January 2012 archive

Just so You Know…

I hate that I can’t post some of the blogs I want to post right now. The new design we bought and paid for has a flaw in it’s code which means I can’t post pictures or even use smiley faces in my blogs without it looking like a robot walked by and puked thousands of pixels all over my blog. And you know how much I love a smiley face. We are trying to work with the designer but she’s not being the most helpful gal I’ve encountered. If she blows us off and won’t give us our money back, I’ll give you her website so you can all leave negative feedback. Till then…

Growing

Hey Guys – We’re working on a new look at The Cohen Tribe. Until it’s perfected, I’ll have to store up the posts in the queue. Stay tuned. More fun to come very soon!!!!

What’s for Dinner?

I’m the queen of figuring out what’s for dinner based on the last 3 things in the refrigerator. I actually enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do with a can of beans, two beets and the last few pickled okra. If I had to make a list or a menu each week I’d never follow it.
We don’t eat grain (gluten) in my house, so keep in mind you’ll never see a box of Rice-a-Roni or mac-n-cheese or other hyphenated foods. Here are two meals I came up with this week.

Roasted Chicken with vegetables, Red Chard, and Roasted Chic Peas
When my husband goes to the store he brings home whatever vegetables he thinks look “pretty” or like the farmer “grew them with love”. This week he came home with red chard. So on my way home I stopped at the grocery store and scanned the organic meats section. Score. Organic whole chicken on sale. Yes people, that means we’re roasting a chicken.

I’m not going to lie, you have to prep for a roasted chicken. Probably when your kid is napping. But it’s always oh-so worth it.

This is swiss chard. You know you didn't know what it was.

When considering the chard, knowing it’s bitter flavor, I decided I needed to add a nut or something with texture. I remembered a can of organic chic pea I bought and decided to roast them. They’re an amazing snack, and also a great topping for a bitter green.

Cookin’ It:
(In case you’ve never roasted a chicken…) When you unwrap your bird, take note of how much it weighs on the label. You’ll need that later. Set up a bowl with whatever spices you want. I chose garlic salt, pepper, and paprika, probably about 1/4 cup total. Empty out the inside of the raw chicken in case it came with its insides still attached. (They were there at one point either way, so if emptying them out makes you sick you might want to reconsider eating meat.) Pour a little olive oil over your bird. Then reach your fingers under the skin and work your way loosening the skin from the breast. Get your hands covered in spices and start pushing them up under the skin and then on top of the skin.  I like to set my bird on top of carrots and celery and onions in a baking dish. This way my roasted veggies get done and I don’t have to use a roasting pan to keep the bird up and out of its juices. Plus, I’ve always got carrots and celery in the crisper that are just about to go limp. Put the bird in the oven at 400-425 uncovered for about 45 minutes. Then cover it with foil for the remaining cook time, total time about 20 minutes per pound.

We ate so fast I didn't get a before picture, but it was breathtaking.

Cut the stem out of your chard and rinse the leaves. Cut up your chard into bite sized pieces or ribbons. When your chicken is finished (internal temp above  180), take it out and leave it alone. LEAVE IT ALONE. Chop up some fresh garlic and throw it in some olive oil for just a few minutes on medium heat, then add the chard. Move it around until it begins to wilt.
Empty a can of organic chic peas onto a baking sheet, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw into the oven. After 15 minutes, check to ensure they’re a little bit crisp and throw them in with your chard.
Now you can touch the chicken. Ask your husband to carve it.
The good news is, you will probably have leftover chicken which means you can eat it for lunch, you probably won’t have leftover chard which means you won’t have to eat it for lunch, and the chicken carcass can be boiled to make chicken stock. (I freeze my stock in baggies flat and stack them like files or in ice cube trays.)

Organic Sausage with fresh sauce and Quinoa Cheese Biscuits
Did you know every week Whole Foods has an organic sausage of the week that is 99 cents a link? It’s an AMAZING deal so we

Tasted as pretty as it looks.

always get it. This week it was hot italian. I usually have a big tub of spinach and some tomatoes around, canned or otherwise. And quinoa, which is a versatile little whatever-it-is and goes great with just about anything. I cook up big batches and use it throughout the week.

