Friday, April 27, 2012

Which is Worse?

Which is worse, I wonder. High fructose corn syrup (GMOs, mercury, obesity) or brown rice syrup (arsenic)?  My son has taken a liking to granola bars, but do they make one that is chewy (he only has 3 teeth) and doesn't contain a deadly ingredient? What's a momsie to do?
High fructose corn syrup - mercury juice
Brown rice syrup - arsenic juice 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lactation Oatmeal Bites Recipe!

When I was pumping regularly at work, I found that it was a struggle to keep up an adequate milk supply for my piggy baby boy.  I looked into any way possible to increase my output.  I discovered that there are many natural ingredients that can increase milk supply, especially those that are high in iron.  From that information and several basic recipes, I devised this recipe for my special Lactation Oatmeal Bites.  I found that if I ate a couple of these a day, I could increase my milk supply by almost 2 ounces!

Here are the main lactation boosting ingredients.

Flax seed, brewer's yeast, and oats are all high in iron and are thought to improve lactation.

Spread 3-4 cups of oats on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to toast (golden brown).  Keep an eye on your oats the first time you try this, because they can burn in a hurry!

Combine oats, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup rice cereal, 1/4 cup flax seed, and 2 tablespoons brewer's yeast together in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup of whatever other dry ingredients you'd like to enhance your recipe with (cranberries, sunflower seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.)
Dry ingredients with cranberries.

Dry ingredients with cranberries and white chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, mix 2/3 cup melted butter (or coconut oil if you're vegan), 1/2 cup honey or rice syrup (I mix the two), 2 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. If you are wanting to use peanut butter, replace some of the butter with peanut butter (about 1/3 cup). 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. If you are wanting to add chocolate chips to your recipe, you might want to wait until your oats and melted butter cool before adding them, or they will melt. I've found I like the flavor from some melted chips, so I go ahead and add some when the mix is hot and some later. Press mixture into greased mini muffin pan.  If you are using chips, press them into the top, as shown below.


Add some chips on top!
Finish cooling on a wire rack.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Let cool a couple of minutes and remove from pan. Store in a sealed container. Makes about 24 bites.

These bites also freeze well.  I would make a couple of batches so I'd have a couple flavors to choose from and then freeze the rest.


I've played around with this recipe and have came up with some alternative recipes for peanut butter chocolate chip, banana nut, and pumpkin nut bites.  Let me know (via comments) if you'd like those recipes!  Also, let me know if you try this recipe and like it!

Full recipe for Lactation Oatmeal Bites

3 cups oats (not quick oats, old fashioned is best)
1 cup rice cereal
2 Tb. brewer's yeast
1/4 cup flax seed
2/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey (or rice syrup, or a combination)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
up to 1 cup of additional dry ingredients (chocolate chips, seeds, nuts, berries, etc.)

Spread 3-4 cups of oats on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to toast (golden brown). 
Combine oats, salt, rice cereal, flax seed, and brewer's yeast together in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of whatever other dry ingredients you'd like to enhance your recipe with (cranberries, sunflower seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.).

In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, honey or rice syrup, eggs, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Press mixture into greased mini muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Let cool a couple of minutes and remove from pan. Store in a sealed container. Makes about 24 bites.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Advice from the Doctor: Grief Tasks

So much death lately!  We traveled to Kansas last month for my grandfather's funeral and to California two weeks ago for my grandmother in-law's funeral. On top of it all, last week we faced a serious crisis response in my school district when a middle school student was killed after breaking into a home.  This week I responded to a death of a teenage girl with sickle cell anemia. I am a team leader for one of our district's "crisis response teams" that counsel with grieving students and staff. Although in a large urban school district like ours crises are not rare, these two in particular utilized all my previous training in working with people in crisis and grief.

Prompted by these recent events, I'd like to share some information about helping children who have lost a loved one.  With my background in grief counseling and crisis intervention work, it seems appropriate that I start a series on helping your children cope with death.  It's not the light-hearted or humorous content I usually share, but learning to deal with grief is an important part of child development.

