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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Surf- NEW finds

So, here's a wrap up of some great websites/blogs I discovered this week. Feel free to share your faves here, or on my Facebook page, or on Twitter.


A great post on the extinction of imaginative play by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom

While this is not a new concept, given the exhaustive list of new toys on the market every year, it is one worth constantly visiting. I think sometimes we get lost in the moment, our child wants toy A, or sees another kid with toy B, or you (as the parent) want to get them that cute little toy C. But the fact of the matter is, that all of these toys that light up, make noise, move, talk, etc. just create a world of chaos- not only for you, but for your children.

In lieu of all the distractions, create a calm, nurturing, and enriching place for your child(ren) to play. As Earthy Young Mom mentions, toys made of cloth, wood, etc. are all great choices. Forcing kids to use their own imaginations is not only a great learning experience for them, but far less distracting than all the noise/lights/instruction of the mass produced, chemical filled toys that line todays' store shelves.

Some great resources for natural toys include;

 (picture from

Hip Mountain Mama

Natural Family Supplies

and, of course, NurtureMe

(also at you can click on 'green baby' and they have some options as well)

Positive Parenting

Another fabulous recent discovery for me is the constant down to earth wisdom of Job Description: Mommy. Her recent post on Positive Parenting was great for me, because of it's quick-view way of looking at the seemingly daunting task of 'positive parenting'.

Let's be real, if you're me- you want to be a great parent, and have it all together, be a positive role model and do everything you can not to kill your kids spirit... right? But, if you're like me- you also have a toddler. THIS is where things get interesting. How do you stay positive ALL day when you have an infant screaming for attention, a toddler throwing a tantrum, the house is a disaster, the dog just barfed on the floor, and.... well, you get the picture.

Well, this is why I loved this post so much! You don't have to be perfect all the time- aim for 8 positive for every 1 negative. That's fair enough.

Something I have always strived for, is ignoring behaviors that do not threaten basic quality of life, limb, or property- aka. pick your battles. Some things are worth addressing, others just aren't.

Nurturing Touch, and maintaining a strong marriage/foundation  are things I have previously discussed on the blog, which I clearly also find important :)

Health & Family

Are you part of a CSA in your community? Not far from my family's home is Brookford Farm, which runs a seasonal CSA.

(you can check out where to find their products here, or get information on their CSA options here)

But why bring all this up now, you ask? Because of one of their latest blog posts on their Farmers-In-Schools program. How great is it, that they are teaching children not only responsibility, work ethic, and cooking- but also the underlying lessons of eating a balanced diet, consisting of healthy, nourishing, organic, and home grown food! The school even uses their 'harvests' for soup every week!

My own son has been in a preschool program where they grow a garden, and then their snacks (provided by the school) are typically vegetables grown from the garden (when available, since we live in Maine). But even his program (not a Waldorf program), provides water and fruits and vegetables- and then the lunches (provided by the parents) are not to contain nuts, processed foods like Lunchables or fruit snacks, white bread, etc. Should they contain those items, the school will provide a healthier option for your child, encouraging students, and parents- to consider healthier options, even for on-the-go families.

In summary

The theme this week clearly is about being 'natural'. Natural play, with natural products. Simplicity. Natural communication, and hence natural parenting. Go with the flow. Natural food, natural resources, and a natural healthier lifestyle.

* note: I strive to be as natural as possible. Truth be told, it is sometimes cost prohibitive. I am not claiming to be 'all natural'- we are not. I shop at WalMart, and Target... my kids have toys that light up and make noise... my children watch television, and I can't always buy organic produce. What I DO, is try to get as much simplicity in my life as possible. While sometimes strictly driven by finances, we get as many second hand items as possible (recycling), we recycle, we compost (not in the winter- again, we live in Maine), we buy as much organic when we can, we avoid processed foods whenever possible, we use cloth diapers, and we avoid filling our home with unnecessary items and clutter. 

How do you stay natural/simple on a budget?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Letter to a Ghost

Dear Ghost, 

I think about you often, even after all these years

Sometimes I think I see you, but you're never there
Sometimes I think I hear you, but that would be impossible

Do you hear me when I speak to you?
Yes, I still speak to you.
Would you listen if you could hear me?

I wonder what you would say to me, if anything.

Are you happy, where you are?

My life has changed dramatically since our paths last crossed, 
I remain a sister, and daughter, and friend
but am now too, a wife and mother and stepmom. 

the now seemingly futile things I used to complain about have become distant memories, 
while the day to day struggles of finances, child rearing, custody and housekeeping fill my days. 

Do you struggle?
Do you wonder?
What do you see, from where you are? 

Dear Ghost, 

Give me a sign, if you can hear me....

Feed with Love & Respect: Beginning the Attachment Process

Principle 2 of Attachment Parenting : Feeding with Love & Respect

"Whether a parent is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the purpose of this chapter is to help you understand how feeding your child enhances your future attachment relationship" (p68).

