Have your cake & drink a large glass of wine too!

The impetus for starting this blog was to have a safe place to talk/vent about baby M’s dairy/soy allergy.  Already, it’s evolved into way more than that and I’m very happy, but I still think it’s important to give equal billing time to what I am learning about allergies (and motherhood) through baby M.

As I sit here eating a very plain salad, holding baby M’s hand while I attempt to type and eat with the other, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on today’s appointment with our new gastro doctor.  We were referred to a gastro after I found blood again in M’s poop several times over the past week.  I was worried (naturally) because I’ve been dairy/soy free for a month and what could it mean if I still saw blood.  More allergies?  More problems?  I started crazily re-reading all the labels of the foods I have in my fridge and cabinets to see if I accidentally missed some sort of dairy or soy.  Nothing…  Hmm… Had I eaten anything different? Nope… Jeez!

Then I realized, I was taking a vitamin C pill the past few days because aside from M and I, everyone in my house has colds (which I think we are now catching – of course!).  In an effort to keep my immune system strong for myself and the baby, I had inadvertently ingested soybean in the vitamin C (cue awful guilt).  I threw the pills in the garbage immediately (did I mention unbeknownst to me, they were also expired!? – To my brother and my cousin T – if you are reading this – can you believe I actually had something expired in my cabinet!? – The three of us are notorious for throwing things out if they are even close to the expiration date).

So this morning, little M and I went to see the gastro doctor and within just a few seconds of talking, I was already impressed with the doctor’s bedside manner.  He asked me some routine questions and then began talking.  I’m not going to lie, when I heard him mention formula, my mind momentarily went to a deep dark place of guilt and failure at not being able to breastfeed.  I breastfed J & B for thirteen and twelve months respectively and I had all intentions of doing the same for M.

[Let me make mention here that while I choose to breastfeed exclusively, I am pro-mama’s choice.  If you choose to give your baby breast-milk via the breast – awesome (my preference). If you choose to give your baby pumped breast-milk – awesome!  If you choose to give only formula – awesome.  If you choose to give formula and start solids early – great… (Just please don’t feed your baby Szechuan chicken at 3 months old like my mom did when my brother and I were babies — to her credit – there were no restrictions back then and most formula fed babies were getting rice in the formula very early on).  Bottom line, your baby, your choice – do what works for you!].

The doctor said we had options.  Two weeks of formula while I pumped and stored milk and we let M’s bowels heal.  Then we could reintroduce breastmilk still dairy/soy free.  We also had the option to just switch to formula.  Or we had the option to cut out dairy, soy, eggs, fish, and nuts, all of the highly allergic foods.

Dr.: “I hate to tell breast-feeding moms to alter their diets so drastically, especially because this is 2014 and we have alternate options.  I mean it doesn’t seem fair to say eat chicken for breakfast, lunch, and steak and rice for dinner.”

I nod.

Dr.: “Now you could cut out everything and he will improve.  Either way we don’t know the long-term damage or effects of continuing breastfeeding with or without adjustments because there aren’t really studies done on babies like this.”

He explained that there’s no magic age that babies outgrow an allergy – it could be in several months or several years.  He also explained that if it were me that were bleeding and dietary changes would help, I would do it, so if I wanted to do it for my child, that was perfectly acceptable.

Dr.: “My advice, have a restaurant-size glass of wine and then feed the baby 30-40 minutes after you finish the wine.”

I smile and he continues (What doctor suggests wine?!).

Dr.: “Don’t laugh, it makes you and the baby a hell of a lot more peaceful.  I suggest it to all of my breast-feeding moms.”

He quoted some La Leche League statistics about allergies etc. and then went on to ask me more routine questions.  He also joked that M could be the smartest of all three boys if he went on formula (I guess he doesn’t subscribe to the “breastfed babies are smarter than formula fed babies” philosophy often thrown around to promote breastfeeding.)  He said that M definitely has reflux, so he’s going back on Zantac (remember, I was anti-Zantac with B until I realized that it made him 1,000 times more peaceful and happy than he was prior to taking it).  I agreed that M could take the Zantac and I am hopeful that will help him with his choking noises and maybe even make him sleep more comfortably than he does now.

He asked me for my age and I said I would be celebrating my birthday this weekend and I was racking my brain trying to find a dairy/soy free birthday sweet (I am a birthday and sweets person and every year I get a special black & white cookie from my mom and E and I always have some decadent birthday dessert when we celebrate).  I joked with the doctor.

MFM: “I finally found a dessert option that would be dairy/soy free and safe and now you say no eggs!”

Dr.: “So go out for dinner and order a giant steak and an entire bottle of wine instead.” 

He laughed and so did I.  He explained that eating eggs when they are baked into something is generally okay.

Dr: “If the eggs are baked into, let’s say, a cake, they are usually fine.”

MFM: “So basically you’re telling me to eat cake and drink wine?”

The doctor laughed again.

Dr.: “Well that sounds great, but I don’t want you coming back to me in two weeks with sclerosis of the liver and weighing 800lbs.”

He tested M’s poop and he was very happy. His poop looked great.  Hooray!!! (yes, moms get excited about poop – who knew!?).  He then retracted almost everything we had discussed.

