I quickly realized how annoying this was and wished it away. After about 6 weeks I realized that I was no longer leaking like crazy and it tapered off over the following two weeks or so. I haven’t had any leaking since.

I always viewed leaking milk as a good thing. Biologically, it must mean that a mother has a copious amount of milk, and as far as survival of the fittest, her genes would be preserved as she would be able to make enough milk for her baby and maybe even her older kids (since she leaks so much). However, I am wondering if maybe leaking isn’t an indicator of biological superiority, as I once glamorized it. Maybe leaking milk is like bladder incontinence. Yes, urinating is a voluntary action while letting down milk is not, but sometimes I hope that letting down milk might be voluntary and therefore under  our control. I have tried many times to close my eyes and command, “let down!” like a superhero using their powers, but to no avail.

This whole let down business is quite mysterious and perplexing. I can try with all my mental might to get milk out, but it doesn’t happen.  The whole “look at a picture of your baby while pumping” thing never worked for me.  Maybe I should take this post on an entirely different trail.  Maybe some moms can control their milk let down reflux with their mind, like Professor Xavier of the X-men.  Either way, Emmanuel has been falling asleep while eating and something curious happens. He doesn’t move his mouth at all, but suddenly 15 minutes later I get a let down and he gets a flowing refill whether he wants it or not.  This doesn’t seem mental or physical to me.  Although I think I recall reading somewhere that milk composition (and I supposed the flow) can be stimulated by a baby’s saliva.

Back to biology’s design: is leaking a sign of strength or weakness? Is leaking a sign of plenty or is it meaningless?

Argument for leaking being good:

  • It appears the mother has a lot of milk.
  • Mother can collect and store extra milk using Milkies, or other similar contraption.

Arguments for leaking being bad:

  • Predators can possibly smell the extra milk(?), therefore putting both mom and young in danger! (I’m talking about prehistoric times, not now.)
  • When is leaking bodily fluid ever good? Runny nose, drooling, and incontinence are pretty much considered not so good.
  • Speaking of incontinence, if you have it, something in your body isn’t working correctly, so I deduce that leaking milk means something isn’t working correctly.

Right now I am happy I don’t have to deal with the annoyance of leaking like a faucet, but part of me still feels jealous of those that buy nursing pads and Milkies.

This post is meant for entertainment purposes only, and not to make anyone feel bad about their leaking or lack of.