A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012

The 99% of self

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To be a mother requires a great deal of patience. Patience not only for when your child wants to stop and pick flowers on your way to the parking lot, or when they ask you for the thousandth time to read the one book that drives you insane, or when you have to pause and let them put the dishes back in the dishwasher, while you are trying to clear it out. Those things all take a level of tolerance and patience. They take an understanding of the child's need to grow and experience. But there is a bigger, more global sense of patience required as well. A patience that means not getting your own needs met, because there was not enough time for both. The patience of accepting that there are goals that you have for yourself, that there are aspirations and motivations that must go unanswered while your children are young. There are classes you wish to attend, career advancements that you do not take, desires that you put aside. This selflessness of motherhood is a deep, sometimes painful type of patience that I never knew I had. There is a perseverance there, a true pacing of the self that requires an insistent recommitment to the highest priority of parenthood, and the noblest good of raising children right.

When I sit and think about the things that I want to accomplish, I realize that if I am being honest with myself, there is no way I can contribute myself to those things and still keep to the vision of my life as a mom. I am the type of person that does things 100%. I don't settle for B's or C's, I am an A student type of over-achiever. I have always given my all to various pursuits. But now I am struck with the shocking awareness that I no longer have 100% to give. As a mother, possibly forevermore, I only have most of myself to offer. Part of me already has a steady constant focus on my family.

Maybe I had some inkling of a hint that this was how it would play out for me once I had children. For some reason, I told myself to wait until later in my thirties before having children - there were places I wanted to travel, there were goals I had for myself - like finishing medical school - that I felt I had to do before I had kids. Now I see the wisdom in those choices because for me, my ambition and my ability to focus on career or even personal hobbies is some percentage less than full. Sometimes there is a frustration with having to choose, with having to wait, with having to tell yourself you just cannot do it all. Most of the time though, it is a reality that I accept.

If I were a pie graph, there is a slice now that is permanently dedicated to my son. This is not a bad thing. This is not a chosen thing. It is simply a biologic and emotional truth. I have to begin to adjust to this portion of the pie that I have to give to myself, and to reach a peace with the percentage that is left.

Posted by globalmomma 05:55 Comments (1)

Picky Eater, Part 2

WAYS to get your child to eat more healthy foods and drive you less insane!

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I have found as Bodhi becomes more mobile, now 22 months old and always on the go, he does not want to sit down and eat. Breakfast is OK, lunch difficult, dinner nearly impossible. What he wants is for me to follow along behind him carrying snacks, and when he reaches back, I will hadn him a few pretzels, a pack of raisins, or a few apple slices. I know grazing is good for you, but this is ridiculous. And I am embarressed to admit that I have resorted to this method on several occasions, just to get him to eat something, when he refuses to climb into his highchair. Meals have now become a lesson in negotiations and patience. Wanting him to eat something healthy, and wanting him to try what I have spent time preparing for him produce anxiety that I just am not accustomed to feeling. I find myself pleading a lot..."Please? Can you try this?"

"Yum, it's sooo good, Mama likes it!" "Please?" The airplane spoon and other such techniques simply no longer work. He wants control over this process. I want to let him decide what to eat, but dammit, I want it to be on my terms too. I believe in providing variety and letting your child try a lot of different foods, spices, and preparations to expand their tastes and experience of food - in theory. In practice, however, I find it leads to a lot of uneaten food and unnecessary prep work. Oh, and many pieces of food swiped onto the floor. Equivalent to frustration for momma.

I have heard that this is a part of toddlerhood and that the pickiness will pass. But when we go out to a restaurant and I have to order him french fries, because I know it's the only thing they have that he will reliably eat, I can't help but feel a little sense of defeat. This momma-baby food drama is definitely one area I have had to work on, and one I continue to remind myself to have a sense of humor about. Hey, I grew up eating McDonalds french fries,and I turned out fine :) My child has only had fast food one time, while stuck in an airport in Paris; he had such bad diarrhea that I or he will never do it again.
As I work through this challenge and try to get healthy food into my child, I will share some bits of sunshine and some lessons learned, to help other moms encountering toddler food strikes...

Here are a FEW TIPS I have learned along the way:

(1) EAT EARLY - when my son eats at 5-5:30, he's more likely to eat what we give him. It's important to eat at a regularly scheduled time, kids do SO much better with routine. If it gets too late before we have food on his plate, he gets fidgety and tired and that tiredness makes him less agreeable to try new things or sit still to eat.

Start with the foods YOU want them to eat (example, steamed broccoli and roasted carrots). Provide a dipping sauce or two if necessary. Then move on to adding things you know they will eat, like turkey sausage and olives in our case. Finish with fruit or yogurt for dessert. In my experience, if you even make the suggestion for fruit, the rest of the meal is not happening. No sweet things first.

