Monday, August 23, 2010


I didn't think it could happen to me, but it did.  A nursing strike. Last Saturday, the boy refused to nurse.  Every time I tried he screamed in pain.  I was devastated as I had to haul out the pump to express milk so he could eat. I didn't want to go there.  I've already been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, don't want to do it again.  Now I would never take away the 14months of love I expressed for the girl on a daily basis - but to go back to that after successfully nursing the boy for 4months - had me crying as I pumped.  I would do anything for my kids, but staring down that long road I'd already traveled terrified me.  Like Dorthy traveling through the forest to get to OZ. It was dark, foreboding, filled with feelings of inadequacy, and failure.  I couldn't fail the boy, as I had failed the girl.  I couldn't stomach failing at breastfeeding again.  This is the perspective of an un-rational woman, who is functioning outside reality, scaring up imagined realities that don't exist.  The refusal of your child to breastfeed is devastating - even if its only a strike.  The reality is that I didn't fail the girl - she received expressed breast milk for the first 14mths of her life; and I'm not failing the boy either - he's still nursing.  We finally figured out his reflux was bothering him, making it painful to nurse.

As a society we place a lot of responsibility on women, mothers to choose the best for her child. Breast is Best! Breast feeding is normal, natural!  We've set the bar high, not only for ourselves but for other women as well. What makes it hard are the women who run around and boast of the ease they've had breastfeeding.The comments such as: "I didn't have a problems, I don't understand why you are.  Breastfeeding is natural, its easy."   Ok, I'll give you the point that breastfeeding is easier - in that I don't have to sterilize anything, don't need to make up a bottle or buy anything to give my baby food.  But let's have an honest conversation.  Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I've done! It requires cooperation from two individuals to make it work.  You just don't put the baby to the breast and tada he nurses.  Well, at least I don't. It's a learned process for both mother and child.  It's amazing when it works they way Mother Nature intended.  It's devastating  - at least for me - when it doesn't.

I'm fortunate.  I've got a wonderful support network of women who have helped me through my breastfeeding journeys.  My midwives, my lactation consultant, the ladies at the "barn", my eping friends, and the women at the Old Town Alexandria La Leche League.  I couldn't have survived the journey without them.  They supported me through months of exclusively pumping for the girl, and they cheered when the boy first latched and nursed immediately after delivery.  They also supported me through the boy's nursing strike - giving me encouragement, and advice.  I hope we don't go through any more nursing strikes in our nursing career - but it's always a possibility.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Saving $$$

So Thursday, the 28th of July, I re-negotiated our cable bill.  This is an effort to help us spend our hard earned money wisely.  Compared to John, I don't keep an eye out for bargains like he does. Shellie always did say I have champagne taste on a beer budget (that's a PBR budget not a GF beer!)   But I was on the ball that day.  I received an email from Cox Communications touting their newest cable-internet rates.  We'd recently paid our cable bill and what Cox was advertising could save us money.   So, I called them up and secured a lower rate saving us $21.98 a month for the next 2 years. After those 2 years the price will go up - but I'm going to be on the look out for another opportunity to get another good rate once those 2 years are up.

So, Now I'm looking for other ways to save $$$!

Now, we use cloth diapers with the kids. We're not doing it to save the environment but to keep the kids bums from wallowing in a chemically designed pad to absorb pee and avoid spending $$ on disposables.  My mom used cloth- it was good enough for me- its good enough for the kids.  And really with all the laundry we do - we're probably not "saving" the environment with all the water we use to wash diapers. But by using cloth diapers we're saving $$$ because we're  re-using the diapers the girl used with the boy.  Though we did need to replace several of our covers recently - but they should get us through until both kids are potty trained.

Recently we switched laundry soap/detergent.  We were using a cloth diaper soap that was $.20/load and now we're using a cloth diaper soap that is $.13/load.  What's amazing is the diapers are now cleaner, they don't stink as much when dirty (the stink is disappearing the more washes the diapers get in the new soap), and we've stopped using bleach - which degrades the diaper and we're running less wash and rinse cycles.

One thing I'm not keen to skimp on is organic fruits and veggies.  If we can figure a way to buy organic fruits and veggies I'm all for it.  One thing we did this year is we joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) that only grows organic produce.  It's been awesome.  Every week we pick up our veggies and they are farm fresh, and taste amazing.  Store bought just doesn't compare.  We'll join the same CSA next year - the fruit and veggies are really good and the cost of $27/week for the entire summer season is a great buy considering all the food we get.  We have a pick up today, and we still have TONS of tomatoes and corn left from last week, and we've been eating the stuff like mad!

