Babywise; not so much.

When I learned that I was pregnant it was not long before I got my hands on some books I had heard all about to prepare me for life with a baby. One of those books was Babywise by Gary Ezzo.

babywise

The biggest POSITIVE take away from Babywise…the “eat, wake, sleep” schedule. As a new mom who is completely clueless as to what you are supposed to do with a baby, or how to care for them, this could be a pretty helpful tip. Your baby should take a nap, eat when they wake up, have a play time, then go back down for a nap. Ok. That makes sense to me (We’ve broken this “rule” which I explain later on). Another positive take away is an idea of how long your baby could go without eating at a given age. I believe that its good to know so you can monitor your babies growth and progress, or if you’re nursing and have to leave the baby with someone.

Other than that, I found it completely useless. It just did not work for us AT ALL. (If it worked for you, power to you…this is just MY post on why it did not work for me.)

When I read this book I was DEAD SET on following its principals and having a baby that could fall asleep anywhere, take awesome naps & sleep through the night ASAP. Boy oh FREAKIN boy, was I wrong.

Why did Babywise not work for us? Let me tell you:

Ok so lets see…for one, (once he was no longer nocturnal and actually was awake during the day) Jackson would only ever take 20 min naps. TWENTY MINUTE NAPS. I would have finally gotten in the shower after eating a meal and be lathered with soap, and hear him fussing or babbling in the crib. When he was 3 months old we went in for his check up and my pediatrician suggested extending his awake time to 2.5 hours instead of 1.5-2 hours to see if that helped. That was what finally got us to 40-45 min naps. BUT Babywise said that he should be up for 1.5-2 hours and then he’d sleep for 1-1.5 hours until his next scheduled feeding… … … um, wrong. I would call my sister and say, “Why is he not napping as long as he is supposed to?! I fed him like I was supposed to, he was satisfied, he was tired, he wasn’t overtired. I. don’t. get. it.” Her response? “Melissa, he isn’t SUPPOSED to do anything; He’s a baby. Get that out of your head.” Ooohhhh. Right. Duh. For FAR too long I was wondering why oh why is my baby only taking 45 minute naps; “What’s wrong with him??” NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with him!!!!!! He is a short(er) napper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is not even close to abnormal. Some babies take 45 minute naps. As long as a baby is not overtired it should not effect night time sleep. He was on three 45 minute naps until about 8-8.5 months and then he transitioned to two naps. One is 1.5-2 hours and the other is about an hour; it switches from day to day which one is longer or shorter. He averages 3 hours of nap time a day (usually), which could not be more normal. (So, rest assured if you are a mom out there going through the same ?!?!?! I was.)

Oh yea, and you have to love the “Wake them up at the same time everyday” thing. “Ok, so I say your wake up time is 6:30am, Jackson. Wait, why are you awake at 5am? Your wake up time is 6:30am; should I force your eye lids back shut? Because you know, your schedule is going to be totally off now. I mean your nap was supposed to be 9am, but now its going to have to be 7:30-8am because there’s nooooo way you’re going to make it til 9…unless I want to torture you by making you completely miserable until 8:30-9am…you wouldn’t mind that would you? But then it wouldn’t matter because you’d be so overtired that your nap would probably only be 30 minutes anyway, and that really isn’t helping anyone is it?” GIVE ME A BREEEAAAK. If my baby wakes up early I can see waiting 15 or 20 minutes to see if he will go back to sleep, but I am not pretending he doesn’t exist until his scheduled “wake up time.” When I told my pediatrician that, she thought it was ridiculous. AND the days when he wakes up early or late, he usually somehow gets himself back on track before the day is over. AND my kid is the happiest kid ever so you know what, I’ll take it.

Then there were the days when naps would be boycotted. I put him down at 1pm and it is now 1:45pm and he is still not asleep. 1:50pm, 1:55pm…ah 2pm, finally asleep, that only took an hour. Babywise says to wake your baby up from a nap so they stay on schedule. That’s fine if that works for you, but my baby JUST fell asleep 30 minutes ago…no friggin way am I waking him up from that peaceful snoring slumber. If he is an hour off it has no effect. He didn’t/doesn’t sleep through the night on schedule or off, so I’M LETTING MY CHILD SLEEP.  Not to mention, like I said before, he usually somehow gets himself back on track…so AGAIN, I would rather not have a miserable baby for the sake of a schedule.

