Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Babies In Broads

On the eve of his third birthday - well before I was pregnant again - Westley suddenly became very extra double-curious about babies inside mommies. Specifically, when he was the baby inside this mommy. And his new favorite question became "how?"

"How did I get inside your belly, Mommy?"

"Daddy put you there."

"How?"

"With his penis."

This got a huge smile. I think Westley thought I was joking. "How did he do that?"

I walked right into that one, didn't I?

Rob and I exchanged looks. "You know," I said to Westley, "I think this would be easier to explain if we had a book. With pictures. Should we look for a book about how babies get inside mommies?"

Westley practically jumped up and down. "Yeah!"

I am on this! I am probably the only person in the world who's excited to talk with her preschooler about sex. But I can't help it. I think reproduction is magical and rad.

So we hit up the library. I came armed with a list call numbers that I'd looked up at home beforehand to minimize Westley's wait time. I glanced quickly through Where Did I Come From? and quickly remembered how skeeved out by it I was as a child. (I'm sure many people find the super-cartoony illustrations tasteful and non-threatening. As a child, I found them ugly and off-putting, and I can't seem to shake that impression.) I settled on It's So Amazing!, and When You Were Inside Mommy.

"How does the baby get out?"

For about six weeks now, we've been talking about the Special Tube called the 'vagina' that's very, very stretchy - stretchy enough to let a baby out. And how babies are small and flexible.

"But how does the baby come out?"

"The muscles in the mommy's uterus squeeze, and the mommy pushes the baby out through the vagina."

This is clearly making sense and making no sense at the same time. Westley can't wrap his mind around it. "But...how?"

I just smile. Because I can't really believe it either.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Post-Kid(s) Kitchen: Eating for Nausea

Food and I broke up this week. Between my kidney-bean-sized passenger and a cold that Westley was nice enough to share with me, I've been balancing nausea, loss of appetite, and post-nasal drip that makes everything taste "off." The thought of eating makes me feel like a contestant on Fear Factor. And cooking? Pretty much out of the question.

My wonderful doctor (who is also a licensed midwife, and was the student midwife who saved my life present at Westley's birth) said, "The first three months are just about surviving." But I feel like I should at least make an effort to consume more than pickles and lemonade, the only two foods that sound good - if anything could be said to "sound good" right now.

So far, I haven't come up with very much. Pasta puttanesca has been going down pretty easily, but I don't feel like I can eat it for breakfast. Enter blended fruit.

Smoothie

Take Your Iron Supplement with This Smoothie
Makes a lot, probably 2 or 3 servings, but I just drink the whole thing myself

1 cup pineapple juice
3 Clementines, peeled and broken into sections
1/2 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries
4 strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. That's it! Lots of fiber and 296% of your RDA for vitamin C.

Unless you count boiling gluten-free pasta, practically the only thing I've been able to cook this week has been a super-simple soup, based very loosely on Chinese Corn Soup. I say "very loosely" because it's not much more than corn and vegetable broth - but it's been the perfect thing for my cold symptoms.

Corn Soup

Almost Instant Corn Soup
Serves 2 - or 1 sick person who doesn't feel like eating much else

1 1/2 cups super-flavorful vegetable broth (I use a powdered broth concentrate, and just make the broth a little stronger than usual)
1 1/2 cups corn kernals
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water

Combine vegetable broth and corn in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until well-combined. Add the cornstarch-water mixture to the boiling soup and stir. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, until the soup has thickened slightly. Serve immediately, garnished with baby corn (pickled or not) and chopped scallions.

I'm hoping that as my cold disappears, I'll start to feel less like cooking and eating are things I have to force myself to do before I lose the nerve to do them. I was feeling really tired (unbelievably tired) but otherwise awesome before the cold reared its ugly, mucousy head. In the meantime, I'll be racking my brain for things to eat when I don't feel like eating.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Epiblogue: Preschool-Shop 'til You Drop


I have decided to put preschool shopping on the back burner for now. I'm dropping it before I drop.

After contacting a local co-op preschool that works for our budget (though perhaps not for our timeline) and not hearing back, I had a cartoon-lightbulb-over-head realization:

If we can't afford preschool, we can't afford preschool.

It's really very simple. And there's not a reason to worry about it. There are plenty of things that I'd like for my family, my child, myself...but that are out of our price range. There is absolutely zero point in worrying about where I'll find money in the budget when there isn't anything to find!


The more important realization came later, when I'd come to terms with the budget numbers and heaved more than a few sighs of disappointment. It occurred to me that the preschool hunt had been making me anxious to the point of not being a very nice person. And my kid - who was supposed to be benefitting from all of this - was picking up on it like crazy. The more anxious I got, the more anxiety Westley seemed to exhibit.

