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I am reaching that point in pregnancy (the point that actually hit me two months earlier while I was carrying Clara) when it becomes difficult just to remain upright during the day.  My energy is just too low.

Thankfully, I have only a day and a half of work left this week, and then I am unofficially done! Except for the three Fridays I agreed to work to give them a bit more time to replace me, but we'll call that 'Future Sam's' problem...  Next week, I start teaching piano again (16 returning students, when I really only expected about 10) and babysitting a few hours every morning for a little girl who is the same age as my daughter.  I agreed to babysit for a couple of reasons - 1. Since I was only going to have 10 piano students, the extra income was kind of necessary, and this little girl and her family felt like a comfortable fit for me so despite my aversion to babysitting for strangers, I agreed... and 2. Having an additional toddler around MIGHT just make it actually easier to parent a toddler while taking care of an infant.  I have heard it said that having twins is easier than singletons - after the first year - because then they are better at entertaining each other than only one child would be.  I'm hoping this will be the case, because I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed terrified.

ANYWAY...

Partly because I am needing to boost my energy, and partly because I have been neglecting this for far too long and let's face it - one can only eat so much KD and hot dogs - it is time to start meal planning again.

I am usually good at this for about two months before I flake out and we spend a few weeks eating fast food and whatever we can scrounge around the house, and this fall will likely be no exception since I have about two months before I will be having another baby...

My first step is usually to determine a framework for my meal schedule, and to determine what sorts of meals I want to include.

This involves making lists :)

This go around, I want to make sure I include a lot of high-energy foods to boost my energy right now, and along with this I think I want to try to reduce our gluten intake, so I've been looking into gluten free meal plans for ideas.

We definitely need to eat more veggies, so I am making a list of either veggie-filled dishes, or veggie sides to include daily.

For cost reasons, I also need to consider a few meals each week that are low in price.  This means we can't have steak and salmon every day, as much as I would LOVE that :)  So, I make a list of meals that are lower in cost - pasta dishes, for example which also often make enough for two meals, and other possibly meatless meals that use ingredients on hand like waffles or pancakes.  If I'm being pretty healthy otherwise, I usually don't feel too bad about throwing in the occasional $1 box of KD either. 

Then I make a chart for the month, and take note of which kinds of meals I should make on which days - early in the week I choose meals that make more leftovers for lunches, and on days when I'm teaching piano I choose meals that can be made ahead of time or quickly during my supper breaks. 

Then I start slotting recipes in, while paying attention to which category each meal falls into and trying to avoid scheduling any of the same kind of food within one week.  Usually I have at least 1 chicken meal, 1-2 vegetarian or 'egg' meals, 1 beef meal, 1-2 seafood meals and 1 pork meal per week depending on what we are doing.  I also typically leave at least one supper free each week for an impromptu family event, or simply to eat any leftovers we may have accumulated. 

I try to do one big shopping trip at the beginning of each month, and then weekly trips for produce and bread.

Someday I hope to organize myself enough to spend a day or two at the beginning of each month making freeze-ahead meals like meatballs, chicken breasts and lasagna, but I'm not there yet!

What are your meal-planning strategies?

What foods do you eat to keep up your energy levels, or lower fatigue?

What else do you do to increase your energy while pregnant?

 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 14:26

Too Hot!!!

It wasn’t long ago I was commenting on our frigid northern temperatures, wishing for the sun to come out and heat things up a bit!

I take it back, I take it back!!! 

Summer (in our part of the world) has barely begun, and we are already experiencing an almost unbelievable amount of heat.  Also, because extreme heat is not expected for a very long period of time here, many people still don’t have air conditioners (including us), so our house is hovering around the 29 to 30 degree C mark.  It goes up to about 32 during the day, and goes ‘down’ to 27 at night – if we’re lucky!

I spoke to a friend of mine this morning who had rushed her daughter to emergency with early signs of heat stroke, and it had me worried.  How do you keep babies and children cool when you have no way of lowering the temperature in your home below ‘freaking hot’??

We have been dressing my daughter in nothing but a diaper for night, we have her ceiling fan at its highest setting as well as leaving her bedroom window open and it still stays warmer than most other rooms in the house.

How do you keep your little ones cool in the warm weather???

