Monday, August 31, 2009

15 Months and Counting

I attended my local La Leche League meeting the other night and the topic was weaning. It occurred to me that Jesse is almost 16 months old, the age at which Olivia was weaned. I would have nursed her longer if it hadn't been for some medical issues. When she was Jesse's age, she was sleeping through the night and didn't nurse too often during the day. I think she was only nursing before her nap and bedtime, so I didn't feel too bad about weaning her. First I cut out the before-nap nursing. I held her, hugged her, and kissed her, then put her to bed while Mr. Bear (her wind-up teddy) played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Sometimes I had to go back in the bedroom and wind him up again.

(I have to interject something here. One day trajedy struck - Mr. Bear died. I searched all over for another bear like him, but to no avail. I finally settled on a pink rabbit with a pull cord. Have they quit making them?)

After a week or two, I started working on the before-bed nursing. I enlisted my husband's help with this. He would put Olivia in bed and play his guitar. They both enjoyed it. After a couple of weeks with this routine, she would go to sleep with just the rabbit playing music.

Jesse still gets up at least twice each night to snack and loves to nurse during the day. I don't foresee weaning in our near future! If only he would sleep through the night...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Older SIGG Bottles Contain BPA

Reusable aluminum bottles are an eco-friendly alternative to wasteful plastic water bottles. My children had some from SIGG and loved them! They claimed to be not only eco-friendly, but healthier as well, assuring everyone that there was no BPA (Bisphenol A) found in their bottles, as there is in plastic.

So I was so very disappointed to hear that if you purchased a SIGG water bottle before August 2008 (we did), the liner in that bottle may actually contain BPA after all...

SIGG has posted an image and description of the new vs. old liners. If your liner looks like the OLD version, you can contact SIGG to have it replaced with a NEW version.

New SIGG EcoCare Liner

* Dull pale yellow coating

*Special powder-based co-polyester liner certified to be 100% BPA and Phthalate Free

*Utilized in the manufacturing of SIGG bottles since August 2008

Former SIGG Liner

* Shiny copper bronze finish

*Proprietary water-based epoxy liner thoroughly tested and showed absolutely no leaching of BPA

*Found in SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August 2008

While many people are outraged over the perceived misleadings, SIGG has posted a letter from their CEO to try and explain just what they were thinking:

In the meantime, you can find some wonderful BPA FREE bottles over at Nubius Organics, such as Kleen Kanteen, EcoUsable, EarthLust, Crocodile Creek and more. (I think I might just have to get one of those gorgeous EarhtLust bottles, myself!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

To Be or Not To Be A Homeschooler...

...for me there is no question. Before my husband and I were even married we knew we would homeschool our children. Olivia is almost 5, the age at which most children start kindergarten. I had considered just starting her with 1st grade next year, but she told me "I want to start kindergarten when I'm 5." I don't want to squelch her enthusiasm, so we're about to start our homeschooling journey.

I know many people will ask me why I homeschool. Some already have. (My parents were probably the first. They were both public school teachers.) There are so many reasons. I thought I'd share some of my reasons, and some advantages of homeschooling, and then ask you to share some of yours. It's nice to have a good defense when you're attacked.

They're MY children. I have the right and responsibility to teach them. I'll have the freedom to spend as little or as much time helping them with a particular concept as they need. I'll also have the freedom to "teach" them in as structured or unstructured a manner as we find necessary. My kids will be safe, well-fed, and loved. They'll grow up with a positive self-image, confidence, and a strong sense of family.

We won't waste time driving to and from school. When my husband takes a business trip, we may be able to tag along and visit interesting places. (Olivia and I went with him to Austin a couple of years ago. While he was in meetings, we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Children's Museum.) We won't have to keep up with the latest fashions. We won't have to worry about negative peer pressure, teasing, or bullying.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are just a few things I thought about while I was sitting here. I'd love to hear your reasons for homeschooling and/or other advantages you've thought of.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dinner ( with a slight detour to the ER)