Feeding your child is more than just providing nourishment, it goes back to the old adage "food is love". Whether we are satiating our crying infants, or providing a meal at the family dinner table- it should be a time of love and connection.


(one of my fave pics, from the post Breastfeeding, My Daughters, and Body Image by The Leaky B@@b)

The reason breastfeeding is used as the initial attachment model, is because by sheer design, it provides the necessity of mom and baby to be close and touching. Touching creates bonding. Make sense?
Baby feels the warmth of your body, the softness of your skin, and can hear your heartbeat, similar to his/her experience in the womb. Since there are no ounces to measure, mom follows baby's cues on when s/he is hungry and when s/he is full.  (My own tip * NEVER wake a sleeping baby to eat. I find this utterly ridiculous! Barring any obvious medical condition, a "normal" baby will wake when they are hungry. Believe me.)

There are obviously nutritional and physiological benefits to both you and your baby when you breastfeed, as well as the facts that nursing is FREE, and always ready (versus needing to make a bottle) which are some added perks :)

You can breastfeed as long as at some point previously, you have passed a placenta. Use the Supplemental Nursing System to get started. 

Bottle Nursing

Yes, I said bottle-nursing. The theory? Create the same bonding experience as with breastfeeding, but with a bottle! In other words, hold the baby close to you, maintain eye contact, and read the baby's cues for when s/he is done eating, etc. Again, barring some kind of medical condition, there is no magic number of ounces your baby must eat at each feeding. S/he will let you know when they are hungry, and it will be quite clear (either by protest or by puking) that they are done :)

*My own tip: feeding schedules don't work. Baby will tell you when they need to eat and when they're done. Showing them you care about and understand their cues, lay the foundation for a strong attachment relationship later on.

*Check out my bottle recommendations at my NurtureMe Store


"A father's relationship with the baby is unique and extremely important to the child's overall development. It is important that fathers...know that they can still develop a close relationship with their baby in many ways other than feeding- such as holding or burping the baby...bathing the baby, changing a diaper, practicing infant massage, taking walks or naps together, and playfully interacting with the baby. Also, when a father nurtures the mother, he nurtures the baby" (p78).


"Feeding time is the ideal time to take a break, rest, and refuel...Just as a baby flourishes when fed by his mother, the new mother flourishes when nurtured by her partner...Mothers need frequent rest, plentiful fluids, and adequate nutrition" (p78).

The Family Table

 (Sirois family Thanksgiving 2010)

Mealtime is a time to connect, nourish, and yes, nurture :) but not just for infants cradled in our arms. The family table is a great way to connect, communicate, nourish, and nurture EVERY member of the family! Sharing wholesome, healthy meals in a calm and relatively quiet (that's right people- turn off your TV's and computers and cell phones!) environment provides for a daily strengthening of your attachment relationship.

We are just teaching our toddler how to communicate at the dinner table. We make sure to sit down to eat together every night, and now even baby A has her place at the table in her highchair, and now we are barely sitting down before our toddler starts with "so mama, how was your day? what did you do today?", etc. And we go around the table and everyone asks/answers the same questions :)

Please share how you get your family to participate in dinner discussion? Do you sit together for meals nightly/weekly/never?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nurturing the Nurturer

Just thought this was SO fitting for this blog :) Thank you to The Leaky B@@b for writing it! :)

Check out 22 Ways to Nurture the Nurturer

Fill me in on your favorite Leaky B@@b post!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Like what you see on the blog? Want to know other products we use at home? Check out the new NurtureMe Store at the bottom of the page. I'll keep adding as we go, but if you have some products to suggest, please let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What are your favorite 'green' products?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nurturing Touch: Massage & Chiropractic Therapy for Infants and Children

Day 2 in the hospital after giving birth to baby A, with cracked and bleeding and insanely sore nipples, (isn't this supposed to be easier the second time around?! Ugh!) the lactation consultant tells me I need to see an OMT to improve baby A's latch. So after settling in at home, I call the numbers they gave me for the therapists in my area, none of which take our insurance. Ugh.

So I call the lactation consultant and immediately make another appointment. Baby A is exclusively nursing, although I am incredibly sore, and she seems satiated, but she certainly does NOT have a strong latch. I have always called her "sippy Susan" :)  as she is on/off/on/off/on/off the whole time she is nursing, which could last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour! I ask the lactation consultant exactly what this appointment with the OMT would accomplish. She tells me they do some small 'manipulations' of the skull and neck, focusing on the jaw to improve the baby's ability to open their mouth wider and thus latch better.

And I immediately think, hey! My chiropractor could do that!

