Organic Farm Buddies: Your Baby’s New Best Friend!

tf013-bBabies always need something to chew, hold, slobber on, and kiss! While perusing a super cute baby boutique in Traverse City, Michigan, I came across one of my all time favorite organic toy and teether lines…ORGANIC FARM BUDDIES! This line was created by Apple Park, a United States based company committed to creating eco-friendly and adorable products for our kids. tf045_ps_new

I purchased Penny The Pig-Blankie. She is part stuffed animal, part rattle, and part blankie! My daughter loves her! Organic Farm Buddies also come as rattles, stuffed animals, and as gift sets. The best thing about each of these creatures is their personality! For example, Pork Chop is a little pig dressed for Karate.

tf003-b_newtf065tf053-item

all_mushroomrattleApple Park has a series of Picnic Buddies as well as super adorable teething toys. The wild mushroom rattles are one of my favorites, and who can pass up an apple seed rattle! Pair the apple seed rattle with a little book on Johnny Apple Seed, and you’ve got one super cute baby gift!  Put the wild mushroom rattles with a fairy onsie…cuteness! tf020-btm007

tf007-b_new_2Each series of toys gives you the opportunity to talk with your child about animals, nature, and healthy food. Apple Park has made things just a little more awesome by creating free stories and activities for your child’s little buddy. They also have a book about their Picnic Buddies. You can check it out on their website. All of these images come directly from their website. You can also find these cuties on Amazon. tf069-item

From The Mom in Me, MD

Our Infertility Journey (1.6): Time to Tell Someone Our Secret

I wrestled with idea of sharing our infertility struggle with others. At times I wanted to shout it from the top of the Empire State Building. My whole world now revolved around trying to make a baby the unnatural way. I needed support. I needed prayer. I needed encouragement. I needed an army of shoulders to lean on.

I was hesitant to share this part of my life with even my closest friends and family. Saying out loud that we couldn’t get pregnant and that IVF was our only option for biological children somehow felt like confessing a deep dark secret. How would I even start the conversation? What would they think? Would they look at me differently? Would they pity me? I didn’t want their pity. I didn’t want their opinions.

I mustered up the courage to tell my best friend from childhood first. It’s strange how sometimes talking to someone other than family is easier. Actually, telling a stranger probably would have been the easiest! As children, teenagers, and young adults, Renee and I had always shared our secrets, our struggles, and our dreams. She felt like a safe place to start. I knew that she wouldn’t judge. She wouldn’t try to fix me. She would listen and she would keep my struggle to herself. For now, that’s what I needed…someone to safeguard my broken, yet hopeful heart.Sad woman is talking to the phone in bad, in home.

Next up was my family and Dave’s. I started with my sister first. Her reaction was marked with intense emotion. I could even hear her tearing up on the phone. Somehow, I felt the need to comfort her…to tell her that everything was going to be fine. Funny how the patient role often makes you the comforter. My sister’s second reaction was to ask if Dave had done something to cause this-as though a spell of infidelity had made him infertile! I reassured her that Dave was a model husband, and nothing that he had done had caused our situation. In fact, all of his tests had come back normal…no genetic anomalies, no autoimmune anomalies, normal testosterone levels…nothing to explain his scarce supply of sperm. Although I call his supply scarce, Dave would chime in that he still has millions of sperm… just not millions enough!

After telling my sister, I moved onto my parents. In the process of telling them our situation, I also had to educate them on In Vitro Fertilization. I was glad that they didn’t know that much already because some circles have distorted IVF, making it into something bizarre and immoral. IVF babies are not test tube babies. To be specific, they are petri dish babies. In the past, IVF may have been used irresponsibly, but most states and infertility clinics now have regulations regarding how many embryos they will transfer and what will be done with embryos that do not survive. The lab at our medical center was very conservative. We were not throwing away viable embryos, nor were we transferring excessive numbers of embryos at one time.