I might be the slightest bit obsessed with Julia Child. Since seeing the movie Julie and Julia I have wanted to try some recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. One problem, I had dropped my Le Creuset French oven and none of my other pots were appropriate for the first recipe I wanted to try. Luckily Sur LA Table was willing to exchange my pot ( this shocked me because I did not have a reciept).
So last week my 4 year old and I went to the store to get all of the ingrediants to make Beef Bougione. I was so excited even taking pictures as I browend bacon to render the fat, browned the meat and vegitables, added the wine and stock before putting everything in the oven and starting to work on the vegitables that would be added later. I have to admit that the recipe was a bit more labor intensive than I had expected. With 45 min left to go I took the pot out of the oven to stir and tasted the sauce. It was dreamy and I had a smile from ear to ear in anticipation of the most amazing dinner ever!
Just then I heard some words that as a mother you never want to hear, "Mom, can you help me get this out of my nose?" My 4 year old had apparently shoved something up his nose. When I asked what it was he said that it was from his brother's bed. This could be anything as at any given time there are lego's and many small items in or around his brother's bed. After a short inspection I was fairly certain that the "foreign object," was a piece of foam egg crateing from his brothers bed. SO after I turned off the oven and pulled everything out, i shed a quiet tear for my meal as I scooped up my son and head to Children's Medical Center in Plano.
When we get to the Hospital we are quickly brought through triage and brought to a room. A Dr. walks in and takes a look and says she will be right back. She reneters the room and brings a paramedic with her. i am not sure if she was a new Dr. or new to the hospital but the paramedic seemed to be coaching her as to what buttons to use to turn things on and such. The first attempt to remove the "foreign object," was to use suction. Not only was this unsuccesful but my 4 year old was now screaming and would not let anyone near him. 2nd attempt was to use a tool to try to retrieve it, also not successful and now the 4 year old was really pissed off.
As the Dr. is giving me information to refer me to an ENT for emergency surgery the paramedic interrupted. He said there was one more thing that they could try, it was rather unconventional but would not hurt him and might work avoiding surgery. At this point anything was worth a try. In walk a dream team of paremedics and nurses 6 to be exact, all male except for the Dr standing in the corner and 1 female nurse. The instructed my son to keep his mouth closed tight and used a tube and a sudden burst of oxygen into the other nostrill to cause the lodged "foreign object," to become disloged and a pojectile hurdling across the room until it reached a stopping point. ME!!!! SO I have this disgustin bloody,snotty HUGE foam piece stuck to my shirt. One opf the paramedics proclaimed that it was the coolest thing he had ever seen. That he was tempted to shove something up his nose just so they could do that again. I asked him to hold his comments in front of the impessionable 4 year old that had already done so. My son was fine and was very glad to get a popsicle from the paramedics for his ordeal.
We got home and I went right back to cooking my dinner. I warned my husband that no matter how it tasted he was going to eat every bite and proclaim how it was the best meal he had ever eaten. Dinner was consumed at about 10:30 last night and was delicious. Next time I hope I can make it through without a trip to the ER>

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Love My Crock-Pot

We celebrated my father-in-law's birthday the other day. As it is also his and my mother-in-law's anniversary, I thought it would be nice to give her a day off so I volunteered to cook dinner. I decided to cook a roast in the crock-pot (orange-glazed carrots, strawberry salad, and rolls for sides). Saturday night I put the roast in the crock-pot with a cup or two of water, a generous sprinkling of seasoning salt, and three sprigs of fresh rosemary. I turned it on low and left it until the next morning. Meanwhile I made rolls and embroidered a shirt.

One thing I love about my crock-pot is that I can let it work while I'm busy with other things. While the main dish is cooking I can prepare the side dishes, clean the house, do the laundry, or go to bed. The next morning I'm ready to pack hubby's lunch. Or I can get things going in the morning and have hot supper on the table that night.

I like that it frees up my oven for other things. I have one oven and there's not enough room for a huge pan of roast and rolls or veggies, too. It's also more energy-efficient to leave the crock-pot on for 10 hours than to leave the oven on for 4. And it doesn't heat the house up as much as the oven.

The other thing I love about it is that it tenderizes the toughest piece of meat. I used a spoon to cut the roast I cooked the other day. We eat a lot of venison and wild pork - both have a tendency to be tough - but they both end up melt-in-your-mouth tender in the crock-pot. In addition to roasts, I like to cook stews in my crock-pot. I can fit a whole chicken in it. I love that machine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I was blindsided by High Frutrose Corn Syrup

