Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Post About Food

I have never posted about food, but I do admit that I love it.  I seriously love to eat.  I also love to cook, but you wouldn't ever guess that since Paul is the one who does the bulk of the cooking in the house.  I don't like cooking for the kids.  They're picky, they tell me they hate things that I slave over a hot stove for, and they don't like their green beans to touch onions.  Ever.

So there's no fun in cooking for them.  But I do love to cook.  Before Children (BC), I loved hosting parties and get-togethers so I could showcase my talents, trying out new recipes and testing new ways to prepare old favorites.  Once children came, it was too much to do all that, and clean the house, and keep the kids fed, and change diapers... So I stopped.

But every now and then, I get the urge and inspiration.  Today we're on our way to the local PLSO (Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon) chapter's summer picnic, so I made one of my old standby favorites  - Macaroni Salad.

For those of you who don't know me, we have been gluten and dairy free for almost 5 years.  I have spent that time tweaking old recipes into new ones that work for our family.  This is one such recipe, and it keeps getting better!  For Father's Day, I bought Paul a Vitamix, so this version has homemade mayo.  If you've never liked conventional mayo from the store, I highly recommend that you make your own.  I can't stand the stuff, but the first time I made my own, I ate half the jar.

You see -- it's not all weird whiteness.  It has a nice yellow sheen.  I think it has to do with the fact that you use dry mustard in the recipe...

 ..but I also use farm fresh eggs.  I love living in Portland.  Everyone has chickens (except me), so you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who wants to sell you some of theirs.
 So back to this macaroni salad that I made (with home-made mayo from farm-fresh eggs, because that's how we Belchigators roll).  I chopped up 1/2 of a gigantic onion, two stalks of celery and a red bell pepper. 

Then I mixed up my mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard.  (Why, yes.  That is the whisk attachment to my hand-held mixer!  I'm classy like that)

 Then I cooked up my pasta.  I use Trader Joe's brand gluten free pasta.  I cook it for 10-11 minutes (the instructions say 7-10) so that it's good and done.  Once it sits in the fridge for a few days, it starts to get crunchy, so it's best to start out with really well done noodles.  I drain them and rinse them with cold water.  And when I rinse them, I really rinse them.  I stir them around and make sure that every single noodle is good and cold.

 Then I mix up the noodles with the veggies...

 ...dump the sauce on and stir.  Voila!  Delicious macaroni salad!

And now that you want to make some because you know I'm eating this while I type (and getting that yummy sauce all over my keyboard), here is the recipe.  Enjoy!!

Gluten Free Macaroni Salad

  • 2 - 16oz packages Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pasta (I use the Fusilli)
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Prepared Yellow Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Chop onion, celery and bell pepper and set aside in large bowl.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water for 10-11 minutes, until very well done. Drain and rinse well so that every piece of pasta is cool to the touch.
  3. While pasta is cooking, whisk together mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper by hand.
  4. Add cooled pasta to veggies and mix. Pour sauce over and mix well, so that everything is coated.
  5. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Strength In Numbers

So, I'm on this message board on Facebook for a Baby & Me group from the hospital.  The Baby & Me groups were formed by the hospital for new parents to get together and share the joys and despair of new parenthood.  It's mostly moms, even though the hospital promotes it as a place for anyone to come.  On this board, I have a friend, whose daughter is about 6 months younger than L.  She recently posted a question asking the other moms what to do about her daughter screaming in restaurants.  There was a ton of advice, and most moms posted what they do/did, and how long this phase of screaming in restaurants lasted for them.  It's an awesome place to go (both physically and electronically) to get a lot of ideas and commiserate over motherhood.

The thing that struck me, wouldn't leave me, and kept me up last night was the fact that she mentioned that while at a "family friendly" restaurant, she got disparaging looks for the fact that her 19 month old daughter was screaming (and then giggling like a fool because she was getting the attention she wanted) during dinner.  After reading all the responses, it seems to me like every toddler does this at some point in their life.  So I couldn't figure out how people at this restaurant could be put off by it.  If you have a family, you've been through this.  Are you so far separated from the toddler years and early motherhood that you forget? Or have you rewritten your personal history in your head that tells you that your children never did such things?

