Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Define Me

To be unique is to be original, one-of-a-kind, special even.  From a biological perspective our mere existence as human beings makes us unique; each person a completely different genetic make up than the next.  So why is it that when Today's Parent asked bloggers to reflect on our uniqueness, the task has proven to be so difficult?

It's easy to rattle off facts, but I'm certain there are other people that can lay claim to these same statements:

When I'm not on maternity leave, I'm a working mother.
I am half Chinese and my children are a quarter Chinese.
I eat gluten-free.

It's the people I love, the stories I tell, the experiences I have, the decisions I make and the lessons I learn that define me, those are the things make me unique.

When I first returned to work, I didn't just complain about the struggle to find my work-life balance, I carefully reflected on my situation and shared my 5 Survival Tips for the Working Momma.  This is not to say that it was easy; in five short months I'll be back at work and both my precious boys will be in daycare, something I am simultaneously dreading and anticipating.

Insence Speaking of expectations, when I was pregnant with the boy and we were working on the impossible task of picking a name, it was essential to me that my family name be passed on.  Both of my boys have two middle names, the second of which is my maiden name.  It's important to me that my children don't lose sight of their heritage even if they don't understand the language.  I don't speak Chinese and I don't go to temple, but when I'm with my grandmother I know how I'm supposed to behave.  I light incense, I bow and everything is done with two hands.  It is my responsibility to ensure that as my boys age, they learn to embrace their Chinese side.  It's my heritage and I will work to ensure those boys feel that its theirs too.

One of my biggest struggles is how to expose the boys to Chinese cuisine given our multiple allergies; in addition to my gluten intolerance, the boy doesn't eat dairy or soy.  Chinese food without soy is a challenge, but when it comes to cooking, I rise to the challenge, I've found a version of fried rice the boy gobbles right up.  I love to cook and bake so I've embraced our restricted diet and jumped in with both feet.  I am slowly discovering and creating recipes for feel-good food like pizza and Beer Battered Fish & Chips.

What makes me unique is my personal collection of experience, beliefs and passion, just as those things make each and every one of us an original copy.

This post was written for the Today's Parent Call for Bloggers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Happy

hugsThe boy isn't all that expressive with his emotions; he's never particularly liked to be touched (unless its on his terms) nor has he ever been very generous with his hugs and kisses.

Much to our parental delight, that started to change recently.  The boy began to verbally express his feelings.  I remember the first time, It was morning and he'd been playing in his room for about 20 minutes.  The moment I opened his bedroom door he ran to me, gave me a huge hug and exclaimed that he was 'so happy'.

In that moment, my heart melted and continues to melt, each and every time he tells me that he's so happy.

For the hubs and I, those two words are practically an addiction, like crack for parents.  Every time we open his bedroom door we silently hope that the onslaught of love from our little man is there waiting for us.  Of course its not, because if it was, it would become commonplace far too fast.

Despite our efforts, those two words will not be tricked or coerced out of him, we simply must wait for his moments of joy and revel in the love that our little man chooses to share with us.

When he's so happy, its infectious, we are too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craft Fair

I have so many fond memories of sitting on the floor of my mom`s sewing room, listening to oldies on the radio and making all sort of crafts; sewing, gluing, ironing, you name it we did it.  Of course I was usually making random crafts, while my mom was making crafts for selling, but regardless we spent many hours in that room together.

Given the recent rekindling of my relationship with sewing, I`ve been working with my mom to make some baby related items to sell at a few local craft fairs that we are going to attend with my gramma. We`ve also started up an Etsy Shop, Mom Love- to sell all of our goods, I hope to have some items listed very soon.
Here are a few photos of items that we will have for sale both at the Craft Fairs and in our Etsy Shop.

sewing-11sewing-10My personal favourites are the lovee security blankets.  These little blankets measure approximately 16"x14" and are made from shaggy minky fleece and patterned satin.  We have lovees in a variety of colours, in addition to the white there is brown, pink and blue minky fleece and we have satin in cherry, owls and a few geometric patterns.  These lovee blankets and are the perfect size for little hands and provide great tactile variety; my little man can't get enough of his whether he's in the car seat, Ergo carrier, playing on the floor or in his crib.

sewing-5sewing-4Our pacifier clips come in a number of fun fabrics, including a number of Christmas styles.  What makes our clips unique is that they are all finished with either a teddy bear or heart shaped clips.  These pacifier clips are a perfect compliment to a holiday outfit or for everyday wear.
sewing-9 Our reversible drool bandannas are made with three layers for the ultimate drool protection. An absorbent (and cute) flannel top layer, a water resistant core and an ultra soft minky fleece layer next to your little ones' skin.  Not only are they functional they are so much cuter than a traditional bib.

We also have a number of handmade quilts, including this lovely nautical themed blanket.
sewingLast but not least, if traditional bibs are more your style, we have reversible bibs with a cotton upper and either a flannel or minky fleece bottom.

