Thursday, August 29, 2013

New York, Neeew Yooooorrrrk!

A giant shout-out goes out to Grammy, Pop, Nana, and Papa, who graciously kept our children from early Friday morning to Monday evening so that BJ and I could celebrate our ten-year anniversary on a child-free vacation to New York City! Although I missed my kiddos every bit as much as I thought I would, I felt myself able to kick back and enjoy quite a bit more than I imagined. I think I have forgotten over the past three and a half years what it feels like to run an errand by myself, have time to peruse a menu at a restaurant, and come home exhausted at the end of a day without having to wrangle two toddlers into bed before I can jump in headfirst myself. Luckily for me, Baby Van did accompany me to New York in utero, so I still got the comforting sense of being a mommy at all times and also got the reassurance of little kicks to my bladder.

Our great friends Sommer and Pete met us in New York after missing two flights en route from Boston, only one of which was their own stinking fault. I could tell we were really on vacation when even Sommer seemed to roll with the punches; upon discovering they had missed their flight because they were busy computer-ing away at a nearby gate, she responded with, "Eh. At least I don't have kids with me." And so it went with every setback along the way of the trip, such as closed subway stops, temporarily misplaced ID's, and the sound of a mouse (I contend it was a rat) awakening us at 1:45AM eating his way through a paper sack on our bedroom floor, hopelessly trying to get inside a glass jar of peanut butter. Overall, everything felt easy and all went spectacularly well. We had an extremely good time. Highlights for me included touching the Flatiron Building (which was on my life's bucket list!), seeing Vermeer's "Girl Interrupted at Her Music" at the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side (tip: go on Sunday from 11-1 for the Pay What You Wish rate!), delicious dinners of pad thai, Spanish tapas, and French baked seafood, a three-hour walking pizza tour that hit three of the greatest (and oldest!) pizzerias in the United States, and meandering through the hustle and bustle of New York. BJ also planned us a visit to an eccentric speakeasy-type bar called The Raines Law Room, and my-oh-my, did we get a kick out of that place! It was completely unmarked on a residential street, and when we rang the doorbell we were greeted at last by a puzzled-looking fellow with an ill-fitting suit, crazy hairdo, and face resembling the lead singer of Fun. We asked if the four of us could get in and he quickly shut the door in our faces after telling us to "hang on." By then Sommer was already loving this place. He re-emerged a full two minutes later to tell us that he could maybe have a spot for us in an hour and a half. An hour and a half! Amused, we gave him our phone number and decided to walk around Lower Manhattan to burn off dinner anyway. Ten minutes later we got the call from an anonymous number that Raines was ready for the likes of us. After being escorted through a tunnel-like entrance and through a curtain (it's a marvel that we didn't turn around on the way in), we found ourselves in a long, narrow, dimly-lit room configured into numerous little seating areas with plush furniture. At Raines you summon your server by pulling a little chain that lights up and you can pass the time with cheesy popcorn, good conversation, and extremely erotic wallpaper with ideas for group activities, if you're into that kind of thing. It was all hilarious. Drinks were about 15 bucks apiece, but they were delish, and the bartender did a great job of concocting a virgin drink based on my choice of strawberries. It was a wonderful evening spent with wonderful friends, and even the subway ride home was hilariously not-to-be-forgotten.

My last trip to New York was exactly three months before the World Trade Center attacks, and on that trip I found New Yorkers to be generally disagreeable. I prepared myself for the same on this trip and was pleasantly surprised to find New Yorkers now so amiable! Absolutely everyone we encountered was pleasant, and many of them were hilarious. Happy tenth anniversary, BJ! We couldn't have celebrated it better!

My bestie and me riding the subway

BJ in front of the building that housed the first pizzeria in the United States. It is completely unmarked, but our guide Scott was in the know. The brick oven was later moved to its current location at Lombardi's, established in 1905.

BJ was quite studious throughout the tour. I hope this results in good homemade pizza.

The Freedom Tower is near completion!

The tiny thing way in the background is the Statue of Liberty.

Knocking an item off the bucket list by touching the Flatiron Building!