I call that day, and schedule baby A an appointment with my chiropractor (New England Chiropractic) - who, by the way, I completely and utterly recommend if you are anywhere near the Westbrook, Maine area!  Dr. Kelly explained to me that they see many infants for issues like colic, constipation, and latch problems like baby A's. She completed her initial consultation and explained to me that baby A had several areas in her lower back that needed adjusting, as well as her hip.

After several visits, we saw a significant difference in her behavior (she was what many would describe as "colicky") as well as an improvement in her latch and overall nursing behavior. She was sleeping more restfully, and was overall a more content baby.

Our chiropractor also discussed the benefits of massage therapy, and since it just so happens that I have an amazing aunt who is a licensed massage therapist- I was able to have her give baby A a massage and walk me through how to give them at home. When you massage your baby or child at home, pay less attention to technique (save that for the professionals), and more attention to your baby's body. It's a great time for you to "tune in" to what your baby really wants. Baby A loves the glute massage! :) She gets all giggly, and her whole body relaxes. She also enjoys when I rub her itty bitty fingers in between mine. I have also started giving massages to my toddler, who much prefers the leg massage.

"My favorite part about baby massage is the parent's face while massaging their baby. They smile the entire time. Like trying to keep your eyes open when sneezing is impossible, massaging a baby and not smiling is equally impossible. All involved reap benefits; the baby, the parent (or caregiver), and the massage therapist. Each leaves the experience with different yet equally significant good vibes. It's a wonderful thing and for the Massage Therapist, who also smiles the whole time, it's an energy boost that fills your tank for the rest of the day."

Have you taken your infant/children to a chiropractor and/or massage therapist? What was your experience like?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Semi Day-in-the-Life of Me & My kidzzzz :)

Wow, so like anyone else, sometimes you take a minute to look around and are like, HOW is this happening?! So, in being at a loss for words, I thought I would share some of my week thus far (and yes, it's only Tuesday) through pictures..

So first, our rotting bananas were re born into this delicious banana bread, recipe compliments of one of my besties, Christina :)  Cream 1 stick of cultured butter, 3 bananas, 2 eggs, and 1 cup sugar. In another bowl, mix 2 cups wheat flour, 1 tspn baking powder, and 1/2 tspn baking soda. Mix together wet & dry ingredients. Add nuts or chocolate/carob chips if desired. Bake at 350 for 45- 60 minutes. Enjoy!

My toddler came home from school with these "Valentines" for my husband and I that he made at school. So cute, even though my toddler then ate them both :)

This morning, around 11:30am I think it was, as I was attempting to get some dishes done and take a shower, I took stock of our home, and had to just laugh. THIS is what I was looking at:

a kitchen covered in chalk and action figures.... and a random plate....

a living room in complete disarray....

yes, even with memory cards ALL over the floor... sigh.... (all while the toddler is playing with the chalk in the kitchen lol)

play area= destruction zone # 3... double ugh....

.... bed unmade, and changing table .... well, UGH.... :)

now enter toddler wanting some juice, complete with bringing me his cup ....

Last but not least, remainder of morning spent washing cloth diapers...

....and feeding the toddler, who YES is still in his jammies... lunch :)

So ladies & gentlemen, the moral of this story, is that it does not matter if your kids (or you for that matter) stay in your jammies all day, or if your house is in a state of complete and utter chaos.

What matters to me, is today, I spent the majority of the day being Batman, and Lightning McQueen, and the Lion King, and a baby rocker, and baby feeder, and toddler hugger, and movie buddy, and yoga partner, and cook, and maid, and mommy, and wifey, and babysitter! But all in all, a wonderfully productive (albeit exhausting) day :)

One of my faves from kellymom:

What Did I Do Today?

What did I do today?
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before,
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall,
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on those window panes,
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today? 

I nursed a baby till he slept,
I held a toddler while she wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that' s true.
Unless you think that what I've done,
Might be important to someone,
With bright brown eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true...I've done my share. 

-Author Unknown

Prepare yourself for Pregnancy, Birth & Parenting.

Principle #1 of Attachment Parenting - What Every Parent Needs to Know

As promised, I will be delving into each principle of attachment parenting for the next eight weeks. First up, preparing for pregnancy and birth. So you first pee on that stick, two lines or a plus sign come up and then what?!

Let's assume you have the fantasy situation of just telling your hubby and your both elated! You immediately run to the store and pick up your very own copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and read up on all the exciting (and not so exciting) things that await you during your pregnancy. Oh, was that just me? :)

First, prepare your body (p35).

Eating whole, nutritious, and nourishing foods... consuming plenty of water... and exercising are the best way to ensure your body is ready for this 9 month marathon it is about to endure. 

Then, prepare your mind (p36).

