Saturday, January 29, 2011

Celebrating Siblings

Ahh, the 'sibling gift' at birthdays. My sister was the first person I knew to do this and I didn't 'get it'. My childless self was opinionated and wondered why the other kid couldn't deal with not being the center of attention for one day.

I didn't 'get it' at all.

When I was preparing to welcome a second child into the family, I was looking at things in a totally different light. Birth and a new child isn't just about the parents and the new baby. That sibling is just as much a part of the changes, just as affected, as the parents! Their entire world changes.

This was reflected in my decision not to exclude my oldest from the birth of her sister. It was just as monumental a moment in her life as in mine. It was just completely different. For one, she didn't really get a say in it. Yes, she was happy about it and yes, I asked her if she'd like a little brother or sister and she did, but in the end, we never planned to be a one-child family. We wanted a big family.

One of the suggestions to avoid sibling rivalry is to make certain that the older sibling is greeted first and congratulated as visitors come to see the baby. After all--they just became a big brother or sister! That's a big deal. Another suggestion was to offer the older child a gift from the baby. We did both of these and it was a hit. Lilly was very excited and accepting of her little sister. She was so happy to have her and amazed at the tiny little critter that had come out of me.

My sister was on the same page and delighted Lilly

Her place in the family changed. Her responsibilities increased. Expectations of her increased. She wasn't any older. She wasn't any bigger or suddenly more able to do things than she was before, but she still had to start doing more, simply because she wasn't the only kid in the house anymore and largely because she wasn't the youngest. She didn't mind. She took it all very well and adored her sister and I believe celebrating her role as the big sister was a big part of it.

So, at Naomi's first birthday party, there was a gift for Lilly. Not to keep her from being jealous of the attention for her sister--she didn't need that, actually. She was super excited to celebrate her sister (more than the confused little one year old who just wanted to nap, lol). It was there to celebrate Lilly, on the anniversary of the day that changed her life forever.

Why does the little sister get a gift on the big sister's birthday? To keep her out of big sister's presents, lol. Sure, her life didn't change any on that day, but the little one is still a little sister because of it. It's an important role in the family, too.

045.jpg kisses picture by Xakana

So remember to celebrate the siblings! It's not just the firstborn, either. If you have four, then three children have had their lives changed forever! And the fourth is just as important as the first. Every little life deserves celebrating and every sibling deserves a congratulations. Maybe it's on being a great big brother or an awesome little sister, maybe it's on just not strangling their little sister or simply surviving little brother's forays into the tumultuous threes. Siblings do a lot more than they often get credit (or blame) for. So let them have their gift, too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Meatloaf Recipe

What respectable omnivorous mother doesn't have one? I discovered meatloaf when I was 15 or so and went over to a friend's house whose mother made it. I was instantly in love. I'd heard nothing but horror stories about meatloaf on t.v. and I didn't understand, as my mom didn't make meatloaf (but hers would probably have been delicious--my mom's a pretty good cook). I've had many kinds of meatloaf since and came to my own conclusions. Mainly: pork ruins meatloaf.

I had no idea people mixed meats in meatloaf until a couple years ago. I'm not a big fan of pork in the first place, but mixing it in, particularly sausage, definitely sends me running from one of my favorite foods. However, mixed meat doesn't have to be disgusting--or higher in fat.

Anyhow, after my Mother-in-law taught me to make meatloaf, I started experimenting with the dish to make it mine. One of the important things was to lower the fat content, since I have no gallbladder and high fat items make me ill.

So, without further blah blah blah-ing, here's my recipe!

What you need:

One-Two pound(s) lean ground beef
One pound lean ground turkey
One can sloppy joe sauce (or make your own! Having had ketchup, BBQ sauce and plain tomato sauce, I decided to try this--my husband despises ketchup--and it was a hit!)
6oz crushed cheese crackers (gluten free varieties are offered in many stores)
One egg (many people do meatloaf without the egg if you have allergies--some sub bread crumbs, but I don't see how that's necessary with the crackers--I haven't made it without egg, so I have no experience there)
1/4th of a small onion, diced
Ground peppercorn, to preference
Garlic pepper (or minced garlic or garlic powder), to preference
Salt, to preference
Curry Powder (sometimes I use it, sometimes not)
1/4th a can of black olives, sliced
4-6 shredded baby carrots
1/4 cup of tricolor peppers
One cup shredded cheese* (I usually use colby jack or cheddar jack)
Sliced cheese, enough to cover top of loaf*

*Cheese can be left out to reduce fat content

Preheat oven to 350

In either a large bowl or the pan, mix spices, crackers (crushing in the bag works best, IME), carrots, peppers, shredded cheese, onion, garlic, egg and ground meat with your hands. I usually do the dry first, then add the wet ingredients. Roll and mix until everything is thoroughly blended and there aren't any pockets of dry ingredients.