The Flatiron Building

The pull-chain at Raines and the accompanying kinky wallpaper

Walking through Central Park on our way to the Frick to see the Vermeer, another item on my bucket list!

We always sit this way. It's very normal.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lewis & Clark

My friend Rachel is the smartest person I know, and she's humble enough that she would likely be surprised to hear me say that. Homeschooled in what sounds to be a close-knit, fun-loving family, Rachel went on to get degrees from Harvard and Stanford, including a doctorate. BJ knew her husband Ed in high school, and we have both discussed that Ed is ridiculously smart...but Rachel seems to be even smarter. Have you ever had a friend who is so lovely and yet teaches you (unknowingly) every time the two of you converse? As down-to-earth as she is, keeping up with her everyday dialogue requires a dictionary! BJ and I always loved spending time with Ed and Rachel, and we miss them as they have returned to their west coast stomping grounds.

A few years ago Rachel told us all about a book that she had just read and loved entitled Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. The book is written by Stephen Ambrose, who also wrote Band of Brothers, and is the riveting account of the Lewis and Clark expedition of the early 1800's through the previously-uncharted Louisiana Purchase. I'm smart enough to sometimes listen to smart people, so I put the book on my Goodreads “To-Read” list and considered the idea of tackling the hefty volume when the inspiration struck.

Well, the inspiration began striking last August when my parents, BJ, the boys, and I drove to Estes Park, Colorado, for a week of hiking the mountains and breathing in the fresh air. Even though I've seen the Rocky Mountains several times, their majesty is indescribable, as most people would agree. The beautiful Appalachians, the other large mountain chain that runs through our country and which I have also seen several times, do not even begin to come close to the American, and especially the Canadian, Rockies. As we drove into Denver from the east and the mountains first came into view, BJ, Silas, and I all began exclaiming our joy at the sight of those magnificent formations. During the week of exploring and vacationing that ensued, my mind went many times to Lewis and Clark as I wondered what in the world they must have been thinking when they first glimpsed those mountains and knew that they had to cross them on a wilderness expedition. I wondered, did they even know those mountains were coming? Did members of their expedition die? What were their relations with Native Americans like? What route did they actually take? I thought of Rachel's suggestion many times and finally checked Undaunted Courage­ out of the library to begin seeking the answers to these questions.

(The answers, in case you're interested, is: 1. Yes, they knew the mountains were coming but had no idea of the scope and grandeur until they laid eyes upon them, which is the case for all of us. Along the way, Native Americans could pass on information about what could be expected in the next hundred or so miles, but no single explorer had been known to tackle it all at once and provide a description and map of it. 2. One member of the expedition did die in Iowa from what is now believed to be a ruptured appendix; he could not have been saved at the time even if he lived in Washington among a strong medical community because they had no idea what a ruptured appendix was or how to remove it. Otherwise, Lewis and Clark retained the lives of all of their men and Sacagawea to the Pacific and back. 3. Relations with the Native Americans ranged wildly from extremely friendly to violent; bloodshed occurred on one occasion with the deaths of two Blackfeet Natives. Sadly, even when relations with the Native Americans were friendly and mutually beneficial, Lewis always considered them to be secondary in status to himself and other white people, and he always viewed them as people to be “coerced.” In all of his writings, Lewis never once acknowledged that he was always at the mercy of Native Americans and he never gave them the credit that they deserved for the knowledge that they imparted to him and the generosity and honesty that they showed his crew, which many of the tribes could have easily overtaken if they had had a mind to. 4. The actual Lewis and Clark expedition went north through Wyoming and Montana, never venturing close to Colorado. I am of the mind that they sure did make it hard on themselves by wintering in North Dakota and Washington state, but of course I love my Southern heat.)