With pregnancy comes a lot of hormones, and you want to make sure you have a positive frame of mind. If there is a partner/spouse involved, make sure to strengthen your connection by nurturing and nourishing that relationship just as you are your new body! Regardless of partner involvement, take this time to also strengthen connections with your support group/your lifeline/your "village"- this can be family members, friends, neighbors, community members, God... any and all of the above! It DOES take a village to raise a child. Spending time doing activities like yoga, meditation, or prayer are also great ways to nourish your mind and your body!

Preparing for Birth (p38)

Since I was a planned C section (due to a pre existing medical condition), I didn't give much thought the first time around to my "birth plan". I'm having a C section, no birth plan required, right? WRONG.

In lieu of exhausting you with all the things that went horribly wrong with my first birth experience, I will just tell you FROM EXPERIENCE that it is worth creating a birth plan, regardless of how you actually plan to give birth! C section, natural, at home, in hospital, with meds, without meds, VBAC... doesn't matter. Take the time to think about what you want your baby's first experience to be like. 

Consider your baby's current environment; warm, nurturing, quiet, and tranquil. Use this frame of reference when looking at hospitals or other birthing centers. Are they welcoming? Are they quiet and warm? Do the caregivers/nurses seems nurturing? (if you're anything like me, you'll also make sure they have a full NICU) Or you may also opt for a home birth.

Look into doulas, lactation consultants, midwives ... research hospital options for tub-birthing, versus use of stirrups, and rooming-in versus use of a nursery... and consider do you want to breastfeed or bottle feed? If you decide to breastfeed, how soon does your hospital allow the baby to go to breast? Ask if your hospital is a CIMS Mothering Friendly Hospital .

(@ hosp ready to deliver baby A )

It all seems a bit overwhelming, but it will make for a much calmer birthing experience if you go in educated and with an idea on how you would like things to go for you and your baby. Doesn't mean it will always go according to plan :) , but by ensuring your body and mind are up to par, and you have educated yourself on the various options, you will feel better equipped to handle whatever may come your way.

(she's here!)

Breastfeed or Bottle Feed? (p42)

I will preface this section by saying that this is not a place for guilt, debate, or shame. It is up to YOU what YOU do with YOUR baby.

If you decide to bottle feed- stock up as early as you can, formula is expensive! Look for coupons, and start your stash early! :) You CAN be an attached parent and bottle feed! We'll talk more about this next week, (principle #2- feeding with love and respect), but API simply recommends bottle nursing

In other words, HOLD your baby and rock them, maintain eye contact, hum or chat, etc while feeding versus bottle propping to create a strong bond- similar to what would happen if you were nursing your baby. Again, we will revisit this topic in more detail next week.

If you decide to breastfeed- check out UNICEF's 10 steps for successful breastfeeding. Make sure you have lined up a visit from a certified lactation consultant or doula within the first 24 hours after birth whether you are giving birth in a hospital or at home. It is not always easy- but it is SO worth it!

Support Groups

Even before you give birth, it's a great idea to locate support groups in your area. And you don't have to be a first time parent to need a support group;

" In today's world of extended families that live too far away to give the day to day support, knowledge, and care that existed in past generations, it is critically important for parents to create this support system for their family. API support groups are one way for new mothers and fathers to create friendships and community" (p59).

Virtual support groups like The Leaky Boob, Mama Eve, and Mothering are also available! Support can help us deal with things from vaccination decisions, to postpartum depression!

SHARE with me how you prepared for your pregnancy?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


HOW is it that I have not discovered this until now?! I have no idea. But ladies and gentleman, you can SWAP your kids clothes at your local Children's Orchard. Since we've had our latest addition, we have received countless outfits for baby A; some much needed hand me downs, and other new outfits from well meaning family members.

In our efforts to live a simpler, greener life- my husband and I began to look around at the seemingly endless stash of kid clothing around our home and realized it was time to donate. As I asked around to a few friends with children that might fit into the boy toddler and infant girl clothing we had to offer (much of it still with the tags on them), one of my besties told me about this store, The Children's Orchard, and essentially consign your clothing. Ummmm, YES! Count me in! So, I immediately called and set up an appointment to have them check out the clothes we had to offer. We had 3 trash bags full. Yes, 3 trash bags FULL of toddler boys and infant girl clothing that was either the wrong size, grown out of, or just not our style. DOWNSIZE people!

So when you make an appointment to sell your clothes, it takes about 40 minutes (depending on the amount of clothing you have them to go through). They request that the clothes are laundered and folded and in good condition. Anything they don't give you a credit for, they will donate for you to your local Goodwill, so it's a win/win.  You can get cash or a store credit - you'll get slightly more "money" for your offerings if you opt for the store credit.

So for 3 trash bags of clothes that were just filling my home with unnecessary clutter, I received a store credit of $32.50. The remaining items would be donated to Goodwill without me having to make an additional trip anywhere, and with my store credit, I immediately purchased 4 sundresses for baby A, a tanktop for baby A, and two shorts for my toddler all for.....drum roll please...... $3.43!!You heard right! My 2 kiddos are now SET for summer for less than $5!!

