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Archive for June, 2011

Earlier this week I stumbled upon a series of “10 Small Things” by Amanda at I am Mommy. Just a list of 10 things that make her life better, improve it in some way or that she is grateful for. What a great idea! While I like to play the lazy card, A LOT, I really do want to be a good mommy to Buddy Bear and be intentional about the things I teach him. Like being grateful. So I’m totally stealing Amanda’s idea.

With props.

And also shortening it down to 7.

Because I’m a sucker for aliteration.

If only I could think of a S word for “Things”.

That’s not “stuff”.

I already thought of that, and “7 Simple Stuffs” does not bode well with me.

Any other suggestions?

1. 

My fans. We had our first hot week and have already pulled out our fans. Its only 30 degrees (Celsius, I can’t do Fahrenheit.) but I am already cooking!

2. 

This little $8 gizmo allows me to take Buddy Bear driving without him losing it completely. I don’t know if he knows its him in the mirror or if he just thinks there’s another baby in the car with him, but either way it means peace in the car. Also I can do a quick rearview mirror check and see if he’s sleeping yet which also rocks.

3. 

My library card. Call me a nerd, but I love having this thing. Right now Buddy Bear and I are devouring (figuratively and literally unfortunately) 25 books that we didn’t have to buy. That’s at least $100 dollars worth of books, maybe even more! Love it, I think you should get one too!

4. 

Buddy Bear’s cloth diapers. I’m not a fanatic, but only because that takes too much work. But I love, love, love having my little boy happy and comfortable. And that is possible because his cloth diapers are so much easier on his super sensitive skin.

5. 

Alberta’s Health Care System. Say what you want about Canada’s health care system (*cough* Mr. Man *cough*) but I needed to get a doctor’s note for the job I’ve applied for, and I called them on Tuesday, and had the medical done on Wednesday. I like that!

6. 

See that? That’s naptime. I love it. Buddy Bear is not the most consistent sleeper ever, but he always has at least two naps and I have the option of napping with him, working on my to-do list (right…) or most often just putzing around on the computer.

7. 

The non-dairy world. Before Buddy Bear’s milk allergy, I thought all those dairy-free products were expensive and the domain of vegans and well, vegans. Boy was I wrong! Well true, they are still expensive (2L for $4, ouch!) but they also mean that I can still have some of ‘my normal’ food, like smoothies, cupcake frosting, pancakes. You know, normal stuff. I will be the first to admit that Cheerios and coconut milk are not the same as their dairy alternative, but a rice milk pancake? I can’t tell the difference! So thank you to the non-dairy producers for making expensive non-milks for me and Buddy Bear. I will put you in my next 7 Simple Things again if you could please lower your prices. Thanks.

 

What are you grateful for? Am I the only one who has to take a conscious effort to be grateful?

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My Boo loves blueberries. They are an addiction for her. I’ve mentioned this before. Not the plump, fresh ones. But the big, old, 1 kg bag of frozen blueberries.

My Boo is an independent 17 month old. Mommy does not feed Boo (except for some strange, random exceptions). Meal time is now a serve and sit back approach. Which is quite fun….and messy. Thankfully most foods can be quickly wiped up with a warm washcloth and a little hardcore scrubbing (paired with enthusiastic singing of “Little Green Frog” or “Old Macdonald” needed to stave off loud protests to the scrubbing).

Blueberries though are a different story. Blueberries leave a stain. On clothing. Hands. Faces. Dishes. Tables. Floors. Our solution for blueberry stains on clothing has been…no clothes! Simple enough. A bib just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I couldn’t stand to see one more cute outfit stained beyond public wearing. Now it is no shoes, no shirt = blueberry time!

But those little hands and face. Each adorable handful of blueberries stuffed in her mouth results in an ever growing stain on her hands and face. After we are done feasting on as many blueberries as I will allow her, I take the warm wash cloth to her hands and face only to find that blueberries stain skin. A purplish tinge that is not easily remedied with soap and water.

This means my little girl looks like she is cyanotic (blue or purple color in the lips and fingers as a result of poor oxygenation) or suffering from hypothermia. It makes me a little embarrassed to take her out in public after a blueberry fest.