I read as much as I could of the book before it was due back to the library in three weeks; sadly, it could not be renewed because there was a hold placed on it by someone else. A couple of weeks ago BJ purchased the book on his Kindle and I quickly finished the remainder of the hefty volume in the evenings after we had the kids in bed. I simply didn't want a night to go by without immersing myself in the adventure of the journey, the interactions of the people, and the descriptions of what was seen in my country in years long ago. The devaluation of Native Americans, African Americans (who were still owned as slaves at the time), and women was of course disheartening to read, but obviously the more we know the more we can learn from our ancestors' mistakes. My apprehension was through the roof when the crew hit plunging waterfalls, wary tribes, and grizzly bears that refused to die, as was my sense of accomplishment at times when something went really well, as though I had anything to do with it at all. The last 50 or so pages cover the life of Lewis after the expedition, which was a total bummer for which I was unprepared; again, though, it is an account of history as it happened, so I finished the book as Lewis physically and emotionally fell apart in the years immediately after the voyage was complete.

I'm here to say that Rachel was right: the book is very much worth a read and is told from an unflinchingly honest perspective by Ambrose. The author clearly cherishes the accomplishments of Lewis and Clark (while questioning their judgment at times), and this is evidenced by his introduction in which he shares that his family navigates and camps along some portion of the expedition each year, and I'm talking kids and grandkids too. I smile as I think of how his passion about the subject has ignited not only his family's interest but also mine as well. I know that BJ and I have talked with excitement for years about taking our kids on backpacking trips and Boundary Waters canoe adventures! More on this to come...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


She's Come Undone

In June 2009, I purchased a used copy of Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone for 25 cents at a local library sale and began reading it. I typically never read popular fiction (think: Grisham, Dan Brown, and The Hunger Games) so I can't tell you how unusual it was for me to pick up a depressing-sounding book that I'd seen countless times on the shelves of Barnes and Noble under a sign screaming "Oprah's Book Club," much less actually read it. I will always be glad that I did, and this book will forever hold significance in my heart because it changed me in that meaningful kind of way that a few certain works of art in your life ever will--you know, the works that impact you so deeply to your core that you can only count them on one hand. The primary character in the novel, Dolores Price, changed my life.

On the outside, I have very little in common with Dolores. My father did not abandon my mother and me. I was not ostracized in school. I have never been sexually assaulted. I have never struggled with food addictions or weighed 250 pounds. My mother has not died in a tragic accident, and I have never attempted suicide or received inpatient mental health treatment. My husband has never coerced me into an abortion, and I have never had trouble conceiving a child when I wanted to. By all accounts, my life has been privileged and rosy, and I know that I am lucky. Dolores suffered all of these things, and my heart truly broke for her when she looked a beached whale closely in the eye and thought herself to be one and the same as the doomed animal. The desperate kinship that she felt to this whale in the novel was inexplicable, deep, and everlasting for Dolores; in that moment, the kinship that I felt to Dolores was the same. I couldn't stop crying for hours because of her pain.

I wasn't ever sure that I wanted children. The call for motherhood never hit me, at least very hard, as I was growing up and finding my way in the world. Some of my friends knew they were born to be mothers, and I could only inwardly wonder "Why? Why would somebody want that?" When BJ and I got married at the age of 22, we were on the eight-year plan for having children. Each year that passed, however, I started that eight-year count all over again in my head. As we got older and had been married for several years, we began more frequently hearing the question from family members and friends, "When are you going to have kids?" The truth for me was, I really wasn't sure that we would. Even though I thought I would eventually swing around on this point and want kids, it just wasn't happening. I won't lie: I was kind of worried about this. There are a minority of people in this world that are resolute about not having children, but even though I believed myself to cast no judgment upon these people (some of whom are amazing, close friends), I was scared to be among them. Was there something wrong with me? People sure did sometimes make me feel that way---or rather, I allowed myself to feel that way after talking with certain people. That idea of independence from children, though, was winning out over those years, and BJ and I seemed fine with that even though I knew he ultimately wanted to have children. I thought, "Why mess with a good thing?" BJ and I had spare time, spare money, hobbies, and an interest in travel. It seemed to me that kids would completely mess all of that up.

