Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Marc ordered his usual, the Kahala cheeseburger. He said the fries were particularly good, but I was too full from the buffet to try them. For a drink, I ordered the passion fruit iced tea - if you do the same, be aware that refills aren't included.
After lunch, we walked around the grounds to see the dolphins and sea turtles. The lagoon behind Alex and me in the photo is the dolphins' play area, but we couldn't quite get them in the picture. When Alex is older, I think he'll enjoy the Dolphin Encounter Program. And the next time, I might squeeze in a culinary class.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Alex wasn't quite as angelic on the flight coming back, but he was still pretty good. I must give credit where credit is due, though - it was Marc who really kept Alex calm when he got uppity. If I haven't mentioned it before, I need to say it now: Marc is amazing at taking care of Alex. We both highly recommend two first class seats over three coach seats - the extra space in and around the seats is extremely helpful, and the crew is attentive and accommodating.
The first class lounge at LAX didn't have its own restrooms; the ladies room outside had a changing table. On the flight to Hawaii, the lavatory in first class didn't have a changing table, so we had to go to the one closest to the front in coach.
The first class lounge for Hawaiian Airlines in Honolulu had its own restrooms, but there wasn't a changing table, per se. There were two wide vanity counters, so I used one of those to change Alex before we got on the plane. On the flight back to LA, the first class lavatory did have a changing table. I actually can't tell you what it's like to change a diaper in that small a space because Marc did it on both flights, but I can at least tell you that it is possible.
Going through security was a big pain, mainly because we had to take Alex out of the car seat and put that through the X-ray machine, along with the stroller. With all of our bags, shoes and baby gear, it seemed like we were putting a million different things on the conveyer belt. (A friendly reminder: Don't put your purse on the conveyer belt until one of you is ready to go through the metal detector and wait for it on the other side. You don't want someone to make off with it while you're still putting the rest of your luggage through the X-ray machine.)
The trip was also the first time we strapped the Graco SnugRide car seat directly into the car, instead of using the car seat base. It is obviously a bigger hassle than using the base, but it worked surprisingly well. It also gave me a taste of what's to come, since Alex is about to outgrow the SnugRide and I will soon have to strap him in and out of the "big boy" car seat while it's in the car.
That's it for now. Alex needs a bath and then it's time (I hope!) for sleep.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The Pineapple Room
In case you couldn't tell from my post two days ago about our meal there, Marc and I love The Pineapple Room. In fact, we ate there three days in a row (Thursday and Friday for lunch, plus dinner last night). The only reason we're not going today is that they don't serve dinner on Sundays and we already have other lunch plans.
We had the Menu Sampling dinner last night, which consisted of five courses. Here's a sample dinner menu, although our dinner was different from the one listed. Our first course was some ahi sashimi with a carrot and daikon (Japanese radish) salad topped with a yuzu dressing and a slice of myoga. The second course was a piece of panko-encrusted onaga on top of sauteed enoki and shiitake mushrooms, followed by a lobster and corn risotto, then a "beef duo" of tenderloin and short ribs. The finale was a small scoop of sorbet, creme brulee served in a Chinese soup spoon, and a little fresh fruit, all served on a thin slab of cold marble. I opted for the house Plantation Iced Tea (which is iced tea with pineapple juice and a thin slice of pineapple) instead of the wine course.
The food at The Pineapple Room is just as good as, if not better, than the food at Alan Wong's itself. The atmosphere is less upscale and appropriate for families, especially if you go early. Unlike at the flagship restaurant, there's actually some space between tables so you don't have to listen to the conversation going on next to you. We'll be there every day the next time we come, too.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
A Good Hike
The view is gorgeous from every viewpoint, and the breeze brought the temperature down some. Going down was actually harder than going up, not just because it was tougher on my knees and ankles, but also because my legs were a bit wobbly and gravity made me want to rush down the uneven rocky path.
There were quite a few people walking into the park, but it's quite a ways from the park entrance up to the start of the hike, so I only recommend that if you really want the exercise. We had to pay $5 to get into the park with a private car (individuals who were walking in were $1 per person).
