Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Resolution Update Day 20

So I made a resolution on 1/11/11 to practice Yan Xin Qigong (a sitting meditation and life practice) every day for the rest of the year.

And ten days ago, I reported that I'd missed a few days, but was persisting on . . .

In that post I said that the most important thing about a life change was to keep trying--and I am. I am happy to say that I've practiced every day for the last three days, and I'm feeling good.

Here's a few things I notice about what happens when I practice more:

-I am more: energetic, focused, and productive
-I write more: In my blog, in my journal, in my head ;-)
-I am less tired
-My mind doesn't linger on negative things as much
-I feel better about who I am
-I find more pleasure in simple tasks
-I am less hungry and lose weight more easily

So of course, all these things are so great and motivate me to continue on with my resolution. In 12 more days I will have reached my goal of one month of practice--not with every day intact, but with my intention and resolve intact. I am finding that this is the most critical thing.

Someone said once that the path to enlightenment is like swimming against a current. You just have to persist. It is going to be difficult and when you stop swimming you will float backwards and maybe lose some ground. But the muscles you built will never be lost, which means you will be continually more successful in your quest up the stream.

And so I persist.

In Which I hide my Anxiety Behind a Facade of Carefree

James was 10 weeks on Friday. This felt like a victory to me, because weeks 8-10 is the peak time for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

I feel like since I got pregnant I've been anticipating disaster--maybe it's an infertility thing--after taking three years to get pregnant, and suffering repeated early pregnancy loss (something like 7 chemical pregnancies and 1 miscarriage), it's just so hard to believe this is really it. And you'd think I'd have gotten over it when:

-I hit the first trimester (13 weeks gestation), or
-When I passed viability (24 weeks gestation), or
-When James was full-term (37 weeks gestation), or, say
-When he was born

And it's true that each of these milestones brought relief, but then I was just worried about:

-Late term miscarriage, or
-Premature birth, or
-Stillbirth, and, now,
-SIDS

In fact, I still feel like I am guarding my heart, trying not to get too attached (though I obviously am, anyway). I am still thinking that something could go wrong, and I want to be prepared for it.

Sometimes I feel like I can't picture him being 3 or 5 or something and I wonder if that means something--even though other times, I do picture him being older . . .

I was starting to feel a bit more confident that "this was really it" when James was around a month old--we had made it through the birth and he seemed to get more lively and personable every day. But my fear was reignited when we heard at my Midwife's Christmas party that one of her clients had "lost" her baby at 3 months old. I don't know if it was SIDS, I couldn't ask--it was obviously very painful for my midwife. But it was still so so awful to think about.

So of course in order to make myself feel better, I researched.

For back-sleepers (or since the Back to Sleep initiative got good hold), the incidence of SIDS is about 1/2000. And there are many things one can do to further reduce the risk: Not smoke, breastfeed, maintain a safe sleeping environment (firm mattress, no pillows or blankets), sleeping in the same room as the baby, etc.

SIDS peaks between weeks 8-10, and then the risk falls to zero at one year.

So it did help me to read about this--to note that statistically, it is very rare, and that I am doing everything I can to reduce the risk. Of course, when I did this research, James was about 6-7 weeks old, so I've been on pins and needles--checking him compulsively when he is sleeping in another room . . .

Sometimes in the evening when we are downstairs and James is already asleep for the night upstairs, James (the hubby) will go to check on him. My heart pounds until he returns, or better yet, calls down that he is fine. Sometimes he takes too long, and my mind jumps to scenarios--if the baby was gray and not breathing, what would James do? Would he scream? Would he yell at me to call 911? Would he grab James and shake him?

It is just awful. I'm definitely anxious by nature so I'm used to these patterns of thought, but I can tell you right now that I won't really relax until he is a year old.

It's funny, too, because in other ways I am so nonchalant. I don't have any issue with people holding him, I didn't worry about his neck when he was a bobble-head, I'm not scared of him rolling off of the couch, getting scratched, etc. But apparently I'm just spending up all my worry on the rare but awful scenarios instead . . .

Sigh.

Maybe I'm REALLY not fine at all, actually.

Wow I'm shocked that so many people were offended by the article I posted here. The only thing that bothered me, honestly, was that she had some misspellings, which I can't stand.

I thought the main point she was making was that there are risks associated with certain things--that's the bottom line.

Some of these things are totally in our control and it's really a choice--so in my opinion, I think a Mom SHOULD feel somewhat guilty for knowingly choosing something that has more risks (like spanking, for instance).

But sometimes, we don't HAVE a choice. Should my parents feel guilty because I went to public school? Definitely not! They couldn't afford to send me to private school. I'm sending my kids to public school, too, because these studies don't take into account people's values, cultures, choices . . .

Should someone feel guilty for trying their hardest to breastfeed but the baby won't latch/they have undersupply/they don't have the right support? No way!

And I definitely did not get the impression from the author that she disagreed. For instance: "But, the reality is, sometimes formula is necessary. Adoption, low or no milk supply (rare but does happen), in these instances, formula becomes the lifesaver."

The fact is, no matter how loving, caring, and devoted parents are--they can't always do "the best" thing. She, herself, admits this, when she makes the argument that epidurals can interfere with nursing, cause fetal distress, respiratory problems, etc. But, she says, "If I ever give birth again, I am going to get an epidural."