Death impacts us all, and children are no exception.  They definitely feel the emotions associated with loss, and work through grief tasks.  If parents and teachers are familiar with these grief tasks and support children during times of loss, children will learn to appropriately cope with grief.  Many people know about Kubler-Ross's famous Stages of Grief theory, but don't realize that when she wrote about those stages she was really writing to people facing terminal illness. We now understand that people experiencing grief do not progress nicely through stages, but rather have several common tasks to accomplish through their grief. 
The first of these tasks is Acknowledging the Reality of the Death. Sometimes, children don't have the cognitive ability or previous experience needed to understand what the word "dead" means and that death is not a temporary state.  Many very young children believe their lost loved one will return.  For this reason, it is important to use the word "dead" and not "lost" or "passed."  Let your children engage in the family rituals surrounding the death (funeral, wake, etc.).  Although this may seem uncomfortable, it helps children grasp the reality of death.  If a loved one is there to support and explain, it will become a valuable experience.  Also, answer your child's questions as honestly as possible (considering their age) and allow them to repeat their questions as often as they need to.  Although this can seem redundant and exhausting for adults, it is how children process and learn about death.  Talk about the death when your child wants to and let them see your emotions.  Let them learn from you that crying is natural and okay!

The second task in a child's grieving process is to Feel the Feelings of Grief.  Children will feel the emptiness associated with a loss of someone they love, even if they don't completely understand what is going on.  They will act out this feeling and their confusion about the loss through their behavior and play.  Think of a child's behavior during this time as communication.  Sleeplessness, fussiness, loss of appetite, yelling, hitting, and other acting out behavior may be your child's way of saying "I'm sad," "I'm angry," or "I'm confused and don't know what in the world is going on!" Play can also serve as your child's language for grief.  Many times, children will act out through play in symbols and metaphors what they are feeling.  (I talked about the importance of play in my previous blog.  I'll probably repost it here soon).  Listen to this language, reflect the feelings you recognize, and accept your child's reaction. You can let your child know you care by reflecting back to the child what they are doing in their behavior and play, rather than asking questions, giving interpretations, or advice.  Encourage safe outlets for play (sports, art).

It is also common for children to blame themselves for the death of a loved one.  Preschoolers often engage in "magical thinking" that convinces them that they could have done something to prevent or even cause the death.  It is important for adults to hear that feeling, empathize with it, and reassure the child that it isn't true thinking. 

The third task for a grieving child is to Go on Living and Loving.  Many authors will divide this into two tasks, but I believe it can be nicely summarized and accomplished in one task.  I like the description that I once heard of this task, explaining it as a "faith process."  Children and adults have different ways of coming to terms with death, but in the end, it requires an amount of faith to move on with life.  We somehow have to learn how to keep the memory of our loved one alive while the death becomes part of who we are as we keep on living.  We can encourage our children to live and love by teaching them ways to remember their dead loved one (through rituals, pictures, memories, etc.) while filling the void the loss left with other loving relationships and activities.  Allow your child and family to take "time out" from their grief to have fun.  If this causes feelings of guilt, remind your child that their loved one would want them to enjoy life.

For Christian families (like my own), it is never too early to teach children about heaven and about the hope we have because we love Jesus.  As we work with our families to go on living and loving, we can remind our children of 2 Corinthians 5:8, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."  How comforting for children to hear the words of Jesus in John 14: 1-3, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God, believe also in me.  My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am."  An excellent activity for a grieving family can be to talk about what heaven will be like. Let your child's imagination run wild. Draw pictures of your loved one in heaven with Jesus.  There is no greater way to instill hope and joy!

In the next few weeks I'm going to pull out my library of children's books for grieving children and post some recommendations.  Even if your child doesn't need them now, it may be worthwhile to have some on hand!




Friday, April 20, 2012

Cornstarch and Lemons

I'm home with a sick baby today. Apparently a diarrhea virus has spread around Jr.'s daycare. Not a fun virus (not that any are). Jr.'s bottom is very sensitive so the frequent dirty diapers have left him with a mean diaper rash. It hurts him so bad he wouldn't take a bath and screams like a banshee when I clean him and put diaper rash cream on. An experienced mom at work suggested I try cornstarch instead of diaper rash cream. It has worked amazingly well! It dries up that yucky wet area and cleared up some of the rash despite ongoing diarrhea diapers. Yay for experienced mom wisdom!



Is it gross to post about food or drink on the same post as one on diarrhea? Oh well, that's the life of a mom. So, here goes . . .

We got the most amazing lemons from my husband's grandmother's house in California. Look at these huge things!



I decided to make some lemonade with them. They are a hybrid with an orange, apparently, so they are kinda sweet and make the best lemonade. Lemons, sugar, and water. The perfect treat for a day at home with the baby. Yummy to my tummy!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Ultimate Blog Party!


http://www.5minutesformom.com/51797/ultimate-blog-party-2012/

It's time for the Ultimate Blog Party 2012, and I'm so glad to be a part of it! Here's a little bit about my site for all you party-goers.