Cookin’ It:
For this I used 3 cooked cups of quinoa. I added some amazing Locateli Parmesan Cheese we had in the fridge. I didn’t have any other fancy cheese so I cut up Abe’s mozzarella string cheese sticks and threw them in, too. I divvied up the quinoa into a cupcake pan and threw it in the oven on 350.

I put the sausage in a non-stick pan on medium high to sear (that means brown fast), then put some chicken stock (from my ice cube tray) into the pan and covered it to let the sausage finish up. I cut up 2 tomatoes, a bunch of spinach into really small ribbons, a tiny bit of an onion and some garlic. I cut into my sausage to be sure if was finished cooking all the way (15-20 min maybe?) and then took them out of the pan. I threw my cut up veggies in with the leftover chicken stock and sausage yum yums left in there. I let it all cook down and added a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cut up the sausage and tossed it back in to warm through.
By that point I pulled the quinoa biscuits out of the oven and shredded more cheese over top. The quinoa biscuits are a great way to feel like you’re eating bread when you can’t. They’re also WAY better for you than real biscuits.

Challenge – No

I think I’ll make the Challenge blogs a weekly thing.

I’m the type of person who will volunteer for anything if you ask me. You want me to create the newsletter for your new non-profit? No problem. You want me to introduce you to all of my neighbors? Sure! You want me to research the best way to relieve the pain of your hammer toe holistically? I’ve got a few hours to kill anyway…

It’s terrible because most times I say yes as Erin, it means I’m saying no as Mom. Which means I have to say no as Erin more often, and I hate that. I want to do it all. I want to work and volunteer and raise my kid and manage my household and cook dinner and organize the closets and bring my friends soup when they’re sick. But then by the end of the day I’m exhausted and my kid is totally fed up with me. Oh, and I also have a husband.

What makes this worse? (And I’m sorry to say it to those of you who are reading, but I’ve got to be honest…) People without kids. People who DO have kids almost automatically give you a pass anytime you don’t follow through. The get out of jail free cards are bountiful and passed around like bottles of Arbor Mist in an orange grove (my FL friends will understand that one). We parents are almost proud to give them out. But without kids, you truly can’t have ANY idea how consuming it is. And I was a woman without kids once and I definitely remember saying, “My kid is not going to RUN my life.” And my kid won’t run my life…not forever. But for now he relies on me to eat, drink, poop, pee, and sleep. So for now, he runs my life. He IS my agenda.  So that means no,  he can’t skip his nap so I can meet you for lunch. Because that’s the only time during the day I get a break from him; it’s my me-time. Not to mention skipping a nap means bedtime is completely screwed. That could take days to fix…

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to say no more often to everyone except my kid. My point in this blog post is that I’d like for other moms with kids (especially the young ones) to begin feeling more free to say no, and for everyone else in the world to just accept it without bias or judgement. It’s hard enough to try and figure out when to say no to your kid (Do I re-direct him in this situation, or is this when I say “no” firmly? Or does it even matter because he’s just going to do it again in 5 minutes anyway?), let alone adults. We shouldn’t have to qualify when we say no to other grown ups because they might think we’re being lazy or relying too heavily on the “I have a kid” excuse. I promise you, it’s not an excuse. It is both the greatest and most challenging job on Earth. Frankly, we shouldn’t have to qualify any no we give to anyone any old time simply because we’re grown ups and we’re allowed to do that. The added stigma of being a parent and saying no, though, is monumental.

So here’s your challenge: Just say no. Even when it feels icky. And when someone says no to you, trust that it’s for a good reason you don’t need to know about. Don’t personalize it, don’t judge it. Smile and say, “Thanks anyway.”

 

The End of my Rope

Have you ever started telling a friend a story, something the happened to you “the other day”, and in the telling you begin to realize just how utterly ridiculous the story is? And then you realize you have a blog to write? That happened to me today.

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law bought Abraham his first pair of nice walking shoes. She got him a beautiful pair of leather boots and as he tromped out of the store wearing them she mentioned to me, “You know, you ought to get him a harness since he’s walking so much now.”

I know there are two schools of thought on the old harness. One is that it’s a harness. One is that it’s a leash. I tend to think of it as a harness, but if you think of it as a leash I might recommend you stop reading now.

