Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time for a Sugar Detox!

Since I am a Holistic Health Coach and Natural Foods Chef, I eat well. As a family, we eat tons of green vegetables, a variety of grains, and organic proteins. In general, our meals would be considered "healthy" and well balanced.

Lately, I have been pretty out of balance. I'm not one to have a crazy sweet tooth. I do enjoy dark chocolate and I can definitely get into a delicious pastry or home made cookie. But I was never a person who ate sweets daily. (I would much rather eat a block of cheese...) However (!) since Phoenix was born, I am constantly craving sugar. It began as something to do. We would leave the house for a walk and I would stop to get a coffee. Cookie? Sure. Maybe a croissant the next day. This became a regular thing. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about over eating, like a box of Oreo's. No, just the simple fact that I am consuming a sweet daily. And then maybe having a few (read: a lot) dark chocolate covered almonds in the evening. Once you have one, it's a slippery slope friends. I would end the day with a stomach ache and a sugar hang over.

Recently, I became really aware of my sugar addiction when I grabbed some of those delicious almonds before breakfast. This is too much, I thought. I decided to evaluate where this intense craving was coming from. When I examined the whole thing, it was so obvious. I am looking for that sugary buzz. And it makes sense that it correlates with becoming a new mom. I'm always needing that extra little jolt. What's even more interesting is that I try to keep my caffeine intake pretty moderate. I noticed that P doesn't do great when I have too much (neither do I) so I limit it to a cup of tea in the morning and usually a coffee in the afternoon. This way the coffee is also part of our daily walk. It's a little ritual. We walk to the coffee shop and then the park.

So what to do?

Well, I know myself and I am aware that I do not thrive on very restrictive diet plans. I'm not one to eliminate anything in my life. I definitely subscribe to "everything in moderation." Also, I am not eliminating all sugar forming foods such as bread, grains, fruit, etc. There are many levels of sugar elimination. For the sake of my sanity, I am just eliminating actual white sugar at this point. So, I have decided on this plan for myself:

  • Increase protein - It's obvious that my body is pleading for more energy. One way to supplement that is to increase my protein. It's easy for me to forget to eat enough meat and we limit our soy intake so I have to make sure I'm eating enough daily. This also includes eggs, grains, beans, dairy, nuts, and vegetables.
  • Increase leafy greens - I already eat tons of greens on a daily basis and we always have kale in the fridge. However, since green vegetables have an alkalizing affect on our bodies (sugar is acidifying) I will be trying to combat the damage I have done to my cells over these past few weeks. 
  • Have fruit on hand - This may seem counterintuitive but it's hard to kick sugar! I love all fruit and it's much healthier to have a whole piece of fruit, with all it's own fiber and vitamins, rather than juice. The more you replace your sugar cravings with naturally sweet foods, they less you will crave white sugar. Really!
  • Drink even more water - I already have to drink a ton since I'm nursing but I'm challenging myself to drink even more. When I was pregnant, I would refill my water class whenever I finished one, so it was always there to remind me. I am getting back into that habit. 
  • Have snacks with me when going out - It's easy to be tempted to buy something at the coffee shop when I'm starving. It's important to have high protein snacks with me to have with my coffee.
So there you have it. I am already on day two of no sugar and it feels good. Last night I had an orange when my late night craving hit and it felt much lighter. Since I am holding myself accountable by posting this online, I will be writing an update as I make progress.

Do any of you have a sugar addiction? Are you thinking of curbing your cravings? Want to join me?!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Newborn Essentials Part 2

Part two of my newborn essentials!

