Friday, December 28, 2012

Mom Hair

(via)
We're supposed to be talking about the holidays, right? How lovely they were. How magical it is to see Christmas through the eyes of our children. How grateful we are for all the nice gifts we received and the time spent together. Yes, yes, and yes.

Phew. Now that we got that out of the way...let's move onto more important things. Like hair.

I distinctly remember being a young kid and thinking that some of my friends moms would look much prettier if their hair wan't so short. It wasn't anything against them. They were all wonderful. Baking cookies for us after school and shuttling us to and from soccer/the beach/everywhere. I just wondered why they chose to wear their hair in such a way that resembled a, um, mulletish type style or crew cut. You know what I mean...

Now, I get it. I really get it.

You see, all of these moms were busy. They were great moms. Which meant they were helping out at school, cooking, driving to and from each child's recital or game, and all the while holding down a house with 2-4 kids/dogs/and husbands. Wow.

I have fairly long hair. It's on the fine side. We live in an area where we walk everywhere daily. (Read: it's windy!) My child thinks it's pretty amusing to pull my hair occasionally. Do you see where I'm going with this?

This leaves me dreaming of short hair. Easy hair styles. I know...how momish of me. I never thought I would think of changing my hair just to make my life easier. I always thought women who used that excuse were just lazy. Not that I ever had any truly difficult to maintain hair styles. But I find that, these days, I'm just washing my hair and throwing it up in a top knot or a side braid every day.

My question is: Is it even worth it? Honestly, I hate wearing my hair lose/down, lately. For Christmas Eve, I blew out and curled it. Looked fabulous but took roughly 40 minutes. There's no way I'm even close to doing that every day. I've had short hair (chin length) before so I know it suits me and I like it enough. Now, it just gets tangled while I chase P in the playground, knotty in the wind, and yanked out on a daily basis. Ouch.

Have you ever considered cutting your hair because it's just another things to maintain everyday? Do your kids pull your hair? Do you think this is all ridiculous?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas


Wishing all my lovely readers and their families a cozy Christmas wherever you are. I hope you find some time to be with people you love, fill your bellies with tasty treats, and drink up all the love surrounding you this season. 

xoxo
K

PS – My adorable husband designed this card with little P on it. Isn't it cute?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silence

I wasn't really sure I wanted to address this but I just wanted to put down some words. The shooting in Connecticut is a tragedy, for sure. I have nothing to say that would make it seem lighter, but what I can say is this: hold those little ones tight. Live each day with them. Agree to every request for hugs and snuggles and sloppy kisses.
“Making the decision to have a child – It’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” - Elizabeth Stone

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mom's Group V.1


(Forever making silly sounds and faces.)

Okay, so here it goes. As I mentioned, my purpose on PH&C is shifting. I want to provide meaningful posts and build more of a community, amongst all the cute photos of my kid and stories about us. As much as I love browsing other blogs with style posts and crafts so gorgeous they make you curse yourself, I feel like it's time to get real. I'm talking to you, with your perfectly stylized photos and very clean child in an all white outfit. (Why do they even sell white clothes for toddlers? I'll never understand.) I'm not saying we need to air our dirty laundry. But, truthfully, we need each other. We need to know more about each other than our favorite pair of tights or what we ate for lunch. I say this because truthfully, parenting is difficult. (Shocker, I know.) And when I've already witnessed a toddler meltdown, cleaned up pee off the floor, and it's only 9 am, I need to know that you understand. Are you with me? 

So, I'm asking my favorite ladies to speak up. Share our challenges. We can all virtually hold each other's hands and eat ice cream out of the carton together. (Also wine, there must always be wine.)

I'm asking every one participating to feel free to be as open or discreet as they like. As this is an exercise in authenticity, I am encouraging all to share as much as they feel comfortable putting out there. Some of these questions are pretty loaded and broad so answer as you wish. I think that if other mom's can join us in our challenges and successes, we feel like we are in this whole crazy parenting thing together.

Without further ado, here are my own answers and the very first installment of Mom's Group. 

My name is Karolina. My son is Phoenix and he is about 14 months old. We (along with my husband) live in Brooklyn, NYC.

1. How has being a mother inspired you?

I used to hear other parents saying how much having children inspired them to be better people and always found that so obnoxious. I felt like it was so strange to let that be the catalyst for wanting to be "good." But I find it to be so true. While I haven't had an actual moment when I thought, "Gee, I really want to be a better person for P." I found myself evolving. And what does "good" mean, really? I guess for me, I feel more inspired to live my personal definition of a good person, daughter, friend, wife, and mother. I am inspired to show him the beauty of the everyday and how incredible his life is. But I digress. 

I feel inspired to be a complete person, in spite of such a huge part of me being mom all day, every day. I want my child to know me as not only his mama, but as a woman who had a wholly fulfilling life, in addition to the fulfillment of motherhood. 