Then I came to know Dolores. Everything about Dolores was so complicated, and I found her internal experience difficult to put into words. Honestly, it befuddles me to this day that Wally Lamb was able to create a believable character and voice for Dolores, a girl-becoming-woman who he could only identify with to a certain extent because he is a man. The brushstrokes that he used to paint Dolores' emotional responses seem genius to me, particularly for someone who has never directly experienced what his heroine has endured. I suppose this is the mark of any great writer, actually, but it still doesn't cease to amaze me. Dolores ached for a child through many pages of the book, particularly after her abortion, and as I became increasingly engrossed in her journey with her, I suddenly realized the ache for children within myself. It truly came out of nowhere it seemed, and yet it felt as though it had been there for a lifetime. I remember the specific evening that I finished the final pages of the book, sobbing. It was a summer evening and I went to our backyard overlooking the creek, and I watched the clouds for probably an hour and a half as the sun sets as it only can in an Oklahoma sky. I stayed out there for hours, tormented by her pain and suddenly by my own longing for something greater than myself but also part of myself---my child. I was shocked to feel this way, not to mention confused, excited, terrified, and relieved. BJ joined me intermittently and made sure I was okay, and eventually he came out with his own book and sat down beside me and read. I remember that evening, filled with the noise of locusts on the outside and the symphony of chaos on the inside.

The rest for us is history. Afraid, for what reasons I have no idea, I talked with BJ in our dining room the next afternoon about the possibility of having kids. I was ready, I said. BJ still refers to June 2009 as "the month that Lucy turned on a dime" (that's right, he calls me Lucy and always has). We agreed to begin trying in August right after a Florida vacation with my family, because I told him that I wanted to eat sushi and drink alcohol on that trip (ah, the priorities!). On September 3rd I got a positive pregnancy test, much to our amazing fortune. I laugh about how extremely lucky it was that we got pregnant on the first month that we tried because inside I was already beginning to wig out a little and may have changed my mind if it had taken any reasonable amount of time at all. As a mother, I have begun loving each of my children from the moment that I first learned I was carrying them, but that love was translated into something beyond my human understanding when each of them was born and physically in my arms. I have a plan to post some of my most favorite pictures of mothers with their babies, which incidentally are always the ones in which the mother is concentrated on her child and not even remotely aware of the camera. In the meantime as I collect these photos, here are my favorite pictures of me as a mother--the top with Silas and the bottom with George.

I am thankful to Dolores from the bottom of my heart. She's Come Undone isn't for everyone, but it was exactly what I needed. Dolores created within me a stirring that helped to create these little beings, and they have been my awakening.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Breastfeeding on a Dairy-Free Diet: Our Journey and Our Tips

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center
Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!
This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
Over the past year and a half, I posted quite a bit about my breastfeeding journey with Baby George; it was a challenging and rewarding journey for me because it required dietary sacrifices (namely dairy and soy) on my part. Since the time that Georgie has weaned and has begun tolerating these foods well, I have had a few friends who have embarked upon their own dairy-free breastfeeding journeys and have come to me for advice, encouragement, and tips. Since the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, it seemed appropriate to me to prepare a post that summarizes our journey, the benefits that George and I both derived from the decision I made, and ways that we can potentially help other moms that are going through similar situations.

From the beginning, my husband and I knew that something just wasn't right with George. Even from his very first night he was incredibly stuffed with mucus, so much so that we worried about him sleeping at night and slid textbooks under one end of his crib mattress to elevate his head. This was accompanied by difficulty sleeping and eventually followed by fussiness and diaper rash. Within just a few short weeks, our Georgie was nearly constantly covered in a hideous-looking rash. We worked closely with the pediatrician on skin-protection regimens and he was administered topical steroids several times; each time the cream would clear him up, but as soon as we stopped administering it that nasty old rash would rear its ugly head again.

When George was two months old, a friend of mine who is a lactation consultant suggested that his problem might be a food allergy. I honestly hadn't even considered this possibility! She suggested that I cut out dairy and continue to nurse George. I began wondering if perhaps her suggestion was plausible, and over the next ten days I watched George's skin closely as I ate different types of foods; I noticed no patterns, but, then again, the rash was consistent and terrible. I began doing internet research on dairy allergies and found that, sure enough, George's profile seemed to be consistent with some frequently-reported symptoms (facial and body rashes, diaper rash, excessive spitting up, and other gastro-intestinal issues). Finally, I woke up one morning when he was about ten weeks old and said, "Enough is enough." I knew that day was the day that I would begin cutting dairy out of my diet to see if it made a difference for him. Little did I know that this was only the beginning...