Shape into a loaf in the ungreased pan (or use a loaf pan). Wash hands (I usually run for the sink wailing for someone to turn on the water for me since I just touched raw ground meat and egg!). Smother with sloppy joe sauce. Place sliced cheese over top however you like.

Cook, uncovered, for 75-90 minutes (cooking times may vary) or until checking the center reveals no pink. Slice and serve. (It won't look anything like the public domain picture I picked out, lol, but it should taste better than that one looks like it would) Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Robots are coming, the Robots are coming--and they're HUNGRY

Originally posted Jul 15, 2009 on MySpace

Bow before the Technology... or it will eat you.

Want to fuck with America? No, no you don't. Ignoring all robot-warning movies from Terminator to Tim Burton's 9, DARPA has come up with the latest in terrifyingly evil concepts—EATR.

What is EATR? Well, in short, it's an ENERGETICALLY AUTONOMOUS TACTICAL ROBOT. Still don't know what that means? It means that it can derive its own energy sources from biomatter (grass, wood, garbage, roadkill, enemy corpses—basically anything but metal, plastic and Velveeta) so it can outlast the Energizer Bunny. And then eat it.

Here's the technical specs:

Oh, is that a Chainsaw I see? Yes, yes it is. And the Ramp for PackBots? Why, that would be the baby making orifice! This sucker can potentially BREED. “It might also be fitted with DARPA's SELF tech, enabling it to construct copies of itself and modify its own design.”

This is the face of the future enemy. Get a good look now, because it's going to be harder when we reach this point:

You think not? Well, how about this spec explanation:
The 4D/RCS is a domain-independent approach to goal-directed, sensory interactive, adaptable behavior, integrating high-level cognitive reasoning with low-level perception and feedback control in a modular, well-structured, and theoretically grounded methodology It can be used to achieve full or supervised intelligent autonomy of individual platforms, as well as an overarching framework for control of systems of systems (e.g., incorporating unmanned and manned air, ground, sea surface, and undersea platforms, as well as serving as a decision tool for system of systems human controllers)

I don't like how that sounds. It can decide FOR us, can it? Oh, I'm sure that's not what that means... or is it?

And, of course, it's not DESIGNED to eat us. Of course not. As you see in this official illustration, the perception of what it consumes is totally benign:

And clearly, the intention is for it to be a vegetarian, as illustrated here:

So, as you can see, it's only going to eat your pot. Hmm... maybe it's not just designed for foreign wars, but our own homespun war on drugs as well. Of course, what's that going to leave us with when it tosses all that green into its burner?

Oh, yeah. Well, that's not so bad.

Oh, my.

So, let's review. So far, we have a chainsaw-wielding, pot stealing, flesh eating, giant killer smoking robot. Could it get any worse?

Oh, it's got a webcam. So it can post on YouTube while it slaughters us. So the other robots can laugh at us. And with the Japanese corpse-mover being invented around the same time, it's already got a lackey.

Of course, that robot's not just for corpses, but for moving bums from the street, too. If we toss in the automatic voice-recognizing sniper-bot with a two-mile shooting range...

...we're fucked.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Children Know What We've Forgotten

There are many difficult things about growing up. The greatest of all may be disillusionment. I am often baffled by how adults forget what it was like to be a child or mold their memories to fit into what adults believe, rather than how a child feels, thinks and sees. I know adults do much of this to the children, some children are born without the ability to See and a few even escape it to grow into adults who Remember. Grown ups who can See. And while I've probably forgotten more than I can list, these are many Truths that adults have forgotten, but are every day for a child:

Child in the wind
Children can control the wind, the rain and many other elements.

Mum and the daughter
Grown ups are invincible most of the time.

playground kids 4
It's a different, better world when it's upside down.

Monsters are quite real, but for some reason, they often cannot harm adults and adults cannot see them. However, sometimes adults need to be saved from them and never even know.

Graffity Monster
A monster can stand right behind an adult trying to tell a child why they aren't real, and mock you both until the adult leaves.

Monster spray works like a charm, though. Only grown ups know where to get it.

Kids behind Chanukah Menorah updated 3
There are Things in the dark that will eat you that only stay away if you are not alone or if you have enough light.

