Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My latest addiction

During the early months after Caleb was born, I started reading a lot and watching documentaries. I got kind of addicted to our i-pad for a little while! I was nursing Caleb about six times a day for 20 minutes at a time and while I love to cuddle him and soak up all of his sweetness, I found myself sitting for about two hours a day staring at the walls! That's when I started my books. This year I have read Radical, The Insanity of God, and The Kite Runner. They were all wonderful books, but very intense! Not "fluff" reading! After dealing with all of the intensity of those books, I needed something lighter. So, I got into Downton Abbey. I watched all three seasons in about two weeks time. I was obsessed.

In order to get my Downton Abbey fix, I started a Netflix membership. Initially, I planned on just using it for the free one month trial, but now I think I will keep it for a few more months. My latest addiction has been catching up on documentaries, particularly food documentaries. In the last month or so I have watched Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Hungry for Change, Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America's Greatest Threat and various TED talks about food. I also finally watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the documentary happy. I know. It sounds like I have WAY too much time on my hands, but the truth is I did most of this reading and watching documentaries either while nursing Caleb or late at night after the kids were in bed and Jeremy was working on one of his freelance projects. At the end of a long day with two kiddos, I'm not gonna clean the bathrooms or organize closets. A girl has to have some "veg" time. (No pun intended!) It has been a perfect escape during these long, cold winter days and nights. I'm thankful that spring is here now (even thought it still feels like winter) so maybe I can stop my Netflix habit soon.

After watching all of these food documentaries, I have an even greater sense of responsibility for my family's health. I buy about 95% of the food that comes into this house. I prepare all of our dinner meals. My children's relationship with food for the rest of their lives will be primarily shaped by me. Overall, I'm proud that I have greatly increased the number of meals we eat at home when compared to our pre-kids life. I'm getting better at meal planning although there is still MUCH room for improvement. Every Sunday or Monday I try to think about our week ahead and how many dinner meals we will eat at home (usually at least four). Then, I plan to buy all the ingredients I need for those meals at the grocery store on Tuesday (my usual shopping day.) A lot of the soups and crockpot meals I make will provide leftovers for another meal later in the week. So far, I have not tried to make a monthly meal plan. I try to make one vegetarian meal a week and one meal with fish each week (salmon or tilapia). I try to limit red meat to no more than once a week and rotate the dishes we like to eat. Meals have to be simple because I don't have time for anything complex. I have to be able to prepare it easily in the mornings to start the crockpot or in about 30 minutes prep time in the evenings (not counting cooking time).

I find the daily grind of meal preparation to be EXHAUSTING! It never goes away. I can have a couple of weeks where I'm rocking out with being organized and then I just get tired of all of the constant effort. Then, I get discouraged that I didn't prepare better. But sometimes, I just need a break! We probably break down and order a pizza about twice a month. Other nights when I'm feeling too tired to make a dinner effort, Jeremy may pick up something a bit more healthy at Panera or a local Mediterranean restaurant that uses fresh, healthy ingredients. I don't buy those "frozen meals in a sack" that are so laden with salt. We rarely eat out as a whole family. Jeremy and I may have a nice dinner date night once a month if we're lucky.

The take away point of most of the food documentaries I mentioned earlier is that as a society, we eat way too much processed foods and way too much animal products (meat and dairy). And it's killing us and costing us. Most of our common chronic diseases could be eliminated with a healthy plant based diet. Heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers would not be so prevalent if we ate better and STOPPED SMOKING! With my background in healthcare, I have seen first hand the terrible effects of obesity on our country. I've treated hundreds of patients with amputations, COPD, total joint replacements, heart surgeries (bypasses, valve replacements) and strokes. It's really sad and mostly preventable. I find it especially sad when people have no idea that lifestyle choices have either directly caused or contributed to their current health situation. In my opinion, nutrition education should be part of rehabilitation for all obese patients and those with chronic, preventable diseases (which the last time I worked was at least 75% of the patients I treated that day).

Like I said earlier, I have a profound sense of responsibility to make healthy choices for our family, but our food habits are deeply ingrained. I find it hard to plan a meal without first thinking of which meat will be the main course? There are a lot of vegetables that I have never or rarely eaten and have no idea how to prepare them in an appealing way (e.g. artichokes? brussel sprouts? Swiss chard? Turnips?). I am slowly trying out new vegetables, but I have a lot of improvement I could make with variety. Then, there's the whole thing about dairy. I can not imagine cutting out dairy! We love our cheese, milk, and yogurt around here, but dairy is an animal product and associated with a whole host of problems that I didn't really consider until recently. It is quite confusing! What about eggs? It seems like the debate over eggs goes back and forth. It's good for you; no it's too high in cholesterol; yes, it really is the perfect food; no, it is an animal prouduct....which is it??? Same with butter. Recently, I read that it is far better to just buy butter than margerine. Butter has one or two natural ingredients. Have you read the back of a margerine package lately?

