Monthly Archives: February 2015

Being Guilted Into Food

A month or so ago I went to an information session on starting your baby on solid foods. The dietitian mentioned the importance of starting with iron-rich foods, and then moving on to full-fat foods. Introduce one new item every three days or so, to help pinpoint allergies, and eventually your child will learn to enjoy a range of different, and healthy, food options. She added in: “And it wouldn’t hurt if you ate those healthy food options too”

While I used this information session as a way to defend my obsession with putting 14% sour cream on everything (“But she said “full fat”), it also made me realize that despite eating relatively healthily, Scott and I are quite picky eaters, and tend to make the same “safe” choices.

Since then, I’ve been trying to introduce one or two new healthy options into our meals, whether it’s new ingredients, or preparing things in new ways. We’ve started adding kale to our salads, and making our own dressings. While I’d usually skip onions in any recipe, I’ve started introducing leaks in their place, hoping to eventually work my way up to onions. I even ate one thing this week I didn’t think I ever would: I created: “Quiche à la Seuss” which combined my dislike of both eggs and cooked spinach (it turns out if you blend the spinach with the milk, and add a lot of cheese, I don’t get put off by the texture of one, and the taste of the other. Plus, I may have giggled over the colour of the resulting dish).

We’re still a couple weeks away from giving Charlie any type of solid food, and it’ll be a while before she’s really eating anything adventurous, but she now sits with us at the table as we eat, and sees us trying new things. As good as that is for her to see, I think we’re the ones getting the most benefit out of it!


Quiche à la Seuss

1 – 9″ pie crust
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
3 links chorizo sausage (or for a truly Seuss quiche, use ham!)
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese
3 leak stalks
Handfuls of fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic

1. Brown sausage (removed from casing) on the stove into crumbly little bits
2. Blend milk with leaks, garlic and handfuls of spinach, adding more spinach until you have about 2 1/2 cups liquid. Add in eggs and blend to combine.
3. Layer meat and 1 1/4c of cheese into bottom of pie plate, then pour liquid mixture over top.
4. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Read Green Eggs and Ham approximately
5. Remove and top with remaining cheese

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Taking time for me

Scott found me crying on the couch one day. As smart man, he knew to look at the TV. Lately, Murdoch Mysteries (my favourite Canadian mystery show) has been really running the gamut of emotions. But it wasn’t a dramedy causing the tears. It was What Not To Wear. That’s right. Stacy and Clinton brought me to tears. I was working my way through a marathon, and show after show, I was hearing the same thing over and over again: “I just don’t take the time for myself. I’d rather spend the time on the kids”. It seemed just too close to home, for me.

Pretty much any mother who has googled “baby sleep” or “baby schedule” or anything remotely close to those will be familiar with the Baby Whisperer, who posits the best schedule for mom and baby is to follow a routine of Eat — Active — Sleep — You-time. But when you have a baby who catnaps? You get 25 minutes to accomplish, well, pretty much anything. That “You-time”? Doesn’t really happen.

While I’m still dealing with Mommy-Guilt (I had to pep talk myself into leaving C at home with Scott the other night so I could go grocery shopping), I am working on taking 1/2 hour on the weekends when Scott is home to find a quiet, solitary space to read (and I’m trying to offer him the same courtesy). But during the week? I have to set my sights a little lower. After some thought, I came up with the solution

The daily thing I do for myself? I get dressed.

It’s definitely not a big goal but it’s attainable. Some days, like today, it means changing from my pajamas to my workout clothes to my pajamas (but then a workout it required). Other days, it means carefully selecting an outfit, doing my hair and putting on makeup.

The only rule? I can’t resort to jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie two days in a row. Sure, it means my new momiform is jeans, a tank top and a cardigan, but it feels that much fancier, so I feel that much better. Sometimes, it only takes a second or two longer to get dressed, but it definitely is worth it.