So what is she REALLY saying with that statement? She's saying that it's not simple. None of this is simple. If you think about it, a country like Switzerland has lower infant and maternal mortality, and universal healthcare--so in effect, we are "putting our child at increased risk" by NOT living in Switzerland, right? Or maybe we should move to Japan so our kid would have a better chance at a long life? Or everyone should be vegan because of the risks associated with eating meat and dairy? ;)

I found the article to be informative, fact-based, and well supported--though also OBVIOUSLY one-sided, opinionated, and biased.

Why are my kids going to public school? Because the research she posted, while true, is only one side of the story. It is important to my VALUES that my kids attend public school, get vaccinated . . . and of course there are also (different) risks to attending private school and NOT getting vaccinated.

As parents, we have to weigh the risks with the benefits for every decision we make, and it's not a complex or universal process. I like this article because she DOESN'T try to water down her point--and the risks that she talks about are real, and cause real problems for real people. When we weigh the risks against the benefits, it is easy to underestimate the "weight of" the risks because we are so afraid of hurting our children.

So I agree with her that we should always try for the best case scenario--but I don't necessarily agree with her on what that is. Why? Because I'm not her, my family isn't her family, my kid isn't her kid--and these facts are only one part of the whole story. But they are a part that we should be aware of.

As the author says in the comments: "As I've mentioned many times, my own sister's milk never really came in because my dad died a few days after her baby was born. She tried many different things to bring her milk in and it never happened. She became an expert in the effects of nutrition on her daughter as a result. I never once heard her say, "it doesn't matter." She knew it mattered, and she did something about it."

And also: "For the record, I don't think everyone should be homeschooled. I don't think everyone should give birth at home, either. There are few things in life that cut and dried."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm fine!

"I was formula fed and I'm fine."
"I rode forward facing and I'm fine."
"I was spanked and I'm fine."

Are you fine? Really?

This is an awesome article in which the author discusses the illogicality of such arguments...

Friday, January 28, 2011

BumGenius 4.0 One Size Pocket Diapers

So some of you who are friends with me on Facebook might have seen a link I posted a few weeks back about how BumGenius (BG) diapers were on sale--for NINE dollars. These diapers are usually 18 dollars, so they were half off.

Anyway, so I got three of this kind, in "bubble (light purple)", "sweet" (light blue), and "grasshopper" (light green) colors.

My report? I LOVE them! The inner lining feels dry even when the diaper stuffin is soaked, and there is a flap over the pocket in the back to keep the baby's clothes from wicking wetness off of the stuffin . . . we had been using disposables a lot at night because the cloth diapers would get too wet and would wake him up. With these diapers, we can go all night without changing him and he still "feels" dry in the mornings even when the stuffins are soaked!

I had never gotten one-size diapers before because I couldn't see how they would fit a little baby--and I don't know if these would have worked as well if we'd started using them a month ago, but mostly they fit REALLY well--James is two months old now and 12.5 pounds. They are MUCH trimmer than I thought they would be, and I think they'll continue to work well for a LONG time.

One thing I still like better about Happy Heiny's is that there are no leg casings--I think for most of the time, it's better not to have them--but they work well for overnight.

I still can't imagine spending 18 dollars apiece on diapers! But it might be worth it if you were only going to have one kid because then you could just get these and use them for the whole range (8-35 pounds supposedly)--instead of buying several sizes that you were only going to use for one kid. In reality they probably wouldn't fit until 10 pounds but that still gives you a lot of time with them.

But if you can find them used or on sale or clearance (or if you are rich and can spend unlimited amounts on diapers) I REALLY recommend them! Yay for Bumgenius One Size diapers!


P.S. No I'm not getting paid to advertise for BumGenius Diapers--I wish I were though, LOL.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Update

Sorry for lack of an update! I haven't been on the computer too much, trying to whip the house into shape for the party we're having on Feb 5th (more on that later).

I'm starting to get really excited for James to start eating food, even though it will be four more months until then, hehe. I never understood why people were so eager to start solids but now I realize it's pretty fun to give your baby food in the beginning! At least, I imagine it will be considering how excited I am to do it!

James "worked from home" today but he's really bad at it. We got another 15 inches of snow last night, so he was snow-blowing the driveway from like nine until noon--then he changed and rested and ate--and then he finally got down to work about 2 and only worked until like 5 . . . I wish he was able to focus better when he was here, I really like having him here, but I know he won't "work from home" very often when he can't actually get a lot of work done! :-/

Anyway, then we went and washed a bunch of big stuff at the laundromat--quilts, comforters, mattress pads, couch covers, etc--and then we went food shopping while our stuff washed, and then we got pizza next door to the laundromat while everything dried. It was fun--James said it was like being on a date (only with a baby there, hehe).

Dum dum dum dum

Friday, January 21, 2011

Resolution Day 7 Update (on Day 10)

So on 1/11/11, I made a resolution to practice Yan Xin Qigong every day for the rest of the year and I'm here to update on my progress.

Weeelllll, I've missed some days. Like day 4, 6, 8 and 9 . . . But I did practice this morning.

