Friday, February 25, 2011

Recommended Reading

Kitchen Tip: The Many Uses of Baking Soda - This post has some great ideas for using baking soda, but there are also some helpful tips from readers in the comment section! 

The Wonders of Coconut Oil - Like baking soda, coconut oil has multiple uses outside of the kitchen!

Urban Prep Academy Gets 100% Black Male College Attendance... Again - In a city where 6 out of every 10 African-American males don't even graduate high school, one charter school has found the key to effective education.  Kudos to these educators and students.

You Know You're A Book Lover When... - The Picky Apple compiled a list of bibliophile characteristics and I can definitely identify with the majority of that list!  I sparkly pink puffy heart books!  Anyone else a book lover?

My Son, the Domestic Goddess? - One mama's take on genderization of toys.

If This is What We're Playing For, I'm All In - Some days I really want to ignore all of the knowledge I've gained over the last year with regards to the toxins in our lives, but then I read something like this and it reminds me why these things are important to consider.

What's a "GMO" and Why Should You Care? - A crash course on genetically modified foods.

Meet the Experts: Robin O'Brien - An interview with Robin O'Brien, the author of The Unhealthy Truth

Thursday, February 24, 2011

11 Months!

Jack is nearly a year old!  As his birthday is less than a week away(!!!) I guess it's time to get his 11 month update posted!

What is Jack up to this month? 

He's all over the place!  This boy is always on the move during his waking hours!  He's up.  He's down.  He's scooting.  He's back up.  He's trying to bang on the TV with a block.  Uh oh, no more block.  He's down again.  Now he's trying to climb into the window.  He's back down.  He's pulling himself up on the couch/chair/bookcase/coffee table/window sill/TV stand!  He's in the bathroom/bedroom/office/kitchen!  Go! Go! Go!  All the time! 

His favorite thing to do right now is to push things around the family room.  He has a walking toy, a riding/walking toy, and his music table, all of which he loves to push from one side of the room to the other.  He smiles and giggles while doing it.  He's cruising along anything he can steady himself on and I've seen him let go of things and stand freely on his own for a few moments.  Recently, he has started taking steps while holding on to my or Mark's hands.  It is quite an exciting time! 

Jack had a cold last week and experienced a drop in appetite, but this week it's back with a vengeance!  He has had several marathon eating sessions recently where he'll eat for 30-45 minutes at a time!  He's definitely moving away from purees and on to real food and he likes just about anything.  Although, oddly enough he's not feeding himself yet. 

I'm not really sure why that is, but he just doesn't want to.  We encourage him (and have for a while) to feed himself.  We put food on his tray, or try to hand it directly to him, or put it in his hand and put his hand to his mouth, or model feeding ourselves from his tray, but he's just not having any of it.  He loves to smash food and smear it around and throw it, but nothings making it to his mouth yet.  I'm anxious to see what he does with his birthday cake.  It may be the first time he feeds himself, or it may be just another adventure in making a big mess!  We shall see soon! 

He is drinking from a sippy cup now!  So far we've only done water, but we are planning to try milk very soon.  He has also figured out how to spill the water from a spill-proof sippy cup.  One of his favorite activities is to lay on the ground and shake his cup as hard as he can so that it drips all over him.  Sippy shower?  He loves it!  He's so weird...  :)

He still loves playing with the dog and tries to interact with her as much as possible.  Belle usually enjoys the attention and plays along. 

He's starting to become a little more interested in books.  He likes to play with them, and will sit still long enough for me to at least get through part of a story.  He has a touch-and-feel type book that he got for Christmas and he likes to touch the pages as we read. 

He still loves clapping and his new favorite is Peek-a-boo!  He usually does it during meal time and he hides his eyes and giggles when we say "Peek-a-boo!".  He also loves to give high-fives as of late.  We're still working on the waving.  He usually does it at random times rather than when prompted. 

We are in full party planning mode around here as this little boy's first birthday is coming up very soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FAM: Hormonal Birth Control Withdrawal

Oh yes, I remember now what's it's like for your body to transition from relying on synthetic hormones to regulating itself.  I remember because it's happening and it's not fun. 

When I stopped taking birth control pills in August 2008 my first cycle was 52 days long.  Normally, that wouldn't be a problem because hey, who wants a period every 30 days or so anyway?  Not me! 

The downside is that even though there was no bleeding I hit 28 days (where I would usually experience withdrawal bleeding while on birth control pills) and experienced cramping, fatigue, and overall yuckiness, basically the usual period symptoms sans-bleeding.  Instead of it sticking around for a few days and going away I had these symptoms from about 28 days until I had my actual period.  So, it was kind of a 3-week long period-like ordeal.  Not fun. 

