Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's been too long...

Yo ho and hello! It's been two months since my last post, and for that I am sorry. Procrastination has been my achilles heel lately. Anyhoo, I figured it's better late than never so here goes!

Tate turned 4 months old last week, and I could barely believe it! He's sitting up, talking and cooing constantly and rockin' the jolly jumper like it's his job. He's started teething too! It's tough to think about how fast time is flying by, and realizing that it's not going to come back. Being a parent makes it 1000x more obvious how important it is to live in the present moment and soak it up, and it also makes is 1000x harder to live in the present moment and soak it up!

Tate and I have found our rhythm, and the days go by pretty smoothly now, with the occasional freak-out on his part (and sometimes on my part too). He sleeps through the night now, generally until 7 or 8am, and goes to bed at about 9pm. We have to wake him up to eat around 11 every night or he will wake us up at 3am with hungry cries, and neither of us can get jiggy with that, so we make sure to feed him before we go to bed.

Tate loves being read to, and I really enjoy it too. It's so much fun to buy and read him all the books I used to love as a child, like Strega Nona, Corduroy and Grover's Bad, Awful Day. Sometimes he falls asleep on my lap as I read to him, and I do my best to relish those moments, because they really are so sweet.

We spent Christmas with my family in Sault Ste. Marie and it was lovely. We were able to visit most of the family, but only a few friends due to the shortness of our visit. Although it was very, very busy, Jim and I both really enjoyed our time there. We came back to Thunder Bay for New Years and laid low for New Year's Eve. Jim's birthday was on the 8th, and we celebrated it with some yummy cake and chilled at home for the day, then had dinner at Montanas with some of Jim's friends. Montanas has the best veggie-burgers EVER. Then Jim went down to Florida for a week to train for his new Captain position at work, and Tate and I enjoyed a very laid-back Mommy-Tate week in his absence. When he got home, we headed for Nova Scotia to have our second 'Christmas' with Jim's family. That visit was a little less busy, and just as lovely. We spent more time hanging out at Jim's parents house than visiting people this time. Although there were plenty of people we wanted to see, Jim needed some time to relax, and I was more than happy to chill at the house too.

Jim is back at work now, and will be sitting in the Captain's seat starting in February! As for me, I'll be starting my Holistic Nutrition program in a couple of weeks, as soon as the study material arrives. In the meantime, I'm finally preparing to go for my driver's license test, and I've been getting back into running! I realized that the only way I was going to lose my baby weight and actually enjoy the process was to write up a training plan and stick to it. We have all kinds of exercise videos like P90X, Turbo Jams and yoga videos, and I enjoy them all, but as most of you know my true love is running, and it feels delicious being back out on the road again. Jim and I are planning on running the Winnipeg Half Marathon in June, and if training for that goes well, I'm going to continue with my training and go for the Thunder Bay full marathon in September, while Jim is thinking about training for a triathlon afterwards.

We're still going strong with our vegan diet, and have recently decided to get a little stricter about what we put in our bodies. After our Christmases, during which we ate things that our bodies weren't used to anymore (like free-range organic turkey, coffee, cheese, alcohol, etc.) we noticed lots of outward symptoms of inward chaos, like pimples, digestive troubles, fatigue and dry skin. We realized that our bodies are much happier and healthier on a plant-based diet, and since we got home I've been chugging the green juice in an attempt to call a truce with my body. I also started sprouting wheatgrass again, as I've just ordered a manual wheatgrass juicer (it will juice it way better than our centrifugal juicer, which is meant for fruits and veggies, not grass) so that we can add a daily shot of wheatgrass to our diet.

For February, we're planning on hanging out in Thunder Bay and using our free time to chill (since going away during Jim's time off doesn't really allow for much relaxation). There are lots of trails in the woods right outside our door that we haven't been taking advantage of enough, and we plan to do so this month! Jim brought his snowshoes back from Nova Scotia, and I have mine here as well, so we're going to bundle Tate up, put him in his little sled and head out for some day hikes, in preparation for some overnight hikes once the weather gets a little milder. I've set a personal goal of finding some new vegan recipes for us, and I'm determined to perfect my granola bar recipe (which has been harder than you might imagine!)

Hopefully I won't be such a blog sloth in the months to come!

Have a happy February everyone, make sure you find yourself a Valentine. This year, I've got two!!!