We will have a number of other items for sale including burp cloths, and cloth bags to name a few.

This Saturday we will be at a craft fair in Ladner BC at the McKee Christmas House Craft Fair , if you happen to be in the area, drop by and say hello.  Here are the details:

McKee Seniors' Recreation Centre

Christmas Craft Fair
Saturday November 19

Next Saturday, we`ll be at the Steveston Christmas Craft Fair - a much busier and bigger event.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wish List

Apparently its November 13.  Its almost December and I feel like the last two weeks were literally a blur.  We had Halloween, the boy had a hearing test and a consultation with a specialist, the baby had his 6 month shots, cut a tooth and had a cold.  Add on two mornings of preschool for the boy and time has been scarce.

Christmas is in a month and a half and my family has been asking for a Wish List since the beginning of the month.  What I really really want is one big item, a new laptop, but if that`s not the case, I`d like to have a few of these under the tree this year.
  • A new laptop, nothing too fancy, but something that I can use for blogging and has the capacity to run Lightroom for my photos.
  • A remote timer for Nikon D3000, they are under $5 on ebay, I haven`t priced them out in store, but I can`t imagine they are that cheap.
  • Soft leather gloves to keep my hands warm and my eczema under control.  Size L.
  • A nice pair of Slippers, I usually buy my Mom and Mother in law real sheepskin slippers at Costco for about $30, I`d love a pair of those.  Size 9.
  • Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasionmy sister got me a sample and its great.
  • Body Shop Mango Body Butter we used it as children and although its consistency has changed since then, I still love it.  Plus it works great for the boy and his sensitive skin.
  • A new set of measuring spoons, not the kind on a ring, I want to be able to use one spoon at a time.
  • Gevalia Decaf Espresso, Maxwell House Decaf or Gevalia Dark Roast T-Discs for my Tassimo Machine, mmm homemade Americano`s here I come.  I`m not sure if you can get the decaf espresso in store (I`ve never seen it), but its free shipping right now when purchased online!
And a few big ticket items; definitely more wish than a list.
  • Phillips Sonicare Toothbrush, we tried them at Blissdom Canada and they were amazing. 
  • A large purse style camera bag, love the Epiphanie Ginger but its a pretty big ticket item that I would never expect.
  • A Kindle e-reader would be amazing, we bought both my mom and my mother-in-law one this year, so there`s lots of book lending potential, plus I hear that we may be able to borrow ebooks from the library soon!
I feel like there`s so much more that I want, but at this moment its all that I can think of.  I may add more items as I think of them.  What are you asking for this year?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WHY I Eat Gluten-Free

A friend recently introduced me (via facebook) to a good friend of hers who has been diagnosed with Celiac's disease and she asked me about my gluten-free story. In that moment I realized I hadn't truly shared my experience with gluten here on the blog. I had already been gluten-free for a few years when I started the Momma Stuff Blog so although its part of who I am, I never stopped to tell you how I got here.

People always ask, in a bit of a hushed tone, what happens when I eat gluten. I sometimes think they know what I'm going to say and they just want me to tell them. Their hushed tone is completely appropriate for a question that warrants 'I get a really upset stomach and have to run to the bathroom' for an answer.

I can tell you the exact date I went gluten-free, July 19, 2007.  After years of stomach aches and daily diarrhea, my discomfort had progressed to include intense cramping, which I knew wasn't normal. My doctor nonchalantly suggested there was a small chance I could have trouble with gluten and that I should try excluding it from my diet

She was right, within five days I felt dramatically better; I never realized how bad I was feeling until I started to feel better. 

The emotional aspect of going gluten-free was much harder; once I started to feel better I knew I didn't want to feel like 'that' anymore but excluding gluten felt like such an impossible task.  For over a month, I barely ate anything.  Food just didn't seem appetizing and the mere thought of my stomach cramping up was more than enough to make me turn away from food.  That said, once I got over my fear and anger that I could no longer eat gluten, I started to experiment with food and before I knew it I was cooking up a storm and eating like crazy.

You may have noticed that I have never made reference to myself as an individual with Celiac's disease, this is simply because I do not know, nor will I likely ever know, whether I have this particular affliction.  My doctor didn't send me for testing until I had been gluten-free for over a year and the test is known to give false negatives for those on a gluten-free diet.  I am personally am not willing to eat gluten and feel sick in order to have a test that will simply prescribe that I don't eat the foods I already know make me sick.  As such, I simply consider myself 'gluten-free'.

Over the years I have found substitutes or alternatives to nearly all of my favourite foods and I literally cringe when I hear people talk about how awful eating gluten-free must be, or how much their child is 'missing out' by eating gluten-free.  The only thing gluten-free eaters are missing out on, is feeling horrible and damaging our bodies.

I'm slowly populating the RECIPES section of the blog, but have many more recipes than are posted, so if you have any requests, please let me know and I'll do my best to come up with something that can meet your dietary needs.  As a result of the boys' allergies and sensitivities most of my recipes are not only gluten-free, they are also dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free.

