Our latest recipe success!

Two weeks ago today, my tiny little peanut made her grand appearance! So it’s time to start dipping into all my carefully prepared and labeled freezer meals. Thankfully, I think I have about 3 weeks worth stock-piled to help me get through the hectic week nights until we all adjust.

So while I’m taking a break from cooking, I’m doing a lot of reading and snuggling. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the books with you. I started The Bucolic Plague last night and must say… I love it!
If you’re interested in the story of her home-grown, organic, all-natural birth, visit our family blog for all the details!

The Helpful Hamburger

Did you grow up eating Hamburger Helper?  Or Tuna Helper?  Or anything along those lines?  I hadn’t had anything like that until I went to college and while I thought it was a nifty concept, I couldn’t ever get that odd chemically altered taste out of my mouth.  I’ve tried the “natural” versions of these meal helpers and had much the same opinion.  So really, I don’t do meals like this… until one day I was online and noticed that one of the moms had posted that she had found the solution to this problem on another blog.  I was anxious to try the variations out since a meal that cooks as quickly as this one could be beneficial post baby, right?  I’ve tried a few of the recipes and my husband, who grew up eating the “real” Hamburger Helper said that the flavors were spot on.  In light of that, this woman really spent some time working on the measurements and recipes and I’m impressed.  In fact, I liked the concept so much, that when I went to the butcher to stock up on meats and things a few weeks ago, I had them package up 1lb portions of ground beef so that I could make freezer bags that included the meat, pasta, cheese and spice mixes.  Everything is together and supper is so fast!
In addition to being able to use all my own spices, real cheese and good pasta, I have been adding shredded vegetables into the meat as it cooks.  Just like with my taco recipe, I’ve added carrots on a regular basis.  This weekend, after a long day working outside, my aunt stopped over right at supper time, so I asked her stay.  I made the meal when she wasn’t inside with me, so she had no idea what was going into the pan.  I added a heaping cup of shredded carrots and about a cup of shredded zucchini and didn’t say a word to anyone at the table.  Not only were plates cleared, every one had seconds.  So while I totally neglected to take a photo of any of the times I’ve made this meal, I’ve learned that I can add in even more good stuff and walk away feeling like I really did a good job with supper.  (Note: if you are going to add in the vegetables, you’ll need to add an additional 1/2 cup of water to the recipe to keep the consistency right.)

For the original recipe, head on over to Chickens in the Road and check it out!  Have fun making this recipe (and all the variations!) for the die-hard processed food lovers in your family and watching their faces light up when they realize that fast doesn’t have to have a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients in the recipe.

Gentle is as gentle does

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I have certain convictions in my life.  I believe that we should eat whole, natural, healthy food.  I believe in natural childbirth; not planned interventions masquerading as “natural.”  I believe that we are a family and that as one, we should live and treat each other with love and respect.  My husband and I cloth diaper our son, and at the typing of this post have a stash of sweetly colored diapers awaiting the birth of our daughter.  Our daughter, whom we plan to welcome into the world in the security of our home sometime this week, or next.  I’m looking forward to the return of breastfeeding and co-sleeping.  
My first experience with childbirth and parenting had a steep learning curve.  I had to give up certain aspects of my dreams due to a nasty bout with postpartum depression, but in doing so, I was able to focus more of my energy on training myself to be a Compassionate Parent.  Because of the choices my husband and I made, we were able to really foster a gentle parenting atmosphere in our home.  To be specific, we do not use any version of the “cry-it-out” method. 
Bedtimes are a peaceful event in our home.  Our son loves to sleep by himself.  He does not sleep with us anymore unless he is sick, because he loves to curl up in his bed, with his pillows and snuggle with his lovies.  I will admit to wishing that he still wanted to be in bed with us, but he’s happy.  It took several months of loving on him at bedtimes and naptimes to teach him that regardless of where he chooses to sleep, we aren’t shutting him in his room and deserting him.  When he calls out for us, we answer.  It doesn’t matter what time of night it is, we always answer his call with love and a cuddle.  As a result, we rarely have nights where he’s up several times to be comforted.
I can’t count the number of times we’ve had people tell us we’re spoiling our son.  The number of people who told us we needed to shut the door in the beginning and walk away is phenomenal!  Or the number of offers of copies of Babywise.  It took longer for us to fall into a rhythm with sleep times than those I’ve talked to who use a harsher method.  But there isn’t crying in our house (either from parent or child).  And I’m encouraged every time I get an email from a new mom asking me what to do for sleep.  Despite being very firm in our beliefs, neither my husband nor I are particularly outspoken about them.  If someone wants to know how we do something, I figure they will either read our family blog and look for the answer themselves or they’ll talk to me.  Respect is a trait that I want my children to learn in all aspects of life and I believe that it begins with how we treat others whose beliefs may not be the same as ours.  

I am always here and always a shoulder to cry on if anyone needs me.  Gentle Parenting takes time, effort and a great deal of self-control (depending on your personality).  There are days when I have to search message boards and talk to my support group of friends before I can say that I’ve found my answers for the crisis at hand.  By showing my weaknesses and my own personal frustrations but my determination to parent in this manner, I feel that I’m able to reach more people that I would be able to if I weren’t willing to be vulnerable.  No one thinks I’m perfect and that’s ok.  I’m honest.  I struggle.  And I’m willing to listen to you while you cry.  



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.

A Simple Thai Supper

I’m going to be honest and tell you that cooking is not top priority for me these last few weeks.  I made and froze several meals, we’ve eaten sandwiches and I’ve been playing around with a master recipe for homemade hamburger helper.  You’ll notice on the counter at the bottom of this page that I’m 4 days overdue with Baby #2.  I refuse to dig into the freezer stash too early so I posted a plea on facebook to ask people for suggestions for meals that wouldn’t take too much effort.  One such suggestion was this website, Give Every Night New Flavor.  I’ve played around with it a lot and it’s a good resource for those nights when you have absolutely no inspiration and no plan.  This meal right here was inspired by one of the suggestions that came up when I searched under half an hour.  I was a little hesitant to serve this to my toddler, but he gobbled it right down and my husband even said that I “finally” got the peanut sauce right.  Success!  Not bad for the giant pregnant lady, right?

Simple Thai Chicken and Vegetables
  • 1 pound chicken
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 3 small carrots, matchstick chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I had JIF natural in the cupboard)
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti

Cook the chicken until tender over medium heat in an oiled skillet.  I had chicken tenders on hand so it just took a few moments and I diced the chicken after it was cooked.  If you are using chicken breasts, I’d dice them before cooking.  Remove the meat from the pan and replace with the vegetables and more oil if necessary.  When the onions are translucent and the carrots are just becoming tender, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, garlic powder and a few red pepper flakes, and then add the sauce to the pan.  Reduce the heat to low, add in the chicken, and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.  If you haven’t already cooked your pasta, now is the time to do it!   To serve, pour the sauce with the meat and vegetables over the pasta and garnish with red pepper flakes to taste.