I'm a wife, mother, and psychologist. I work for a public school district, counseling with children and consulting with parents and school staff. My job is awesome, but I love being a mom even more! My son, "Jr.", just turned one and is teaching me so much about child development and parenting. Here's my beautiful family.



Just three years ago, I was a very independent, single, doctoral level psychologist, content dedicating my life to helping children in need. Then, I met my wonderful husband and everything changed! Marriage and motherhood has taken away nearly all of my "alone time" that I so loved. But, that instrospective time has been replaced with the overwhelming joy of creating and being part of my own little family!

My blog talks about the challenges of being a working mom and shares some of my insights as a psychologist. I hope that in the midst of advice-giving blogs, I can provide a transparent look at being a working mom.

Glad you joined me! Hope you visit again!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Three Rules I Broke While Flying

Last weekend we flew to Los Angeles for a funeral. Somehow, by the time we booked our trip, there were no direct flights. We had to book flights that had stops and plane changes in out-of-the-way locations. Our estimated travel times were ridiculous. The thought of Jr.'s (too old to be called "baby" anymore) first airplane experience being five hours long with hectic stops along the way was extremely anxiety provoking for momsie. So, at Jr.'s 12 month check-up, I asked the pediatrician if he had any advice. I think the doctor could see that little Jr. was having trouble sitting still on momsie's lap for his quick 5 minute check-up and a long plane ride could be more than a challenge. He gave me the best advice ever - "You may have to break some of your rules."

Here are the rules I broke that led to a rather pleasant first flight experience for Jr. (and everyone else on the plane!)


Benadryl. Before I had Jr., I would've gasped at the thought of drugging your child to calm them during a flight. But, somehow, the idea made perfect sense when the pediatrician suggested it. He suggested we do a trial run a couple nights before to make sure he didn't have an opposite reaction (apparently some kids get more hyper on Benadryl!). Then, a half hour before our plane took off, we gave him a 1/2 teaspoon. It worked like a charm! He slept for an hour and a half to begin each flight. I thought I heard angels singing.


McDonald's French Fries. Adults all know that McDonald's french fries are pure deliciousness. We also know that they are horribly greasy and drenched in salt (that's what makes them so yummy). I usually try to keep Jr. far away from such addicting junk food. But, in a pinch between flights, I decided to grab some for Jr. to try. Of course, he loved them. Eating those fries kept him totally entertained until the Benadryl knocked him out.



Media. The Benadryl haze only lasted for about half of our travel time. When Jr. returned to his normal energy level, we pulled out all the stops, new toys, pacifiers, and the iPad. I try to limit his exposure to media, but there really are some cool apps for babies! There are apps that play music and animal sounds, teach numbers and letters, and otherwise bombard your baby with stimulation.

So, we broke the rules. But, we had a nice flight. It also helped that the cutest little nine month old girl sat behind us on the way home. Jr. and his new girlfriend played over the seat for a good thirty minutes. Now, if only I could figure out how to get Jr. to sleep through the night away from home!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby's First Birthday Party!



My bouncing baby boy celebrated his first birthday last week! I am still having trouble believing that I have been a momsie a full year. This has been the most amazing year ever! We celebrated with friends and family on Saturday (the day before Easter) with a party at our house.

I thought it would be cute to have a dinosaur theme, so that I could take advantage of all the available Easter decorations (Easter eggs= dinosaur eggs). I made this hatching dinosaur egg garland of the baby's month-by-month pictures - on the 12th month he hatches as a dinosaur!




We even had a "dinosaur egg" hunt, which looked a lot like an Easter egg hunt. I learned that 11 and 12 month old babies don't hunt for eggs well. What they do well is examine the eggs. All the babies plopped down with the first eggs they found and carefully inspected them. They figured out how to open them, close them, take out their contents, and fill them up with acorns.



The highlight of the first birthday party is always the cake smash. Our baby didn't inherit his mother's sweet tooth, so he wasn't too interested in eating the cake. He did give it some good squishes through his fingers, though.




Baby really got some wonderful gifts! His Meemaw and Grandpappy have been keeping a bank for him that they started when he was born and filled up all year. Such a nice idea! And, of course, baby got tons of toys. At the end of the day, he raised his hands and praised the Lord for all his gifts, friends, and family!

He learned to do this at daycare - isn't it too cute! He raises his arms over his head when you say "Praise the Lord!"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pananas!