Like most people that go dairy-free for a period of time, I made a ton of rookie mistakes in that first week! I knew I would be giving up obvious cow-milk foods such as butter, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream. Bye bye pizza. However, I had absolutely no clue that milk is in so many food items! I had naively assumed that if I went to Chick Fil A and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no cheese and specifically requested no butter on the bun, I would be in the clear. EEEH! WRONG! To use Chick Fil A as an example, there is milk as an ingredient in the bun itself, the chicken (both the grilled and fried varieties) undergoes a milk wash, and the fries are also NOT dairy-free! Okay then, big mess-up. A closer look at the ingredient labels led me to realize that so many food items, from spaghetti sauces to dinner rolls to many breakfast cereals to Doritos to Toaster Strudels all contain either milk, milkfat, whey, casein, sodium caseinate, lactoglobulins, or other various no-nos. I began spending a couple of hours a day researching the exact limitations of a dairy-free diet, finding restaurants that offered options for me to eat, and brainstorming dairy-free meal ideas for our home. I had the complete support of my husband, who also ate dairy-free meals with me (he was allowed to eat pizza and cheeseburgers at work, as long as he didn't tell me about it!), and I can't tell you how crucial it was for me to have a partner who knew my goals and worked to support my endeavors. Within five days, George's skin was absolutely flawless and his congestion was absent. We knew that we had found our answer. A little tweaking with my ingredient intake led us to the conclusion that George also struggled with soy, so I eliminated soy from my diet as well. *A word on this in a moment!

All in all, I remained on a strict dairy- and soy-free diet with George for nearly eight months. When he was just over ten months old, our pediatrician told me to reintroduce the allergens in a tiny amount to see how George would respond, as many babies begin outgrowing their allergies at around nine months old. Lucky for me, George responded very well to my long-awaited chips and queso! Hooray! Along the journey, there were days when eating no dairy was very easy for me and I hardly had to think twice about it; near the end, however, I feel like I almost became obsessed with thinking about the foods I couldn't have. During those months I found myself missing cheese quite a bit, with pizza being the penultimate dream, followed shortly by one of the newly-introduced Doritos Locos tacos from Taco Bell. I can't help but smile wryly as I think about those cravings and how funny our stubborn taste-buds can be!

When people ask me if the dairy-free diet was worth it, I answer with a resounding YES. Yes, yes, yes, it was worth it! There were so many reasons why I needed to do what I did even though it was hard, and I will always be glad for that decision! Here are some of the top reasons why I have encouraged breastfeeding friends whose babies have potential food allergies to give this sacrifice a try:

1. The obvious first reason is how much better your baby will feel if it really is a dairy allergy, and you successfully remove all traces of the allergen from your diet (and therefore your baby's system). George was happier and seemed better in every way within just a short time, and this sustained my motivation over eight long months.

2. You'll probably lose all of your pregnancy some! I couldn't keep the weight on, really and truly. The pounds just seemed to melt off, even though I let myself eat as much as I wanted and whatever I wanted that was dairy- and soy-free. Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate morsels? Yeah, I threw them back by the handful several times a day (they're the only delicious dairy-free chocolate morsel that I ever found, by the way). I ate two whole bags a week! Second and third helpings at dinner? Bring it! Between George's birth and the day I went dairy-free I lost 30 pounds; after I went dairy-free I lost 35 more and ended up 25 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. Cutting out all of those dairy-filled processed foods, plus engaging in some low-key jogging, had its benefits!

3. The bonding with my baby was intense. It's probably in part due to some psychological defense mechanism ("I tell myself this is worth it because it's hard"), but my feelings for George intensified many times over during that first year. I felt as though it was him and me against the world, dairy-free buddies taking it by storm! He and I were a team, and a darn good one at that! I loved him all the more for the sacrifices that I made.

