We're Having An "Eat Down."

If your parents are divorced, than it's likely that you've weathered your share of your parent's boyfriends and girlfriends over the years. I know I have. Some are strange, some are great, and some give you things that you remember fondly. Once my mom dated a guy named Bob, and yes, that is his real name. He gave to us what we now know as "the eat down."

Bob was an Italian-American and a thrifty guy. He didn't like waste or overspending--a man after my own heart in these respects. And he would often say when we came over "we're having an eat down!" We would be like, "What's that?!" He would reply, "You don't go to the store to buy more food until you eat it all down!!"

My husband and I have, over the years, adopted this concept into our hearts and minds. It helps us stay on budget with groceries as well as to make sure that nothing goes to waste. Let me also say that sometimes when thing are tight and you can't go grocery shopping, this can seem a little...I don't know...obnoxious or frustrating. But the "eat down" makes it into a game. Suddenly we're like, "what do we have and what can we make with it!?"

We joke often that we could have a TV show called "Eat Down" where we go into people's homes and show them how to stretch their budgets and their food into more meals. Creativity people! Also? Pinterest. You knew that was coming, right? I'm addicted to Pinterest.

So, I wanted to share some eat down tips. In case you are thinking of cutting back on the budget, or you just want to try this as a fun game one month. Wanna know something amazing? After the holidays, things were a little tight, so we went nearly 1 month on $125 spent at the grocery store! Now, I will admit that was bolstered by the fact that I can food during the summer season, and we get venison from a hunter friend. Also, I pick crabs in season (I have a friend who owns a seafood place, so I get a good price) and I freeze the meat. It also doesn't hurt that we have chickens and therefore a basically endless supply of eggs.

Perfecting the eat down (steps for success): 

1. Make a meal plan
This is very important. I like to make a plan for at least 15 meals. Generally, I'll make about 20 or so from the stuff I get because inevitably there will be other things I can make. Making a meal plan helps you see exactly what you need to buy, but it also lays out a plan for the upcoming weeks, ensuring you use what you get from the store and don't forget about items.

I get TONS of ideas from Pinterest for my meal plans, but also I like to ask my husband, "Any special requests for dinners you'd like to have?" If you have kids, you could ask them too. Get the whole family involved.

2. Make a corresponding grocery list 
Using the meal plan as your guide, make a grocery list. Now, when you shop, you've got to actually stick to the list. I am pretty good at that, as I go through the grocery with a calculator and keep track as I get my items. This helps me stick to my budget. If I'm under budget, I'll use remaining money for "splurge" items, which is really fun!

3. Keep track of what you made, what you didn't make, etc. 
I use the notes section of iPhone for this. I have my meal plan in there, and then below it, I keep track of what I made. The great thing about doing this is you see how creative you got as well as how well you stuck to the plan. It takes just a moment each day to do, and then, if you do it again the following month, you've got a guide map of what you already had, so you know how long it's been since you made that dinner.

4. Follow through and cook at home.
I think a lot of food waste has to do with people not buying to cook specific meals (going kamikaze at the grocery), not knowing what they actually have in their pantry/fridge, and going out to eat too much. If you want to be healthy, cook for yourself. REAL food, not packaged stuff. If you want to save money, this is also true!!

5. See how long you can go!
How long can you hold out in the eat down game? It's really fun, right?! I mark my calendar when I shopped, and then we try to see just how long we can go between shops. 

Sex & The Attachment Parent

I am a full-on attachment parent, which happened quite by accident (which you can read about HERE). I was just following my intuition and as it would happen, this was what worked best for me, but everything has its downside. While I love the closeness that attachment parenting boasts, there is, well, a lot of closeness between my child and I.

I wear her for her morning nap, we lay down to take afternoon nap together (so she can nurse), and we co-sleep at night. I'm also breastfeeding. So there is a ton of me and baby time. This can leave little time for "hubby and me" time. Recently, my babywearing group on FaceBook was having a talk about this in a thread. How in the world does one (well, two if you count the husband!) find a balance between attachment parenting and, eh-hem, sex? 

It's important to note that part of attachment parenting is finding this balance. I feel this can be a common misconception with many APers. No one, not even attachment parenting, likes a martyr...that shit just ain't cute. Still, for the attachment parent (and especially a mother) losing yourself to parenthood is a reality. So what about sex? How do you carve out time for just you and your husband? 

