Monday, February 28, 2011

Gerber Is Undermining My Credibility

I don't do well with contradictory information. Not when I have no idea wtf I'm doing.

Hello, parenthood!

Shortly before my son was born, I went out and bought What To Expect the First Year. I figured, "Why not? I mean, I have no idea what to expect!" I have never treated it like a bible, but I've used it pretty consistently as a guideline for things I don't want to bother my awesome pediatrician with.

Like beginning to feed D solids. Most of it is pretty simple and straightforward - start with cereals and simple fruit & vegetable purees, move up to the mixed stuff and thicker purees, feed the baby the same thing 2-3 days in a row and check for reactions. Did all that.

Now D is 8 months old, has 2 bottom teeth, and we've started giving him little bits of table food in addition to his regular baby food. (He LOVES my Italian Beef Stew!) I had wanted to venture into making my own baby food for him so I went out and bought Cooking Light: First Foods because, as you all know, I am obsessed with Cooking Light.

Nothing particularly interesting or controversial here, just basic baby food recipes. It gets really good when you get to the toddler stage. But I digress.

So What To Expect gives you a list of things you are not supposed to feed a baby until they reach a certain age - nuts, honey, certain fish and shellfish, egg whites, citrus fruits and juices, etc. I was like "Okay, no big deal. There's plenty of other things to try in the meantime."

But my husband is convinced that this book is bullshit. All baby books, actually. He wants to feed D scrambled eggs when he makes breakfast on the weekends. He wants to give him little bits of orange and strawberry. He wants to let him try peanut butter and lick the salt off of his snack peanuts. And I'm all "Oh noes! You can't do that! WTE says you can't do it because of food allergies and blah blah blah and ZOMG please don't!!!"

He just gives me a withering look and says "Helicopter much?" Which really pisses me off because if I have one single goal as a parent, it is to not become a so-called Helicopter Parent.

I managed to convince him to just let it go, at least for now, by arguing that there are so many other things we can feed him, we don't need to be in a hurry for those specific allergy-risk foods. He rolled his eyes, but let it go.

On a recent trip to the grocery store during which I needed to stock up on some jar baby food, I noticed a couple of things. First, Gerber makes level 2 purees that include fruits from the no-no list - oranges, pineapple, strawberries. Second, many of the level 2 mixed foods such as mixed veggies with whole wheat pasta contain EGG WHITES and TUNA OIL.


So now I'm kinda pissed. Why does WTE tell me that I can't feed my kid oranges, but it's okay for Gerber to do it? Why do they tell me to only feed him egg yolks, not the whites, but it's okay for Gerber to do it? And most importantly....

What the hell do I say to my husband NOW??? (Besides you were right. Ugh, I gag just typing that!)

The bastards.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekly Menu & Recipes

See the related posts link at the bottom for some background on my weekly menu posts. Be sure to check back for my reviews in the comments section next week!

The theme this week seems to be substituting proteins, as you're about to see:

Chicken Orzo Salad w/ Goat Cheese - This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It tastes so good the next day after it's nice and cold and the flavors have blended in the fridge. I chose this recipe this week to use up the rest of the goat cheese from the walnut pasta dish I made last week, and I'm making it specifically for my lunches. So tasty, so good for you, so damn easy.

It really does look this pretty too. 

Sauteed Cod w/ Plum Tomatoes & Spinach + roasted red potatoes. The original recipe calls for Snapper, which I couldn't find so I decided to go with some fresh Cod Loin instead. I have never cooked cod before, so we'll see how it goes.

Spicy Sweet & Sour Chicken - A new Asian-influenced dish for us. I was drawn to this recipe because the blurb describes the sauce as "lighter and fresher-tasting" than the version you find in restaurants. We'll see how accurate that is. I plan on serving over white rice.

Salmon w/ Orange-Caper Relish w/ salad- Original recipe is for Arctic Char, which I have never once seen in my life. But Salmon is a ready sub for Arctic Char, so that's what we're going with. I wanted to try this one while oranges are still pretty good quality.