Motherhood (and fatherhood) is the single-most difficult job you will ever have in your entire life, for the least amount of pay.  It is also the most isolating life change a woman experiences, which is why, I think, so many women judge other mothers' parenting skills and choices.  You don't get much public support and praise for giving your best, just disdain for the outcome of your child screaming in a restaurant, peeing on the waiting room floor of the pediatrician's office, or having an all-out, on the floor, kicking and screaming meltdown at Target because you came to buy toilet paper, not a Thomas train.

When E was a baby, another new mom friend of mine & I went to one of those big consignment sales in downtown Portland.  Another couple of moms noticed the diapers our kids were wearing, and made a sweet comment: "Cute diapers!"  I noticed that those moms used cloth diapers, too, so I decided to show off my awesome cloth/disposable hybrid gDiapers, which are a local company (because local is good in Portland, right?)  The two women looked us up & down with disgust and stated "We only use wool," and walked off. 


I couldn't believe that another mother could do something like that - to make another mother feel inferior to you just because they made a different choice about what they should catch poop with.  I went home and thought about this for a while.  And by "a while," I mean, I am still thinking about this.  I will be the first person to admit that I judge.  Rather, have judged.  Past tense.  When you're a new mom, and the majority of the advice you get is 30 year old stuff from your mom who takes it as a personal affront that you're not doing things the way she did it, you need some way to validate your choices as a mother.  When you're pushing your happy kid through the grocery store and someone else's is whining over not getting chocolate, admit it.  You smile to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back because your child would never do that... at least not at this particular moment in time.

When I realized and acknowledged the fact that I was silently judging other moms, I knew I had to do something to change, or I might become that mom at the consignment sale.  It doesn't take long to go from silent, passive judge, to loud, obnoxious, overt, pushy judge.  But what could I do?  How could I feel good about my parenting choices in a world of parents who are different from me?  Yes, I had friends who exclusively breastfed, but not all of them used cloth diapers.  I had friends who used cloth diapers who bottle fed.  I had friends who nursed exclusively and used cloth diapers, but turned their kids forward facing at 1 year.  If I surrounded myself with people who did exactly what I did, I would be a group of 1.  And then I realized why it was that motherhood is so frigging isolating.  There is not one person who parents exactly like you.  There is not one person who will make the same parenting choices as you.  Not even your husband.  And when you're brand new at this job, you really need some validation to know that your choices are good and right.  Hell, even when you're at it for a few years, you need that validation, because even though you've been a mom for 10 years, this is the first time you've been a mom to a 10 year old.

And that is when I made the conscious decision to support every mother I met, no matter what, in their decisions and their parenthood.  When I nursed in public, I would seek out another nursing mom and sit next to her.  While I'm extremely shy and didn't even speak (the internet is a savior to us introverts), just having that silent support and strength in numbers was enough.  Any jackass can tell one mom to cover up, or leave an area for feeding her child in public, but there are few who will speak up to a group of moms.  In restaurants, I choose to sit next to other families.  Again, strength in numbers.

But I can do more, I can do so much more.  When I see a mom struggling in the grocery store with a screaming child, I can say "I know where you are right now.  Parenting is a bitch, and you are awesome.  My kids do that all the time."    In fact, today I did just that.  While buying shoes at the local Fred Meyer with my kids, a woman with three kids (for those of you who are mathematically challenged, that's a 3 to 1 ratio of children to parents; a 6 to 2 ratio of kid hands to adult hands.  Try to wrap your head around that one) was experiencing the drop to the floor tantrum.

I stopped and said, "Parenting while shopping is tough, isn't it?  As if parenting wasn't hard enough as it is..."

She replied that she couldn't wait until school started.

"I hear you, sister!"

And off we went on our separate ways.  It was a short exchange, but I hope that the commiseration was enough to keep her strong through that moment.

