Monday, August 20, 2012

Decadent Weekend Cleanse


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


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 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 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

  • 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.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Fun

This is my final post for the Sling Diaries. The topic this time around was fun. It sounds so obvious but I am amazed daily how much fun it is to have little Phoenix in my life. I am equally amazed at how my definition of fun has changed. Pre baby, a fun day or evening would include sparkly shoes and a few cocktails, dancing and walking home with the sun coming up. These days a fun day involves a spontaneous family walk in a different neighborhood, ice cream, and swing time. It may not include as many late nights but at least there are no hang overs!

The day these photos were taken, Scott and I were both having those kind of days where everything seemed to take forever/was annoying/sucked the life out of you. By 4 pm, we were both wiped. Usually we would start winding down, getting P ready for dinner, and starting our evening routine. Instead, I suggested we pop over to our old neighborhood and get some air. We ended up staying out a bit too late, the baby got cranky, and we had to rush home. But it was worth it. Sometimes you need to break up the days and weeks.

As I mentioned in my last post, the days can get long. The weeks all start feeling the same. It difficult to feel inspired and excited when your routine is the same day in and day out. The challenge with being a parent to a little one is keeping that spontaneity. It's easy to get stuck in the day-to-day. And while we can't get too far away from our routine (with looming bed times and potential meltdowns) we try to take liberties when we can. Sometimes it takes more effort than staying home would, but it's worth it to feel that sense freedom. 

When Leigh emailed me about being a part of the Sling Diaries, I was thrilled to be a part of this project. I have loved wearing Phoenix every day and I plan on continuing as long as this wiggly boy allows me to. It has brought us comfort when P was upset or when I was overwhelmed, countless sleepy naps, dance parities, protection for a tiny newborn, a place to feel safe, hours of exploration from a perfect vantage point, an easy nursing companion, a blanket, a beach cover up, peek a boo games, the ability for mama to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days, and most importantly, a closeness that untouched by any other "tool" or "baby stuff." In other words, it's been fun. And I can't imagine being a mom and not wearing my baby. It is truly of of the best parts of my day.

Thank you Leigh and thank you Sakura Bloom for allowing me to a be a part of this very special photo diary. I would have been wearing my baby anyway, but probably not with this much style and comfort. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On Being Present...

Everyone says it. Over and over. Even before the baby comes. "Enjoy it. It goes so fast." I have been hearing it since I was pregnant. There's a reason people say it. The days just...go.

Yesterday Phoenix and I went to his nine month well visit. It was a little late this month as his pediatrician was away but nonetheless, I couldn't believe it was his final visit before his ONE YEAR visit. Yes. Unbelievable. Those first few weeks and months there are so many check ups, check ins, and reasons to freak out. Between myself and the baby, it seemed that we were at the doctor every month. (Maybe we were?) When the dust finally settles, you look down and you no longer have a newborn. You have a giggling little baby. And all at one he is rolling, sitting, crawling, and boom - he is mobile.

At nine and half months Phoenix is such a little person. He is this close to walking on his own. He has 6 teeth (and two more on the way) and bites everything - including me. He is so sweet and cuddly and just started giving us real hugs. It kills me when he wraps his tiny little arms around my neck. Pointing his little finger at everything has us entering a new world of communication. He now shows us when he wants to touch something and also when he is thirsty.

He eats everything we offer him. And he insists in feeding himself a lot which is messy but he is so proud of himself. If there is music playing he is bobbing his little head and banging along on something.

Some days and nights are difficult. Teething is no joke. Neither are growing pains. There are some days that Phoenix needs me more than other days. Poor guy is in the midst of cutting two teeth and bed time can sometimes be challenging during this time. Anyway, he wasn't interested at going to bed at his normal bed time and after nursing, singing, rocking, bouncing, shushing, and nursing again for almost an hour, I nearly had a melt down and passed him over to Scott. He then suggested that maybe P wasn't sleepy. This annoyed me. There are some days that I get wrapped up with making dinner, grocery shopping, working from home, mom stuff, baby stuff, etc that I'm just floating between nap time and bed time. I look forward to my own time.

After Scott said that, we sat on the bed with Phoenix and played a little. Some quiet, before bed playing. He was so happy and being so sweet. Hugging us and chatting. I slowly felt all my tensions melting away and focusing on this sweet time with our family.

It's so easy to mistake the normalcy of our days as boring or the same as the last day. But they are not. When I take a moment to step back and look at my little family and how we've changed in these past nine months, it amazes me. We have a rhythm. We have little routines and games that only us three understand. Scott and I have developed rituals as parents and Phoenix has truly become the biggest and brightest part of our day. When I look back on this past year, I can't pinpoint the moments when he got "older." He doesn't look like the same baby from last week, even. That why I must be present.

It's a practice. Just like patience is. I have to practice focusing on the "boring" days. The normal ones. Because these are the most special ones. The moments that stop me in my tacks sometimes, because they are so beautiful. Like my husband and son, playing on our bed, in the dusky light of summer. Giggling and loving one another. Seeing the beauty in the every day.