September 28, 2010 § 2 Comments
A while back, Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere wrote a post about the simple moments in life that make her happy.
That post has stuck with me and thought I’d borrow the idea, especially after a rather trying night with Peter.
He woke up at 1:00 a.m. wanting to sleep in our bed. I told him that it was still night-time and that he could come snuggle with us in the morning. When he persisted (he is relentless) I told him that there wasn’t enough room in the bed for the three of us. He then yelled at my husband: “Go sleep on the couch!” The arguing and good cop/bad cop acting (I’m the good cop, Pete is the bad cop) lasted for 3 hours.
I woke up a little grumpy and tired this morning (yes, I eventually got some sleep from 3:30a.m-6:30a.m.) and tried to remind myself that what happened last night, happened last night. Today is a new day and to get in a happier frame of mind, I thought about some simple things that make me happy:
1. Dancing at weddings.
2. Sipping hot apple cider at the orchard on a crisp autumn day.
3. Watching Peter play with his cousins or other kids his age: playing tag, talking their 3-year old language to each other, and laughing.
4. Preparing a healthy meal that everyone says is delicious.
5. Finding a pair of jeans that are comfortable, stay up where they’re supposed to when I bend over, and look good on me.
6. A satisfyingly sweaty exercise session.
7. Walking in the woods.
8. Partaking in good crusty bread, good cheese, good wine, good olives, and good grapes with good friends.
9. Browsing at flea markets and antique stores and finding interesting old books.
10. Spending time with family and truly appreciating the moment and the people.
What are your favorite simple things?
Updated to add some of my favorite pictures from the woods:
All of the pictures were taken at Garden in Woods, in Framingham, MA
September 28, 2010 § 1 Comment
September 25, 2010 § Leave a Comment
When I went for my mid-life (I hope at least mid-life) physical back in August , I had my blood tested for various things, and unsurprisingly the results showed that my B12 and Vitamin D levels are low. I don’t eat meat or fish, so I knew that my B12 would be low and these days everyone is low in Vitamin D. Like wearing socks with heels , Vitamin D is currently quite trendy.
My doctor ripped me a new one scolded me when I admitted that I tried to get my Vitamin D from the sun. In other words, I’m a little lax with the sunscreen application. She gaped at my pale and freckled skin as if I were covered in oozing lesions, and then basically told me I was stupid. I defended myself by telling her that I was wary of chemical-filled sunscreens. And then she gave me the names of some relatively chemical-free products (Neutrogena Sensitive, Coppertone Sensitive, Blue Lizard). Touché, doctor. But from where should I get the Vitamin D that I need if I can’t expose my skin to the sun? A supplement, of course.
Gah. I dread taking pills, whether it’s aspirin, medicine, or vitamin. I blame it on the Tylenol poisonings of 1982. In addition to the pill dread, I have an uneasy relationship with vitamin supplements in general. How do I know what is really in that pill or capsule? How do I know that it’s not going to hurt me? As I mentioned, Vitamin D is hot right now, just like Vitamin E was hot a few years ago. Where’s Vitamin E now? Just like hair scrunchies and acid washed jeans, it’s totally out of fashion. Don’t get me wrong, Vitamin E is still needed for good health, but research has found that “caution is warranted” when taking high-dose supplementation.
(The little nag in the back of my head is now swinging on my brain stem and singing “don’t take too much Vitamin D and B12, fa-la-la-la-la-laaah, cau-tion is warr-an-teddd…”)
However, I can’t ignore the evidence that Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies can wreak havoc on the central nervous system. What if my MS symptoms are really caused by a vitamin deficiency? Maybe I don’t actually have MS (MRI images and brain lesions, be damned).
I made up my mind. I will take supplements.
I’ve read about people having difficulty absorbing B12 when it’s taken in pill form. For some reason my intuition tells me that I have absorption issues. I considered B12 injections, but my sister–who is an awesomely amazing nurse–talked me out of going that route (injections open the risk of infection. And they hurt).