Earlier this year I read a number of articles about the danger of High Frutrose Corn Syrup(HFCS). Obesity aside the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested products containing HFCS and discovered that 17 out of 55 had measurable amounts of mercury in them. Dr Lars Friberg, Former Chief Adviser to the World Health Organization said " there is no safe level of mercury, and no one has actually shown that there is a safe level. I would say mercury is a very toxic substance." The speculation is that since mercury is used in the production of caustic soda an ingredient used to make HFCS leaving mercury in the HFCS. The Corn Refiners Association claims that this is an out dated way to make HFCS, but there is no regulation on where the HFCS comes from. So where as that might be an outdated method of HFCS production here in the US, if the HFCS is purchased from abroad who is to say what method they are using to manufacture the HFCS.
SO even though I was scared to death of the HFCS, I figured I make most of my own items and my kids do not eat a lot of candies and we only drink all natural juice so I thought we were safe. Boy was I wrong. I was making one of my kids favorite meals, honey mustard chicken. When something caught my eye on the mustard bottle: High Frutrose Corn Syrup. In Mustard!!!! So I went through my refrigerator and pantry. I was shocked some of the items I found HFCS in were:
Salad Dressing
YOGURT ( this was the most shocking to me)
oatmeal bars
cereal bars

There were many flaws in the tests, they only did one test of each product , they can not determine 100% that the mercury levels came from HFCS ( yet it is the only ingredient all of the products had in common), and they did not differentiate what type of mercury was present. I know so many people that have chosen to avoid vaccinating their children because of the trace amounts of mercury in the vaccines, yet there is measurable amounts of mercury in the food we are feeding our kids, foods geared towards kids. I am hearing so much about BPA why am I not hearing about this from the FDA or EPA? I am not telling you to avoid these products I am however telling you to look at your food labels. I was shocked and had no idea I had been feeding this to my children. If you would like to see the list of the 17 products that contained mercury you can do so here: are any of these products in your pantry?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Breast is Best

August is World Breastfeeding Month and August 1 - 7 was World Breastfeeding Week. In honor of WBW, Baby Blues compiled a selection of breastfeeding strips. If you haven't seen them, you should. They're hilarious!

I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I wanted to remind you why breastfeeding is best for mother and baby. I think most of us breastfeed because it's the natural thing to do - cradle a newborn in your arms and he'll look for a breast - but some people need a little more persuasion. If you or someone you know is straddling the fence on the breast/bottle decision, here are some things to keep in mind. Or if you're having one of those days when you're tempted to throw in the towel (baby's biting, you're tired of soggy nursing pads, etc.), remember that your baby nurses for a short time in the scope of his life. It'll be over all too soon.

Benefits for mother
  • helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding
  • helps mom lose weight
  • lessens postpartum depression
  • more rest than formula feeding moms because you can nurse while sleeping
  • lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer
  • save thousands of dollars a year since you don't have to buy formula
  • protects against osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life
  • reduced risk of mortality for women with rheumatoid arthritis has been associated with total time of lactation
  • breastfed babies are sick less, reducing healthcare costs in doctor office visits, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and hospitalizations
  • breastfeeding is more convenient - the milk is always available, sterile, and the right temperature
  • during times of disaster, you don't have to worry about finding formula

Benefits for baby
  • antibodies in breast milk offer protection from germs, illness, and even SIDS
  • lower risk for ear infections, stomach viruses, diarrhea, respiratory infections, asthma, diabetes, leukemia, necrotizing enterocolitis, and other diseases
  • lower risk for childhood obesity
  • reduced risk of chronic constipation, colic, and other stomach upsets
  • breastfeeding promotes facial structure development, enhanced speech, and straighter teeth and reduces risk of tooth decay
  • enhanced vision
  • higher IQ's and improved brain and nervous system development
  • reduced risk of heart disease later in life
  • increased bone density
  • are hospitalized 10 times less than formula fed infants in the first year of life

Benefits for the environment and society

  • reduced cost of healthcare by promoting healthier children and mothers.
  • reduced insurance premiums for both parents and employers
  • reduced global pollution by decreasing the use of resources and energy required to produce, process, package, distribute, promote and dispose of materials created by the manufacture and use of artificial baby milk
  • reduced tax burden on communities and government to ensure children are properly fed
  • reduced absenteeism in the workplace due to children's illnesses

Find these and other benefits at the following sites. Or simply google "benefits of breastfeeding."