I really wish we could afford to buy all our meats as free-range hormone free and antibiotic free. But, we really can't - so occasionally we splurge - but it isn't often. So, we buy antibiotic/hormone free chicken when we can find it.  The same goes for pork and beef too. Turkey thighs and cutlets are a part of our regular rotation, and we buy those at WFM, because its the only place that sells them on a weekly basis, and the cost is reasonable for WFM.   It's nice that COSTCO is now starting to carry organics and some of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free.

So, now I'm on the hunt to figure out ways to save...and I think I found a way to eliminate my paper towel addiction.  It's called Skoy Cloth  - 1 Skoy Cloth replaces a roll of paper towels.  Here's the great thing about them, when it's dirty - you throw it in with your laundry and they are also compostable once you've used up their life expectancy.  I haven't tried them yet - but I'm planning on getting some once we exhaust our paper towel supply. Once I give it a try, I'll let you guys know how I like 'em and we'll see if it breaks my paper towel addiction.

What are you doing to try to save $$  in this economy? Any tips? Ideas?  How do you plan to buy gifts for this coming holiday season?  Are you making gifts or buying smaller/less expensive gifts?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Grillin' - Peaches and Pork

Its summer time. That means HOT & MUGGY weather here in the DC Metro area. And for many people summer time means meals made on the grill. However, for us grilling is a year round thing! We were grilling food during Snow-pocalypse & Snow-maggedon this past winter. BTW, I was not one of the masses wishing for summer during all that cold and snow - since winter is my favorite season! Ahhh, winter how I long for you - but I digress, back to grilling!

Right now Peaches are in season and they are cheap! So, I threw an idea to John when we were meal planning on Sunday. I told him I wanted to modify our usual pork and orange marmalade recipe, and use peaches and peach preserves and cook it all on the grill. All I can say is that was a DAMN GOOD MEAL!

Sorry - I don't have any pictures - didn't think to take any, as I was too busy trying to eat, and ensure the girl ate before she fell asleep in her high chair, while John was occupying the boy, who also was hungry & wanted his momma!

Here's the recipe I whipped up, that will become a permanent fixture in our summer time meals from now on.

Pork chops (preferably  1-2" thick)
Fresh peaches
Peach Preserves
Apple Cider vinegar
Olive oil
agave nectar

Now, I'll be honest I'm not the measuring cup/spoon type of cook. That probably explains why I've only recently started to learn how to bake, as that requires precision measurements to pull off good baked goods!

So, here's what I did: In a cereal bowl I combined the peach preserves, the apple cider vinegar and olive oil & agave nectar. Initially I just had the preservers, vinegar and olive oil in the bowl - but I had put in too much vinegar and I needed to cut the tartness of the vinegar, but I didn't want to add more preserves so I added the agave a little bit at a time until the sauce wasn't over powered by the vinegar - but still tart.  I'm a taster, if you can't tell. We separated some of the marinade to baste the pork with while it on the grill, leaving the rest for topping the pork after it comes off the grill. Next John cut up the peaches, then he put the pork and peaches on the grill.  He basted the pork with the marinade.

Meanwhile, I worked on a quinoa side dish. If you haven't had quinoa, you need to go out buy some and begin adding this grain to your whole grain repertoire! This is considered to be an ancient grain and was cultivated by the Incas. Its high in fiber, it tastes amazing - it has a nutty flavor and amazing texture, but the most compelling reason to eat it, is it has the highest protein you can get in a non-meat food. It's a complete protein - meaning it has all 9 amino acids.  It's also gluten-free!  WHOOHOO!!! 

Quinoa 3/4c
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)  1 can
dried cranberries
chopped raw almonds
salt, garlic powder, paprika, old bay & olive oil

Cooking quinoa is just like cooking rice 1:2 ratio. So how ever much quinoa you're making double the water.  I toasted the quinoa before cooking it over an open flame - this brings out a nuttier flavor.  Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then cover the pot and turn down to simmer. The quinoa will take about 30 minutes or so, about the same time as brown rice, depending on how much you're cooking. Once the quinoa was done, I moved it into a Pyrex bowl and added the garbanzo beans that I drained and rinsed. I then added the dried cranberries and chopped up almonds, enough to thoroughly mix throughout the quinoa and the garbanzo beans. Then I stirred in the olive oil, and began to add the seasonings to taste.

By the time I'd finished making the quinoa, John pulled the pork and peaches off the grill. We served the pork over top of the quinoa and drizzled the peach marinade, that we reserved, on top of the grilled pork and peaches.