Published in Blog

Today, my 16-month-old daughter experienced her first bump on the noggin (see last post)

I am NOT a nurse, but I called a local health-line to find out if I should be seriously concerned about Celia, and this is the list of questions they asked me, and things they gave me to watch for (in brackets are the 'good' answers):

  • Pupils - are they the same size as each other? (yes)
  • Is there swelling, and is the swelling 'soft like a marshmallow' or 'firm like a grape'? (firm, like a grape)
  • Does she have any bruising around her eyes, or behind her ears? (no)
  • Is there any kind of fluid coming out of her nose or ears? (no)
  • When she walks, does she wobble as though she's dizzy? (no)
  • Hold your finger, or another object, about a foot in front of her face and ask her to reach out and grab it. Does she seem to have trouble following this command? (no)
  • Is she speaking clearly, or as clearly as she normally does? (yes)
  • Is she able to use all of her limbs completely and normally? (yes)
  • Is she crying or fussing endlessly, and seemingly inconsolable? (no)
  • Does she confused in any way, not knowing where she is, or who you are? (no)
  • Does she seem afraid of you? (no)

I don't know what the opposite answers to any of these questions mean, but the nurse told me that if anything changed in the 6 hours following the injury, to call again or to take Celia in to the hospital.   In her case, there was no blood (they did ask me this), and I assume there would be a number of extra questions that would go along with a bleeding injury. 

For the 6 hours, I was supposed to check her at least every 30 minutes (if she went for a nap, to only allow her to sleep 30 minutes at a time), and then to check her every 3-4 hours after that for about a day. 

The nurse told me to watch for signs of confusion after waking from a nap - a 'deer in headlights' look, indicating confusion or uncertainty about who you are or where she is. 

It's nice to have 24-hour numbers to call for things like this...

Published in Blog
Monday, 16 April 2012 22:00

Be Ready for Anything...

I've been trying to read more news articles - particularly on children and parenting recently, and there's a significant trend in reporting on the concept of 'helicopter parenting', and it's quite a controversial topic.

This article on the Today Moms website, talks about crawling helmets being made for babies - not for riding on a bicycle or anything like that - but for everyday crawling around the house.  To protect them from normal baby bumps and bruises. 

I doubt that a helmet on a baby at 8 months will significantly affect how this child behaves when he is older, but the pattern indicated by the parents who require this at this age might just indicate a level of paranoia that will probably significantly affect that poor child when they are old enough to realize just how abnormal their parents are.  By putting a helmet on a crawling baby, you might decrease his risk of a serious head injury, but you are also likely increasing his risk of a serious psychological imbalance.  I have seen children who are 'babied' to a small degree, and they become adults who are not really confident in being adults.  They have been told that they need help and protection from everything, so they go along with that, and never branch out on their own or do anything productive for themselves.  They become unproductive and unsatisfied people. 

I have a 16 month old daughter, and not a week goes by when I don't panic about some terrifying possibility or another.  My daughter could get hurt someday - but honestly, there are no lengths I could go to that would protect her from everything.  There is ALWAYS - no matter what I do - the chance out there that she could get hurt, or even killed.  My daughter is mortal - someday she will die - and I pray that it is not for at least another 80 years, but no one has that guarantee. 

So, with every choice I make with her, I have to think about the immediate consequences as well as the long-term ones.  Ultimately, what will this choice do for my daughter, and what is the likelyhood of each possible consequence?

If I allow her to go to the park unsupervised, is the 0.0002% risk that she could be kidnapped enough to outweigh the 48% risk of her having less confidence as an individual if I keep her home, and never allow her in public without an adult closely present?

Will she be required to wear a helmet while riding a bike? Absolutely.  Will I demand she wear a seatbelt in the car? Of course.  Will I teach her how to protect herself and be wary of strangers? Yes. 

But there will come a day when she will the leave the house and I won't see what she does.  She might be 13 and riding a bike with her friends helmet-free, or 17 and getting into a vehicle and choosing not to wear a seatbelt.  Someday, she may choose to trust someone who shouldn't be trusted and allow herself to be taken advantage of.  And I will have to pray and trust that I have taught her well, and that she will choose by herself - with no one watching her - to be as safe as she can be.

