Quinoa: even more reasons (and ways) to enjoy this ancient grain

Time for another re-blog! (hey, my baby is 3.5 months old, I barely have time to shower let alone write. Lol!)
I LOVE quinoa – it’s quick and easy to cook and super nutritious. I personally adapted this recipe from the original one in Vegetarian Times. Try it, you’ll like it!

Kristy Ware Vancouver Personal Trainer

I was first introduced to quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) 6 years ago while working at the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC. This ancient grain, native to South America, has become a staple in my home ever since. It’s versatility, nutritional value and taste make it the perfect all around superfood. When comparing quinoa to other grains, meats and white rice, here’s how it stacks up:

* great source of protein
* contains all 8 essential amino acids (not the case with any other grain)
* ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders, wheat and gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or colitis
* helps promote weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels and even helps to build muscle
* can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and takes mere minutes to prepare…15-20 to be exact!
* it’s even great cold and stores in the refrigerator for up to one…

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Surviving the four month sleep regression

First off I want to make a disclaimer: I’m not an expert on babies. Not my own and certainly not yours. I’m not a Pediatrician, Maternity Nurse, or “Baby Whisperer”. I’m just a new Mom in the thick of the special little hell known as the 4 month sleep regression, figuring out how to survive this s#!t show.

1355_woman_drinking_coffeeYou may have already picked up from my tone that I’m not very chipper these days. I’m doing my best to keep it together and still enjoy the good moments when they happen, but I’m tired. So. Very. Tired. And after three loooong weeks of crappy sleeping, I’ve come to realize the two things that will help me survive this: patience and caffeine.

Yes siree, patience and caffeine. You’ve probably heard the saying that the reward of patience is patience? Well I think the reward is also that you don’t yell at your spouse, lock yourself in the bathroom to cry (but by all means please do that if you need to!) or worse yet, shake your baby out of frustration.

Any form of caffeine will do. I prefer almond milk lattes that I make at home, and fair trade dark chocolate. When my baby was newborn I was worried about the caffeine negatively affecting him. After the nurse at the breastfeeding clinic assured me that wasn’t the case, I haven’t had a second thought. This is survival, folks. That one latte somehow makes the rest of the day more bearable.

I’ve scoured the internet for advice and assistance on helping my baby sleep and I’ve concluded that:

1. Experts tell you that you should put your baby down drowsy but not sleeping but don’t actually tell you how to accomplish this feat,

2. I’m failing miserably at ensuring my baby is getting enough sleep (no matter how hard I try, some days he really only wants one 10 minute nap in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon),

3. Reading anything, especially information on baby sleep, on my iPhone during a night feeding only stimulates my mind more and inhibits my ability to get back to sleep quickly (bad idea!), and

4. A lot of Mommy bloggers, even the ones who are professional authors, have atrocious spelling and grammatical errors on their site. Sometimes I want to post a comment and correct the mistakes, but then I remember it’s 3:30 a.m., and I’m to tired too care about there speling problems. :-p

It’s important to put ourselves in our baby’s little booties and try to understand things from their perspective. Huge developmental growth is happening at this stage and it’s gotta be a bit overwhelming for them. In the last three weeks alone, my little guy has mastered precision grasping, rolling over from tummy to back, and two new vowel sounds! We can’t project mature emotions and motives on them yet- it’s not like they are waking up deliberately to piss us off.

Of course the other thing that gets me through is knowing that this sleep regression stage won’t last forever. After all, the mantra of new Motherhood is “This too shall pass”. Sounds too eff-ing Zen for me when I’m up lying on the living room carpet with a baby who decided not to go back to sleep after his third feeding at 5 a.m., but I still try to remember it.

Eventually he’ll get back to being a great sleeper with one or two night feedings. Right? Better yet, one day he’ll be a kid who sleeps through the night! Heck, years down the road he’ll be a teenager who won’t let me into his bedroom any more, and I’ll fondly reminisce of these “in arms” days.

But for now, patience and caffeine. For all you veteran parents, how did you survive?

(If you want to read a great article on the 4-month sleep regression from a certified baby expert, check out “Help – My 4 month old is sleeping like a newborn again!”)

Making Holiday Magic

As Joni Mitchell sings, “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cuttin’ down trees, they’re putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace…” and some of us LOVE the holidays, whereas other wish they had a river to skate away on.

Winter Solstice 2013

I for one look forward to Christmas holidays, even as a Pagan. For me, the celebrations start on Winter Solstice and carry straight through to New Years! I suppose it helps that I get along with my family and my inner child still loves the magic of the season and all the special traditions like decorating, having a Christmas tree, singing carols, baking and cooking.

This year is extra special because we have a new addition to the family. I’m already a sentimental person and I’m even more so now that I have a child. Even though he won’t remember these first few years, my wife and I have already been talking about which family traditions we will keep.

