Saturday, February 26, 2011

Magic Onions

Photo credit:Wikipedia commons
At last count, I have at least five friends and three family members (neither of whom are my sisters, just for the record) who are pregnant and due within a month or two of me.  And most of them can tell you from personal experience what a drag it is to get sick when you are expecting.  I've actually kind of gotten used to not being able to take most medications when I fall victim to the latest bug since I've spent most of the past five years either being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.  My husband reminded me this week of one great natural treatment for chest colds that sounds bizarre but actually works.  When I was about six months pregnant with my son, we took a weekend trip to a tiny town in Northern B.C. to visit some family.  We were about two hours away from the closest doctor, so of course I developed a wicked cold in record time that started to develop into bronchitis.  Fortunately, there was a nurse practitioner in the town, and she recommended making an onion poultice.  It sounded vaguely familiar, like something that my grandmother had told me about doing in the "olden days."  I was willing to try anything at that point, so my dear husband cooked up some onions for me, and I gave it a try.  It gave me enough relief from the chest congestion to get a good night's sleep, and I  felt surprisingly on the mend the next day.  Even if you aren't in the baby producing/feeding stage of life, it's handy to have some non-pharmaceutical tricks up your sleeve in case you find yourself sick and not able to get to the drugstore.
There are several different methods for making an onion poultice if you google it.  Here's what we did: Chop up a big yellow onion, or a few smaller onions.  I recommend just slicing it into rings so that the onion is easier to deal with later on.  Put the onion in a large frying pan along with some oil/butter/margarine - I've never measured the amount, but I use quite a liberal amount.  Cook the onions until they are translucent.  They just need to be soft, not browned.  Lay out a tea towel on the kitchen counter, and be sure that it is an old tea towel that you do NOT care about anymore, because it will never be the same!  I have an old tea towel that I keep specifically for this purpose, because the grease will obviously stain the towel.  Spoon the onions onto the tea towel, and fold the tea towel into a rectangle in such a way that the onions will not easily escape.  Put your feet up, pop in a good movie, and relax for the next couple of hours with the towel-packet-full-of-onions on your chest.  Be sure that the towel is not so hot that it burns your skin.
It's a little ironic, I think, that I started writing this post earlier today, and now that I am finishing it up...I think feel a cold coming on.  Maybe it's just allergies?  Please?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I was thinking about my most recent post last night after I crawled into bed, and realized that I need to pay more attention to what God thinks about my parenting than what other people say about it.  Of course, that begs the question: how do I know what God thinks about my parenting?   I believe that God can use other people to speak truth into my life, both the confidence building truth and the hard truth, so I suppose that is where other people's words really matter.  It's helpful to learn from other people's parenting styles, but I need to remember to learn from and try to emulate God's mothering and fathering of me.  Am I gentle and patient with my son?  Am I ready to forgive after he's done the same naughty thing ten times in one day?  Am I loving enough to have the strength to send him to time-out and have him be angry with me?  Thank goodness for grace; there are some pretty awe-some goals to live up to.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lessons from a Two Year Old

I came across a lovely quote from the sadly soon to be defunct Mothering Magazine this week:
"Living with children can be a sweet reunion with the very elements within us that keep us young and hopeful and alive.… Children have as much to teach us about faith, hope, imagination, and spontaneity as we do them the skills of living on this earth." —Lil Comstock, from "Be Aware," Mothering, no. 3. 1977

Some days I think my two year old is doing a better job of teaching me that I am of teaching him.  He is so perceptive of people's feelings already at age two, and he has such faith that feelings can be mended with a hug.  For the past couple weeks, whenever he realizes that I'm upset about something, he says "Mommy, I hug you, you happy?"  When it started snowing yesterday, he ran from the window to the top of the stairs in record time, shouting "Mommy, we better go build a snowman!"  He reminds me that it's okay sometimes to let go of schedules and "have to's" and just be spontaneous.