2. What is the greatest challenge of having a child?

Okay, this question is huge. I could say that the greatest challenges for me have been:

- the change in social life. I never thought being surrounded by 8 million people would be so lonely. While I have a group of mom friends that i see quite a bit and a few in particular that have become good friends, I still feel like I know all the baristas at my local coffee shops all too well. Most days, I am desperate for adult interaction. I know what you're thinking, why don't I go out with my friends? Why don't Scott and I go out to dinner? Up until recently, it was really difficult to leave Phoenix. He is so attached to me that it takes Scott forever to calm him down at night. My mom has babysat before and I've gone out a few times but we never felt comfortable leaving him for a sitter for the majority of his first year. These days his nights are much better and he is not nursing as much, which makes a huge difference.

-identity. I didn't think that this would bother me as much as it does now. Before P was born, I had a career as a personal chef, that I loved. I made my own money and got to be creative every day. It was very fulfilling. I knew that I wanted to give that up to become a mom. And for the majority of the last year it hadn't bothered me. Now that a lot of my mom friends have returned to work and have picked up right where they left off I am feeling confused. When I was pregnant, I didn't think I would miss working at all. And in those early months I couldn't even imagine how that would work. But now I feel really annoyed when I see old friends (usually child less) whom ask me what else I am doing besides being with P full time. Huh? I don't want to get all passive aggressive about this, and while I do have other projects going on, that question is infuriating. 

3. Is motherhood how you imagined it would be when you were pregnant?

Yes and no. I knew it would be a heart breaking kind of love. I knew I would fall in love with P over and over again day after day. I knew that in one day I would be capable of being over the moon with happiness and frustrated with feeling alone. That's the person I am. But I didn't know how physical it would all be. I wasn't prepared for such an energetic-all-the-time little creature. I didn't know I would be jealous of my husband for going to a work event. But, for the most part, it is even better than I imagined it would be. My days are so full of love, laughter, and learning. I have learned a lot about the person I am and the woman I want to be. It's true that our children really do force us to slow down and appreciate little things. I appreciate that.

4. How has your marriage been affected since becoming a parent?

Well, in many ways we have become closer than ever. We have argued more this past year than in all the years we have been together. I don't think there's any way around that. But with the arguing and talking comes learning and growing. (So cheesy, I know.) But it's true. When we married, I felt like we really became a team. But now that we have this little person in our lives we are truly a family. And that puts a lot of pressure on us, I think. Scott works all day to support us, while I work all day being with P. By the end of the day we are wiped out. I know that is nothing new for most every family but you don't really understand the exhaustion until you are in that place. While it's nice to have even a bit of alone time together in the evenings, it's useless if it's only spent watching tv on the computer. We try to be more intentional with how we spend our one-on-one time these days. It's much better that way. I could go on and on about marriage and parenting. I guess that's why there are whole books about it...

5. How tidy is your home? (Come on! We all want to know!)

Depends on the day, or hour, really. We try to put our toys and books away after we are done playing with them but it doesn't always happen. I try to clean during nap times but sometimes I just need to sit down and work/eat/decompress so sometimes I need an extra day. Once in a while my mom comes for the day, which means I get to do exciting things like wipe down the base boards. Thrilling. While housework isn't what really drives me, it does give me a strange sense of control in this crazy season in my life. I was never a really messy person but these days I feel like if the house is in mostly decent shape and the dishes are put away, I've accomplished something. I'm constantly trying to get rid of "stuff" that we don't need or use as well. 

*BONUS* One line of your best advice for anyone expecting/new parents:

Treat your kid like an individual. Every baby/child is unique and what your book says or what your friend's kid did may not apply to your child. If you try something that is "supposed" to work and it doesn't, maybe there's a reason. Really get to know your child's needs and you'll see that maybe the reason they are/ are not doing _____ is because they are not ready or a host of other reasons. Think about that when you are getting frustrated in the middle of the night with a screaming baby. Try something else or just listen to your heart. You'll know what feels right.

So there you have it. Phew. That feels good. Fell free to post your thoughts and answer along in the comments. If you would like to be apart of this project, please email me. I've got some incredible mom's coming up with thoughtful answers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

If I'm Being Honest...




(Photos from Florida last week)

Sometimes these days are challenging. Today was one of them. Teething, changing schedules, and being a growing toddler is trying for both baby and mama. We just got back from being in Florida for a week, which was lovely. But if you think traveling with a toddler is difficult, coming home is even more stressful. Being lax with your schedule while away is relaxing while you're away, but getting that loose schedule back on track when you get home is not fun. I am exhausted today, to say the least.

Anyway, my point was to write about honestly. So often I sit down to blog when I feel most like ranting or complaining. (See above.) But that's not the energy I want to put into this space. Writing is most definitely therapeutic for me, but this little blog is a special place, not just to dump my worries and stresses.

With that said, most moms I know have challenges they face. We have unexpected hurdles each day. (Hi molars...) Our children teach us to slow down and to surrender control most of the time. Our struggles as women, mothers, wives, etc are nothing new, but each of our stories is unique.

Instead of ranting, I propose we share our struggles. Create a space for positive feedback and advice. Non judgement. After all, if we are willing to put ourselves out there, to share what we are most vulnerable about, we need a safe community to accept us.