And in my experience with trying to start a new habit or make any change to your life, is that you will miss and mess up some days. The most important thing is not to get bogged down by the days you forget, but just forge ahead and just continue to try to do your best every day.

This is how I succeeded (and have continued to succeed) in keeping a journal. When I was in middle school, I tried many times to keep a journal, but I would forget to write, then get mad at myself and "give up." The turning point with this whole journal-keeping business is when I decided that the days I DIDN'T write didn't matter, only the days I DID write mattered. And I decided that I would keep this notebook and write in it when I wanted to write, even if it had been months since the last time, and that I wouldn't "give up" or get discouraged no matter how long it had been since I wrote. And it worked, and I filled that notebook right up and I've been writing ever since--sometimes with long breaks (like my first two years of college were a big ole blank)--but it doesn't matter.

The conclusion is that with any life change (diet, exercise, any new habit that you are trying to form or any old habit that you are trying to break), the biggest thing is not to give up, but to keep trying. So that's my update for today. Forge ahead in 2011.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Months Old

Today is January 19th, meaning that James David is two months old today!


We had his two month appointment today. At birth, he was 8 lbs 7 ozs, and 23 inches long. At one week he was 7 lbs 12 ozs (it is normal for them to lose weight at first). Today, at two months, he was 12 lbs, 6 ozs, and 25 inches long! He is in the 60th percentile for weight but the 99th percentile for length/height.



He also got two shots today--Pneumococcal and Hib, to prevent meningitis and influenza type B, both of which are life-threatening and common diseases for infants. He was supposed to get another shot that was like 5 more vaccines, but we want to space them out, so we only got two today. (Our whole vaccine stance could probably be it's own post, so I'm not going to go into that now).

All in all, James David is a healthy and growing boy! We go back in two more months, I can't wait to see how big he is then!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

James Being A Smiley Boy

James will be two months old tomorrow. Here's a video I took of him today where he is being so smiley!!

video

Breastfeeding and Sleeping Through the Night

So, when you are breastfeeding, having your baby sleep through the night is a double edged sword . . .

James fell asleep last night around 9:30, after eating at maybe 9 or so . . .

I woke up at 5:15 am to a dark, quiet, room and a silent, deeply asleep baby.

"Wow," I thought, "this is some serious sleeping through the night!"

And about two minutes later my boob exploded all over the sheets. :-/

So I got up to pump--I usually do about one or two pumping sessions a day, and one of them is usually after James' long stretch of sleep. He eats one boob and I pump the other one. Since he had slept so long, I figured I would pump before he ate, instead of after.

And I pumped SIX ounces out of ONE breast!! The normal amount to be able to pump is about .5-2 ounces out of BOTH breasts, so six out of one is pretty ridiculous.

We knew that I had oversupply issues, which I spent several weeks trying to correct by block feeding (one side only for several hours before switching to the next side). It worked and my supply regulated about six weeks post-partum, and James started to want both sides at each feeding. However, it was only about 5 days or a week of this, and my supply went right back up.

Ah well.

After I had pumped these six ounces out of one breast, James-the-husband came downstairs with a screaming James-the-baby, who promptly emptied the other breast for me.

Anyway, it's funny when you are breastfeeding because even if the baby sleeps through the night, you can't really because you get seriously engorged! I suppose as he gets older, I might be less likely to get engorged--maybe?--I hope. But it makes sense--to go eight hours without feeding him when normally he eats every two is a big change-up for the breasts. ;-)

But still? Woohoo for sleeping through the night!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Top Mommy Blogs

So I joined the Top Mommy Blogs site yesterday--thanks to Kris at Pretty All True for the inspiration . . . I'm no competition for her, but if you like my blog and would like to vote for me, please scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link there. Alternatively, if you read Kris' blog and would like to vote for her, you could do that, too. She is ridiculously hilarious!!

You can click to vote for either of us every day.

Birth is Awesome, People!

Over the weekend, we had a family party for my Aunt's birthday, and I was reminiscing with my cousin, whose girlfriend is pregnant, about James' birth.

While I was talking about it with him I was hit unexpectedly with a sense of nostalgia . . . though the last month of pregnancy is freaking torture, one thing that is fun (admittedly, in a torturous way) is not knowing when you will suddenly go into labor. I can't imagine having a scheduled Cesarean section or induction and having that anticipation taken away. It's like a surprise Christmas Morning that could strike at any time!

Even more, I was nostalgic for the labor and birth. My labor and birth was so fast that I am continually in disbelief that it even happened. But honestly, I miss it--labor and birth is such a special time in a woman's life. It is these fleeting moments that define you as a woman and turn you into a Mother.

There is something so special about working hard and bringing forth life--it is so exciting and thrilling--there is nothing that gives you a bigger adrenaline rush, a bigger oxytocin rush, a bigger endorphin rush--it is the ultimate experience. The contractions come and come and yes, they hurt but as the hormones start to surge, your mind steps out of your body and your body completely takes over.

Birth, more than any other experience, is evidence that we are still primal, human in a way that is deep and connected to the true source of life. In our world of information, we try to intellectualize birth--but in the end, the best training would just teach us to get our of our own way. Our bodies KNOW. They KNOW. And they DO. They DO absolutely perfectly. They grow perfect babies and they birth them with no problem.

