Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

And The Winners Are… Dawn Meehan Goes Home with These Mommies! April 30, 2009

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Over the past month, I’ve held a contest to give away 4 FREE copies of Dawn Meehan’s new book, “Because I Said So…And Other Tales From a Less-Than-Perfect Parent”!

As a special surprise, I’d like to announce that I will give away FIVE copies of the book to the following  Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides Readers: Beverly, Tisa, Linda, Debbie B. and Wendy. (Each will be contacted through email.)

 Meehan began her writing career with a hilarious eBay auction for a package of Pokemon cards inadvertently placed in her shopping cart by one of her six (yes, SIX!) children during a particularly harrowing grocery shopping trip. The story she told was so engagingly funny (haven’t all us moms had our own “special” moments in the grocery store with our own wild monkeys, er, innocent cherubs?) that her popular auction listing earned her appearances on NPR, ABC World News with Charles Gibson, CBS and CNN. (And she sold the cards for $142.51!)

Dawn Meehan’s wonderful, warm and funny book is filled with tales from the motherhood trenches, as she pokes fun at her mothering mishaps–but always with a tender heart toward her family.

Learn more at Guidepost Books, or visit Dawn at


Noah is TWO Years Old! Birthday Slideshow April 21, 2009

My baby is two. I suppose this means that he is no longer a baby, but I am in denial. Besides, it’s what he calls himself. If I write his name for him, he recognizes the word “Noah” right away by pointing to it and saying “Baby!” I sing his full name to him, and he joins in, but the second anyone asks his name he points to himself emphatically and affirms it again: “Baby.”

Sigh. To be honest, I’m surprised to discover that his turning two has caused me to long for another child. I suggested to my husband we try for a girl, to which he simply and flatly answered, “no, ma’am.” He doesn’t call me ma’am, so I can assume this means the topic is closed for discussion.

In honor of Noah’s birthday, we celebrated by inviting his baby cousins Audrey and Juliette, along with my best friend’s daughter Malia to a mommy-and-me morning at our house. I gathered together a series of age-appropriate (aside from my 4-year-old Joseph, who acted as “helper”, all guests were under age 2) puzzles we have in our playroom, and everyone sorted shapes and colors, while interacting with one another.

Then, I put out a collection of little instruments, and the babies shook maracas, banged on drums and shook bells and tamborines, and we sang songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle and Eensy Weensy Spider.

My husband was kind enough to create a circuit on the floor using colored masking tape, and the little ones chose from a small selection of pull-toys and raced them around the circuit. This was great fun, and helped them get some exercise, build hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills while problem-solving.

Outside, I put out a little table with some brushes and washable paint, but no one cared, because I’d also set up a small station for waterplay. Just a single tub with water toys was all that was needed to capture and hold their attention. Next year, we may simply have a water party! Everyone loves getting elbows deep in the water on a sunny day!

After all the fun, they were ready for lunch—4-cheese mac ‘n cheese and organic brown rice with lentils for the kiddos, and salad and pesto chicken for the mommies. Noah had selected a football-themed cupcake cake, and before long everyone was green in the mouth from the frosting’s dye. We shot a 10-minute video of him very thoughtfully and purposefully eating it. He tried with his fingers, then fork, then two forks, measuring the value of each… he was very deliberate. The whole time, you can see Joseph popping up and down as he does circles around the room flying on sugar.

Little Joseph did a great job entertaining the babies. He made them howl with laughter with all the silly baby-provoking antics he’s crafted over the last two years.  Below are some cute moments from the party–enjoy!

Looking for more birthday party ideas? Check this out.


See Natural Childbirth… in a mattress commercial April 19, 2009

My sons were born at home. Their labors were fast, low-risk and love-filled. Without the interference of drugs, we were free to come together in the natural euphoric state of endorphins (and oxytocin!) which greatly enhance the joy and comfort of natural birth. While I delivered both times in a birth tub, my husband and I took our new baby each time to our own bed, where our midwives (Karen and Sue from Blessed Beginnings) gently administered all the newborn screenings, right there on the bed with us, then let us be together quietly as a family. We laid awake all night, gazing at our child in awe, love and amazement in the comfort of our own home.  

This might be shocking to some readers. I guess it isn’t if you live in Spain, where this mattress commercialis aired, depicting a young family (Carolina and Nicholas Umpierrez of Barcelona, Spain), delivering their second baby at home, right there on the mattress where they delivered their son, who also attends the birth. I thought it was so beautiful, I cried.

The slogan for the ad campaign reads, “Tu cama, el lugar más importante del mundo,” or “Your bed, the most important place in the world.” Whether bed is the most important place may be debatable, but one thing I know for certain is natural childbirth is just that: natural.

Click here to watch the commercial

If you are considering a homebirth and have questions, please feel free to contact me. If you have a list of all the complications which may have occurred during my two births, please do not trouble yourself by sending it. A good midwife will help a pregnant woman make responsible decisions to facilitate a low-risk birth, and will advise a hospital delivery if she detects the necessity.