So I bought Abe a leash. It’s a cute little frog that straps to his back and I hold the frog’s long tail. (Yes, the last part was disconcerting to me, too, but what are you gonna do?) We practiced in the front yard a few times and he seemed to really enjoy the freedom. I’m sick and tired of going to the park with Abe or wanting to walk down the sidewalk with him and being terrified to let him more than a foot away from me. He never wants to hold my hand when he walks so I end up having a leisurely stroll and a panic attack every time. This was much better for both of us.

I needed to run to the hardware store to return something a few days later. I decided this quick trip would be a great time to try the leash. I put the frog on Abe’s back. It was aparent immediately that this frog wasn’t doing it’s job. Abe began walking every direction EXCEPT towards the entrance and I had no way to redirect him. So I picked him up and carried him inside.

I set him down and he immediately began walking to the end of his rope. I found myself tugging. You know, not hard, but gently tugging the way I do when Charlie (my boxer) tries to go too far in the wrong direction. Unsure of how to keep him from walking away, I continued tugging on the leash. I’m standing in a store, with other people, my kid’s on a leash, and I’m tugging on it. This is a new low. At least I kept myself from making the Cesar Milan clicking noise at him. But then I pulled too hard and he landed on his bottom. And then proceeded to throw a full blown tantrum, face down, flat out on the floor. While on a leash. I thought about dragging him to the front of the line but noticed the closed circuit camera in the corner of the store and decided that this might not be a moment I want to last much longer on tape.

The moral of the story is Abe isn’t leash-trained yet.

Hi

So Abe and I are sitting on the front porch and waving to the cars that drive by. I shout, “Hi cars!” and “Hey, over here!”. Abe laughs and waves and paces and plays with his hair.

And then suddenly, inexplicably and unprovoked, Abe looks at me and says, “Hi.” Clear as glass.
Obviously I immediately answered, “HI?”
“Hi.” He said it back.
“OH MY GOD HI! HI ABE! HI!”
“Hi.”
I frantically dialed the phone. “HI ABE! HI! HI ABRAHAM!! David? DAVE! HE SAID HI! HI ABE!”
Nothing.
“Hi Abe! Hi from Dada!”
Smiles, and then nothing.
“Abe, wanna say hi to Daddy?”
He’s already walked into the house at this point.

I’m still working on the dogs to see if there’s some way they can verify this actually happened, but as of now I have no witnesses.  I assure you, my kid said hi. To me. Three times.

Take that early developmental intervention program. Or should I just say – “Hi.”

Challenge – Mom Talk

I saw a new mom at the BabyGym today so I decided to begin a conversation in case she felt weird about everyone else knowing each other so well, like the new kid or something. I hate being the new kid.

“Hi! I’m Erin and this is Abe. Your daughter is beautiful!”
“Oh! Thank you so much, yeah, she got that dress from her grandma. It takes her forever to drink her  milk.”

Um. What?

Were you jilted by that last part, too? Milk? Did a little, lonely, ornery conversation-starter find a way to sneak into a sentence? Where’d we go, here? I think I just smiled and walked away…

I feel like moms do this all the time.
“Your son is so cute!”
“Thank you! He didn’t take his morning nap.”

“I love your daughter’s headband!”
“Thanks, she just started eating solids.”

“Where did you get his shoes?”
“At Stride Right. I think he has diarrhea.”

What are we doing?? Are we justifying? Looking to commiserate? Have we COMPLETELY LOST the ability to have a conversation that doesn’t include a random fact about our children??? I think we may have. So, if you’re a  mom, today I challenge you to have a conversation at some point over the weekend that doesn’t include a story or “fun-fact” about your children. If you’re not a mom (dad’s don’t really do this, so you’d fall into the “not a mom” category), I challenge you to ask a mom a question that she can’t possibly answer with a child-related fact. Ask about her haircut, her car, her feelings on Justin Timberlake recently getting engaged (SURELY she has something to say about THAT). If she starts talking kids, steer her back to the land of grown ups.
We can do it, moms. We can STOP the cycle of self-interrupting good, quality conversations. It’s important to our sanity. Especially mine since Abe slipped on a cardboard box this morning and got a bump on his head.

Speak!

When Abraham had his 15 month well baby check up, he was given a clean bill of health and a developmental thumbs up. Oh, and no head diseases, so that was good to hear.