Feedings. Sigh. Babywise’s theory: Make sure your baby gets a full feeding at the scheduled feeding time (Remember the “Eat, Wake, Sleep” concept I mentioned before?). Has Gary Ezzo ever nursed a 6 month old or a teething baby? No. So he wouldn’t know how nearly impossible it is to make them NOT get distracted.  Or how you’re a nipple would feel after being chomped on 5 times in a row. My son is an INCREDIBLY alert, active, curious baby. Who needs food when there’s a very intriguing TV remote across the room on the coffee table begging to be chomped on? Seriously, I could hide that thing under the couch and he would sense its presence. Yup, tried the nursing cover. Tried the dark room. I’m sorry (actually I am not sorry), but I found it impossible to force my baby’s mouth onto my boob. SO. I let him play until he was interested in eating again. If he wanted to nurse a little more before a nap, then I nursed him. Why? Because I would rather him eat more, sleep better, and nurse more during the day than during the night.  As far as the biting while teething – sometimes you have to put them down and let them see that biting means no nursing. My son got the hint, but it took nursing him NOT at his scheduled time. Another reason why you may not want to stick to a certain feeding schedule is because when breast feeding your supply is effected by demand. The more your baby eats, the more you will produce. When my supply dropped, nursing my son more (not following the clock) got my supply back up WAY more effectively than the pump.

This is all not to mention the books suggestion on crying it out. Gary Ezzo says repeatedly that it is not harmful to let your baby cry until he or she is sleeping, even as long as 45 minutes. I have done a variation of crying it out with my son, but I opted for Dr. Ferber’s method where you check on your baby in increasing increments until he or she falls asleep without you in the room. My issue with Gary Ezzo’s method, at least from what I gathered from Babywise, is that he does not specify when an acceptable age is to let your baby scream or cry him or herself to sleep. He does not suggest going in to check on your baby. He doesn’t address what is emotionally going on with your baby AT ALL (other than the fact that your baby will still love you when he or she wakes up and you will not scar your baby for life. So relieving… … …). It took me months before I was able to let my son cry for longer than 5 minutes, and we didn’t do the Ferber method of crying it out until he was 6 months old. I have seen mothers on a Babywise Facebook page ask if it was ok to let their 6 week old cry it out (:-| 6 weeks is still soooo little. Like, they were in the womb 6 weeks ago.). I have seen mothers who are desperate, who have just heard about Babywise, and that it promises to get your baby sleeping through the night in the early weeks, asking about how to let their baby cry it out without even reading the book or TRYING to understand the methods beyond just letting their baby cry. That is dangerous in my opinion. (In case you were wondering, after doing the Ferber Method of cry it out Jackson slept from 7p-4a for about 3 weeks, but then he got croop, followed by teething. So, that was the end of sleeping through the night. We all share a room because of our living situation while we wait until we close on our new house so we are holding off on any form of sleep training until we have separate rooms. But this just shows you how much change goes on with your baby and just because they start sleeping through the night, doesn’t mean they will STAY sleeping through the night. So, don’t freak out and think there is something wrong with your baby. He/She is just being a baby.)

Does any of this sound familiar to you??

The more I got into the whole parenting thing, the more I realized how UNNATURAL some of the ways of Babywise are. I am an A + B = C person. I like structure & predictability to a certain extent, which is why I think Babywise initially appealed to me. My greatest lesson: Babies aren’t predictable. Babies are not machines or robots. I have come to accept that, and that Babywise, for the most part (in my experience), goes against the nature of babies. They are individual little growing beings that are going through SO much change and growth it is literally impossible to comprehend. I started to get to know my baby; to pay attention to his needs and what he was going through and I let that guide me. Not what a book said to do. Gary Ezzo’s method is founded on being “parent directed” rather than being “baby lead”. I guess I say why pick one or the other? To survive this parenting thing you need to be out of the box. You need to be creative. You need to be flexible. You need to be strong. You need patience. You need divine wisdom. You need to be able to put yourself last. You need to trust your instincts, as well as your baby.

