The Food Nanny has changed my life


Sunday, February 14, 2016

A few weeks ago my sister Mitzi called asking if I had any food/dinner prep system that could help her feel more organized. I had little to offer and told her to share with me if she found anything good because I needed help too! Fate was listening because just a moment after our conversation, she was at a friend's house who told her about the using Food Nanny's meal planning system. Mitzi quickly shared with me what she learned and within a few days, I had started a new meal planning system. I am so grateful we had that conversation because I feel so much less stress about dinner now!

My new meal planning system
I took the Food Nanny's basic ideas (using a 2 week meal planner with themed nights/meals and a shopping list) and changed it a bit to fit our family.

While I do like using my iPhone for lots of organizational things like to-do lists and calendar items, I have so far really enjoyed printing hard copies of these lists and putting them on a big clipboard to keep at home and when I go shopping.

As you can see, I have left some room to add more recipes as we try out new things.
1. The very best thing I did was make a list of all of our favorite meals. I made a list of basic themes that our meals generally fall in to and then went through all my recipe boards and cookbooks and added our favorite regular meals to the master list. This is the most important part of my new meal planning system because having all our meals in our list is so helpful! I've done various types meal planning before but was always having to flip through all my books and boards to find what we like and would get overwhelmed very quickly. Now I can scan through our favorites easily since they are all in one place!

I need to start doing this in pencil!
2. After using her meal plan once, I made my own to fit my big handwriting. :) It's actually exactly like hers, just less fancy.

This list is about halfway done.
3. Again, after using her shopping list once, I made my own shopping list too. After a couple of years of going to the same grocery store, I have a pretty set pattern that I follow. So having my own categories made more sense. 

The result? I have meals planned out 2 weeks in advance! I grocery shop less. (One big trip every two weeks and 1 smaller one each week for produce, milk and eggs.) I'm not panicking every afternoon about what we are going to eat for dinner. I just look at the plan and set out anything that needs to thaw. I even plan out our "simple nights" of grilled cheese or whatever, thus there is no guilt that I'm not feeding my family super well because I know that tomorrow night will be fancier/healthier. And if I don't feel like making the meal I have planned for that night, I have several others to choose from. So I don't stick exactly to this plan, but I know I have everything in the house I need for all the meals on the plan. I feel so much less stress about meal planning now! The next things I want to add to my system are a weekly planned baking day for bread and granola, a planned day to do in-advance meal prep like frozen dinners etc and a night for Nate to cook :).

What things have helped you feel less stressed about dinner and meal planning?

Nursing in Public


Monday, January 18, 2016

The discussion around breastfeeding in public is making the rounds again in social media thanks to some social experiment videos made by Joey Salads. I'm not linking to them because he doesn't deserve the page views. In the videos, a mother is shown breastfeeding her baby and the reactions to those around her are documented. Most of the reactions are negative. I'm upset because these videos are super staged and I'm convinced all the negative reactors are actors as well. These videos are only discouraging new mothers from doing what is natural and necessary for themselves and their babies.

I felt motivated to write this post to those new mothers who see these videos and reconsider breastfeeding in public. A poll on a local mom forum asking about this issue quickly collected more than 60 responses with the vast majority saying they had never had such an encounter. There have been documented cases in Utah where mothers were asked to leave a public place to breastfeed privately but these are the minority. And usually the employee requesting was out of line and the store/venue/whatever later apologized. But these cases usually do not involve the blatant rudeness and harassment acted out in these videos.

I've had nothing but positive experiences when breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. And I support moms who breastfeed either way. But the more new mothers see breastfeeding uncovered, the more comfortable they will feel in doing so and the more they will know about breastfeeding! These are nothing but good things. Any nay-sayers can look away. And if anyone is worried about seeing a bit of boob then they should never go to a mall or turn on the TV! The primary function of breasts is to nourish and sustain the life of children. Our society is the first in history to have sexualized the breast so much that its primary function is so often disregarded. Is it any wonder that breastfeeding rates are as low as they are in the U.S.?

Everyone can help change this by simply not reacting to a woman feeding her baby. Nurse on mamas! You are life-givers!

**Edited to add some of my favorite commentary on the subject:
4 Reasons Why Women Should Never Breastfeed in Public (satire, of course)
10 Things That Have Nothing to Do With Why I Breastfeed
Just because a body part is at some moments in time sexual, does not make it sexual at ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
Why I'm Glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public, a man's perspective. Disclaimer: He is crass, but his point is spot-on!

Best of the birth world this week!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

I loved this poster created by Salem Birth Support. Again, families need support after birth!! I've been so lucky to receive loving support after each baby!

A giant study was published this week about the safety of home birth. It was thorough and the commentary was fair and without judgement. Commentators on both sides of the issue applauded it. Forbes did a great write-up as well as Science and Sensibility.

With my own upcoming birth, I've been getting really into emergency preparedness lately! Especially preparing for childbirth in an emergency situation; whether that by during/after an earthquake or simply a precipitous unassisted birth. I printed out this free emergency childbirth guide and have started collecting items. I think I'll keep the kit in the car for now!