Dr.: “Ok, for the next two weeks stay dairy/soy free and that’s it.  Maybe it was the soybean in the vitamin that affected him.  Maybe not, but it could be.  If you want to eat eggs, just eat them baked into something, like a cake, don’t eat them scrambled or hard-boiled.  Choose what you want to do about the nuts.”

So we left with a prescription for Zantac and a very cautious eye on exactly what I am eating.  He acknowledged that it is extremely hard to find things to eat out of the house and label reading is tedious, but doable.  And it felt great to have a doctor not opt immediately for medication or push formula, but to give me options and to provide me with information so that I could make my own choice as a mother.

For now, I will continue dairy/soy free and I will no longer be eating any type of egg unless it is baked into something (like the mandel bread I plan to make for my birthday).  I don’t eat fish, so I’m fine there.  The only real issue is the nuts since I do eat almond butter, peanut butter, and raw nuts on the go.  For the next few weeks, I will avoid nuts and then we will see how M is holding up.

Wish us luck!

Sweet Baby M

Sweet Baby M

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Have Baby Will Travel…

It was a beautiful weekend… The woodpecker that annoyed me all of last Spring was back outside of my window banging away, and you know what that meant?  It was time to stop with the winter/”I have a new baby” hibernation period and time to re-enter the real world (just temporarily because the cold is back today!)

I made plans to meet my mom for a fun morning with the kids at the trampoline place E and I enjoyed a few weeks ago on our date night (the kids and I had an awesome time while my mom watched on with Baby M).  E left early Saturday morning for work, so I was on my own getting myself and all three boys ready to go.  Holy cow!  When I say that attempting to leave the house alone with 3 children ain’t easy, that is the absolute understatement of 2014 (ok, we are still early into the year, but definitely so far!)

I set my two big boys up with a TV show (yes, I resorted to letting the TV babysit my kids for a few minutes – Oh the horror! – Yes I do feel guilty that I can’t occupy them every second of every waking hour of every day – thank you very much 2014 judgmental parenting standards).  I put the baby in his crib since he was already falling asleep on me and I ran to brush my teeth.  What could possibly go wrong in the 2 minutes it took me to clean my pearly whites?

Um, well, yeah… EVERYTHING! OMG – the baby started screaming because I had the audacity to put him down for 2 minutes… The big boys were fighting over their Octonauts toys, while watching Octonauts and climbing back and forth over the backside of my leather couch.  Thankfully, the dog was at least behaving (unlike a few days ago when she thought that it was a great idea to run outside to frolic in the snow unbeknownst to us while we unloaded groceries from the car – for forty minutes!).

I scooped up the baby, “Sh Sh Sh Shhhh.”  I rocked him in my arms while I tried to find my leggings.  Leggings found, I shimmied into them using one hand, still holding the baby, while I hobbled one leg in and one leg out down to my den to control the craziness called my two big boys.  I got each of them settled and put their shoes on. I ran back upstairs to grab my shirt and ran back down to the den to find my two boys playing “battle” (a game J came up with to essentially just knock his little brother down.  Thankfully, B is tough as nails and can knock J down just as good… Oh wait, did I just say that?!)

And here’s how it all went down…  Let the dog out.  Chase B to get his coat on.  Coat on, dog barking in the backyard.   “It’s  not fair – B has a toy, I want a toy for the car,” J screamed.  “Get your coat on please,” I said nicely the first time.  The tenth time, I wasn’t as pleasant. Let the dog back in – run upstairs – give her a cookie – grab baby from the bouncy seat.  Time to get baby into the carrier – wait did he just poop? Nope, just pee.  Run upstairs to change his diaper.  Run back downstairs – OUCH!  What did I just step on?  Damn you Batman figurine!- “J! Get your coat on!”  Coat on.  Baby in seat. Grab B and realize he pooped.  Change his diaper. Where are the snacks?  Did I pack the water cups?  Run back downstairs to get B into the car.  Baby starts to scream in infant car seat. “Shh Shh Shhh.”  “J & B – time to get into the car.”  B runs away.  Chasing him around my den.  B in the car (phew!).  J in the car, but not buckled.  Where are my shoes!?  Run outside to put baby into the car.  Whoops.  Trip over E’s shoes.  Where are my shoes!?  Crash into the wall.  Steady steady – get baby into the car.  Wait, why are there five filled garbage bags blocking the side of my car where baby goes in?  High-jump over the garbage bags while carrying infant carrier – (Perfect score – 10! Clean landing!)  Baby in car.  Where are my shoes?  Wait, where are my keys?!  Find keys, find shoes.  Get into car. Hit the garage clicker.  Backing up.  Bang!  Sh#t!  Crashed into closed garage door.  Holy cow!  Everyone’s ok – garage door ok.  Phew.  Pull out.  Climb into trunk to buckle J (yes I have to climb into the trunk of my mini-van in order to buckle J in the 3rd row).  Trunk door slightly scratched (according to E, it’s not so slight!) Back in car.  Begin backing out of driveway.  “Are we there yet?”

I was literally about to lose my sh#t, but I remembered to take a deep breath (yes I have to remind myself now) and I calmed down.  We were off and believe it or not, I was still excited for a fun morning out, despite the fact that it was only 11 am and I felt like I already lived through an entire day (more like a war!).