I plan on continuing to offer encouragement to struggling parents in public wherever I go.  And I offer you a challenge to do the same.  When you see a mom nursing in public, give her a thumbs up, pat on the back, high five, whatever you feel comfortable with.  Same goes for a mom bottle feeding in public.  If a toddler is screaming in a restaurant, go over to the mom and tell her what an awesome mom she is for braving a restaurant with a young child, and how you remember those times.  When a mom is dealing with an all-out tantrum, let her know that you have been there, will be there, and understand everything she is feeling right now, and that she is awesome.  Hell, if you're feeling really good about it, how about you offer to watch her cart while she goes outside to help her child with an attitude adjustment?

Let's all make a pact, right here and right now that we will stop judging to make ourselves feel better about our choices as parents, and instead start encouraging others so that we all feel good.

Because 20 minutes of this is enough to make Mother Theresa drop the F-bomb.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Patience is a Virtue (and it's hard to be virtuous)

So, last Monday, I was gung ho and sure that L would potty train in three days.  After all, he was staying dry for up to four hours at a time (and through the night), peeing on command, and recognizing when he peed or pooped in his diaper.  These were all the things that E was doing prior to PTBC, and since it took her three days, it surely would take him the same amount of time.

I didn't factor in two variables:

1. My children are completely different; and
2. My time and attention/availability for potty training is much more limited.

Let's start with variable 1.  E is a thinker.  She often won't try anything until she's sure she can do it.  She will then do things over and over and over again until they are mastered.  The girl didn't crawl until she was 8 months old, and spent three months prior to that perch on all fours, just contemplating the idea.  When she took her first step, she crawled back to where she started and took another.  And then another.  Same thing with climbing stairs, swimming, riding her bike, and reading.  The girl likes to drill herself.

L is the opposite.  The boy hurls himself through time and space without any thought.  He started crawling at 5 months, doing this strange, gimpy-type crawl that was a half-sit, half crawl.  Whatever got him across the room, it didn't matter if the form was right.  He continues to trip and fall whenever he walks, runs or climb stairs.  I stopped counting the number of goose eggs he's gotten on his forehead from walking into walls and door jambs.  He jumps in the pool with complete disregard of the fact that someone needs to catch him, and on his second birthday, he ripped his upper lip tie on the play structure trying to climb something that was beyond his current ability.

The second variable is something that occurred to me on day four, when L obviously had enough with peeing on the potty, and I had obviously had enough with him peeing on the floor. 

The first day wasn't so bad -- we went through 9 pairs of underpants, and L was generally cheerful about cleaning up the mess.  Days two & three were about the same, with less accidents because I had stopped offering unlimited amounts of milk.  However, he did not have an increase in initiating potty trips, which I found to be perplexing and frustrating.  By day four, he was beginning to get adamant about not sitting on the potty, and on day five, he had a 20 minute temper tantrum when I asked him to sit on it. 

A friend of mine mentioned that he could always wear pull-ups for the first couple months to school.  The very idea made this earthy-crunchy-cloth-diapering mommy's head nearly explode.  PERISH THE THOUGHT!  I just couldn't bear the thought, and began thinking up ways I could fashion my gDiapers into training pants and then sell them my idea for a million dollars and a sweet "You're Welcome!"  But the next day was Saturday, and Paul was home, so he could be the level-headed person to talk me down from the ledge and help L on his way.

After we came to the conclusion that L's thought process is much different than E's, I started thinking about what other things were different this time around.  I thought that I had fixed the variable of us not being home to potty train, but I didn't realize that it was more than just that.  It was the amount of time I had to really spend with L, playing with him, commenting "Ooops!  You are going pee pee!  Let's get to the bathroom and clean up!" and generally just being there with him in the moment.  In all the moments.   Instead, I was halfway there.  Sure I was around during the day, but so was E, and we weren't 100% focused on the potty, the signs ("Hey, I see you're holding your penis, do you think you might need to go potty?"), or him.  And because of this, I wasn't able to stay positive.  You can't teach a kid to read or swim by screaming at them and getting frustrated each time they make a mistake.  Same thing holds true with potty training. 