First, a story: I was once at this party with my daughter and a woman approached me, asking me how my daughter was sleeping at night. I always find this question strange, but I always answer it the same way: very well, we sleep together and I breastfeed, so nights go pretty smoothly. The woman looked at me with a type of incredulity that I have never before witnessed and asked, "She sleeps in the bed with you?!" I got a little confused and answered, "Yes. Where else would she sleep?" The woman straight-up walked away from me without another word. I guess she was uncomfortable. My mom's best guess was that she was thinking of my husband and I getting busy while she slept....my god. In. The. Same. Bed.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bed sharing and having sex while your child is asleep. They seriously would not know, and in many cultures this is perfectly acceptable. It has not been my experience (yet) that my daughter will sleep in her sidecar co-sleeper, or even without touching me, so I haven't had the chance. I know other parents in this situation as well, and so, a little creativity comes in handy. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I definitely have a system that works for us. Or works well enough for us for right this moment (same thing, right?) 

Right off the bat, I feel it's obligatory to acknowledge that for many women, breastfeeding is a bit of a sex drive thwarter. The blend of hormones that keep women from ovulating are also a bit of repressor in the libido department; so before we are even thinking of getting down to it, I feel that breastfeeding moms are working with a deficit. But I don't like to use lack of drive (real as it may be sometimes) as an excuse. Intimacy is still a cornerstone to marriage, and sometimes it just takes a little extra to get in the mood. 

So that's my first rule: make the decision to get in the mood. Mind over matter. I aim for at least once a week because it's realistic for our lives. And I know that when it's time to go to Funkytown, I'm going to clear my mind of everything else and go to my sexy place. Does it take more work at times? Sure, but there is always a place for it, and there just has to be. 

Secondly, you have to schedule time. Is it necessarily the sexiest thing in the world to schedule time for sex? Hell no. But in parenting sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I think for the attachment parent, it's especially important to get some time away. My husband and I like to drop our daughter off at her grandparent's house and then come home for the beginning of our date. (They live close so this is pretty easy.) If you can do something similar, this is a great way to get back to being husband and wife. We aim for twice a month on this one. 

Third, be flexible! Parenting, in my experience, is all about bobbing and weaving. My kid just doesn't sleep well unless she's being worn in the baby carrier or next to one of us, so having sex when she's sleeping is damn near impossible. BUT, she does spend about an hour playing in her playpen in the morning when we wake up. This is a golden opportunity for my husband and I to sneak away. She doesn't even notice! Keep the flexibility for the moments when you can sneak away, and then take advantage of them! 

Fourth--and this is really important--be gentle and remember this is just a season. Sometimes the plan doesn't work. Sometimes I am too damn tired or don't feel like it or whatever. There will be those times. Before I had a kid, I was having more sex, and when she was a newborn, it was easier to sneak away. But it's just a season. She'll sleep in her own bed someday. She won't need me or my husband quite as much. And that will be sad and great all at the same time. When I remind myself that this is just a passing phase, it just doesn't seem all that bad. So in the moments where you feel like you are not able to fit the square peg in the round hole, be easy with yourself. 

Are you an attachment parent with some tips about how to carve out intimacy? Share (anonymously if you prefer) in the comments section below!! 

This Sleep Regression is KILLING Me!

Here I am: smack dab in the middle of an eight month sleep regression. It's a Wednesday--I think--I don't know, everything is staring to go bleary on me. You see, I have a good sleeper on my hands. From the day she came home from the hospital, I've pretty much felt well rested leave-go the one off night or five. I bring this up not to rub it in, but to emphasize how awful this no sleep thing feels in light of the facts.

It's not that I haven't experienced a sleep regression before. We had one around four months too....but this one seems so much worse for some reason. Maybe it's because at four months you're still in the thick of the baby phase, having just come down off the newborn phase, and so it's just not that bad.  It's almost expected, in a way. Now, I'm barely able to scrape myself out of bed.

My generally good sleeping baby has been waking up about 20 million times a night, tossing and turning, sometimes sitting up, sometimes talking to me and husband, and then going back down. Oh, and we co-sleep, so we're getting it good this time around. This is week two. My dachshund, Oscar, seems to have picked up on the unrest and joined the party, getting in and out of bed at night, adding to the fray and when he does want to sleep, his spot of choice is between my knees. Yay.