In the next few weeks, I will be posting a series of Q & A's with some of my favorite voices in mom blog world. These women are intentional, honest, and unique moms. Each with her own story to share. I hope you join in the conversation. Share your own struggles and be honest about your own goals.
We can all hold ourselves accountable! This will be an ongoing project that I hope opens up a greater dialogue.

xo
Karolina

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thoughts on Blogging


Hello. I've been away from here, I know. I've been doing a bit of soul searching in regards to this blog. What is it about? Why am I here? What started as a scrapbook of our wedding, then pregnancy, and Phoenix's first year of life has now become sort of a hodge podge of my life, inspiration, and information. And that's fine, but I want to utilize this space better. I was it to be a space full of hope. Most importantly, I want my posts to be thoughtful and written with intention. Often, I feel that I should be posting something on here so I don't fall off the internet grid. And in doing that, sometimes I am not being sincere. I love fashion but do not have the time or patience to set up my tripod and take photos of myself. Also, I'm pretty sure you guys would be surprised by how many things I can pair with leggings.
And although I am a professional cook and love posting recipes, a food blogger, I am not. Again, tripods, lighting, food styling....doesn't work most days with a 13 month old.

So I will stop beating myself up over not posting these "cool and interesting" things. I will instead focus on what is on my mind and in my heart write now.

My authentic self hopes to write posts about the struggles of parenthood, the beauty in that struggle, and how we can achieve more happiness in the simplicity of our lives. I want to talk to other women whom I admire and hear their stories. I want to have a dialogue about how we can empower ourselves to focus on the good, the love, and the magic in our lives. Oh, and food. Definitely food.

There are so many blogs I love reading and that inspire me with the purpose they have. As much as I love posting about my sweet little bug and his many adventures, I realize that having a platform is a true opportunity and I don't want to let this moment pass me by.

I am rambling a bit but the baby is asleep and I wanted to get these thoughts down. I wanted to hold myself accountable. I'm not posting a list of all the things I hope to achieve now or write about. Just setting an intention and setting off to begin this new project.

Please let me know if you have any interest in being a part of this dialogue. Let's open this up!

xo
K

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feeding The World

Catastrophes are everywhere, sadly. Unfortunately, we just experienced hurricane Sandy here in NYC. It was brutal, to say the least. (I will post more on this later.) But there are more than just natural disasters claiming people's lives. In Niger, nearly one in two children is malnourished. And worse, one in six dies before reaching the age of five. Heart breaking. That is just one story of many.

While I am unbelievably grateful that I am able to provide my own child with wholesome and nourishing food, not every parent is so fortunate. Many families around the world feed their families on just pennies a day and often are not able to provide many nutritious foods. Farmers are struggling to stay afloat and more and more food is being thrown away in the US every day. These are all things we hear about but more of us need to take action.

Not too long ago, Oxfam contacted me to speak out about their GROW method campaign. 



Seems simple enough right? Now there is no giveaway this time. No prize on the blog for most food reduction. There is no donations to make. Your actions speak for themselves. Not convinced? Here are some more facts:


  • If your family eats meatless one day a week you save the equivalent of 17 bathtubs of clean water.
  • 8% of the WORLD’s clean water goes toward meat production. That is a lot to people who have 0% water  daily. Think about that.
  • If Americans living in Urban areas bought just 2 Fair Trade chocolate bars a month, you would benefit 30,000 small scale cocoa farmers. Isn't that enough incentive?
  • In the US alone we throw 27 million apples in the trash a year. 1/3 of our plates every day goes to waste. Imagine how many people could eat on what we throw in our trash. This is why shopping smarter helps more than just farmers.
Now I challenge you to take steps to help feed the world. Sounds a little daunting, huh? It doesn't have to be. Here is an easy discussion guide. And here is more info on what else you can do.
Food is something all of us think about several times a day. What will he have for lunch? What snacks should I pack in my child's lunch box? Take a step back and think about having those options taken away from you. That's how life is for millions of people. Think about that.




This post (and my sharing on social media) was inspired by my participation in a compensated program initiated by Women Online/The Mission List to raise awareness about Oxfam America's GROW Method. All commentary and opinions are, of course, my own.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Year Later


(from his first birthday...just us three)

This time last year Phoenix was 9 days old. Yesterday was my dad's birthday and last year on his birthday we bundled P up and went out to lunch at a local biergarten. I was so nervous, so fragile still. He was so tiny. He mostly slept and cooed as we shared beers and I nervously picked at my giant pretzel and sausage. I remember everyone in the restaurant coming by to congratulate us and feeling both happy and oh so nervous that they were breathing too close to him. The germs! By the time we got home and my parents left I was a bundle of nerves. I collapsed on the couch and cried. That was so exhausting, I thought. How am I ever going to leave the house with him?

Those days were long ones. Packing up our tiny East Village apartment, hosting friends in a jumble of boxes and diapers, and learning how to be parents. The computer was constantly open to a mess of informational sites having to do with sleeping/nursing/pooping...

Trips to the pediatrician were an all day excursion and grocery shopping felt like a outward bound adventure. We worked so hard to decipher all his little cries, studied several diapers, and counted the pitiful hours of sleep we were getting. But we were so happy, so in love. Still riding high on the birth and meeting of our three hearts.