Last weekend I enjoyed a leisurely 5K and pedicure with my good friend and fellow psychologist, "Auntie Dr. Momsie." She has the cutest, sweetest baby that was born just seven weeks after our little boy. I swear that little boy has a special grin just for me. He is so awesome! Anyway, one of the biggest blessings of this year has been having close friends with new babies who can share all their great ideas with me! Auntie Dr. Momsie definitely has shared many a good tip and responded to many "urgent" texts when I needed a quick opinion from another momsie.
This weekend, Auntie shared with me a great recipe idea - the Panana. Pancakes+banana= Panana! It's as simple as can be - take slices of banana, dip them in pancake batter and cook them on the griddle. Then you have little bite-sized banana filled pancakes that babies can feed themselves. The banana in the middle gets really soft and easy for a baby without many teeth to gum up. I long ago (about 12 months to be exact) gave up making my own pancake batter and now use Bisquick. I used:
1 cup Bisquick
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbspn sugar
1 egg
1 banana cut into coins
After dipping the bananas in the batter, I put them on the griddle and cooked them just like a pancake. I found that they needed a little extra time, though, so that the batter around the banana would thoroughly cook. Yummy to my tummy! And, baby liked them too!

Monday, April 2, 2012

One Point for Momsie and One Point for Popsicle

My husband and I are usually are on one accord in parenting. We agree about values, discipline, and most parenting strategies. We've had just a couple of minor disagreements. This week, we each had a chance to say, "I told you so!"

My victory first. Since about four months old, I've been trying to introduce the baby to some basic sign language. I know there are many benefits to teaching a baby basic signs. Research in this area has shown that babies that acquire symbolic gestures have larger expressive and receptive language capacities, more advanced mental development, a reduction in problematic behaviors such as tantrums due to frustration, and improved parent-child relationships (Acredolo, 1999; Goodwyn, 2000). Sounds good to me!

I've especially focused my efforts on the signs for "more" and "finished." At mealtimes, it is sometimes hard to know when the baby is done eating, and the guessing game can lead to a melt-down. The sign for "finished" is much like if you were gesturing "so-so" with both hands- holding hands parallel, palms together, and waving back and forth. I do this consistently at mealtimes. About a week ago, my dear husband suggested that my efforts were in vain. The baby was screaming, we didn't know if he was done or wanted something different, so after shoving every different food from the table in his face and being met with continued screaming, I tried the "finished" sign. More screaming. My husband then declared that the baby would probably learn to talk before he ever waved his hand in a finished sign. I must say, my bubble burst. I know that we aren't able to practice the signs as much as I'd like, but thought surely they'd pay off some day. Since that day, I've been waving "finished" with much less gusto.

Until yesterday. At the end of a meal of chicken and potatoes, the baby's eating slowed down and he began playing with the chicken. When I tried to put some in his mouth, he looked me in the eye, held up his hand, and waved it in the "finished" sign! My husband and I both recognized immediately what he had communicated. We cheered and the baby grinned his most proud grin. One point for Momsie!

Now for Daddy's victory; also a dinnertime accomplishment. In all my momsie wisdom, I declared early on that our baby would not drink from a sippy cup. There has been some evidence from the American Academy of Pediatrics that a sippy cup can promote tooth decay. I want my child to have beautiful chompers. I decided a straw cup would be okay, and there are some nice ones on the market. I bought one recommended by friends whose babies already used the straw cup, and got to practicing with the baby.

Despite all my great enthusiasm and reinforcement, that darn straw cup was a major source of frustration. Each mealtime I would squirt a variety of liquids in baby's mouth while he shook his head in refusal. Somehow even while resting, the liquid would come up the straw and spill all over. None of it was ingested by the baby. My husband finally suggested we trash the straw cup and try a more traditional sippy cup. NO WAY! The straw cup would eventually work, I argued, we just needed more time and patience.

But, as the baby's year birthday approached, I saw that we were not making progress. I noticed every baby in public that was drinking from a cup and guessed at their age. Younger than our baby and drinking from a cup? Must be a genius baby. I finally realized that maybe it is true, each child is different. What works for one may not work for another. I bought a sippy cup.

At the cup's first introduction the baby grabbed it by the handles, threw his head back, and inserted the cup into his mouth. Great joy filled his face at the taste of the yogurt-juice and he kept throwing back the cup until it was half gone. The straw-cup went in the trash and Daddy was given a point.

All-in-all, I don't think my husband or I are really keeping score. We are just so proud to see each new accomplishment! Nothing compares to the look of pride on the baby's face when he's learned something new. I wouldn't trade it for all the points in the world.
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