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan Food = Soul Food


Tate turned 2 months old yesterday, and it seemed unbelievable to me in two ways. One: I can't believe it's already been two months...he's grown so much and it seems like yesterday I was pregnant. Two: I can't believe it's only been two months...Tate has transformed my life and heart in a very big way and I can't imagine life without him.

Okay, enough gushing...the focus of this post is health and wellness, not Tate's cute little baby cheeks and chubby legs (although they are totally worth writing about!)

After the first several weeks of parenthood, I've started to get a little more organized, and I've had to get my priorities straight. For example, when Tate is sleeping I have to choose one of several options, and I'll list them here in order of importance: 1) eat 2) shower 3) nap 4) laundry 5) clean 6) personal time (reading, checking e-mails, etc.) One daily ritual that I've managed to make the most of is our daily walk. Every day, rain or shine, Tate and I head out for a walk for at least an hour. What we've started doing is going to the grocery store every day during our walk to pick up the things I need to make dinner. This helps keep us within budget for groceries because instead of going once a week and ending up needing random things a few times a week and going over-budget, I have a certain amount of money allotted for each day, and I plan our meals accordingly. This also ensures that fresh fruits and veggies are on our plates, and that I can make sure we get what we need nutrient-wise every day. And since I love grocery shopping and recipe-hunting, it's a nice treat for me too and I look forward to it every day.

At first, meal planning was a chore because with a newborn around, it was hard to find time to try new recipes, grocery shop and prepare meals. We ended up eating the same thing pretty often, which wasn't too bad since the meals we prepared are favourites, but became kind of boring. I decided to buy a vegan cookbook and start trying new dishes with different ingredients and spices than I'd ever used before. I quickly realized that after 6 months of being vegan, my tastes had changed considerably and foods I didn't enjoy in the past were now delicious! Sweet potatoes are my new favourite food, and I used to loathe them. Anyhow, I've been taking more and more time for meal-planning and preparation because I realized a few days into a cold last week that if I don't take care of Tate's mom, Tate's mom can't take care of Tate.

That having been said, I'm going to share some of my favourite new recipes here, and I hope you give them a try because they are incredible!

Sweet Potato Chili

-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 yellow onion
-1 clove garlic
-1 large stalk celery
-1 red bell pepper
-1/2 cup of vegetable broth
-1.5 pounds of sweet potatoes
-1 small can whole of chopped tomatoes
-1 can kidney beans, drained
-1.5 tsp cumin
-2 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1 tsp cinnamon
-dash cayenne
-1/2-1 tsp sea salt

Sautee onion and garlic in coconut oil until translucent or slightly golden. Add celery and pepper, and cook until all veggies are tender. Add broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kidney beans, cumin, chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer. Simmer for 30-35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are very tender. Add more vegetable broth as chili cooks if needed.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pears with Pecans and Raisins

- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
- 3 firm bartlett pears, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp sweet cooking wine
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup pecan halves
- 3/4 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350F. Place the sweet potatoes and pears on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the oil and wine, and mix it all up to make sure everything is coated. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and pecans and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and add the raisins. Carefully toss and mix, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Return to oven uncovered and bake for 30 more minutes, tossing every now and again. Serve warm.

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions and Spiced Pita Crisps

-3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings
-3/4 cup olive oil
-1 cup long-grain basmati rice (if you don't have basmati, that's okay, use what you've got!)
-1 cup red lentils, rinsed (green, brown or black lentils will work too, but the dish will have a more pilaf-like consistency...still yummy though!)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin


Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large, deep baking pan, toss onions with oil to coat. Make sure onions are separated and well spread out. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until onions are soft and brown, with some deep brown and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, cinnamon stick, cumin and allspice. Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lentils, stirring gently, then cover, bring to a boil again, bring the heat down to low and let simmer for 45 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.
Use a fork to gently fluff the dish, remove the cinnamon stick, then gently fold the caramelized onions in.

Spiced Pita Crisps:
Take 4 whole wheat pitas, cut them into quarters and then gently open them. Brush the insides with olive oil, and sprinkle Garam Masala over them. If you don't have that spice mixture, garlic powder+cumin+cayenne+salt or lemon pepper+garlic powder+salt goes nicely with the dish as well. (Note: this is an excellent way to add some flavour to your pitas to go along with hummus or baba ghanouj as well!)
Lay pita quarters on a pan and toast until golden brown and crisp.