Scott and I spent countless hours studying his face. Trying so much to memorize the quiver of his chin just seconds before he let out a cry, the tiny “o” shape he made with his mouth, and the great big stretches he would take when he woke up. Seemed like so much for such a tiny creature.

One year ago we had hit the ground running on this whole parenting adventure. I was over the initial shock of birth and my full days of overwhelming tears were more like half days of kind of delirious tears. Scott and I were getting lost in the world of Phoenix and making sense of this new family of three. Life was good.

One year later: it's better. And get's better every day, every moment. There are still challenges. There are still days that leave me in tears, and days that end in a much needed glass of wine. I don't think those days end. The challenges and the expectations change, but the frustrations stay the same.

Phoenix is now one year and nine days old. Unbelievable. I still don't like saying one year old. It sounds so official. So I stick with 12 months. Months mean baby to me and I'm going to stick with baby for as long as I can.

Twelve months has brought us such an incredible amount of fun! He walks! He talks! He climbs things! Eek! We have an honest-to-goodness toddler and it is all at once exhausting and exciting. Each day brings so many new experiences and tricks. And pride. So much pride. For me, of course, but his little face is so lit up each time he figures something out on his own. Heart swelling.

The baby that never slept and had a sensitive tummy is, all of a sudden, sleeping like a champ and eating everything in sight. As you can imagine, we are overjoyed about all of it, especially the sleep. It took him some time to figure it all out. But he did it. On his own terms. And when he was ready. It was so worth it.

I think often we forget what tiny, fragile beings newborns are. As adults, we never have to worry about someone forcing us to do something (usually). But for some reason, most people feel comfortable forcing their infants to eat something, sleep at a certain time, or schedule themselves into a baby frenzy. Personally, I feel like it takes time to figure out....life, really. With so many things going on in that developing brain every moment of the day and night, I imagine it's difficult to keep a schedule in mind. In any case, I'm so happy we didn't push Phoenix.

A year ago we were knee deep in diapers and trying to stay afloat in the deep sea of having a baby. While things are much smoother these days, I have a feeling that year two has just as many happy adventures and glasses of wine in store for us.

Cheers to one year!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Overnight


(This photo is a little blurry but I love it. On our way home from a birthday party last weekend. Exhausted baby.)

I was walking to meet some friends for lunch the other day and I found myself crying. Weeping really. Just walking down the sidewalk, staring at Phoenix so cozy in his stroller, and everything just hit me. This past year, everything we've experienced together, how much he's grown, and how quickly it all went by. I know it's been a reoccurring theme these past few months but once Phoenix turned 8 months old, he took off and the time just...went. And there I was, looking down at my little person, my son. He's so observant these days, looking around and pointing at everything. Every so often he glances up at me with a huge grin that melts me.

While we were strolling to lunch on this crisp autumn day, the smell of the autumn leaves took me right back to this time last year, just days away from meeting him. I remember trying to fill the time by reading, walking around my neighborhood, picking up last minute groceries, but mostly just wondering and waiting. And now, what feels like a second later, he is about to  be a whole year old.

Last week he started walking. He took his first steps a few weeks ago but after taking one or two steps here and there he would slowly lower himself to the floor and continue crawling. Then, all of a sudden, Scott was leading him out to the living room by the hand as he does every morning, and Phoenix just let go. Just like that. And he ran. Ran down the hallway, and into toddlerhood. Oh my mama heart. While it's exciting to hit all the other milestones (rolling over, crawling, etc), walking feels like a huge departure from babyhood. As proud as I am, I can't help but feel a bit sad that he's becoming more independent with every day that goes by. And he's not interested in crawling anymore. Just walking, thank you very much! So he wraps his tiny hand around my finger and leads me around the house. And we run, and fall, and laugh, and scream. And I try to take videos and photos every day, because I know this too shall pass and it will be on to the next thing.

Overnight my tiny baby has turned into a tiny boy. So now I soak up his last few days of babyhood before he is officially one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Phoenix Hudson: A Birth Story

As Phoenix's first birthday approaches I am feeling so grateful every day that I get to record the highs and lows of our first year together. It's been quite a journey so far. In honor of that, I finally decided I am ready to share Phoenix's birth story. It is such a private and incredible moment that I wasn't sure I wanted to share it. But I decided to write it down. It is his and mine to share forever. 


video


I've been writing this story for nearly a year. But as I look down at my little guy today, it feels like I've been writing it my whole life. A journey I could not imagine as beautiful as it is, now.

