Friday, May 30, 2008

Yeah, I know I'm behind here...

Ok, I admit it. I have been very slow to incorporate flax in my cooking. I have learned of its benefits, but I guess I tend to be a slow adopter when there is so much of a buzz around a particular food. Although it may not save the world, it is a food worthy of honor and I have really neglected to incorporate it into my lifestyle. (I know I have friends shaking their heads in disbelief right now.) I suppose there are other healthy eating goals that I have been working towards, so I haven't really given flax much attention. But tonight things changed...

This evening I got together with Christina to finish some stamping projects (some that I started over 3 years ago) and she made a variation of Toll House cookies. She substituted half the flour with whole wheat and half the butter with flaxseed meal (she also does that with other recipes too). I'm hooked. She said the cookies don't spread out like the original recipe, so she has to flatten them out a bit. The cookies had the perfect chewiness to them and the flax added a nutty taste to them. I have been craving some homemade cookies for about a week but I can't find my oatmeal raisin recipe (my binder is a mess!) and I really wasn't in the mood for oatmeal raisin. These really hit the spot. Best of all, I am getting the benefits from the extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention whatever else they haven't discovered yet. I definitely like them better than the original toll house, but that may be just me.

[update] There is a catch: my husband tried them when they were a day old and said it stuck to the roof of his mouth and didn't seem like it was coming off! I still am hooked on these, I just won't make any leftovers. Besides, you can always freeze the "leftover" cookies before baking them and bake the rest later.

As for the stamping, I was able to almost complete some projects. I picked up a pack of envelopes thinking they were a pack of cards, and I forgot another part to finish the other projects. But now that I am well underway, I think I will have them done soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A very special day

Today is my birthday.
Well, that's not the special part of it. Sure there are celebrities with this birthday such as Frank Oz and Lauryn Hill, three friends as well, and I even have some close friends who got married on my birthday. It was a treat because I witnessed their romance unfold.
But what really makes it special is that it's also my dad's birthday. Then, when I turned 15 (a very special birthday in Brazilian culture), I was gifted my first neice. That's right. Three generations on the same day.

This year, my dad turns 70 and my niece 18, two extra special ages. My dad is definitely younger in heart and health than most 70 year olds and is quite capable of doing his work well. Yet it is law that Brazilian government workers retire by age 70. Well, at least this means he will be fit enough to enjoy his retirement.

My niece is now an adult and is preparing for college entrance exams as well as other classifying exams for work. She is no longer the little girl I left in Brazil many years ago, but has matured into a lovely lady.

And here I am in the middle, so far away from them. On the one hand I am sad because I wish I could have spent this milestone birthday with them, but on the other hand I am grateful to be here with my husband and children, as well as to have the internet to bring Argentina and Brazil a bit closer to Northeast Ohio.

Pai & G: Feliz Aniversário! O meu amor por vocês surpreende esta distância que nos separa. Beijos!

And to my friends and readers, I hope you're having a great day.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Disclaimer: This is not a post about parents who feed their children formula. This is a post about the way formula companies, in this case the makers of Similac, try to make their product appear to be comparable to breastmilk.

Take a look at this coupon page in yesterday's paper (click on image for a larger version):

Do you see what I see?

(For the record, I added "breastmilk is free!" to the coupon for two reasons: first, it is because I don't want to get sued for electronically reproducing a coupon, and second, it's because it's true. So I'm not talking about that part.)

I was about to dismiss it as a "just another formula coupon", when the "nutrition to go" slogan caught my eye. (Well, it was supposed to catch my attention, duh!)

So, what's the problem with that?

If they want to make formula more convenient, then fine, but if you pay attention, all the themes in the ad (primarily nutrition and convenience) have always been applied to breastfeeding.

Nutrition: Formula may be adequate, but you can't get any closer to meeting an infant's nutritional needs than breastmilk. Formula companies are still trying to catch up by adding "special" nutrients found in breastmilk. A fairly recent discovery in breastmilk composition is stem cells. Given all the other reasons to use stem cells, I can't forsee this being added to formula any time soon. Nonetheless, having some of the same components doesn't make it equal to breastmilk. And as Henry Dwight Chapin stated, "there is no difference between a diamond and a piece of charcoal chemically."

Convenience: "great nutrition on the go", "ready when you are", "perfect for travel, late night feedings, or when you're just out and about. It's the easy way to keep you and your baby happy." Breastmilk does all those things and more. It appears that formula feeding isn't as easy and convenient as once thought.

But this is what bothers me the most: their trademarked slogan: "Strong babies start here". If they put that slogan on their label (which it doesn't appear they do), I would think they'd have to put the disclaimer, "this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration." It just seems ironic that when a breastfeeding advocate says "breast is best", people get all offended because apparently we are not promoting choice. But if a company (with the intention of increasing revenue) implies that if you want a strong baby, you should start using their formula, then anyone who dares criticize that statement is dismissed as a nitwit making much ado about nothing. (And once upon a time, any claim about the benefits of a formula had small print saying that breastmilk was best. No small print in this ad. I guess it's not important to know that anymore.)

So in summary, this advert is lacking in many ways, especially accuracy. Yes, it may have nutrients that adequately support the life of an infant, and it may be convenient, but it isn't the way to maintain happiness, it's not perfect, and there are plenty of strong babies that never have touched this stuff. All these statements are quite worthy of the hall of shame.