It was nice to have some couple time (it was too hot to take Alex), and also to get some exercise. As we drove out of the park, Marc and I vowed to take care of ourselves and not become obstacles to our enjoyment of life as we get older.
Friday, August 26, 2005
All was not perfect yesterday, however. If you're a parent, you know that you need at least 6, and maybe 10, diapers a day. So we decided that we'd just buy a box of diapers when we got here. You might recall that Alex can only wear Pampers Cruisers. Well, we went to Wal-Mart and they didn't have any! They had their store brand, Pampers BabyDry, and Huggies BabyShaped. I gambled on a package of Huggies, which comes with "Gigglastic." What a BabyShaped diaper doesn't have that a Cruisers diaper does is this soft mesh netting that I think handles poop better. Alex hasn't had a massive poop yet. But I'll let you know how it goes.
Lest you think that was the worst of our problems, we had more misadventures yesterday. The hotel we're staying at put a crib in the room for Alex to sleep in. It actually looks like a medieval torture chamber because it's all metal. The mattress is about an inch thick. And the sheet doesn't fit snugly. We picked up a crib sheet at Wal-Mart but even that was too big for the mattress. When I pulled it tighter to make it snug, it pulled the mattress away from the sides of the crib. I had intended to bring our mesh bumpers but forgot to pack them, so we picked up a set from Wal-Mart but they wouldn't have filled the gap between the mattress and the crib. The verdict: too many SIDS and other risks for comfort.
I ended up sleeping in the king size bed with Alex, while Marc slept on the couch (we've never shared our bed with Alex in part because we're afraid of injuring him - needless to say, I slept pretty lightly). I'd been warned about hotel cribs but that was a while ago, and I'd kind of forgetten the specifics in the warnings. Well, they all came back to me last night. Today we're going to pick up a basic Pack 'n Play and Alex can sleep in that the rest of the trip.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Yippee! We're On Vacation!
Alex was a dream on the flight. We had enough miles for two first-class seats, which helped a lot. The extra leg room allowed us to stand up and hold Alex when he got a little restless. A big shout out to my friend, Whitney, who recommended that we bring the Boppy so Alex would have a comfortable place to sit on my lap - thanks, Whitney!
Marc and I had no idea what to expect from Alex on the plane, so we planned for the worst. I hit Mrs. Fields yesterday and bought out their nibblers (the bite size cookies). I divided them into 20 cellophane bags and put a label on them that read, "This is my first time on an airplane. Please be patient with my parents and forgive me if I cry - Baby Alex." The cookies were a big hit with our fellow first-class passengers and the crew. I forgot to take a picture but we plan to do the same thing on the way home, so I'll try to remember then!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
White House Greeting
"Welcome! We are delighted to join your family in celebrating your arrival. You have already brought much happiness to those around you and you've just gotten started!
We are glad you are now part of the wonderful American story. Our Nation holds great opportunities for you. May you make the most of your unique gifts and may happiness and love surround you always."
It's a pretty cool keepsake for his memory box! (Someday, maybe, the box will become a beautiful scrapbook ... but for now, it's a memory box.)
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Sesame Soba & Tofu With Asparagus
Sesame Soba & Tofu With Asparagus
14 oz. extra firm tofu
3 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
8 oz. soba noodles
12 oz. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1. Drain the tofu and wrap it tightly in a kitchen towel. Put on a plate and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
2. Combine 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and chili flakes in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over medium low.
3. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Add the asparagus for the last two minutes. Drain and return to pot.
4. While the soba is cooking, cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss the tofu with the sesame seeds so the sesame seeds adhere to the tofu.
5. Heat 3 teaspoons of sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu and saute until browned on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Add the tofu and reduced sauce mixture to the soba and asparagus. Toss to combine.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Dine & Dish On $40 A Day
Pancake Stacker Bowl from Millie's Restaurant, $5.99 - Millie's is the best quality diner I've ever been to. The food is always good, the staff is always courteous, and the most amazing part is that the other patrons are so polite, I've always had the door held for me. The Pancake Stacker Bowl comes with six buttermilk pancakes, a cream cheese filling that melts into a sweet sauce, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was really yummy, albeit decadent, and easily enough for two people. (I had to use the picture from their website because it was hard getting a good shot inside the restaurant.)