So instead of losing my mind and thinking that we would never get this potty training thing done, and would have to pull L out of Amiguitos due to lack of potty skills, I took a deep breath, told myself that he wouldn't be in diapers in college, and kept on with what we were doing, but without the anger, annoyance or frustration.  I made sure to stop L in the middle of what he was doing, look him in the eye to know that he actually was listening to me (because he may hear my voice, but that doesn't mean it sinks in), and I explained to him why I think he should at least try to get some pee pee out.  The first couple of times were met with resistance, but after a while, he became my agreeable little guy again, and was proud of himself every time he peed in the toilet.

On Saturday, we spent most of the day out of the house.  We had to pick up our packets for the Bridge Pedal in downtown Portland.  We rode the Max, picked up our packets, walked through the health expo, and used a public restroom with success.  On the way back, Paul suggested we stop at the zoo, since we have a membership, and we were at the stop, so we did.  Again, lots of walking, lots of fun, a couple public restroom successes, and soon we were home eating dinner with the same dry pants that we had left the house in.  Woo hoo!!  And then during dinner, do you know what happened?  L got stressed out and started whining.  I asked him what was wrong.

"I need to go potty!" he yelled while grabbing his crotch.
"OK, hold it, we'll go right now," I said while carrying him and running to the bathroom.

And do you know what?  He did.  He held it, and then peed in the toilet.  It was something I was expecting on Wednesday that never happened.  And when I finally accepted the fact that it would take longer for him and that was A-OK, he did it. 

"I go pee pee in toilet, Mommy!"  He said, "I proud me-self!"

And you should be, sweetie, because this is quite an accomplishment!

On Sunday, we rode in the Bridge Pedal and spent the entire day out of the house in downtown Portland.  I didn't expect him to tell me if or when he needed to go, so I simply reminded him every few hours to give it a try.  He did, stayed dry, and that was great.

Today, he has initiated every potty trip, including one right before falling asleep for nap, even though he had his "nap-time" diaper on.

Dude, you rock in so many ways, and should be so proud of yourself.  Against so many odds (not the least of which is a mommy who keeps trying to apply things that worked for your sister to your unique self), you have been able to figure this out and get it done.  And because of this, you get to go to Spanish school in the fall, something you've wanted to do since your sister started. 

As for me, I see the light at the end of the diaper tunnel, and every day, I'm even more certain that it isn't a train.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Potty Training Boot Camp, Take Two

Today we begin boot camp again.  L has been successfully peeing on the potty (and sometimes pooping) since our terrible failure in June.  This morning as I was in the shower, he walked into the bathroom with no pants on, diaper in hand, telling me he had to go potty.  I was surprised that the bed wasn't wet, and fairly certain that we would find success this time around.

I got a digital SLR for my birthday yesterday, so I'll be documenting this like a crazy woman.  I'm sure my husband wasn't thinking my first subject would be still life with underpants, or random puddles of pee on the floor, but it's good material to get used to the camera.

I started the morning, by stacking up all 18 pairs of underpants on the back of the toilet.  I hope we don't go through them all, but you never know with this one.

I then gave him unlimited access to milk, which pleased him.

Within 30 minutes, we had our first accident, followed by a successful poop on the toilet.  I'll spare you that photo, but I did take one.

L happily changed his clothes, and cleaned up the mess.

He even put the wet diaper in the washing machine for me.

Apparently, he wasn't finished, since this happened immediately after...

But once again, he changed his clothes without fuss...

...and cleaned up the mess.

It's about 11:30am now.  He's had a couple more accidents, and we had a melt-down in the bathroom over putting on new underpants.  I thought all was lost, then I realized he must be hungry.  At the mere mention of food, he happily put on his underpants and cleaned up the puddle by the couch.  I plan on stopping the unlimited milk after this snack, since E will be home from camp in a couple hours and I don't think I'll be able to keep him out of the carpeted areas once that happens.