Posts Tagged ‘miscellaneouos’

The Importance of Sleep

We all know that sleep is important. A restful night’s sleep enables us to perform our best cognitively and physically. It also helps us to maintain a healthier body weight. As every parent knows, sleep is sometimes elusive. We’ve all been there. Those first 3 months of a newborn’s life can make you feel like you’re going to die from lack of sleep. Then teething starts. Your kid gets sick. He has a bad dream. All sorts of scenarios crop up that interrupt your night of sleep, but these scenarios also interrupt your kid’s good night of sleep as well. For babies, that’s ok. They’ll make up for it during the day. For older children, the repercussions are more challenging.

Gavin is going through a transition. Some days, no nap is needed. Other days, it’s required. On the days, that he won’t nap, the result is a lot of crankiness at bed time and difficulty going to sleep and/or staying asleep. On the days that he does nap, the result is an extremely difficult time going to sleep and a very early wake up. On the days we get it wrong and he ends up overtired, he is whiny and has very low impulse control, which translates to lots of time-outs due to hitting, kicking and pushing his sister, throwing toys and talking back. Those nights might also yield a night terror and an eventual request to sleep in our bed. My mom-guilt gets me on these days because I get so frustrated with him, and yet, I know that it is the exhaustion manifesting itself.

I am trying to enforce at least a ½ hour of quiet time at nap time in hopes that maybe if he is tired enough, he’ll fall asleep or just get some rest. The last quiet time he had, after about 20 minutes he called for help. When I got into his room, all of his lights were on, the fan was on high, his books were strewn all over the floor, his closet doors were open, and he had his snow pants on. You can see that it is going well.

As we deal with this transition, I’m trying to find some patience despite my own over-tiredness. I know that these difficult moments will eventually pass. Until then, I’ll celebrate every night of uninterrupted sleep that lasts past 6am – for him and me.


Adventures in Potty Training

My son will be 3 in less than 2 months, and ever since his second birthday I have been excited to move him from diapers to underwear.  Obviously, I have been more excited than he is.  Everyone’s advice to me was to wait until he was ready to move out of diapers.  It will be so much easier than forcing him to potty train, so for 10 long months, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for a sign that he was done with diapers.  In the end, I have discovered that despite how easy people make it sound, potty training can still challenging and time-consuming.  Here is my experience.

Be forewarned…there will be discussion of pee and poop ahead.

This adventure all started with the purchase of a potty seat.  My mom had given us a little kid’s potty that played music when pee hit these nodes at the bottom of the bowl.  We wondered if it would motivate Gavin to pee on the potty to hear the music or the scare the crap out of him (no pun intended).  We didn’t wait to find it.  The stupid manufacturers put a button underneath the potty that played the music when you pushed it.  Of course, that potty was always flipped over so that Gavin could have access to that button.  Steve also had a good point with the portable potty…one benefit of moving out of diapers was to reduce the mess we had to clean up.  With a potty, the mess was just in a different place.  One day while I was at Target, I bought a potty seat and the portable potty disappeared from our living room into our basement.

Gavin was very excited about the potty seat and loved to sit on it.  We couldn’t get him off of it.  Of course, we encouraged him to use it by bringing the iPad in the bathroom and letting him watch videos.  It seemed like a great idea until we realized, he was only interested in being in the bathroom to watch videos.  We stopped bringing in the iPad and guess who didn’t want to spend any time on the potty?

We waited for a couple of months until he was older and one day we caught him getting ready to poop.  We grabbed him, threw him on the potty and success!  He was excited, we were excited.  I thought – this is the start.  And it was –on and off.  Now that he knew half of what to do, he told us when he had to poop and off to the potty we would go.  This success was a phase.  Despite rewarding him with M&Ms, he would lose interest after a week or 2.  We would go back to diapers until he suddenly  became interested in using the potty again.  I would get excited that maybe this was it only to watch him again lost interest after a week.  It was a vicious cycle but still we remained patient and didn’t push it.

One day, something very exciting happened – he peed while sitting on the potty!  At this point he was old enough to start putting things together and understood what we wanted him to do.  Every time, he sat on the potty, he would pee.  I got excited again thinking that this was it.  We went out and he picked out some underwear, and I repeatedly explained that to wear the underwear, he needed to use the potty every time he had to go to the bathroom.  The underwear lasted maybe a day.  What a disaster.  I concluded that he wasn’t ready and back to diapers we went.  Eventually, I invested in Pull-Ups, thinking that it would be a good transition to underwear.  Another mistake made.  The Pull-Ups were Cars themed, and he loved them and didn’t want to wear anything else. 