There is something so so incredible about being a passenger on the wild ride of your labor and delivery--it's like riding a bucking bronco that has taken possession over your body. You just hold on and yet let go at the same time.

And in the end, your body just pushes out this perfect baby, and you are a mother. It is unbelievable, there is just nothing, nothing in the world like it.

My conclusion after these moments of nostalgia?

I honestly can't WAIT to give birth again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cloth Diapering 101: Newborn Diaper Stash

How many cloth diapers do you need to make it work? It depends on whether you want to EXCLUSIVELY cloth diaper, or whether you want to use disposables on occasion (at night, for naps, while going out or traveling, etc). Honestly, I planned to use exclusively cloth but we definitely use disposables sometimes--mainly my husband James will use them at night because he is tired and can't be bothered with cloth (though it's barely more work at all).

Anyway, I have found that I need more diapers than I thought I would. Generally I would say you need about a diaper an hour--so if you want to wash diapers every day, you need at least 24 diapers, and if you want to wash them every other day, 48 diapers.


Prefold Diapers

The "meat and potatoes" of any cloth diaper stash is prefold cloth diapers--these are cheap and effective. It would be hard to have enough cloth diapers using exclusively the more expensive fancy diapers unless you were rich.

We have about 42 prefold diapers:
--12 in newborn size, which we ABSOLUTELY needed for the newborn period. Almost no other diapers fit him. He outgrew them around 1 month.
--12 standard size, but extra thin--again, these fit well during the newborn time, we could fold them up enough that they really worked well. Again, these didn't work anymore after about a month because they weren't absorbent enough.
--18 regular size (12 we got new and 6 used from my sister-in-law). We started using these when he outgrew the newborn diapers and they worked really well for several weeks. In the last week or two, we are finding he is soaking through them in one pee, though, so we started adding extra padding to them with inserts.

Prefolds need to be used with a cover.

Our other cloth diapers . . .

Fitted Diapers



We have four fitted diapers. Three kissaluvs size 0, and one happy heiny brand fitted diaper--they are basically the same.

These were also perfect during the newborn period--they are trim and fit a little one perfectly. Now that he's a bit older, we've been using them under a prefold--this seems to work very well. Soon he will outgrow them altogether, though!

Fitted diapers also need to be used with a cover.


Pocket Diapers


Pocket Diapers have a pocket in the back where you add an absorbent insert. It is nice because you can tailor it to fit your baby's needs--you can add extra inserts to absorb more, and you can add doublers where you need them (in the front for a boy or in the middle for a girl). Since you take the inserts out to wash them, they also dry quickly, which is really nice.

Most of my pocket diapers are Happy Heinys sized diapers. I just think they are the cutest things ever--they come in a TON of patterns and colors. Happy Heiny also has a one-size line, but I don't have any of those.

First we have three extra small white Happy Heinys:

The solid color Happy Heinys are made with PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric), and so are totally waterproof. I like to use these at night and for naps since they hold more pee.

The extra small ones are supposed to be from 5 to 8.5 pounds, but James has a pretty small butt, so he is just growing out of them now at 11 pounds. Actually, Happy Heiny changed their small line--now it is called "Micro Minis" and they have three extra small sizes that fit from 2 pounds to 8 pounds. Probably these extra smalls that I have are about the same size as the largest Micro-Mini. They do not need a cover.

Next, five small size Happy Heiny Diapers with patterns (these are my total favorites, SO CUTE):

On the top, we have two pirate pattern diapers. On the bottom, from left to right: sea creatures, cows, and black dahlias.

The patterned Happy Heiny diapers are not TOTALLY waterproof, but they will not leak or wet through unless they are seriously soaked. They do not need a cover.


Next, two small size Happy Hempy diapers:

These are also pocket diapers, but the outside is made of a layer of hemp, so they are extremely absorbent. Therefore, I usually use these for overnight or naps. They do need a cover.

Last but not least, a size extra-small fuzzibunz brand pocket diaper:

We got this as a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law as well. It seems to work well, and it is also waterproof, so good for naps and overnight. James will be growing out of it soon as well, though.

As you can see, this diaper has snaps, as oppose to Velcro closures. I think I prefer the Velcro because I feel like you can get a better fit. However, a lot of people actually prefer the snaps because the Velcro can stick to things in the laundry.

This diaper does not need a cover.


So that is our newborn/small stage cloth diaper stash!

Prefolds--24 newborn/18 small
Fitteds--4 newborn
Pockets--4 newborn/7 small

We wash diapers every day.

If you are interested in cloth diapering, hopefully this will give you an idea of how many diapers you would need to do it (almost) full time. However, it's not all-or-nothing with cloth diapering. If you have five cloth diapers (or one 12-pack of prefolds), you could use them part of the time and use disposables the rest of the time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Day Today

4:35 pm


4:40 pm
video

4:45 pm
video

Resolution Day 3 Update

As I discussed here, my resolution this year is to practice Yan Xin Qigong every day for the rest of 2011.

My first goal to meet was three days and this is the third day.

So far? I'm feeling good!