Like decorating the outside of the house and yard with lights and hanging a wreath on the door (but not before December 1st!)…

Baking special cookies that we eat only at this time of year, like ginger snaps and shortbread…

Lighting pillar candles or starting a fire as the sun sets on Solstice and keeping them (safely) burning all through the longest, darkest night (a ritual I hold dear to my witchy heart)…

Reflecting on the year you’ve had and writing down what you want to let go of, and burning it in the Solstice fire…

Finding the perfect tree and decorating it with all the beautiful and nostalgic ornaments that we’ve collected and hand made over the years…

Opening a single present on Christmas Eve, and our stockings on Christmas morning (filled with chocolate and mandarin oranges)…

Skating, tobogganing, snow-shoeing, x-country skiing, or just walking in a winter wonderland with the family…

And gathering with loved ones to sing and make merry together tops my list of favourite holiday traditions.

The way I see it, it’s a personal choice to make the holidays memorable and magical! And it doesn’t have to cost much money at all. As a dear friend recently told me, it’s about presence, not presents, yes?

Here’s wishing you all a magical Solstice, a merry Christmas, and a very happy new year!!

Saving money as New Parents

piggy-bank
It’s no secret that having a child incurs a lot of expenses. A lot of couples who are planning to conceive worry they haven’t saved enough to be “ready” for the baby, whereas other Moms-to-be who are caught by surprise don’t have the luxury of time to build a nest egg before their little one arrives.

As I said before in my previous post, ‘How much does it really cost to have a baby’, it really depends on the individuals involved, their financial means and personalities, how much babies cost. Since my wife and I live fabulously frugal, I want to share how we are saving money now that our bundle of joy is here.

1. Breastfeeding. Not only is human milk the best possible food for human babies, it’s free. Added bonuses: it’s convenient, always with you, and feels great for Mama and Baby (once you get past the initial ouch-ness).

2. Cloth wipes and diapers. Wipes warmers seems to have a bad rap, often listed as the most useless thing you can buy, but I think that’s because people aren’t using them for cloth wipes. We just add some water and a bit of liquid baby soap, place the folded cloth wipes inside, and we have wipes for 4 days. When they are done we do it again with our remaining wipes while the used ones get washed. It’s great! And I’m sure I don’t need to convince anyone that cloth diapers save money, and are easier on the environment too.
disposablecost

3. Second-hand clothes. This one should also be obvious. I mean, they only wear these baby outfits for a few months! Our little guy wore a few of his pajamas only two or three times before he outgrew them. Pretty much his entire wardrobe was given to us and we gladly accepted them; even the larger sizes (we have them stored in bins).

4. Craigslist. If you need anything; crib, stroller, breast pump, Exersaucer; check Craigslist first. We got a fantastic stroller for less than half the price new, and it included the car seat adapter.

5. Accepting the generosity of friends and family. When people find out you’re having a baby, the gifts just start flowing in. Aunts and Grannys start knitting, baby showers and blessing-ways are organized, and even friends of friends and people you don’t know very well suddenly surprise you with a present for the baby. One of our friends set us up with a Meal Train, and that was an incredible help in the first month. When you are adjusting to life with a newborn for the first time, dinner delivery isn’t just welcome, it keeps you alive.

6. Track your spending. As I outlined in my previous post, ‘The Newlyweds Make a Budget’, my wife and I use a budgeting app to track our spending and stay on budget. We find that this helps us manage our money well, avoid splurging, and makes saving easier. This has been even more important since I stopped working- having only one income forces you to ‘tighten your belts’ financially. All I want for Christmas is my EI Maternity benefits…

Everything considered, we are doing pretty well. With the holidays coming we are budgeting for extra expenses, but our families understand that what makes Christmas special isn’t extravagant gifts- it’s thoughtful gestures, homemade treats, and quality time together.

So to all you thrifty parents out there, how do you save money?

What I hate most about being a Mom

crying-Fyn
So I haven’t been blogging much lately. Caring for a newborn baby can get in the way of things like that. I’m only two months in, so admittedly, I’m still on a steep learning curve. However, my wife and I do feel like we have a handle on some things; at the very least, we are feeling like we are getting into a rhythm and it’s pretty good.

But there are definitely aspects of my new job that I’m not too crazy about. So while my adorable tiny beast is napping, I want to vent a little.

1. The verbal abuse. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t like it when someone screams at me. But now I have to put up with a boss who, if he gets hungry or cranky, pulls himself up to his full 22 inch height and BELLOWS at me until he’s reddish purple in the face. To make things more stressful interesting, he and I don’t speak the same language, so I am constantly trying to translate. Usually what he wants is my breasts however, which also makes this whole scenario borderline sexual harassment.

2. I am now a 24 hour human buffet. It’s wonderful and all that I can nourish my baby the way nature intended, with the “liquid gold” that flows from my breasts, but wow it takes up a lot of my day (and night). For someone whose stomach is apparently the size of a walnut, he sure spends A LOT of time feeding. Good thing I have a comfy chair, a breastfeeding pillow, and books, magazines and my iPhone to occupy myself. What? WiFi is dangerous to infants? Screw you.