I heard about the B12 patch from Kevin Gianni over at Renegade Health. I receive his daily newsletter and he spent 3 or 4 issues discussing B12 and vitamin D deficiencies and solutions. After much reading and contemplation, I decided to purchase the patch.
I was/am skeptical of it. I mean, how does it work? But then I thought of the quintessential patch, The Patch, yes, the Nicorette patch: it’s been around for quite a few years and it seems to work for people, right? Somehow the medicine on the patch is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. (Which circles back to my sunscreen quandary: what kinds of lotion do you put on your skin? What potentially harmful ingredients are being absorbed into your bloodstream each day? With that question in mind, I recently returned to using coconut oil as my daily moisturizer.)
So, basically I’m running an experiment on myself. I’m going to wear the patch as directed for the next two months and go back for another blood test to see if my level has elevated.
I also purchased the Vitamin D3 that Kevin recommended and I’ll have my Vitamin D tested in November, as well.
I’m by no means recommending these products to you; I’m just sharing my experience and hopefully getting you to consider the real value of supplements. I am, in fact, recommending that you don’t take supplements willy-nilly. Consider what you’re taking and why you’re taking it. Are there any risks? Are you reaping any true benefits?
And I also hope after reading this that you seriously think about what you’re putting on your skin. I am, of course, not telling you to stop wearing sunscreen. My Dad has skin cancer. I am fully aware of the ramifications of sun exposure. I am suggesting that you find a good sunscreen that doesn’t have a heavy chemical load. I’m also suggesting that you read the ingredients list of the products you use on your skin and hair every day. All of the chemicals in that paragraph are entering your bloodstream. It’s a little creepy, isn’t it?
I hate to end a post on an ominous note, so I’ll end with this, my Saturday night snack: a spoonful of organic peanut butter studded with organic dark chocolate chips. And a glass of red wine. Who says I don’t know how to party?
Enjoy the rest of your weekend~
September 22, 2010 § 8 Comments
Right down to the food-stained sweater:
Yes, Peter thinks his new iPad is nothing more than a “game” that, to his newfound delight, also plays Thomas the Train and Curious George videos.
Every 3-year-old needs an iPad, right? Right? OK, I’ll admit that it was a bit pricey for a 3 year old’s birthday gift, but there are a ton of free educational apps and it’s amazing how quickly Peter picked up on how to use it. This thing is freakishly intuitive. I’m afraid that he’ll soon start looking like a mad conductor, thinking that the world works like an iPad – swooshing his fingers in the air trying to change a red stop light to green, or attempting to pinch and slide a bag of M -n- Ms into our Target cart. It will be a sad case of the realities when he finds out that life cannot be pinched, widened and slid around like the “games” on an iPad!
Oh, and I’ll be using it as well to manage the zillion pictures I take each week. So it was a happy birthday for the two of us Make that the three of us. Pete just emerged from his office to mess around with the new ‘Pad.
Even though it was in the 90s today, I’m thinking of crock pot recipes. I’ll post the good ones here. Feel free to share any that you love in the comments section :-)
September 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Peter’s school throws a birthday party for each child on the class day nearest to his or her birthday. So, today is Peter’s first school birthday party! And that requires me to provide the snack for the day.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the days of bringing birthday cupcakes to school are over. It says so right in the school’s handbook. You see, those cupcakes may contain peanuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, chocolate, and for all we know, mad cow disease. Cupcakes and birthday cakes are forbidden at many schools now since they may contain potential allergens.
I take allergies very seriously. My niece has a peanut allergy and because of that I held off giving nuts to Peter until just a few months ago. Thankfully he is not allergic, which makes snack time so much easier now that I can give him the nut-filled Lara bars that I am addicted to often eat. Being a student of nutrition, I am confounded by the number and types of allergies kids have these days. I just don’t get it. Searching the web brings up an array of theories, none of which provide a definitive explanation. But, that topic can be a post (or book) on its own.
I wanted to bring a snack a little more festive than a box of Goldfish crackers, so today’s post is about the wacky, but hopefully allergen-free, ”cupcakes” I made for Peter’s class this morning. I got the idea from Angela at Oh She Glows . (Thanks, Angela!)