“No, my daughter does not have a heart defect (thankfully!) she has an enthusiastic blueberry addiction and I can’t scrub the stains off without removing her top layer of skin.”

Or if I take her out swimming or to the park it looks like I am cruelly making her suffer through being cold when in fact she is warmer than I am. The blue lips are not a result of parental neglect! It’s just blueberries.

Maybe I should make her a t-shirt that says “I feed myself blueberries, that is why I am blue.” I think I will make a matching shirt that says “I have a blueberry for a daughter” (name that movie!)

A little trick that sometimes works to cut down on the skin stains is to mix her blueberries in with a grain like cooked oatmeal, pancakes or even cheerios. Some of the blueberry juice gets absorbed by the grain instead of her skin making for less of a stain.

The other little trick sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. I read on the Internet that you can use lemon juice on clothing to get out blueberry stains (or vinegar, white wine, boiling water, etc)…I didn’t want to put any of those on her skin BUT I did try giving her a few slices of oranges with her blueberries and it DOES tone down the blue. Who knew?

My last solution is a good, old fashioned bubble bath…works every time!

What’s your trick for getting stains out of sweet little baby cheeks?

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Its officially summer in our house. And do you know how I know? Because at any given point I have at least 4 different varieties of fresh fruit in the house. FOUR. As adverse to our other season of winter where we have bananas. OR apples. Both of which suck. At least compared to the awesomeness of mangoes, and watermelon, and nectarines and blueberries, AT THE SAME TIME.

In case you didn’t get the picture, I love having the abundance of fruit that appears in our home during the summer. Its like it suddenly becomes almost easy to eat healthy. Why go through the trouble of making chocolate chip cookies if I could just eat a piece (or 17) of watermelon. Less hassle and I get to eat way more!

You know what I love almost as much as eating copious amounts of fruit? Watching our little Buddy Bear eat copious amounts of fruit. He is loving it. In a “Woman, why have you been holding out on me all this time? This is way more awesome than that other stuff you’ve been feeding me!” But in a cute way, not in a Stewie from Family Guy sort of way. Mostly.

The side effect of Buddy Bear’s absolute delight in our summer abundance?

This.

 

Food everywhere! And let me tell you, blueberries stain. Everything.

And you know how I feel about laundry. I hates it.

So don’t do laundry! In the summer, babies don’t have to wear clothes. Just a diaper and you’re good to go. Or nothing.

I chose naked eating because…

  • Way cuter. Sorry, babies are just so cute when you can see their chubby little legs and tubby bellies.
  • Less laundry. You don’t have to wash clothes that haven’t been worn!
  • If I looked that cute in my underwear, I’d do it too!
  • Bathtime can be a bonding experience. For Dad. While mom takes a nap/drinks a coke/hides from her responsibilities.
  • Its organic!

So choose organic for your baby.

Choose naked.

(In your own home, restaurants, etc. generally frown upon public nudity…)

 

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Iced coffee is one of my favorite parts of summer. That cold, smooth iciness mixed with the thrill of caffeine. Refreshing and invigorating, like a Slurpee with a kick…in the budget! Why is everything yummy so expensive? Which leads to the question, can I make iced coffee at home that is just as yummy?

When I was pregnant with Boo I tried so hard to follow all the “rules”. No caffeine, no deli meat, no soft cheeses, limit your sweets, don’t color your hair and avoid hot tubs. With our second little one my heart is still in the same place. I want to love and protect and give him or her the best possible start BUT Mommy has cravings. And hasn’t slept a full night in 18 months (by full night I mean that unrealistic expectation of 8 or more  uninterrupted hours).

I still try to avoid most deli meat, haven’t had soft cheese (the no-dairy rule made this easy), I really don’t eat sweets regularly, I haven’t colored my hair (because honestly I haven’t had time for that!) and I barely have energy to shower. You can forget about long luxurious soaks in hot water. That would involve either scrubbing out the tub or going somewhere with a hot tub. Hasn’t happened.

But caffeine. Caffeine and I are tight this time around. I tried for the first 3 months to “limit” my intake. But then I got the go ahead from my midwife to enjoy one cup of coffee a day, she even said guilt free! And that studies have shown no risk to the baby with consuming moderate amounts of caffeine.