Around this time, I started hearing a few stories about people whose kids just didn’t show interest and they had to actually potty train them.  Here I thought potty training was basically not practiced.  You didn’t push your kid but educated them, and they would figure it out.  I started talking about underwear with him again, and he actually asked to wear them one day.  He had an accident about an hour later and immediately asked to wear a diaper.  I obliged him but realized that this was the first time in all experiments with underwear that he seemed upset about the accident.  We tried again the next day with the same result.  Back to diapers we went, but I had made up my mind.  We were going to potty train.  I prepared him extensively for about a week of what was going to happen and got him excited about it.  Starting on a Thursday, he began wearing underpants all day long.  Every 1-1 ½ hours, I would take him to the bathroom.  The first half of the day went well but then he got tired of being taken to the bathroom and started resisting.  I persevered and amply rewarded him.  The next day was more of the same, but by the 3rd day, he stopped resisting and used the bathroom when we told him.

It has been 2 weeks, and I am happy to report that it is working.  He is starting to figure it all out.  He frequently tells us when he has to go.  We still need to make sure he goes regularly so that he doesn’t forget.  Despite a few accidents, he hasn’t once asked to go back to diapers.  I wouldn’t call him fully potty trained yet, but he is doing great.  We are proud of him, and he is proud of himself.  I believe that he was ready, but it still took some work. While we are all excited about his success, I freely admit that potty training is hard.  It takes perseverance, patience and commitment.  It is also time-consuming with all those trips to the bathroom.   So, whenever someone tells you that the transition from diapers to underwear is easy once the kid is ready may not be telling you the whole story.

All I Want is Fish for Dinner

We’ve all heard about avoiding certain types of seafood because they contain high levels mercury, but there are several other reasons to avoid certain seafood as well. This information makes seafood buying complicated and consuming, especially since most of the products that we shouldn’t eat is what is sold in the typical grocery store.  Here is an interesting link to describe what fish we should avoid in detail. I’m highlighting my favorites.



Imported Shrimp – Imported shrimp are typically farmed shrimp where their growing environment is very dirty. They contain antibiotics to fight diseases and parasites, chemicals that were used to clean their pens, and even mouse and rat hair. Yuck. Eat domestic shrimp instead.
Atlantic Flatfish (includes flounder, sole, and halibut – one of my favorites!) – Avoid these fishes because they are so extremely over-harvested that some only have 1% of the population needed to support sustainable long-term fishing. A good substitute is Pacific Halibut.
Atlantic Salmon – Wild caught numbers are too low! Fish farms are crowded making them ideal conditions for diseases which require antibiotics to keep the fish healthy. Opt for Wild Alaskan Salmon.
Orange Roughy – Very high in mercury but more importantly, it can take 20-40 years for these fish to reproduce! This fact makes it impossible to sustainably harvest even though some Orange Roughy is sold with that label. Even Red Lobster  won’t sell it.
Chilean Sea Bass – This fish which almost always seems to be a special at your favorite restaurants has the same fate as the Orange Roughy. It reproduces late in life and most of what is sold in the US has been illegally caught. Greenpeace has reported that if people don’t stop consuming this fish, it could be commercially extinct in 5 years.

What can you do to make sure you are consuming healthy, sustainable seafood? Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has a helpful, printable list that you can take with you grocery shopping to help you make good choices. Shop at Trader Joe’s , Whole Foods or Wegman’s who have all made a commitment to selling fish from sustainable sources. If you’re still unsure, ask where the seafood came from. If you’re grocery store can’t answer that question, why would you want to eat it in the first place?

Any other tips, please share.  This topic is new for me and the guidelines are so extensive that I feel like I’m navigating tricky waters (no pun intended!).

The Vegan Experiment: Day 4

Day 4

Breakfast:  Steel-cut oatmeal with a ½ sliced banana and walnuts
Lunch:  Toast with peanut butter, soy yogurt
Snack:  Apple
Dinner: Pasta with mushroom marinara sauce, Italian bread with vegan butter

I’ve cheated on my vegan diet – twice!  As I was eating my soy yogurt today, I started looking in closer detail at all the fine print on the side of the container.  It is pretty easy to read the ingredient list quickly when decided on purchases at the grocery store, but I noticed a statement below the ingredient list that has me either angry at myself for not being more observant or angry at Stonyfield for false advertising.  Here is the troublesome phrase:  “CONTAINS SOY AND MILK (OUR LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES ARE MILK BASED”.

Soy yogurt is not vegan.  I actually went to Stonyfield’s website and found an explanation for this labeling.  I’ve copied and pasted for everyone.  For more information, check out their <a href=””>website</a>.

“Since July 2008, the messages printed on our O’Soy cups have included the following allergen statement: “CONTAINS SOY AND MILK (OUR LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES ARE MILK BASED).” We’d like to explain what this means. While we don’t add any milk to O’Soy, the reason for the “CONTAINS…MILK” statement is that the cultures we use in O’Soy are grown in milk by our culture supplier. The overall milk content of O’Soy is extremely low, and it’s in the form of milk protein. For people highly allergic to dairy, we don’t recommend O’Soy. If you have questions about eating O’Soy, please consult your physician. We can still assure you that O’Soy is lactose free and that those who are only lactose intolerant, and not allergic to milk, can safely enjoy O’Soy.”