Not looking for clothes? It is ok, The Children's Orchard also offers children's toys, books, shoes, and miscellaneous baby gear (like strollers, swings, slings, etc.). Every store differs of course, based on donations.

If you're near Portsmouth NH- next Saturday is their Fill-A-Bag Sale! You get a bag, about the size of a paper grocery bag, and you can FILL it for $5.00. You know where to find me next Saturday! 

My next goal? Find a similar option for my husbands endless supply of brand name jeans and shoes :) Shhhhh :)

Tell me where you find the greatest deals! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Mixed Bag for a Tired Mind :)

As I sit here with all the "ideas" I have for various upcoming blogs, and wondering which one to start with... the pressing issues swirling around my brain are those of inspiration and motivation. As a family we have so much going on right now, and so I thought- doesn't everyone feel the same way? This is clearly a relateable topic, and warrants sharing :)

I need to get motivated. I need to lose weight. (I know, I know... 9 months on, 9 months off... but that means I only have 3 more months! ) Inherently, I need to get motivated to eat better and exercise, and I need to walk the dog. Ugh...

I'm also starting work again next week- this means I need to get my $*&! together enough to get out of the house early, get the kids to school (daycare), and get my @$$ to work! As with any working mom, this does not mean that my household duties suddenly cease. I need to make sure I remain motivated and organized enough to keep up with the laundry, the cleaning, the dog, the groceries, etc. so that my husband can continue to work his two jobs and actually have something to eat and some clean work clothes! Wow!

I have been home with my kids for almost 7 months, a first for my toddler since I have always had to work to support us, and now baby A will have her first run at spending time during the day with someone other than me. As with any mom, this is bittersweet. 

Please share your comments on how you keep it all together!

Everyone has someone or something that inspires them. For me, it's several people really. I have an amazing sister and brother who are far better at following their dreams than I. My sister, Michelle Collins, is a food blogger and freelance writer extraordinaire and my brother, Tim Collins, is the lead singer for the band The Sea Captains.

I also have a bestie who is one of the best parents I know, and I strive to be as amazing a mother as she is, though I'm not sure I'll ever quite make it :) But most of all, it is my husband.

I know, sappy right? But let's be honest. I am not the greatest at relationships. Post divorce, and then break up with horrendous custody battle under my belt, who am I to think I could get this one right? Somehow I did. 

And I get it, everyone says this about their own husband, but he is truly my best friend. Clearly what is needed in a marriage. Additionally, call it age... call it maturity... call it sick of the bull$&*!.. but we're both completely and utterly aware that a marriage requires work, nourishment, and nurturing.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Committed, describes marriage at one point in her book as "...still negotiating, still recalibrating, still working after all these years to find the correct distance between autonomy and cooperation- seeking a subtle and elusive balance that will somehow keep this strange plot of intimacy growing. They compromise a lot in the process, sometimes compromising away precious time and energy that they might have preferred to spend doing different things, separate things, if only the other person wasn't in the way..." She goes on to describe though how it is that experience, that finding balance, accompanied by the daily numbness and mindlessness that comes with cohabitation, that is what MAKES you.

Sound boring? It shouldn't be. And that 'honeymoon phase' everyone always talks about? It shouldn't EVER end!! Yes, there will be days where it gets overcast by cranky kids, or finances, or family baggage.. but in my world, everyday starts and ends with a kiss. Everyday starts and ends with the seemingly mundane, but all important 'have a great day'/ 'how was your day'. We connect. Everyday. 

 It is this dance of balance and compromise, mixed with the nourishment of intimacy (and get your mind out of the gutter people! :)  this can be as simple as making a date to cuddle on the couch and watch television while the kids are asleep), mixed with open communication and daily nurturing that makes the recipe for our 'perfect' marriage. 

His efforts for our family inspire me! His efforts encourage me to be my best for our family.

Since I'm sure this is enough sap for your Thursday night :) , fill me in on how you support/nurture/nourish your marriage or relationship?

Monday, February 7, 2011

My eco-change of the week!!

Here's my quick tip of the week for making your home a little more Green :)

So in our home, we are huge fans of Seventh Generation products. Over the past two years, we have switched our dish soap, disinfecting wipes, disposable diapers, baby wipes, all purpose cleaner, and laundry detergent to the Seventh Generation brand. Since we are always on a budget, we have switched slowly and go with the plan of just picking up one thing at a time, because let's face it- they're not the cheapest on the market! But we are committed to creating a greener home.

I have found $1.00 OFF coupons online and in the newspaper (see below), and most recently made the switch to the Seventh Generation dryer sheets. Check out what Seventh Generation had to say about them today (looks like I changed at a good time)!

 A Different Kind of Dryer Sheet

coupons available at:

And with my $1.00 OFF coupon and FREE Green shipping, I got all my Seventh Generation products for a great price from 

Did you switch to a greener product this week?