Oh the joy in my heart! I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. I never drink it black (yuck!). I put so many doo-dads in my coffee it is practically unrecognizable by true coffee connesiuers. In fact a true cup of full bodied coffee will make me jittery and hyper. I can’t even handle that small amount of coffee. I’ve developed a half and half approach. About 3 or 4 days out of the week (depending on the previous night), I treat myself to a cup of “mmmmm, hot! Hot!” What the Boo calls my coffee because she knows she is not allowed to touch it or taste it. I do have a few parental limits.

Half decaf, half full brew. Lots of sugar, cream (or fake cream), soy milk, syrup, etc. And then I nurse that delicious concoction all day long. Sip by sip letting it bring an extra edge of alertness (or not falling asleep in the car at red lights) to my day.

But now it is getting summery. My craving is for smooth and cold. Specifically for a Caramel Frappucino from Starbucks with extra whip (and enough calories for the whole family). Mmmm, so cold and refreshing. Sweet and yet coffee-ish. All my favorite things in a drink. That would set me back $4.50. We didn’t put “Sugary indulgences” in the budget so I thought my craving would have to silently sulk all summer never finding fulfillment.

But….oh glorious but (and not that butt, come on. Focus.) I stumbled across Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Perfect Iced Coffee and it was like a match made in heaven. All my favorite things in a drink (except for Beardie’s chili and steak. Or chocolate chip cookies. No pasta either. Or fresh baked bread. Or juicy watermelon. Or ripe peaches…so missing quite a few of my favorite things come to think of it). But contains coffee, sugar, creamy substitute in a smooth, cold and refreshing cup of joe.

I tried it. I made it my own. I put it in a travel mug at the start of the day and nurse that sweet little drink all day. Sip by sip. Every morning when I head to work I DO NOT stop at the Starbucks on the corner or the next corner (I actually pass 3 of them on my 10 minute drive to work. Sad, yes?) I make my own….this week alone I think I have saved at least $18 by not buying coffee. Actually I wouldn’t have stopped anyways, so I saved myself 4 mornings of inner grumbling about really wanting an iced coffee. Priceless.

Here’s how we do it:

Did you know you can cold brew coffee? Instead of breaking out the coffee maker you just add cold water to your coffee grounds and let them steep for about 12 hours. It makes for a less acidic and bitter coffee experience. Seeing as I am not a fan of bitter I like this approach. Seeing as I am not a fan of working I like how easy this is.

My ratio is 7 generous tablespoons of coffee grounds (I do half decaf, half flavored coffee…I told you I don’t actually drink REAL coffee, I drink a coffee-like beverage) to 4 cups of cold water.

When I got married Beardie had a sweet French press that he used for tea and other refined drinks (not a coffee drinker AT all, once I made him taste my coffee because it was so good. I thought it would convince him coffee is delicious. I believe his reaction was “yuck, bleh”….oh well, more for me!)

I mix the water and coffee grounds in the French press but you really don’t need anything fancy just a large enough container to hold your coffee and a coffee filter to strain out the grounds. Doesn’t that coffee mix look like some type of toxic sludge?

The next morning I press the press and voila! coffee.

Fill your glass with a few ice cubes (that’s why you make your coffee so strong it dilutes when the ice melts) and a splash (or in my case a river) of cream/cream substitute. I absolutely love the International Delight: Caramel Macchiato creamer. I think it tastes just as good as Starbucks (don’t tell the Buckers I said that!)

You could stop here. And enjoy your crisp iced beverage but on my days off I like to take it a step further and throw it all in the blender for a more slushie like treat.

See? Yummy. And completely adaptable to whatever you like in your cup! Super quick too. The four cups of coffee lasts me 4 days, I strain the remainder of the coffee through our re-usable coffee filter and then store it in the fridge. Every morning I just mix it up in my travel mug and am good to go.

What would you throw in your iced beverage? You could totally make this with chai tea, green tea, hot chocolate…I just might try them all!

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Last night was a bad night. A very bad night. It started out as a good night though. Buddy Bear went to sleep easily (!) and quickly (!!) at 9:15 instead of his usual 10:30 and he seemed to be down for the night. Yes, he was awake every hour and needed help going to sleep again, but that’s pretty normal in our house.