Momiform

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Herland: Or Gulliver’s Travels for Idiots

I don’t read a lot of travel narratives. I am more interested in the world of the mind than the world of geography. Of course, the easy response is that travel narratives examine more than just the landscape; they examine the culture as well. Admittedly, I hear “travel narrative” and I think “Gulliver’s Travels“. And I just kept thinking of it as I read through Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Like GT, Herland is a satire. Unlike GT, Herland is highly obvious in its criticisms, no history lesson needed.  Three scholars from different disciplines find themselves in a faraway land inhabited solely by women. After being captured, they develop a degree of reciprocity in cultural exploration with their captors. As they find out more about this land, they must describe their land as well.

The western world doesn’t look too pretty in comparison.

I wasn’t overly enthralled with this book. I felt it was a bit heavy handed to develop a utopia completely devoid of men. While there was a suggestion of gendered equality at the end, it follows a passage which masculinizes women.

That being said, Gilman is highly lauded for her discussions of gender dynamics, and it is nice to read something of hers other than “The Yellow Wallpaper”.  Herland is the second in Gilman’s Utopian trilogy, along with its sequel With Her In Ourland.

Book: Herland
Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Rating: 2.5/5
Features: Complete disdain for sex
Who should read: Anyone who calls themselves a feminist

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To Work Or Not To Work, that is the question

A cashier at our grocery store went on a rant the other day about the damage that women are doing to our society by allowing day cares to raise our children simply because we are obsessed with the illusion of money, when in all reality we spend more money on childcare than we can make.

My blood boiled. The concept of “day cares raising our children” is a hot button phrase for me to begin with (why do we not make the same accusations when we send our children off to grade 1?), but to essentially accuse me (as I had told her I would be going back to work in 7 months) of going back to work only for money? It insults my devotion to my child.

My work offers an amazing maternity package that allows me stay home for 12 months with my daughter. As some of these benefits are above and beyond what is required by Canadian Labour Laws, I did have to commit to returning to work for a certain time period. As grateful as I am for these additional benefits, I’m also grateful for the commitment I had to make.

Going into this mat leave, and for the first three months, I was adamant that I was returning to work. Nothing could stop me. However, now as Charlie’s personality is starting to bloom, I can’t imagine not spending every day with her and going back to work. As someone who is not a fan of change, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that when I was working (“Work Cara”), I wanted to return to work. When I was home, I wanted to stay home (“Mom Cara”). I need to give being “Work AND Mom Cara” a chance before I make my decision.

But rest assured, when I make that decision, it won’t be because I love money more than a child, or because staying home is “less damaging” to my child. It will be based on what is best for me, my daughter, and my family.

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Late night letter

Dear Charlie
It’s almost 11 o’clock and you’re awake. You were asleep when I put you to bed 3 1/2 hours ago but now your eyes are wide open, staring at me, hoping to catch my eyes. You had a big day. You fought most of your naps, and got very overwhelmed when your cousins came to play. And that’s ok. Sleep is hard. Even Mama doesn’t sleep all that well and she has had decades of experiences.
I know some days you need extra cuddles and there just isn’t enough time in the daylight to fit them in. So while I sit here gently rocking you, I shift between frustration and understanding.
But most of all, I try to forge this moment into my memory. The way your blue eyes seem so black in this dim light. The coo of your voice muffled by the soother as you attempt to sing to keep yourself awake. The way your arm circles randomly as you drift into sleep. The warmth of your stomach , cradled against mine, pulsating with each of your irregular breaths as you try to fight each yawn, and finally the slow rhythmic breathing of sleep.
As you finally drift off, your hand grabs my thumb. Despite putting away all the pants that no longer covered your ankles this afternoon, and in spite of how grown up you seemed, sitting in your high chair at supper, you suddenly felt and looked as small as the tiny bit of a baby the day you were born. You so desperately needed me then, and I’d like to believe you still do now.
But in truth, what has changed the most between now and then is how desperately I need you.
So, my little one, I’ll let you drift in and out of sleep, looking up every so often to make sure I’m still here. And I hope we always will be right here in our memories.