3. It’s a dirty job. If you saw a job posting for a 24/7/365 live-in caregiver that required you to deal with human excrement, urine, drool, and (if you’re really lucky) vomitus with no overtime, stat pay, or holiday bonuses, would you apply? Just the other day my baby spit up on my freshly laundered shirt in the morning, and leaked pee and poop on my pants in the afternoon (two different occasions- glad I didn’t bother changing my pants the first time). Motherhood is NOT glamorous.

4. Date nights look a lot different. My wife and I established our Friday date night tradition years ago. Whether we actually went out for a nice dinner or night of dancing or just stayed in and ate nachos and watched a movie, we always did something fun together. Nowadays, Friday date night involves us entertaining our baby while he sits in his swing so we can eat our dinner with both hands, then maybe catching up on Modern Family before it’s bath time and I’m in the glider nursing him to sleep for an hour. If that works (and sometimes it doesn’t), we then fall into bed, exhausted, or she’s already asleep by the time I hit the pillow. Sexy time? Not so much.

5. It’s all my fault. Suddenly, I’m blaming myself for everything. Baby is gassy? Must be something I ate or drank. He won’t fall asleep? My fault for keeping him up too late. I thought I’d be immune to the ubiquitous Mommy guilt, but apparently not. Can’t I at least share the blame with my wife? There’s two Moms in this house!

6. Not enough sleep. It’s cliché , but it’s true. I love sleep. And I really shouldn’t complain because by definition my baby sleeps through the night- which is 5 hours in a row. Yaaaay… So forgive me if I don’t have the energy for Mom and Baby Pilates or Stroller Boot-camp in the park (even though I do need to work off my remaining pregnancy pudge. Oh joy!).

7. I feel incompetent. Normally I’m a confident, capable woman. Since having the baby I now doubt myself more and question my knowledge (I’ve never done this before!) and intuition (this feels right but the books say no?). I don’t know how to navigate the unfamiliar feeling of being responsible for another human! Being a new Mom is probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t just walk away and quit when it’s tough. It’s a good thing the hospital doesn’t have a return or exchange policy…

Okay, okay, enough sarcasm. Besides, we haven’t even hit the really rough patches yet- like teething, the terrible twos and teenage years! (shudder)

Yes I love my baby and I count my blessings every day that we are both healthy, live in a peaceful part of the world, and I get to raise my child in a solid and loving partnership.

I love it when he smiles, coos and giggles. I love seeing him adapt and grow. I love how strangers smile at me more. I love how much stronger my connections are to my family and friends. I love being a member of the Mommy club now. And I LOVE not being pregnant anymore- which really, let’s be honest, is the second-best gift you get after your baby. 😉

The best homemade granola bars ever!

It’s time for another recipe! These bars are delicious and easy to make (no baking!) and you control the ingredients for cost and your personal taste. Try them out and let me know how you like them.

Kristy Ware Vancouver Personal Trainer

The next time you go to purchase a box of granola or snack bars take a good look at the ingredient list. They are generally loaded with sugar, soy, dairy and wheat; all of which are allergens that most of us could use a lot less of!

photo (7)
A close friend of mine gave me this recipe that she discovered on the “Winnipeg Hippy Chick” website. I finally have a really amazing recipe for homemade granola bars. More often than not, I opt to make things from scratch rather than purchase pre-packaged. This way I have total control over the quality of the ingredients and can modify things to suit my family’s taste and dietary restrictions.

I have made three different variations of this recipe over the past month and these bars are truly amazing! When you’re trying to care for a newborn and need a quick but healthy…

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A Letter to my Newborn Son

Dear Son,
You turned one month old the other day. 30 days have never passed so quickly. How radically my life has changed in such a short time. I will never be the same.

I had nine months to ponder the transition into Motherhood. Actually, I spent a good two years before deciding whether and how I wanted to do this. I felt honoured to have the ability to consciously conceive you, and further blessed that you came to us so easily. We opened our hearts and you swept in, like a shooting star from the heavens.

And now you are here with us, earth-side. Our angel, our son-shine, our marvelous mystery. I loved you at first sight, when the midwife brought you to my face, so close I could smell your sweet breath as you cried. But it took two weeks for me to fall IN love with you. It happened in a split second: one moment tired and unsure, the next still tired, but heart broken open as I embraced you completely. My son!

Your Grandma gave me some good advice today. She reminded me that in a few years these sleepless nights and all the tears and diapers will be a distant memory that won’t matter anymore. But what will matter and the memories that will remain are the snuggles and giggles, the proud milestones, and watching you grow into yourself.

I will provide the best nourishment and guidance for you that I can. We will have a lot of fun together, I know. I ponder what kind of man you’ll be, what direction your life will take, how you will touch other people’s lives. Know this: your Moms will love you forever and always. xoxo

belle ancell photography

belle ancell photography

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