Phoenix was born at 10:15 on a Saturday night. He really got the party started for us. But the party actually began three days prior. My water broke, rather dramatically, at 5 am as I got up for my morning bathroom waddle. After I realized I didn't just pee myself, which is what I thought was happening, I jumped on the bed and started shaking Scott. "We are having the baby today, RIGHT NOW!!!" After leaping up and realizing what had happened he asked me how I was feeling and beaming back I said, "Amazing!" And then, "Still the same..." So we waited. Nothing. No contractions. Humph. So I waited until I decided it was a decent time (7:30 am) and called my midwife. I practically shouted at her that I was in labor and to come over RIGHT NOW. She asked me how far apart my contractions were and when I told her zip, she chuckled and sweetly told me to try and get some rest. She said I may go into labor that day, I may not. "Either way," she said, "It's coming." SO back to sleep we went. The next 72 hours were spent talking to baby. Pleading with him to make his way out. It was 10 days early but he had let us know that he was ready. Finally, on Saturday morning, I woke up with a sharp pain in my abdomen and a rush of excitement in my heart. I woke up Scott again, this time less scary, and told him it was happening. We really were having a baby that day. His whole face filled with such a smile and in that moment we hugged and I cried. I told him how scared I was and that I didn't think I could do it. I was scared of the pain and didn't think I could handle it. He held me tightly and told me how strong I was and how much I wanted to birth our son naturally. He told me to focus on my strength. It was 8 am.

So we called my midwife again and this time told her my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. She was relieved that I finally went into labor and said she'd be over in a little bit to check on me. She said to have a good breakfast and try to rest as much as possible. I would need to save my energy for later. Little did I know how much energy I would need. I also called my amazing doula who was about to head in to teach a yoga class. I told her to go ahead, that I was fine, and (knowing better) she decided to come over right away. By the time she came over (around noon) my contractions were already progressing. They were about five minutes apart. I was so happy to see her and she got to work right away. Massaging my lower back and breathing with me. Over the next two hours we were still able to chat a little bit and I remember being able to sip on some coconut water and voice my needs. I was still able to verbalize where I was at pain-wise. Somewhere around 2 pm active labor began. This is where things get fuzzy. 

Before I went into labor, I imagined I would want to move around my apartment. I studied all the recommended birthing positions and movements. From the time active labor started up until I got into the birthing tub, I stayed in one position: in a ball, curled up, in the corner of my bed. I wanted no lights, no candles, no birthing playlist that I worked so hard to perfect. Silence. Darkness. My thoughts. My heart. My private experience with my baby. I focused on him with every breath, every contraction bringing me closer to seeing his face. I spoke to him deep within myself, telling him not to be scared and that there was so much love waiting for him.

I'm not sure, but I think it was around 8 pm that I got the okay to go into the birthing tub. At this point, my midwife had shown up. This was welcome sight as it meant that it was almost time to push. My contractions were so close together at this point that I had no energy to continue. As soon as I got into the water, I wanted to melt into the soft pillow of the inflatable pool. My contractions slowed down and I was able to "rest." In between contractions I would just pass out for a quick one minute nap. After my contractions picked back up again, I got the go ahead to push. I remember thinking, this is it. I'm going to meet my baby any minute. Any minute turned into 45 minutes. The first half hour was so challenging. After laboring all day and pushing with everything I had, I didn't think I could push any more. I was losing hope, patience, and what felt like my mind. My amazing doula, Lisa, kept massaging my lower back and putting cold washcloths on me. I was crying. "I can't do anymore," I said. The pain was so intense. At this point, my midwife, Cara, examined me and said I was so close. She said I could be done in just five pushes. Now I had a goal! I can do five pushes! With a high second wind I braced myself for my next push. After it was over, Cara came over, grabbed my shoulders gently, looked me in the eyes and said, "You have to push harder." "What?!! How?!" I asked. She told me if I didn't push with every bit of strength I was going to be in labor forever. I din't think I had any more left in me. But as the next contraction started rolling in I braced myself and screamed, pushed, and cried with all my heart. I felt him. He was so close. It was so painfully incredible. One more push...the head has out. I could feel him. It felt deafly silent all around me. Somewhere through the muffles I heard Cara say, "Just one more push and he's out." Here we go, I thought. And then there he was. A perfect tiny creature floated into the water underneath me. "What do I do?!" I screamed. Pick him up...

And so I did. At 10:15 on Saturday night. October 15th, 2011 little Phoenix Hudson made a very peaceful entrance into our world. I picked up his tiny, slippery body and held him so close. "You're here baby boy," I told him. "You found us."

And so began our journey as parents and he as our babe. One year ago. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vegan Autumnal Soup


OR: Acorn squash - sweet potato - coconut - cashew soup with a maple - lime - balsamic - cashew cream.

Good title? While I do blog about food, nutrition, and cooking, I am hardly a top notch food blogger. While I once had romantic visions of snapping away photos of beautiful beets, those dreams quickly dissipated when I realized that: 1) I am not even close to being a top notch food photographer (but I try!) and 2) I have an almost one year which gives me about half a second to even remember to take a photo of meals before they are demolished by tiny hands or the camera/phone is ripped out of my hands.

But I digress.

This soup is delicious, comforting, creamy, filling, and vegan! We are not vegans but we do eat a lot of vegan meals and I am always looking for ways to substitute cream without compromising flavor and texture. Enter: cashews. It's amazing how the consistency of blended cashews makes for a silky and think soup. If you haven't tried this yet to "cream" soups, go for it! It's super easy and adds protein to your meal without sacrificing richness. It is also such a neutral taste that it won't taste "nutty."

