Friday, December 23, 2011

Princess Wars

So, this morning I read this article, regarding daughters and gifts

I have to say that I’m pretty torn on this topic.  While I consciously choose to buy “gender neutral” toys (I’ll discuss more on that definition later on), I don’t like the idea of withholding gifts that I might not choose.  Maybe it’s just because I haven’t actually been given anything I wouldn’t necessarily want Miss A to have (except maybe that giant dog her great-grandmother got her for Christmas….but that’s entirely because the dog seems bigger than my living room).  And maybe it’s because I grew up as a Barbie fanatic.  The thing I loved most about my Barbie’s was dressing them up, doing their hair, etc.  I knew they had boobs.  But I didn’t know they had “big boobs.”  Or maybe I did but didn’t really care?  And, not all of my Barbie’s were blonde.  And I had at least one Ken that I could remember too.  I don’t recall idolizing her as a woman – she was a toy doll I enjoyed to play pretend with.  That’s it.  I didn’t go to bed dreaming to be like her.  I mostly went to bed dreaming to be like Ariel in the Little Mermaid swimming in the ocean. 

Anyway, as I mentioned before, I do try to choose things that are gender neutral – and by gender neutral, I typically mean in color only.  So I look for things that are bright colored, with a variety of color.  For instance, Santa is bringing Miss A a play kitchen.  I didn’t want to get her a pink kitchen because, first off, pink is horrendous, and second, kitchens in real life aren’t pink.  And, if we have a boy the second time around, while I don’t care if he likes pink things, I don’t want him to feel like he can’t play with it because it is pink.  Regardless of what we will try to teach our kids, there will be a lot of outside influences on them, and at some point, they will learn pink = girls, blue = boys, whether we want them to or not.  And, when it comes to things that tend to be gender specific by nature (dolls vs. trucks), all I can do is let Miss A have equal exposure to all types of toys, and let her decide what her preferences are.  I don’t feel like I ought to limit her choices or exposure to different types of toys.  I mean, they’re just toys!  And while this may sound contradictory, there will be limits – like if something is not age appropriate and potentially dangerous, or if say she does get a doll or any sort which is dressed totally risqué (which, may not be farfetched these days), then I may intervene.  If she’s old enough, we’ll have a conversation about it.  But just because I may have preferred she got a wooden puzzle over a plastic Barbie doll doesn’t mean she can’t still engage in meaningful play.  I mean, I loved my Barbie’s and I wanted to be a princess.  But, I grew up.  And while I am a blonde with big boobs, that’s purely a genetic coincidence.  But I certainly didn’t let that define me and tell me to be a ditzy bimbo with a sugar daddy.  If anything, I’ve had to work HARDER to be where I am because, you know, pretty girls can’t be smart.  *eyeroll*  But, that’s a topic for another day…  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Once-A-Month Cooking: December

The meals I made last enough was just the perfect amount to get us through Thanksgiving.  I even had 4 meals left in the freezer to serve up the week after, which was perfect, because who has time or energy to shop & cook when you get back from vacation?  So this weekend I embarked on my mission to make December’s meals.  I needed 15 to bring us up to the weekend before Christmas. Here’s what’s on the menu:

One-Dish Meal:  Chicken Pot Pies
Main-Dish Component:  Italian Beef

The pot pie recipe makes 3 meals (6 mini-loaf pan pies), and all the rest make two.  You do the math and say, “Hey, that’s only 13 meals?” Yes, it’s true.  I cheated this month.  I bought a bag of frozen ravioli, and some garlic bread from the store.  *gasp!*  No, really, I like to have pasta on the menu, and Miss A loves ravioli and tortellini and that sort of stuff, and honestly, it’s a PITA to make, so, I bought it instead.  Plus, after 6 hours of cooking, who wants to do homemade ravioli on top of that?

Anyway, the one thing I love about this whole process is seeing all the colorful meals come together.  So I took some pictures this time.  Just look at all those great fresh colors!!