As you can tell, we love to cook. Before the girl and the boy came along, one of our favorite things to do together is to make a 5-star gourmet meal! We'd finally gotten back in the habit right before the boy was born and last night was one of the first nights in a long while that we've had a chance to make a meal together, since the boy came home. I love cooking with John, its so much fun. And I'm bettin' that we could throw down a meal as good as any the Neely's could whip up, and we've got a smaller kitchen than they do!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Commitment to Myself

So...I've got some baby weight to lose, well maybe not some but a lot!  I also need to get in shape so I can start chasing around 2 kids and keep up with John.  It looks like I've got some work cut out for me.  I'd also like to be in shape for when we visit my parents for snowboarding in late winter-early spring.  I'd also like to be able to fit back into all my awesome work clothes.  I DO NOT WANT TO BUY ANY MORE NEW SUITS - they're to effing expensive!

I'm going to make a commitment to myself, to John, and the Kids.  I'm going to work out every day - beginning today.  I'm either going to get up at 5am and work out, or work out after the kids are down for the night.  So, that means my work out opportunities are 5am or after 10pm.  I don't like either of these options but options are what they are.

If I want to loos the baby weight, and get in shape - only this will help me lose the baby weight.  I'm not one of those women who can just modify my diet or go to weight watchers and lose weight.  I require muscle building and cardio to drop weight. Now - I've "hired" a personal trainer to help me get motivated and to kick my @ss! No, it's not John - though he will be joining me.  I found my personal trainer last year, when I was trying to loose the remaining baby weight i gained with the girl, right before I got pregnant with the boy.  All I can say is he kicks my @ss daily, when I show up.

Who is this mystery man?  He's Tony Horton, and I'm doing P90X.  I've been feeling like such crap lately and I only recently realized I'm going through Tony-Withdrawal.  I need my Tony fix.   So, I'm re-dedicating myself to dailies with Tony.  And I'm bringing John along for the ride.   We both need to get back in shape, because having two kids is a killer on staying in shape.  Its seems you never have the time, you're too tired, and you've got too much to do.  Yada, yada, yada...we all know the excuses. But we have to get it done.

So, I'm re-dedicating myself to a better life, for me, for John, and for the kids.  I'm going to get back on the exercising bandwagon. And I'm going to use an additional incentive: a new pair of running shoes! (Its always shoes isn't it!)  What a great incentive: a new pair of Mizuno wave creations!  But there's a catch.  I need to make it through a minimum of 6 weeks doing P90X before I can purchase those new Mizunos.  The nice thing about that is I'll have 6 weeks of P90X under my belt getting me in shape, and by the time those 6 weeks are up the weather around DC will start turning towards fall, which means great running weather.

The next time you see me face to face I'll have lost some of the baby weight. Maybe not all of it, but some will have been melted away and exchanged for Rock Hard Muscle.  Within the next year I'm going to be in the best shape I've ever been.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Supermom my @ss!

Who are these women that say you can have it all?  It's easy to balance the chaos of life.  These women have time to be wonderful wives who take care of their husbands.  They're magnificent mothers to their children.  They meet all their requirements at work without breaking a sweat.  Dinner's on the table by 6pm and it's a 5 course meal.  The laundry is done, the house is clean.  And sometime in the middle of all of this they find time to work-out, getting in shape for a triathlon or marathon and read several top best sellers!

I call bullshit!  These women must have help!  A cleaning lady, a nanny, a chef - someone must be helping them pull this off!  And it's not just their husbands.

I'm back to work full-time now and I'm trying to figure out how to balance everything!  Initially I was trying to get up, nurse the baby, work out, get ready for work, help John get the girl ready for daycare, have breakfast as a family and commute into the office..needless to say that's a lot to fit into a 2 hours before work!  When the boy's night wakings became hourly the working out feel to the wayside and I'm struggling to get myself out of bed - let along the girl!

So, now we're trying to set a morning groove - but I really think we need to get up earlier - but it seems more and more we're going to bed later and getting up earlier.  I just don't know how we're going to balance this all out!  Some days I feel like I'm burning the candle at both ends and my body feels like it's taking a beating!

Not enough sleep, not enough exercise, too much time sitting on my butt at work and at home isn't going to make this any easier.  How do I find time to take care of me so I can take care of my kids and my husband?  I'm exhausted by 9pm and still have 2 more hours to go, finishing laundry, packing lunch, making bottles of expressed breast milk for t boy, preparing juice and milk for the girl, clean-up of dinner dishes!  I'm sure John's feeling the same way, because a lot of the time he's the one doing all of this while I'm feeding the boy.

The house is a disaster - I've decided to bring the cleaning lady back - at least it will get a good cleaning two times a month and to me that is worth the cost because I hate to clean.  And if I'm gonna' clean its got to be white glove clean - I can't half-ass it.  It would take an entire Saturday to just get 1-2 rooms done to that standard.  And I don't want to be spending what free time I have cleaning when I could be spending it with the kids and John.