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Inspiration Monday – Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is apparently dressed for brunch. I imagine it’s a late fall or warm winter day brunch. Likely in New York – but I’m not familiar with New York weather.

I, on the other hand, am dressed for an outdoor adventure in the middle of winter in snowy and cold Winnipeg. Perhaps what Kate Hudson is inspiring me to do, this week, is to take a vacation to a place where I can wear my jacket open, wear stylish fur-lined boots, and wear sunglasses as a way to shield my identity from that paparazzi and not to keep from being blinded by the snow.

We are hoping to bundle up to go out to Festival du Voyageur, a local winter festival celebrating the early days of Winnipeg’s history as a part of the fur trade. Of course, with forecast wind chills of -30 and a wee baby, we’re likely playing it by ear. While I may not get to wear this to romp around in the snow, I did wear it to the grocery store today. And every grocery day. And pretty much any time I leave the house. Yup – winter fashion is all about function over form!

Inspiration Monday - Kate HudsonAnd yes, I do know my toque needs a big-a$$ pompom. I want to go back in time and yell at my younger self for removing it.

Thanks to Two Birds for the link up for Inspiration Monday!

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Pushing Myself

At the beginning of January, I decided Charlie and I needed to have reasons to leave the house on the regular basis, preferably for an activity we can participate in together and meet some new friends.

Of course, being a first time mom (FTM – which I actually thought stood for “Full Time Mom” for the longest time), I didn’t realize how quickly many of these programs filled up. I mean, how many non-English major nerds would want to do Baby Rhyme Time at the library? It turns out all of them. So we took what we could get at the last minute — stroller fitness.

We had tried a trial of the class before we signed up, and just weren’t feeling it. Strollers in a gym? Babies strapped in for 95% of the class? Like it could be a decent work out.

And then two days later, I still needed Scott to pull me off the couch.

So then why was I so hesitant to sign up for this class?

It wasn’t the money (though it was one of the more expensive options I found, meaning if I was going, I was going to commit to going every week). It wasn’t the time (Charlie’s nap usually should happen right when we get there, but she loves skipping naps and usually means she snuggles in to sleep on me afterwards). It wasn’t the location (if it was nice out, we could walk and not break a sweat it’s so close).

It was the fact that despite being a mother in my 30s, the minute the instructor called “find your partner,” I was certain that I had been transported back to Grade 9 gym: self-conscious about my body. Petrified not being able to do enough push ups. Always being the last one picked. The only difference was having Charlie with me.

Turns out that “only” is a major game changer. I’m less aware of the jiggle in my thighs when doing fast feet when I have to also be making faces to entertain her. I’m more motivated to push myself through one more push up so she can see that the most important thing is to try (ok – I have also used her “dirty diaper” as an excuse once to skip out on a round when I know I’m going to fail). And not having any friends is ok, because she is always there to talk to.

I’ve got a reminder programmed in my phone for the morning registration starts for the next mom & baby session at the library so we won’t be disappointed again. But honestly? We might try to do both. Sure, we’re not as comfortable in the community centre gym as a basement of a library, but sometimes it’s not just enough to do a push up. It’s not just enough to push a stroller. Sometimes, you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

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In Defence of Food, Or Learning What I Already Know

Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food was somewhat revolutionary when it first came out in 2008, but thanks to the glory that is the internet, his ideas spread quickly. When I finally got around to reading it in 2015, there wasn’t much that seemed earth shattering about eating. I mean, processed foods are bad. Knowing what is in your food is good. Growing it is better.

Nonetheless, reading In Defence of Food is a good refresher for even the cleanest eating of folk. Pollan takes you through the the disservice the FDA and “advancements” that nutritionism has made to our daily diet, debunking fad diets (low fat, low carb, etc) before asserting his three simple, and oft quoted rules:

Eat food.

Not to much.

Mostly plants.

This brilliantly simple premise might explain why it is so easy to work through this 256 page work (just over half the length of his also popular Omnivore’s Dilemma). While referencing scientific and anthropological studies, Pollan relies on a good deal of common sense to persuade you that food should be natural. Tips like sticking to the outer fringes of grocery stores, questioning whether a your great-grandmother would recognize something as “food” and consciously eating are posited to lead to better health.