 

And then 1AM rolled around.

 

Buddy Bear woke up again and he was in a foul disposition.

 

He didn’t want to be in his bed. He didn’t want to nurse. And he DEFINITELY did not want to go back to sleep.

It was starting to remind of all those children’s books we read Buddy Bear when he doesn’t want to go to sleep.

This is the cutest book ever. I love it. Except for when Buddy Bear acts like the baby bear.

But when its happening in real life at 1:30 in the morning, its not cute.

 

Eventually after some cajoling by both his daddy and his mommy, Buddy Bear finally went to sleep. At 3AM.

 

And then he decided it was time to start the day at 8:00 this morning.

 

Yes, 5 hours later.

 

And then Mr. Man forgot to make the requested 8 bazillion cups of coffee I requested, instead making just one cup for each of us. I think he is a sucker for punishment. And at this point I think it would be more efficient to just eat the bean then to waste time making a second pot of coffee.

 

Have you ever been in a sleepless situation like this? PLEASE let me know I am not alone! But not that this is what I can expect for the next 18 years. I don’t want to know that.

 

So today, I broke out the big guns.

Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller

This is my secret weapon on days when I feel like if the rings under my eyes get much darker, people will start to think Mr. Man is abusing me. (He’s not) It works, its relatively cheap, and I don’t have to fuss around with a colour chart trying to determine what shade I am. (You would not believe how hard it is to find pasty white on a foundation colour chart) I love it, and I use it most everyday.

A little trick I picked up quite by accident is navy-blue eyeliner. By some optical illusion using navy-blue eyeliner makes the whites of your eyes appear more white (and essentially less pink) making you look less tired. Sneaky sneaky.

And the age old trick of napping when your baby naps. This is one of the most popular pieces of parental advice EVER. Because it works.

 

What are your tricks for surviving sleepless nights and exhausted days?

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Do I start every food entry with “This is one of my favorite meals!”….I just might. But I love food, I love to eat and I LOVE to eat good yummy food. It could be that every yummy meal is one of my favorites.

This little number though has a special place in my heart for being incredibly easy, almost easier than a box of Kraft Dinner. And just as quick.

I think we will call this Italian Pasta Delight or maybe Delightful Italian Pasta with an emphasis on Light because it is pretty easy on the tummy.

The guest list for this party in my tummy is pretty short. Italian Sausage (I first tried the hot which was so yummy but a little too spicy for the young’un, so now mild is my forte), a 19 oz can of tomato sauce and a box of your favorite twisty-turny noodle. I started out with Penne but than didn’t have enough so I threw in some Fusilli. The Boo actually liked it better that way.

And then whatever veggie you have kicking around in your fridge. Like a family there is always room for one or two more additions 🙂 We had mushrooms (you could even use canned), spinach and peppers. But other cuties that might join the party next time would be zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, onion, peas, pretty much anything.

Fry up the sausage, drain off most of the grease. Chop up your veggies and throw them in with the meat, adding the ones that need to cook longest first (i.e. carrots first, mushrooms last). And cook. Just like that.

Meanwhile in the same room and space you are boiling a pot of water to cook your pasta. And then the water boils and you cook your pasta.

Drain the pasta, stir up the meat and add your can of tomato sauce. The longer you leave the meat/veggies to simmer in the tomato sauce the more the “flavour” will come out. But if you are just STARVING, the flavour can always wait.

Put your pasta on your plate and cover with a pile of sauce. Delightful, yes?

Or you could throw a tossed salad on the side. Or go for carb over-kill and serve with a slice of garlic bread (mmmmm!). Or sprinkle with a little parmesan *groan*. Or cheese bread *starting to drool*. Or just stick with what I said….then it will still be easy. But a green salad on the side would be yummy.

And that’s how you do it! One of my favorite walk-in-the-door-from-work-we-are-all-starving-need-dinner-in-15-minutes meals. To me it is delightful!

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Before Mr. Man and I became parents we used to look down our conventional noses at certain types of parents, saying smugly to ourselves “What hippie parents!” and “We will never do that when we’re parents”.