(5 months in his bouncer)

We weren't really interested in getting a standing swing because we were concerned about space. When I wrote yesterday to start with the basics and buy as needed, that has been our approach to almost everything so far. I hate having clutter so the less we bought in to the things we "needed" the less we accumulated. Anyway, this bouncer rocks! It doesn't shake, vibrate, light up, sing, or any of the other bells and whistles that some other swings have but it has been perfect for us. Aesthetically, it is designed so much nicer than the gigantic plastic ones and it can also be folded and tucked away. It has several settings from sitting up to laying down. When Phoenix was tiny, he napped on the lowest setting all the time. We didn't have a crib and since he was sleeping every few hours, we would keep this bouncer in the living room and just lay him down when he was asleep, bouncing him whenever he stirred. It was perfect. Now that he is 6 months, we don't use it for sleeping but we do still use it daily. It's super helpful as a safe place to put him while I leave the room for a minute or can keep him entertained while I'm cooking. Around 4 months he started getting bored just sitting in it so we bought the wooden toythat went along with it. He really loved it and still plays with it all the time. I highly recommend this simple little bouncer if you are looking for an alternative to hideous plastic swing machines.

(one month old on his play mat)

Skip Hop Activity Gym
I was really against getting a play gym. Why? Because I thought they were all so tacky, huge, and loud. At the last moment, I put this one on our registry and when some sweet friends got it for us I could feel my anxiety setting in about actually taking it out of the package and using it. It seemed so big and colorful. Fast forward to about two months and P couldn't take his eyes off of it. I took it out of the package one day and we have been using it every day since. As these things tend to come, this is a pretty cute one. The colors are somewhat subtle and tasteful and the modern design (throughout the brand) lends itself to a more pleasing aesthetic in your shared family space. Basically, it doesn't scream "Hey, a baby lives here!!!" Even though it does. The birds/animals also squeak and make little sounds but not in an obnoxious way. I love that one of the birds is holding a wooden ring which has been both a teether and pull up, in the past few weeks. Now that P is on the verge of crawling, he likes exploring the actual mat and yell at the apples and leaves. Obviously, he loves it.

(4 Months in his stroller)
(5 months and very serious)

UPPAbaby Vista Stroller
I adore our stroller. I didn't really start using it much until about a month and a half ago. Until then, I almost always wore Phoenix. Even though I still wear him a lot, it's nice to have the option to take him in the stroller for a longer walk, since he's getting so heavy. Now, I've never had another stroller to compare this one to but I did practice on a few while I was pregnant and this one felt the most comfortable, for sure. The main reason I liked it though, was that it came with a bassinet. I know that several different brands also come with a bassinet so maybe those work better for you. The other feature I love is the huge basket underneath with pockets. I have crammed so many groceries under there, plus a baby bag, plus blankets, toys, etc... The canopy also has a built in UV/SPF pull down extension which is helpful on super sunny days. The interior of the bassinet is made of organic cotton and the mattress is made out of organic soybeans, if that's important to you. Oh, and Scott was impressed with the suspension and handling. Maybe your husband/partner will be to. (Suspension, what?) 

Sleep Sheep
I think I may enjoy the Sleep Sheep more than I should. I have told Scott that I think they should restructure their business and market to adults. That's another post...
This little guy is soft, soothing, and pretty neutral (which we enjoy). He make four sounds, one of which is an intense and scary sounding heart beat. We don't put on that sounds, ever. However, we all enjoy the waves crashing, rain falling, as well as the whale sounds. Thank you Sleep Sheep. I'm not sure if you actually put our baby to sleep (Wait, babies sleep?) but you put me in a generally more restful state every evening. 

(In his sleeping gown - 8 days old)

Sleep Gowns
You will change a lot of diapers. Day and night. In general, you want to make this task as quick as possible, but at night you you want to be able to do it with your eyes closed. Enter: the sleep gown. I originally didn't buy any of these for baby P because I thought they didn't look as cozy as his little jammies. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. These gowns are heaven sent. No zippers or even worse, snaps (uuuugghhhh) to deal with. Just hike up the elastic. Swap out diaper. Boom, done! And he looked so sweet in it. I was sad when he grew out of these little dresses, er, gowns. 