My parents were fine with the idea of IVF if that was our only option. However, my mother questioned our timing. She was concerned about the effect the medications might have on my body and my emotions. She was also concerned about my support system. Dave was working insane hours as a surgery resident, and I didn’t have any family closer than 10 hours away. Although her points were valid, I felt my frustration rising as I listened to her suggestions over the phone. Shouldn’t I wait until Dave finished residency? Shouldn’t I consider other options?

“NO!” I firmly replied. I was doing this on my own time table. I had already waited for years to have a baby. No timing was ever going to be ideal. I didn’t have the luxury of time…my fertility clock was ticking. Who knew how long it would take us to get pregnant! What if we never got pregnant and instead decided to adopt. That process could take forever as well!Empty Swings 2

My mother innocently started dishing out advice. “You need more rest. You need to make sure that you are taking all of the right vitamins. You need…You need…” I love my mother, and I value her advice, but what I really needed was to feel that I was in control of an out of control situation. What I needed was to have baby…yesterday. I knew that I was overly sensitive, but I felt entitled to my emotions. I asked my mother to support me and love me through this, but not to give me advice. I had never said anything like that to her before, but that was what I needed. I think that she was slightly taken back, but she respected my request (which I’m sure wouldn’t have been easy for any mother).

I asked Dave to tell his family the bad news. His mother knew more about IVF than my family had. Her education had come from watching The Giuliana and Bill reality TV show on the Style Network. I think that it was difficult for Dave’s mom that our infertility was his “fault”. On several occasions she asked if I could also be part of the problem. This may be me reading into the situation, but I assume no parent ever wants something to be wrong with their child. Since my workup had been normal, I told her that it was actually a good thing that we only had male factor infertility. Because Dave’s morphology and motility were both normal, we had a much better prognosis of getting pregnant with IVF.

Next, I decided to tell my friends who lived in our area, many of whom were in medicine or married to someone in medicine. I loved this group of girls. They became my adopted family for the years that we were in residency. To this day, we have all stayed in contact even though we have spread across the country. They were supportive, but none of them had first hand experience with IVF…yet. Only one had experienced infertility, but she was consumed with mothering her newly adopted baby. It was a little hard to fully relate when several of them had easily gotten pregnant within a few months of trying. They threw out suggestions such as getting away for the weekend, having less stress, etc. Although they were good intentioned, none of these suggestions were helpful. No amount of weekend get aways was going to change our situation.healthy middle aged woman doing fitness stretching outdoors

One of my coworkers had gone through infertility treatments several years prior. She became my mainstay of support. She understood much of what I was going through. My situation sounded pale in comparison to hers! Her only option for getting pregnant was IVF as well, but this was because she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 19. Because her ovaries had been removed, she needed an egg donor. Her sister generously volunteered, and my friend got pregnant on her first round of IVF. This gave me hope and a profound sense of support. Having a fellow infertility patient to confide in and lament with was incredibly therapeutic.

Out of necessity I told my boss and the office manager. I knew that my schedule would radically change with daily ultrasounds and frequent procedures. They were incredibly understanding and supportive. My manager had family members who had been through IVF cycles, and I also learned that another coworker had success with IVF on the first try…with twins…! Twins! Oh boy, two for the price of one was not my idea of a bargain.

I started to realize that although I felt alone, I was not alone. Many couples were struggling with infertility. Many weren’t talking about their struggles because of the stigma that infertility brings. But, those who were willing to open up about their struggles made my struggle just a little easier. Call me weak, but I needed a support system. Who doesn’t? I wanted to talk to someone without feeling shamed or embarrassed or broken. I wanted sympathy, but I didn’t want pity. Although my family and friends never knew the perfect things to say, knowing that they cared about my struggle was support in and of itself. I didn’t need them to say anything. Most of the time I needed to talk. I needed to vent. I needed to be hopeful, sad, mad, desperate. I needed to voice my frustration and my devastation. I needed advice free listeners.Vintage Women

I swore them all to secrecy. I entrusted my most precious struggle with them, and I asked them to handle it with discretion. I didn’t want everyone knowing my business. I was new to the world of infertility, and I didn’t like the label. The longer that I’ve worn it, it has become a little less scratchy. Clearly, I’m now sharing my story with the world!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Our Infertility Journey (1.5): Feet in the Stirrups!