4. If your baby cannot tolerate dairy or soy, then choosing to cut the allergens out of your own diet will be far cheaper than relying upon alimentum formula, which typically runs about $30 for a 16-ounce can. Welcome savings!

5. And finally, my fifth motivating factor was ultimately the one factor why many people say it isn't worth the sacrifice in the first place: I just love dairy so much. I love ice cream and cheese and pizza and Mexican food; I love it all so much, in fact, that I can't imagine not eating this food with my children. I knew from my pediatrician that if I gave up my son's allergens and breastfed him rather than put him on alimentum formula, his chances of overcoming this allergy would be better and sooner; I SO wanted this for George. I craved the very idea of eating pizza and ice cream cake with him at his birthday parties and watching his face light up as he eats delicious foods that I love. I craved the idea so much that I gave up the food itself, so that my daydream had a better chance of becoming a reality.

Please learn from my mistakes along the way! I made months' worth of dairy-free recipes, researched milk substitutes (because I love to cook and bake), and learned the in's and out's of what I could eat when I was out on the road. Some restaurants were extremely accommodating to my needs (one kind server even let me scour ingredients on labels back in the kitchen with her!) and others were not (nasty stare from food-prep gentleman as I timidly pointed out the shredded cheese that was strewn all about the salsa I wanted on my burrito at a build-your-own burrito chain).  These are some important things I found along the way:

1. Know your dairy ingredient names so you can find them easily on food labels!  This website was particularly helpful for me in memorizing these:

2. Find out what you CAN eat from grocery stores and focus on using those ingredients as building blocks. Try to see it in terms of what you are allowed to eat, rather than what you are not. This website helped me with this:

3. Yes, eating out is going to be hard, but with some education and some creativity, you can do it! For instance, nope, you can't eat the buns at Five Guys Burgers...but you CAN get your delicious hamburger wrapped in lettuce with all of the fixings minus cheese, plus their french fries are dairy-free (most french fries at places aren't)!  Here is a guide that we used for choosing restaurants:, and here is their fast-food guide: A word of caution: unless you can become intimately acquainted with the menu of local, one-of-a-kind restaurants, they are generally hard to eat at because they largely do not provide allergen menus. This will stick you with a lot of chains, because the larger chains are the ones who are more willing to provide their ingredient lists, in my experience. YOU TYPICALLY CANNOT TRUST YOUR SERVER TO KNOW IF SOMETHING HAS DAIRY IN IT. I cannot stress this enough; as well-meaning as your server may be, he or she typically does not have the knowledge of milk-protein allergies and will simply make the assumption that something does not contain dairy if there is no obvious cheese or butter in it. You will be responsible for hunting down this information on your own before you consume the meal!

4. You can find ways to have your delicious treats!
Oh, yes, these chocolate chip cookies are dairy-free and delicious! I made them in my own kitchen by substituting Crisco for butter and using Ghiradelli semi-sweet morsels (they must be the semi-sweet kind; the milk chocolate and bittersweet renditions both have milkfat). Here is a separate post with this cookie recipe. In the fall I made a delicious pumpkin pie that was dairy- and soy- free (okay, many times I made this pumpkin pie because I'm a pumpkin pie fiend), and friends and family swore they couldn't tell the difference! The pie is the creation of Alisa Fleming, who ingeniously thought to be substitute Silk coconut milk for the traditionally called-for evaporated milk. After hours of drumming my fingers and running out of options for my favorite dessert of all, Alisa came to the rescue!
I also found that you can make a delicious cup of hot chocolate using 4 tablespoons of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed with three-quarters of a cup of soy or almond milk. Just put them together in a mug, microwave for 90 seconds, and stir vigorously for a minute or so. Yum! My husband and I both think this creation is delicious.