(9 days old on his blanket)

Aden + Anais Swaddling Blankets
I know these blankets are all over the place and I know it's crazy to pay so much for blankets but these blankets rock! You will (as I did) receive tons of receiving blankets. People love to give blankets for some reason. But if some sweet friend or relative asks you what you're looking for, suggest these. They are big enough to swaddle your baby, lay out as a play blanket, drape over your stroller, fold up into a little pillow, or use as a ribbon dancing toy as we do. There are really so many possibilities. Since P was born in the winter months, we didn't really uses these to keep him warm but I have been using them a ton lately. And the colors/designs are really cute compared to some of the teddy bear overload out there. 

Medela Pump in Style
What can I say about breast pumps? It is not super pleasant to pump. But most of us have to at some point. I am lucky that I work from home and so I don't have to pump exclusively for P like some (amazingly dedicated) moms do. But when I do, I thank my lucky stars that I have this pump. It is easy to use, gets the uncomfortable job done quick, and is a breeze to clean. I've never used a manual pump but if you are going to go the route of an electric pump, this is an excellent choice.

Easy Meals

Remember when I posted this pumpkin mac and cheese recipe? Yum. Well it was only a few weeks prior to my due date and I was starting to stock up on freezer meals. I made a few trays of food as well as some home made frozen burritos for us to have on hand. Even though we still ordered take out, it was so amazing to have fresh, wholesome food on hand with no time or energy to cook. Nursing around the clock makes you both insatiably hungry and super thirsty so eating too much sodium laden take out or processed meals will just make you feel even more depleted than you already do. Not to mention, whatever you eat goes to the baby and you don't want too much of that in your body or theirs.

image via
The Internet

Both a blessing and a curse. I think if you looked back in my Google search history, you would find anything from, "Can I really survive on two hours of sleep?" to "What color should a newborn's poop be." Real life. Things get questionable around 5 am when you're delirious and have no idea what to do. In times of despair I found the ramblings of other moms and dads to be a comfort as well as sometimes instilling sheer terror in me. If you're really unsure of something, ask your doctor, of course. Blogs are nice to read to keep your sanity and feel like you're not the only one out there experiencing this craziness. But I think you'll find that your instinct will always lead you to do what feels right in your heart. Many times when I have felt that I was "supposed to" do something that didn't feel quite right, I agonized over it. Reading different studies, opinions, and blogs. In the end, I usually went back to my first instinct and immediatley felt so much relief. That fact that you are choosing to bring a baby into this world gives you enough knowledge and credibility to make the choices with conviction that you inevitably will. Trust yourself mama, you will always know the right way in the end. And know, you are not alone. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Newborn Essentials List Part 1

A few of my girlfriends are pregnant right now (yay!) so I thought it would be fun to put together a list of my personal essentials. I know there are a ton of these lists floating around the internet, pregnancy magazines, etc. but these are all the things that I found to be life savers in those first few weeks/months. Don't forget that most of those magazines are paid by advertisers to feature their products (as are celebs!) so try not to get too caught up by the "must-have's" you come across. Yes, even mine.

Start out with the basics and buy things as needed, otherwise you will end up with tons of unworn clothes, toys, and random stuff you won't use.

With all that said, here's is my list:

Ikea Spoka Night Light

We have used this little mouse from day one and still use it every night. It was so helpful during those first few weeks when we would be up every two hours. That way we didn't need to turn on the light for feedings and diaper changes. Also, it changes colors which P was and is still mesmerized by. In those early days, when he would get fussy, Scott would bring him over to the little mouse and bounce him as he watched the soothing colorful glow. It would calm him down every time. Oh, and it's portable!

My Brest Friend

This really was my best friend. This pillow and I spent more time together than I would like to remember. It was attached to me ALL THE TIME. I'm not kidding. If the baby was there, you could pretty much count on the pillow being there. As I mentioned, Phoenix and I had a lot of breast feeding trouble in the beginning and this little pillow was a lifesaver when it came to holding him for hours and hours of eating and learning how to latch. He also slept on it, curled up next to my belly many times. It served as back pillow for me on numerous occasions, as well as a tummy time activity for P. Now that he is a huge baby, I no longer have to use my beloved pillow. But I would not have made it through those long nights without it.