I also need to purge the office -yet again. Didn't I just do that?  I need to purge clothes, shoes, books and crap we don't need or use.  Actually, I have the urge to burn everything in the house we don't use on a regular basis, guess its actually time to "clean sweep" the whole house.  When can I find time to do this?!? I'm going to have to call in my professional organizer pretty soon to help with the de-cluttering of the house before it explodes with crap!

Thankfully I no longer have to try to balance school any more too!  Somehow I managed to finish my last masters class for my masters program during the last trimester of my pregnancy, while on bed-rest, and having the baby.  I graduated!  I have a masters degree! There's something those wonder women didn't do!  Work full time, have two kids and have a decent relationship with their husbands.  Score: Wonder Women: Gazillion, Me: 1.

Eventually I'm going to have to figure this out.  I have to. I need to be able to be present when I'm with the girl and the boy.  I also need to be present with John.  I need to be present with myself.  If I'm not present it's not fair to the kids, John or me.  Life isn't about showing up, its about participating and sharing the experience with the people I love

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Free Ride

Time - its amazing what a little bit of time to yourself can do for you, especially when you're balancing the demands of two kids. Wow! I'd forgotten what it's like to have an hour or so without them.  On Saturday, 7 August, John and I had the opportunity to go for an afternoon bike ride - thanks to Grandma Minnie watching the boy and the girl.

We went out and enjoyed the afternoon.  This wasn't a hard ride - just something enjoyable, since neither of us are in the proper shape for a hard ride.  We tooled our bikes down to outskirts of Old Town Alexandria.  The sun was shining and it wasn't too hot.  It was just enjoyable.  Its amazing what a recharge getting outside and doing something for yourself and your relationship with your husband can do for both of you.  There's less stress, you get a chance to clear out the cobwebs and encourage those muscles you haven't used in a year or so to remember how to ride a bike!

If only we could do this every weekend. Ah Dreams...  Eventually, both kids will be able to join us for bike rides on the wonderful bike trails we have here in the DC metro area.  We'll just hook up the chariot and tow them along for the ride.  But that's going to be a while.  So, we'll just have to settle for the time we do get.  One things for sure, I love having the kids, and while I don't want them to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to the day they both can enjoy going for a bike ride with mom and dad.  The future holds so much promise.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Sun Valley Soul?

So,why is the title of my blog Sun Valley Soul?  Have you ever been somewhere and the moment your feet touch the ground you know you're home?  You could be under amazing amounts of stress but in that special place it all melts away? In my life, Idaho is that place for me and Sun Valley is the calm in the storm of life.

Every time I go home the closer I get to Boise I can feel the madness and chaos of life slipping away.  As the aircraft makes the final approach to the Boise airport a feeling of peace washes over me when I see the foothills and Bogus Basin.  The moment I'm on solid ground I can feel myself grounding and drawing nourishment from this sacred place.

Memories of childhood flood back.  My summer visits to Karl and Mary Lou's. Me and my cousin Jim helping Karl move irrigation pipe on the farm.  Going down to town to the laundromat with Mary Lou to do a week's worth of laundry.  Every afternoon picking up Jim and Carie to go to the pool for a summer swim with Mary Lou.  Frozen strawberry fights.  ROAD HOG!!!  I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time with Megan and Matt in Boise on my way out of town.

Idaho - this is home.  Moving around with my parents as a child and as an adult I never really thought I had a place to go back to.  But I realized I did when I returned from Okinawa to get my feet under me and figure out my next direction in life.  Idaho seeped into my soul, warmed me like a cup of hot chocolate, a good blanket and a roaring fire in the middle of a blizzard.

There's something magical about Idaho, and especially Sun Valley.  It calls to me.  The beautiful Wood River, Baldy, the Sawtooth Range to the north, the Boulder Mountains to the east, the aspen groves, Warm Springs - all nestled in that little valley, it's home.  Just thinking about it takes me there - a great peacefulness settles over me.

Payette does the same thing for me as well.  I don't get out to the gateway to Hell's Canyon country that often any more but when I do, peace washes over me crossing the singing bridge over the Payette River.  Some of my favorite memories linger from Christmas and Winter Solstice Celebrations.  Sitting at the dinner table with Karl and Mary Lou, cremated lamb chops, baked potatoes and salad spread before us. Singing the 12 Days of Christmas, sledding down the rolling hills of the farm as a young girl, Winter Solstice bonfire circles burning out of control at the Trail's - all memories that bring me home - to Idaho, even if I'm not physically there.

I may live in Northern Virginia, and I love my life here - but in my heart home will always be Idaho.  I'm just a Sun Valley Soul waiting for the next opportunity to go home to Idaho and feed my soul, drink in the mountains, rivers, aspen and high desert scrub.