This time around I'm experiencing the same sort of thing.  I'm on cycle day (CD) 44, no bleeding, but I've had period-like symptoms since around CD 28.  Not fun.  I'm guessing that the reason this happens is my hormones are going kind of crazy right now. 

As another result of crazy hormones, my skin is a mess.  It's oily and breaking out and gross.  Again, same thing I experienced last time.  It took about 4-6 months for my skin to relax and even out.  My cycles seemed to take on some semblance of normal after the first extended one.  Hopefully that will be true this time around!   

I was hoping that because I had been on hormonal birth control less than a year this time around that my withdrawal would go a little differently this time, but this doesn't seem to be the case. 

The good thing is that it feels good to know that I'm not taking any medications for the first time in 10 years.  10 years!  That's a long time people!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 20th

We have some carry over from last week because we changed up our meal plans a bit when the weather turned nice and we got some grilling in! 

Sunday:  Cheesy Beef & Pasta with Veggie

Monday:  Meatball Panini with Green Beans

Tuesday:  Chicken Bacon Avocado Quesadillas with Taco Rice

Wednesday:  Beach Shrimp with Salad

Thursday:  Black Bean Chicken

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Chicken Lo Mein

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recommended Reading

Jack and I are both dealing with colds right now and I can't seem to put coherent thoughts together unless you want to read a bunch of whining.  In the meantime, here are some interesting reads I came across this week! 

'Big Baby' a Surprise for First Time Parents - This new momma pushed out a 13lb 2oz baby boy after only 4 hours of labor and 10 minutes of pushing.  Definitely makes you think about the wonders of the human body and what's really "too big" for a vaginal delivery!

Thank You For Menstruating. Keep It Up. - An AWESOME post by a MAN about hormonal birth control and those seemingly glorious commericals telling women "there's no medical reason to have a monthly period".  Oh.  If only...

The 7 Foods Experts Won't Eat - The simple question, "what foods do you avoid?" was posed to people at the forefront of food safety and a list of the top 7 answers have been compiled in this article.  I always wonder what real people in the know choose to eat and feed (or not) their families.  This article gave me a peek into their world.

Considering Evolution and C-Sections - An OB discusses his take on how c-sections have and will contribute to the overall evolutionary picture of the human race.  I don't know if I necessarily agree with his take or not, but it's an interesting perspective.  I love anything that gives a unique view on something.

Let's Make Something Together - Lined Canvas Bins (From Diaper Boxes!) - Super cute upcycled project using a cardboard box.  I don't know about anyone else, but I can never use enough crap catchers... I mean, baskets and boxes : ) around my house.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 13th

Sunday:  Dinner at parent's house

Monday:  Valentine's Day!  Brie Tartletts to start, Pan-fried Salmon with Cream Cheese Pesto Sauce with Roasted Asparagus and Chocolate Mousse for dessert

Tuesday:  Dinner out with friends. 

Wednesday:  Turkey Bacon Cheddar Panini with Oven Sweet Potato Fries 

Thursday:  Chicken Enchiladas - carried over from last week

Friday:  Homemade Pizza - also carried over from last week

Saturday:  Cheesy Beef & Pasta with Green Beans

I'm linked at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Five Question Friday

This week I'm participating in Five Question Friday hosted by My Little Life.  I always love to read other people's responses to the weekly 5 random questions, but rarely participate.  And by rarely, I mean once : ) 

Read on to learn a little more about me! 

1. Would you rather be on ABC's Extreme Home MakeOver or TLC's What not to Wear?

ABC's Extreme Home MakeOver by far! 

I actually have issues with TLC's What Not to Wear.  Don't get me wrong, the hosts do a great job of making over the person, but it's pretty unrealistic.  They make these people throw out all their comfortable, everyday clothes (and often... it really should be thrown out/donated, but not all of it always!) and replace it with super fashionable outfits that are so not everyday wear. 

I mean, I guess that's what Stacy London wears everyday, but not me.  And not anyone else I know.  Because a super cute outfit with heels and accessories and perfectly colored and coiffed hair and makeup isn't really realistic for everyday when you're going back and forth between cleaning and chasing a baby.  I'm not putting on heels just to strut around my house.  I digress. 

I would LOVE for Extreme Home Makeover to come and do my house.  Knock it down.  I don't care!  Heck, I'd be happy if someone would just come in and re-do our solitary bathroom.  But as the Husband and I were discussing last night, we're just not sad/sloppy/decrepit enough for anyone to care about redoing our house or bathroom.  He proposed maybe ripping out our toilet and pretending we don't have one and then  maybe someone would feel bad and come fix us.  But I don't see that happening. 

