Monday, January 7, 2013

An amazing mama journey ... Thank You Beth Woolsey for inspiring me

If I could go back fourteen years to the beginning of this Mama Gig, there are things I'd tell New Mama Me.
Things she should hear. Things she should know. Things I'd deliver straight to her heart, like that violent Pulp Fiction through-the-chest resuscitation shot to help her breathe just a little in that time when new mamahood first destroyed her but before she really lived again.
Oh new mama, I would say, this beginning, it's hard. It is. It's hard.
Your feet are moving on a marathon that's just begun, but you haven't trained because there's no way to train for this. No way to build your muscles or increase your endurance or improve your time other than to start running. And that is okay. It's the way this thing is done. You won't always feel this exhausted. This off-balance. This delirious. But I know that doesn't matter right now and that you want to punch people who say, "It gets better" right in teeth. (But it gets better, mama. It does. And the secret is you get stronger.)
I would tell you, sweet new mama, that feeling depressed after becoming a mama isn't just a biological phenomenon reserved for mamas who grow their babies themselves. I would tell you that I know you adore your baby. I know you're wildly grateful for her. And I know you'd give your life for her and that some days you're so strung out you wish you could. All kinds of Postpartum-What-the-Hell is normal -- even for you, the adoptive I-was-so-desperate-to-be-a-mama mama. Welcome to the land of Both/And, lady; both crushed with love for this new little life and breathless with the loss of yourself.
Parenting is relentless no matter how you arrive there.
Oh, New Mama. You will feel beaten, sometimes every minute, but I promise you, you will not stay down. You are a woman and you are just beginning to learn how very strong you are.
Parenting is relentless. Have I mentioned that? Relentless. But eventually, it gives you a better version of yourself, and then eventually-eventually you'll consider it a worthy trade.
You gasp with pain some days. So lonely. So unsure. And that's okay because you are dying, mama. You are dying to yourself, laying down the you you once knew. But you will rise again, and you will go far. All the way to the moon. You will. To infinity and beyond, like Buzz Lightyear, except real. Your life won't be only diapers, late nights, early mornings, toddler fits and mommy tantrums. I pinky swear and cross my heart. You will seek and you will find inside yourself the spark of a woman who knows from hard experience, to the marrow of your bones, that you are resilient and capable and strong.
I know you wonder how it is that momming can be so isolating when billions of women do it every day. I know you didn't see the loneliness coming. If I had a genie in a bottle, I would wish for a zoom out button for you; in the middle of the night, when you're sitting on the hard floor with your crying baby and your crying self and your despair because you want to just stop it but you don't know how, you could zoom out and see. You could zoom out over your house and then out and then out again, like Google Earth for mamas, and from that high place in the sky overhead you'd see that you're one of an ocean of mamas rocking on the floor in the night. You'd know that you're not alone. Not really. And you'd wave at the other mamas and they'd wave through their tears back at you.
You've heard about The Village -- the one they say it takes to raise a child -- and I know you wonder how to find it. Damn Village. The zoom button sure would help, wouldn't it? But I would tell you to hang in there. Breathe breath after breath and keep trekking. Because the Village is there, mama. There's hope! You'll get there! The illusive Village is there, and you are so right to keep moving 'til you find your mama tribe.
And the mamas that you find? Some of them in the wilderness just like you? They will point the way to Love and hand you a beer and teach you to laugh at the mess. You don't know it yet, but the sweaty, miserable work you're doing in the jungle isn't just for you, mama. There's a purpose for all of your wandering. No, you don't know if yet, but you're cutting a trail that others will follow to the Love and the beer and the laughter, too. Can you even believe it?
Oh, New Mama. If I could tell you just three things, I'd tell you these:
  1. You're okay. You are. Both the dark and light of you. The despair and the hope.
  2. The hope will win. I swear it.
  3. You're not alone. Love is there. And so are you. And together -- love and you -- you're enough.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Healthy Dinner Option

Faster than a soup, but just as comforting, risotto takes only about 20 minutes to come together — a perfect dish for weeknight dinners. Caramelized onions, cauliflower and Parmesan cheese are a wonderful and unexpected combinations.

Cauliflower, Onion and Greens Risotto

4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l.) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) florets
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g.) arborio rice
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) dry white wine
1 bunch beet greens or other greens, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
1 cup (1/4 lb./125 g.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh marjoram
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the broth and 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep the liquid hot.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower and saute until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute until opaque, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) of the hot broth, reduce the heat so the broth simmers slowly, and cook until absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue cooking, adding the broth by about 3/4 cup at a time and stirring frequently until the rice is not quite tender, but still slightly firm, about 15 minutes.

Add the greens and continue cooking, stirring almost constantly, adding the liquid about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) at a time, until the rice is just tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the cheese and the marjoram. Season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and serve right away. Serves 4.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Arthritis Remedy

Drink 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in juice/water at night and in the morning and you should see improvement


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eggplant, Red Pepper Hummus Spectacular

Simple hummus is an amazing source of protein, folate and iron.  When you add in the eggplant and red bell pepper, you are also getting a good dose of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin B6.

Hummus is incredibly versatile. It can be used as a dip with veggies or pretzels - perfect for after school.  It's also delicious as a spread on sandwiches or pita bread and is a great on-the-go snack.  Hummus will stay fresh in an airtight container, out of refrigeration for about 2 hours.

This recipe is appropriate for babies 10-12 months and up, toddlers, big kids and adults.  Always make sure the consistency of your baby's food is one she can handle. As I experiment with my own little one, its important to make sure all is blended to perfection.