I had read all that I could. I came up with my list of questions…that every physician hates…and I prepared myself for success. I scheduled my hysteroscopy and determined that I didn’t need a hand to hold; well, because I wouldn’t have one. As a surgical resident, my husband wasn’t given much leniency in time off. According to his residency program nothing could be more important than work-not his wife, and certainly not a baby…what a distraction! I prided myself on being tough. I was a fighter. This wouldn’t be too bad. Besides, all they had to do was take a quick peek with a tiny camera inside of my uterus.

Determination

The woman who took me back to the exam room was indifferent. Was my infertility story less intriguing that other women’s? Less dramatic? Less heartfelt? Or, was she numb from years of rooming infertility patients? I excused her insensitive air by deciding that it was early, and she was simply having an “off” day. She must care, right?

My scrutiny of her cold behavior was interrupted by the white sheet that she thrust at my waist. “Undress from the waist down, and cover up with the sheet,” were her parting words. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “from the waist down” over the subsequent year! It was as though I didn’t have anything above my waist.

I sat in the room for what seemed like an eternity. I’m not complaining considering that I have made patients wait much longer in the past. However, I have gained an appreciation for what it feels like to wait…to wait for good news…to wait for bad news…to wait for a cycle…to wait for a test…to wait for a doctor…to wait for a procedure. Life seemed to turn into a big waiting game; with the main objective being to wait for a baby.bright background, autumn bokeh and wooden floor

My biological clock was ticking. I was 30 years old. I had done everything right. I had gone to college, gone to med school, finished residency. I was working on my MPH from the most prestigious school of public health in the nation. I had done all of these things first instead of having a baby because this was the “right” way to do things. I now felt each click on the clock. With each stroke I felt my egg supply diminishing and my already limited fertility ticking away.

Were these the things I was thinking about while waiting for the hysteroscopy? Probably, but to be honest I don’t remember. All I remember is that I was having a pity party-and rightfully so! Who wants to have a camera stuck into their uterus on a Monday morning before heading into work?The Equipement Of Gynecologist Room

I had taken my Motrin prior to arriving, as recommended. The speculum was in, and the camera was inserted through my cervix. “Okay, this is not supposed to be painful,” I told myself. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. The physician’s assessment that, “You might feel a little bit of cramping,” was highly understated. I held my breath and started counting the seconds. My mind was like a record stuck on repeat. “This is almost over. This is almost over!” It was as though by reciting this phrase I thought I would miraculously speed up the procedure. The cramping felt like labor, and the duration of the procedure felt like a full term pregnancy. At that moment, I not only would have appreciated a hand to hold, I would have preferred one to crush!

The good news was that I was given good news. Everything looked beautiful, and my uterus was the perfect place to grow a baby. I was excited and relieved. At least one thing was going our way. I quickly dressed and then waited once again to speak with the doctor. She told me that we could proceed with IVF as soon as I was ready. Who knows if and when they are ready for IVF? How can you ever know if you are ready for something so intense and unnatural? I didn’t know if I was ready for IVF, but I did know that I was over-ready for a baby!Mother and her Newborn Baby. Happy Mother and Baby kissing and h

As I headed to the check out counter, my goal was to leave as quickly and stealthily as possible. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, this was the med center where I had completed my residency. I knew a lot of people here! Because I had moved onto a different medical center after residency, any and every acquaintance I ran into always wanted to find out why I was there and what was new in my life. When someone sees you in an OB/GYN office, and you are in your 20’s and 30’s, their automatic assumption is that you are pregnant. Not only do they assume this…they feel that they must confirm their assumption by coyly asking, “So, umm do you have some news?” I decided on this particular day that my answer would be, “Yes, I’m pleased to say that I have a uterus!” Clearly, avoidance was a better tactic.

