More Adventures In Babywearing

So, several weeks back I wrote about my experiences with different baby carriers that I had been using. Like a true babywearing mama, I've gone through about three carriers at this point. The older my daughter seems to get, the more places we go and the more lessons I learn. I was schooled, or rather I should say my back was schooled, when I recently went on a walk with my daughter in the Infantino carrier. Holy back ache!

I love going on walks with her, and I have a great stroller, but at this stage of the game, keeping in strapped into anything (like a carseat) has a funny way of pissing her off...go figure! So I thought about going to get another Infantino carrier that was a little more supportive in order to keep up with my growing gal, but then I thought again. I didn't want to keep buying and buying carriers.

I have my sling, which was PERFECT for those early months and still works great for front carrying. But I have to say, I am bigger fan of the legs out front carry. When my husband and I were at a bluegrass festival a couple weeks ago, we ran into a fellow babywearer (with twins!) who were also five months old. She had two Ergo carriers, and was super friendly about answering questions. So I picked her babywearing brain and decided I was going to pull the trigger on the Ergo.

The next day I ordered it. Oh wait, I should also add this: the next day I went and solidified plans for some work I would be doing in the personal cooking arena. Holy heck, I was so excited about this new job I could barely contain myself! Cooking for money? Why yes sir, I'd love to! Then I came home, put my baby in the carrier and as she napped and my back felt a little twinge. I thought about my mother and mother-in-law, who would be watching her while I was at my new job... and then I ordered the Ergo.

And then it came in the mail. I put my daughter in it, and the next thing I knew? She was passsssed out. I thought it was because I had been gone all day. Uh, no. This thing is the comfiest way for her to catch some zzzzzs. She's been napping in the Ergo and just loving life.

I love the secure feel it has and the options for growing with her. The support it gives doesn't hurt my back at all, and it's so easy to adjust that it goes seamlessly from one person to the next. All in all, i have to say it's the best babywearing option I've had so far. For new moms and dads, this is a must! You can get so much done while your little one enjoys the ride! 

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I feel as though I keep harping on the fact that I am dairy free. Dairy free. Dairy free. Blah blah blah. On a more serious note, we need to talk chocolate. I don't know why's happened to me...I never craved chocolate or sweet until I was pregnant. And while MOST of my sugar cravings have subsided, every now and again, it's like a monster disguised as me goes into chocolate panic mode.

Also, since I am breastfeeding, I am hungry a lot. So let's put alllllll these fun little facts into a package and come up with a snack that fits the description. It's these muffins. They are delightful. I keep them dairy free by omitting the chocolate chips. Cocoa powder is my life these days.

I got this recipe on Pinterest. I am happy to report that despite my unwavering devotion to parenthood, I still have time to hang on Pinterest and scout for good recipes. Get this [awesome] recipe by CLICKING HERE . I would also like to let everyone know these translate really well to gluten free recipes! I made them for a client g-free and she was quite pleased.

Because they are so moist, it's best to store them in the fridge. Because there is no butter, I also consider these a good breakfast food. Because we can, we should dance with them in our hands while drinking coffee and eating these chocolatey muffins.

AAAAAAAMEN! 

Can We Knock Off The Mom Shaming?

I became a mom in May and yes, it's a special and wonderful thing. I love my daughter soooooo much and since I am mainly staying at home with her as my primary mission in life, of course I feel it's a valid experience (read: just as good as earning a paycheck.) But when I gave birth in May, I didn't lose my mind. I don't think that being a mom is the only way to live life, or even the best way. I don't look down on my childless counterparts...or feel that my life before was "meaningless."

So why is it that so many mothers feel compelled to voice just such views about their pre-baby lives? It is ceremoniously laid out in these flowery blog posts and articles and it makes me seriously want to throw a diaper pail at someone. 

I'm positively fed up with mothers who think that they are somehow better than the rest of the population. This type of close-mindedness is one of the great divides among women. Yes, you've contributed your DNA to the world, and for the most part, we're thankful to you. Yes, your child is probably great and cute, and we all know what a saint you must be for staying at home with your human you made, but for the love of god, would you please stop acting as if you've sacrificed the world?!

I have to say it, loud and clear: 
THERE IS NOTHING SANCTIMONIOUS ABOUT BEING A PARENT. 

I feel I am in a unique position to say these things, having experienced both sides of the coin. I don't feel as though I have "given up" everything in order to be a mom. Actually, I feel like I am incredibly lucky to be able to stay at home because I know there are a million moms and dads who would kill to be able to do what I am doing. Of course there are days when I need a break--I'm a human. When I took on the responsibility of parenting, I knew what the deal was, and I was as ready as one could be for it, but I'm not a martyr. 