Chicken a la Provencal over mixed greens & garlic bread - This recipe was written for Halibut, but the page from the magazine issue says it also works well with chicken. I didn't want to overload on fish this week since it's not cheap, so I decided to try it with the chicken. I've been sitting on this one for awhile because I couldn't find Herbs de Provence, but as soon as I found them in the market I decided to pull this recipe out to give it a go.

Corn & Potato Chowder - I love everything about chowders - making them, eating them. I already have a pretty good corn chowder recipe, but I want to try the Cooking Light version to see how it compares.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts w/ Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce + Pecorino-Garlic Brussels Sprouts. Another basic chicken recipe to try. I don't typically eat Brussels sprouts. Although I love most vegetables in this world, I never quite warmed up to this one. There never seemed to be enough butter in the world to make them taste good. But in an effort to broaden our horizons and set a good example for the baby, we're going to give this one a shot. I figure, anything with Pecorino & garlic has to be at least pretty good, right?

Spaghetti w/ Meatballs - My hubby requested this meal for this week since he's been craving some basic pasta. Confession - I will be using Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce out of the jar because a) it's goddamn good stuff and b) I don't have the time or patience to make my own sauce at this point. So the recipe link is really for the meatballs, which I have never made by hand before. I imagine the turkey sausage is going to make them pretty damn awesome, I plan on using hot sausage rather than sweet.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleep: The Experiment

The Problem: D's sleep has been going haywire for a couple of months now. He used to sleep from about 10-10:30pm until between 6 and 7am. When he woke up in the morning, I would take him back to bed with me, nurse him, and he would go back to sleep until about 8:30-9. It was glorious. His naps during the day were shorter - he would be awake for 2 hours, sleep for 45-90 mins, and go through this cycle again about 3-4 times during the day. 

Now, he goes to bed about 9-9:30pm. Sometimes, like last night, he will sleep until 5-6am. We have a rule in our house - No Babies In The Bed Until 6:30am. So when he wakes up, I nurse him and try to put him back in his crib once he falls back asleep. Lately, this doesn't work and he wakes up as soon as you put him down. Then I try bringing him back in bed with me. No dice. He kicks me, pulls my hair, whines, does everything BUT go back to sleep. This means that on the best nights, when he doesn't wake up several times in between, I get 6 hours of sleep. And That. Sucks. 

So we get up, he plays. Then he gets exhausted and whiny and goes down for a nap around 10am. This nap has been known to be as long as 3.5 hours. Later in the afternoon he might take another nap for 45mins-1hr, and sometimes if we're lucky we'll get an early evening nap after dinner. 

In summation, the kid's sleep pattern is fucked up and I need to fix it before I lose my mind.

Literature Review: A search of The Googlez, a flip through What To Expect The First Year, Baby 411, and every other baby book, message board, article I can find recommend Crying It Out, The Ferber Method, and various other so-called "Sleep-Training Methods" that others find successful. D does not respond to any of them. He will cry until his little lungs collapse and then not only did no one get any sleep, but I feel guilty as hell on top of that.

Some of the literature suggests that babies at this age begin to change their nap routines - adding and dropping naps, sleeping longer or shorter amounts of time, taking naps at different times. But there seems to be something else going on here because his nighttime sleeping is also being affected.

He is no longer sick. He is not currently teething.

Hypothesis: The disturbance in his sleep seems to coincide with the winter equinox. It has been gradually getting worse. In this amateur scientist's opinion, it is very likely that the lengthening daylight hours have been fucking with my baby's head. This possibility is not mentioned in any of the literature to date.

I believe the fact that my room has an eastern exposure and no curtains means that the earlier sunrise is making it difficult for D to fall back asleep in my room, but that he also won't go back to sleep in his room because he knows it is time to go lay with Mommy in her big bed. I think this is why his first morning nap is so long, because he is making up for the earlier waking time through a routine nap.