Without fail, on the several recent occasions that I had been to the gyn office, I happened to run into the same physician assistant each time. He was dutifully accompanying his wife to her prenatal visits. Of course, he assumed that pregnancy was my purpose as well. I began to wonder how many times I could get away with “routine gyn exam” as my excuse. Hmm, those are usually done yearly; I had now said this to him three times in 2 months! He thought I simply wasn’t ready to share my exciting pregnancy news. In response to my, “No, I’m not pregnant,” he actually teased and said, “What’s wrong with Dave! Do we need to check his sperm?”Crying woman

I tried not to cringe, but my body wanted to physically revolt and recoil. I felt every word of his insensitive statement. It was like a line drive into my chest, my stomach, and my heart. I wanted to sarcastically retort, “No, that has already been done. And, yes, I would like to have a baby more than anything in this world, but unlike you…we can’t get pregnant.” Instead, I smiled and mustered up a little laugh. “Good one. Maybe we should get him checked.” Again, what a way to start a Monday morning.

From The Mom in Me, MD

Our Infertility Journey (1.4): Show Me The Money!

IVF…IVF…IVF…I slept, ate, drank, and breathed the same thought over and over again…IVF. Wasn’t there another way to get pregnant? An easier way? A less expensive way? As soon as our reproductive endocrinologist uttered the words intrauterine insemination (IUI), I was ecstatic! But, before I was even able to share my enthusiasm, she shot down my hopes with the number 10. Crying woman

10-15% success rate for us with IUI? My heart sank once more. I didn’t want to waste anymore time, and we couldn’t afford to waste any money. Since we would be paying out-of-pocket for everything that insurance didn’t cover (which our doctor informed us would be most things) she advised us to think through our options carefully. IUI was more than a long shot, and at $1,500 a cycle, it sounded like money down the drain. But, one cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilization) would cost us around $15,000! Talk about sticker shock! I almost fell off of my seat! With my husband still in residency and my student loans coming due, how would we be able to afford that? Was it worth trying intrauterine insemination at what now sounded like such an affordable cost? But, what if it didn’t work and we still had to go onto IVF? Again, my mind was racing.

Dave and I needed to make a decision quickly because my work up would depend upon which intervention we chose; if IVF, then they would need to make sure that my uterus looked good. If we wanted to do IUI, then we would need to check the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. IVF skips the egg release into the fallopian tubes, so a simple camera into the uterus (hysteroscopy) in the office could be done instead of an additional test with dye through the fallopian tubes (hysterosalpingogram). Our reproductive endocrinologist told us that we could think about it for a few days and then give her a call to schedule.

The same day that we found out that IVF was our only real option for having children, I was scheduled to leave for Michigan to volunteer with my sister’s non-profit which runs performing arts camps for disadvantaged children in inner-city Detroit. On top of being devastated by our situation, I had not shared our struggle with infertility with anyone yet, including my family. It was too personal. Somehow, it felt embarrassing. I felt inadequate and like we were broken.

In the midst of being unable to have a baby, it seemed that everyone increased the frequency with which they asked when or if we wanted a baby. My polite answer was always the same, “Yes, we would love to have a baby, but we will just have to see. Dave is still in residency, and I am working on my Masters in Public Health while practicing medicine at the same time. We are just so busy. We want to make sure that we are able to give a baby all of the attention it needs.” Our story, which had once been true, now felt like such a lie…a line just to get us by.Happy Family On The Beach. Mother And Baby Daughter

Patients loved asking me if I had children while I examined their own children. It was always an innocent question. My answer was, “Not yet!” with a smile. Their response was always, “Oh, really, but you are so good with kids! You should really have a baby.” My mental response… “No kidding!” while I politely smiled and tried to change the subject.Beautiful Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her C

My mother in law would jokingly ask when we were going to give her a grand baby. Since Dave was an only child, we were her only hope for grandchildren. Somehow her question made me want to point the finger at her son and say, “It isn’t me. Ask your son why we can’t get pregnant.” That sounds horrible to say. It sounds like I am the mean wife blaming her husband, but in the midst of pain and grief comes some anger.