I know this is controversial. In fact, I thought my family would be like the Cleaver's, but not while our child is this young. Our son Bodhi has to eat early, and his dinner only lasts for about 20 minutes. So we find when we try to eat together, that my husband and I feel we are frantically shoving food into our mouths while trying to make sure our son doesn't unbuckle his booster seat and climb out. Our family's way: HAPPY HOUR. Bodhi eats his food. We sit with him, make conversation, have a glass of wine and antipasti. A snack and a drink. It has the same effect as 'eating together', but we still get a relaxing dinner atmosphere after he has gone to bed. And keep our sanity.

I know, I know, watch the sodium. But for our son, you add soy sauce to rice or veggies, and he gobbles them up. Enough said. Best ever is "gomasio" - the sushi spinach rolls - our son loves them with the salty goodness an they have about a pound of fresh spinach per roll! He gives all other greens the evil eye, so this was a big victory for us.

My best secrets for this are veggie burgers, hiding vegetables pureed into pasta sauce or in smoothies or popsicles that we make by hand, both of which my son loves to have. There are also some wonderful products by dr.praeger called spinach pancakes or broccoli pancakes - they are potato cakes with vegetables, but my son loves them plain or with applesauce.

I have heard time and time again that it can take up to 15 times for a child to "like" a food. That means that he rejected it 14 times before accepting it. Apparently the researchers in that study had much more patience than I. I prefer to keep offering the healthy things that he likes, and to try one or two things a week that are new, in hopes we find a new winner.
(More on food allergies and how to cope with them - and our baby food global cookbook! - in picky eater, part 3)

Posted by globalmomma 14:27 Archived in USA Tagged food family tips meals go mobile patience allergies sensitive todler picky Comments (0)

the parenting manual

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Every mother of a toddler grieves the process of their little baby growing up. We miss the cuddles, the way they ate everything we put in front of them with enthusiasm, the way they thought we were the greatest thing ever. We long for the days of being able to browse in a bookstore while our little one snoozed in their carseat, or contently chewed on a little rubber giraffe. I remember when we had our firstborn, exhausted parents would tell us, "go out now, while you still can." We thought, what?! Going out to eat with a baby isn't so easy - you have to haul a giant diaper bag (which you prepared in advance), a stroller, several kinds of baby food, and a car seat into a restaurant and hope your baby didn't wake up or poop through their diaper or cause a scene. Little did I know that two years later, I would still have those same concerns, and generally have a harder time making my wishes come true. Now a two year old has a much more developed sense of what HE wants to do, and what he thinks is a good idea. You may think going out to pizza is the greatest thing ever, and when you arrive at the restaurant, he stubbornly digs in his heels, shaking his head, no no.

This is all very perplexing for a mother, and certainly takes a lot more finesse and compromise and inventive thinking than life with a baby. I am humbled by the realization that as one phase begins to get easier and I seem to figure out my child and myself, another phase and development comes along that completely throws me for a loop. I have discovered that parenting is one giant drawing board of trial and error for which the manuals are dramatically ill-equipped. Parenting is like putting together Ikea furniture - there are illustrations and there is some understanding of what the finished product should be like, but getting from here to there often requires some tools that you do not have. Picking up those tools as you go along is the whole key to the puzzle. The current tools I am working on are "choosing your battles", knowing when it is important to make a stand, and the art of letting go. Letting go of the baby that is now becoming a boy, and letting go of my need to be right and to have plans. Often my plans or desires are thwarted by the plans or realities of a little being who also has needs and plans and ideas. This should seem obvious, but when you are walking through Target trying to get your errands checked off for the day, and your son is vocally letting the store know that he is "all done" being there...sometimes you have to abandon the mission. At first I try to reason with him, "just five more minutes, OK, momma has something she needs to get done". "Seriously, you need to stay in the cart and wait". Hmm, this does not seem to be getting through, I think to myself. I try distraction. I try promising a trip to the park. Finally I decide, 'is getting a tube of toothpaste really worth the trouble?' And I leave a half-full cart and head home.

This challenges my sanity, because I want to be able to reason with a child, to let him know of course that I have needs too, and sometimes he has to allow me to get things done. Yes, that's what he needs to know. Hmm. Problem is, a 2 year old is not yet able to reason, so as well as I may think I explain myself, what he hears is close to the Peanuts adults saying, "Whnt whnt whnt". That's where the letting go, and the choosing of the battles comes in. Oh, and the sense of humor. I expect that sometimes my desires will not get met, and sometimes even the best intended plans do not work out. This is all an evolution; and like everything in life, the more you can learn to let go and embrace the process, the better things will be.