Invisible people often get stepped on and sat on, but they don't mind. They're really good friends. They just choose one special person to
be their friend.

playing with soil
Buried treasure could be anywhere.

Rainbow in hand
There are parallel worlds and doors to them exist everywhere. You need only open the Door.

Magic is very real and many adults have at least a small amount of it. Some people are just full of magic.

An object is rarely only what it appears to be.

Little Vampire
Bullies are children with the power of an adult.

preschool girls outside4 74
Grown ups very often won't believe the truth.

Between two of them, parents know everything and are always right. Except when they're not. But when defending knowledge to another child, the child's parents are right and the other child is wrong.

Favorite clothes "go together" regardless of adult clothing match up ideas.

A child (or group of children) saves the world every day, somewhere in the world, and no one even says, "Thank you."

Flowers are amazing and everyone loves them. They are one of the best gifts to give.

Adults are very forgetful and even when they can see the magic one day, will likely have forgotten by the next.

Sunbeams over forest moss
There are tiny fairies dancing in the air on sunny days.

Rainy Days
Mud is simply clay and paint that you play with outside.

Splish Splash
Wet clothes are worth seeing how high a puddle can fly into the air or how deep it is.

Beloved characters from stories and television are always ready to play!

The musician on the street corner or in the subway is very talented and deserves an audience.

Cities are full of things to see every which way you look.

Young African girl playing
Playing is hard work, but it is a child's duty to do what must be done.

Snail 4
Slime is just another fascinating texture.

Face Paint Tiger
Children can become any animal in the world.

Adults smell things differently than children. This may be why their food is often so gross.

Woo Hoo - x jump
People can randomly develop super powers.

Giddyup Horsey
Clothing can transform you into someone else entirely. Sometimes, it's a Door.

Grubby Girl 1
Dirt is a badge of pride and evidence that the day's work has been good.

photos courtesy of stockxchng (animal) (flower) (super) (dirt) (puddle) (invisible) (mud) (save the day) (playing is hard work) (light) (treasure) (upside down) (truth) (musician) (monster) (magic people) (city) (fairies) (elements) (door) (invincible) (slime) (bully) (clothing)

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Favorite Doctor King Quotes

Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, these are my favorite quotes from Dr. King in no particular order:

Seeing is not always believing.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.

I would be the last to condemn the thousands of sincere and dedicated people outside the churches who have labored unselfishly through various humanitarian movements to cure the world of social evils, for I would rather a man be a committed humanist than an uncommitted Christian.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Months Is Still Ideal

Lilly, feeding herself her first solids at six months

This post is being reorganized since the trigger article is so out of date now ;)

The open gut. It's open for the first four to six months of life to allow as many antibodies and healthful particles through from breastmilk to pass into the body as possible. It naturally closes around 6 months, but introducing solids causes it to close prematurely to protect the body from harmful allergenic particles, also cutting down the amount of helpful antibodies that baby gets (which are still plentiful, but it lowers immunity and increases risk of allergies). THAT is the reason to wait at least six months to introduce solids--our bodies aren't designed for them in the first six months (things that do not enter the stomach should not be counted, such as teething tablets, gas drops, vitamin drops, etc.). What's more, several digestive enzymes aren't formed until six months:

"The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months. "

On a food level, spinach, broccoli and carrots contain nitrites that cannot be converted in a 4 month old's gut into a safer substance and can (and have) cause(d) nitrite poisoning. What's more, most people use rice cereal as a first food, which is linked to food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome (symptoms typically include vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), dehydration and low-blood pressure. The child or infant can appear lethargic, and over time can have problems gaining weight. Hospitalization for possible severe infection in common in children with FPIES).

While it's the BMJ itself that warns against rice cereal, it has not received the media attention that this is receiving and it's irresponsible to recommend early solid introduction (which, btw, they're still not recommending before four months) when most people are still using useless and potentially dangerous rice cereal as a first food--because it's still recommended by many 'authorities' and most pediatricians.

On a personal note, I got solids at 3 months old (from my mom's plate) and I have food allergies, a strong distaste for leafy greens, and used to have chronic anemia... the things that this article says happen because of waiting six months. So, on a purely personal anecdotal level, I have to call b.s. (admittedly, anecdote =/= science).

My first grabbed her first solid by reaching over and just biting my nectarine while I was on the phone, lol, right about her 6m birthday. That is a clear display of solid readiness. My second's tongue-thrust reflex didn't vanish until almost 9 months, though she had access to the food starting a little after she turned 6 months and she did try. She choked constantly and just wasn't ready. A good rule of thumb is, "If the parent needs to use a spoon, it's too soon." If your child cannot feed him/herself, they aren't ready for solids. Most six month olds can even use a spoon if shown how to properly, if you insist on pureed/mashed foods. It's better to just start with soft, whole foods.