Smoked turkey sandwich on rye from Label's Table deli, $8.99 - Label's Table has (in the expert opinion of my father-in-law) the best smoked turkey in the city. The sandwich is no frills - just bread, mustard and turkey. No lettuce or tomato. I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture, but it was about two inches thick in the middle, so there was a lot of meat.
Label's Table doesn't have a website, so here's their information:
23311 Mulholland Dr.
Woodland Hills, California 91364-2734
Spicy tuna bowl from Whole Foods Market, $7.50 - A layer of sushi rice and a layer of julienned cucumber are topped with a mixture of chopped tuna and a spicy chili sauce. The bowl comes with a packet of soy sauce, a little bit of wasabi, and pickled ginger. It's a delicious and easy snack.
Caesar Salad ($7.75) and Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce ($12.95) from Mulholland Grill - Mulholland Grill is in the back of a small shopping center near the intersection of Beverly Glen and Mulholland Drive in Bel Air. We got takeout instead of eating there since we were with Alex. The food is upscale Italian, and they have my favorite Caesar salad, which I split with Marc. They also make (in Marc's opinion) the best bolognese in town, so that's what he got. (I've come pretty close to recreating their bolognese with Cooking Light's Ragù Alla Bolognese with Fettuccine.) I love their gnocchi, which comes with a choice of pesto, alfredo, marinara, arrabiata or vegetable sauce. I ordered marinara sauce because it's healthier than pesto, which is what I really wanted.
Mulholland Grill also doesn't have a website, so here's their info:
2932 Beverly Glen Circle
Bel Air, California 90077
The total for the day came to $43.18, a bit over budget but I did share the Caesar salad with Marc, so I think it's okay (wink). Per the rules of the game, I didn't take into account tax and tip, although Rachael Ray does so on her show.
This was really fun - and proves Rachael Ray is right in that it's possible to eat well on just $40 a day!
Preventing Stretch Marks
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Easy Nutrition Boosts
- Use romaine or other lettuces instead of iceberg. Darker greens have more nutrients, so I use a baby lettuce mix from Trader Joe's instead of iceberg. Sometimes I add romaine for the crunch. You can also add baby spinach leaves. I use these substitutions not just in salads but when I need shredded lettuce for tacos or sandwiches.
- Add some ground flax seed (also known as flax seed meal) to your cereal, yogurt or smoothies. Flax seed has lots of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Switch to whole wheat pasta, which has more fiber and digests more slowly. I actually prefer the taste of whole wheat pasta now, because I think it's more flavorful. I recommend adding a generous amount of salt to the cooking liquid for the best flavor. Trader Joe's sells whole wheat spaghetti, fettucine, penne and rotini for 99 cents a pound.
- For more extra fiber, substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose flour in all of your baking and cooking. It can be a little hard to find, but I've seen it at both Whole Foods markets in my neighborhood.
- Buy organic fruit and vegetables when possible, because they are higher in antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Holiday Gift Ideas
- Gift baskets: I love gift baskets, and I love making them, too. One of my favorite ideas (although I've never made this particular one) is to take an empty bucket of popcorn (available at movie rental stores) and fill it with movies (or rental gift certificates), giant size candy, and popcorn. This would make such a great gift for a family.
- Memberships: A family membership to the Los Angeles Zoo is $65, and includes unlimited admission for two adults, all of their children and/or grandchildren ages 2-17, and reciprocal admission to zoos and aquariums throughout the country. Memberships at museums work much the same way.