There are obviously many more facets to my gluten-free story, this is merely the beginning.

What's your story?  Are you or someone you know gluten-free?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Mini-Muffin Recipe | gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free

I adore the smell of pumpkin cooking, so when fall comes around, I start itching for pumpkin loaf, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin butter.  Up until recently I hadn't found a recipe that I was in love with so I decided to adapt my childhood favourite, my Mom's Weight Watchers Pumpkin mini-muffins.

The results are phenomenal, moist but light, flavourful and sweet, seriously mmm, mmm, good and kid-approved.  On top of all this tasty (and nutritional) goodness, these bad boys are super easy to make and would be totally do-able with a toddler in tow.

As you may know, I generally shy away from gluten-free flour mixes, but I recently tried one for a waffle recipe in my Living Without magazine and was left with about 5 cups for random baking.  Much to my surprise,  I was consistently impressed with the results; it still needed something, in my opinion, so I added a bit of sorghum flour to add a bit more texture, minimize the chewiness of the final products and boost the protein.  Before I knew it, I had a flour mix that I trusted.

Since this recipe uses a very small amount of gluten-free flour, and I have a lot less time for baking now that I'm a mom to two, I opted to use the flour mixture here, I'm fairly certain most gluten-free flour mixtures would work, or even all purpose flour for those of you that aren't gluten-free.  The gluten-free flour mix recipe is included after the mini-muffin recipe.

For those of you into 'clean eating' I'm also going to try substituting the sugar for some agave or honey, if you try this I would recommend adding another 1-2 Tbsp of the gluten-free flour mix to balance out the wetness of the sweetner.  Please let me know how it works out.

gluten-free pumpkin mini muffins
Pumpkin Mini Muffins
(gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple or vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly oil mini-muffin tins.
  2. Whisk together gluten-free flour, sugar, baking soda, xantham gum, cream of tartar and spices in a medium bowl.
  3. Blend together the eggs, pumpkin, coconut milk and extract.
  4. Mix the raisins and carrot into the wet mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine; batter will be quite thin.
  6. Spoon batter evenly into mini muffin tins and bake for 20-25minutes until the tops are lightly firm and bounce back when you touch them.
  7. Leave muffins in the pan and cool on a rack before unmolding.
  8. Enjoy.
yield: 24 mini muffins
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
(adapted from Living Without's 'Mary's All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend')

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1-1/3 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in a sealed container or mix right into a large Ziploc bag and use as needed for gluten-free baking.
yield: 7 cups

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 Tips for Choosing Babies' First Foods | Starting Solids v3

Starting solids is exciting, but choosing the 'right' foods can be intimidating and scary.  You want to provide nutritious and delicious foods in an order that is appetizing and varied in order to ensure that your little one is off to the best possible start when it comes to eating solids.

There are many schools of thought on the best way to proceed; cereals first as a bland start for sensitive tummies, veggies first to prevent a sweet tooth, fruits first to encourage enjoyment of food, meats first to restore depleting iron reserves and of course there is the baby-led weaning school of thought, which skips pureed foods altogether.

Is there a CORRECT way to introduce solids?  That of course depends on who you ask; you're likely to get a different response if you ask your doctor than if you ask a seasoned mother.  As always choosing foods needs to be tailored to you, your family and your beliefs.

I am in no way an expert, or even educated in nutrition or the introduction of solids, however here are some tips, based entirely on my personal experiences, to help you choose your babies' first foods.
Introduce foods your family already eats, those are the flavours your child will be exposed to for a lifetime, and if you're breastfeeding he's already had a taste for them through your milk.

Introduce foods that are complementary, think about blending flavours so they appeal to your little ones senses.  Pears was one of our first foods as it blends beautifully with other fruits, meats or vegetables and its sweetness makes nearly any combination palatable.

Introduce a variety of foods, I don't want to eat straight vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner and your baby probably doesn't either.  By introducing a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables your little one will start off their introduction to solids with well balanced 'meals'.

Introduce new foods three days apart, in order to identify any sensitivities that your child may have.  There is no need to feed only the newest food introduced, however if possible feed it to your child all three days as a reaction will sometimes occur as the food accumulates in his system.
Establish a routine; I began feeding the baby boy twice a day the first week and was up to three times a day by the second week.  Again you are setting the foundation for your child's lifelong eating habits and by feeding solids (even a small amount) three times a day, you are making 'meals', not snacks, a priority for your child.
I've already shared the baby boy's first five foods, and a recipe for homemade Quinoa baby food; here's a list of the baby boy's second five foods.  Out of the entire batch, bananas are probably his least favourite, though its not suprising neither the hubs and I are fans and the boy only recently started to enjoy them.
    1. Quinoa
    2. Zucchini
    3. Prunes
    4. Bananas
    5. Carrots
What are your thoughts on introducing solids?  How did you decide what foods to introduce first?