This is what my freezer looks like.  The top two shelves are the meals.

And, people asked me last month if this method of meal preparation saved any money.  Well, I added up my bill from yesterday.  I spent about $135 total on ingredients.  $80 of that was at Earth Fare on organic produce and antibiotic/hormone-free/free range chicken and pork.  Seriously, to get all that for under $100 shocked me.  I did have some great coupons (as Earth Fare always has great coupons) but I was still expecting it to be more.  The rest I picked up at Publix (again with some great coupons).  So that comes out to less than $10.50 per meal per family.  So, to feed 2 ½ people a meal for $10.50 a night is pretty good.  And, if you decide to buy all your stuff at cheapy wal-mart (which I typically do, but this month I decided to buy better quality ingredients) it would be about 20% less (as a guess).  So, I do think it saves money.

Also, I’ve noticed I’ve been less wasteful this way too.  For instance, when a recipe calls for something like, 3 cups of broth…well, one of those big cartons is 4 cups.  So, typically I’ll have a cup leftover, shove the carton in the fridge and hope I get to it before it goes bad (which, never happens).  Well, now I’ve been saving the leftovers in freezer bags (much like I did with the chicken stock last month), which again means we’ll be saving money in the long run. 

Man – I really wish we had room for a deep freeze.  Even a small one. 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Night Weaning Update

Well, we successfully finished Dr. Jay Gordon’s method for night-weaning.  And, Miss A has been a pretty good sport about it all.  We had a short set-back over Thanksgiving, since, we were travelling and staying in a house full of people, I decided to nurse overnight since I didn’t really want her to wake-up the entire house.  But when we got home, we went back to no-nursing cold turkey.  She seemed to adjust ok.  But I will say one thing…

Night weaning ≠ sleeping through the night

Miss A still wakes up once or twice a night.  Usually, she gets a little ticked cuz she can’t nurse, and spends most of this time (anywhere from 2 to 15min) fussing and rolling around in between us in our bed.  She’s mad I’m sure cuz she can’t nurse.  And, pretty sure she’s mad at me specifically, cuz 9 times out of 10 she rolls right up to Steve and sleeps up against him all night.  If she rolls by me, she wants “nuh-nuh” (what she’s been calling ‘nursie’ these days), and I tell her “all done” and then she gets fired up, rolls away and pushes her head into Steve’s armpit and falls asleep.

So, this seems to = better sleep for me…but not so much for Steve.  The next step I’m looking into because of this is the transition to her bedroom full time.  Currently, she starts in her room, and the first time she wakes up after Steve and I go to bed, she comes in bed with us for the rest of the night.  Usually this is sometime between midnight and 2am.  That will be our next adventure.

Until then…


Monday, November 14, 2011

Night Weaning: Phase One and a Half

I’ve been pretty adamant about not wanting to implement any sort of sleep training with Abby, and just letting things progress at her pace.  Especially when she was still an infant, as I don’t believe any baby needs to sleep train a baby under a year old.  And while 14 months is still *little* in the grand scheme of things, she is definitely a full blown toddler in movement and in attitude, and no longer my squishy little infant baby anymore.  But, her night time nursing would suggest otherwise.

To be honest, I’m just plain tired of nursing her at night. Now, let me clarify….I am not tired of nursing all together.  In fact, I still enjoy watching her little eyes stare up at me when she nurses and, it’s even more cute now when she tries to identify body parts at the same time, but…I’m really tired of having a squirmy toddler attached to me all night.  So, while we are night weaning, we are not fully weaning.  I actually think that our daytime nursing sessions will be more important than ever once we stop the night time ones.  So, I will still let Abby continue to self-wean at her own pace (which, typically will happen after age 2).