- Cookies: Before I had a child, I often gave baked goods away at the holidays. (Now that Alex is here, I don't think I'll be doing marathon baking sessions for at least a few years!) The wonderful thing about baked goodies is that almost everyone appreciates them and they don't become clutter. I like to plan ahead, though, deciding what I'm going to make (chocolate lovers adore brownies), what doughs will freeze well so I can do that part well ahead of time, and how I'm going to package them. One year I made the mistake of presenting cookies in stacked origami boxes - it took me about a month to fold all of the boxes, and I promised myself I'd never do that again!
I'll have more suggestions in the near future!
Friday, August 19, 2005
Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
But if you're not breastfeeding (and perhaps feeling some backlash because of that), I want to share a story that a friend was kind enough to share with me when I was struggling and considering switching to formula. My friend had a friend who was struggling with breastfeeding. The new mother took her son to the pediatrician's office, where the nurse asked if she had bought the very best, most expensive car seat on the market. The new mother, taken aback, said, "No." The nurse then asked if she felt the car seat that she had bought was good enough to protect her son. The new mother replied, "Of course." Then the nurse said, "Well, think of formula in the same way. It may not be the very best, but it's more than good enough."
I think I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again since I need to be reminded of this regularly: No matter how hard I try, I cannot be a perfect mother. I can only be a "good enough" mother.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Easy Banana Trifle
1 box devil's food cake mix (plus water, oil and eggs to make the cake)
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix (plus milk to make the pudding)
1 tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions and bake in a 13x9 inch pan until done. Cool completely and cut into 1-inch thick slices.
2. Prepare the pudding according to package directions and chill until the cake is ready.
3. Cut the bananas length-wise into 1/4-inch slices.
4. Assemble the trifle layers in a clear bowl or tupperware for maximum effect in the following order: cake, pudding, banana, whipped topping. Repeat layers until you have 3 layers, ending with the whipped topping. To garnish, you can top with some fresh berries, chocolate shavings, or cocoa powder.
Note: I'm sure this would work with other flavor combinations, like pound cake, chocolate pudding and strawberries. Use whatever's at hand - this is a great emergency dessert!
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Random Laundry Tips
2. Wash your clothes in the coldest water possible to make them last longer and save on your energy bill.
3. Add your detergent to the running water and let the washer fill a little before adding your clothes. This allows the detergent to dissolve and disperse evenly, and prevents "detergent spots" from developing on your clothes.
4. If you have the space, have multiple laundry baskets and sort your clothes when you undress. For example, my husband and I have three laundry baskets in the closet - one for darks, one for whites, and one for lights. We also keep a couple of empty laundry baskets stacked under the ones that are being used for loads like towels and sheets.
5. Unless your baby has sensitive skin, you probably don't need to wash his or her clothes and blankets in special detergent like Dreft. However, if (like me) you want to keep your baby's exposure to potential allergens to an affordable minimum, try All Free. It's available in a 300-ounce container and is much more affordable than Dreft. In fact, it's more affordable than most other detergents, and for me it's cheaper at the supermarket rather than Target (even without a coupon).
Roasted Cauliflower and Sardine Pasta
Roasted Cauliflower and Sardine Pasta
12 oz. cauliflower florets
8 oz. whole wheat linguine
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (or make your own by putting 2 slices of toasted whole wheat bread into the food processor)
4 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 3.75-oz. cans sardines packed in water
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss together the cauliflower, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and spread the cauliflower onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is golden.
2. Cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Meanwhile, drain the sardines and chop them into half-inch pieces.
3. In the same pot that you cooked the pasta in, heat the garlic and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for two minutes. Add the cauliflower, sardines, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and saute for 1 minute. Add the pasta and breadcrumbs and toss. Remove from heat and divide into 4 portions. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese over each serving.
Nutrition bonus: Leave the sardine bones in for extra calcium - you'll never notice them.
Quick Tips: The cauliflower can be prepared up to a day in advance. Grate the garlic on a microplane if you don't like mincing.
*Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not a doctor. Consult an expert if you have any questions or concerns.
Friday, August 12, 2005
What's The Difference Between Polenta And Cornmeal?