Some of this may sound kind of strong as far as my opinions and feeling go. It is that way because as a new mom I was so impressionable and desperate to do what was best for my baby, like I know EVERY new mom is. I was putting all my confidence in the words of a MAN who never in his life nursed a baby or was a stay at home mom with a baby literally almost 24/7. Thank God it clicked one day that I was my child’s one and only mother and I could do whatever I thought was best. I was made to be a mother. If you are a mom, you were made to be one too. I FINALLY decided to be confident in myself and make my own decisions, and you know what: I was never happier or more stress free. You know what else? My kid is perfect…in his own unique and special way. 🙂 We have areas we can grow in, but who doesn’t? Books about parenting have their pros, but just remember who the parent is. You. Be confident in who you are as a parent, and do what is best for your family.

I want to thank all my mommy (and even some daddy) friends out there for the wisdom, support, advice and guidance. You are all the best teachers I could have asked for on this mommy journey!

Jackson thanks you too! 🙂

"Yayyyy!" My happy clapping boy. <3

“Yayyyy!” My happy clapping boy. ❤

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Perfectly Perfect Kale Chips

Because making veggies into chips combines two of my favorite things!!!!

One of my favorite vegetables out there is kale. It is so rich in nutrients and so versatile. I was in Whole Foods this week and they were having a kale sale, so I picked some up with no real plan for what I was going to do with it. Last night lentil soup was on the menu and I wanted something with a crunch for a different texture to go with it, and when I spotted the kale in the fridge I immediately thought, “KALE CHIPS!”. 

(Here is the lentil soup recipe. Many people asked for the recipe when I posted a picture of our dinner! I posted it on my IG account [@foodformyhouse], but figured I’d link it here too.)

The chips came out perfectly crispy, and were so satisfying paired with the warm hearty soup. So, I figured since I loved them so much, and since I thought pairing them with soup was a fun idea, I want to share how I made them!

I really really love lacinato (or Tuscan) kale. It’s leaves are more flat than curly kale (making it more ideal for making chips, IMO), and it has bumps running throughout. I read it has the nickname “dinosaur kale” because it kind of looks like dinosaur skin. As far as flavor goes, it has a bit more of a milder, more delicate flavor than curly kale. Here is a picture so you know what I am talking about and can find it in the store:

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale

Ok so what you need:

1 bunch of lacinato kale

olive oil

salt

pepper

garlic powder

That’s it. 

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. (The idea is to cook the kale low & slow which dries it out PERFECTLY!)

Line 2 sheet trays with tin foil & set aside.

Untie your kale bunch and separate the leaves from the thick stem in the middle, leaving them as long halves. You can cut them away or just run your pointer and middle finger down either side and tear them away. They don’t have to be perfect. As the stem gets closer to the broad top of the leaf it gets softer, so some leaves may be small enough where you can just leave the leaf whole and cut the thick end of the stem off. Put them in a colander and wash the leaves, then run them through a salad spinner to dry them well. You want them to be nice and dry which will help them crisp up nicely.

(side note: after you wash your leaves rinse the left over stems in the colander and then throw them in a freezer bag to freeze. Save all your veggie scraps throughout the week like this, then when you have a couple bags full toss all the scraps into a crock pot with some garlic cloves and bay leaves, cover with water and simmer all day to make your own veggie stock. Strain and store broth in the freezer and/or fridge! I never spend my $$$ on veggie broth anymore.)

Separate the leaves into 2 equal bunches on each sheet, drizzle each bunch with a small amount of olive oil, then salt, pepper & garlic powder all to taste. Toss with your fingers to coat evenly, then arrange the leaves on the tray so there is as little over lap as possible.

Stick the trays in the oven and bake for 75 – 90 minutes until the leaves are perfectly crisp.

voilà!

voilà!

I have to say that while my husband and I were filling up on a veggie soup, my parents and brother were eating hamburgers and I suggested putting the crunchy kale on their burgers, and they loved it!! So — for all you meat eaters out there, you can make these next time you make your burgers as a light side or burger topper too!

Kale, a veggie that can be loved by all. 😉

Enjoy!!!!