So, anyway... YES PLEASE makeover my house!  And although I'd love some new clothes, hair, and makeup I just don't think I'd ever choose a personal makeover over a whole house makeover! 

2. Do you have any tattoos?

I do not.  I have yet to find something that I want on my body permanently.  Although, I've been thinking about getting Mark's name in script on my neck.  Because script writing makes everything fancy!  Or maybe a portrait of Jack on my lower back?  I'm still thinking... ;)

3. Do you tell your kids about things you did growing up?

Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with this yet! 

I like to think that I'll be able to share some (some, being the operative word here :) ) of my life experiences with my kid(s) at age appropriate times and in age appropriate ways.  I would like them to know that I've faced similar situations and how I handled them and whether I have regrets and hopefully help them figure out how to navigate the same situations for themselves.  But, I don't really know how I'll feel about the whole thing when I actually have older children.  It's easy to say how you would like to handle it when you're on the outside looking in! 

4. If the traffic signal turns yellow, do you stop or speed up?

Speed up.  Definitely.  Gotta get through it before it turns red, right?  :P

5. What's your preference: chocolate or chips?

I guess I'd have to go with chips on this one.  I've always been more of a savory/salty kind of girl, but I do have to disclose that I developed a bit of a sweet tooth during pregnancy and it seems to have stuck around ::blushes:: I still get near nightly cravings for something sweet before bed.  At least I don't always indulge!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recommended Reading

I love seeing what other people read and I often find really great articles and information through random link sharing so I thought I'd start posting a bit of what I've been reading lately. 

This week, I've been reading:

10 Surprising Foods that Contain Trans-Fat - They're talking about manufactured trans-fat here and I learned that (not surprisingly) manufacturers are allowed by FDA guidelines to advertise that they have "0 Trans-Fat" even if they do actually contain trans-fat.  ::scratches head::  Read the article to find out more. 

Changing the Education Paradigm - Thought provoking and entertaining video on our education systems.  The speaker makes some great points and the drawing that goes along with the lecture are pretty cool.

Beauty is More Than Skin Deep: Choosing Safer Personal Care Products - I learned that the beauty and skin care industry is totally self-regulated meaning pretty much anything goes as far as ingredients and what they actually have to disclose to consumers.  Pretty scary considering our skin is the largest organ we have and anything applied topically is absorbed into our bloodstream within 28-seconds of application. 

Lifetime TV Shows Us There's One (Unnecessary Intervention) Born Every Minute - Great recap and commentary on Lifetime's new documentary show "One Born Every Minute".  Did anyone else see this show?  It's filmed at Riverside Methodist in Columbus, OH and a Certified Nurse Midwife from the OB/GYN practice I go to was on the show, but overall I was very disappointed in the content.

New Research Shows Link Between MMR and Autism - Very in depth article about new studies which also found the MMR vaccine strain of measles virus in autistic children's gastrointestinal tract.  This is consistent with Dr. Wakefield's findings, which have been repeatedly discredited by the media.  Neither study has proven that the MMR vaccine causes autism, just that a link exists.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Natural Birth Control

Once I started really understanding the impact that chemicals have on our bodies and lives I began looking everywhere for ways to simplify and eliminate unnecessary toxins.  One thing I was still doing was popping a daily hormonal birth control pill and it wasn't something I was entirely comfortable with, but where to go from there? 

Enter: the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).

FAM is a form of Natural Family Planning which relies on your body's natural cues to determine fertile periods.  This method can be utilized to prevent or achieve pregnancy.

I first started using FAM over 2 years ago for the purpose of trying to conceive.  It took 10 cycles for me to get pregnant (I was charting for 7 of them) and during that time FAM gave me insight into my body that I wouldn't have otherwise had.  I also knew the exact date of conception, which is good because it can prevent worries or early inductions associated with the faulty conception calculations of a health care provider.

I recently began practicing FAM again, but this time for purposes of avoiding pregnancy. 

Prior to trying to conceive our first baby I was on birth control pills.  I was on them for quite a long time and I'm convinced that our (relatively short) delay in conception was due to the amount of time it took my body to begin properly regulating itself after cessation of hormonal birth control. 

After Jack was born, I went back on birth control pills because I had a newborn and another baby wasn't even slightly on my radar.  Because of a number of factors, birth control pills seemed the best option at the time.

Nearly a year later, which brings us up to current day, I'm ready to take back control of my body.