How the system fails breastfeeding families. On a birth/breastfeeding page this week, a community member explained that her family doctor prescribed her cold and asthma medications incompatible with breastfeeding (her child was under 1) and when she pointed this out to her doctor, she (the doctor) shrugged and told her she would need to stop. Um, what?! First of all, you don't "just stop breastfeeding." It's not that easy for mother or for baby. And if this doctor really wanted to promote the health of her patients and society at large, she would have taken a couple of extra steps to find her an alternative that was compatible with breastfeeding. One commenter stated that she takes Thomas Hale's book with her to all doctor appointments now. Smart! But too bad mothers are the ones that have to educate their care providers on evidence-based information. Not all doctors of course. But I see and hear this kind story too often. If we want a more healthy population, we have to start at the beginning and actually support families in their breastfeeding goals. But for your own advocate! And know your stuff! 

I found two great articles this week about informed consent in childbirth: No Thank You and 10 Responses to Pressure to Consent.

And lastly, I am really loving this Dr. Seuss inspired meme about breastfeeding anywhere!

My career and my calling


Friday, January 8, 2016

This week I've been thinking about my chosen career and motherhood. And I have discovered something life-changing (thanks to a sweet mama who shared thoughts from her sister on a birthy FB group I'm in).

My career and motherhood are two separate things! My chosen career is homemaker. But motherhood is my calling. It is part of who I am, just like I am a daughter, sister, friend and wife. If I had chosen a career outside the home, maybe the difference would have been more obvious to me. If I had a different career, maybe I would have seen the difference earlier and known that my relationships with my children would come before my career when possible. But as a homemaker, I have been combining my career and motherhood as one thing! But they're separate! 

My job as homemaker does not make me a better or worse mother. I get to set my own hours and do as much or as little work as I want in my job. No one is threatening to take over my job if I perform poorly one week (or string of weeks...I'm looking at you first trimester!). So the state of the house should not be more important than connecting with my children. Because our relationships, not our careers, are what matter. Even when you're a homemaker. 

I haven't written out a list of New Year's goals yet but when I do, I want them to center around this thought. That connection with others trumps every household task and is the foundation of a good life!

How to really help families


Thursday, September 10, 2015

I have become very passionate about this lately and am very excited to share my thoughts and research with you! There has been lots of buzz lately about how to support families and how to support children especially. Many look to schools and public programs that help families in myriads of ways. But I am of the opinion that to truly support new families and children, we must start in the home. Of course we know conscientious parenting and stable home environments have better outcomes. But I think we need to back up just a tad. First of all, parents need to be IN the home to make a difference. And that brings me to family leave. And not the crappy unpaid leave most Americans deal with. I'm talking about solid, paid family leave.

Now I'm not a policy expert. I have no idea how long paid family leave should be. I just know American families deserve better. New mothers deserve better. Newborns deserve better. Fathers deserve better. Sick children deserve better.

Thanks (insert sarcasm) to the Family and Medical Leave Act, American workers get 12 weeks of unpaid leave to use after the birth of a child or to help a sick family member. Do you know anyone in their childbearing years that could afford to not receive an income for 1 month, let alone 3?

I've come to think about this topic more and more because of my experience with new moms at WIC. It's devastating to these new moms to have to return to work 1 or 2 weeks after birth because they have no other alternative. So I help her learn how to use a breast pump and send her out into the world. I feel terrible after these appointments because I know she is being cheated. Cheated out of a beautiful bonding experience with her newborn. Cheated out of a healthy recovery.

Our society is well-versed on the superiority of breastmilk. We know it's the best start for babies. But how do we support women in their breastfeeding relationship? We could help mom stay home with her new baby, help her learn how to breastfeed, let her recover without interruptions, ease her into this new and frightening phase of life. But what do we actually do? We give her a free breast pump. We tell her to get back to work (and don't ask for any help from the government!) We tell her to leave her precious new baby with someone else. We tell her to hook herself up to a machine. We tell her to sit still so she doesn't bleed on the office chairs.

Does that sound like supporting families to you? Does that sound like supporting children to you?

Recently, Netflix grabbed headlines because it announced its unlimited paid family leave policy. I'm happy that it got some attention and got some people talking. But it doesn't apply to all of their workers. The DVD side of the company does not get this benefit and neither do its part-time workers, so yet again, the poor are at a disadvantage. Yet again, a poor new mother is forced to go back work too early while her newborn is taken care of by someone else. Yet again, a poor new mother cannot get the hang of breastfeeding.