As her mother - from the moment she came into being, I began the process of letting go.  The process of realizing that she is not part of me, but an entirely separate being, and is learning how to be 'herself' more and more each day. 

Yes, I want her to be safe, but I want so much more for her to be HER. Even if that means taking a few bumps and bruises along the way.  I have to accept the fact that anything could happen, and that is part of life, but I will make every effort to make sure that she is free to be herself. 

Published in Blog
Monday, 30 January 2012 21:19

'Poo Free' Continued...

I have been 'off' shampoo and conditioner (in the traditional sense) for almost a month now, and although I'm not jumping up and down about how awesome my hair is, I'm not planning to purchase any shampoo again anytime soon.

My hair is starting to seem less greasy on a regular basis, although it still looks and feels slightly greasier than it used to (immediately after a washing), it lasts for a couple of days as opposed to the less than 18 hours I used to get out of it. 

So, all told, it's not so bad that I want to go back to spending an insane amount of money on products that didn't really work anyway.

Here is what my hair looked like today:

Slightly greasy looking at the front - but not so much that it's obviously grease...

And this looks pretty good - although I've had a bit of an issue with static.  I haven't used any products except occasionally a teeny bit of hairspray to make the little hairs at the top of my forehead stay down.  I should also note that the color in my hair is entirely natural - those are not artificial streaks you see...

Published in Blog
Monday, 30 January 2012 14:48

Health Factor

Recently a friend (who happens to be in the medical field) downloaded a YouTube video for me to watch called "23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?". 

I recommend it, and found it challenging, but at the same time it made me want to scream in frustration.

I'll explain.  The video is based on the fact that walking daily - even if only for 30 minutes a day - is the single greatest thing we can do for our health.  It details a bunch of studies and statistics about how it decreases various illnesses and as a whole increases a person's lifespan by potentially decades.  The '23 and 1/2 hours' refers to the amount of time you 'can be a couch potato', according to the video, which simply pleads with people to spend at least 30 minutes a day getting exercise.

I understand that 30 minutes a day is a short amount of time - and really shouldn't be a complicated thing to accommodate into my schedule.  My frustration, however, is that it really isn't quite fair to say that for 23 and 1/2 hours we are being 'couch potatoes' (although I'm sure some of us are).

Today I woke up at about 7, fed and changed my one-year-old daughter.  Made breakfast for each of us, and then did a bit of cleaning in the kitchen while my daughter played.  Then we went downstairs while I threw the cloth diapers into the laundry and folded some of my daughter's clean clothes.  After she was done playing, she went down for a nap while I had a bath and did my daily devotional homework. Then she woke up at about 11:30, and was basically ready for lunch, so I got some ready for both of us, and spent some time planning our meals for the week, which involves a bit of researching and checking the freezer and pantry for ingredients.  Then my daughter played again, while I played the piano and folded and put away more laundry. 

At about 2pm, I was about to get both of us ready to go for our daily walk and Celia decided she was ready for another nap... it is now nearly 3 and I have to clean the living room, vaccuum, clean the kitchen and start making supper all before 6pm when I start teaching piano.  I should also mention that living in Saskatchewan in winter, going for a walk involves bundling up quite thoroughly, which can take about 10 minutes all on its own. 

Today is my easy day - most days I start teaching at 2:30 or 3. 

Again, I understand that 30 minutes is not a lot of time, and I should definitely be able to fit it into my schedule - however - it is not always so easy for a stay-at-home Mom to get everything done that I need to - especially one as flighty and unorganized as I am...

Published in Blog
Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:58

'Poo Free' Day 18

For the first couple of days of not using shampoo, my hair looked beautiful - although it still felt greasy - so I was encouraged to continue with the baking soda routine.  After a few days, it began to look greasier - although still not nearly as greasy as it would if I had simply stopped washing my hair.  I had been warned by various blogs that some people experience a sort of 'detox' period, and so after about a week I was far enough into the regime to back out and too stubborn to reconsider.

It has now been two and a half weeks.  I have started to wash my hair less often - once every other day, instead of once a day.  My hair still seems greasy to me, but I discovered that if I rinse my hair while scrubbing (baking soda seems to be hard to completely rinse free) for long enough - it makes a difference.

