Monday, March 31, 2014

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Lately, I've been obsessed with the chicken salad from El Pollo Loco with the cilantro dressing.  I found a recipe online for cilantro lime ranch dressing and created my own version of the salad. 

The salad:
purple cabbage
black beans
grilled chicken

The dressing:
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cloves garlic
1/8 cup lime juice
1 jalepeno (remove seeds)
1 tomatillo
1/2 cup of cilantro 

Put all ingredients in blender and blend on high until well mixed.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse

I'm no vegan, but I do try to be as healthy as possible and this is a healthier version of a classic chocolate treat.  This mousse is made with avocado instead of dairy so it's also great for someone who can't handle dairy products.  You can taste the avocado, slightly, but not in a bad way.  It has a really rich chocolate flavor that over powers the avocado flavor.

I got the recipe from Giada's Feel Good Food book, which is her healthier recipe book.

  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 very ripe avocados, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Fresh raspberries and mint leaf for garnish.  I also used chocolate sticks that I stole from work :)
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.  Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hopping on that Sleep Train and our 5 month sleep regression

Well it happened to us.  The 5 month sleep regression.  I had heard about this.  Babies that previously slept through the night all of a sudden stop.  It can really happen at any month but ours was at month 5.

Hardcore attachment parents believe in doing nothing.  Just deal with it basically.  On the other end of the spectrum, some say baby will never sleep unless you sleep train aka. "cry it out".  Again, I believe I am somewhat of a moderate.  I'm not comfortable with any of the crying methods but I do think that it's valuable to help a baby to sleep and to self soothe.  Well, there's exactly one book I could find about a no cry sleep training method.  The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  I naively thought that since we had a 'sleeping through the night' baby I wouldn't need this.  I couldn't just set her in her crib wide awake and have her go to sleep but once I got her down, she was a great sleeper.  I really don't mind rocking my baby to sleep.  I love it in fact.  That's one of the best parts of our day.  It's when things started getting worse and worse and I felt like I had a newborn again that I realized we had to do something.  I broke down and bought the book.  I sacrificed yet even more sleep to stay up and read.  I implemented the schedule right away and started on my journey.

This is NOT a quick fix.  It's a process so it takes commitment.  I was fully prepared for this.  My only other options are listen to my baby cry (possibly all night) until she could potentially vomit, choke, and scream for her mommy who had abandoned her OR deal with this sleep deprivation for both of us for potentially years.

Here's how to do it:

Log your progress every 10 days to look for improvement.

There's a lot of room for flexibility and forgiveness if you revert to old ways out of desperation.  That's one thing I love most about this method.  It's NO GUILT and there's no pressure to rush things.  Go at your own pace.

Start a schedule.
We now have a wake up time of 8am.  Blake gets 2 naps, one in the morning about 10am and one in the early afternoon about 2pm.  I try to watch for her cues and put her down when she's sleepy so I am flexible with the times.
Bedtime is tricky because of my work schedule and Blake being at her grandma's until I'm off.  Some nights I don't get done until 10:30 or 11.  This may need to be adjusted if the plan doesn't start working. When I'm home, bedtime starts about 8pm.

Naptime and Bedtime routine.
I was actually already doing this and didn't even know it.  I added a few things just to make it official and I have been keeping it consistent at every nap and every night.  It is about 30 minutes and consists of diaper change, pjs, story time, nursing, and rocking.  I tried to do bath time in my routine but her bath is not always relaxing as much as fun and active. She loves to kick and splash.  :) I also tried a massage but she really doesn't like it.
The naptime routine is a shortened version of the bedtime routine. About 10-15 minutes.

Other things to try:

  • whispering "key words" to her as she is falling asleep so they become a sleep association.  I'm shocked at how well this worked.  I mostly just use "ssshhhh it's sleepy time". The shushing noise really calms her.
  • trying to not use her pacifier when I put her down, although she has a really strong suck-to-sleep association.
  • putting her down drowsy but still awake and staying with her and helping her to fall asleep while in her crib
  • doing some calm playtime and story time in her crib throughout the day so she knows that is a positive and safe place to be.
  • make sure she gets plenty of naptime.  I try for 2 2hr naps per day but at this point I don't always get them.
There are lots of tips in the book but these are the first ones I am trying.  You don't have to do all of them, just try things out and see what works.

I am also weaning her from being swaddled right now so that makes the sleep training harder.  She really loves her swaddle and still startles when she sleeps.  I am starting with one arm out for a while and then I will try two arms out and/or the Zipadee Zip.