What I notice the most is that I've had more energy. I stayed up until 1 and 2 o'clock the last two nights. I thought that I would feel tired the next day but I didn't really . . . furthermore, I've been able to be pretty productive in these late nights with writing and working on my blog, so that's an additional benefit.

I also notice that I'm feeling a little more emotionally/psychologically stable. I am someone with a history of depression, and pregnancy was like this golden land for me where I didn't need to manage my state of mind--my emotions and hormones were so level, it was great. But I knew that after I had James, eventually I would return to being the slightly-a-wreck person that I have always been, and the last week or so I really felt like I was slipping out of the smooth seas of my pregnant emotional state, and I knew something needed to be done. Hence the resolution. So, it seems to be benefiting me in this area as well!

I also feel confident. In the past when I've made promises to myself like this it has felt SO HARD to do it, and even as I made the promise I doubted it. But this time it is different, and I'm really appreciating that.

My next goal was one week, so I will update again when I hit that next milestone!

New Blog Design

Apparently I'm reinventing my blog here in 2011! Let me introduce some of our new features.

Obviously the background and layout are new, hope you like it. I tried to stick with the same basic "feeling"--but this layout comes with a lot more customizable options than my old one, which I really like.

To the left, some of the blogs I like to read. They span the gamut from other parenting blogs to funny blogs to infertility blogs to vegan and cloth diapering blogs. If you like my blog you might like some of them too--if you'd like me to consider adding your blog to my list, leave a comment and let me know!

Below this post you'll see that you can now "like" and "dislike" my posts--sometimes this is easier than leaving a comment. Personally, I can't count how many times I thought that I wanted to "like" someone's post, so I was thrilled to discover that I could add this.

I changed the number of posts on each page from 7 to 3. I think this makes the main page a bit more manageable, especially considering how I can ramble on some of the time. If you want to read older posts, just click on older posts on the bottom of the page, or use the blog archive to the right to find the last post you read and go from there. (Sorry if this is obvious to some, but my Mom also reads this blog--I was thinking of her while typing this paragraph, hehe.)

I also discovered that there is a world of unexplored gadgets in my settings tab. I'm sure there will be many more exciting new developments when I start to discover all the design doors these gadgets are opening for me.

Stay tuned!

Amy Says . . . More Vegan Foods

My friend Amy showed me a great link for finding vegan and dairy free foods:

Accidentally Vegan

This is basically a much better version of what I was trying to do here!

THANKS AMY!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sellout

Well, I've sold out!

I signed up for google to place ads in my blog. Depending on my page views, etc, they will send me a check.

On the one hand, I do sort of look at my blog as a job--I like to provide information that could be helpful to other people, share my experience, and keep everyone who loves and cares about James David and our family updated on how things are going with us. Obviously I enjoy this and don't care about making money off of it, but I think it might be good for me to make a little money off of it--like evidence that what I'm doing is valuable and motivation to do even better.

On the other hand, I've got standards, and if a single f0rmula ad appears on this blog I will immediately regret selling out and will cancel my ads immediately. Got it, Google Adsense ad targeting software? Those are MY terms and conditions.

Anyway, I have no idea what every ad view is worth so we'll see if it's worth it or not.

Update: Well ads appeared today--mostly I like them. Right now there is one for veggie protein, which I really like, Groupon (coupon sales), which I like, and some networking agency, which I am indifferent to. So, so far it seems good to me! Maybe it will even be useful/helpful to me or someone else at some point.

Freezer Stash!

I put another full freezer bag of frozen breastmilk into our deep freezer today--that makes 5 bags of 24 ozs each, 120 ozs total! Woohoo.

I obviously want some saved for when James and I eventually go out alone together and we leave James David with a babysitter. Additionally, if I were to get pregnant with our next baby while I was still breastfeeding James (as I plan to be, since I hope James will nurse until he is at least two), I want some extra breastmilk saved up. Pregnancy can affect your milk supply, and some babies will even wean while their Mom is pregnant. Since we are vegan, I really want a (human) milk source for James as long as possible--so I want some extra breastmilk saved up if I need to supplement him while I'm pregnant.

Breastmilk can stay in the deep freezer for at least 6 months. I figure that when it gets close to expiring, James and I can pick a weekend day that we'll be home and James can give James David primarily bottles while I pump--therefore refreshing my stash with new breastmilk while we use up the older milk.

So this is my plan to ensure that little James can get breastmilk for as long as possible, even in the event of my getting pregnant.

(On a side note, why am I awake right now? It's one in the morning and both my husband and my baby are upstairs sleeping soundly. I will regret this in a few hours when James wakes up hungry, sigh)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Common Foods that are Dairy-Free

Here's a bunch of stuff that someone avoiding dairy could eat--all these things are also vegan or can be made vegan. Things that are also gluten-free will be marked (GF). See alternate sources for dairy here.