After reading through one of my favorite breastfeeding related sites (The Leaky B@@b), I came across Dr. Jay Gordon’s article on sleep patterns and night weaning.  Now, I’ve read Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution, which has some great ideas, and actually helped us create a bedtime routine, but, her methods didn’t really have much impact on me when it came to night weaning.  Dr. Gordon’s recommendations seemed simple, and only required 10 days.  Now, of course, I don’t expect to go from 3-4 wakings a night to zero in 10 days, but, the shortened phases helped structure our plan, which was nice.  The gist of it is this: Pick the hours that mean the most to you at night (we chose 11pm-6am), Nights 1-3, shortened nursing sessions and no nursing until after baby falls asleep and reawakens.  Nights 4-6, no nursing, but use whatever soothing techniques you need that help. Nights 7-10, limit the degree of soothing techniques used (more back pats, less holding/rocking, etc).   

So, we’re on Night 5.
And, as a caveat….I don’t recommend doing this if you are going to be sick.  I picked up a virus from Miss A over the weekend, and the worst of it fell on the first night with no nursing, last night.  Terrible, really.  So much so I called in sick to work, and am typing this up from my bed (and plan to take a nap just after I post).  

Nights 1-3 were not that terrible.  Abby woke up at her typical times, and seemed to do ok with the shortened feeding sessions.  The first night, she fussed for about 15min after I unlatched her, but went back to sleep each time.  By the 3rd night, there was zero fussing after I would unlatch her. 

Then, Night 4 – by far the biggest change.  And, so far, the worst night.  The first time she woke up, it took her about 30-40min to finally settle down and go back to sleep.  She seemed to have taken up sleeping ON me.  She still really seems to want that constant contact with me even if she can’t nurse.  So, she climbed on top of me and tried to sleep.  At around 2:30am, she woke up again, and this time, she could not settle back into sleep.  She rolled around our king sized bed for a good 2 hours.  Climbing on me, rolling off me, sleeping on Ash at the foot of the bed, sleeping next to Steve, rolling back on top of me again.  Extremely exhausting.  Then, she woke up again at 5:30 (only about an hour after settling down), and then again at 6:15.  At 6:15, we nursed, and she stayed asleep until we had to wake her for school.

She has to be exhausted today.  But you’d never know it.  She’s as cheerful as she ever is in the morning, and has been in a great mood all weekend.  I just hope tonight isn’t as bad as last night…


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Once-A-Month Cooking: November

I’ve been digging a mommy blog lately called Mama and Baby Love, by a local Tallahassee mommy.  I mostly love it because her daughter, Penelope, is so stinking cute, and mostly because she posts delicious ideas from her favorite cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.  She recently inspired me to take on once-a-month cooking. 
The time between when Miss A and I get home and when Steve gets home always feels like a very hectic time.  Miss A is usually ready for dinner by 6-6:30, which leaves me anywhere from 20min to 40min to try and whip something up.  And, no matter how much prep or planning I do in advance, it always seems that the days in which I have a more “involved” meal planned are the days when Miss A demands my full attention.  I can’t really blame her, as she only gets about 20min of “mommy and daddy time” before school, and then after dinner we whisk her away for bath time and bedtime routine.  She’s typically in bed by 8pm (on a good day).   So really 5:30-6:30 is her best shot at having some one-on-one time with her parents in the evenings. 
So, in order to alleviate weeknight stress on my end (because, trying to cook ANYTHING with a toddler who can reach the stove knobs or wants to hang out by the oven because mommy is there is a HUGE struggle) and to give Abby some more of my attention (which she seems to really need these days), I took on the incredible stress of cooking up 16 days worth of meals in less than 24 hours.  And, it was actually less than that, because I started at about 6:30pm (well, 5pm if you count getting the chicken stock on the stove before we left for dinner) on Saturday, and finished up about 1pm on Sunday – which included sleeping 11pm-6:30am (time change accounted for), and then making/eating breakfast Sunday morning and then going out for lunch on Sunday.  Thankfully, Steve took Abby for a long walk on Sunday morning before lunch which really helped, and then she napped right on schedule which was also perfect for me to finish up the last of it and also get to take a rarely enjoyed weekend shower before the Bills game.
 The breakdown of meals I plan to make each month will include:
·         1 soup, 4 servings for a total of 2 meals.  Just need to pick up some salad mix on these nights.
·         3 crock pot meals, 2 nights each meal, for a total of 6 meals.  I bought buttermilk biscuits and quinoa to go along with these.
·         2 one-dish meals, double portions, for a total of 4 meals.
·         2 main-dish components, double portions, for 4 night’s worth of meals.  On these nights, I’ll have to cook up sides (a starch and a veg usually) so it shouldn’t be too bad to handle.
This month I made (follow links for recipes):
One-Dish Meals:  Chicken Enchiladas, Baked Rotini
Main-Dish Components:  Meatloaf, Chicken Nuggets
Now, technically the chicken enchiladas is a main-dish component, but, I really considered it a one-dish meal, as all I have to do is heat up the mix and open some tortillas and grate some cheese.  None of that I consider “cooking” so that’s why I considered it a one-dish meal.  The rest are garnishes.  J
The meatloaf is a recipe that came from an old issue of Men’s Health magazine.  Steve had a subscription back in the day, and would tear out pages of recipes he thought looked good.  So far, this recipe has held up for several years, and it always turns out great.  I made a double batch, and split the meat up into 4-mini loaf pans to help speed up the baking time needed.  Here is the recipe:
½ lb ground beef
½ lb ground turkey
½ onion, diced
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup BBQ sauce (whichever is your favorite), plus extra for top of loaf
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt & pepper as desired