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Serendipity... no not the movie! Have you ever wondered if some people are just meant to be in your life? This past Monday I was sitting in a lobby waiting for a focus group to begin. When in walked an old friend of mine. Now had I lived in Dallas all of my life this would not have been so strange, but I met this girl in Tokyo.
I went to high school for 2 years in Tokyo when my dad had gotten a job over there. In November of my senior year my 1st love broke my heart and a month later my parents announced they were getting divorced and my sister, mother and myself would be moving back to the states as soon as details could be worked out. Needless to say I was in a really bad . Without going into too much detail I started to spend some time with my mom's friends son. Unbeknownst to me he already had "hooked-up" with another girl. SO very quickly she and I realized he was a dog and became quick friends. We spent the next 3 weeks being the best of girlfriends. Shopping and gossiping and all that but then I moved back to the states and she went back to college and we lost touch.
Two years later my dad had moved to Hong Kong and I went to go spend New Years. AS we were getting off a bus who was getting on? My friend from Tokyo. Her parents had also moved to Hong Kong and so the next few weeks it was like no time had passed. We again went shopping and hung out and just had a great time. But when the trip was over the distance in the states we lost track of each other again.
Flash forward another 10 years. I am waiting for a focus group to start and who should walk into the lobby for the same focus group.? We screamed so loud when we saw each other that the people putting on the group had to pull us aside. They felt uncomfortable sending us both in since we knew each other so I got sent home, but not before we had exchanged information.
Three chance meetings in three different countries. Something about that makes me think that it is more than just a coincidence. This time we are not going to loose touch!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bread Making

Last week March wrote about the sad state of cooking in America. After a comment I made about her post, she asked for tips on making bread. I thought there may be some others who could use a good recipe and instructions. Many people are terrified of making yeast bread. Don't let it scare you. Homemade bread is sooo good. Like anything you make yourself, you control exactly what goes into your bread. I have several recipes I love. I chose this one because it was sitting on my counter from the last batch I made. You'll find the basic directions, then some notes/tips.

Homemade Bread
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon warm milk (110-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons oil (olive oil or coconut oil work great)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Combine the yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Add the warm water and milk; let the yeast and sugar dissolve and foam. Stir in the oil and salt. Stir in enough flour so the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a damp towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Deflate dough and knead for a few minutes until smooth, then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack. Store in airtight container after it has cooled. This recipe can easily be doubled to make 2 loaves.

General Info
Bread is primarily made of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and liquid. The yeast digests the sugar, producing carbon dioxide that makes the bread rise. Salt helps control this rate of rise. Honey may be used instead of sugar (or a combination of the two). Milk and/or water are the most common liquids included. Bread made with milk has more food value and a more velvety grain. Bread made with water only has a wheaty flavor and crispy crust. Some type of fat or oil is usually included; it helps the dough stretch and improves the flavor. Eggs are sometimes included; they add flavor, richness, and food value. You can add nuts, seeds, fruits, spices, and other ingredients after you're comfortable with a basic recipe.

* You don't need a thermometer for warming the liquids. Remember your body temperature is 98.6 degrees. As you're warming the liquid, drop a little on your wrist. If it's neither cold nor hot - you can't even feel it on your wrist - it's about 99 degrees. Let it heat a little longer until it feels warm, but doesn't feel VERY hot, and it's probably around 110-115 degrees. If you think you got it too hot, let it cool a little. Err on the side of not quite warm enough. Your dough will take longer to rise, but you don't want to kill the yeast with liquid that's too hot.
* When covering the dough to rise, a damp towel keeps the dough moist. You can use a dry towel, but the exposed surface will be a little dry.
*80-85 degrees is the ideal temperature range for rising. Dough will rise at a lower temperature but will take longer. At higher temperatures you risk killing the yeast.
* I like to use white whole wheat flour (sometimes called pastry whole wheat). It's made from hard white wheat instead of hard red wheat. You get the same goodness but it's a little milder in taste and texture. You can use any combination of flour you want - 100% whole wheat, half whole wheat and half all-purpose, etc. Just be aware that the taste and texture will be different.
* The amount of flour you add will vary (on a humid day you'll need a little more) so recipes give a range of flour (like 2 1/2 to 3 cups). Stir in enough that the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl - just enough to make it kneadable. Too much flour will make your bread stiff.
* To knead dough, turn it onto a floured surface. Fold the far side up over the close side and press down with the heels of your hands. Repeat this, turning the dough clockwise (or counterclockwise) as you go. You'll develop a rhythm after some practice.
* You can mix in fresh or dried herbs when you stir in the flour.
* Before baking, after the second rise, you can brush milk, melted butter, or beaten egg white on the bread and sprinkle with seeds or Parmesan cheese.
* When you remove the bread from the pan, you can rub butter on the crust and it will stay soft. This makes it easier to cut.
* Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut bread. An electric knife works great. Just turn it on and move it straight down.