Product Review - Black & Decker Food Steamer
I realize that an electric steamer isn't a necessity in the kitchen, and that it's easy to steam food in a pot with an inch of water and a metal steamer or colander. But somehow I find that I'm more likely to steam vegetables in my steamer than in a pot. Maybe it's because my steamer has a timer, or because my metal colander is a pain to clean - I'm not sure. But I am sure that my family eats healthier because of the electric steamer.
Labels: product reviews
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Selling Your Used Books
The easiest way to list an item is to use the ISBN, UPC or ASIN number that is on the bar code of a book, CD or DVD. It's unique to that item so you won't have to search through various results to find the exact item you want to sell. Once you've found a match, you select the condition of your item (New, Like New, Very Good, Good, or Acceptable) and enter a comment (the comment is not required but I recommend it, particularly if the item is not listed as new). Setting a price is fairly easy. Amazon tells you what its own price is, as well as the lowest Marketplace price, so you can decide where you want to fall in that range.
Amazon provides shipping credits, which differ depending on the item you're selling (you get $2.26 for books). The shipping credit is supposed to cover the mailing costs, although with heavier items it sometimes is not enough and you have to cover the difference through the amount you received from the buyer. The items that I sell can all be shipped by USPS Media Mail, and usually ship for less than the amount of the shipping credit that I receive. Amazon does charge a small commission, so make sure you're going to make at least something before you list your item for a really low price.
Amazon requires that you ship the item within 2 business days of the purchase, which can sometimes be a problem if you have trouble getting to the post office. For my own privacy and protection of my identity, I rented a post office box to use as my return address (I made enough money from book sales to cover that cost within two weeks). I think it's a good practice to email the buyer to let them know their item is on the way.
I'm no tax expert (so see a professional if you have any questions), but my understanding is that my Amazon sales are taxable income only if I'm making a profit - for example, if I bought a book with the intention of selling it, then any gain from that sale would be taxable. But if I'm just selling a book that I no longer want to keep, it's as if I sold it at a garage sale to get rid of it.
I've been surprised at what's sold - Star Trek and Star Wars novels that I didn't want to reread, one of my husband's college textbooks, even an old Nine Inch Nails CD single. Baby books have sold very quickly - in fact, I felt a surge of sympathy for the man who ordered a book on baby sleep with expedited shipping.
All of your Marketplace earnings can be transferred by direct deposit to your checking account. So if you have unwanted books, CDs, or DVDs, give Amazon.com's Marketplace a try.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Product Review - Salton 1-Quart Yogurt Maker
In order to make yogurt, you have to bring milk and powdered milk to a certain temperature, cool it to a certain temperature (I can't remember the numbers), strain it into the provided container (optional), add starter yogurt, and incubate the mixture for 6 to 10 hours. After a few months of repeating this process, I got tired of it. For one thing, it was a pain to heat and cool the milk. I kept dropping my thermometer into the saucepan, and the cooling process was either long (if I just left the milk on the counter) or tricky (if I submerged the saucepan into ice water to cool it faster, I had a tendency to splash water into the milk). For another thing, I really needed a 10-hour incubation because I prefer thicker yogurt, but it was hard to find a convenient 10-hour block. The consistency always came out slightly different, too.
In the end, I just threw my hands up in the air and decided that it was more economical - in terms of time and mental health, at least - to buy yogurt at Trader Joe's. But making my own yogurt with this inexpensive appliance (about $18 on Amazon) wasn't difficult. I might even give it a try again sometime.
Labels: product reviews
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Crock Pot Kalua Pork
Crock Pot Kalua Pork
3 1/2 lb. pork butt
1/3 cup seasoned Hawaiian rock salt or 1/4 cup kosher salt
nonstick cooking spray
1. Lightly spray the inside of the crock with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Score the top and bottom of the pork butt with a knife about 2/3-inch deep. (Remove any strings the butcher may have tied.)
3. Rub half the salt into the bottom of the pork and place the pork into the crock.
4. Rub the remaining salt onto the top of the pork. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours.
5. Remove the pork butt from the crock and place on a large cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks and serve.