A New Kind of Time Management.

I am sure that it’s obvious that I am a sucker for family. It’s something that is near and dear to my heart. You also may or may not know that I am giving birth to our first baby, Jackson, in May. Now, I do not intend for this to become a mommy blog, but becoming a mommy is kind of at the forefront of my life right now, so it is inspiring some of my posts…including this one.

Over the past month the restaurant I have been working at since around August/September changed my set hours to “on-call”, only I never really get called. So, after working full time Monday through Friday for years now, I found myself at home all day, 3 days a week. I soon realized that (besides having more time to blog…yay!)  managing time at home was something that was COMPLETELY foreign to me. The minutes and hours ticked by, and at the end of the day I had watched one too many episodes of Downton Abbey or Parenthood and was left feeling completely unproductive. Can anyone relate?!?

The reality of being a stay at home mom in just a matter of months has started to settle in, and although, realistically, my main concern for a while is going to be caring for a newborn, I want to get a leg up! A little Melissa nuance is that I need to be well prepared. I function best when I know what to expect, have time to digest and make a plan, or am able to make some kind of analysis or resolution. Is this always realistic in life? Probably not. But I try to set myself up for success when and if I can.

So, I did some research. Minimal research actually…but, in the minimal research I did, I found some good info to glean from. I will post links at the end of this post.

What I discovered:

1.) Acknowledge time suckers. For me, for starters anyways, it’s wasting time scrolling mindlessly on my phone. I’ve determined that I do not need to check every notification or email as it appears. Assess what is necessary to read or respond to, do it, and then put it down and walk away. I’ve also started to take note of the clock while on my phone, and not let myself get caught up for more than 2-3 minutes. It is so easy to go from one link to the next, to the next, to the next. Also, watching shows when I am home during the day. There is always something that can be done or is more worth my time than a show. So, IF I am going to watch something, it is going to be as a reward for accomplishing something else more pertinent first. Can I also throw in here that I takes me kind of a long time to shower and get ready? I have always been a 20 minute shower taker. Always. Anyone have any tips on cutting that time down other than shaving my head? 😉 I honestly have a thick head of hair. Moving on…

2.) Make priorities. This is obviously different for everyone. Everyday make a list of priorities of what you would like to get done and what you absolutely need to get done. For one, it will help you put in perspective what is actually important and what you can realistically accomplish. Do the most essential things first, and with whatever time you have left tackle the less important items on the list. The fact of the matter is crossing anything off a list is gratifying and will make you feel productive and motivated. Go us! 

3.) Establish routines that make life easier. Ok. What’s important to you? A clean house? Getting the kids ready faster? Right now I’d say that if I am going to be home 3 days out of the week I want my house to appear clean when my husband gets home from work…especially the bathroom, kitchen and our bedroom. When I wake up before I even go downstairs for breakfast I make the bed. Makes the room look 10x better. You may be thinking, “Duuuh.” , but can I honestly tell you I never did that before! When I am done folding laundry I have started putting them away immediately instead of stacking the piles in my closet. Again….what the heck was wrong with me?! When it comes to the bathroom the sink & toilet looking clean on a daily basis is specifically important to me. My husband tends to shave in the morning and his little ginger beard hairs (side-note: he hates when I call anything about him “ginger”…) are left speckling the white porcelain sink. Pet. Peeve. He works really hard so I gladly clean them up after him. Instead of waiting once a week to wipe down the sink & toilet, as soon as I am done with my shower I have made it a routine to spray down the sink and toilet. It literally takes 3 minutes or less to do and makes the bathroom sparkle and smell nice. As far as the kitchen goes, after breakfast I will wipe down the counters and table. At the end of the day it is my goal to sweep the floor and not leave any dishes in the sink for the next day. Hubby is good about doing the dishes since I cook dinner every night. I am usually not a stickler about leaving dishes at the end of the day, but once we have a baby I don’t want to come downstairs to a chore I could have easily done the night before.