What you'll need:
1 eggplant - washed and cut in half lengthwise
1 red bell pepper - washed, cut in half lengthwise with stem and seeds removed
1 1/2 - 2 cups of cooked chickpeas - if using canned, rinse and drain chickpeas, also be sure the can does not contain BPA

1/2 teaspoon of kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste) or extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon) 
2 tablespoons of purified water
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
*Place eggplant and pepper cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, until both are soft and cooked all the way through.
*Scoop eggplant out of the skin and remove as many seeds as you can.  They are in bunches and can be removed fairly easily.  Don't worry if you can't get them all, as the seeds are tender and edible.
*Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spoon or spatula in between pulses and add extra water while processing, if needed to develop a smooth consistency.
*Serve or store
*Hummus can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pumpkin powerfood

An easy way to incorporate the antioxidant rich, vitamin blasted veggie, PUMPKIN, is to make it into a creamy concoction. Get your calcium and your sweet tooth fix with this easy, delish frozen yogurt treat:




Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Toffee Crunch FroYo
1 part pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Fat Free Half and Half
1 1/2 cups Light Cream
tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Crushed Walnuts
2 Tbsp. Fat Free Caramel or Dulce De Leche topping
3 Tbsp. Heath Bar (crushed)
handful of chocolate chips if so desired ;)

Mix, blend, freeze for 2-4 hours pending on consistency you like. and WAHHHllaaaaah. Spoon. Enjoy

Hips AND Thighs Don't Lie

Balancing Squat
Adding a balance challenge to booty-shaping squats will keep your hips, glutes, and abs firing the entire time.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keeping your chest lifted and maintaining a neutral spine, lower into a deep squat, reaching both arms to the floor (try to tap the ground if you can).

As you press up, shift your weight into your right leg as you bend your left knee and grab onto your shin with your left hand [as shown]. Hold for 1 count, release your leg, and return to start. That's one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.


Side-Stepping Curtsey
This traveling lunge targets your thighs, hips, and glutes, plus the reaching motion adds an extra core challenge.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands clasped behind your head.

Cross your right leg behind your left and lower into a curtsey lunge, reaching your right hand to the floor [as shown]. Quickly stand back up and return to start. That's one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.

Hinging Deadlift
For a head-turning lower body, strengthening your backside is just as, if not more, important than your front. Deadlifts recruit the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge forward from your hips, reaching the dumbbells to the ground, until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Focus on using your glutes to raise your body halfway back up [as shown] and then return to full forward hinge again. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.


Shifting Side Lunge
What happens when you combine a sumo squat with a side lunge? You get triple the saddlebag-slimming power!

How to do it: Stand with your feet together, holding dumbbells by your sides. Take a wide step out to your right and lower into a side lunge, reaching dumbbells on either side of right leg [as shown]. Bend your left knee and shift your weight into both legs, into a wide squat position, reaching the dumbbells to floor in front of you, then extend your right leg and shift your weight to the left, moving into a side lunge with your left leg.

Push off your left foot to bring your legs together and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps total, alternating sides each time.

External Hip Raise
Build strength in your hips from the inside out with this super-effective strength move.

How to do it: Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side, supporting your upper body with your right hand and forearm. Extend both legs out, feet flexed. Brace your abs in tight and lift your top leg up to hip height, rotating your leg to turn your toes down to the floor, keeping tension on the band. Lift your leg slightly higher than hip height, pushing against band, with heel rotated up to the ceiling. Return to hip height. Repeat 20 times quickly and then switch sides.
Side-Lying Leg Lift
This move was recently named by the American Council on Exercise as one of the very best thigh toning exercises, but it also engages your abs (you'll feel it the next day!).

How to do it: Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side with your right arm extended on the floor, left hand in front of your body for support. Brace your abs in tight, bring your bottom leg slightly in front of your top leg (let the inside of your top foot rest on the ground), and lift your leg up to the ceiling, keeping your hips stacked. Maintain tension on the band at all times and pulse your bottom leg up and down quickly 20 times. Repeat on the other side.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tip Top Toners

Tippy Toes Tone

Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes out, hands on hips. Squat until thighs are parallel to floor, then lift both heels (as shown). Lower heels for 1 rep. Repeat.


Rear Raiser
With feet shoulder-width apart, squat all the way down, fingertips on floor slightly in front of feet. Keeping fingertips on floor, lift hips, extending butt toward ceiling with knees slightly bent (as shown). Return to start for 1 rep. Repeat -- works butt, thighs

Side Leg Sculptor
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. Squat, then stand and forcefully bring right leg across and in front of body, leading with heel, as if kicking a ball, left arm swinging in front, right arm behind (as shown). Return to start. Switch sides to complete 1 rep. Repeat.

Bicycle Buffer
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands behind head. Squat, then stand, lifting left knee across body (as shown) toward right elbow at center. Return to start. Switch sides to complete 1 rep. Repeat.
works butt, thighs, abs, obliques

Lean Lift
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Squat deeply, extending arms behind torso. Stand, then raise left leg and lower chest until parallel to floor, extending arms forward (as shown). Hold for 1 count, then return to start. Switch sides to complete 1 rep. Repeat.
works butt, legs, shoulders, back, abs

Wall Hold Wittering Away
Squat with back to wall, feet together, thighs parallel to floor, hands on hips. Maintain back and butt contact with wall as you lift left knee toward chest (as shown). Return to start. Switch leg to complete 1 rep. Repeat.