To avoid dryer sheets all together if you'd rather,  check out PVC Free dryer balls .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl SAVE!

Ok, so I wanted to post this earlier, but baby A required being rocked to sleep tonight, and since the days come all too fast where they don't want to be rocked anymore, I relished in the opportunity :)

But due to that, pics will be posted tomorrow! But my saves of the day are as follows;

Game day breakfast (aka our every-sunday-morning-breakfast) :

wheat toast
bacon or chicken sausage
fruit/ veggies if we're doing omelettes

Since we always have Nutella on hand since my toddler eats it on toast daily (he calls it "chocolate spread"), and we use whatever fruits/veggies we already have, total cost ends up being approx $8.00! 

This $8.00 serves a family of 5 AND we have leftovers! For us, since we participate in our state WIC program, we actually get the eggs and bread for FREE, so our meal ends up just being the cost of the bacon or chicken sausage. To find out if your eligible for your state WIC program, which helps with nutritious family food choices as well as breastfeeding support, contact your state Department of Health and Human Services.

And all week long, never underestimate the cost savings and nutrition of toast for breakfast! Whether you purchase an organic variety, or make your own bread, or buy the store brand wheat bread (usually the cheapest)- it is far more cost effective (and usually more nutritious) to eat wheat toast, versus the leading bagel or waffle! And adding something like Nutella or Tahini paste, are great ways to add some variety that will please all the members of your family!

Game Food SAVE : 

slow cooker pulled pork with homemade bbq sauce and beer :)

* So, I purchased a pork shoulder at my local Hannaford for $3.41
* placed it in my slow cooker with olive oil, 2 medium white onions coarsely chopped, salt & pepper, and some additional seasonings (you can use whatever you have in your pantry- I chose paprika, cumin, and minced ginger)
* set the slow cooker on HIGH for 4 hours
* I then drained the liquid, and shredded the pork.
You want to then add 2 cups of bbq sauce (or 16 ounces if you're using pre-made bbq sauce) to the slow cooker. My husband made our bbq sauce using about 1/4 cup of Sweet Baby Rays Original Recipe Barbeque Sauce, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup ketchup (we use the Hannaford Organic variety), approx 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 2 tbspn spicy brown mustard, and garlic and celery salt to taste.
* Once your bbq sauce is in the slow cooker, return the shredded pork and onions back in as well. Keep the setting on HIGH for about 2 more hours.

We served ours over leftover Honey Cornbread from last night. All we did was cut up the corn bread and toast it with butter in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10- 15 minutes. YUM! Total cost, since we used only what we already had in our fridge and pantry to make the bbq sauce, approx $5.00! That would include the cornbread, which we actually purchased for last nights dinner!

Additional benefit of this delicious $5.00 meal?! It served 2 adults and 2 children AND we have leftovers! Oh, I almost forgot, since it was game-day, we also splurged on beer to accompany our delish meal! I have recently discovered that a microbrew snob like myself, can be won over for purposes of finances, for a light and delicious Heineken Light! Best part ? A 12 pack is only around $12.00, versus the $16-18 microbrews in our area. SCORE :)

I hope you all scored with your game day snacks or meals too! Be sure to let me know what YOU were eating today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attached at the Heart- A Parent's Call to Arms

Humans are born with only 25% of the brain development they will grow to have in adulthood, unlike other mammals who would clearly succoumb to natural selection if they weren't fully developed at birth! Even chimpanzees, our closest genetic relative, are born with 75% of their ultimate brain function.

Some call it the 4th trimester of pregnancy, other's call it post pardum. So while it's based on science, it's also common sense. Think about it! One day you're nice and cozy warm, listening to moms heartbeat, being swished around all day and lulled to sleep...then the next, your placed in a dark, quiet room all alone, and expected to sleep soundly! It doesn't make any sense!

"...their brains are adapting to their experiences (hardwiring), internalizing what their parents have modeled for them, making it more difficult to change as they grow older" (p17). We all know and understand, I would hope, that we influence our children as they grow. But it was not quite so clear to me the first time around THEIR experience and transition- I was too consumed with day to day survival :) Wearing your baby in a sling or wrap or carrier- provides them with the warmth, and similar sounds (heartbeat), and feelings (swishing with your movements) that they're used to in utero. Babies are calmer and more relaxed, and as I mentioned in I am an Attached Parent, are you? , you also end up with two free hands! As babies get older, like baby A who is now 6 months, they also learn more. I can talk with her as I'm doing dishes or laundry and she is at face level. She sees everything almost as I see it and I can talk to her about what I'm doing. Does she care? No, half the time I look at her in the mirror after and she is sound asleep! But her brain is absorbing something! And it HAS to be more interesting than being placed in her crib or on the floor during the stretches of time during the day where I am required to function as a housewife. 