I feel so blessed to be able to spend my days with that little guy.  Sometimes mothering is so fraught with self-doubt and trepidation over the enormity of being largely responsible for the development of a precious little life.  It is unlike any other job in that there is very little feedback on your performance, probably because so much parenting is carried out in the privacy of our own little spheres, and in the minutiae of a million little everyday tasks.  It makes me realize that I should give encouragement to other moms out there when I see aspects of their parenting that I admire.  I know for myself that an encouraging word can buoy my confidence for weeks and give me a boost of resolve to be a better mother.  I also know that because feedback on parenting is so sparse, I'm overly sensitive to comments that I perceive as criticism.  I hope to not be carried away by positive feedback, nor be defensive to critique and to just pick out the truth in people's words, and use it to be a better mom.

I can't believe that I'm going to be a mom to two little people in about ten weeks.  The second trimester zipped by much more quickly than the first, thank goodness!  I'm feeling the discomforts of the third trimester earlier than I did with my first full-term pregnancy with my son, so I have a feeling that the third trimester is not going to go by as quickly as the second.  I only gained four or five pounds last month, and I passed my gestational diabetes screening test with flying colours, so that is a big  relief.  I am, however, just feeling b-i-g already, and I find myself holding my belly up with my hands at several points in the day, or resting the internal basketball on the edge of the counter while I make dinner ... or baked goodies.  I just pulled out a dish of brownies, two zucchini loaves, and a loaf of bread from the oven a few minutes ago.  Sometimes, you just have to give into those cravings!  I've got to spread out the weight gain though, so some of those things will hopefully go into freezer storage for a time before I eat them.  The weirdest craving that I've had lately is not even for a food item.  Ivory soap.  I normally only use very natural toiletries and cosmetics without any perfumes or parabens or other poisony-type ingredients, but I just couldn't get the idea of showering with a bar of smelly ol' Ivory soap out of my head.  So I bought a three-pack of bars on my last shopping trip and had a nice hot shower when I got home.  Anyone else have strange non-food pregnancy cravings?

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Better-Late-Than-Never 2010 Review of a Few of My Favourite Things

I started writing this post ages ago, and kind of forgot to finish and publish it.  I suppose I should do so now, since the first month of 2011 is mysteriously over already.  I know the best things in life aren't things, but here are some of my favourite "things" from 2010.

Most interesting article:
"Lost in Translation" by Lera Boroditsky in the Wall Street Journal.  As a disclaimer, let me say that I love linguistics, and I know that it's not a field that interests everybody.  However, I think this article would appeal to most people in its discussion of how language influences culture.  For example, one indigenous language in Australia has no words to indicate directions such as "left" or "right."  Instead, directions are indicated with cardinal directions (south, north, etc.).  People who are native speakers of this language have a much superior sense of direction than those of us who primarily use relative directional terms.  Finally, I have a legitimate excuse for my dismal sense of direction!

Best Hot Drink Discoveries:
Peppermint Chocolate Vitasoy:  This drink filled the void in my life this Christmas left behind by the absence of eggnog (a no-no when you are allergic to dairy and eggs).  I'd like to try the Holly Nog by this company, but I've never seen it in stores.  I have tried the So Nice version of eggnog, and have been sorely disappointed.  Somehow, the craving for nostalgic and delicious eggnog gets to me every Christmas season and I end up buying another container of not So Nice eggnog in hopes that it will be delicious.

Stash Chocolate Hazelnut Decaf Tea: So often, the names of tea flavours are so much more delicious sounding than is the actual taste of the tea, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this tea is as good as it sounds.  And it's decaf, so it's one treat that doesn't need to be put on hold during pregnancy.  Stash's Vanilla Chai decaf also gets an honorable mention.

Other culinary discoveries in 2010:
Simply Natural Goddess salad dressing: Yum yum.
Recipe for peanut butter chocolate cups: even better than Reese's if I do say so myself.  This may or may not have contributed to the thirteen pounds.

