BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A trip to the snow

This past weekend we went on our first adventure with Uliana.  Our friend, Dylan, organized a ski weekend at Mount Cain.  Mount Cain is a small, community-run ski hill, famous for it's snow.  And we certainly weren't disappointed on that front!  After a 45-minute drive up a logging road we found ourselves at the foot of a t-bar lift and surrounded by cabins. 

The next day Brad got to ski on at least 2 feet of fresh powder.  And here's the picture to prove it, as that is overnight accumulation of snow on our co-op car.
Though Nikolai wasn't too keen on the snow, the trip also had a few other highlights.

We met up with my friend (and former undergrad roommate), Tara.  She has two kids that are both just a bit older than my children.  And she is also a talented photographer, so in a few weeks time I should be able to post some REALLY good family photos.

We also dropped into Morningstar Farm on the way home for a nice farm tour.  Farms were very much a part of our life in Ireland... but in the past year Nikolai has transformed into a real city slicker.  He was quite afraid of the friendly horse, and only consented to pet the rabbits.
Anyways, my review of the trip is a bit clouded by the fact that it was MUCH more work than I'd anticipated.  Though I'm not exactly sure why I wasn't a bit more prepared for things! Traveling with a baby is work.  Traveling with a preschooler is work.  When you have one of each, your job is basically twice as hard.  Throw in the fact that we all have special diets and the fact that we stayed in a different place each night... well I'm still recovering from the exhaustion.

However I do need to send out a kudos to Nancy, who stayed with me in the lodge when Brad went snowboarding. Now for some more pictures of snow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You put the lime in the coconut

Finally I'm going to blog about maternal diet and baby digestion.  It's something that the mainstream breastfeeding websites don't really talk about too much as they want to encourage women to breastfeed and wouldn't want people not to breastfeed simply because their diet might make a baby gassy.

It shouldn't come as a great surprise that whatever mom eats comes through the breast milk.  That's why breastfeeding woman shouldn't drink alcohol or take certain drugs. (In fact breast milk changes colour based on what you eat!)

It also stands to follow that babies need to mature on many fronts, and thus may have an immature digestive system.  However, I didn't think about diet for Nikolai fussy/gassy times much beyond avoiding cabbage and cucumber.  It took my friend Lindsay to discover that a strict diet of avoiding certain foods would decrease her babies' gassiness and improve their sleeping. She found the benefits of avoiding certain foods (particularly cinnamon and paprika) so powerful that she was still avoiding them in her diet when she came to visit us in Ireland with her 6 month old baby.

Anyways, now I'm going to add my experience to the wealth of "informal" information about diet and crying/colicy babies.

1. The gassy/fussy baby symptoms generally start between 4-10 hours after you ate the suspicious food item.  The time it takes for the symptoms to start and how long it takes for the symptoms to pass is different depending on the mother, the baby and the food item.  (Uliana is like clockwork, becoming fussy 6-7 hours after I eat a problem food.  Except in the case of sulfites... which starts about 4 hours after eating and is out of her system much more quickly then other foods).

2. The digestion issues will slowly resolve as the digestive system matures, but can last past 6 months.

3. Here are the food categories that cause problems (from multiple sources):

Acidic Foods

Gassy Foods
Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc)
Beans (dried beans)
Peppers (green or coloured)
Alliums (onion, garlic, leeks, etc)

Proteins (these are the ones that can cause problems in breastfeeding)

Dairy (most common cause of colic)

Caffeine (small amounts are probably OK, but it takes longer for your baby to break it down)
Spices and spicy foods 
Sulfites (they come through breast milk, so I'm avoiding them this time around)

And now for the results of our testing:

I have found that Uliana is very sensitive to most of the items on the protein list. Just a teaspoon of coconut, or one egg seems to be enough to set her off for 24 hours.  Uliana's fine with the acidic foods, dairy and spices.  Gassy foods set her off if I eat a ton of them.  So I'm fine to have chili and tziziki, but humus or leek and potato soup is too much for her.