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Transfer mix to a loaf pan (ungreased).  Spread the remaining BBQ sauce on top of loaf before cooking.  Cook in oven for approximately 45min-1hr.

The baked rotini recipe I made up myself.  I divided it up into 2 aluminum pans for freezing.  It’s basically a lasagna recipe:

1 box whole wheat rotini (or any other pasta)
1lb ground beef
2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 ½ jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce
15oz ricotta
1 egg
¼ cup parmesan
1 tbsp parsley

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Brown beef and drain.   Add spaghetti sauce and keep warm.  Mix ricotta, egg, parmesan and 1c. mozzarella together in a small bowl.  Mix noodles into beef and sauce mixture and pour into pan.  Add ricotta mixture, and mix up well.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees until hot & bubbly and cheese has melted.

Oh, and, since the chicken enchilada recipe called for meat from an already roasted chicken, I decided to take the time to make my own stock.  I used Mama and Baby Love’s recipe which she again took from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.  It was super easy, and it just sat on the stove overnight.  The only thing I learned from this process is to NEVER skimp on Ziploc bags again.  I used a generic brand bag, and even though they were ‘snapped’ fully, they still leaked out the sides in the freezer.  So, I had to double bag them.  And STILL one of them leaked, again.  So, I am now on the hunt for the best freezer bags.  Anyone have any recommendations?  Maybe I need to stock up on the Lansinoh bags again!  Never had a problem with them!

These meals should last me til Thanksgiving (at least week nights).  I’m sure we’ll still eat out some on the weekends, as we’re almost always out & about.  But hopefully my week nights will be a lot less stressful.  Last night we had the Morroccan Lamb and it was delicious!  Tonight, I’m cooking up two of the meatloaves, and will be making mashed potatoes and probably some corn to go along with it.  Can’t wait to try the rest!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 8 - A picture that makes you laugh

Yes, that’s beer.  DUDE!  Straight from Vancouver, B.C., Canada!

For the record, it was pretty horrible.  But worth every Canadian penny!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30 Days of Photos - Day 7

A picture of your most treasured item

I’m going to make the assumption we’re talking about material possessions here, because, otherwise, my daughter would technically be my most treasured item. 

So, I choose, my iphone.  Probably cliché, but, seriously, if I didn’t have it, I’d probably be lost.  It has all my contacts’ information, my calendar (including both work and personal appointments), email, it’s my source of entertainment, oh, and, yeah, I use it to communicate.  J