For breakfast:
Oatmeal (not instant)--made with vegan "milk" and "butter"
Cheerios
Raisin Bran
Rice Crispies (GF)
Corn Flakes (GF)
Frosted Flakes (GF)
Crispix (GF)
Chex (GF)
Kix (GF)
(there are a lot of other vegan cereals as well)
Fruit, obviously
Applesauce
Toast with vegan butter, jam or jelly (check bread label but many are vegan/dairy free)
Bagels with vegan cream cheese or butter
Stirfried Potato (hash browns)

Lunch:
Salad with vinaigrette(GF)--add beans, nuts, seeds, and a variety of veggies for fullness and health
Sandwiches:
-peanut butter and jelly
-peanut butter and banana
-hummus, lettuce, and tomato with salad dressing or "vegenaise" veggie mayo
-meat or tofu, lettuce and tomato with salad dressing or "vegenaise" veggie mayo
-lentils with grated carrots, chopped celery, and lettuce
-tomato and spinach
Wrap: flour tortilla with veggies (tomato, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, grated carrot) hummus, and/or deli meats

Snacks:
Potato Chips (GF)
Pretzels
Sweet and Spicy Doritos (this one specific Doritos flavor)
Corn Chips with Guacamole and/or salsa (GF)
Ritz Crackers
Saltines
Fruit (GF)
Baby Carrots with hummus (GF)
Celery with peanut butter (GF)

Dinner:
Pasta with red sauce
Lasagna
Mac and "Cheese"
Grains:
-rice (GF)
-quinoa (GF)
-millet (GF)
-barley
-oats (arguably GF)
Baked Potato (eat with vegan butter, vegan sour cream, steamed broccoli, etc)
Steamed or stirfried Veggies with vegan butter (all GF):
-broccoli
-carrots
-kale
-spinach
-asparagus
-Brussels sprouts
Tempeh (sometimes GF)
Tofu (GF)
Tacos (with meat or fried tofu, lettuce, tomato, hot sauce, beans, rice, avocado, etc) (GF)
Burritos with beans, rice, meat or tofu, spinach, tomato, other veggies
Hot dogs or tofu pups (GF without the bun)
Veggie burgers (can be dairy and gluten free, read the labels!) or meat burgers (GF without the bun)

Dessert:
Fruit (GF)
Dairy-Free Ice Cream (GF)
Pies made without butter (easy to make but hard to find in the store!)
Oreos or Newman O's
Dark Chocolate

I'm going to have to update this more, I know there are a ton of other things.

The basic point of this post is to answer the question: What is there to eat that doesn't contain dairy and/or that is vegan? And honestly it is a lot of stuff. The most common foods are already vegan, really!

1/11/11 1:11:11 Resolution

So Yan Xin Qigong (the meditation/life practice that I study) has been on an official hiatus--my understanding is that they are reorganizing, which is probably a good thing, but we haven't had official chapter meetings or regional events in nearly a year.

I've observed that people who have continued with daily practice and study (writing reflective papers and making life or mind changes as a result) have done fine, and even gotten great benefit over the last year. My little family has certainly benefited and many of our friends as well.

But personally I have trouble practicing every day. I am good at writing papers and reflecting (but I should do more), and I try to practice de (virtue) in my daily life, and I think I do okay at that too. But I rarely practice on my own.

When we were having weekly and biweekly meetings, I would practice at least once or twice a week, but now it's been almost a year since I had that support. James practices daily, and so he is our rock in terms of maintaining a basic level of practice in our home.

However, I think I realized today that our house, our families, our bodies (health), and minds (health) are not as strong as they have been and can be, and now there is a third person here to support.

The conclusion? I need to start doing my part. I need to start practicing every day.

So this is my resolution. For the rest of 2011, I will practice every day. This will be an experiment--what can one year of Yan Xin Qigong inspire in a person's life? How will my life and the lives of my family and friends change?

My first goal will be three days, then one week, then one month, then three months, then six months, and then a year. I will try to update about how I am doing and what is changing. It is like breastfeeding--every day, as much as I can do it, as long as I can do it for, it will benefit my family. I can breastfeed, so I can do this, too.

This is my resolution.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Breastfeeding and Dairy Elimination

Up to half of babies exhibiting signs of colic, gas, reflux, etc, that cause discomfort and fussiness may be helped if the Mom eliminates dairy from her diet.

The recommendation with this is to cut out all dairy for 2 weeks, see if there is an improvement, and if there is, either avoid dairy completely or begin to reintroduce it until you see how much you can eat without it affecting the baby--most babies can handle SOME dairy.

On another note, there are significant benefits (to the Mom) to not eating dairy at all, including a reduction in colds and allergies, a reduction in daily calories, and less digestive issues overall. Most people are, in fact, lactose intolerant. Human bodies are not made to process lactose after the natural age of weaning (2-7 years), and so it can cause a variety of additional health problems when ingested often by teens and adults.

In terms of health, not eating any dairy, or eating it sparingly and for special occasions only, is generally better for most people.

Dairy Free Superlatives: Best Substitute Products

The number one thing to dairy-free eating is knowing the best substitute products, and it seems to be pretty unanimous among the dairy-free community which ones are the best. I want to go on record that the brands matter here, that is the whole point of this post. If you get a random dairy-free milk or yogurt (not the brands I recommend here) and it is horrible, realize that I am recommending these SPECIFIC brands for a reason. Try them first and then compare with other brands.

One thing to note is that soy and dairy are very similar proteins.  Many people who have issues with one will have similar issues with both.  If you are still determining you/your baby's allergens, do NOT go too heavy on the soy products because it could confuse the issue.

