Category Archives: Food

The Greatest Thing My Mother Never Did

the greatest thing my mother never didWe all know of the pressures young girls face growing up, especially about looking a certain way and fitting a certain mold of what the world has decided is beautiful. And though I was certainly not immune to these outside pressures growing up, I had a role model to keep me grounded: my mom.

At home, I was never exposed to a woman second-guessing her body. Did she have insecure moments? She’s a human being, and I’m sure she did. Did she see changes in her body after having two kids? I’d think so, but I never heard a complaint about them. Did she undertake diets during my childhood? Probably, but I never saw evidence of it.

At the same time, she didn’t smother me with positive body messaging and tell me at every waking moment that I was beautiful and worthwhile and someone to be treasured. It was much more organic. It was much more simple. It was just a mom living by example.

Seeing my mom with a positive body image provided an awesome home base for me to grow my own healthy body ideas. While I’ve seen friends really struggle with the way they look, analyze every morsel of food they consume, and agonize over every imperfection, I’ve been pretty low key in that arena. I have always had a strong confidence in myself, sometimes dinged but never destroyed. And I know that stems from my mom showcasing that in herself.

Do I have insecure moments? I’m a human being, and I do. Do I see changes in my body after having a baby? Of course, but I strive not to complain about them. Will I undertake some sort of lifestyle change to lose the baby weight from my second pregnancy? Probably, but I will not allow my daughter to see evidence of it.

The greatest thing my mother never did was talk negatively about herself in front of me. And that’s one thing I hope to never do for my daughter too.


Raquel’s Little Peanut Shower

First, a disclaimer: this cute shower was not of my making. But it was too cute of an event not to take pictures and share them!

We took a trip to see some friends in Minneapolis and celebrate their baby boy due any day this month. Of course our first time traveling with a tantrum-throwing toddler was riddled with long delays, but My Girl did awesome considering the circumstances. And other than getting thrown out of an airport store (don’t get me started), I’d consider the trip a total success.

Her shower was a success as well – totally adorable! The theme was “Raquel’s Little Peanut,” and though it was for a baby boy, it would be totally appropriate for a little girl or a surprise. I loved the peanuts in the bottom of the flower jars, and my favorite tip I’m taking away from the shower was the three large circles cut from cute construction paper & arranged together under the flowers as an adorable centerpieces. So simple and sweet!
Little Peanut Shower Centerpiece

Little Peanut Shower Drink Table

Little Peanut Elephant Streamers

Little Peanut Shower Food Table

Raquel's Little Peanut Shower Photo Booth

And a shot of our baby boy bumps!
Growing boys

Get Yourself a Learning Tower!

My Girl in her LearningTower
Where has this beautiful thing been my whole life? I’m talking about the Learning Tower – the best toddler tool ever!

Okay, I’ve only had this for a few days. And the novelty could wear off. But in those few days, I have been able to assemble and cook entire recipes while My Girl “cooks” along side me. I’ve never been able to have that kind of time to putter around in the kitchen before this baby came into my life! And she is getting introduced to cooking, new ingredients and gadgets that totally appeal to her senses. Win, win!

Now Learning Towers are expensive – $200 on Amazon right now. I found a great buy on Craigslist for $75, and there are instructions on how to construct one yourself for $40. So there are definitely options out there worth exploring. And if you’ve got a toddler, I’d recommend doing so!
My Girl in her Learning Tower
Yes, she has two hair bows in her hair. Because that’s how we roll.
My Girl in her Learning Tower

Toddlers + Blueberries = Happiness

July means blueberries around these parts, so my friend Chandra & I loaded up the kiddos and headed to Golden Bell Farm for the morning. It was 9:30. It was hot. But it was addicting. Once you get going, it’s hard to walk past a pretty berry and not pick it!

Blueberry picking was perfect for our young toddlers. The bushes were at an accessible height, and My Girl totally got the concept of picking then putting in the bucket. Or picking then eating. Same difference.

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking

Blueberry Picking
Now I’m off to search for some blueberry recipes!

I made a lattice top!


There are a few things in life that truly intimidate me: one of those is going out in public without an ounce of makeup on (never happens) and the other is creating a lattice top on a pie crust. Though I love to bake, I automatically eliminate any recipe that calls for what I thought was such detailed pastry work.

But My Girl was asleep and My Hubs was not yet home from work, so there wasn’t anyone around to witness any disasters in lattice work. So I took the plunge and tried it today. And I succeeded! And it was actually easy. Apparently I’ve wasted a decade of potential recipes for fear of something that was quite simple.

I actually tried the lattice top on a casserole I pinned on Pinterest. 1) The recipe was delish. A must try if you’re in the market for some new supper time fun. I did, however, just use four tortillas instead of eight. It tasted great and brought down the calorie count. 2) It was pretty!

The Chicken Tortilla Bake recipe is over at Homemakers Daily, and I followed their lattice-top tutorial too. Check it out for yourself!

Sometimes, Breast Feeding Just Doesn’t Work

Sometimes Breast Feeding Just Doesn't WorkExpecting mothers are told a lot of things about breast feeding: “It is such a beautiful bonding experience.” “It will take two weeks to adjust, but it will get easier after that.” “Breast is best!”