Some people like to complain that countries like Canada who have very generous paid leave laws (~1 year of paid leave) are too generous. But what you probably didn't know is that extensions of up to 50 weeks in paid leave is correlated with a 20% drop in infant deaths. Want to keep children alive? Give their parents paid leave:

"Research shows that paid leave can also be a matter of life and death for children. By charting the correlation between death rates and paid leave in 16 European countries, Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, found that a 50-week extension in paid leave was associated with a 20 percent dip in infant deaths. (The biggest drop was in deaths of babies between 1 month and 1 year old, though mortality of children between 1 and 5 years also decreased as paid leave went up.)" (source)

How did we become a society where what happens at the office completely trumps what is happening with your family? It disgusts me. How many grandpas and grandmas have told you if they could go back, they would choose work over family? And yet, business leaders across America continue to enforce the idea that work is life. When everyone truly knows in their hearts that family and relationships and hobbies and living is life. Anne Weisberg writes in the NYTimes, "we need to reimagine leadership so that the ideal workers are not the ones who stay at work the latest, but the ones who get all their work done and leave at a reasonable hour; they are not the ones who get on a plane on a moment’s notice, even with a nanny in tow, but the ones who figure out how to conduct the meeting without having to travel."

Most parents simply do not have the economic situation to stay home with their new babies like they envision. By putting solid paid family leave policies into place and changing the workplace culture to encourage parents to take the full leave, we will be truly supporting children and families.

What has been your experience with family leave after having a baby? How can we do better? How would your life be improved if we had a more generous paid family leave policy?

More reading:
Big Leaps for Parental Leave, if Workers Actually Take It.
How do you make sure generous paid leave doesn't backfire on women? Focus on men.
This is what it looks like when men are allowed paid leave.
Why some moms go back to work 2 weeks after giving birth.
Why is this going nowhere?

Best of the birth world this week!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yall! I have so many ideas and not enough time! But I feel the need to simplify a little. Maybe a few days away will do the trick. Or throwing away my phone. Or both. While I work through these thoughts, enjoy some birth and breastfeeding links...

A dad's opinion on their experience with a doula. I love this:
"Do you know the quickest way to remove a hospital gown from a woman in the middle of an intense contraction? Can you coach her through the hardcore transition phase and hours of exhausting pushing? Do you have any clue what occiput posterior position is and how problematic it can be for the mother? When blood comes — and there will be blood — will you have any idea how much is normal scary and how much is legit terrifying? No. Because you’re not a doula."

Cervical dilation is unpredictable. So take a step back, cool down from all the vaginal checks and let the woman's body do her thing. There is no need (in a normal, healthy) labor to check the clock in relation to mom's cervical dilation.

Maybe I should change this blog post to "best of women's issues"...but this video is important. I'm sick of people thinking everything can be fixed with a pill and the latest FDA approval of "women's viagra" is troubling. It's a pyschoactive drug taken daily over a long period of time and we have no idea what it's effects will be!! Please don't be a guinea pig for this crap.

How dads can help with breastfeeding. Nate was such a great cheerleader for me!

Have a great weekend!!
Summer nursing painting via J Kirk Richards.

Where to swim in Utah


Monday, August 17, 2015

At Bartholemew Family Park
A few of you have asked where to do swimming in Utah Valley. So before the summer season is completely gone, here is our list of favorites!

Public Pools

Provo Rec Center
This place can get crowded, but it's the right price for all the slides and great atmosphere for little guys. The big slides are really fun. There is also pretty decent shade too. This is where we swim the most. Outdoor pool opens at noon everyday. $5/person, age 3+

Lindon City Aquatics Center 
This is a super fun place for little guys too. The big slide is pretty lame, but the lazy river is pretty fun! Normally opens at 12:30pm. ~$5/person, age 3+

Scera Pool in Orem
Only been here once, but it's HUGE. We will have to try this one before the season is out. ~$5/person, age 3+

Bartholomew Family Park in Springville 
Free! Lots of sand (dirt/mud) for the kids to play in. There aren't a lot of swimmers here because it is so COLD! But lots of kayakers and paddle boarders. Definitely go on a really hot day! I really like how close the parking lot is to the water.

Manila Creek Pond in Pleasant Grove
Free. Also a good one for playing in the sand. Great views too.

Spanish Oaks Reservoir In Spanish Fork
Free. Haven't been to this one since I was pregnant with Bridger! Can get super windy up there.

Deer Creek State Park
This is a better place for boating. This year, the beach is just boulders and mud. Not a great beach at all. Maybe it will be better next year.

Lindon Beach, Utah Lake
Other places to cool down

Provo River
Tubing down the river is awesome and free if you have some tire inner tubes and two vehicles.

Utah Lake 
If you are really desperate to get wet go to Utah Lake State Park. It's super muddy on the bottom! But we really like hanging out at Lindon Beach at sunset. Being Utah Lake, it's really shallow. So it's basically a natural splash pad :)

Springville splash pad
The best one there is! And everyone knows it so it's very crowded. The usual water works with a little creek running through. Also decent shade and a playground.

Provo City splash pad (at Pioneer Park)
We went recently and there were several injuries. The ground is super slick. I called Provo City about to make a formal complaint. Not sure if anything came of it. But having the playground close by is nice.

Riverwoods splash pad
Small and easy to keep track of kids :) Lots of shaded tables close by.

Enjoy the summer heat before it's gone! Although I'm about ready for fall, how about you?

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