Posted by globalmomma 14:49 Archived in USA Tagged sunny go manual toddler needs parenting letting Comments (0)

Picky Eater, Part 1

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My son Bodhi has always been a good eater. He latched on in less than an hour after birth, and took to nursing with a zealous flair. The kid knew his #1 priority, and he took it seriously. When that milk (me) came home even ten minutes late from the store, he would let me hear it. We followed the rules, breast milk only, but by 5 1/2 months, we decided to give him his first food just a little earlier than the steadfast recommendation of 6 months. He seemed so ready. He seemed hungry. He whined and reached for our forks while we ate. He wanted to nurse - almost always - just as the food was ready and put out on the dinner table. My husband would be cooking, the smell of food was in the air, and just as the food was finished and hot and I was ravenous, he would want to nurse.

We gave him his first food, avocado, and it was a moment I will never forget. "Mmmmmmm". "MMmmmmm", was his emphatic response to that. He gobbled up three bowls. 3 bowls. Not three teaspoons, as I read was the 'appropriate' amount for babies this age to want to eat, like the baby books will tell you. He literally ate an entire avocado... My husband and I laughing out loud the entire time. The only food he rejected in the entire first year of eating was green peas. And we tried a lot: beets, rutabagas, swiss chard, white beans with olive oil, lamb, basil, curry, olives, turkey, millet, apricots, pumpkin...

Anyway, as a baby, he was an enthusiastic eater. But that has all turned on its head this second year. Since he started wanting to feed himself, the options of what he can eat narrowed somewhat. Some dishes were just too messy or too difficult for him to eat himself. No more beets, no thin purees, no good healthy veggies disguised by the sweetness of fruits. So we went to finger foods, but then all meats were out due to textural issues, and all eggs too, except for hard-boiled egg whites. A protein dilemma. And almost all vegetables - except carrots, yams, corn, beets, and potatoes - (the starchy ones) - almost all others he rarely eats. Even avocado, his long-time favorite, is now rejected.

To add to the challenge, we have discovered a number of food allergies, two of which are a real doozy when trying to:
A) eat out at restaurants
B) keep things exciting and maintain variety
C) not spend his entire college fund at specialty stores

Wheat and Cow's Milk are his two sensitivities. Whenever I tell other parents this, they always ask: How did you know? Well, first, my husband and I are both naturopathic doctors, so it is literally our job to know these things. Secondly, careful observation of signs and symptoms related to foods he eats. Many people do not think to correlate the food that they eat with how they feel: headaches, skin allergies, mood swings, fatigue... all of these symptoms and more are OFTEN correlated with food and sensitivities to foods. For our son in particular, it was skin allergies (eczema) and diaper rash/diarrhea. Every time he eats dairy, he gets diaper rash. I don't believe that babies should just have diaper rash - in my medical experience, it is almost always a food sensitivity, sometimes coupled with a sensitivity to products being used, for example the wipes, lotions, or diapers. More on the naturopathic diagnosis and ways to deal with food allergies (now a major focus of my work!) in Picky Eater, part 3. :)

Posted by globalmomma 13:09 Archived in USA Tagged food child baby foods first tips eater allergies parenting picky Comments (0)

Mom Jeans

I am happy to announce that by next month, I will officially be retiring my pair of 'mom jeans'. You know, the ones purchased for short term use two months after having my son, when I was all done with wearing workout clothes and not being able to work out. I concede an extra size. By six months, thanks to a regular jogging and my home wii workouts during naps, I was back to my former self, back to cute jeans and exercise. Wow, the baby weight came off pretty easily, I naively thought. However, I didn't realize just how much of that had been due to the body's hard work of lactation. Making baby nutrition is hard work! Turns out my 3 miles 3x a week didn't really cut it, and actually, eating my way across Italy for three months didn't help either, and here I find myself back at square one, back in my mom jeans. It's cute when you have an infant and looking frumpy and disheveled is part of the game, and the charm of that brief moment in time. But now, those extra pounds have to go. A week on an all-you-can-eat cruise did not help my crusade, but now that I am back in the land of beaches and sunshine, it's time to get moving.

I challenge any of you other moms to join me in dropping 5 pounds in 6 weeks. Moms should feel desirable, stylish, confident. Lord knows we don't get our beauty sleep, so we can use all the help we can get. As a doctor, I know that poor sleep also contributes to weight gain, so one of the first things I tell people who are trying to lose weight is to sleep more! Then not only can we help our biochemistry, but we also have the energy to move more. So, rest more and move more, moms!! Every woman needs a little glamour in her life. That is why at the end of these six weeks, I am treating myself to one of those ridiculously priced pairs of designer jeans. (I highly recommend a little incentive) Here's to us moms, trying to get a little time for ourselves, trying to be the women we want to be every day.