While I agree with not waiting to introduce allergens into the diet (another recommendation within their article), it should be done through breast milk first and first foods should be what the family is eating anyway. Exposure reduces allergens--once the body is ready for exposure. However, a child who has shown a clear allergy to a food (from the telltale red 'ring' around the anus to full out anaphylactic shock) should not continue being exposed to that food in the first year. Both of my girls had early food intolerances (my oldest was strawberries--this vanished around 14 months and my youngest was to spinach and broccoli--which also vanished between 13-15 months... my youngest presented with signs through breast milk exposure and my oldest had no signs until she ate a strawberry at 8 months).

Finally,the following organizations recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months):
Will these recommendations change now? Only time will tell, but in the end, the science supports waiting at least six months for the protection and optimal health of our children.

(original content having been moved):

So, bloggers are up in arms against an article from the Guardian "Six months of breastfeeding alone could harm babies, scientists now say". It's based on an article written for the British Medical Journal by people whose research was paid for by formula companies and babyfood companies. Conflict of interest much? They defend themselves by saying that they are recommending real food, such as fresh food and meat, and not baby food, but so few people give their babies real food from the get go that if they believe that, then they're deluding themselves. However, the study doesn't really say as much as the article indicates.

They are flying in the face of their own World Health Organisation's recommendation of: "exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is recommended and breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond (with the introduction of solids from 6 months) is beneficial."

So, most bloggers are tackling discrediting these guys for their affiliations (and at least this one tried to take them seriously) or talking about the signs of readiness for introduction of solids. (Which you can find here as well)

Now, personally, I do baby led weaning, which is giving baby real foods from the start based on physiological signs of readiness and age-based readiness. However, what's bothering me and prompting me to write this is that while everyone's pointing out why it's better to wait, an important reason why it's dangerous not to wait it being left out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Things I've learned as a mom:

Newborns can love loud rock music more than all the lullabies in the world.

Despite eating nothing but breastmilk, a healthy new baby's poop will appear as though she has eaten nothing but seeds and florescent dye.

Frozen breastmilk smells like soap.

Babies like anything that is not a toy, such as a straw, better than the most expensive toys on the market.

A determined infant can flip around under the safety strap on a changing table, head to foot, and remained strapped in.

Breastmilk can cure any pain or frightful event in mere seconds.

When you think everything is babyproofed--your baby will find the one thing you missed.

Poop can shoot out of a diaper up to the neck of a baby's back and somehow manage to leave almost nothing in the diaper.

Shrieking and mindless babbling can be the most wonderful sound in the world.

Silence is a horrible sound and you should immediately find out why it's happening.

Toddlers laugh when you're mad because they're trying to get you to laugh with them. A laughing mom is so much more fun.

I have special long-distance tickling powers.

Always get the warranty. The good one. And ask if it covers accidental flushing.

Never do anything in front of or to a toddler that you don't want them doing.

Please really is a magic word.

Sleeping children are the most adorable works of art in the world.

When doing photos with more than one child, it's a must for the photographer to have stamina, tenacity and to leave personal expectations at the door.

I am a jungle gym, a spring board and the tool for flying.

Childhood is like evolution: babies are like wiggly fish that become monkeys, toddlers are like cavemen.

You can learn an entirely new language in a matter of days--toddlerese!

The world can be a great place... as long as you keep a good sense of humor (and avoid moms who actively don't agree with you)!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

California Sloppy Joe and Sprite Tea

Originally posted on cafemom Apr 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM

image courtesy stockxchng

I was craving a chili sandwich (which I was jokingly calling a Mexian Sloppy Joe in my head--although there IS a recipe for it online) but also wanted an avocado sandwich. My solution...Yup!

California Sloppy Joe
(so named because of the avocado--add mayo for authentic California taste)

Smush the avocado into the bread and then ladel chili over it. Close the sandwich. I prefer 7 grain bread myself. Yum!! OMG, I'm in heaven. SO delicious.

Just thought I'd share.

Oh, and anyone who likes Sprite, here's my recipe for:

photo courtesy of stockxchng

Sprite Tea

One glass (8oz) Sprite*, chilled. One bag lemon cold brew iced tea. Put tea bag into the sprite as though it was water. The bubbles mix it faster than with water. Take out bag, squeeze it into the drink, stir and enjoy!

*(Organic lemon-lime soda can be substituted)