(4.5 months old in a Fuzzibunz)

Cloth Diapers

Yes, we are those people who cloth diaper. I could write a whole post about which brands we chose and how we ended up liking them (and I will!) but my best advice is to get a few different styles and brands and then invest in the one you liked most. Keep in mind that you may like different ones for different ages/purposes. For example, we have a few that we like at nighttime only and several that we loved when he was tiny, etc. There is A LOT of choices when it comes to cloth and we have loved using them. There are, of course, environmental reasons for replacing disposables but for us it was all about the money. Using disposables exclusively can cost roughly $2000 a year. That is crazy. And $2000 extra that we don't have. By using cloth, you can argue that we still have the expense of washing them, detergent, and of course the initial investment. But it is no where near $2000. We actually received the bulk of our supply as shower gifts and have added on to our stash whenever there are sales on mini social, zulily, or gilt.

Seventh Generation Diapers

As much as we love our cloth diapers, we are also reasonably normal people who need to sometimes use disposables, and we do. For this purpose, we buy a package and use as needed. I'm not too militant about only cloth diapering so if we are on a long car trip or planning to be out of the house for a long time I have no problem using these. Especially because we live in a city and we can't just stash dirty diapers in the car. You have to carry those stinky bombs around with you all day. Yeah...

(Phoenix in the Ergo insert - 9 days old)

(Going to our first ped's appt. in the Ergo - 10 days old) (Also, I look so exhausted. Wow.)

 (Four months old on a walk)

(Day 2 in his insert) (Also, wow. TINY.)

Ergo Carrierwith Infant Insert

I love my Ergo. I really, really, do. And the infant insert was so nice in the beginning. It's like a tiny down sleeping bag and often I would just snuggle P in in and lay it down in the bassinet so he was extra cozy. It also felt so much more secure for taking him out of the house in those early days. It supported his neck and kept him warm. Now, I'm not sure how great it will be for infants born in the hot summer as it is pretty cushiony and was ideal in the fall and winter. We have had a stroller since before P was born but used it all of once until he was about three months old. Even then, I mostly carried him. It felt so strange putting him in this giant bassinet and pushing him around. I loved having him close to me (and so did he!) and carried him everywhere. That's why we have a few different carriers. I don't use this one around the house as it is a bit bulky for just hanging out but it definitely has enough support to carry around this 20 lb boy these days.

(Phoenix in the Sakura Bloom sling- 2 months old)

Sakura Bloom Sling

I treated myself to a Sakura Bloom sling towards the end of my pregnancy. I had been seeing them on Leigh's blog, Marvelous Kiddo and thought they looked so beautiful. I was a little intimidated to use it at first as I wasn't quite sure how to position the baby. A sweet lactation consultant and baby wearing expert showed me when P was about 4 weeks old and I couldn't believe the difference. The baby's weight is distributed completely differently than the other carriers. Also, without the extra bulk of the carrier itself, he felt much lighter and my back didn't hurt as much. I originally bought myself the simple linen sling which is going to be perfect for the upcoming months. Now I also have the silk, which is beautiful in itself! I also love the slings for hybrid days when I want to take the stroller out but still toss it in the basket for wearing him when we arrive at our destination, such as a friend's house or dr.'s appointment (which is what I did yesterday). It's so compact and light and also a great accessory for your outfit. Even though I am part of the Sling Diaries, you can be sure that this is not a sponsored review. I really do love my Sakura Bloom sling!

(Phoenix in the Moby-4 days old)

Moby Wrap

The Moby was the first carrier I used after P was born and while it takes a little while to figure out, you can put it together pretty quickly once you do. It's basically a long piece of jersey fabric that wraps around you and your baby to keep them snuggled up close to you. It was a nice way to keep him warm and cozy around the house and when he was light, it worked nicely. After about 15 lbs or so I packed it away because he was getting too heavy and I had to keep retightening the fabric as I wore him. Big boy.