So, for now I continue because the lack of toxins from commercial shampoos and conditioners is logically the healthier choice for my hair, and although my hair is not (yet?) beautifully clean feeling, I'm still waiting out the detox period and hopefully it will sort itself out.  It is also MUCH cheaper than hunting for an effective product at $8-$15/bottle...

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 22:59

End of Day 2

My hair has been dry all day - I even curled it!  My hair didn't stay in curls, which isn't unusual, but I was hoping it would work better...

Although it still feels slightly greasy, it doesn't look greasy at all.  So far so good...

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 09:01

Day Two of Being 'Poo Free'

A while back, I was talking to a friend about how annoyingly unmanageable my hair is.  She suggested trying the 'poo free' method of hair cleaning - for those of you who don't know, this involves not using shampoo or conditioner in favour of baking soda and apple cider vinegar, respectively.

Lately I've been trying to cut back my costs around the house, as well as replace as many 'chemicals' in my house as possible with natural ingredients. (It just makes sense to me that we should use as many natural items as possible, since the animals we are are likely not made to use all of the processed junk we do...).  Also, because my hair is ridiculously tangly, I am always using a TON of conditioner, which gets pricy, as well as constantly trying different brands and products to find something that leaves my hair more manageable.  Nothing has worked, so I was quite willing to try anything.

Yesterday was Day 1.  As prescribed by various websites, I mixed 1 Tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water, and used this ratio to fill an empty shampoo bottle.  The same ratio was used to mix Apple Cider Vinegar with water into an empty conditioner bottle.  In the shower, I poured about an eighth of the soda mixture onto my hair, worked in as much as possible, and then rinsed.  My hair felt heavy and a bit greasy.  Then, I poured the same amount of the cider mixture onto my hair, worked it in as much as possible, and then rinsed.  The vinegar smell is a bit strong for a minute, but it goes away as soon as it is rinsed out.

Typically, after one missed shower, my hair is noticeably greasy.  I have even tried in the past to simply rinse my hair with water if no shampooing product was available, and I have walked out of the shower with greasy hair.  Simply put - my hair needed shampoo!

Yesterday, however, my hair looked great.  It felt a little bit heavy, and 'sticky', but it looked light and airy and very not-greasy.

Today is Day 2.  I washed my hair the same way as yesterday - I forgot until after I rinsed that most websites suggested only rinsing with cider vinegar every 3 or 4 days, so I'll skip that step tomorrow... So far my hair is still wet and in a towel, but I'll keep you posted.

 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 11:27

Changing my Attitude

Lately my husband and I have been eating out - a LOT.  Which would be ok, except that we don't have a ton of cash right now, since we're still recuperating from Brian being jobless in September, and we're not eating out for fun and to places we enjoy but because we're lazy, and we're going to places like McDonalds and TacoTime. 

In November and December, I spend a lot of time doing Christmas baking.  As I have been baking this year, I have also been watching online documentaries from my computer.  Mostly historical and religious stuff, particularly if they're controversial, but I happened to stumble on 'Supersize Me'.  Every one has heard of it, I'm sure.

I was surprised at how taken in I was by what this guy was saying.  It hadn't occurred to me that ANY kind of food could be THAT bad for you, or cause that kind of damage.  And although it's one thing to fill your own stomach with crap food and damage your own liver, it's entirely different to give this stuff to a child who has no say in the matter.  I decided that it was time for a change. 

We were mostly eating out because after a long day of baking and cleaning up after baking, I was tired and didn't want to do any more kitchen work.  And the option is always there - at the back of my head - when I'm tired, I can always resort to fast food...

SO - I decided to remove this variable completely.  I have forbidden us from eating out - at least for the foreseeable future - to give myself time to develop better habits, and to force ourselves to choose homemade food instead.  Even if we have to go out to the grocery store to get something because there's nothing in the house - we would have gone out for fast food anyway.

There is a new tab on this website - for recipes.  I have been scouring my family and friends for quick and easy recipes that they use, as well as recipes they use regularly simply because they really like them.  So, for every day that I use a new recipe, I will add it to my Recipes page.  I'm a bit behind, since I started this a couple of weeks ago, and some recipes will be without pictures - I hope that will be ok. :)

Published in Blog
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