*You can add a bit of liquid smoke for a real fire-pit flavor, but I leave it out because I think it's carcinogenic. Stock up on seasoned Hawaiian rock salt when you're there (or have someone bring some back for you), or do a Google search for "Hawaiian salt" and shop online.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Some Good Mystery Books
In the last few years, I've been reading Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker series, which is interesting because of LAPD Detective Decker's relationship with Rina Lazarus, an Orthodox Jewish widow with two young children. The mysteries are intriguing, but I found a couple of the later books a bit dark and a bit strained.
A couple of years ago, I enjoyed reading several books by T. Jefferson Parker. I liked that his stories are set in Southern California, where I live, and the mysteries are compelling. Actually, they're a little too compelling, which is why I stopped. I'm terrified of snakes, and one story involved a massive snake - and yet, I had to keep reading because I had to know what happened. But that might have been the last book by Parker that I read.
A more light-hearted series is the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsay Davis. The series is set in ancient Rome, and makes for good entertainment but not nail-biters.
Finally, I just read a mystery by Denise Hamilton. Her protagonist is Eve Diamond, a reporter for the LA Times. I enjoyed it, but didn't think it was spectacular. Eve just isn't a character I really bonded with as I read, so I'm not sure if I'll read any more.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Easy White Noise
So when Dr. Harvey Karp recommended white noise as one of the 5 soothing S's in The Happiest Baby On The Block, it made perfect sense to us. Instead of an air filter, though, we got Alex a CD called Soothing Sounds For Sleep. Back when the 5 S's were the only thing that could calm Alex, the CD kept us from shushing ourselves hoarse.
Even though Alex doesn't need to be swaddled anymore, he sleeps better with a little white noise on in the background. The tracks that we use the most are the rain, the ocean, and the train, although there are others (the ticking clock in the background of the ceiling fan track drives me absolutely nuts). We found that Alex sleeps the best if we select one track and put it on infinite repeat.
Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
Salmon En Papillote With Enoki Mushrooms
Salmon En Papillote With Enoki Mushrooms
2 6-oz. salmon filets
1 3.5-oz. bag of enoki mushrooms, trimmed
6 thin slices of lemon
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cups cooked sticky white or brown rice
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 2 large sheets of parchment paper on the counter.
2. Salt and pepper the salmon, then place each filet on a sheet of parchment.
3. Top each filet with half of the enoki, 3 lemon slices and 1/2 tablespoon of butter.
4. Fold each sheet of parchment in half, bringing the short ends together. Beginning at one folded end, fold the side over and repeat, closing the opening as you fold. Twist the end to keep the parchment from opening back up.
5. Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Tear open each packet, taking care to avoid the escaping steam. Serve with soy sauce and rice.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Well, she and I aren't the only ones who think it's important to continue to nurture your marriage after the birth of a child. Before Alex was born, I read The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine, and found myself agreeing with her on the importance of being courteous to my husband when I felt like screaming, and nodding when she pointed out that it was my husband I would be spending the rest of my life with, not my baby.
It isn't easy making my marriage a priority, but Marc and I both try to make time each day to catch up and to cuddle. We are best friends, and we are bound and determined to stay that way. And if takes Alex sleeping in his own crib and not in our bed to do that, then that's how it's going to be.
Miracle of Modern Medicine
It was stories like this one that sustained me throughout the darkest moments in the last half of my pregnancy with my son. It didn't matter that the two pregnancies I had lost ended before I reached the 10th week and never had a chance. I spent much of my pregnancy in fear of losing my baby. I can't count the number of times I closed the door to my office and wept because I hadn't felt movement for a couple of hours and no amount of cold fluid and being still would provoke that little boy into a simple kick. I remember the story about the smallest baby ever - born at 8.6 ounces - leaving the hospital in Chicago when I was about 25 weeks pregnant, and being reassured (Alex was already two pounds at that time, according to the ultrasound).