Overall, it looks like this is the latest food advice that is here to stay: eat fresh and local whenever possible, limit sugar intake, eat your fruits and veggies, limit your intake of animal based foods, and don't eat processed junk. Easier said than done, though.

Interesting Diet/Dairy article 
This article isn't from a medical website. Would be interested in reading something from a more scientific point of view.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cute expressions

I wanted to write down a few things about Emily before I forget some of her little three year old quirks and funny expressions. Emily LOVES sweets. My sister and I joke that Emily should have been her daughter! :) For the most part, we give Emily pretty healthy foods. It's not like she has cake and cookies every day so when she does have them, she SAVORS it. Today her preschool teacher told me that it was Sam's birthday and his Mom brought in chocolate donuts for the class. She said, "Emily was SO excited! Most of the kids had eaten theirs up in a couple of minutes while Emily took about ten minutes!" I had to smile that her preschool teacher noticed this little quirk.

Emily is pretty communicative about her feelings and what she does or does not want to do. One particular morning, she did not want to leave the house for preschool. She whined and complained quite a bit. While we were in the car on the way to school, she said to me, "Mommy, sometimes I like to go to preschool and sometimes I don't like to go to preschool." She repeated it a few more times for emphasis. I told her I knew exactly what she meant. Her little observation about her feelings made me smile because it was like she was explaining to me why she acted cranky earlier that morning. We had a nice talk about how it is sometimes nice to stay in our PJs and not be rushed to go anywhere. I told her that sometimes Mommy and Daddy don't want to go to work, but sometimes we have to do things we may not want to do because it is the right thing. Emily said the same thing about going to church one morning, "Sometimes I like to go to church and sometimes, I don't like to go to church..."

We passed by Toys R Us on our way home from ballet class yesterday and Emily said, "Mommy, I want to go to the Toy Story!"

Emily still calls marshmallows "marshies" and sunglasses are "sunnys." So cute. I don't ever correct her.

Recently, I was joking around with Emily and "pretend crying" that she was growing up so fast and would be "FOUR years old on her next birthday." Emily was pretty calm and matter of fact and just said, "Don't worry, mommy. I'm still three years old right now."

While shopping the other day, Emily kept saying, "Hey Mom, Check it out!" Every time she found something interesting or cool, she would say, "check it out!" I don't know where she learned that, but it was funny.

I also noticed that she has learned the saying, "Coming right up!" I asked her to get something for me and without a moment's hesitation she said, "OK, coming right up!" haha.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Emily's First Tea Party

Recently, I decided I wanted to have a special play date for Emily. Winter was dragging on and I needed a project and something fun to look forward to doing. Downton Abbey and Emily's pretend play inspired me to throw a Valentine's Tea Party. I'm not a big planner, but the fact is that sometimes you have to start planning several weeks in advance to get a date on the calendar and make it work with everyone's busy schedule. I'm usually like, "Hey let's see if one of your friends wants to meet at the park tomorrow" and that's all the play date planning I ever, ever do. I had so much fun with this that I may have to make it an annual event.

So, we set a date and decided that we would have three friends to come over. Each friend brought their favorite doll and their Mommy. The little girls played with their dolls at the small play table and then had their "tea" at our kitchen table. The Moms got to eat in the dining room and use the good china. I was able to catch up some with my friends despite frequent interruptions from the little girls. I enjoyed searching on pinterest for tea party ideas. However, it was easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed by all of the GORGEOUS ideas that I did not have the time or desire to do. I kept reminding myself, "Girl, this party is for your three year old and you have a five mon. old nursing baby. KEEP IT SIMPLE!"

Hot spiced cider (instead of tea for the girls)
Hot tea and coffee or cider options for the ladies
Heart shaped Rice Krispie treats dipped in white chocolate 
Heart shaped sugar cookies with red and white icing and sprinkles
Fresh Fruit

Emily and her friends

Emily loved her heart shaped cookies and rice krispie treats

Love this little cake stand I got for Christmas and how you can change out the ribbon to match the decor.

Love how preppy she looks here. 

These simple sugar cookies took way longer to make than I anticipated, but I did enjoy eating on them the rest of the week!

Little Girls' table

Little boy who wasn't invited (but did make an appearance.) 

The girls had a good time setting the table and feeding their dolls.

Kennedy D.



And I include this last shot because this is real life

Emily took a few minutes to warm up to the idea of having several little girls in her house playing with her stuff, but once she got used to it, she had a great time. I was happy that the girls played and shared well together. It was great having so many sweet girls in our home. 

Special thanks to Jeremy for taking the photos and then disappearing with Caleb to the nursery for the tea party. He did a great job. I just wish I would have taken one photo of all the Moms and daughters together because that would have been awesome to have.