I still say the f-word (it might be my daughter's first word). I still enjoy cocktails and sex and I even had a girl's night out recently. I exercise several times a week. These are stay overs from my pre-baby life, and I'm so grateful for them because they remind me that I'm still (sort of) the same person I was before I became someone's mother. But I'm not without insight; my life before my daughter was great, too. There are things I miss about it, and things I don't miss about it. It wasn't better or worse, it was just different, and this is a new phase of life for my husband and I.   

For those who haven't chosen to become parents, more power to ya. I know that had I chosen to not become a parent, I would be different than I am today, but not the same as I was either... All our choices in life change us. What truly astounds me is that in today's (supposedly) feminized America, we still feel the need to mom shame people who aren't even mothers by saying that life without children is selfish, or meaningless.  It's just ignorant and doesn't take into consideration the women and/or men who want children and can't have them, or just choose not to have them, both of which are very true and real experiences. 

My heart goes out to women who have truly given up too much to become parents. I know they are stressed, tired, overworked, and probably don't get enough help. I think sharing our experiences as parents is an important part of the journey. But when people do share their experiences, I wish they would make it about themselves. We shouldn't make it about the fact that other people must be so selfish not to make the same choices we made. To me, that just says that people don't value their own unique journeys.

If we want to be great role models to our children we need to let them know that being a parent isn't the only way to live life. We need to model that it isn't cool to judge other people's life choices because we never know what in the world got them there. I have this inclination that if people felt more comfortable reaching out to one another...or if more moms thought it was okay to express the duality of parenthood free of guilt...then perhaps there wouldn't be the need to dump on others in order to validate our own choices.

What do you think? Have you been mom shamed? Share your thoughts on this [very loaded] topic below!!!

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

So normally I would associate these cookies with the holidays...which technically I think this would be timely since we are officially into the fall season. My mother-in-law served these cookies at a dinner we had in early September and I was like, "these are awesome!" I love them for many reasons.

First of all, they taste great, which, let's be honest is the very most important thing for a cookie to be. Also, these little suckers are the closest we can get to a healthy cookie. There is no dairy, no eggs, and no butter. I know, right? Perhaps one of my most favorite points about these cookies? They have jam in them! And I made a TON of jam this summer, so, it works out perfectly. It's a match made in cookie heaven.

So if you've been searching for a cookie, this may be the cookie for you. You can roll with it any old time of the year, but I'm gonna say the holidays are an especially good time for these guys and they make great cookie gifts.

Thumb Print Cookies 

Time: 20 minutes | Makes 20-25 cookies | Difficulty: EASY! 

You Will Need

1 cup almond meal 
1 cup rolled oats, ground into flour (or oat flour) 
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch of salt 
1/2 cup maple syrup (or brown rice syrup) 
1/2 cup oil 

jam of your choice (I used blueberry!) 

Method

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Mix all the ingredients, except for the jam, in a mixing bowl. Roll them into walnut sized pieces and press your thumb into the center to make an indentation. Place about a teaspoon of jam into each indentation. 

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. 

Enjoy with a smile and hopefully a loved one! 


Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta Recipe


It's fall which means that the pumpkin flavored everything craze is in fuuuuuullllll swing. So I had to jump on the bandwagon. Because I'm a bandwagon jumping kind of gal. Well, at least in the case of pumpkin. I know I've been harping and harping on how I've had to give up dairy because of breastfeeding and blah blah blah, but seriously, it's something no Italian blooded gal should have to do.

And yet, somehow, I have managed to continue my affair with pasta despite the absence of dairy. This, I tell you, is no small feat. This pasta recipe is one that I am really excited about because it lacks for nothing without the dairy. It's packed with flavor, tastes like fall and is EASY. All these things make me incredibly happy. It's no overly pumpkiny either, which I think is important.

Obviously, if you eat dairy, you can top this dish with a hearty helping of parmesan cheese. If you do, sprinkle it on, say a prayer for my dairy-free existence, and carry on. Amen. Grab a skillet and a pot of boiling water, we're making pumpkin pasta, people. Hehe, pumpkin pasta people...say it three times fast.

Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta 

Time: 20 minutes | Serves 4 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need: 

1 pound (or 5 approx 5) spicy Italian sausages, casings removed 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-15 ounce can pure pumpkin
8 ounces chicken broth
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced 
salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound box of penne pasta 
1 big pot of boiling water

parmesan cheese (to top, optional). 

Method: 

In a heavy skillet, cook your spicy sausage, breaking it up with a spatula into smaller crumbles as you cook it. (10 minutes or so). 