Eat Cheaply: Bohemian Bowl with Lentils and Kale April 3, 2009

Like any small investment, we want the most bang for our buck. I look at food as an “investment” because I like to eat good food—that is, good tasting, good quality and good for me. On a tighter grocery budget, I’ve been revisiting the food-buying habits of my early college days as a planet-friendly macrobiotic. Someone commented at the time, “why would anyone choose to be macro-neurotic?” but it kept me out of the doctor’s office, made me overwhelmingly conscientious about eating natural, wholesome food, and was easy on the purse-strings. At the time, I also believed it entitled me to a certain amount of self-righteousness—my yang to the yin of a pious dietary regimen.

Throughout my life as a foodie, legumes have figured prominently on the menu, but few equal the nutritional powerhouse of the lentil. And you can pick them up for little more than song! Jeff Yeager, TheUltimateCheapskate, recently purchased one pound of dried lentils at the dollar store, commenting, “I said in an interview in the Boston Globe recently that I consider lentils to be the perfect food — healthful, delicious, and cheap; a perfect example of the joys of eating lower on the food chain. Another Globe columnist then decided that my lentil worship was worthy of public ridicule. But based on reader response to his op-ed, he learned a painful lesson: Hell hath no fury like the scorn of Lentil Lovers.”

According to the annual survey by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® national public health initiative, fruit consumption has dropped 12% since a year ago and vegetable consumption is down 6%. This is the fourth year PBH has conducted their survey, and the first year a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption has been noted. I can only assume the trend is financially-driven, as the public is more informed about health and nutrition than ever before.

Like peace, change begins with one person. This tremendously nutritious recipe will not break the bank, and makes a big enough pot to enjoy throughout the week. Serve with a crusty bread, with a dollop of plain yogurt, or with a poached egg, or over a bowl of protein-rich quinoa, or ladle it over an omelet…

 2 cups black beluga lentils or green French lentils OR 16 ounces cooked lentils (canned or try Trader Joe’s 1-pounder in the produce section)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted for a lovely, smoky flavor)
2 cups water
3 cups kale, deveined and finely chopped

If your lentils are dry, cook them! Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, then add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, place a soup pot over medium heat, add the onion and salt and saute until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, cooked or canned lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes. (Hardy greens like kale or collards taste quite bitter if they are not cooked long enough. Simmer until they become soft but not mushy.) Serves 6 to 8.

Food Fact! Sensible food choices never go out of style. Since prehistoric times, lentils have been a versatile food staple congenially absorbing a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings in stews, soups and loaves. Available year-round, lentils are an amazing source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, provide excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein, with virtually no fat.
Legumes are associated with an impressive 82% reduction in risk of heart disease thanks to the significant amounts of fiver, folate and magnesium in these little powerhouses. For those maintaining a low-carb diet or managing insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, lentils help balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy, and can increase  energy by replenishing iron stores. 
For those at risk for iron deficiency (menstruating, pregnant and/or lactating women, young children and adolescents), increasing iron by consuming lentils is especially beneficial because, unlike red meat (another source of iron), lentils are not rich in fat and calories. 
In the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Jacob traded a pot of lentils to Esau for his birthright, and in Ezekiel, lentils were part of a bread that was made by the Jewish people.

One more thing to consider….

Healthy Diet Guru Kathy Freston wrote Wednesday on the Huffington Post about the unbelievable effects that cutting back on meat would have on the environment

“Did you know that if everyone was vegetarian for just one day, the US would save 100 billion gallons of water, 1.5 billion pounds of crops, and 70 million gallons of gas?  That is enough water to supply to all the homes in New England for close to 4 months, enough crops to feed the states of New Mexico for over a year, and enough gas to fuel all the cars in Canada and Mexico with plenty of gas to spare.”


WIN a Green Vacation in California’s Wine Country April 2, 2009

WIN 3 Nights Free Lodging at
Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa, and
A Self-Guided Tour of Napa Valley’s Green Wineries

Quick poll for parents!

How long has it been since you enjoyed a good night’s rest?

__ Last night!    __ Last week    ___ Last month   ___ Sometime before I got pregnant with my first child. Maybe 2004?

What types of stress are a part of your day-to-day life?

__ work obligations   __ parenting issues   __financial struggles  __ pollution

Do you or your family need any of the following:

__ Downtime   __”Me” time    __ Vacation! 

Enter SolarDay 2009’s free Green Vacation sweepstakes  for solar and green winery fans at

During your stay, visit the 500 animals at nearby Six Flags, Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA.

By registering for the green vacation sweepstakes, the winner gets to stay at the first LEED Gold hotel (and solar-powered) Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa in American Canyon, Calif., just south of the town of Napa.

While staying at the hotel the winner can visit the many green, sustainably farmed, organic and solar-powered wineries in nearby Napa Valley. Boththe hotel and the wineries operations demonstrate how we can live greener, more sustainable lives. And, you’ll get a chance to relax and unwind as a family. The value of the room for three nights is $400.

The short registration form only takes about 10 seconds–sign up, and go green!