4.) Make time for you. We are not a bunch of robots who can live day to day checking tasks off a to-do list. We all are made with gifts and talents and things that make us thrive. As much as I want to be productive, I know that in order to maintain my health, well-being and sanity, I need to incorporate things I am truly passionate about into my day. It doesn’t mean I have to fit them all into one day either. Prayer and quiet time, reading, writing, blogging, learning a new song, knitting (a new hobby I am learning!), spending time with loved ones, running, yoga, creating a new recipe, learning about nutrition, being crafty; these are all things that I value and that help me thrive, so they should be a part of my life.

Ultimately I am not going to be a slave to a schedule; life is meant to be enjoyed and lived in each savored moment. With that in mind, it is incredibly healthy to have a standard to go by, as well as boundaries.

The next step for me is actually making daily, weekly and monthly schedules that makes sense for me, and to start setting some goals for myself. I have never really been good at setting goals in some areas of my life, so I am excited to delve into that. I also found some great resources from Money Saving Mom. She provides a whole bunch of free household management forms that I am going to check out and put to the test. Let me know if you check them out too!

Here are a list of links that helped me on my quest to stay at home time management:

http://stayathomemoms.about.com/od/tipstimesavers/tp/timemanagementplanformoms.htm

http://voices.yahoo.com/managing-time-as-stay-home-mom-2989576.html?cat=25

http://www.mommieswithcents.com/2010/07/time-management-as-a-stay-at-home-mom.html

http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/11/time-management-101-home-management-part-1.html

http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/12/time-management-101-home-management-part-2.html

Alright all you veteran stay at homers…what tips do you have for a newbie like me? I look forward to gleaning from you!

A Date & A Nut Walked Into A Bar…

Or more like…found themselves in a food processor and were formed into a bar for my delectable enjoyment.

I like snacks. One in particular that I have been fond of  lately is the Lärabar.

Gluten free.

Raw.

Kosher.

Low carb.

Vegan.

Soy free.

Oh so simple and delicious. I thought to myself, “I could make these.” And so, I did.

What you will need:

32 pitted dates

1/2 cup raw or roasted unsalted almonds

1/2 cup raw or roasted unsalted cashews

2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla

I split the batch and did 1/2 chocolate. To do 1/2 chocolate you need 2 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder. To do all chocolate 4 Tbsp of cocoa powder.

What to do:

Add dates, almonds & cashews into a food processor & blend. It will look crumbly at first and you may have to stop it to push the contents back down the sides. It may take a couple minutes to get the right consistency. You want it to be somewhat fine and able to mold. When it’s ready you will notice the contents start to stick together and build up then wave down back toward to blade as it’s running.

At this point stop the food processor and transfer the date & nut  mixture into a medium mixing bowl, then mix in the coconut, cinnamon & vanilla with a wooden or hard spoon.

Mmm mmm mmm

Once that’s combined add in the cocoa powder (remember to split the mixture if doing 1/2) then mix in with your hands to get it fully incorporated.

Now you just need to roll out the sticky mixture and cut it into bars and VOILÁ!

I individually wrapped them and stored them in my fridge, ready to grab!

All rolled out and ready to cut.

Cut chocolate bars.

All individually wrapped & ready to enjoy.

These are awesome because they have the perfect sweetness to them to satisfy a sweet tooth, but with no added or processed sugar.

Also, did you know almonds & cashews not only contain protein, but calcium??? Love knowing I’m getting that calcium. So they’ve got that going for them.

PLUUUUS, the hubs, in his number loving fashion, did the math, and the average cost of one these bars is about $0.80! Hello savings.

AND you could pretty much mix in whatever you like…dried cranberries or blueberries, chocolate chips, ground coffee for a little pick me up…have fun & experiment!
Have you ever made a home made version of your favorite store bought snack?! What would you add into these little winners?

Sweet Tooth Secret Weapon

It happens to all of us…some more frequent than others…but, sooner or later, it happens…the attack of the sweet tooth. Dun-dun-dun.

Maybe you are like me, and chocolate – luscious, dark, pure, delicious chocolate – makes you weak in the knees.

It is challenging being health conscious and vegan to find quality, wholesome & dairy free chocolate. Not to mention, that typical store bought chocolate is loaded with processed sugar, milk fat, preservatives & other processed ingredients.