Pre-kids, pre-dog, I never gave two thoughts to leaving the house.  When I was ready, I knew where my keys were (because no little ones moved them someplace else), I knew where my shoes were (right where I left them the day before), and all I needed to do was get myself ready.  When we got our dog, I had to make sure she was walked and had water and a light on in the house before I ventured out.  I had a responsibility to be back home at a certain time to walk her again, but she could go six hours without issue.  She was a small pup, so often, I put her in her little “house” and took her along with me.  Even when J was born, while getting out of the house required more planning, it was still fairly easy.  As long as I was prepared to go before I put him into his infant carrier, we were golden.  He was a good baby, slept well in the car, slept well while I was out, and was generally well-behaved from infancy through toddlerhood.  E and I took him on vacation to Aruba twice and he was perfect on the plane and while we enjoyed our trip.

When B was born, it certainly got a little more complicated and required more planning, but J was almost three and things just didn’t seem as difficult.  With 3 kids, it really isn’t easy!  Despite all of the planning, someone is still always missing something, someone is always crying, and someone always pooped or needs to poop while we are literally getting into the car.  I now have to allot at least a half hour to get everyone’s shoes on, coats on, and loaded into the car.  It’s a production.  Some strange sort of mathematical equation that I still haven’t mastered with ease.

But let me tell you, once we are driving away from my house and I have a moment to collect myself, I realize that I made it.  Everyone is alive.  Everyone’s stopped crying.  And everyone is excited to be out of the house.  And that’s when I take a deep breath and feel proud.  Proud that I have three adorable boys.  Proud that I am actually leaving the house.  And proud that I did it all on my own. It’s a good feeling.

So in retrospect, I realize that I need to cut myself a little slack and enjoy the ride, wherever it leads me and my “team.” (Kudos to the lady I saw in the supermarket out with all four of her kids under 7)

B, M, & J posing for a "Team M" picture (bribed them with cookies to sit still!)

B, M, & J posing for a “Team M” picture (bribed them with cookies to sit still!)

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S is for So Tired… I mean Sleep

The topic on my mind this morning is sleep.  Probably because I’m not getting any.  Back in the pre-kid days, I never gave so much thought to my sleeping patterns.  I focused more on my elaborate remembered dreams and less on how many hours I was getting (or not getting).  When I was tired, I slept.  Simple.

When I was pregnant, so many people warned, “Sleep now, while you still can.”  I was fortunate during my first pregnancy to be able to rest when I needed it, but sleeping while pregnant isn’t always the most comfortable activity.  I quickly fell in love with my noodle (my pregnancy pillow), and I found myself draped around that fabulous pillow, cuddling with it more often than I cuddled with my husband (Sorry E!).  With each subsequent pregnancy, I got less sleep and I was less comfortable.  The one consistency, my love for the noodle.  Even now, I sleep snuggled up inside my noodle, this time with a baby draped across my belly instead of rolling around inside.

Which brings me back to sleep… Oh how I miss it dearly. It surprises me how well I am actually functioning on so little sleep each night.  Early this morning for example, while I lay nursing Baby M, I found myself reading Facebook posts.  And who else was awake – fellow mom friends.  I commented on a friend’s post about lack of sleep and within just a few minutes, many other mamas were piping in about there lack of sleep.  Now the disturbing thing is that not all of these moms had newborn babes.  Several have toddlers, pre-schoolers, and kindergarteners.  Yikes!

Found this on FB

Found this on FB and it hit home!

Well now I am third-child into this sleepless child-raising wonderful nightmare and I still can’t believe how much I miss sleep.  You would think I would be used to it by now.  Some people might say, “Quit complaining – you decided to have a third.”  Yes, that’s true.  But I don’t think that makes me any less entitled to miss sleep than someone who has one child.  With one, two, three, or ten, all of us mamas (and sometimes daddies too), miss sleep for one reason or another.

My first, J, always needed to nurse to sleep.  He was a slow eater (still is) and he would leisurely nurse for 45 minutes until he would nod off to sleep.  By two months old, he was sleeping through the night and I was so proud.  That is until he got an ear infection at five months old and he forgot how to sleep through the night.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and hold him and sing to him and nurse him.  That lasted until he was a year old and by then I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I resorted to the dreaded “Cry-It-Out” method and after a few nights of both of us crying, he was sleeping through the night in his crib – happily I might add.  That phase lasted until he was sleeping in a big-boy bed and with the realization that he had free-range to run around his room, I often found him sleeping in a pile of books he tossed off of his shelf with his new-found freedom.  But in general, he’s a great sleeper now.  He can even sleep through his little brother playing drums or musical books during bed-time in their shared room.

J sleeping on Daddy while away on vacation.

J sleeping on Daddy while away on vacation.

My middle, B,  was a completely different kind of baby.  He was an efficient eater (still is!) and he nursed to eat, not to fall asleep.  For the first few months of his life, he suffered bad acid-reflux, so he alternated between sleeping on my chest (oh how I loved those moments) to sleeping in his bouncy seat in my bed.  He transitioned to his crib at 3 months old, and he always went to sleep without a fuss.  He slept soundly throughout the night and he slept long hours.  I got spoiled.  I had a taste of the good-life and I remembered what it meant to be well-rested.  Aaaaah!