5. Sweets aren't the only foods to get creative with! We tweaked existing recipes and developed a running inventory of dairy- and soy-free meals that we could reliably prepare and love. Take for instance "Mexican Mashup:" cook some brown rice (I cook it in chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor) and smother it with a heated mixture of drained canned black beans and a salsa of your choosing. Then add chunks of avocado and shredded cabbage (I use bagged cole-slaw starter which can be found by the mixed greens in the grocery store) and scarf it up with tortilla chips. All of these foods are perfectly safe! You can create your own meals or you can contact me for more ideas....I have several.

6. Soy-free diet does not mean you have to give up ALL soy! I began crying when I realized that I needed to give up soy and saw that it is basically an ingredient in everything--that is, until I researched it more thoroughly and came to understand that soy lecithin and refined soybean oil are considered safe enough that manufacturers aren't even required to put it on their labels. Best I understood, these two ingredients, which comprise the soy in many foods, are safe to eat by nearly everyone, with the exception of perhaps people who are allergic enough that they could die if they consume soy. This rules back in a ton of foods, including basics like peanut butter.

I know that this has been a lot of information and it isn't applicable to most people who read this blog. I just wanted to have this information out there and in one place for those who need it. Think you can't do it? Think again, my friend. You are powerful, and stronger than you might think. Build yourself up by leaning on a positive support system, and surround yourself with images of strength (for example, one of my favorite posts here about female grit!). I welcome woman-to-woman encouragement, as I believe that building each other up is essential. We are stronger, more skilled, and happier as we connect with one another and rely on others for support. Good luck to all of you moms out there, and to your little nurslings too!

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today's participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 3 with all the carnival links.)
  • Breastfeeding and NIP: A Primer — Rachel Rainbolt of Sage Parenting, featured today at, uses her informative and candid voice to share with you everything you need to know to breastfeed successfully in public, from the practical how-to's to handling the social stigma.
  • Lactivist Ryan Gosling — Breastfeeding mamas, the time is long overdue for a Lactivist Ryan Gosling. Fortunately, Dionna of Code Name: Mama has created some for your viewing pleasure.
  • In Defense of Formula — Amy of Mom2Mom KMC, guest blogging for Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, asserts that formula is a medical tool rather than a food. She examines how this perspective supports breastfeeding as normal and eliminates the negative tensions between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks — Throughout her breastfeeding journey (since March 2009), Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy has shared countless tips and tricks on the topic of breastfeeding.
  • Nursing in the Wild — Meredith at Thank You Ma'am posts about how seeing other moms nurse can make all of us more comfortable with nursing in public.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding — Sara Stepford of The Stepford Sisters confronts the social stigma vs. the reality of breastfeeding and opens up about the steps she takes to make herself and others more comfortable with the process.
  • Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old — This is where Lauren at Hobo Mama and her second-born are at in their nursing relationship, two years in.
  • Perfectly Normal — Stephanie from Urban Hippie writes about the way she and her family have done their part to try and normalize breastfeeding in a society that doesn't get to see breastfeeding as often as they should.
  • Diagnosis: Excess Lipase — Learn about excess lipase and how to test if your expressed milk has it. That Mama Gretchen shares her own experience.
  • Redefining Normal — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy reflects on how we can normalize breastfeeding in our society.
  • Nursing Openly and Honestly — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work feels that the most socially responsible thing she can do as a mother is to nurse and nurture her children openly, honestly, and with pride.
  • Wet-nursing, Cross-nursing and Milk-sharing: Outdated? — Jamie Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter shares a response to the Wendy Williams quote about milk sharing being akin to slavery, by giving a brief history of the wet nurse.
  • Tackling Mastitis with an Older Nursling — Much of the advice available for supporting recovery from mastitis seems to be aimed at mamas with younger nurslings. Juliet of Twisting Vines, posting at Natural Parents Network shares tips for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding a toddler.
  • Milk in the eye — Gena from Nutrition Basics discusses how breastmilk cured her 3 year old's case of pink eye.
  • Boobie Biter — Rachel Rainbolt at Sage Parenting offers guidance on how to survive and thrive a boobie biter with your breastfeeding relationship intact.
  • My take on breastfeeding advice — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy shares her insights on nursing for both new moms and new dads.
  • My Top Five Breastfeeding Tips for Delivery Day: Think "A-B-C-D-E"Mothernova shares how her continued success at breastfeeding with her second child rests on a foundation of five key things she did to prepare for baby's arrival, along with things she did when she and baby first met. Easily enough, these tips can be categorized as "A-B-C-D-E": Access to lactation consultant, Baby-friendly hospital, Communicate your plan to breastfeed exclusively, Demand, and Expect to room in.
  • Breastfeeding Buddies: Twin Brothers Nurse while Living in the NICU — Twintrospectives at How Do You Do It? shares her 5 tips for learning to breastfeed multiples while in the NICU.
  • Breastfeeding on a Dairy-Free Diet: Our Journey and Our Tips — Finding herself nursing a baby with food allergies, Jenny at Spinning Jenny embarked upon a dairy-free journey with her son for eight months. Here she relates her reasons for making the decision to give up dairy in her diet, why it was worth it, and tips for moms on the same path.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding in my Home — Shannah at The Touch of Life shares how she plans to help keep breastfeeding normal for her own children, even when her breastfeeding years are over.
  • A Year With My Nursling — The more you see and hear, the more normal it becomes, so That Mama Gretchen is sharing her heart on the last year of breastfeeding - the ups and downs, but mostly the joy of her priceless relationship with her son.
  • From Covered to Confident — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares her personal NIP evolution: she started by covering up from neck to ankle while nursing in public. Eight years later, she has gained confidence and the ability to nurse without stressing about flashing a little skin. She shares her views on normalizing breastfeeding - what influenced her and how she hopes to help others.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding for Older Kids — Sadia at How Do You Do It? hopes that openly discussing breastfeeding with her (now weaned) daughters will help her children feel comfortable with breastfeeding and their bodies in general as they grow.
  • Nursing in Public — Listen up, mammas. Those other people around . . . they don’t matter. It’s not about them. It’s about you and that beautiful baby. Nurse on, says The Swaddled Sprout!
  • How to Nurse a Teenager — Sarah at The Touch of Life declares: the purpose is to help normalize breastfeeding a toddler.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Norman Transcript Article!