I made a “frosting” by combining sunflower seed butter and brown rice syrup fluff:
Cored and halved organic apples:
Plopped the “frosting” on the apple halves and jazzed them up by topping them with carob chips:
(I apologize for the horrendous pictures. I was running very late this morning.)
OK, so this version tastes…fine. However, when I make them for us at home, I’ll definitely use the peanut butter and fluff “frosting” with real dark chocolate chips version. Peter liked both versions, actually. Regardless of the version, I think it is a cute idea and it will be fun to experiment with different types of “frosting.”
I’m off to pick up Peter from school. We’ll see how well these “cupcakes” went over with the rest of the class!
September 20, 2010 § 10 Comments
Three years ago today, at 11 a.m., this:
turned into this:
(If you want to read the birth story, you can check out my husband’s blog post. Yes, he blogged my entire labor and delivery.)
For a while there, I was doubtful that we’d have a baby. Once we were married in 2004, we didn’t prevent pregnancy. When 2006 rolled around, I started to contemplate adoption. I felt that fertility treatments just weren’t for me.
In October 2006, I woke up one morning with tingling feet. It felt like they were asleep, but walking around and massaging them didn’t wake them up. As the days went by, they became more painful and I had some difficulty walking. I felt like my brain had short circuited and was not able to communicate with my feet. Or like it started speaking in the tongue clicking language of Xhosa and my English-speaking feet were like “Excuuuse me?” It got so bad that I felt like if I had to run away from, like, a rabid squirrel or something, I wouldn’t be able to get my feet running. My brain just couldn’t tell them to get going.
After innumerable tests, in November 2006 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I decided to hold off on drug therapy. Instead I began acupuncture treatments, hoping they would alleviate my symptoms. As any good acupuncturist would do, mine took down my entire health history. As part of that history I mentioned the difficulty I was having becoming pregnant.
Rather than treating just my MS symptoms, my acupuncturist treated my whole body. In doing that, he kick-started something. I have no idea what, but I remember feeling a deep sensation, for lack of a better word, in my lower belly during a few treatments.*
One night in mid-January 2007, I was talking to my mother. (I don’t know about your mother, but mine has an annoying tendency to be right about everything. Growing up, I usually did the opposite of what she advised. Only in retrospect did I see that I should have listened to her.) But, anyway, we were just talking, and all of a sudden she got very serious and said “Amy, you probably shouldn’t get pregnant now that you’ve been diagnosed with MS. How will you care for a child when you’re in a wheelchair?”
My heart sank. She didn’t know that my period was extraordinarily late. The next day at work I took a pregnancy test, already knowing what I was going to see:
Of course. The opposite of what my mother advised.
*(I later joked that my acupuncturist got me pregnant. I thought it was funny! But my husband, uh, not so much, considering that my acupuncturist was a young, good-looking guy.) _______________________________________________________________________
So, here we are today. Luckily, thankfully, my symptoms have been stable for the past three years. My feet are still tingly, but they aren’t painful and I feel like my brain is back to speaking English and in control of the situation. I’m still not on medication. I no longer go to acupuncture (I would like to, but simply cannot afford it. I wish insurance companies would get with the program and see that acupuncture is a valid health care option.)
My passion for health and wellness is due in large part to my illness. I know that if I take care of myself–by eating well, exercising, and staying happy–I’ll increase my chances of staying relatively symptom-free. I can live with tingling feet, provided they can get me away from a rabid squirrel. And, right now, they can. I’m even in the process of advancing from fast walking to jogging. That’s huge! I rarely jogged before I was diagnosed.
Although I wish I had nothing to do with this crappy disease, I can’t help but think that if I never woke up that morning with tingling feet, I never would have gone to acupuncture. And if I never went to acupuncture, well, I may never have become a mother. It’s true that something good can come out of something bad.
I need to stay healthy for myself, my husband, and my now three-year-old son, who is quite honestly the most amazing person I’ve ever met. Being with him every day is a blessing and a joy and I pray that I can continue to run around and play with him for many years to come.