Well then I got pregnant and decided that at 16 months old, B needed to transition to sharing a room with J to make room for the new baby that would arrive when B was 20 months old.  So we bought bunk-beds and B had freedom to roam around his room and that was it for a while. He and his brother were waking each other up at all odd hours of the night and starting their days at 5 am.  It was unbearable! B would play and read and run circles until he’d fall asleep on the floor, every night.  Even now, at 22 months old, B still chooses to happily fall asleep on the floor (now on a comfy sleeping bag).  We move him into his bed once he’s sound asleep.

B asleep on the floor at 18 months old.

B asleep on the floor at 18 months old.

Now with my third, sleep is a distant memory.  In the early days of his life, we did lots of skin-to-skin sleeping.  Baby M was kvetchy and never wanted me to put him down, day or night, and when I did, he would scream as though he was being murdered.  No joke, it was awful!  He made gagging and choking noises, much like B did, and we thought reflux.  We tried Zantac for a week and with no improvement, I took him off the meds.  Thanks to the bloody poop, we realized M has a milk-protein allergy, and with that diagnosis and diet adjustment on my part, came a happier, more smiley, peaceful baby.  Except he still refused to sleep flat on his back… He still won’t (not for more than 10 minutes at a time).  For the time being, Baby M is still sleeping in my bed in a bouncy seat for several hours in the early night, and then he comes and stays in my arms or across my chest.  While I do love my special snuggle time with Baby M, he’s still not sleeping so soundly, and I do miss sleeping.  I know it’s best that soon we transition to sleeping him in his crib, for his benefit and mine, but for now, I will stop complaining (ugh I miss sleep! Sorry – last time!) and I will just cherish the quiet moments I have snuggled up with my baby.

Skin-to-Skin soon after Baby M's birth.  We're still sleeping this way!

Skin-to-Skin soon after Baby M’s birth. We’re still sleeping this way!

The thing is, that it’s always something prohibiting parents from sleeping well.  Just the other night, I finally had M settled and I was off to bed, when J woke up crying and throwing-up with fever.  And the next morning, B woke up super early.  Thankfully, my husband is helping out with the big boys in the morning hours so that when Baby M does decide to sleep, I can catch a few extra minutes before it’s time for breakfast and time to start the day.

And I know that in the coming years, there will be a multitude of reasons why we won’t be getting enough sleep.  In fact, often when I am on Facebook at 2 am while nursing Baby M, I see my mother and her friends chatting back and forth.  Seems that even when the kids are grown with their own kids, parents still can’t sleep (yikes!).

So for now, I will do my best to enjoy the few brief moments of sleep my children allow and if need be, I will resort to sticking toothpicks in my eyes to keep them open during the day (breastfeeding + caffeine sensitive mommy = no coffee – unless you want to see the energizer bunny mommy running around town like a mad woman!).

Sleepless smiles,

Cimberly

 

 

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Learning Curve

While I always chose to eat healthy, it’s obvious I am new to the allergy scene.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve discovered that I have not read all the labels as carefully as I thought I did.  Just yesterday afternoon, I discovered that the cilantro paste I’ve been using for guacamole has “whey (milk)” in it.  A few days ago, I noticed that the bread I thought was perfect for my dairy/soy free adventure actually has “vegetable oil (soybean and canola oil)” in it.  Bummer!  Both are vanquished from my diet effective immediately.  There is definitely a learning curve for those new to the allergy world.

Otherwise, I’m proud to say that I have been doing very well avoiding dairy and soy.  It has not been as difficult as I anticipated to cut out my beloved cheese and nightly frozen  yogurts.  Because I am eating a lot more vegetables and a lot less bread products, I don’t feel as guilty eating a bowl of granola for breakfast.  Since J & B eat tons of cheese, it’s also curbed the mommy urge to eat off of their plates.  I have to make a conscious effort to plan out my meals and instead of defaulting to take-out because of convenience, I’ve been cooking lots more!  It’s definitely a cleaner way to eat, but certainly more time-consuming.

Since this is not my allergy, but my child’s allergy, I am more anxious about eating the right things than I would be if it was my own allergy.  As most mothers can attest, I only want to do right by my son.  Eating out of the house still gives me anxiety.  A few nights ago, E wanted to order-in Greek food.  I spent twenty minutes on the phone with the manager of the Greek restaurant reviewing what they have that is soy/dairy free.  He went from saying the pita bread was perfectly fine to back-tracking by saying it wasn’t.  He assured me I could eat the tahini and then went onto say that it is made with yogurt, which I had to point out to him is in fact dairy! OY! Needless to say, it wasn’t the most satisfying meal or experience.

We went out to dinner with my parents and it was a bit of a comedy listening to me order.  So much of what restaurants cook are made with soy and dairy (butter/cheese).  I was able to order a plain piece of grilled chicken and vegetables made with olive oil, but I had to avoid all the sides my dish came with.  The roasted sweet potatoes were made with butter!  The quinoa salad was pre-mixed with feta.  The waitress said, “you can eat anything on the sides that aren’t made with cheese or ‘fried’ because there is soy in the French fries etc.”  She brought me the menu to review and there was literally not ONE side dish that was suitable aside from another serving of roasted vegetables.  I ordered fries for the kids and called it a day.