I think this problem is compounded by the later sunset, which seems to make him think that bedtime is sometimes actually his evening nap. When he does not have an early evening nap, he tends to sleep until 11:30-12 and then wakes up again and we have to nurse him, rock him, dance him back to sleep.

If we can get him to go back to sleep in the morning after his first awakening, I think it will reset his internal clock back by a couple of hours and his routine will fall back into place.

Materials: Room-darkening curtains to be placed in the master bedroom, since the baby's room already has some. 

Method: Bribe my husband to finally, Finally, Finally put up the curtain rods in the master bedroom so I can hang up the curtains myself. Once they are in place, I will retry the method of bringing the baby into my room to sleep in the morning. Data will consist of whether or not the child returns to sleep, coded as "Yes" or "No" and the amount of the sleep recorded if the response is "Yes." 

Data will be collected beginning on 2/23/11 and continue until Mama gets some motherfucking sleep. 

Check back for the results.

Oh yeah, and wish me luck!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weekly Menu & Recipes

This week is a little longer than usual. I won't get into the whole explanation so let's just say I can't always get to the grocery store on the same day every week so sometimes I have to plan more meals in advance than normal.

So here's what's being eaten in JLK's dining room this week:

Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta w/ a Soft Egg. Ate this tonight. I thought it was pretty good, my husband didn't like it at all and told me to throw away the recipe. So I won't be making this again. My recommendations - absolutely MUST use fresh linguine, I think it would be disgusting with dried linguine; I didn't think there was any added value using a fresh French bread loaf, I think it would've been fine with some regular old breadcrumbs; If I was going to make it again, I wouldn't grind the walnuts up as finely as I did this time. I think a coarse grind would have added some interesting textural variation; Finally, don't skip the goat cheese unless you're morally opposed to it or something. It's just too damn good to leave out.

Chicken w/ Creamy Dijon sauce + Yukon gold mashed potatoes + veggies. The chicken is a new one for us, I'll let you know how it comes out in the comments.

Southwest Salsa Burgers + Herbed Sweet Potato Fries. If you try no other recipe that I post on this blog, try this one. (Both, actually, but especially the burgers.) Get the good fresh salsa that they keep in the produce section with the prechopped veggies and salad. I like to use Sargento sliced reduced-fat pepper jack cheese on mine, and I often skip the tomato slices and just put the extra salsa on top. These come out so juicy, so flavorful, so good, it's ridiculous. I've even made them as sliders to bring to a party. The sweet potato fries are so quick and easy but the taste is amazing. I don't even measure the herbs anymore, just sprinkle them on as I please. I use Alexia frozen sweet potato fries that I get at Costco to make them and they're fantastic. I guarantee your kids will love them!

Turkey Sausage-Gnocchi Soup. I made this one a couple of weeks ago and my husband has been asking ever since for me to make a big batch of it and freeze some for his work lunches. So that's what I'll be doing on Sunday. See my previous post about this recipe here. The review is in the comments section.

Falafel w/ Avocado Spread. We'll be trying this one on Monday. Supposedly Cooking Light's best vegetarian entree.

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca w/ angel hair pasta. I have made this one before. A loves it, I thought it was pretty good and easy. We're mainly eating it this week because I have another recipe that uses prosciutto and I didn't want to waste any. I won't be using the fresh sage leaves this time though because it's not worth the cost of a package for just the 2 of us, so I'll be sprinkling with sage instead. This is a very pretty dish, worthy of serving to company (it really does look like this when you make it):

Chicken w/ Pico de Gallo + Cilantro rice. This recipe is a freebie, because I won't be making the pico de gallo as described. Instead I'm going to use some more of the fresh salsa I bought for my salsa burgers. That means I'm basically salt & peppering the chicken, frying it, and throwing some salsa on top. Works for me! The cilantro rice recipe is on the same page in the magazine issue but doesn't appear to be online. I've struck out with every other basic rice from them with my husband, but this one has more to it than just cilantro and salt so I'm hoping this one will be good. I'll let you know!