So do you want to know the secret to this marvelous "cream?" You soak the nuts. That's it! You soak them for a few hours, until they are soft enough to blend up.

On a side note, Phoenix is still sensitive to cow's dairy so while we do eat goat cheese and he can tolerate cow's milk yogurt, he and I try to avoid milk and cream. But he is happy to eat dairy less meals.

Anyway, here is a loose recipe. Loose because I didn't plan on posting it so I didn't take any measurements. This was literally a "what's-in-the-fridge" kind of meal. The only thing I did in advance was soak the cashews because I knew I wanted soup earlier in the day so by dinner time they were ready. With the rest of the ingredients more or less ready to go, all I had to do was blend it all together and warm it up. Easy!

The quantities are based on how much squash or potato you have on hand. You can play around with the cashews also, depending on how creamy you like your soup. I also added coconut milk because I wanted the flavor but you don't need to.

1 steamed or roasted sweet potato (I had leftovers in the fridge)
1 small roasted acorn squash (can also sub butternut or kabocha)
1/2 cup soaked cashews
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (depending on how loose you want the soup)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (you can really season it however you like)
salt to taste
water to loosen soup

Blend. Done. Top with maple - lime - balsamic - cashew cream. Yum.

The cream is equally as easy. I had extra soaked cashews left over so I just made this little sauce up and it was delicious.

1/2 cup soaked cashews
Juice from half a lime/whole lime depending on the size
Splash of balsamic
About 3 tablespoons maple syrup. (Taste as you go, this depends on your desired level of sweetness)
Pour some water in your blender as you blend. You will know whether or not you need more depending on how thick it is. You want to be able to use it as a sauce on your soup.

The left overs of this sauce are also delicious spread on bread or tossed with vegetables, spread on meat/fish, or mixed into a grain salad.

Run, don't walk, to make this soup.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hurts So Good



I never realized how physical the act of mothering would be. When I was pregnant, I imagined how exhausted I would be (not even close!) and how little sleep I would get (ha!). I had visions of a tiny baby sleeping on my chest, his breath raising and lowering that tiny body. Then, he's crawling towards me, barreling into my open arms. Not only did I dream this, all of it happened. Phoenix is the most loving little snuggle bug. He loves nothing more than being close to me. It is an amazing feeling knowing that someone's most favorite thing is just to be held by you. That you can bring such comfort and security to a tiny soul, just by hugging them. As overwhelmingly powerful as this is, it is also so draining some days. 

Phoenix is a strong boy. Really. From the time he was 2 weeks old, he was grabbing our little fingers to pull up his neck and from about 6 weeks he was grunting and pulling up with his whole upper body. His physicality is evident in everything he does. He hasn't been weighed since his 9 month well visit, but I have a feeling he is well over 25 lbs at this point. When anyone is holding him, it's not uncommon for them to comment on how they didn't expect him to be so heavy. Now, I'm not writing this to be all braggy "my-kid-is-BIGGER-than-yours!" because, honestly, I'm tired of those comments/attitudes. My point is, all this cuddling and loving, it hurts sometimes. 


With painful little teeth cutting up through tiny gums every few weeks, my boy has been known to gnaw on my shoulder while being rocked to sleep. If I don't keep up with clipping his razors nails, I suffer the consequences by being covered in a slashed up chest from loving rubs during nursing sessions. Since it is a very tactile and exploratory time for Phoenix, he often pinches or pokes me when we are talking about parts of the body. And if you've ever held a baby, you already know about the hair pulling. Ouch. 

I know there isn't much time left with all the snuggles so I just practice being present and putting it into perspective. With sore arms and a full heart I will cuddle my boy, rock him, and swing him around in the grass. Soon he will be wiggling out of my hugs and setting off on his own adventures. For now I will hold on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Colder Months

Phoenix and I have come down with some summer sniffles. We are not properly sick (thank goodness), just stuffy nosed. It may be allergies. In any case, it got me thinking about getting my home and body ready for cold weather and the dreaded cold season. As the days get shorter and playground gets filled with icky germs and sneezing babies (ew), we like to make sure our bodies and immune systems are ready to fight the good fight.

Here are some things we do and products I like to have around when summer turns to fall (and into winter):

Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus Soap

We like all of Dr. B's soaps around here but I enjoy the Eucalyptus one in the colder months as it helps to clear out stuffy noses with it's soothing vapors. It also clears your head on a dark, cold morning.


Raw Honey

Raw honey is the best. Since it is unprocessed, it retains all the natural enzymes and nutrients. Did you know raw honey is a natural antibiotic? It is really powerful stuff. As long as it is not that stuff in the bear. I am not partial to this brand. I've had it. It's delicious. But there are plenty of great options at your local health food store or even better, the farmer's market! I believe even Trader Joe's has a raw honey now. Bonus: you can apply it to burns and it works better than any burn cream I've ever used. Truth.




I love my neti pot. At first, I didn't understand it. I made a mess. And it didn't help at all. Now, after a few youtube videos and some practice we are pals. I use my neti pot all the time. Allergies, colds, stuffiness, and even headache. It works so well. Don't feel like you have to buy the special salt that is recommended. You can use any sea salt that doesn't have anti-caking agents in it. So no table salt. I even have a tiny one for Phoenix. (Which he hates...)