I keep telling myself that the next day will be better, and sometimes it is, but all in all, these sleep regressions are for the birds. I am a monster without sleep. I am grumpy, unreasonable, generally irritable, and immune to caffeine. So THIS is what it's like to be without sleep? It's awful. Parents of bad sleeping children should seriously get a metal.

I'm trying to tell myself that this too will pass. I know it will. I google sleep regressions. I ask my co-sleeping friends on FaceBook if possibly she's giving cues that she's ready for her own space (and maybe she is...I won't rule it out completely.) But in the meantime, I'm trying not to be a sinking ship. Lack of sleep may be getting to me yet; I cried all day yesterday after I had a fight with my husband. If my wits had been at all about me, it just wouldn't have been that bad. Marital stress is exacerbated when you're running on empty. Or maybe I just needed a good cry.

I wish I had some sage words of advice for others experiencing this subject, but none come to me other than to grit your teeth and know it'll all pass. Also know that you are not alone. I feel your pain. I'm regressing, along with my daughter's sleep. I hang on to hope that tonight will be better--tomorrow I'll be less tired--because it's all I have. Someday this damned sleep regression WILL be a distant memory. And I'll be grateful. But today, I'm waiting patiently for nap time to approach so that I can get horizontal and maybe catch a few of those zzzzs that went flitting by last night. 

The Moscow Mule {My New Favorite Drink}

From time to time my husband would see these Moscow mule mugs in stores and mention about how he wanted them. But there was always a reason he couldn't buy that particular one--who knows how this was made, or it's too cheap, or it's too expensive. So, anyway, this year I was so ill during the holiday season that I couldn't get to the store to buy my husband his usual gifts of boxer shorts and such, and instead I found myself online searching for Moscow mule mugs.

As luck would have it, I was able to find a mug that was neither too expensive, nor too cheap, and the materials were not in question, either. So I bought those suckers. And my husband loved the gift. I dare say, he was pretty surprised as well.

Really, I bought them because he heard it was the best way to have his favorite drink: the dark and stormy, which is ginger beer and dark rum. However, on the side of the box, was the recipe for the namesake of the mug: the Moscow mule. And guess what else? It's fabulous!

So, now we have a new favorite drink 'round these parts and it's the Moscow mule. It's going to make a fabulous summertime drink, but in the meantime we are enjoying them here and there in our new mugs. Because, seriously, I had to get two mugs. No one wants to drink alone. Well, some people like to drink alone, but you get the point, right?

Anyway, I love that my husband makes me these, but in case you don't have my husband there to make you a drink, I thought I would share the recipe.

The Moscow Mule

Time: 5 minutes, tops | Makes 1 drink | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need: 

2 ounces of vodka 
1 ounce of lime juice 
1 wedge of lime 
1/2 can or bottle of ginger beer
Mint for garnishing 


Fill your cup with ice (as desired, I like four hearty cubes!) 

Pour liquid ingredients over ice and give it a nice stir. Squeeze lime to get a little pulp into the drink. Put the rest of the lime wedge in the drink. 

Garnish with the mint. 

Best served in an official Moscow Mule mug! 

Breakfast Quinoa

The holidays were so full of sugar for me that I feel like I need a serious resolution. I am addicted to sugar these days. If it's sweet, I will get it out of my way by promptly devouring it. I guess my willpower to resist sweets went out the window when I had my daughter...curious, but seemingly true.

Anyway, since my sugar-laden holiday has officially come to an end, I am trying to get back to my regular eating habits. It's never felt this hard. But if you know me then you know I love a good challenge. I've had battles with breakfast over the years, and really I thought that I just wasn't a "fan" of breakfast at all. Until I became pregnant. It changed everything.

Now, I do breakfast daily. Shocking, but true.

Because I live with anxiety, I try to do protein in the morning because I've read that it helps. Does it actually help? I am asked this a lot...I really don't have a great answer because I do so many things in combination with one another. Protein in the morning, a combo of vitamins (prenatal, DHA and now vitamin D), exercise, and meditation (uh, well, I try to do the meditation...I've fallen off the wagon a little these days.) My point is it can't hurt.

Since I don't do a lot of dairy, I generally have an egg in the morning. Which is great, but it's always nice to mix it up. Oatmeal, for me, is good, but it's not something that tends to stick with me the way I would like. When I came across breakfast quinoa, well, I had to give it a try. I like it because it's filling, and I can make it easily and it's chocked full of PROTEIN!