After dinner, we took the kids next door for frozen yogurt.  Oh the torture!  It was wonderful watching the kids enjoy their fro-yo with sprinkles and I was happy to see my dad enjoying his with my kids…But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super jealous.  Even “my” yogurt guy (yes, we’ve become buddies over the years and he always gets a Christmas gift from me for hooking me up with extra toppings and free yogurts for the kids), tried to make me my favorite combo… “Sorry, I can’t eat it anymore.” [Insert sad face here].  My dad assured me we will have our big yogurt date in December when I am no longer nursing…

But the truth is, I’ve found suitable alternatives to my sweet treats and I am enjoying the cleaner eating.  I’ll be posting some of the great brands I’ve discovered for dairy & soy free eaters. (P.S. – thanks to the “social mama” that told me TCBY now has dairy/soy free frozen yogurt…it really was a good alternative when I had the chance to try it out!)

I’m off to try out the latest slow-cooker recipe on this cold, snowy day.  Stay warm.

Snow day smiles,

Cimberly

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Valentine’s Day & Raising Good Men

J as Cupid

J as Cupid

My 3 Valentine's  (always one that's not looking when you need him to!)

My 3 Valentine’s
(always one that’s not looking when you need him to!)

roses

J’s roses

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!
In my childhood bedroom, I still have a framed card with a personalized poem that my dad wrote for me on my very first Valentine’s Day.  Having read that card so many times, I can recite that little poem by memory backwards, forwards, and three-times fast.  His first child, a daughter, I was his little Valentine and he will always be my first Valentine.  Happy Valentine’s Day Dad!

When I met my E, Valentine’s Day took on a new meaning.  I was in love, so a day celebrating love was fantastic!  E made sure to always give me a little gift, nothing extravagant, but something just right to show that he was thinking of me.  On one of our first Valentine’s Days together, he gave me a little stuffed Sesame Street ERNIE doll because I had told him in previous conversations that Ernie was my favorite from the Street.  I usually get a sweet card expressing his love and I have each and every one of them stashed away in my drawer (along with anniversary cards, birthday cards, just because cards…I am a bit of a hoarder).

When we had J, Valentine’s Day took on an even different meaning.  Now I had my very own little Valentine and I made sure to get him a special card like my dad had done for me.  I wrote him a loving note and stashed it away in his baby book for him to discover when he’s older and needs reminding that his mama really does love him so, so much.  I did the same for B and now for Baby M.  E got into the spirit too and one year he had J dressed up as Cupid to bring me small presents and a rose.  It was too precious for words.

 

E always wants to “surprise” me with breakfast in bed or to make me a special meal.  Usually, that never seems to work out for a multitude of reasons.  One year, he attempted to make special Dutch pancakes, a favorite of ours from Aruba (yum!).  He ordered a special pan and special batter from Holland and he spent the morning cooking in the kitchen with the kids.  When I came down to the kitchen, it literally looked like an explosion occurred.  I smiled and tried to enjoy the ride, despite the mess.  There was batter everywhere and E looked flabbergasted.  We tried the pancakes and they weren’t nearly as delicious as they were in Aruba, but I appreciated the gesture more than I could ever explain to him.  It was one of the most thoughtful things he’s ever done for me (and he truly has done a lot).  This year, being a Milk Free Mama, figuring out what to eat is hard enough, so I am thankful that E didn’t even attempt to make me a meal.  Who needs that stress!

With that being said, I do think it is very important for my three sons to see their father shower me with love and affection.  In 2013, the holiday season came at the same time that we were expecting Baby M.  As a tradition, started with J, my husband gave me a “push-present,” with each baby.  J’s delivery was extremely traumatic, so I definitely earned my sapphires (more on that another time).  With B, came more expenses and at the time, less money, so when E brought up the idea of a push-present, I made sure to tell him that he could combine it with my birthday gift and that it didn’t need to be as extravagant.  But my husband likes nice things so he made sure that I got something special.  It worked out perfectly.  Being that Baby M was born over Chanukah, I again told E that my gift could be a combo.  When he absentmindedly asked me what I wanted for the holidays, I reminded him about the push-present and that if he wanted to, he could just buy me a little token gift to exchange when we lit the candles.  I constantly remind him that a gift from him doesn’t need to be costly or extravagant, it could be a doll like he got for me on our first Valentine’s Day together.  I just want to know that he’s thinking of me, since I am always thinking of him…

You see, I am a big believer in special occasions.  I love holidays and birthdays and I grew up with the notion that happy moments are worth celebrating.  Since I spend the most time with our children, I make sure that for holidays and birthdays, the kids always make E a card and get him a present.  They are actively involved in the planning and the giving.  I want them to see how much I love their dad and I want them to learn about celebrating other people, not just themselves.  That’s a very hard concept to teach to a small child.

So when Chanukah came and went and E completely forgot to get me that little token gift, I realized that more often than not, the kids do not see him give to me.  Sometimes he’s just not with the kids long enough to help them plan a gift for me, sometimes he forgets the cards at work and brings them home when the kids are fast asleep.  I started to worry that the boys would grow up thinking that a woman gives to a man, but that it’s not always necessary to reciprocate and I wasn’t happy with that.  I talked to E and explained that it was really important that as a dad, he teach his boys how to treat a woman right – whether it be by doing the gentlemanly thing by holding a door open for a woman, buying a woman a celebratory gift, or simply saying I love you.  At first, he kind of laughed it off, possibly a little offended because he knows that he does do for me… I know it too, but I wanted the kids to see it!