Wellness Formula


Wellness Formula is a powerful combination of herbs, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals formulated to boost your immune system. If I feel even the tiniest trace of a cold someone on, I load up on these capsules and usually it knocks it out of my system. Now, it is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women so I didn't take it last winter and it's likely I won't be taking it this winter but I highly recommend adding this to your winter supplement rotation. In the past, if I was feeling run down, I would take one daily. Good stuff.

Tomorrow I will be posting foods that are beneficial to incorporate in colder months. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Decadent Weekend Cleanse

(via)

I don't know about you but I am trying to make the most of these last few summer weekends. That means barbeques, ice cream, and boardwalk snacks at the beach. During the week, we eat a balanced diet full of delicious fruits and vegetables from our CSA. But summer weekends often find us strolling around our neighborhood and stopping for an improptu lunch or indulging in fresh fish tacos at the beach.

Sometimes, after too many pizza slices, I need to hit the refresh button on Monday morning. Just a simple detox from sugar, take out, and general decadence. This is not any kind of specific cleanse involving rigorous juicing or steamed fish. Just simplifying for a few days to bring my body back to center. This is also very effective after traveling and eating at too many restaurants or a particularly large meal the evening before. I can immediately feel the difference, especially when I begin feeling lethargic and low on energy.

The plan:

  • Drink lot's of water throughout the day. 
  • Drink a large glass of water with a splash of raw Apple Cider Vinegar first thing in the morning.
  • Eliminate any food with sugar. (Not fruit)
  • Eliminate refined flour foods. 
  • Incorporate a majority or raw and cleansing fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit dairy.
  • Limit anything "heavy" or difficult to digest.
  • Substitute green tea for coffee.
None of this is set in stone. This is not a "diet" or anything long term. I am not doing this to lose weight. Although this could be incorporated into a longer term, weight loss plan if desired. 

Anyway, the point is, just to eat this way until I feel well. Maybe a couple of days. Maybe until next weekend. Also, if I want to have a piece of toast, I eat it. If I need a coffee, I drink it. These are just some guidelines that I have noticed optimize my well being.

What do you do to refresh after a few days of indulging?

Friday, August 17, 2012

On Being Bored

(via)

I love being a full time mom. I really, truly do. And fully understand how lucky I am to be in a position to stay home with my baby. I don't take that for granted. There are a lot of women and men who wish they could be with their littles all day. With all that said...

It's a little slow going sometimes.

10 months is so fun and definitely funner than 6 months or 2 months...you get the point. Even though independence is bittersweet at times, it's fun to see Phoenix figuring out how to play and explore.

While we do leave the house every day and try to do as many different things as I can think of, it does get a bit repetitive. I know, I know...what a boring life in New York City. I can hear you playing that tiny violin for me. But I suppose it's the same as any town, suburb, or big city. You visit the same several playgrounds in heavy rotation, library, pool, sprinklers, and run errands. Over and over and over. I'm sure it's not the place that makes the difference, it's the activities and the structure of your day.

Typically we all wake up together between 6:30 and 7, we play in bed for a few minutes, I nurse P, and Scott takes him out into the living room so I can have a few moments of calm before we begin the day. I then join them and have a cup of tea while Scott has his coffee and P plays. After Scott walks down the hall to begin his work day, P and I sing and chat while I make his breakfast and mine. Sometimes he's hungry, sometimes not. We sit at the table together and have our breakfast while I usually listen to a news podcast. After breakfast we play a little more and then it's morning nap time. During that time I try to get everything and nothing done. Once he wakes up we get changed and pack our bag, have lunch, and off we go.

Most days we hang out around our neighborhood in Brooklyn. We go grocery shopping, meet a friend for coffee, play in the grass, take aimless walks and stop for picnics. At least once a week we take the subway across the river into Manhattan. Sometimes we have errands to run. Most times I just need a change. We walk around our old neighborhood and stop by my favorite coffee shops. We check out new pizza places. We chat with flight attendants on the High Line. Adventures. I've also been scoping out new playgrounds now that we are on the verge of walking. Just swinging no longer interests P. He is ready to move, slide, and climb. Help.

But I digress. If we are out long, P naps in the carrier or stroller. If we get home, he usually goes down sometime around 3. Between the hours of 4 and 6 is when we get creative. Sometimes we head back out to the playground. Usually I summon husband to play with baby while I start on dinner. Scott entertains P with chasing him, singing, making crazy sounds, and whatever else it takes.

Then it's dinner, bath, and bed by 7.

To be honest, this all sounds so silly as I write it out. Wah, wah, my life is so terrible hanging out in my cute neighborhood with my awesome baby every day. I get it.

I guess you have to be a stay at home parent to really understand this but sometimes when I'm out walking around aimlessly with nothing to do, I imagine what my friends are doing at work. I wonder what kind of deadlines they are facing and where they are getting their fancy lunches from that day. Sometimes I remember my life when it was filled with fancy lunches and commuting. Was it more exciting? Hard to say. Maybe on the surface. It definitely was not as fulfilling. And while I do have my own business, which is on hold right now, I am truly happy being at home with my guys. I wouldn't prefer another path.