But most are not told what I found out the hard way: “No matter how hard you try, sometimes breast feeding just doesn’t work.”

I was determined to breast feed. Nutrition and healthful living are important to me, so of course I planned to provide the utmost nutrition to my child. I took the nursing class offered through my hospital and discussed it at length with my friends who flawlessly breast fed their little ones.

So out popped My Girl and she was considered a champion nurser from the get-go. It wasn’t always comfortable and we had some awkward moments, but the lactation consultant making the rounds at the hospital said we were great. I was so excited my plan was panning out.

But then My Girl’s weight dropped too low within the first week of her little life. And she was severely jaundiced. And she wasn’t having enough wet and dirty diapers (new moms tirelessly keep track of these things). Next came the words I feared: “You need to supplement with formula.” I refused. Formula was poison, after all, and I would have a breast fed child.

Two days after this conversation, a home nurse came to check on My Girl in her bilibed, and her weight had dropped dramatically. The pediatrician’s office called in a panic and asked that I bring her in as soon as possible. My pediatrician simply said, “I know you want to breast feed. But my objective is a healthy child, and this child needs fat on her body.” She explained that her body was in starvation mode – she was impossible to wake for nursing sessions because her body was hibernating in order to store as many calories as possible to keep herself breathing.

But how was that possible? She was called a champion nurser and latched wonderfully and seemed to be drinking to her heart’s content. But she wasn’t. So I swallowed my pride and tearfully bought a can of formula. We supplemented with formula and pumped breast milk while I continued to nurse as often as possible. I wasn’t giving up.

At one of my countless lactation consultations, it was determined My Girl was an “ineffective suckler.” Born near-term at 36 weeks, she arrived before her suck-swallow-breath reflex had. But it was thought that she could mature her reflex by two weeks after her expected due date.

So for the first six weeks of My Girl’s life, I adhered to a ridiculous, breast milk-crazed schedule: 45 minutes of nursing, 20 minutes of bottle feeding, 25 minutes of pumping, 10 minutes of washing pump parts & labeling/rotating/freezing pumped bottles. This hour-and-forty minute routine was done every two to three hours. Best case scenario, I would have an hour and 20 minutes, but usually I had 20 minutes to brush my teeth, eat, bond with my baby, and – oh yeah – sleep and attempt to recover from bringing life into the world.

But I kept at it. “Formula is not an option. Formula means failure,” I kept chanting to myself. So I saw the entire lactation department at my hospital on a weekly basis, I called my sister’s lactation consultant several hours away, I sought out the La Leche League, I scoured the internet for tips and tricks, I used the dreaded SS system, I tried the nipple shield, I had friends offering advice and even positioning my kid at my boob in an attempt to get things going. But at our six week deadline, My Girl was only taking in an 18th of one ounce after a 45 minute nursing session. She was burning more calories attempting to nurse than she was actually taking in.

Then the focus turned from breast feeding to giving breast milk. So I ventured into the world of Exclusive Pumping – or EPing, as those in the know call it. I pumped 8-10 times every day. I woke up every day between 1am-4am to pump, even if my sweet baby didn’t, because that is the most productive milk window. I pumped in airport restrooms, during cocktail parties, in friends’ bathrooms, in the car – while driving. It was exhausting and incredibly inconvenient. But I was so head strong on avoiding formula, I did it without hesitation.

And from week two to month four and a half, my daughter didn’t have an ounce of formula. I was so proud of that. And then my pedestal was knocked from underneath me, and my body stopped producing as much milk. And then my frozen stash soured. And one evening I was at home with a hungry child, unable to produce any milk and without any pumped milk in storage. So we made a mad dash to the grocery store for a can of formula so I had something to give my screaming baby.

Then the focus turned from giving 100% breast milk to giving as little formula as possible. I tried everything to increase my supply: renting a medical-grade breast pump, popping fenugreek pills, eating oatmeal for eight straight meals, drinking Mother’s Milk tea and hoppy beer, power pumping for an hour straight, adding additional pumping sessions, looking at pictures of my baby while I pumped, taking perscription medication (that made My Girl projectile vomit).  Seriously, I tried everything.

Then at the five and half month mark, despite all of my efforts, my body just stopped making milk. And I started buying formula. And I became a completely less stressed mom. And I had so much more time to enjoy my baby. It felt like I had a new life.

Adding up all of the time I spent pumping, it comes to 26 straight days at that damn breast pump in less than a six month period. Essentially, I spent February attached to a machine. While I am so very grateful I was able to give my daughter breast milk while unable to breast feed, I can’t help but wonder how I would have approached the situation had I known that sometimes breast feeding just isn’t in the cards. And that formula is available for a reason. And that both ways of feeding result in happy, healthy babies. My Girl is proof of that.

Get Your Greens Breakfast Smoothie

Get Your Greens Breakfast Smoothie

We normally juice every morning, but today I just didn’t feel like cleaning that sucker.  So I turned to my trusty blender for an easier alternative.  Then I realized I didn’t have many choices to throw into said blender, so I decided to take a gamble with some random things.  And it was a hit with me, My Hubs, and My Girl.  She actually drank two sippy cups full!  Give it a try and get your greens in at breakfast!

Get Your Greens Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon (no peel)

Throw ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!