Scoop up the lentils and rice with the pitas (the spices complement each other) and enjoy!


Okay, so those are my current fave recipes. Give them a try and then listen as your tastebuds sing and your tissues thank you. And remember, we can't take care of anyone else unless we take care of ourselves first. If you're stuck in a rut of busy days and lousy nutrient-poor meals, eventually it will catch up with you. If we don't have time to be sick, we must make time to be healthy!

Much love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life with Tate

Hello again! It's been a long time since I've had some free time to blog, and I would apologize for my lack of updates, but there are times when living and enjoying life are far more important than writing about it...these past weeks have been just that.

I will start by saying that every day with Tate is a gift. In the morning I wake up, and as the day unwraps itself it never ceases to amaze me how much I love him. I look at him in awe of how much this little human being has transformed my life, my world, my heart. I never really understood what it was to know someone who makes your life worth living until I experienced motherhood. It is deliciously fulfilling.

Now honestly, I am tired. I have never known exhaustion like this. I've never even imagined exhaustion like this. I've stopped trying to cover up the circles under my eyes with makeup and have just accepted having them for the forseeable future. I know one day Tate will start sleeping through the night...I just wish I knew when it was. Even if it was going to be another 10 months or 2 years...just knowing when would be such a comfort. Ah well. After about 4-5 weeks my body started to adapt to my sleepless existence and now I am pretty comfortable with it. Sometimes at night I cry and beg Tate to go back to sleep, but most of the time I secretly relish the quiet hours of the morning when no-one is awake, and it's just he and I together.

I've gotten to know Tate pretty well over the last 8 weeks. I know that he kicks his legs for about half an hour before he poops. I know he loves bathtime, and will happily sit in the tub having water poured over him like a king for more than half an hour. I know he loves the panda on his bouncy seat and will sit smiling at it for a surprisingly long time. I know that when he starts to stir at night, I'm far better off getting a bottle warmed up right away than trying to squeeze in an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep while he wakes up, because once he's up if the milk isn't ready he is pissed. I know he loves it when I kiss him on the mouth and then each cheek and say "Momma got you!" and then when I do he will break into a big goofy smile - every time. I know he loves his stroller, and as soon as it starts rolling he will fall asleep and stay that way for hours (I discovered this one afternoon when I got lost on a walk in Thunder Bay - Tate slept for 3 hours while I wandered around like an idiot.)

Obviously I can't chronicle every event we've experienced here, but I will share a few notable ones:

One morning I was feeding Tate and I stopped mid-feeding to burp him. I guess I twisted the lid a bit when I put the bottle down, because when I picked it back up and moved to put it in his mouth the lid fell off and milk poured all over the poor kid. He was totally oblivious to what had just happened and kept laying there smiling at me. I felt like a moron.

On the way to Thunder Bay, Jim locked the keys in the car...with Tate in it. I nearly lost my mind while Jim and an old man tried to get in with a coat hanger, and when it was finally unlocked I was so relieved that my anger dissipated and I realized how awful Jim must have felt. I made a mental note to always keep the keys in sight.

One morning I was getting Tate undressed for the bath, and just before I whisked him off to the tub, I couldn't resist bending down to kiss his naked little belly. At that moment, he decided to went in my hair, then my mouth, then down my shirt and pants and all over the bed. That's a lesson I won't have to learn twice.

The past 8 weeks have been an incredible lesson in patience, love, understanding, and acceptance. Motherhood is kicking my butt, and I love it. From sleep deprivation to breastmilk suddenly drying up to postpartum healing to baby-weight-losing I have been put through the wringer...but I love every moment of it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our First Week With Tate!

After arriving home from the hospital it seemed like we all spent the first day or two in baby mode: eating, sleeping and pooping. In the hospital Tate had been very low-maintenance, sleeping most of the day on Friday, and nursing every 3-4 hours on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, however, Tate was nursing every 1-2 hours and giving mommy a headache. But within a couple of days Jim and I got a routine down. I figured out how to use the breastpump without feeling like I was ripping off my nipples, Jim learned how to change a diaper, we discovered that Tate loves the bathtub (thank goodness) and developed a rough routine to allow both of us to get a decent night's sleep. Jim feeds Tate around midnight, I get up with him at 4-5ish and then Jim feeds him at 8:30-9.