In a big old pasta pot, bring water to a boil. When it's boiling (and while you are preparing your sauce,) cook pasta according to manufacturers directions. I like to wait until my sausage is cooked because it lines up nicely then. 

Once your sausage is cooked, add your garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. 

Once the onions are cooked, add your pumpkin and chicken broth. Stir to fully combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to simmer until your pasta is done. 

Drain pasta when it's cooked and then return it to your pasta pot (do not put it back on the heat, though.) Add your sauce to your pasta in the pot and combine. Serve and enjoy with someone you love and some parmesan cheese (if you aren't dairy free, like me!) 

YUM! 

Motherhood Has Made Me Nicer

I can barely believe I am going to admit this, but it's true. Motherhood has made me a nicer person. While I was pregnant, I had the suspicion that I was becoming nicer, and after having my daughter, I knew it was true. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that while I was pregnant, people showered me with kindness and it was just infectious.

But it goes deeper than the kindness of friends, family and complete strangers. Something within me shifted. I looked at people differently, with more compassion, and suddenly wanted to give complements to people where before I might not have. I wanted to do things for people to make them smile--that sort of thing. It's not that I wasn't nice before or anything...I think I was, but there was always a bit of a edge to me that seems to be breaking down more these days.

Last week I was having a visit with my mom and I asked her if she thought I was different since becoming a mother. She, without hesitation, said, "I think you're nicer." I started to laugh and I said, "I think you're right!!!" I should clarify that I remember somewhere in my teen years being like this; more emotional, compassionate, and overall just having a more open heart. I'm so thankful to finding this part of myself again.

Maybe it was the experience of birth itself. To be frank, it's so much more than the birth of a child. For me, it was the rebirth of my own soul. Pushed to the physical peak, I was forced to face my fears and I was confronted with a reality of love I never knew existed. I don't necessarily mean the love for my child, which is itself an overwhelming feeling, but more so the love of the people who supported me during the birthing process (my husband, mom, mother-in-law, and friend Jenn). The people who were there for me in those moments gave me a gift that I hope, over a lifetime, I can repay.

All of these things have made me a more humble person which, in turn, I think makes me nicer. I'm sure that there are more gifts that parenthood has in store for me, but this one is surprising. I figured I would come out more jaded, honestly. I haven't lost my sense of sarcasm, of course, or my dark sense of humor, but I am different nonetheless and kinder version of my former self. Or I suppose you could say I am more of my former self way back before adulthood caused a slight shift in character.

I know that this may not be the experience of every mother...but I'm thankful to realize it as my own experience. And certainly, there are those who are childless who are born with an innate kindness in their souls that just bubbles over. What is your experience? Has a life circumstance made you more kind, less kind or revealed something about you to yourself that was profound? Share in the comment section below! 

Daddy's Chicken Salad Recipe

When it comes to the kitchen, we all know it's mostly my domain. But there are somethings my husband does better than me. Since our daughter was born in May, he's been stepping up to the stove and trying his hand at learning more. He makes a mean chicken soup, and great egg salad. One of our favorite things to eat is chicken salad. There is just something great about it, isn't there?

Well, since my time is a bit more limited these days, I've been buying more rotisserie chickens, which means more chicken salad! Since that has been the case, my husband has been hard at work trying to perfect his craft. A couple of weeks ago when he made a few simple changes, we both got wide-eyed and said, "THIS IS IT!" So here it is, the chicken salad that has had me chickening out! 


Take the white meat from one rotisserie style chicken and chop it up finely. 


Then take one half and onion and dice it smalllllllll. 


And same thing for one large celery stalk. 


Okay, here are our secret ingredients, which, incidentally, aren't so secret anymore! Haha. 
Pepper relish, which my canners and I make and cajun seasoning, which just happens to have the best name in the history of cajun seasoning names...Slap Ya Mama. Too awesome right? 


So you add your secret ingredients, as well as some mayo, to all the rest of it. 




And then, I take a pretty picture of it to demonstrate that it happened.... 
And then you mix it!!! 



And then you serve it up RIGHT! 
So, this is how my husband eats his, with crackers and LOTS of pepperoncinis. I had mine with pretzel chips AND crackers and a pickle. Sandwiches work too, as well as chicken salad on a green salad....yum! How do you eat yours?! 

Daddy's Chicken Salad Recipe 

Time: 10 minutes, tops | Serves: 4 (makes 1 pint) | Difficulty: Easy! 

You will need: 

The white meat from a rotisserie chicken, diced 
1/2 white onion, finely diced 
1 big celery stalk, finely diced 
a couple of dashes cajun seasoning (to taste)
1 heaping tablespoon pepper relish
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste 

Method

In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and stir to fully combine. 

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Enjoy with someone you love!