As you can see, as your baby grows, there are a variety of ways to wear your baby. These are all using the Moby wrap  , but there are a variety of options available. Not sure which one to use? Sites like PAX Baby allow you to RENT different types of carriers for CHEAP money so you can figure out which one works best for you and your baby. You can also check within your own community for sling exchanges and how-to classes through your local hospital or community center.  Parent support groups are also a great way to discuss/ learn about/ and experience babywearing!

Another facet of this whole 4th trimester is sleeping. From the womb to a lonely crib? Eek! Bassinets and co sleepers are not just for ease of night time feedings- they are, to me, essential to getting a better night sleep! Now, per my usual behavior, I let my babies tell me when they were ready to cease our co sleeping arrangement. My son outgrew his bassinet at about 4 months, and happily transitioned to his crib at that time. My daughter, about the same time, but she insisted on being swaddled :) Myself, that was a good time for both babies too- because I cherish those few moments when you first go to bed with your husband/spouse/partner. Especially in those early months and years :) They are vital for nourishing your own relationship!

Other families co sleep for far longer, which can be a tremendous bonding experience for the whole family. Since I can't speak from experience, I won't discuss that here. But to learn more, you can check out more family bed information via Google, Attachment Parenting International (API), or Mothering magazine.

 This book, which describes all 8 Principles of Attachment Parenting in detail, and which we will delve into in the weeks to come, explicity states that it is not a manual on how to parent. It is, however, a guide on allowing parents to go with their gut. Using your instincts, and listening to what your children are telling you will not spoil them. It will teach them they can rely on you, and it will teach them how to form relationships with others. Be the result you want to see in your kids.

"Our children are living examples of what it means to fully embrace life with joy, passion, enthusiasm by living in the moment and filling wonder in everything. The love, empathy, and affection our children learn from us and others in their lives will carry on into their adult relationships and with their children. Our children can be our greatest teachers in life if we allow it - they will challenge us in ways we never believed possible, and as a result, we will become better human beings and parents" (p296).

Want to read this book but not spend money? Check your local library! If they don't have it, ask about an inter library loan.

What are some attachment parenting ideals you can relate to and why? or why not?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Compilation of my favorite must-reads!

What do I do during the few moments during the day that my kid(s) are actually sleeping or quiet? You guessed it, I read parenting articles! After all, we're all trying to become better parents/people, right? :)

Anyways, I wanted to catalog the following not only for my own re reading pleasure, but so that hopefully you will find them as insightful or as helpful as I did. Enjoy!

A Letter from a Sleep Training Baby by Alternative Mama
This article, which I tagged in my post I am an Attached Parent. Are you?, made me cry. And not just because I am a sap, but because I have been there. I've had that stomach knot of questioning whether letting my baby cry was the right thing to do, or was I going to spoil him? My first-time-mom-naivete won out over my better judgment once, but never again.

To My Nursling by the Leaky B@@b
Just reminded me that although there are challenges, as I had with both my children, it is worth it. Whether you nurse for a day, a week, a year or more! It was worth it. The bond is what it's all about. 

Making Baby Wipes by EarthMamaAngelBaby
A FUN idea! I made some using washcloths for a recent babyshower and they came out great! Also, I never have to worry about running out of wipes!

Parent Better After Divorce
I read an excerpt of this in my last copy of Mothering Magazine and loved it! My son's father and I were never married, but nonetheless it struck a chord. One of my biggest fears has always been that since I don't have my son all the time- I wouldn't be an effective parent- but it's nice to re read this now and again when I need to re build my confidence!

Time to Heal: A Look at Post Pardum Recovery by The Leaky B@@b
I've had 2 C Sections. With my first, I was back to work FT at 4 weeks post pardum. With my second, I was also raising a toddler. I've experienced post pardum depression twice. I WISH I had read this article six months ago. I was better at resting this time than with my first, but not enough. I, like many, felt I had to be supermom. In some ways, I can't wait to have another just to be able to really enjoy it and truly savor the moments. 

As I find them, I will continue to post my faves on Facebook and here on the blog. Please share your faves too!

Do you have a favorite blog? Mommy or otherwise?? :) 

I am an attached parent. Are you?

Parenting is hard. It is the epitome of extreme on the job training, and yet our most rewarding career. With the constant presence of social media outlets, I see other moms who seem to be able to balance it all! Facebook posts about moms groups and brunches and yoga, and blogs filled with contradictory information about what makes a good parent. HOW do they do it? and what information is accurate?

The truth is, it doesn't matter. None of it matters. If the mom down the street is able to fill her calendar with activities and you are barely able to shower- you're still a good mom. If you have to work full time to support your family, or if you're home with your kid(s), or if you have shared custody- you're still a good mom. I am a good mom.