This year, for Valentine’s Day, E made sure that the kids got involved in planning something special.  J wanted to get me flowers and E made it happen.  He even helped J decorate a vase for the flowers with beautiful hearts.  J is very concerned about romance and often dictates to his dad how to actually be romantic – he reminds E to tell me I am beautiful and to tell me he loves me and to “take mommy out on a date.” He constantly asks E to “marry mommy again, so I can be there too.”  I swear, I don’t prompt him to say these things.  Maybe one day, E and I will renew our vows so that J can participate in the excitement. B gave me a super-big hug this morning, which was all the Valentine I needed from him!  E was so excited that he was able to help the boys be “good little men,” and I was so proud of E for taking what I said to heart and making it happen.

I will always worry about raising good men because there are so many rotten ones out there… But when you are lucky enough to find the right one, life looks that much brighter.  I truly want to raise the right kind of men.  I want them to be sensitive.  I want them to be gentleman.  I want them to write hand-written love letters instead of hashtags and texts.  I want them to be intuitive.  I want them to be respectful.  I want them to be strong.  And I want them to love fiercely.
I hope that as their first Valentine, I can teach them how to love with their whole hearts.  I will try each and every day…

Valentine’s Day Smiles and Hugs & Kisses,

Cimberly

 

 

 

 

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Fashion Mamas

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  It’s not an easy event to nab tickets to, but I have an in – one of the perks of being married to a Mercedes manager.  For some reason, the stars-aligned, the snow held off, and I was actually able to leave the house on-time, dressed-up, with my husband watching the three kids (No I am not insane – I did not leave my husband home alone with a pre-schooler, toddler, and infant during the witching hour – dinner and baths… I called in reinforcements…A big thanks to my aunt and uncle for their help!).  Much to my happy surprise, I came home to find all three children bathed, fed, happy, the two oldest fast asleep, and my husband was actually smiling.  Phew!

I love fashion.  Even as a little girl, I always insisted on wearing dresses, skirts, handbags, hats, jewelry…Oh and let’s not forget the sunglasses – my one true love!  Almost every year for my birthday, I try to find a pair of new designer sunglasses.  They are not only fashionable, but they protect my baby-blues from sun-damage (#fantasticrationalization).

Around 16 months old - spending time with my family friend, Matt.

Around 16 months old – spending time with my family friend, Matt.  Photo courtesy of Joanne Kraus.

In my pre-mama days I spent many hours reading fashion magazines and shopping with my mom.  Our best mother-daughter days were spent together walking the floors of Saks Fifth Avenue.  We would usually plan these days close to my birthday for a fun shopping-spree.  One year, we even took J when he was a baby.  (Mom, my birthday is a month away – hint-hint!).

When I started earning my own pay-check, I used my first check to purchase myself a Gucci bag and I developed an obsession with Tory Burch shoes.  I took pride in my appearance and I enjoyed leisurely playing with my make-up and blowing my hair straight.   Although I didn’t have a chance to blow-out my hair last night #curlygirly (those were the days!), I did manage to put on some make-up and squeeze myself into some pre-pregnancy clothes (hip-hip, over those hips, hooray!).  My kids were calling my name and my husband teased, “They probably don’t recognize you out of your pajamas” – wonderful!

I’ve been lucky enough to attend Fashion Week for four years in a row, twice with my husband, once with my mom, and this year, with my dearest mommy-friend.  Being a guest of Mercedes Benz, we had the pleasure of hanging out in the Mercedes Benz lounge, where we sipped proseco and scoped out celebrities (#Ramona #Housewives).  I had to skip the pass-around appetizers and the popcorn (part of being a milk free mama).

Mamas at Fashion week #mbfw 2014

Mamas at Fashion week #mbfw 2014

 

We had tickets to two shows, Anna Sui and Zang Toi, both fantastically different.  Anna Sui was a huge runway performance featuring lots of mixed-prints, Asian inspired designs, silks, flowing pants.  There were a few to-die for jackets and amazing colorful knee-high boots.  Zang Toi was a more intimate runway show with some show-stopping fashion.  I loved the menswear-inspired tailored gray suits, the gorgeous gowns, and the beautiful kelly-green jackets, pinstripes, and shoes (Brought me back to my AEPhi sorority days – kelly-green all the way!).

Zang Toi

Zang Toi

Zang Toi

Zang Toi

 

It was a fun night off of mommy-duty – catching up with a great friend, laughing at our selfie-photos, and fabulous fashion.

Some Kid-Free Smiles,

Cimberly

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BOUNCE and other fun things…

It’s been a busy past several days in my house, but I finally have a quiet moment to sit down to recollect.  Being a third time mama, my life has quickly become even more about the kids and less about everything else, which is why it is important to take a little break once in a while.  Cue “Mom’s Night Out.”  Back when Baby M was still cooking, a high school friend suggested baby playgroup once the babes had their shots.  She posted her idea to a local mom’s group on Facebook, and of course, tons of young mamas jumped on the idea.  I suggested a “Mom’s Night Out” for the mamas to meet before we started playgroup, and these moms were excited.  Our group, “Social Moms,” was formed and we had a pretty good turnout at our first meet-up.  Most of us only knew one or two of the other moms attending, so we quickly started chatting and making new friends.  Many of the moms were on baby number one, but there were a few, like me, with one or two more older children.