Also, everything listed here is also gluten free!

Best Dairy-Free Butter: Earth Balance (or Soy Garden—same thing).  Also there is a soy-free version available that's equally good.

This margarine has NO hydrogenated oils, and so does not have that weird mouth coating taste that most margarines have. This means it is healthier than most margarines. It is also less calories than butter, but does contain palm oil, which is a (more healthy) saturated fat. Therefore this butter substitute also has a rich flavor similar to normal butter.
Uses: On bread or toast, in any recipe that calls for butter, in any situation where you would use butter.
Cost: Around 3 dollars for a 15 oz tub


Best Dairy-Free Yogurt: Whole Soy and Co, Soy Yogurt

We like the vanilla best, plain is also good. I usually get it in the big containers but there are smaller ones with fruits like you would pack in a lunch. Very creamy and delicious and has the same health benefits as dairy yogurt because it has the same probiotics (acidophiles, etc). Has that tart yogurt taste.
Uses: As yogurt—NOT a sub for Greek yogurt, though. Soy yogurt has a much thinner consistency than a thick yogurt like Greek yogurt.
Cost: About 4 dollars for a 24 oz tub, 1.50-2.50 for small (6oz) flavored ones.
*soy-based, use sparingly


Best-Dairy Free Cream Cheese: Tofutti Better-than-Cream Cheese

This comes in several flavors and varieties. There is a non-hydrogenated version which I would recommend—it is harder to find but worth it in terms of health.
Uses: On bagels or crackers, in recipes that call for cream cheese
Cost: Around 3 dollars for an 8 oz tub
*soy-based, use sparingly


Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream: SoDelicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream

It is TO DIE FOR. Most people that I know agree that it is as good or better than dairy ice cream. Again, the coconut has healthy saturated fats that give it a rich and creamy taste. Comes in MANY flavors and varieties.
Uses: As ice cream—in rootbeer floats, in sundaes, in banana splits, you know.
Cost: Around 5.50 or 6 dollars for a pint—ouch! Yeah, it is expensive but totally worth it if you have an ice cream craving!


Best Dairy-Free Cheese: Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative

We like Monterrey Jack better than Mozzarella, and we like the Cheddar, obviously! Needs to be cooked at temps over 450 degrees (or in the microwave) to achieve melting—for some things like grilled cheese, I pre-melt it (in the microwave) before putting it on the bread or in a cheese sauce. We like to grate the entire thing when we open it, and then keep it in the freezer, and just break off some as needed.
Uses: As a MELTING cheese. On pizza, in lasagna, for grilled cheese, etc. Not really good as a cold cheese (not on crackers, sandwiches, etc). Good in hot cheese sauces for pasta or veggies.
Cost: About 3.50 for a 8 oz brick.
*contains soy, use sparingly


Best Dairy Free Cheese Topping: Nutritional Yeast

Believe it or not, nutritional yeast which is VERY high in Vitamin B 12, very low in calories, and delicious, is both dairy-free and tastes like cheese.
Uses: As parmigiana cheese—on pasta, pizza, casseroles, etc. Can also be used to flavor almost anything. Good on toast or bagels with butter, on salads, etc.
Cost: Depends on where you get it! A bit expensive but since it is used sparingly it lasts for a long time (think of it as a food supplement or spice).


Best Dairy-Free Sour Cream: Tofutti Better-than-Sour Cream

Uses: On Mexican food, on baked potatoes, in recipes that call for sour cream, and to add creaminess to just about everything: mashed potatoes, soup, cheesy pasta sauces, etc.
Cost: About 4 dollars for a 12 oz tub
*soy-based, use sparingly


Best Dairy-Free Milk*: Almond Breeze Brand Almond Milk

This is starred because there are a MILLION different milk alternatives.  Again, I would not do soy, but would try Rice, Almond, or coconut milk first.  Most people prefer one to the other, and they are very different in terms of sweetness, thickness, etc.

Uses: In recipes that call for milk, for dunking cookies, in cereal . . .. see my note about drinking milk below.
Cost: About 3 dollars for a half gallon. The cost of other brands and types of milk vary greatly.


Things there are, unfortunately, no adequate substitute for:

Cold Cheeses—you can find dairy free cheese slices, but it’s not really the same. There is no sub for a slice of cheddar cheese on a cracker, or fresh mozzarella, brie, etc. Something you have to learn to live without.

Milk for Drinking—If you are someone that straight up likes to drink milk, there is no perfect substitute. A lot of people like to drink Almond milk, but it will take an adjustment period. This is something else you just have to accept that it’s not going to be the same and see if there are things that you can like about your alternative milk of choice. Most people I know who liked drinking milk and then switched to a dairy-free milk did NOT like it at first (including myself). I just kept forcing myself to drink it and I hated it less and less and then I actually started to like it, and then I REALLY started to like it. Give yourself time on this.

I think that’s it, really! Most things are easy to substitute and live without once you know what to replace them with!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Our first normal week

This week was our first "normal" week--no days off, no holidays, and no holiday preparations.

James was at work and I was at home, trying to pick up after Christmas and get Little James and myself into a routine.