Rotini, Summer Squash & Prosciutto Salad w/ Rosemary Dressing. This is what I bought the prosciutto for. Hopefully the weather stays relatively warm on Thursday so I'll feel all summery eating a fancy salad for dinner!

Chicken & Black Bean-Stuffed Burritos + Roasted Red Pepper & Corn Salsa. We LOVED this burrito recipe the last time I made it, so I'm excited to have it again. I was thrown for a side dish though, so I did some hunting on the Cooking Light website and found this salsa. I'm planning on trying it warm, I think. We'll see how it goes!

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Responsible Journalism in the LA Times!

The headline says it all:

"Diet soda and heart, stroke risk: A link doesn't prove cause and effect"

Holy crap, Batman! I can't remember the last time I read such a responsible article in a newspaper reporting scientific findings. 

Bravo to you, Rosie Mestel, for reporting science the way it should be reported!

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

This Week's Menu & Recipes

For background on why I'm posting menus or to see last week's menu, click on my post Tips for Eating Healthy as a Family. Be sure to check the comments at the end of the week to see my reviews of any new dishes we tried this week.

Chicken Orzo Soup & Grilled Cheese on whole wheat. Love this soup, it's very easy and is a slight modification of chicken noodle. This week I forgot to cook the orzo using the chicken broth and used water instead, but I didn't taste the difference. Oh well.

Fall Vegetable Curry & Cashew Basmati Rice

Italian Beef Stew. A and I love, Love, LOVE this recipe. The cooking time is a little daunting at 2 hrs 40 mins, but the hands-on time isn't too bad and the end result really is worth it. A little heavy on prep work, but you can save time by buying pre-chopped veggies and asking your butcher to trim and cut the beef for you at the store. The first time I made this I did it exactly as directed, but we felt it could use a little more bulk so this time I added celery, diced new potatoes, and peas. The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but I get more like 5-6 out of this as a main dish with no sides. It also reheats well.

Chicken Shawarma. I've made this one once before, and though the flavor is really good, A requested that I put the filling inside the pita next time instead of on top to make it easier to eat. I also recommend making the yogurt sauce a little ahead of time and refrigerate it to blend the flavors before serving. A very easy and flavorful recipe.

Salisbury Steak w/ Mushroom Gravy, Herbed Smashed Potatoes and Buttered Peas w/ Shallots. I love the Salisbury steak and the buttered peas, this week is the first time I'm using the recipe for the herbed smashed potatoes.

Hawaiian Chicken.

Roasted Chicken Chimichangas. We enjoyed this recipe last time also. The green salsa is crucial to get the right flavor otherwise they can be pretty bland. I never buy whole chickens precooked so I just throw some chicken breasts in the oven with salt, pepper, and cumin and then shred once baked through. If you have precooked chicken, this recipe is really fast and easy.

Bon appetit!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Can't Someone.....

...make Nyquil for babies???

First, I got sick. Then the baby started coughing and sneezing. My husband followed suit.

The last time D was sick you couldn't even tell if it weren't for how congested he sounded. This time he's miserable and refuses to sleep, waking up every hour/hr and a half last night. He was supposed to go to my mother's today because I had traveling to do for work, but I ended up keeping him home and cancelling my meetings.

Thankfully he doesn't have a fever, at least not yet. But he's so miserable, the poor thing. And all I want/need him to do is rest but he just can't seem to relax. I'm nursing him constantly to give him as many of my antibodies as I can, which feels like robbing Peter to pay Paul. But hey, Paul is more important.

But seriously.....Nyquil for babies would be Awesome. I would invest right now in that R & D.