A couple of months ago, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Hannah Cruz, a reporter and talented writer from the Norman Transcript. Hannah was interested in speaking with a donor from the Oklahoma Mother's Milk Bank, and the director kindly referred her to me, a mom who is always eager to share my story of breast milk donation. Hannah was extremely pleasant in our interview, seemed to have an intuition for asking all of the right questions, and then wrote this amazing article promoting the new milk bank and sharing my personal story. I could not have been more honored and thrilled. Hannah--thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It has been a year and two weeks since Baby Aiden passed away. Those who followed my milk donation story as it was happening (and those of you who read the article) know that George's and my milk donation was in honor of Aiden Smith, who lived a brief but legendary life. I love that boy and I always will, even though I never got to hold him or tell him so. Someday, someday. I posted a Facebook status on July 16th, the anniversary of his passing, that shared some raw feelings--namely that Aiden has taught me that a loss can cut one's soul to the quick, even when the love was from afar. I gave him the promise one year ago that I would try to be a better person in this life, and each day since then has been an attempt to do so. Through all of this I have had the wondrous fortune to become friends with Aiden's mommy, Kristen, who lives in Elk City near some friends of ours. We met in person one time, quite unexpectedly, at a park in Elk City, and my heart was filled by our shouts of recognition (we were already Facebook friends), hugs, and friendly chatter. She and her boy, pictured below, have filled my heart to its brim. (Picture courtesy of 50 For Aiden page.)

To my dearest friends and to my cozy bunch of readers, I extend a heartfelt thank-you for your support over the last year as I clearly struggled with this loss, and your continuous tolerance over my non-stop excitement about the milk bank. I have been so happy to see personal friends of mine become donors as well, and it makes me insanely proud of them! And to Aiden: baby boy, my work isn't done. Your memory will keep taking this world by storm because good people will keep doing good things and remembering you for them. And as for me, Aiden, you still make me want to be a better person, day by day. Love and hugs to all!