The one negative the doc had for me was Abe’s lack of language. He really can’t say any words at all. She recommended that I get him an evaluation by one of those state-funded early developmental intervention programs.  It’s clear that it’s her job to tell everyone that they have this option, but she clearly didn’t consider the type of mother I am. I would have assumed there was some kind of note in Abe’s file like, “Mother is a rule-based nazi” or “Mother is completely literal” or “Mother cannot separate suggestion from I-MUST-DO-THIS-RIGHT-NOW-FOR-MY-CHILD-TO-LIVE”.

So I made an appointment at the early intervention program the next day.

Between the time I made the appointment and the day we went, Abe moved closer to 1 nap a day. This mean the appointment now fell smack dab in the middle of naptime. Perfect.
A doctor brought us into a little room where Abraham began  fussing, crying, and whining. I think I uttered, “It’s naptime” about 72 times. That’s when I started trying to talk to myself.
Stop. Don’t be that mom. She’s seen it all. She works with children who have severe developmental delays. A tantrum is not going to throw her.
She began asking me questions. Do I think he has hearing problems? Has he ever been hospitalized? Does he understand brief commands? She began doing these fun little  exercises with him like put the ball in the cup, play with the car, pick up the cheerio. He did all of these things easily.
Cohen 1, Doctor 0
Then she put pretend scissors on the table. He reached for them and she said, “NO!” in a super mean tone.
WTF? Stop yelling at my baby, woman. You clearly put the scissors in front of him to taunt him and then you yelled at him Why would anyone do that??
Abe didn’t let go. He left his hand on the scissors and laid his head down on my knee. I wanted to comfort him from the nasty old woman. “I think he just doesn’t know you and isn’t sure…”
“Oh no, he responded perfectly, Erin!. He pouted. That’s just what we want to see.”

Oh, right. Shut up, Erin.

She threw him a bouncy ball and Abe immediately threw it back.
Booyah.
She called his name and pointed at something. He looked at her and then look toward where she was pointing.
Perfect baby!! Perfect 10!!
She started asking about how many words he has and that’s when my throat started to tighten. “Well, he knows mama and dada but I’m not sure he knows which one of us is which all the time…”
“Ok. Abe, where’s mama?” the doctor asked. Abe smiled. “Where’s mama, Abe?” More smiling. “Is this mama, Abe?” Playing with car. “Ok, so he doesn’t know what to call you yet.”
Oh shit, she’s writing something down. Why is she checking that box? STOP WRITING THINGS IN PEN.
“Yes, but he does know sign language.”
“Oh, really?” She stopped writing. “Abraham, can you show me ‘more’?” He signs “more”. “Can you show me ‘please’?” He signs please.
“He can do ‘hungry’, too,” I announce.
Shut up, Erin. It’s not a contest.
“Oh, wow. That’s great that he knows so many signs, Erin.”
Ok, it is a contest. And we’re winning.
“I’m noticing he is understanding a lot of words. So it’s mainly expression he’s having trouble with. I’m wondering if he has some oral motor delays.”
And we’re losing.
Abraham pushes a button on a phone and  a dog barks. Abe barks. This is getting worse. I gotta wrap this up. I came here to satiate my neuroses, not to find out my child actually has some kind of delay.
“And when I look here at his numbers, cognitive, physical, motor, coordination, he’s above average across the board.”
Ok, we can stay.
“His communication score is actually at the cutoff, which means I could refer him for services but he will likely fall right in line within the next 3 months. I will put you on the 3 month call back list. If he still has no language, we’ll see him again to determine if he qualifies for services, but I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
Oh, ok great. So, we’re all set then? No services?”
“That’s right! He’s just fine. We’ll call you in 3 months to check in!”

Abe slept 3 hours that afternoon, likely because he was so traumatized by that awful woman telling him NO to a toy she clearly handed him. And as I reflected on the fact that I took my 16 month old to be evaluated for speech and language, I realized a hard a fast fact. I need to have more kids if this one is ever going to survive.

 

 

 

 

Cheese and Crackers, Hold the Crackers

So it turns out a lot of PCOS patients are suffering from a large amount of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by allergies, intolerances, and auto-immune diseases. When your body is inflamed, your adrenal glands are forced to choose between making the two hormones they’re capable of shooting out: sex hormones or cortisol. Sex hormones are the ones that help your body run the way it is supposed to reproductive-wise. Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone, also known as a steriod-hormone. It makes the body go into overdrive to try and fight off whatever is attacking it. When your cortisol flows all day long, the rest of the systems in your body slow down because they get the message that, hey! Something is terribly wrong! This is no time to make a baby! Run!