Well that's all I have time for right now. Also, it is taking me forever to write this post as I am looking at photos of a tiny babe that no longer resembles the giant boy that is napping in the other room. Ahhhhh...must slow down. If anything, this always reminds me to keep up with my photos and videos. Stay tuned for part two of my list tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

6 months minus 1 day

My belly about 2 weeks before P was born

6 months ago I was restlessly walking around the East Village, pausing to get through my contractions and bargaining everything I had with the universe to help get this baby OUT. On the eve of Phoenix's half birthday, I'm happy to report that life on the other side is better than I could have imagined on that day. I'm sure I will feel even more grateful and emotional on his one year birthday but 6 months is nothing to frown at. And what a six months it has been...

My pregnancy was pretty wonderful. Every weekend in the ocean, not much discomfort until the very end. I had about two weeks of sciatic pain and of course the enormity...oof. It's difficult to bring myself back to that place. Even though it was only 6 months ago, it feels like a different life time. I know a lot of people say that they can't remember their life before they had children. I don't believe this is true. I don't mean that in a selfish way. I love my child and my life now but it is just different.

As my due date approached, the reality hit me that this person was mine to take care of forever. That is a huge statement. All of a sudden, nothing was good enough. (Of course it wasn't.) Our apartment was crap, we didn't have enough money, we should be more prepared!!! What were we thinking??!! Ah!

I spent a lot of time going inside myself and searching for the strength to embark on this journey. My whole pregnancy, I was so focussed on growing the baby, keeping him safe in my belly, and taking care of myself that I forgot that he was eventually come out. Crazy, huh?

After my water broke (three days before I went into labor) I felt frozen. I mean, I was excited to meet him but terrified of not only this crazy, nondedicated, home birth that I agreed to (What?!! Can we still talk about that epidural???) but also to the beginning of this new role, responsibility, and chapter in our lives. Was I ready? It didn't matter. This baby chose us and he was ready to meet us. Ready to meet the world and begin his own journey, write his own birth story.

These thoughts feel so scattered now, but as I sit here writing this all out I'm in awe of how much my life has changed in such a short time. When I wrote that life is different, I mean, how could it not be? You're thrust into this new version of your old life with a couple hours (maybe a day's) notice. One second you're contemplating another cookie and within several hours you have this impossibly tiny (so tiny!) person with a beating heart and breathing lungs and all they need is you. And to be honest, having a partner is essential in the way of support but in the beginning, all that little person needs is you. In an alarmingly, overwhelming way.

But all at once, that little person is 6 months old and you are left to wonder how this bubbly, funny, little baby came to be. Where is the newborn who was hungry every 45 minutes? The tiny (did I mention tiny?) little koala who slept on our chests more than half the time...the little sack of potatoes, as I so sweetly referred to our sleepy son. He is a different baby. He laughs every minute and has a giant gummy smile that will melt your heart. On the worst days he can bring my heart to light and on the amazing days it feels like they should never end.

6 months ago today I was about to embark on a journey that I was completely unprepared for. I would go to sleep wondering how much more time I had to endure the oncoming contractions and how bad the pain would be (ha!). I was about to find out that even though the easy part was over, the best was yet to come.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teething Giveaway Winners

I did a drawing on and the winners are "Jeremy and Brooke" and "Belle." Congrats friends! Please email me with your mailing address and I will get your teethers out to you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Munchkin Meals: Saag Paneer

Since Phoenix has been eating solids for a few weeks now, he has become more curious with what we are eating as well. Often, if I am feeding him while S and I are eating, he is not happy staring at our "regular" meals as he is eating his baby food. Now, I've been making all of his food from day one and intend to continue but I realized in the past few days that if I don't kick it up a notch I would have a jealous/cranky/protesting bebe. I have been incorporating a bit of the baby led weaning approach but definitely wanted to start him off with somewhat pureed meals. Well, he's pretty much ready to move on.
So when I was making one of my favorite Indian inspired meals last night for Scott and I, I made a baby version for little P.