We set up a second meet-up and several new moms joined in.  We shared funny stories, battle wounds, and wine.  It was a perfect way to un-wind after a long week of being home-alone with three children.  Unlike spending time with your spouse, childless friends, relatives, etc., other new moms can laugh and commiserate with you because they are knee deep in the trenches of tears, dirty diapers, first smiles, flying solid food, and first belly-to-back roll-overs.  It felt amazing to talk to other young women experiencing situations just like me.  I had made a small group of wonderful friends with my first child, some will certainly be lifers, but I had less time to be social when I had my second.  I was constantly shuttling my older child to his activities and the friends my middle child made were mostly siblings of my older child’s friends (still great, but we hadn’t branched out).  I vowed with  my third that I would find more local mamas to befriend for all of my children… and I have… and I couldn’t be happier!  Today, Baby M and I attended our first playgroup with a small group of other babies and mamas and it was wonderful.  We’re looking forward to the next one already!

Recently, I also started allowing myself a little break here and there with a manicure.  Those few brief moments alone are very restorative.  A manicure boosts my mood from frumpy dumpy stay-at-home mom covered in baby drool to woman! Granted, I still have baby drool on me during my manicure and I am almost always never dressed in something other than leggings or sweat pants when I am able to run out of my house, but I still find the entire experience rejuvenating.

The other day, I was sitting in the nail place, quietly drying my nails when I realized I was swiveling back-and-forth on the chair while slowly bouncing my knee up and down.  I started to wonder if other women had noticed me.  Were they trying to guess if I had some sort of tick or Restless Leg Syndrome?  Nope, I was just a new mama again so used to rocking and bouncing Baby M that it had literally become a part of my body’s natural “at-rest” movement.  I laughed out loud a little at the realization, most likely prompting the other women to think I was just crazy.

In the spirit of the “mama bounce,” I asked my husband to join me on a date that didn’t revolve around eating.  Being dairy and soy free has certainly given me a bit of additional anxiety when it comes to eating outside of my house.  I’ve been doing well when I cook for the family, but I find asking a server/manager to list the ingredients in a dish and comb through packaging to be tedious.  So instead of worrying that our date night would turn into me being sad I couldn’t eat chicken parm at our favorite Italian restaurant or I couldn’t enjoy sushi unless I packed my own “fake” soy sauce, I decided that date night needed an activity.  Cue “Bounce,” a local, indoor-trampoline park.  We purchased an hour session, which was more than we needed – don’t forget, we are still working on minimal sleep, not to mention I haven’t done cardio in a year and my husband has cardio-induced asthma (fun!).

bounce

Despite all that, we bounced and we laughed and we had fun!  We rediscovered our own silliness and reconnected in a way that didn’t involve us talking about the kids.  We bounced into foam pits, bounced off of walls, and we even bounced while playing basketball.  It was fantastic.  Thanks to the “mama bounce” moment, I remembered that life isn’t only about having fun with the kids, it’s also about having fun with my hubby.  Watching my hubby bounce reminded me of how much I love his smile and his laugh and it also reminded me how much I still love to be silly in a non-Sesame Street sing-a-long type of way.

bounce 2

So get out there and have some fun!  Stay tuned for new recipes to come 🙂

Silly smiles,

Cimberly

 

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Cooking Therapy

I’ve been feeling a little out-of-sorts lately so to reign myself back in I spent a quiet morning at home cooking with Baby M.  Much like my own mother, I truly enjoy to cook and experiment with new recipes.  Being that I was up multiple times throughout the night to nurse fidgety Baby M, I was feeling extra tired this morning. Thankfully, my husband took J off to school and B to his “parent & me” class, which left me and Baby M with a quiet house.  To re-charge, I made a Chocolate-Banana smoothie.  I swear, I instantly felt a surge of energy and buzzed quickly around my kitchen grabbing ingredients to start my cook-fest, all the while singing to Baby M.

First up was the Hawaiian Slow-Cooker Chicken.  My house smells delicious from this shredded chicken dish.  Next up, I started prepping the rice for the Coconut-Pineapple Fried Rice.  While the rice boiled, I sautéed the veggies and began working on my homemade granola.  Between the snow and freezing weather, I haven’t had a chance to head to The Fresh Market (http://www.thefreshmarket.com/) for their delicious Berry Granola, so I opted to make my own morning granola cereal.  Since I had to take a break from cooking to breastfeed Baby M, hence leaving everything to cook (burn) on the stove-top/in the oven, the granola is a little darker (aka crispier) than I anticipated, but still tastes delicious.  Next time, I will be sure to pull it out of the oven a little earlier.  I finished up the Fried Rice just in time for Baby M to start wailing.  Dishes piled high in my sink, but food is cooked and my house smells sweet!  Check out all of the recipes at https://milkfreemama.com/?page_id=16.

I have so many fun and interesting blog posts brewing in my head.  Now if only I had the time to sit down to write them all in between being a busy mama.  Stay tuned!