She also reacts to sulfites. And I was doubly punished this week by buying bread from a local bakery that clearly used sulfites in their products (some bakeries don't buy from scratch, but use pre-made mixes that are treated with sulfites.  I've discovered this to be true of ALL grocery store bakeries).  It gave Uliana a gassy night, and Nikolai ended up with a big flare up of his allergy symptoms.

Though all this might seem like a big pain in the butt, it is also empowering.  With Nikolai I had a child that never slept well and cried throughout the day.  If I keep to Uliana's diet, then I have a baby that will regularly give me 5-6 hours of sleep at night and is generally cheerful all day long.  If I were feeding her formula I'm sure that she would be reacting to the proteins in the mixture and we would be dealing with a fussy baby.  

And now... inspired by my sister-in-law's blog here are portraits of my children from this week.

Not only are Uliana's cheeks big, but her head is too.  It was off the charts when the midwife measured her yesterday.  She has a great full-faced smile, which always disappears when I pick up a camera.

Nikolai chooses his own clothes and dresses himself everyday.  He's always in dress shirts because he won't wear anything else.  I call this his "History Professor" look.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All you need is LOVE

Uliana is in a growth spurt.  Which means:
1. She eats every 1-2 hours.
2. When she is not eating she is either unhappy or sleeping.
3. By using the threat of constant crying, Uliana has managed to become an extra appendage that I seem to be always carrying around.

So, I am very tired to say the least.  But on the upside I get to consume way more than my normal portions of food!  On average breastfeeding requires an extra 300-500 calories a day.  Considering that I normally get to consume about 2100 calories, it is quite a boon to my food consumption.

Regardless, I'm an experienced parent so I know that growth spurts only last 2-3 days which means that tonight or tomorrow night I will be blessed with a recovery sleep.  In the meantime I get to partake in all the "new parent" behaviours without any guilt for my lack of sociability.  (Top on my list was the fact that my hairbrush went missing for 2 days, I forgot a friend's name several times during a playdate, and I chose to ignore the sunny afternoon weather today since it was too much effort to organize leaving the house.)

Also, here is the cookie recipe that I planned on making yesterday, then again today, and now I hope that I will get to it by tomorrow.  So the pictures will follow upon actually making the cookie (and it's a recipe I'm hacking together to fit our diet, so I wouldn't recommend trying it until I've posted a picture!) 

Sweetheart cookies:
Cream together 1/2 lbs. softened butter and 1 cup granulated sweetener.   Add  2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 Tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla. 

Roll to 1 cm thickness. Cut out shapes, and bake for 12 min at 350 C (180F).

This weekend was busy with the Chinese New Year Parade in Victoria.
Then Family Day celebrations where everything required a line up despite the weather.  We only waited 20 minutes to have Nikolai's face painted.
And to finish off... a cuddly sleep.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Brave New World

This week Uliana discovered the world.

She saw us and smiled.
She reached for her stuffed toys and gurgled.
She said "ah-goo" to just about everything.

Then she decided that the world was all too much and she screamed.  Nikolai doned a pair of ear muffs and I wore the baby carrier for two days straight.

Certainly her world was made worse by a seriously sore bout of cradle cap.  I didn't think to take a proper picture, but this pretty much sums it up.  It was all over her eyelids and eyebrows.

First I tried olive oil and her skin turned red and swelled up.  The consensus at the preschool drop off line up was that pure coconut oil would do the trick.  Her skin swelled so much that she couldn't fully open her eyes, so I put a call into the midwife.  Breast milk was deemed to be the magical cure, and it was.  Three days later all the cradle cap is completely gone and her mood is much better.  We still have a small bout of crying during the witching hour, but it is only to be expected in a 6 week old.
The recipe this week is in honour of the Chinese New Year. A homemade hoisin sauce that is sulfite free and sugar-free.

Hoisin Sauce
Combine in a jar: 4 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp honey, 2 tsp white vinegar, 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 tsp sesame seed oil, 1 tsp of sambal oelek (hot sauce) and 1/8 tsp black pepper.

Shake until it's nicely mixed.