I recorded what James was doing so that I could pick up any patterns. I already knew:

-That James usually naturally fell asleep "for the night" between 11 and 1 (usually closer to 11 or 12), and that he would sleep usually for 5-7 hours after that.
-Then he would wake up between 7 and 9, eat, get changed, we'd both "get dressed", come downstairs, settle in (have tea, start fire, do a couple chores)
-Then he would want to be changed again, eat again, and go down for his first nap about two hours after he woke up. I put him in his cradle swing downstairs for his naps.
-He will sleep for 1-2 hours, then wake up and want to eat and be changed again.

After that I wasn't quite sure what happened. The evenings are a little unpredictable--he sometimes will eat for a long time and then just sleep for a few mins and then be up again . . .

But during this week I recorded what he was doing, and basically the rest of the day follows a similar pattern:

--Sleep for 1-2 hours
--awake for 1-2 hours: eat, change, "play", change, eat
--back to sleep for 1-2 hours.

So normally if he gets up at 8, he'll take his first nap at 10, his second nap around 1:30, and his third nap between 3-4. He'll sleep each time for at least 45 mins, usually an hour, sometimes longer.

The evening is still really unpredictable, but I'm glad that the whole morning and afternoon are becoming a little more predictable.

The only problem I'm having now is trying to establish an earlier bedtime. The times I have gotten him to fall asleep around 7-8, he'll wake up many times throughout the night, or else wake up again and not go back to sleep until 11/12 anyway . . . I have some ideas for improving that, though.

My goal is to have a pretty good schedule by 12 weeks. So, 5 weeks to go!

Anyway, it was really nice just being home with him and doing chores and starting to establish what our normal life will be now together!

Cloth Diapering 101: Washing Diapers

So a few people have asked us about our system of washing cloth diapers. This is pretty standard, I think--I would love comments about how others do it!

We have two wet bags and a diaper pail (one wet bag in the pail at a time). When the diaper is dirty, it is put in the bag in the pail--there is no need to "dunk", rinse off, or dump out dirty diapers when the baby is only eating breastmilk--you can just put the whole diaper and all its contents directly in the laundry. Once the baby starts eating food (or if the baby is formula fed) then it is preferable to rinse off the (poopy) diaper before washing it. We don't have to do this yet though!

When the pail is full we wash them.

The best detergent to use seems to be Rockin Green--we actually haven't been using this, we've been using All Free and Clear, our normal detergent, but among the cloth diapering community this seems to be a big no-no. Most detergents leave a residue on the diapers making them less absorbent. Rockin Green is awesome for NOT doing this, so definitely worth the extra effort to buy. We have ordered our Rockin Green (I think?), so we'll start using that soon.

To wash them:
-First we do a cold soak and prewash, with soap. We put the wet bag into the load with the diapers.
-Then we do a hot wash (with more soap) with a cold rinse.
-Then we do an extra cold rinse.
-Then we dry them in the dryer--though in the summer we might hang them on the line, which keeps them nicer for longer and bleaches them in the sun.

We have to do a load just about every day, but we can skip the occasional day. It honestly takes almost half a day just to complete the whole washing process so we basically have the diapers going in two cycles all the time--a set that we are using and that are dirty, and a set that is being washed/dryed/folded.

So that's the how-to (or at least what we do) on washing cloth diapers. Not too hard but the extra laundry is definitely noticeable.

I'm going to do a separate post (sometime) on the different kinds of diapers that we have and pros and cons of each.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Baby Laundry

So you always hear that babies make a lot of laundry and I never got it. I always thought that even if they wear a lot of clothes, that the clothes are small and that wouldn't be very much extra laundry.

What I didn't count on was the fact that any of the following things might suddenly get covered with baby pee, spitup, or breastmilk at any given time:
-our sheets and pillows
-our shirts (and pants)
-bibs
-his mattress sheets
-his swaddle blankets
-his clothes, obviously
-the boppy cover
-his towels
-our robes

And all these things smelling slightly of milk is unusual for our vegan household . . .which means we like to try to wash things fairly promptly.
So it's more than just the baby clothes--it is a LOT of extra laundry.

Plus we go through certain things quickly (like sleep sacks) and so we need to wash a load with them when we run out.

PLUS we are cloth diapering, which means we ALSO have an extra load every day of diapers. We can skip the occasional day, but mostly we wash diapers every day or day and a half.

So it's more than I anticipated. I'm so glad we got our washer fixed before the baby was born!

Why do people Breastfeed their Toddler?

Aww, I was watching the acclaimed "Extraordinary Breastfeeding" Documentary, and at exactly 5 mins into this part, it follows a Mom who is trying to wean her two year old twins. God I was like crying from 5:58 mins into it, when the little girl is crying and asking for her Mommy, and then it just got worse and worse!! I don't know if it is the nursing hormones or what but I was so upset about this! Ak!

Obviously people need to stop when they are ready, but I can't imagine James crying like that and wanting to nurse and me not letting him! He will probably nurse as long as he wants to because of that, hehe. Which is normal, honestly--the average weaning age worldwide is four.

But seriously, TEARJERKER. (Unless it's just me.)

Actually I already know that there is no way (big) James could deal with it. He hates it when James David is upset and he'll bring him to me and tell me to nurse him. There's no way he would put up with a weaning scene like that! Eeek.
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