Thursday Smiles,

Cimberly

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Clean Mama, Dirty Burger

For all of our pre-kid years, Saturday nights were deemed “Date Night.”  We had nothing to worry about, but ourselves and money to burn.  We would never head out before 9pm and we would dine at luxury restaurants.  “Date Night” always ended with a scrumptious dessert to satisfy my sweet-tooth… my one night to really splurge (hello brownie sundae!).  I could spend several hours leisurely getting ready for our dates.  I would take a nice long shower, blow-dry my curly hair straight, and carefully apply my DIOR make-up. Those were the days!

Now, 3 little dudes later, we are lucky if we get a night out.  Thankfully, the grandmas are giving us some “couple time” every so often and we are able to grab a quick dinner together, unwind, share a cocktail.  We refuse to go out later than 7:30pm because we are just too tired.  Getting the kids bathed, in pajamas, and off to bed before we leave is like managing a 3-ring circus.  Oh, and did I mention, I am the ring-master of this 3-ring circus because my husband works on Saturdays?  Throw into the mix that I still need to get myself showered and dressed while holding a baby and you can only imagine the chaos.

This Saturday however, I decided, enough is enough. I knew I would have no time to shower after the two big dudes went off to bed, so I was determined to get myself ready earlier in the day.  Big mistake? Sort-of.  I did manage to shower (with the baby in his bouncy seat in the bathroom) and I was able to blow-dry my hair straight (while bouncing the baby in his seat, keeping my toddler from unplugging the blow-dryer and running off with it, and reading a book to my four-year old).  It was far from relaxing, but my hair was straight.  Worth it? Not so much.

My parents took the bigger dudes for a few hours so I was able to quickly apply a little makeup to my face while holding the baby and directing the handy-man as to where to install child-safety locks on all the drawers my toddler seems to be emptying around my house.  A bit insane.

This Saturday night was a rare occasion that we actually left the house earlier than our children go to bed, so we left the two bigger dudes running wild while step-grandpa held the baby.  But I was dressed and we were heading out for a date.  Hooray!

Enter dairy-free/soy-free drama.  We went to a relatively new burger-joint in our neighborhood, Dirty Burger (http://www.discoverdirty.com/).  The burgers are delicious, but typically come as they are.  The restaurant frowns on adding extras to their already well-seasoned burgers, but they’ve become more flexible with that policy over the past several weeks.  This was my first time eating out since I went “free” and I was anxious.

Milk Free Mama: “I need to know if your ‘Original’ burgers and buns are dairy/soy free?”

Waitress: “Um..”

MFM: “Like is the burger made with any milk products or cooked in soybean oils, etc.?”

W: “You mean like gluten-free?”

MFM: “No, I mean without dairy or soy.”

W: (With a confused expression) “I’ll have to find out.”

MFM: (to hubby) “I need that glass of wine just to get through the ordering process!”

cim wine dirty burger

The whole experience felt reminiscent of badgering waitresses if the cheese is pasteurized while I was pregnant.  A few long minutes later, a confused waitress  returns to tell me that the ‘Original’ burger is dairy free and so is the bun, but the bun actually contains soy.  She says I can order it over lettuce if I want, which I am skeptical about (She also confuses the hell out of us about what type of lettuce the chef uses and how we can upgrade to different lettuce – what!?).  My husband convinces me that eating the burger over this sort-of salad will actual be delicious, and it was!  I definitely felt healthier eating the burger without additional carbs.  I fully enjoyed my spiced up burger salad and “free” sweet fries, but the ordering process, not so much.  I concluded that if we ever open our own restaurant, the staff will be FULLY trained on allergy-information because dining out with allergies is stressful enough without having to be weary that the untrained staff might mix things up and actually serve you a meal with your allergen (it has happened to a good friend of mine during dinner!).

dirty burger

[A note to people with dairy or soy allergies dining at Dirty Burger – the “dirty” spices are safe to eat, but the ‘Original’ bun is the only one that is dairy (but not soy) free. The other burger buns all contain dairy and all of the dipping sauces are off-limits… So are the milkshakes – haha!]

Saturday I was showered, dressed, and dined out dairy and soy free (oh and we dedicated 3 hours of our lives to The Wolf of Wall Street – well worth it!).

This clean mama enjoyed her dirty burger and nice night out with the hubby!

Looking forward to our next “Date Night” and hopeful I will be less anxious about ordering “free.”

Saturday Date Night Smiles,

Cimberly

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Sunday Morning Breakfast

I never enjoy eating the same weekday breakfast on a Sunday morning. I love breakfast foods and if I could eat French toast, pancakes, and bagels every day (or every Sunday), I would, but to stay fit, I opt for healthier choices and save those yummies for special occasions.  Now that I am dairy and soy free, these delicious items will be hard to find at a regular diner.  To satisfy my craving for something different, I tried out a healthy “French Toast” alternative, recipe courtesy of my sorority sister and health guru, Arielle (www.bewellwitharielle.com).  I posted the recipe with my variations on the recipe page. Check it out at https://milkfreemama.com/?page_id=16.

Looking forward to trying more recipes from Arielle’s site.  Stay tuned 🙂

Sunday morning smiles,

Cimberly

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