I know that late losses do occur, and that sometimes nothing can be done to prevent them. But anything that gave me hope was something to be grateful for.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The Easiest Way To Brush Your Teeth
The best part - at least for my vanity - is that my teeth are whiter, and I don't even use a whitening toothpaste. For me, this is the most practical way to whiten my teeth, because I have bonding on the bottom of both of my front teeth and chemicals wouldn't whiten them - basically, I'd end up with teeth that were white on the top two-thirds, and a light beige on the bottom third. Not pretty. I actually got my first Sonicare before my wedding to lighten my teeth, not because I cared about their condition.
One caution - Sonicare toothbrushes are not for everyone. I know someone who got massive headaches from using one. Even my dentist can't use one, but his wife does.
Here's the most important tip of all, though - the secret to photographing well is to smile like a maniac. I mean, your cheeks should hurt. I've never been photogenic, but at least now most of the pictures of me with Alex are acceptable. Here's an example:
This one was taken a couple of years ago. Blech.
This one was taken the day after Alex was born. Considering the state I was in, it's a pretty good picture - all because I was smiling as hugely as I possibly could (it's not like I was in a good mood, either - I was still recovering from giving birth and wondering who the heck this little helpless baby was and what I was supposed to do with him, I had no idea how to breastfeed, and I hated being in the hospital).
Environmental Nutrition Newsletter
This is a smoothie I concocted for my husband, but I love it too. It's perfect for these hot summer days!
1/4 cup soy vanilla frozen yogurt
2/3 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup mango chunks
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup nonfat milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
Nutrition bonus: You'll get lots of vitamin C from this. Use calcium-fortified orange juice and boost your calcium intake, too.
Note: The last time I made this, I added a scoop of vanilla protein powder and it affected the texture only slightly.
*Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not a doctor. Consult an expert if you have any questions or concerns.
Monday, August 01, 2005
More Kitchen Tips
- Salt your pasta water generously when cooking whole wheat pasta. It significantly improves the taste.
- Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. You'll increase the fiber content without affecting the flavor or consistency.
- Invest in a good nonstick pan. (I know this is obvious, but I have some pans that are just okay nonstick and some that are quality nonstick, and the difference is clear. Not only do I need less oil, cleanup is so much easier, and that's actually more important to me!)
- Hard boil eggs in an electric steamer. I freely admit that I cannot boil an egg properly. I don't know what my problem is, but I think I've managed to do it correctly on the stovetop only once. So now I "boil" them in my electric steamer and they come out perfectly every time.
- Sterilize bottles, nipples, pacifiers, pumping parts, and even teething toys in the dishwasher. You'll find dishwasher baskets made to hold the small parts of baby paraphernalia in the baby department of stores like Target and Babies R Us. Certain things will hold water at the end of the cycle if they're facing the wrong way (like bottle covers), so just shake the entire basket out over the sink when the dishwasher's done, and put it back in the dishwasher or in your drying rack to dry.
- This is an energy-saving tip that goes with #5 - if I'm near the kitchen when the dishwasher enters the drying cycle, I turn the whole thing off and open the door to let everything air dry. Even if the dishwasher is set to "no heat" for the drying cycle, opening the door gives me a chance to see if anything is holding extra water that I need to dump out.
Knowledge Equals Health
Bye-Bye, Stretch Marks!
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Packing Healthy (Or Healthier) Lunches
Here's a quick example: if you stop spending $5 for lunch 3 times a week for 50 weeks, that's $750 you could save and invest in a year. If you parked that $750 in a 5-year CD at 4.65% interest, which was the highest yield on Bankrate.com this morning, you'd have $946 for doing nothing. And that's a conservative estimate - most lunches are probably closer to $10, and most people work 5 days a week!
Private School Or Public?
Surprise, Surprise - Postpartum Fitness/Weight Loss Update, August 1
I think what this proves is that little changes do make a difference. I'm not exercising as much as I would like, but I do put in at least 2 miles on the treadmill or at the park at least 3 times a week. And I've been having salads and fruit for lunch and snacks, at least some of the time, in lieu of fatter, unhealthier fare. I eat cereal once, sometimes twice, a day instead of three times a day.
I don't know if I've made enough changes to keep losing weight, but that's okay. Because I'll keep making small changes, and those will add up too.