Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wild Card Wednesday: A Little Mid-Week Interlude

One of the things to which I want to make sure my daughter has adequate exposure is old-school Sesame Street. I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the new format's emphasis on Elmo and the annoying Abby Cadabby. My daughter hasn't watched any children's shows yet, and I imagine it will be a good while before she does, but I'd like to get some old episodes on DVD just so she can embrace some of the classics.

My favorite character? Hands-down, Oscar the Grouch. Why? Because he's hilarious! Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Taste-Based Tuesday: Almond Milk!

Today's wonderful world of weez is brought to you by almond milk. It does a mommy good.

No, I am not lactose intolerant, but for one reason or another I have always disliked the taste of milk. For years, I had to down a tall glass of it every day with supper, and I was always relieved when I'd finished it. I never put it on cereal, rarely had it with cookies, and generally only found it palatable when it was brimming with chocolate.

Enter almond milk. When my husband and I visited his sister at Christmastime last year, we discovered Almond Breeze in her refrigerator. I was immediately hooked, and I was especially glad to have found a healthful beverage I liked as this was during my first trimester and I had difficulty consuming much of any sustenance. It has a delicious hint of almond flavor that is just wonderful, and with only 60 calories in an 8-ounce glass, it's even easier on your waistline than skim milk.

Once I started buying Almond Breeze, I would often get printout coupons at the checkout for even more almond milk. It seems that the coupon printer at our grocery store is programmed to give the customer a Silk PureAlmond coupon if Almond Breeze is purchased and vice versa, so naturally, at this point I have tried both! I have found both to be most worthy. I have also tried both brands' vanilla options. My favorite of these is actually Silk's (sweetened) vanilla variety. It is nothing short of amazing. Almond Breeze's sweetened vanilla has the same calorie content as Silk's (90 in an 8-ounce glass), but its flavor is just a touch different. (It's still great, though, and if that's the coupon I have, that's the milk I cheerfully purchase.)

Honestly, for my money (literally! haha), specialty drinks at Starbucks and the like have nothing on this stuff. It's ridiculously good, vitamin-fortified, and relatively low-calorie, even in its ultra-sweet vanilla form. I haven't dared to try Silk's chocolate variety yet, but you can rest assured that my curiosity will get the better of me before long and I'll dutifully report back.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thinking Thursday: "Trees"

I'm a poetry fan. I've enjoyed reading it since middle school, and I wrote a decent number of my own verses during high school (teen angst for the win! haha, but really, I don't want to completely write them off -- some actually weren't half bad). My last semester of college, I had just one last course to take to finish my English minor, and I needed to take a British literature course. I ended up taking a course on contemporary British poetry, which used this book. It's a fantastic anthology, and it was a wonderful class.

Since then, I haven't done a whole lot with poetry, but I'd love to rekindle our relationship. Some of the books and web resources I read during my pregnancy suggested reading aloud to the baby while he or she was in utero. I didn't do it very often, but occasionally I would, and my favorite thing to read to her was Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees." Such a simple poem, but so beautiful and evocative. It reminds me of the magnificence of nature, and every time I read the line, "But only God can make a tree," I think not only of the majesty of trees but also the miraculous beauty of human life.

During the last few months of my pregnancy, the trees awoke from their barren winter slumber and flowered brilliantly. When my daugther was born, they were dressed in their full regalia of stunning green leaves. Even when she was just a few weeks old, if we took her outside, she loved to look up at the trees in wonder. She still loves to look at them, and it makes me hopeful that she will share my love of nature.

I wonder if she will share my love of poetry, too?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wild Card Wednesday: Inadequate Beyond Measure

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." -- Marianne Williamson (often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela)
I've seen this quote on a good number of Facebook profiles (and before that, AIM profiles -- showing my age there, aren't I?). The rest of the poem can be found here. It's really a beautiful sentiment, I'll admit, and I'm all about showing "the glory of God that is within us." After all, Jesus said that we are "the light of the world." But, speaking just for myself, I can't agree that feeling "powerful beyond measure" is my deepest fear. I tend to be much more plagued by feelings of inadequacy. Does any station in life give one more opportunities to feel inadequate but parenthood?

We visited my husband's family for Thanksgiving, and early in the week my mother-in-law made a cake for my sister-in-law's birthday. She ended up with excess icing at the end, because she didn't put a lot into the middle of the layers. Yesterday, my husband, who is a graduate student, learned that an article he co-wrote had been accepted for publication -- his first one! Thrilled, I decided to make him a chocolate layer cake with peanut butter icing. As I iced the cake, I reminded myself of what had happened to my mother-in-law, and I spread oodles of peanut butter goodness into the middle of the layers. Given that the theme of this post is a feeling of inadequacy, I'm sure you can guess what happened. I probably should have taken a picture, but I felt too crestfallen to see the humor in the situation at the time.

As a young housewife and stay-at-home mother, I often have the nagging sensation that I should be absolutely incredible at all things domestic. For crying out loud, if working moms can cook good meals and keep their homes clean and organized, my dinners should be multi-course culinary masterpieces and my house should look like a palace, right? And if approaching-middle-age mothers of multiple children who homeschool and cloth diaper and make homemade organic baby food from vegetables from their own garden can keep everything together, shouldn't I, as a relatively youthful mother of one baby who can't talk or walk or creep or crawl and wears Pampers and only consumes breastmilk, be so on top of things that it's simply dazzling?

I know I shouldn't compare myself with other mothers. It's a recipe for disaster, every time. It's difficult to avoid, however, especially as I find myself stuck right in the middle in so many ways. For example, I stay home with my daughter. I would not be comfortable putting her in daycare -- but that does not mean that I think mothers who do avail themselves of daycare are inferior mothers. Not at all. Nor does it mean that I never wish I was still working. At times, I do! Another example: I am a breastfeeding mother. I am very grateful that I am able to nurse my daughter, because I experienced many difficulties early on, and I completely understand how challenging it is to have trouble nursing when you're already completely exhausted and recovering from childbirth. Part of me wanted to give up, and I absolutely do not think less of women who do. By the same token, most super-crunchy moms who cloth diaper (or, heck, use elimination communication -- wow!) probably don't think I'm a horrible mother. And most working moms probably don't think I'm a lazy bum. But I can't shake the fear that they do.

Ultimately, I suppose I need to remind myself of a few things: first, everyone feels this way, somehow or other, even if it's only a little bit. Second, I shouldn't waste my time comparing myself to other women, because regardless of how similar we may seem, we are different people with distinct strengths, weaknesses, circumstances, and God has designed our lives uniquely. And third, I should use these feelings of inadequacy to fuel changes for the good. If I feel inadequate because someone else's house is more organized than mine and her floor smiling clean, that can be my inspiration to get things straightened up around my abode and mop my kitchen, even if the process takes me days. The cake, too -- I can at least learn from my mistake, and be a bit stingier with the between-layer icing next time!

And really, who cares what the cake looked like? It was amazingly delicious. :)