I use Heidi's flawless recipe (really, aren't they all?) with the curry blend and all. The only adjustment I made was use very minimal salt during cooking (since I knew it would be for babe) and then I added more to taste for myself after. I didn't have any paneer but since it is a curd cheese (with the water pressed out), I used cottage cheese. Also, we had some kale that needed to be used up so I mixed that in with the spinach. I blended mine as well to make it more "saucy." Yum.

Now let me tell you what's great about this meal:

  • It's green! That's right, bebe is eating spinach AND kale. Awesome.
  • Buttermilk: It's got tons of beneficial bacteria (just like yogurt). Good for the belly.
  • Cottage cheese: Protein! Plus, a new texture.
  • Garlic and onions: Alliums (as they are called) have antibiotic properties. Good for babies sticking everything in their mouths. Ugh....
  • Ginger: Helps with baby's digestion and um..trouble digesting also.
  • Butter: Fatten that baby up! Whole, natural fats are important for not only brain development, but also to aid in absorption of important vitamins and minerals. 
  • Curry/Spices: It's important to help your baby develop a taste for different flavors. Exposure to many different herbs and spices will shape their palette and (hopefully) lead to a more adventurous eater. 
So there you have it, baby's first Indian. No surprise, he LOVED IT. I say no surprise because this kid eats everything. So far, there is nothing he dislikes. Hopefully this trend continues. 

Try making this meal for yourself and baby! I ate mine over rice but you can also feed it to your baby with rice, if they are eating it. 

If you haven't yet, enter the Teething giveaway. I will announce two winners tomorrow!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Teething + A Giveaway

(It's a crappy photo photo but it was just too cute)

Oh are no joke. For months little P has been drooling and gnawing on everything in sight while everyone exclaims, "OH! He must be teething." I was guessing, well maybe and that I was so lucky I had a happy teething baby. Not like those horror stories you hear of inconsolable babies and night waking. Not my P...
Enter baby tooth #1.

He has caused Phoenix so much distress and mama (and papa) so much heartache. Just seeing our little nugget struggling to settle down and wake up screaming in pain is terrible. While we have been giving him some homeopathic drops and helping him chew on everything, including us, our poor little man is so unlike himself these days. Yesterday we headed out for our daily walk with a few friends and P cried almost the entire time. I had to hold him, sleeping, almost the whole way. Even the swings failed to cheer him up much. And while I'm crushed about him having to be so uncomfortable, I feel even more emotional about the fact that he actually has a tooth. Every time he clamps down hard on my finger and I feel that sharp piercing of my skin, I feel both proud of him and a little sad that my tiny gummy baby is growing up. It never ends.

While nothing can truly take away the pain that is the teething monster. There are some things that help. We have been using two popular homeopathic teething drops, Vibrucol and Boiron. They are life savers at night. During the day we just do things to keep our minds off of it: take walks, go to park, play, play, play, sing, chew on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. You know...
And while P loves his Sophie (finally), we were also gifted a lovely wooden teething ring that he is more than happy to gnaw on as well these days. I think the hard, smooth surface feels good against his sore little gums. JL Wooden Toys makes beautiful handmade wooden toys and teethers. They are a local business and are really reasonable too! I can tell you that we already bought the train and while P can't actually play with it yet, he likes to stare at it lovingly on his toy shelf and also pick it up and drop it. Baby success.

JL Wooden Toys has generously given me two beautiful cherry wood teether to give away here! All you have to do to enter is "like" JL Wooden Toys on Facebook and leave a comment on this blog (Facebook comments cannot be entered, unfotrtunately). I will randomly choose two winners in a week from today. For extra chances to win:
1. "Like" Paper Hearts & Cranes on Facebook
2.  Follow PH&C on Twitter

Good luck and happy teething :)