Even you aren't quinoa's number one fan, you should give this a try. I'm not ashamed to admit that I am using up my quinoa in my pantry and literally I have no clue how old it is. So, you know, it's a good recipe to use up your old quinoa too!

Billie's Breakfast Quinoa 

Time: 15 minutes-ish | Serves: 2 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need

1 cup of almond milk (plus more for serving) 
1/2 cup quinoa 
1 large handful of blueberries (I use frozen) 
a few dashes of cinnamon 
a lil bit of vanilla extract 
raw honey or sugar for sprinkling (optional) 
1 banana, sliced (optional) 


In a small saucepan, bring the milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract to a boil. Add the quinoa and blueberries, cover and reduce heat to low, allowing it to simmer. Cook about 15 minutes, or until most of the milk is absorbed. Remove from heat.

To serve, divide the quinoa into two bowls. Sprinkle with sugar or honey, and top with bananas and pour over more almond milk (to make like a porridge).

Since my husband doesn't want to share this delicious dish with me, I make one recipe and then eat it over two days. 

Introducing Solids [OMG I'm Freaking OUT!]

When my daughter was drawing nearer to the six month mark, I was really excited to start solids. I mean, hello, cooking is sooooo on my top five list and I couldn't wait to get my daughter's palette developing. I had read up on baby lead weaning (BLW) and was really excited to try it out. To briefly explain, baby lead weaning is essentially baby lead feeding, and has much more to do with introducing whole foods than getting baby off the boob.

So, I ordered the guide to baby lead weaning book off of Amazon and read it FAST, eager to start giving it a try. And then something happened...it didn't work for me. This was a difficult thing because a) I was so freaking jazzed about it and b) I'm stubborn as a mule. I wanted it to work so badly. But between the gag reflex and my nerves, mealtimes became anxiety inducing. Let me explain a bit.... 
Per the reading, the gag reflex is located about the center of the baby's mouth. This is a safety mechanism as they learn to eat. Pieces of food that are too big are basically gagged out. It can be a little alarming, but with my kid? Well, it was just crazy. She was basically throwing up at every meal. I've read that some children's gag reflexes are worse than others. It's totally possible that hers is, but I have nothing to compare it to. 

I felt completely conflicted about the whole thing. I was trying so hard to follow through with the system and trust what I had read, but something in my intuition just wasn't allowing me. I kept trying, but there was no improvement over a few weeks. Even though she had no teeth, the book said that was okay, that she could still "chew". Her interest in food is very high, and she remains extremely eager, so I kept just thinking I was the problem. 
So, I put it out there on Facebook to see what my friends were doing. One friend (who has five children) said that she always waited until they had at least two teeth to begin with BLW. Another friend chimed in with what is now my mantra, "Food before one is just for fun." It was then it occurred to me that perhaps my daughter, as enthusiastic as she was, just wasn't developmentally ready for larger foods, contrary to what the book said. The babe may not need teeth to chew, but is it possible that for some children, the teeth are a developmental indicator?? 

For weeks, I had been anticipating returning the Baby Bullet food system I had been gifted back to the store, but suddenly I was rethinking things. All this freaking out wasn't helping anyone. I was nervous as hell at mealtimes, and I know that my child was picking up on my vibes. Maybe it was time to come up with my own system of feeding that worked for me. I was resistant, mainly because I had been (and still really am) in love with the BLW system of feeding and REALLY wanted it to work. 

Once I let go of the expectation I had on myself about using the BLW completely and initiated my own system, I was happier, and so was my daughter and I'm happy to report, she's now enjoying a large variety of foods. I bet by this point, you're curious what I did. Well, I took the concepts of BLW and translated them into a hybrid system that works for us. Here are some of my tricks!!! But, seriously, don't let me do all the talking here--I wanna hear what's worked for you in the comments section below!! 

Back to Bringing Up Bebe
I loved this book, so much! And in the "express" version of the book, the author included a sample menu of what the babies in the daycares eat. This helped me overcome my anxiety and put things into perspective for me. French babies are notoriously good eaters, and that is my number one concern. So if you, like me, need a little boost in morale, check out the menus in the book (or google it because I know they are out there). These kids eat things like fish with dill sauce. Yes. I know.

We don't have any "food restrictions" 
There are obviously things we don't give her, like peanuts because that would be dumb as hell. But she's had eggs, hummus, meats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. She eats a healthy diet of whole foods. 