Question – Do you ever wonder why you urgently crave sweets or chocolate? Do you ever wonder what the heck is going on in your body when you indulge in the sweet treat your co-worker brought in for an office birthday, or splurge on the $10 box of candy at the movie theater and chow down? I do. So, being my curious self, I did some research, and here’s what I discovered:

Serotonin is the body’s natural feel-good brain chemical. Sugar raises the serotonin level in our brain, which causes a chemical high mentally, and that, in turn, results in a lifted mood. Ever have a rough day and demand chocolate like a baby screams for a pacifier? Just me? Anyways…

This is a momentary high! Eventually excess sugar consumption, especially processed white and brown granules, and varieties of glucose, fructose & sucrose, will throw the body’s natural serotonin balance off, and even lessen the body’s natural production of serotonin, as your brain becomes addicted to getting the serotonin high artificially. No thank you. (source)

Aside from this, there is a laundry list of negative effects that refined sugar has on the human body, including: speeding the aging process, free radical formation in the bloodstream, suppression of immune system, depleting the body’s natural nutrient stores, toxemia in pregnancy, fueling cancer cells & much, much more. (source)

Someone help a girl conquer the attack of the sweet tooth with something that won’t ravage my body!!

Enter: CHOCOHOLISTIC.

You may have heard that I have a knack for winning free things lately. And you may remember that I attended the CT Veg Fest last weekend, and that my favorite item was Chocoholistic. Well, guess who won a free box of Chocoholistic chocolates…Me! And y’all should know more about it.

Kenzie Harrick, creator of KHolistic & Chocoholistic, sent me a sweet handmade package of her delicious chocolates, and I was THRILLED to receive it!

Cute little package.

They come 9 in a pack…some were obviously eaten at this point. Couldn’t resist.

Kenzie describes her product this way: “The only chocolate you can eat everyday that will improve your health while you eat it!” Conquering a sweet craving, while boosting my health? That is my kind of chocolate.

Savor, I will. Or did, actually.

Chocholistic redeems the true value of chocolate. As we can learn from Chocoholistic’s website, chocolate eaten the right way can powerfully support the immune system, be anti-aging, be a happy “medicine”, support weight loss, provided non-stimulant energy, and promote longevity! These chocolates are raw, herbal, organic, sugar free, nut free, soy free, dairy free, corn free, wheat & gluten free, non-GMO and are chock full of superfoods. Some of the ingredients include:

Cacao – supports heart health, relieves stress, relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, has anti-inflammatory functions, & is highest food in antioxidants, which boosts immune system and fights aging.

Chia Seeds – great Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio, supreme energy food, contributes to mental health, bone health, breast health & prenatal health.

Coconut Oil – antimicrobial oil that kills unwanted bacteria, viruses & parasites, a fast absorbing fat that does not affect the waistline, lowers cholesterol & triglycerides, provides energy & boosts immune system.

Passion Flower – soothing mood booster that calms anxiety, promotes happiness, helps eliminate stress & promotes good sleep.

Reishi – medicinal mushroom known for outrageous immune support & helping the body return to homeostasis so it can operate at optimal efficiency. It has a variety of vitamins & minerals. (source)

Could you tell they are hiding all that good stuff in there?! Sneaky buggers.

Wondering how they taste? YUMMY. You bite into the handmade morsel and it hits your tongue with the deep taste of pure cacao, with hints of herbal notes and the perfect amount of sweetness. It also has an enjoyable slight grittiness that adds a perfect texture. It pairs well with morning coffee, afternoon tea, wine after dinner…and anything anywhere in between.

I so enjoyed experimenting with different ways of enjoying this chocolate treat. Here are some of my faves:

In a smoothie!! (2 bananas, 1.5c blueberries, 2c almond milk, 1c spinach, 1tbsp flax seed meal, 2 coarsely chopped Chocoholisitic chocolates and blend for 2 smoothies!)

Grainy cracker topped with almond butter and shaved Chocoholistic chocolate. Fun late night snack.

Keep a look out for more from the talented Kenzie Harrick & Chocoholistic…like the new Goji Superberry flavor!

Oh, and you’re welcome for your new sweet tooth secret weapon. 🙂

Do you have any fun healthy treats that you go to when you are in need of the sweet?? Do share, friends!