I have some wonderful memories of my own preschool experience, and I'd still like some sort of (gently) structured pre-school environment for Westley (because I think he'd love it after he got over his distaste for "uh-ver chirren.") But I'm not willing to continue to create a bunch of unnecessary stress for myself and (especially!) him over it.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Post-Kid Kitchen: Cookbook Love & Muffins

I've said it before, but I couldn't cut it as an all-day every day food blogger. I enjoy planning meals, grocery shopping, trying new ingredients and combinations. I think about food often enough that I even find myself doing it even in my sleep. (Did I actually make those spicy peanut noodles, or was that a dream?)

While I do cook from scratch constantly daily, I'm no good at developing recipes. I can get pretty creative with substitutions, and I love throwing together a casserole from a fridge full of nothing. But building a recipe from the ground up isn't a strength of mine (yet).

Enter cookbooks. I love cookbooks. While I haven't read one from cover to cover in a while, I would much rather curl up with a cookbook than with a novel. And one of the most curl-up-with-able (curl-up-able-with?) cookbook I've met recently is Joanna Vaught's Yellow Rose Recipes.

[Image via Yellow Rose Recipes]

I'm completely ashamed to admit that I didn't own Yellow Rose Recipes until very recently, when I received a copy for my birthday (thanks, Rob!). I feel like I'm totally late to the party and dressed inappropriately. Joanna's blog is one my favorites, and her recipes are always spot-on. If I could borrow someone's recipe-crafting mojo, I'd borrow Joanna's.

Everything I've cooked from Yellow Rose Recipes has been fantastic. The Almond Milk Gravy was perfect over potatoes for Sunday breakfast. I substituted rice flour for the all-purpose, and used Sunshine Burgers' breakfast patties as my vegetarian sausage and the results were lick-your-plate good. I've already made the Wild Rice Salad twice, with some chickpeas thrown in for extra protein, and Rob has declared Mom's Lentil Soup the best lentil soup he's ever tasted. And my husband knows his lentils!

My favorite YRR creation has been the Very Berry Muffins. My copy of the book already falls open to that page after just over one month's use. Of course, I needed to gluten- and soy-free them up. And the first time I went to make them, I realized half-way through that I didn't have any applesauce. I thought briefly about coring, peeling, and cooking a single apple right there, but I wanted muffins sooner than that. I ended up using mashed banana. And I didn't have enough blueberries, but I had some walnuts, and...

This is the closest I get to developing recipes. I purposefully and not-so-purposefully muck with someone else's recipe until I have something that isn't quite the original recipe. Of course, I never think of the end result as "my" recipe. In my mind, it's always a play on someone else's creativity.

Go-To Blueberry Muffin
Out of focus, but so delicious.

Go-to Blueberry Muffins
(based on Very Berry Muffins, Yellow Rose Recipes, p. 24)
Makes 12 huge, dense muffins

1/2 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup millet flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp egg replacer powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup
So Delicious coconut milk beverage (or more almond milk)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 large banana
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together flours, flaxseed meal, egg replacer, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. In a blender combine milks, water, sugar, banana, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Blend until very smooth. Stir wet mixture into the dry, and mix thoroughly. (No gluten means no need to worry about over-mixing! Yay!) Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Seriously. If you try to eat these right away, they won't seem done in the middle, and you'll burn your mouth on molten blueberry juice. Don't do it.

* * *
If you'd like a copy of Yellow Rose Recipes, the book is still available here, but quantities are very limited, so don't wait!

And let me know what some of your favorite cookbooks are (vegetarian or not). The more kitchen inspiration, the better - and tastier!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Embryo in Broad

Two Lines

Of course this would happen the one month I wasn't a "preganoid" lunatic.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Springtime!

First Bloom

This is the time of year that I start to think Spring will never arrive. Even when the country isn't drowning in crazy amounts of snow, the world seems impossibly cold and gloomy in February. I'm half-convinced it'll never warm up, and nothing will ever bloom again. It will be The Middle of Winter forever!

And then the first crocus (a gift from our local squirrels) decides to show up in the middle of my garden, in the middle of the night.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ponytail for You

...

Westley asked me to put his hair in a ponytail this morning.

Ponytail

I spent the rest of the day trying not to make other people feel like idiots for using female pronouns with him. (I always feel like the bearer of bad news when someone asks, "How old is she?" and I say, "Oh, he just turned three.") But I don't blame them at all.

The ponytail makes him look totally girly (at this age).

Ponytail

Girly or not, Westley thought the ponytail was rad. He kept reminiscing about tickling me with my ponytail while he nursed. (Do your tiny children reminisce? Do you find this as funny as I do?) He truly jumped for joy, as he is wont to do.

Ponytail

Ponytail

Who knew a tiny, clear elastic band could contain so much awesome?

Mwuh!

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