Believe it or not, it has taken me a long time to get here.  I have always had an inclination towards, what I would call, child-led parenting. To me, this meant- follow my child's lead. I have never believed in waking up a sleeping baby to feed them, or letting a child cry until they go to sleep, etc. You certainly don't come home from the hospital with an instruction manual, so I figured- they'll let me know what they need.

When my son was born 3 and 1/2 years ago, I was a typical first time mom, I had NO idea what to do with this little being they sent me home with- but I was going to do my best. And that's what I reminded, and continue to remind myself, of everyday. Everyone has an opinion on EVERY facet of parenting- and they ALL feel the need to inundate you with them. So I took everyone's advice- and did my best.

Inevitably, I learned from some mistakes, and when my daughter was born 6 months ago, I was a bit more confident and prepared. I would never, EVER let her cry in her crib until she fell asleep. I made that mistake ONE night with my son - torture by the way- based on "advice" from family members who said I would spoil him if I kept going to him in the middle of the night. He was about 8 months old. I will NEVER do that again. Ever. (If you're not so sure, read A Letter from a Sleep Trained Baby)

I would nurse more. I had difficulty nursing the first time around and was made to feel terrible for it- I would not let myself live like that this time. I would take whatever came naturally. Thankfully, nursing was easier (I did not say easy) this time around :)

But aside from those things- I planned to do a lot of my parenting the same. My son has turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself :) and so I felt a could apply the same principles to my daughter.

This time around, I also had some more time. My daughter was, needy to say the least (what others would describe as 'colicky'), so I was unable to return to work as I had planned. I needed to do some research. What was I doing wrong? We were co sleeping, I was nursing her, I was holding her, I was rocking her, I was loving her- so why was she crying all the time?

In my research I came upon something amazing... there is actually a name for what I was doing... my 'child led parenting' was actually called Attachment Parenting! And there were pieces I was missing out on! Like babywearing , and swaddling!  Other cultures wear their babies all the time, nurse on command, and live with other family members (it DOES take a village to raise a child). North America? not so much. The ONLY culture that experiences colic? Ours. Hmmmm....

With a toddler at home I knew I would have to make some concessions, it certainly would not be feasible for me to nurse on command all day, but I did immediately purchase a Moby wrap and start wearing my baby whenever she was not sleeping or nursing. I invested in several more Born Free pacifiers , and a package of Aden & Anais swaddling blankets. I also consulted with my doctor, and after having done a dairy-free trial as well as eliminating the possibility of acid reflux, started using all my new parenting ammo :) 

What do babies need? Well, first thing: every baby is different. What works for one baby is not necessarily going to work for another. My two children are polar opposites. That being said, there are some basic principles that truly work! Fussy baby? Swaddle it. Baby A cried at first, but by the time I laid her down that first time (at 6 weeks old mind you), she was silent. She just turned 6 months and this is only her 2nd day going to bed unswaddled. And yes, I let HER tell me when she was ready :)  Babies like to suckle. Don't have time to nurse on command? Get a paci. They will not go to college with it, their baby teeth fall out, and it will not impede their language acquisition or speech if you use it for it's intended purpose and not as a crutch. And wear your baby. Skin to skin contact, also known as kangaroo care , is essential for every baby (particularly preemie's). The best benefit? You have 2 free hands!! I could suddenly do laundry, dishes, cook dinner, walk to the store, and take my toddler to the park without having a wailing baby in my arms. It was incredible! I could do a whole post on babywearing... actually, I just might :) , there are more options than just the Moby wrap- the Moby just happens to be my favorite! But I am also itching to get a Boba- so regardless which system you choose, science has proven that babies who are worn on a regular basis are smarter, calmer, and are healthier physiologically than those carried in a car seat. Plus, it is SO much easier than lugging around a carseat!

Science or not, within 3 days, we saw a world of difference in Baby A! I then made a commitment to myself and to my kids to start making the specific principles of Attachment Parenting part of our daily life. Nurturing touch, positive reinforcement, compassion and consistency were all things that were already part of my parenting style, but now I had some concrete guidelines... like an instruction manual! WHY do they not send you home with this??!

So now that you know how we got here, tomorrow I will be doing a book review of Attached at the Heart by API co founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker. Every week for the next 8 weeks you will find a new post on each principle of attachment parenting, and how I have applied to my own life! Let me just end this today by making one thing clear- I am not the BEST parent. And I am, by no means, about to start telling others how they need to parent. I find these work for my family, and hope that others might find some solace in these ideas!

So, know a new mom? Or are you a mom who just wants to get caught up on your reading?? :) Your child-instruction-manual-must-haves are as follows;

Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp (also avail as an ebook- THINK environment! and it's cheaper :) )

Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson & Lysa Parker (see link above)

Mothering Magazine (digital subscriptions are only $4.95 AND are better for the environment!)

What were your new-mommy must haves??