Posted by globalmomma 05:43 Archived in USA Tagged change designer health weight loss jeans Comments (0)

A frog in your soup

So here's the news for today. After more than 2 weeks of travel, we landed back in Kailua kona at 10am this morning, and are all very happy to be here. Bodhi has been tearing his shoes and socks off all week, to which I promptly reply, "you have to keep those on until we get back to Hawaii. It's cold here honey.". Of course, he didn't listen to the 'don't take those off' part, but apparently he understood the 'until back in Hawaii' part because as thelane was about to set down, he was again yanking both socks off and throwing them with such gusto, I know he was hoping he would never see them again.

My husband also responded by systematically stripping off layers of clothing until he looked native again in his slips, shorts, and a hat. I however, was stuck in jeans, sneakers and a long sleeve shirt, and I couldn't wait to get the heck home.

Once home we visited our favorite spot for some fresh island poke (raw marinated ahi), and settled in. Bodhi went down for a nap, so I decided to read and rest as well. I heard something, and figuring my husband had come home, I got up and instead found, at the foot of my bed, a little someone. Looking dazed and sleepy. A little someone who is supposed to still be staying put in his crib. I have caught him the past few weeks testing me by sliding his foot up the side of the crib as if to say, 'you know I could do this if I tried, right?'. And I knew he could, but I was hoping he wouldn't have the desire to figure it out. I had a feeling the end of this trip would be our deadline for the dreaded transition to the toddler or the twin bed, and it alas, is here.

So, we are getting settled back into life in our condo here, which means opening windows, turning on the air, and getting the place aired out. And a little spring cleaning is in order too, since the bugs take over as soon as you leave your tropical paradise. But... I had no idea just how much they took over. I grab a glass and pour some sparkling water into it, but instantly taste thT it isn't right, and spit it into the sink. I look into the bottle expecting to find mold and instead to my horror, I find... A dead gecko. I am so completely disgusted I am feeling my skin crawl. I spit, gargle salt water. Then my husband suggests vodka, and I drink that as well. I am still shivering with the thought of that floating reptile in the water bottle. Then, my husband tells me, at least you didn't drink a whole glass...

There are more blogs written about the past few weeks, I just haven't had a chance to post them, so get ready to hear tales of the Caribbean, cruise lines, meetings with old friends, citizenship appointments, and travel to Sonoma and San Francisco.

Posted by globalmomma 19:42 Archived in USA Tagged water travel dead baby bugs hawaii airplanes gecko crib Comments (1)

Principled Sickness

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Today is the first day I have been able to pause and reflect on this long month of journeys we have been taking. Perhaps that's why this bug hasn't loosened its grip on my chest since the first of the year. I am getting a little tired of being sick: Why can't I be like everyone else and just dose up on medications until I feel better? Why Can't I mask the symptoms and move on with life?

This principled stance that I have from years in holistic medicine keeps me holding out, drinking fluids, trying to rest, cheering on my body to naturally heal itself. Not so easy sometimes when a jet-lagged child keeps you up from 4-5am, and buses, taxis, excursions and rain are calling you to go. go. go. I remember talking to my sister once when she had two young kids and walking pneumonia. I was in medical school. I gave her all the good advice. I told her, you need to slow down, get lots of rest, fluids and warm nourishing foods. You need to take a month to just recuperate, sleep well, and rebuild your immunity so it doesn't get worse. It is a testament that she didn't laugh in my face. As I find my own immunity faltering and feel a cold mounting in my own chest, I find I am now preaching to the choir. And the choir is not amused. In fact, the choir want to throw the preacher out and find some new principles to follow that include Nyquil and Theraflu.

We left Kona February 13th, and have been in flight for over two weeks. It was an epic trip from Hawaii to San Francisco, San Francisco to Greenville SC, South Carolina to Florida, cross Florida to a cruise ship, cruise throughout the Caribbean, then back to Florida, and across country to San Francisco. We have one final portion of the trip back from San Jose, CA to Kona. All with a toddler in tow. We realized while on the ship that we had traveled likely halfway around the world to get there, in less than a week.

Now from California, we will fly directly back to Kona, where I find, I cannot wait to return. Turns out, after only 6 months in Hawaii, I cannot bear to live anywhere else. Even in mild San Francisco temperatures of lower 50's, I have been shivering uncontrollably. I simply cannot bear the cold. I never particularly LIKED it, but I had no problems braving the SF or Seattle rainy days when I lived there - jogging through it, even sitting outdoors for an outside music festival through the cold, wet drizzle. In fact, occasionally I welcomed the fogging of my glasses when entering a warm coffeeshop, the sound of rain against the windows while I slept, the solitary jogs through musty Lincoln Park... Now after five minutes I am hacking and looking for the nearest way indoors. I think my body thermostat has adjusted to Hawaii temperatures, and I am not sure it will be easy to adjust it back.

For now, I will cuddle in for the evening, sip on my hot tea, and envision my body's defenses going to war.

Posted by globalmomma 14:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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