I have some posts in mind for you guys if I get a free moment today or this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for my well-being.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

When Mama's Away

After I had D I was fortunate enough to be home with him for 11 weeks. My husband had to go back to work after 3. Prior to the baby, A had said he thought it would be very important for us to each have a night away every week (or a day) to go out and do stuff on our own or with friends. I thought this was a great idea, but also knew that I would not ever be the one to get out every single week.

During that first 11 weeks I came to learn a lot about D, mostly through trial and error. A wanted to figure things out on his own, so I tried my best to hold my tongue when he was around and let him work it out for himself. Sometimes this worked, sometimes not so much.

After about 6 weeks, I decided to take my first night out away from the baby for a couple of hours and bring a friend out for drinks on her birthday. I came home to find a screaming newborn, a stressed-out hubby, and chaos in general.

3 weeks later, I tried again. I went out for a couple of hours with old friends from high school. After the first hour I texted my husband to see how it was going. No answer. I tried again. No answer. At that point I could no longer focus on having fun and relaxing, I was too worried about what was going on at home. So I left and headed home. I walked in the door to a screaming infant, a stressed-out hubby, and chaos in general.

2 months later, I tried again. I went to a friend's house 5 mins away from where we lived at the time. I texted A to see how it was going. 20 mins later he said it was going okay. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed myself for a couple of hours. I came home to find a sleeping infant, a bitchy hubby, and an argument waiting to happen. "Right after I told you he was doing okay, he started screaming and didn't stop for like an hour and a half. I just got him down like 20 mins ago. Now I'm going to bed. Goodnight."


If I have gone out since then, I don't remember. Just this week I had to go out grocery shopping at night because of the impending ice storm the next day (when I had planned to go originally). I was gone for a little over an hour. When I came home, A informed me that D started freaking out right after I left and didn't stop until right before I came back.

Seriously, WTF.

Now, while I don't want to imply that my husband is doing something wrong, no one else seems to have this problem. My mom watches him and most of the time he's fine all day. My sister watches him and he's always fine unless it's nighttime and she needs to put him to bed without us. But for some reason, when it's A's turn to do single-parent-duty, D apparently loses his little GD mind as soon as I'm not there.

For the last 3 weeks, between work, the constant shoveling/snowblowing/roof snow removal, volleyball tournaments, etc., A has not really been around much and I have been doing single-parent-duty all day, every day, and most nights. This weekend is a drill weekend for him which translates to a 7-day work week. We have a military event to go to tomorrow night after he is released from drill, and then Sunday night is the Superbowl so the 3 of us will be going to a friend's house for the game.

I have an opportunity to go out tonight for a couple hours with a friend for some girl time. I can't decide if I want to or not. I know I need to get away from childcare duties for a little while, but the horrific guilt I feel when A has a hard time with him overshadows any fun I may have had. Not to mention the fact that I haven't seen A very much these past few weeks and won't see him alone at all this weekend.

But part of me is tired of only being able to leave the house when I am paying a babysitter. A gets mad at the slightest suggestion that he doesn't know what the kid wants, so I feel like saying "Then suck it up, buddy" when I go out and the kid is miserable.

But the other part of me is also guilty over thinking the kid is going to be miserable all night and if I was there he wouldn't be. I hate disrupting his routine. But the separation anxiety is going to kick in full-force pretty soon and then I will be screwed.

How about you guys? Did any of you deal with this in the past or are dealing with it now? What do you guys think?

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Screw You, Bravo

I don't have cable anymore. We stopped paying for it as soon as we realized that nearly everything you get on cable that's worth a damn can be watched online for free. That perspective really makes it feel like you've been pissing $100 out a window for awhile, right?


So we cancelled cable, and thanks to sites like and, I get to watch pretty much everything and anything I find interesting anytime I want.

Except for one stupid fucking network.

Yeah, I'm looking at you, Bravo. You asshole. (Or azul, as Domestic Diva might say.)