Best Books that I read in 2010 (or partially read, anyways!):

The Memory Keeper's Daughter:  If I remember correctly, the setting of this book starts out in the 1960's in a snowstorm.  A podiatrist is forced by the circumstances to delivers his wife's twins.  The wife is put under during the delivery, and the husband realizes that the second twin to be born, a girl, has Down Syndrome.  The husband makes a split second decision to lie to his wife, telling her that the baby girl had died.  He instructs the nurse, the only other person present, to take the baby girl to an institution.  The nurse, however, cannot go through with it and disappears to raise the girl as her own.  The story follows the lives of these characters, and the effect that one decision has on everybody's lives.  Having worked in the field of supporting people with disabilities, this book was especially moving for me (and, for the record, I did finish reading this one).  Although this is a fictional story, I know that it was the exception in that time period for somebody with a disability to be raised in a family setting instead of an institution.  I would love to gather stories someday from parents who resisted the pressure to place their children in institutions.  What gave them the strength to defy the advice of doctors and society at large?  How were they treated by others after their decision to raise their own children?

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins: I love finding books that are hard to put down until you have read every last word, the kind of books that leave you a little bit dejected after you've finished reading them because you can never read it again for the first time.  The Hunger Games trilogy made that list for me.  The subject matter could be quite disturbing for the intended audience, as I know a lot of young teens read these books, but the story is quite thought provoking and relevant in many ways to things that are happening in the world today.  I think it might just be this generation's "1984."

The Plug-In Drug, by Marie Winn, 25th Anniversary Edition: I probably would have never picked up this book except that somebody gave it to me.  This book is full of published studies that explore the effect of television-watching, and other passive media consumption, on children's development.  The most interesting studies are those that record the effect of television-watching on communities after the arrival of television.  It would be nearly impossible to find a community in North America at present which does not have access to television, but these early studies were able to record differences in children's behaviour, school achievement, and imaginative play after television was made available in these remote communities.  The thing that surprised me about these studies was that the content of the television show has little variance in impact on the effect of simply watching television.  Watching an "educational" show does little to negate the impact of passive television-watching.  I never did finish reading this book, perhaps because of the growing sense of guilt I felt about letting my toddler watch television.  The book is not at all preachy, however, and does an admirable job of focusing on the benefits of living without television.  The book definitely inspired me to cut down the amount of television that my son watches.  We were doing quite well until pregnancy nausea started and my good intentions went down the toilet.  Figuratively and literally.

One Church, Many Tribes, by Richard Twiss: This is another book I haven't finished reading, but not due to lack of interest.  I think somebody borrowed it before I had a chance to finish it, so I'll probably need to start over since it's probably been close to a year since I started reading it now.  Richard Twiss is an American, and a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux tribe.  Although he discusses much of the American First Nation's history, I think there are probably many similarities to the history of Canadian First Nations groups.  The author presents the shameful treatment of our First Nations brothers and sisters in the early days of European contact in North America.  He asks good questions that address prejudices in our churches nowadays, questions about how culture and faith intertwine with one another.  Why are some aspects of culture typically accepted in the church while others are quietly (or not so quietly) discouraged?  Why is a church organ more likely to be accepted than a First Nations drum?  I plan to pick this one up again soon.

Best Movies that I saw in 2010:
I don't get out to the movie theatres much these days, so most of these movies were probably released prior to 2010.  Most of the movies that I watch are borrowed from the library, although that could change since the late fees just increased to $1 a day - eep!  I've watched many more movies than I have read books this year, and most of them were forgettable.  A few that stand out:
Bright Star: This movie tells the story of 19th century poet John Keats, and his romance with Fanny Brawne, a young woman with a love for fashion design.  I'm a sucker for period pieces, and I'm intrigued by stories about people who only achieved great fame and worldly success after their death.
Becoming Jane: Another period piece about a great writer (Jane Austen).  And it's kind of a melancholy movie too.  Hmm...starting to see a pattern here.
The Young Victoria:  ...another period piece.  Wow, I didn't realize I liked them that much.
Julie & Julia:  A movie about food and blogging.  I'm starting to feel predicable in my tastes.
Harry Potter # 7, part one: Okay, this one breaks my pattern, and I loved it.  I feel sufficiently interesting to put this category to rest now.

Favourite Craft Pattern: You can find the sewing pattern for this momma kanga and her finger puppet joey here on Womans Day, which sometimes has great free craft patterns.  It wasn't the easiest sewing project to make, but I learned some new techniques and it turned out pretty well in the end.
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