I am planning to go in phases, starting with putting her down almost asleep and drowsy to progressively putting her down more and more awake.  Some people stop when they get to a phase where both baby and mom are comfortable and getting enough sleep.  I'm not sure where we will end up but we have already had enough progress to be rested and mentally sane again :) 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Skipping the Rice Cereal

On her 6 month birthday, we started Blakey on solid food.  It's more of an experiment really.  Just an exploration of different flavors and textures.  Her very first food was sweet potatoes.  I was so excited to bust out my Beaba Baby Cook baby food maker.  It steams and blends all in one.  I made her sweet potatoes and blended them smooth and then I made them really thin by adding breast milk.  Well, I would hardly call this first feeding a success.  She was so confused and pretty much just turned her head away from the spoon.  I didn't force her.  The next day, I tried again but with a little thicker texture.  I tossed the spoon and used my finger and she would actually take some into her mouth, yay success!!  But...every time I got any in her mouth, she gagged.  I hate to say but she had me cracking up with all the gagging.

After sweet potatoes came avocados, then bananas.  She actually swallowed some of the bananas.  I know this because I saw it come out the other end :)

Then I hit a little breastfeeding hiccup.  I'm not sure if it was the solids or something else but she stopped nursing well and my supply dropped a ton.  I quit the food and focused on breastfeeding for a week straight.  I am 100% committed to breastfeeding for the first year and maybe beyond so I was not about to let this be the end.  Solids are for fun at this point but her milk is 100% of her nutrition.  One week later, we are all good again but it was pretty stressful (which of course only makes things worse).

WARNING: Controversial topic ahead.
I skipped the rice cereal.  In fact I will never be giving my daughter rice cereal and that's ok.  It's good in fact.
Modern thinking (although plenty of people and pediatricians still believe rice cereal is the only option for baby's first food) is that rice cereal is just not necessary.  It has been the standard in recent generations but it has literally no nutritional value and is just a bunch of carbs that taste like cardboard.  Your doctor might tell you it's the iron.  Breastfed babies need iron, especially after the first 6 months.  Although this fact is debatable, iron can be found naturally in many fresh foods.  They might also tell you that allergies or baby's immature digestive system are factors.  Well, if you wait to start solids until baby is 6 months, their systems are ready.  There is less incidence of allergies and the digestive system has matured enough to handle lots of types of food.  Plus, rice cereal can just cause constipation, which I'm sure we can all agree is no fun.
We are choosing to go with fresh, healthy, homemade baby food for Blake.  It's easy, cheap, and good for her.  If you're still not convinced, remember, it wasn't very long ago that we didn't have boxed, processed, baby cereal and all of those babies thrived just fine.  :)

Here are some links with info about the topic.  There are tons of articles about this but here are a few that popped up when I was searching.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blake Olivia: 6 months

What's been happening this month:

  • Night waking.  This has been exhausting and stressful.  I have been going back and forth about what to do.  My natural instinct says NO to crying it out.  I really want to be patient and see if I can gently guide her into better sleep patterns without crying.  I downloaded The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley to my Kindle and sacrificed even more sleep to read it.  I have started using her techniques and they are helping, slowly.  Sometimes it feels painfully slow but I think it is working a little bit.  I'm trying to stop stressing about this and accept it for what it is.  Going to bed at night can give you anxiety if all you think about is that fact that you will be up in an hour or two.  If you accept it, it's less stressful :)
  • Blake is loving different textures and scratching her nails against everything. 
  • She is distracted and curious about EVERYTHING.
  • She turns to her name.
  • She rolls from her tummy to her back as soon as I put her down.  She still really does not like being on her tummy.  I just keep putting her her back on her belly :)
  • She loves playing with her toys and has definite preferences.
  • She tries to hold the bottle when Grammie is feeding her.
  • She is growing out of her clothes like crazy.  
  • I finally had to cut her toenails.
  • Doesn't love the Ergo like she used to.  I want to get better with my sling and see if she will switch to that.
  • We are weaning off the swaddle, starting with unswaddling one arm.  More to come on this later.
  • Even though the night wakings can be frustrating, those moments in the middle of the night are a special time for us.  We rock and sway and I smell that addicting baby head smell and I can almost feel the "mommy hormones" running through my brain.  I know this is just a short time in her life so I'm trying to enjoy every moment.