Admittedly, I started the book with a degree of skepticism. My sister swears by this book, and I’ve always found her eating habits… weird… but that seems to be catch to Pollan’s premise: it’s so simple there is a lot of room for interpretation. As I periodically go through phases where I try to refocus our meals to being cleaner and greener, it is a great book for re-motivating me to watch what I buy.

Book: In Defence of Food
Author: Michael Pollan
Rating: 3/5
Features: A reference to George Eliot’s Middlemarch which is laudable in a non-fiction health book.
Who should read: Anyone looking to find a solution in the no-fat, low-carb, nutrient-added world.

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Inspiration Monday: Anne Hathaway

I saw this picture of Anne Hathaway was on deck for Two BirdsInspiration Monday and thought: “Nope, skipping another week”. I mean, I did just tell you that I was getting rid of my chambray shirt. Plus, denim on denim? I can’t say I’m usually a fan of the Canadian Tuxedo.

But Saturday night I was getting ready for bed trying to figure out what to wear to church (which is literally the only place I go to where getting dressed it worth the effort), and decided to give denim on denim a try. While the gorgeous Anne chose to use brown as her neutral, I went with black. In retrospect I wish I would have used a colour instead of a neutral, since the darker denim of the skirt reads a little black in this picture.

IMG_3695The double denim? I don’t mind it as much as I thought… so long as the two denims are different washes.

Categories: Inspiration Monday | 2 Comments

Like Having a Whole New Wardrobe

We’re excellent at making excuses. So much so that we have a standing weekly discussion that always goes the same way. It’s Saturday night, and we’re either talking about how much we’ve accomplished thus far, or how much we have to accomplish tomorrow. Either way, the conversation eventually turns to:

“We should try to get to church tomorrow”

“Ya, we should. But (fill in excuse here)”

And we usually don’t make it. This weekend, we could have used the “We don’t like taking Charlotte out when it’s that cold” excuse. We could have used the “we haven’t done ANYTHING on that basement bathroom reno in weeks” excuse. Instead, we used the “we have a baby shower to go to in the afternoon” excuse.

But we’re getting dangerously close to Charlie being 6 months old. I had hoped that by six months, we’d be comfortable enough in our new church to baptize her. Since that’s only a month and a half away, we likely won’t make that goal, now is better than never. While even on the few weeks that we’ve recognized our excuses aren’t going to hold any weight and resolve to go, we always back-peddle the next morning. What we needed was to take our excuses and turn them into motivators.

Charlie’s schedule is going to be off anyway, so we might as well take advantage of that!

It’s one more place to show off Charlie’s cute little outfits that just don’t make sense to wear on a day-to-day basis!

And we’re going to have to get all dressed up that afternoon, anyway!

Gulp… right… WE are going to have to get dressed up anyway.

I stepped on the scale at my parents last Friday and I’m within 5-7 pounds of my old weight (I am certain their scale is wrong, but the scale I rely on is 250km away). After a trip to the jeans store and a trip to the bra store, I know where those pounds are, and logically I know I should actually be happy with it. But when I try on my old standbys and they don’t fit right, I tend to be hard on myself.

Saturday evening, when I resolved that we were going to church AND a baby shower, I took some time to find something to wear. If I was going to be stuck in it all day, I better like it. I went through old favourites and found an outfit that was passable. But since Scott was entertaining the wee one, I decided to play around a bit to see what fit and what didn’t.

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I literally had to brush the dust off this dress. It almost hit the “giveaway” box a month or two before I got pregnant. It had just never fit quite right, making me feel frumpy. But putting this same dress on my different body? I felt fabulous!

Sure, it’s still going to take some work to get used to this new body (and who knows how long this one will stick around for), especially since my old standbys are still relegated to the storage closet. But now I get to find new favourites in some long forgotten and abandoned pieces!

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