I let her feed herself
I noticed right off the bat that this kid was never gonna let me feed her. And I'm not much for power struggles. But, get this, she can use a spoon just fine. So, she feeds herself, just as BLW lays out. 

I puree and use a mesh feeder
This was the part that was hardest to swallow for me, but you know what, it's not that bad. It's not even that much work, either. When I can, I make a nice puree of the food (and I never combine anything strange together.) Basically, I taste her food and if I wouldn't eat it, I don't feed it to her. I try to keep the integrity of the food as much as possible. The mesh bag feeder is for things like meats or mushrooms (which she loves) or other dishes that may not taste as great pureed. I want her to get the flavors. Also, having both purees and the mesh feeder allows her to have several options in one meal. 

Offering a variety of tastes
I like to offer a variety of foods, just like BLW encourages during a meal. So a dinner for her might be a puree of spinach, a piece of meat in the mesh bag, and applesauce. It gives her choice and the experience of the meal, which is fun for us too. 

It's fun and messy 
It's supposed to be fun. I don't want to fight with her to eat (she doesn't necessarily need the food, she gets plenty of breastmilk for nutrients), so we let her get messy, throw the spoon, and cover her face in whatever she's eating. If she's enjoying a particular food and doesn't show interest in another--that's fine! It's all about making food an enjoyable experience.

We don't worry about the amount 
She's getting all of her nutrition from breastmilk and will until she's about a year old. Hence, my friend's saying (which is now my mantra) "Food before one is just for fun!" We don't need to worry that she's eaten enough; in fact, babies her age (she's eight months old right now) don't even know that food is filling! So we let it be the learning fun that it should be at this age. And, this helps us avoid stress! 

I Don't Care What The Other Moms Do

When I was growing up, I would always protest to my mother about how "such and such's mom let her [fill in the blank.]" And every time, nearly without fail, my mother would reply to me, "I don't care what the other moms do." It never worked as my argument. Never. She always stood resolute in her own path and what she felt was right for her own parenting style.

As a sort of joke, before my husband and I had children, whenever he would compare me with anyone, I would reply with "I don't care what the other moms do." Now that I am in a position of actually being a parent, though, I find it's true on so many levels.

First of all, parenting style. Comparison, in nearly any arena, is a killer of joy. It's just that simple. So if someone says they do "x" and I do "y," I really don't care. I find it interesting, of course. I'm always interested in what other moms do. Maybe I feel that it'll work for me, or it won't. There is always something voyeuristic about knowing how the other half lives, but it's not always going to be for me.

I find that too many moms are worried about what the others are doing. I've heard it reflected in conversation time and again. One of the biggest red flags that someone is worried about your choices say about them surrounds the question of having more children. It's all this wanting to convert me to to their camp of "let's make more babies" that puzzles me. I don't care what you did--I'm sure your children are lovely, but seriously, back off--those choices are yours and yours alone, I hope you're happy in them.

It's this attitude of we must be united otherwise we are divided that leaves me scratching my head. We can be different, and certainly we are. To quote a two year old I saw on You Tube, "Worry about yourself." We shouldn't be concerned over what the other moms, or dads, or families are doing if it doesn't work for us. We've simply got to walk our own paths.

So far in the several months of my child's life, I've discovered that I am a babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, attachment parent who is a big old softy on some things and really strict on others. I don't care as much as I ought to about routine, but family dinner is a mandatory activity. I'm not worried about my daughter being too clingy, or not wanting to be held by others at times. We probably definitely watch too much TV. She's had all her scheduled vaccines. She's never had sugar, but she has had eggs, mushrooms, all sorts of leafy greens, venison, chicken, squash, strawberries, carrots, and potatoes. We've never observed the four day rule with food. And all these things work for me and my family.

Sharing our stories is important. It allows us to relate, or brainstorm or just practice listening. But that doesn't mean you have to conform or even agree with how someone else chooses to live their life. Someday soon my daughter will come bounding in the door wondering why her friend's mom lets her eat junk food and we are a little more strict--or whatever--and I'll have to explain that I don't care what the other mothers do. And she might be angry, or frustrated with me, but the bottom line is, while it's all very interesting (and certainly it takes all kinds) I'm on my path as a parent.

How do you brush off what the other moms do? Is it easy for you, or do you find it a challenge? Share with me in the comments section below!