A funny coincidence: guess the name of the product coupon is on the other side? "Sure" anti-perspirant. So you can read the Similac statements and turn the page and read, "sure".

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I hope to spend the day having fun with my kids, as that is something I wish I had more time for. I hope all mothers reading this have a great day. But it's not about today, it's about making the most of each day.

To my mother (if she ever reads this): Thanks for helping me see my children as children, not little people who are supposed to act grown up. I am able to laugh more with my kids because even though you can't see them all the time, I can imagine your laughter and smiles when you recieve a drawing of a wilted daffodill and when the toddler is between my legs playing peekabo with her brother while I am trying to do dishes :-)

To the mothers who are struggling because they don't measure up to their own standard of what a "good" mother is. Let me remind you that God knows your heart, both the good and the bad, and has chosen you to care for your child(ren). By His grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit, He is powerful to lead, guide and forgive when you fall short. The same goes for those who are facing challenges with their kids. "So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up." (Gal 6:9)

I am also glad to know of mothers for whom this is their first year celebrating mother's day as a mother. Many of whom have waited years for a child. I rejoice in seeing how the impossible has become possible in your lives. Have a wonderful day, you have waited so long to call it yours!

And for those whose arms are wanting of a child, whether through infertility or loss. I also grieve with you. May God grant you peace and comfort during this time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cutting corners: Chunky Meatballs

One of my boys loves meatballs. Although it isn't hard to make, it can be time consuming so we haven't had meatballs in a while. Lately, he has been requesting meatballs pretty frequently, but when I go to the store I always look at the meatballs there but I can't get past the sodium content and the fillers in them (that don't like some of us). And it really isn't that hard to make. So I set off to find a solution online to make the process a bit faster. I came across a suggestion on a forum to put the meatball mix in a pan, bake until firm, then cut into squares. When you add the squares to the sauce, the corners break off and become meat balls. I figure it was worth a try.

The result: it wasn't as neat as meatballs. They were pretty chunky, but they tasted the same and my little boy didn't care about the shape. He still called them meatballs. So now meatballs are back on the menu.

Oh, and I had to include this video, which I also found during my web search: Note you can't do this with chunky meatballs :-)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

At least I know he's listening...

My 3.5 year old was asking his daddy for something specific when daddy teased him by saying, "Why don't you get a job, go to the store and get us something?"
The boy responded, "No, I don't touch anything at the store!"

I wish :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh no! One of those potty posts!

As a mother of young children, my thoughts often revolve around feeding, sleeping and pooping. But don't worry, this is not a post about how to potty train, but it is an account about how my sons' personalities (and mine too) played into the task of potty training.

For starters, potty training seemed so scary to me. How was I supposed to potty train a BOY? To complicate things, we lived in an apartment with 95% nearly white carpeted floors. Cleaning up the inevitable accident was a thought I greatly dreaded. And my personality also played into it, as I am easily distracted by many things and have to make a concerted effort to stay consistent with routine tasks.

My firstborn is also easily distracted and is overconfident at times. He takes initiative and isn't bothered by making mistakes. He would often get too distracted to go to the bathroom when he needed to. This tied in with his confidence that he could control his bladder beyond its actual capacity, and he was never bothered by wetting himself (well, the first time he had this horrified look on his face, but he got over that really quickly). Thankfully, his problem was confined to his bladder control, and he rarely wet himself when we went out. I had read that if you keep telling your child to go to the bathroom, that the child won't learn to go on his own. Well, given I get easily distracted, when I didn't remind him, guess what would happen??? So the gentle reminding (i.e. nagging) was quite necessary. There's only so much time I can devote to laundry.

My second child is much more focused and task oriented. Being interested in keeping up with his brother, he started using the potty on his own pretty early. The problem was that I couldn't get him to sit on the toilet for his bowel movements. He was very aware of his bodily functions and would go hide in a corner (sometimes in a closet) and relieve himself. This would usually happen while I was nursing my daughter or when I was obviously busy with something else. Needless to say, I wasn't willing to let him roam free without a diaper, even in our new home that is hardwood floors throughout. I think I can count on one hand the times he actually told me he had to go to the potty. When we'd catch him in time, he'd reluctantly accompany us to the bathroom. No matter how much of a party we'd make, he still didn't take his own initiative. He'd even tell his big brother "mommy and daddy are so proud of you!" when big brother customarily used the bathroom. Then one fine day he told me he needed to go to the bathroom and has been going on his own ever since. Recently, I've noticed he is the type of kid that is reluctant to do something if he isn't sure he can get it right. One examples that comes to mind is that he tells me he can't put his socks on, although he has before. The problem is, he often can't get them on right the first time and is really bothered by it. I'm starting to think that's why he didn't want to go to the bathroom. He had the safety of his diaper and no matter if we complained about it, he wasn't going to do something he wasn't sure he could carry out to the end.

Often times I think we get so caught up with this or that particular parenting technique that our children actually become secondary. If we learn to listen to what our kids are saying, then we can raise them accordingly. I sometimes wonder if I disappoint other moms when I can't give them a particular allegiance to a parenting philosophy. Oh, and you don't know how many times I beat myself over the head when I didn't remind them and "you know what" would happen. There is plenty of opportunities to feel inadequate in motherhood.

I am far from "reading" my kids really well. But I am glad to be discovering these things about them. I also glad to be discovering more about myself too.