Now, nearly four years later, I can say for the first time in my life that my mother was wrong: I most definitely should have gotten pregnant. And I bet she’d readily admit it.
Happy Birthday, buddy. Mommy loves you xoxo~
September 13, 2010 § 6 Comments
Peter started preschool last week. I had prepped him well, I thought, in the preceding weeks by telling him the following:
“Mommy will drop you off. You will play with other kids and learn some new things. Then mommy will come and pick you up.”
He happily repeated this mantra and seemed to fully understand what the deal was.
The morning started out great:
When we got to school, he walked right into the classroom without even a second glance back at Pete and I. Other parents milled around out in the hallway with us. Some were calming their crying child. Others, like us, watched as their brave little one marched fearlessly into the unknown classroom jungle.
However, we may have milled around just a minute too long. Peter suddenly appeared in the doorway to show us a play hot dog that he was excited about (irony of ironies: he’s never eaten a hot dog and it’s a big family controversy). Unfortunately at the same moment, the teachers were trying to usher the parents out of the area in order to get the class started. It happened quickly, but the happy face he had sported all morning suddenly morphed into:
It was ugly. I’ll spare you the details. I had to go upstairs for parent orientation, but Pete had to head out to work. He later told me that he could hear Peter screaming all the way out in the parking lot.
When I stood in the classroom doorway later to pick him up, I saw that he was wearing his happy face again, sitting on the floor with some other kids. The teacher assured me that, although he cried for quite a while, he eventually calmed down once they got him talking and took him outside to play. He was fine.
And the next school day? Not one tear was shed. He blew me kisses as he walked into the classroom and said “Bye, Mommy.”
Bye, my baby boy.
September 2, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Hello! I hope you’re well. If you’re on the East Coast, the good news is that today looks to be the last day of the insane heat wave. Yay!
The bad news is that a hurricane named Earl is on his way to visit. Boo
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name Earl, I picture a big, hairy, unshaven man wearing a wifebeater* and smoking a cigar. And he’s a cartoon character. Regardless, what I picture is a badass. And from what I’ve been reading, this hurricane is aptly named. If you’re planning to vacation on the Cape over Labor Day weekend, I would say that you should probably rethink your plans. Please be safe.
In happier news, two nights ago I made another Vegetarian Times 5-ingredient pasta dish for dinner. And we loved it! Even though it was steaming hot outside, I wanted this for dinner. Next time I will make it into a 6 or seven ingredient dinner by adding spinach and fresh tomatoes. (I added fresh tomatoes to our leftovers for lunch yesterday and it was perfect for our picnic, even at room temperature.) I can only imagine how much better it will be on a chilly fall evening. It’s a real comfort food dish.
Orzo Lentil Pilaf with Feta
Serves 4|30 minutes or fewer
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils, or 1 15-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained
6 oz. dry orzo pasta (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese [I used full-fat feta]
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and saute 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in lentils, orzo, and 11/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until orzo is tender, and all water is absorbed. Divide among serving bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 2 Tbs. feta.
Per 1-cup serving: 326 Cal; 17 G Prot; 6 G Total Fat (2 G Sat Fat); 53 G Carb; 7 MG Chol; 426 MG Sod; 8 G Fiber; 6 G Sugars
As I mentioned, I’ll add some chiffonade spinach, or maybe even chard, to this dish the next time I make it. I’ll stir it in at the end so it wilts a bit. I probably won’t add the fresh tomatoes in the fall only because there AREN’T ANY fresh tomatoes in the fall. Another boo
And the final boo in this post is for the lack of a picture. I totally forgot to take a picture of the pilaf. Sorry!
But here’s a funny picture of Peter and his cousin Ethan eating bananas:
Maybe it’s just funny to me. I don’t know. It’s all I’ve got.
Again, please BE SAFE these next few days.
*I hope you’re not offended by the term “wifebeater.” I don’t know what else to call the white tank top that bad, mean men stereotypically wear.