See, I got hooked on Bravo's shitty reality TV while I was home with a newborn all last summer. The Real Housewives, Rachel Zoe (who's pregnant! Yippee!), Top Chef, Millionaire Matchmaker. You name it, I probably watched it. And my husband made fun of me for it.

But apparently Bravo thinks their shit is too good to be watched for free online. Which is ridiculous when you consider all they do, all week long, is run mini-marathons of their shitty shows over. And Over. AND OVER AGAIN.

I've been pissed about this for awhile. "Watch full episodes online for free anytime at!" Fuck you, liars. I've already written to Bravo about this issue.

The bastards put totally random-ass episodes up online for free. Never in order, never on the same day of the week. And then they pull them after like 2 weeks.

What prompted this particular rant?

The fact that I received an update to let me know that The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion: PART TWO!!!!! was now available to watch online.

Not part one. That was never available. Not the season finale, which I also have not seen. Not even the last 2-3 episodes of the season, which they also have never put up.

I hate you, Bravo. You got me addicted and now only give me random fixes at your whim.

So there, Bravo! Put that in your Full Episodes Player and smoke it!

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The Things I Miss Most

Ah, I remember JLK back in B.C. (read: Before Child). I will have these things again, but while my son is still an infant I will miss them and remember them fondly.

1. Free time. Now, whenever I am not tending to the baby I am running around the house trying to clean, do endless piles of laundry, run to the grocery store, take a quick shower. And, oh yeah, WORK. I miss staring at the wall sometimes and being all "I'm bored."

mi annoio.

2. Sleeping. I think this one speaks for itself, but seriously? The biggest fear I have about having another child is that I might Never. Sleep. Again! And I used to sleep til 1pm on the weekends. Man, those were the days.....

3. Drinking. Actually, this one should say "the enjoyment of drinking" because I can still drink in moderation and even over-indulge if I have bottles lined up with the babysitter and the pump on hand, but it's not the same. I'm all boring responsible now and start to get paranoid if I even have a slight buzz that something will happen and I'll be That Mom In The News that everyone tsks at. No thanks. I'll wait until he's in college and then go on a bender. 

4. Drawing/Painting/Coloring, etc. Ha! Caught you off-guard with that one, didn't I? Me too when it hit me the other day. When inspiration would strike, I used to pull out all my art supplies and sit for hours and hours doing a single work all in one shot. Now I have to write blog posts over the course of 3-4 days, for crying out loud! And I have this super-sweet coloring book I got a little while back too that mellows me the heck out when I have the time to sit down with it. (See left panel. If you ignore the fake-Twilight theme, the coloring pages themselves are pretty sweet.)

5. Going Out Just Because I Feel Like It. To the store. To Starbucks. Even to the goddamn post office. Now I only get one day a week to do that while my mom watches the rugrat. But see #1 above - I usually spend that time working on the house, aka The Money Pit.

I love that movie. Especially now that we have a house. That reminds roof is probably collapsing from all this GD snow and ice!

Now tell me, peeps, what are the things you miss most, Before Children, Before Grad School, or perhaps even just Before Adult Responsibility?

And if you would be so kind as to click the link below to vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs, I'd be ever-so-grateful.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pillow Talk

Last night my husband and I were laying in bed, about to go to sleep when the following conversation took place:

Me: Well, so I'd cuddle up to you, but since you said you don't like that, I'll just stay over here on my side.

A: I never said I don't like it.

Me: Yes you did. You said "I don't enjoy it."

A: Exactly. It's not that I don't like it. It's that it's not enjoyable.

Me: WTF?! *giggles*

A: What?

Me: LOL. You're kidding me, right?

A: .............

Me: You know, it's not that it isn't fun, it's that it just plain sucks for me. *laughing*

A: *Trying not to laugh* Shut up.

Me: You know, it's not that I'm not attracted to you, it's that you're an ugly sack of shit. **convulsing with laughter**

A: *stifling giggles* Oh, go to sleep.

5 minutes of quiet pass.......



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