So what is the point of all this? The point of writing this all out and sharing my real life? I guess mostly it's for me. Just writing this whole silly "worry" out helped put things into perspective. Isn't that what writing is all about, after all? Full disclosure.

My question for all the other stay at home parents is - How do you break up your days? Do you find yourself doing the same thing? If you have a baby, how do you keep things fresh?

I appreciate this open forum and the opportunity for us all to voice our day to day annoyances, triumphs, and stories. Thanks for listening.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Allergy-Friendly Food for Families



Do you know Kiwi Magazine? It's a magazine dedicated to "help [parents] raise their children and enjoy their lives in the healthiest way possible." They publish articles about green living, healthy eating, and organic lifestyle. All good things!

If you just can't get enough Kiwi Magazine, the good news is: they just published this great cookbook! 

(From Amazon)
"Allergy-Friendly Food for Families is the most trustworthy, comprehensive, practical, and kid-friendly collection of recipes that exists for the important and growing audience of allergy-aware families. Unlike other allergy cookbooks, this book covers not one or two allergens, but the five most common allergens in kids: wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and soy. Each of the 120 recipes is free of at least three of these allergens; most are free of all five."

More than half of the 120 recipes in Allergy-Friendly Food for Families are free of all five allergens and for families who don't eat nuts, 113 of the 120 recipes are nut-free! How awesome is that?

I do not have any food allergies, and as far as I know now, Phoenix doesn't either. However, that's not to say that we didn't have to eliminate a lot of foods in the past 10 months. Although this book is aimed at making these meals kid-friendly, which I appreciate, there is another big population that has to eliminate certain foods: nursing women. 

Yes, sadly it's true. I say sadly because after being pregnant and eating every delicious thing under the sun for nearly 10 months, I had to cut out almost everything containing wheat, soy, dairy, nuts, and eggs, among other things like vinegar and spicy foods. Sound familiar? Yes, I was also living allergen free, albeit for a temporary amount of time.

The point is, I was bummed out. Being that I knew which foods to eat and what (nutritionally) was most essential for both baby and myself, it was still a challenge to conceive of interesting meals with these limited ingredients. Also, since I was an exhausted zombie and 24 hour baby feeding machine, I had no time or brain power to even bother trying to think of anything interesting. 

You may be confused as to why I had to do all this. The reason: Gas. Yes, everyone's favorite topic. Especially when it has to do with babies. It doesn't seem like a big deal, right? You're probably thinking that I am some horrible mother who can't be bothered with smelling her kid's mini toots. Wrong. Since newborn babies have such delicate digestive tracts, they are sensitive to most every food. Phoenix, in particular, had terrible gas pains every time I ate one of these offending foods. By terrible I mean: he was screaming, I was crying, Scott and I were trying to squeeze his tiny legs around in every possible direction to help him, massage his tummy, sing him songs and farting...to say the least. 

Anyway, with the tiny man in so much pain, I decided to cut out all soy, dairy, wheat, nuts, and eggs along with several other foods. I then reintroduced them one by one as he got a little older and his digestive tract became more mature and able to handle them. (Side note: This was all done under the guidance of his pediatrician as well as my naturopath.)

In time, P was able to handle these foods much better and I returned to eating them as regularly as I wanted and also have begun feeding them to him directly, now that he is eating solids.

But I digress. This is, after all, a review of this wonderful book. So what is the point I am trying to make? I wish I had this book 10 months ago!! Even though I am not among the growing population of adults and children living with allergies, I experienced a period of time on an elimination diet and I would have loved to been able to flip through this book, in my half awake/starving state, and find a recipe for Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies. 

Also, it's a good idea to have an arsenal of allergy free food, as most parents tend to be extra cautious these days. I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of use out of this book when it comes to time host play dates and birthday parties for P and his friends. You can never be to careful.

To celebrate the publishing of Allergy-Friendly Food for Families, Kiwi is generously giving away a copy on Paper Hearts & Cranes! For a chance to win: Comment on this post. I will announce a winner next week. 

As a preview, I have chosen my favorite recipe from the book to share with you here.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
Makes 10 cookies

Ingredients
  • 1/3  cup canola oil, plus more for coating the baking sheets
  • 1 1/2  cups whole-wheat pastry flour (You can also replace this with your favorite gluten-free flour)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •  teaspoon ground ginger
  •  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2  cup raw sugar
  •  tablespoon ground flaxseed whisked with 2 T warm water
  •  very ripe banana, mashed
  •  cup coarsely grated carrots
  •  cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2  cup pumpkin seeds

  • Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat two baking sheets with canola oil.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the canola oil and sugar and mix well. Add the flaxseed mixture, banana, and carrots and mix again.
4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Fold in the oats and pumpkin seeds.
5. Use a1/3-cup measure to scoop five cookies onto each baking sheet, for a total of 10. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden-brown on the edges.
6. Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve, or store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.