As for breastfeeding, I'm definitely one of the lucky ones. During my pregnancy I heard all kinds of stories about bad latching, nipple blisters, inadequate milk supply, gassiness and colic, etc. and was mentally prepared for the possibility that breastfeeding may not even work for us. However, Tate didn't have a problem latching and has been nursing beautifully since day one. And I have to say, I absolutely love breastfeeding. It's an intense time of bonding between Tate and I, and I enjoy every moment of it. I even enjoy the 4am feeding because Tate and I creep out of the room (trying our best not to wake daddy) and go hang in the nursery for an hour. The entire house is quiet and Tate nurses while I read or sing to him, then I change his diaper and rock him to sleep, grab myself a banana, and crawl back into bed (again trying not to wake Jim.) 

I know this may sound crazy (especially to other moms), but it all seems so easy. Motherhood feels to me like an old favourite pair of shoes that you slip into comfortably, ones that fit you like nothing else. I absolutely adore every part of motherhood so far, and am so looking forward to everything that's in store.

For those of you who would like to be kept abreast of Tate's progress, when we left the hospital he weighed 8lbs 6oz (down from his birthweight of 8lbs 13.5oz) and at his one week checkup he was back up at 8lbs 14oz. He is nursing wonderfully, sleeping between 3-4 hours between feedings, pooping like a maniac and bringing laughter to us on a regular basis. A few things we learned about him this week are that he loves the bathtub but hates being undressed, loves being read to and will stay awake while nursing if we read or sing to him, adores the carseat and will stop mid-cry and fall asleep instantly as soon as the car starts moving, and likes to nuzzle into daddy's armpit during naptime. We've learned that Tate has a 'poop' face and a 'boob' face, and has the most adorable hiccup in the history of the world.

Here are a few highlights from our first week:

Jim and I were sitting on our bed, and Jim had just done his first poopy diaper change solo. I was nursing Tate and we had just heard his signature poop noise, accompanied by his signature poop face. A few moments later, I was switching sides, and felt something on my arm. I looked down and said "Is it just me, or is there shit on my arm...and on this blanket...and running down Tate's leg?" Sure enough, the baby's diaper wasn't snug enough and there was runny baby poop all over. That was my first experience being pooped on, and I'm sure it wasn't the last.

A couple of days ago, I was peeing and Jim called for me to come right away. I stopped mid-pee (which isn't easy when you've got stitches in your vagina and you're sitting in a sitz pan on the toilet grimacing and trying to pee as fast as possible) shoved a wad of toilet paper between my legs and rushed into the nursery. What I found in there was a frazzled Jim, and a changetable with what looked like mustard-coloured runny poop all over it. Tate had projectile-pooped while Jim was changing him. It was on the changing pad, on Tate, on Jim, and on everything south of Tate's sweet little bum. I laughed, grabbed a cloth and started cleaning up while handing Jim wipes to finish the change job. That was Jim's first experience being pooped on, and I'm sure it wasn't the last.

Another day, we were picking up some things at Walmart and I needed some nursing bras because the ones I had bought pre-labour were woefully small (the growth of my boobs since my milk has come in is astounding!) We had been in town for awhile, and Tate was sleeping a beautiful 5 hours, which was his longest sleeping streak up until that point. So we're waiting outside of the fitting rooms for an attendant, and I realize that the front of my dress is soaked. I tell Jim that I think my breasts are leaking (my milk had just started coming in the day before, so this was the first time they had leaked.) I grabbed a couple of breast pads that I had luckily stowed in the diaper bag for just these occasions, and was ushered into a changeroom by the attendant. As I stood in the changeroom trying on bras, I noticed a dripping feeling on my foot. I looked down and saw a small puddle by my foot. I looked up, wondering if the roof was dripping. Nope. My boobs were dripping onto the floor. There were little breastmilk puddles. It was then that I realized that because Tate had been sleeping so long, I was having my first experience with engorgement. My boobs had been hurting for an hour or so, and so I felt them and they were like rocks. I stood there in the changeroom, trying to get dressed and get the breastpads into my bra as fast as possible, thinking "Is this really my life? Am I dreaming? Am I really dripping breastmilk onto a Walmart changing room floor as Jim waits outside with our newborn baby?" I laughed to myself, pulled my dress on, and hoped we could get away before the attendant discovered my puddles.

So, we're a little tired, and I'm still recuperating from labour, but Tate is a fascinating, hilarious and enchanting addition to our lives. This is big love.