This is all essentially what my nutritionist thinks is happening in my body. He believes the culprit to be gluten because apparently 70% of the population has an issue with gluten*. So that was the first bit of advice he gave me: no gluten. Which is in everything. So, he said, “Erin, no everything for the next 2 months.”

Then he handed me some supplements. First was vitamin D. Did you know that vitamin D actually turns into a hormone in your body, boosting your immune system and making stuff run right? Me neither. I thought vitamin D was a sun burn.
Next came Omega-3s. This is another way for the body to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Last is Meta 1 3-C.  It is a small pill from the move Back to the Future. No, just kidding. When the adrenal glands are shooting out cortisol, your sex organs (well, my sex organs) begin making more hormones. The problem is that the only hormones they CAN make are estrogen. Too much estrogen mucks up the works, and sends your liver into overdrive trying to filter them all out. So Meta 1 3-C helps my body metabolize the estrogen so my liver doesn’t have to. Again, reducing inflammation in my body.

After 2 months of this, I actually got my cycle (for the men who are reading, and hello to both of you, that means my lady time when there’s no sexy time) twice. Two normal cycles. That has never happened to me in my ENTIRE LIFE.

Note the "Biohazard" stickers.

Now that we are narrowing in on some of the culprits, the next step is to figure out what it is I could be allergic to (if it is indeed gluten or a combo of foods) and my exact hormone levels from one end to the other. As soon as this is crystal clear we will be able to design a plan perfect for my body. Which means I have to take a spit and poop test. That is not it’s medical name. It’s medical name is Saliva and Fecal Test, but I call it the spit and poop test. Basically over the course of 3 days, after not having caffeine or cruciferous vegetables or red meat (which, incidentally, is the crux of my diet when I can’t eat gluten), I will spend an entire day spitting and pooing into the vials in the picture.

Some poor soul in a lab somewhere will then have to OPEN these vials and REMOVE THE CONTENTS in order to run the necessary tests. If I could fit it in the return box, I’d send incense.

I’ll get the results in February. Until then I will be enjoying my last few weeks of, “What? I don’t know FOR A SCIENTIFIC FACT that I can’t eat bread!”

 

 

*This is a stat I only half remember so I may have it wrong, but the reason behind it being so high is because grains are not anything close to what they were 1,000 years ago. They’re all subsidized and genetically modified. Not fit for human consumption.

Stay at Home Mom’s Gratitude Journal

1. Today I am thankful that Abraham slept until 7:30am. I woke up by myself shorty after my husband and we chatted in bed.

2. Today I am thankful for the handheld steamer that my sister in law gave me for Christmas. I stood in the bedroom steaming my husband’s shirts while Abe played nearby. I didn’t have to worry about him pulling the iron over on himself and scaring his perfect little face. That’s something I worry about when I iron.

3. Today I am thankful for crib tents. The one I own kept my son in his crib for an extra 20 minutes while I finished cooking and eating my own lunch.

4. Today I am thankful for having cooked and eaten my own lunch.

5. Today I am thankful that every, single, freaking sock in all 4 loads of laundry I did ended up with a perfect partner. Even Abe’s socks.

6. Today I am thankful that my child shouted, “BA!” when the phone rang because it makes me think someday he will say a real word when the phone rings which makes me think someday he will be able to communicate to me what the hell he is asking for all the time.

7. Today I am thankful that the Vitamix Whole Food Recipe booklet contains sauce recipes so that I didn’t have to think about making dinner special and fun when preparing chicken. I’m also thankful that my basil plant still had a few leaves left on it.

8. Today I am thankful that people in the grocery store smiled when Abraham screamed like a little girl in the dairy section, not because he was angry but because he could. Except for that one woman. And she can suck it.

9. Today I am thankful that we have enough dining room chairs to block off the two huge potted plants we had to pull in from the freeze last night. Abe loves dirt.

10. Today I am thankful that I got the sheets onto our bed after only having to turn the contour sheet once, counter-clockwise.

 

What are you thankful for?

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