I mistakenly assumed that soy yogurt was a vegan substitute for real yogurt.  This discovery has more thinking about some of my other food choices.  I’m going to have be more thoughtful about what I decide to eat and purchase.

At the end of the day, I’m not overly disappointed that soy yogurt is off the menu.  While it isn’t bad, it is definitely not a worthy replacement for the smooth, creamy, slight tang of real yogurt.

Tony “P90X” Horton – Do I Love Him or Hate Him?

I’m on day 3 of the P90X workout. Only 87 more days to go. Ugh. For those of you who aren’t familiar with P90X, it is an intense workout regime created by Tony Horton that can be done at home with few pieces of equipment. When I say intense, I mean intense. My husband started the program a few weeks ago, and I’ve joined him in his daily workouts exactly 3 days ago. This workout program consists of workouts that range from 60 -90 minutes and are executed 6 days a week. That’s right – 1 day of rest. Day 1 was chest, back and abs. Day 2 was plyometrics. Day 3 was shoulders, arms and abs.

Needless to say that by now, my entire body hurts. Every time I stretch my arms, my chest and back scream. I can barely raise my arms.  Getting up from a seated position causes my legs to tremble and my hips to groan. Let’s not even talk about going up and down the stairs. The worst pain is without question my abs. The pain isn’t just a twinge here and there. Stretching my back causes a ripping pain deep and the entire length of my abdominal wall. Last night, I got into bed and wanted to roll over to my other side, but my body was too physically tired and sore to move. I just fell asleep in the position that I was in. I think that the motivation to keep going is to make all this pain worthwhile. I can’t imagine enduring this agony only to quit , decide to start again later and go through it all again.

I share all of this torture with you not to discourage you from trying the workout or to illicit pity. I’m sharing it to brag. I’m proud of myself for surviving these workouts and still wanting more. It’s a huge time commitment, and I’m worried that the need for a good night’s sleep might trump the desire to stick with the program.  Fortunately, my husband is committed and there is nothing more motivating than having someone else work out with you. I think Tony Horton would be satisfied with me when I say that I will do my best.  I did take a before picture of me that I might be willing to share on day 91, if I make it to then.

Tonight is a 90 minute yoga workout that my husband tells me is grueling. I don’t even want to think about how I will feel tomorrow.

What crazy workouts have you tried?

The Vegan Experiment: Day 2

Day 2
Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with a sliced banana and walnuts
Lunch: Baked taco filling
Snack: Snack mix
Dinner: Black bean burger, roasted vegetables, orange

Today started out stressful and continued to be stressful. My daughter had a rough night which means that I also had a rough night. The little bit of sleep that I got was interrupted, and I certainly did not wake up feeling rested. In fact, I was so groggy and lethargic that my brain immediately tried to convince me that I needed some comfort food. A nicely frosted doughnut was sounding pretty good. I was lucky in two ways this morning. Number one – we didn’t have any doughnuts and number two – I made extra oatmeal yesterday. I scooped some into a bowl and after a minute in the microwave, it was ready. Talk about fast food. I added some walnuts and sliced bananas and was feeling proud of myself. I also successfully avoided the constant voice in the head trying to convince me to make some chocolate chip cookies. While homemade cookies are usually a staple on our countertop, I knew that my experiment in veganism would be over on day two if I gave into that voice.

While the day started out on a good note, you’ll notice that there is little creativity in my food choices compared to yesterday. Some days that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I was fortunate to have leftovers that made food preparation simple. When you’re tired and busy, it is so easy to just reach for that processed, non-healthy food just to stop the grumbling in your stomach. Consequently, I always try to have a little bit of leftovers with my meals.

Fresh Squeezed OJ – in October?!

I look forward to something special every October – delicious fresh squeezed orange juice.  Everyone thinks of fresh squeezed juice as a summer luxury, but it doesn’t have to be.  Every October, Costco sells big boxes of oranges for a low, low price.  Oranges are not on the dirty dozen list because of their thick skin, so I feel free to buy the non-organic variety.  However, throughout most of the year, oranges are expensive and not very good quality here in PA.  Oranges are available all year round because they are grown throughout the world and different oranges have different growing seasons.   Here is a list of orange variety by region and their availability.

Variety Region Availability
Navels Florida Oct – Dec
  California Oct – Jun
  Texas Oct – Jan
  Australia Jul – Oct
  South Africa Jun – Sep
Valencias Florida Feb – Jun
  California Jun – Dec
Juice Florida Oct – Jun
  California Sep – Apr
  Texas Oct – May
  South Africa Sep – Oct

I am not an orange connoisseur, but I do know that the South African Midknight Seedless Oranges that Costco sells in October make the most delicious fresh squeezed orange juice.  I am salivating just thinking about how fresh tasting it is.   For $12, I got a big box and have been enjoying a glass of fresh OJ every morning since then.  I think that I’ll be able to get through a second box before they are no longer available.  While everyone is enjoying fresh-picked apples, I’ll be drinking my juice.