Humble Pie meet Andg.

Andg meet Humble Pie.

I think you two will be great friends!

You see, Mr. Man and I aren’t your typical crunchies. We recycle only because we have a recycling box right outside our back gate. We drive two cars, and we drive them A LOT. We don’t buy used (only because we’re too lazy to drive across town to the second-hand store). We don’t eat organic. In fact, the only ‘organic food’ we have are our tomato plants and we are killing those as fast as we can (we have black thumbs apparently).

But when it comes to parenting, well we have veered quite heavily into hippie territory. And not because we’ve experienced a philosophical revelation and now understand the importance of hippie living. No, it’s because being parents has helped us realize how LAZY we are!

You don’t believe me that lazy mamas and papas can accidentally become dirty, dirty hippies?

Breastfeeding: In itself not a hippie thing (though stereotypically hippies love it) or a lazy thing, but above all I do it because I’m lazy. No bottles to wash, no formula to cart from the store to the car to the house, or bottles to make in the middle of the night. Once you get over the initial breastfeeding hurdles, its always available, the right temperature and exactly what my baby needs. The perfect choice for a lazy mama like me.

Cloth Diapering: Admit it, when you think about hippie parents you think cloth diapers. And its true, cloth diapers can be better for the environment if you care about that kind of thing.  But lazy parenting? Oh yes, cloth diapering is great for lazy parents! I always run out of diapers. Like 2 or 3 times a week. So I throw a load of diapers in the laundry and after 2 or so hours of naked bum time I have a whole set of diapers ready to go again. If I had to pack a squirmy, most likely smelly, or even worst case scenario half-naked, little boy into the car and drive to the store to pick up diapers everytime I ran out of diapers, believe me, I’d be one drive short of the nuthouse! So cloth diapers have become way easier for me, allowing me to be just a tad bit lazier…

Co-Sleeping: As Mr. Man said to me earlier, “We do it, because it works!” Pre-baby we (he) were predisposed against co-sleeping. But after a series of sleepless nights of night nursing and wondering if we would Iever sleep again, I snuck the little man into our bed and slept the rest of the night with Buddy Bear tucked beside me, nursing to his heart’s content. What a relief! I didn’t have to get up every 45 minutes (yes 45 minutes, I’m not exaggerating) and actually slept for the first time in what felt like my entire life! And we’ve been sleeping together ever since, because I am too lazy to go back to the on the hour, wake-up calls.

Elimination Communication: Classic hippie territory. And us. Because I am so lazy that I don’t want to change diapers anymore, so I’m attempting to reduce the amount of diapers I have to change through a little elimination communication.

Baby-Led-Weaning: Huh? What’s that mean? It essentially means no purees (homemade or storebought), no ice cube trays of ‘baby food’. Its just giving your baby good food, yes ‘adult food’ and letting your baby explore how to eat at their own pace. Which means mama (me) puts a cooled portion of whatever we’re eating for dinner on Buddy Bear’s tray and we all eat together, and I get to eat my supper when its hot. Easy, non-conventional and yes, lazy. Also, check out this site if you are interested, I really like the way these ladies have explained the concept.

 

Moby Wrap available @ http://www.mobywrap.com/

Baby-wearing: This one is easy. Hippies wear babies because its good for them, and better for bonding, and yadda, yadda. I wear my Buddy Bear when I’m out and about because I can keep my carrier in the diaper bag and when I need my hands free I just whip out my carrier instead of fussing around with a heavy stroller. (If I have it, I have a knack for leaving it in the garage when I need it) So easy!

So there you have it. One or two habits by themselves are pretty harmless, I would even say normal. But throw my brand of laziness into the game and all of a sudden I’m a perfect storm of cloth-diapering/co-sleeping/baby-wearing/breastfeeding/baby-led-weaning/elimination-communicating hippie parenting!

*munch* yum… I love humble pie!

What have you said you would or would never do that you have now found yourself changing your tune? What made you change your mind?

 

P.S. We don’t think people who practice any or all of these techniques are actually dirty or necessarily hippies. I just think its a funny phrase. Though if you are either dirty or a hippie, that’s cool too. – love andg

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