Well, I'm lucky in that I have never had any overtly negative reactions to hormonal birth control methods unlike a lot of other ladies.  However, I don't love the idea of taking a medication which controls a process which my body should be doing on it's own.  The effectiveness of hormonal birth control lies in stopping your reproductive system from proper functioning in order to prevent pregnancy.  It changes the way your body functions all month in order to block conception in the 12-24 hour window during which a woman is actually fertile. 

Not to mention, there are some scary potential side effects associated with hormonal birth control such as headaches, nausea and vomiting, change in sex drive, weight gain, stroke, liver damage, depression, blood clots, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and allergic reaction.  It can also mask symptoms of problems such as thyroid disorders or polysystic ovarian syndrome.  No thank you, I say! 

When practiced properly FAM is just as effective as hormonal birth control in preventing pregnancy.  However, "just as effective" is kind of a loaded statement because this method of family planning takes a lot of personal responsibility and dedication and more effort than remembering to take a pill.  If FAM fails it's most likely going to be caused by human error, not a problem with the method itself. 

How do you practice FAM?

Take your temperature every morning before doing anything else.  Every morning I take my temperature orally using a basal body thermometer (BBT).  I use a digital version and it looks just like a regular digital fever thermometer, but it's different in that it's ultra sensitive and designed to precisely record your body's resting temperature. 

When I was practicing FAM Before Baby I would just take my temp when my alarm went off in the morning before work.  Since Jack is often my alarm clock now, my waking time can vary a bit day to day and it's important that you take your temperature at the same time every day so Mark wakes me up when his alarm goes off and tells me that it's time to take my temperature.

Throughout a woman's cycle her basal body temperatures fluctuate depending on the level and type of hormones present at any given time.  Your BBT will indicate ovulation as well as impending menstruation.

Chart your temperatures.  There are a few ways to do this.  There are paper and pencil versions, paid online software, or several free online options.  Personally, I like to use FertilityFriend.  It is definitely designed for purposes of trying to conceive, but you can still use it to avoid pregnancy if you just ignore all of their pregnancy advice :) 

Observe and record cervical fluid.  A quick check throughout the day and note it on your chart.  Like BBT a woman's cervical fluid changes throughout her cycle and indicates impending ovulation and menstruation.

Some women also like to observe and record changes in cervical position, but I've never done this myself.

So that's my crash course on the FAM.  If you're interested in learning more about it I highly recommend reading Toni Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  I think this should be required reading for every woman regardless of desire to get pregnant or your method of birth control.  I really can't recommend it highly enough!

I want women to know that there are options that exist other than hormonal birth control and barrier methods.  FAM is not the right choice for everyone, but it is an option worth considering.

Have you ever utilized FAM or any other form of natural family planning to prevent or achieve pregnancy?  What was your experience?  Or, is FAM something you would like to try?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Week of February 6th

Sunday:  We're having friends over for the Superbowl so I'm making some snacks to nom on throughout the game - Soft Pretzel Bites with a cheese sauce for dunking, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Sliders, and Black Bean and Corn Salsa.

Monday:  Lentil Tacos with Leftover Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Tuesday:  Roast Pork Sandwiches with Veggie

Wednesday:  Crunchy Honey Chicken with Brown Rice

Thursday:  Chicken Enchiladas 

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Monterey Melt Panini with Sweet Potato Fries

I'm linked at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This is your brain Before Baby

This is your brain After Baby

Any questions?

Yesterday I was asked a question that pertained to what I did Before Baby.  Yes, not too long ago I possessed useful knowledge that could be applied in a setting where people paid for my opinion.  People called me to answer their questions and provide guidance and entrusted important tasks to me.  I had knowledge that I learned over time.  I spent years adding to that knowledge and knew everything, all the ins-and outs, of my line of work. 



I was asked a few simple questions.  Questions that I gave the answer to daily one short year ago and yesterday, I struggled for the answer.  I realized that the part of my brain that once housed this useful information is now foggy and disorganized.  I was able to recall bits and pieces of information, but certainly nothing near what I used to know. 

And that scares me.

In one year's time I have lost knowledge.  It has been replaced by things like, what chemicals to look out for in commercial cleaning products or conventionally grown foods, the best price for staple grocery items, and different cloth diapering options.  Knowledge that's useful to me and my household, but not necessarily things that other people care about.

If my brain has so quickly forgotten things that I used to deal with everyday, for years, what will happen 2 years from now, or 3? 

There's no set time on when I might want to return to the workforce in some capacity, but eventually I may want to.  And what if I no longer have the skills to make myself desirable to employers? 

What if they're not impressed by a big, gaping hole in the middle of my work experience? 

What if going back isn't an option? 

What if...


Mom Mush.  My brain is Mom Mush.