In addition to everyone asking when we were going to get pregnant, everyone around us was getting pregnant…at the drop of a hat. Stories such as, “Well, I had just stopped the pill for half a day” or, “We weren’t even trying”or, “It is such bad timing but…” Although I was happy for everyone about to add to the human race, their fertility only cemented my devastation. I won’t lie; The painful reminder of our silent infertility did create moments of jealousy.

Now, back to my Michigan trip. In addition to the pain of working with little children (as a constant reminder that I may not be able to have my own), I had the added pleasure of starting my menstrual cycle. Yes, just to confirm once again my inability to conceive. My family noticed that I was not my usual self, but I tried to put on a brave face and just said that I was working some things through. All I wanted to do was to go home so that Dave and I could decide on our next step. I didn’t want to be away from him at a time like this. I wanted to make a decision and move forward.

When I finally got home from Michigan, I spent more time than I should have looking at medical sites on infertility. I looked at our chances of success based on the statistical breakdown of causes leading to infertility. I was consumed. After lengthy discussions over just a few days, Dave and I decided to proceed with IVF. We poured over our bank accounts and tried to figure out where the money would come from.Young woman shows her empty pockets, isolated on white

The Infertility clinic had advised me to call our medical insurance to find out about coverage. The conversation with the insurance company still makes me fume. The woman on the other end of the phone felt that she needed to educate me on the definition of infertility. She informed me (with her vast amount of medical knowledge) that infertility was not actually a medical problem. Therefore, treatment was not covered by insurance. NOT A MEDICAL PROBLEM! I calmly asked her if it was not a medical problem then what type of problem was it. She conceded that infertility was a medical problem, but that treatment was not medically necessary. “Not necessary for whom?” I asked, because according to my reproductive endocrinologist it was necessary for me!Money in syringe

I guess her point, which she eventually got to was that having children was not medically necessary. Hmm, interesting. I could have insurance cover procedures to tell me that I couldn’t have children, but I couldn’t get them to help me get pregnant. It seems that preventing pregnancy is medically necessary since birth control is covered, but on the flip side, helping someone get pregnant is not necessary. This is a little counterintuitive. If a woman should be able to manage her own reproductive health and sexuality…shouldn’t she be able to get the assistance she needs to have a baby? From my perspective, comprehensive women’s health care should include enhancing fertility not just limiting it. Regardless, our conversation did not change the system or my access to infertility care. Instead, I was tersely informed that I would be a self-pay patient.

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

The best baby pajamas: organic cotton and bamboo always felt this good!!

600 MA L

BabySoy Footed and Mitted Sleeper

I love Babysoy! Not only does this brand make some of the softest sleeper pajamas for babies, it’s also ecofriendly (babysoy pajamas are made from 50% organic cotton and 50% soybeans or cotton and 50% bamboo). Although I focus on the sleepers, this company also has super cute t-shirts, rompers, hats and more. Let me tell you the four reasons why I love these so much.

1. Eco-friendly

BabySoy531SE_125

BabySoy Hat

I’ve already said it, but I will say it again. Babysoy uses organic cotton, soybeans, and bamboo! What a delicious combination for bundling up your little one. If you aren’t on the eco-friendly bandwagon quite yet…don’t fear…I have other reasons that you should love this brand’s products. Read On!

2. Super Cute500 OC L1

Just because something is organic, it doesn’t mean that it has to be plain. Nope, these jammies are super cute! Babysoy has teamed up with other artists and companies including Jane Goodall to produce adorable animal prints including kangaroos, bunnies, and Ink and Wit for some equally stylish animal scenes. 650 LY L

 

3. Great hand mitts

My daughter used to scratch her face to smithereens. Many of the common brand pajamas made for older infants don’t come with hand mitts, and the silly little mittens that are sold separately are a joke. By the time my daughter was just a few month old she had figured out the art of pulling those off in her sleep. The attached fold down hand mitts on these sleepers are much trickier to open! Haha! Tricky Mommy! Scratch free baby! 600 RP L

4. Extra Comfy

Because these products are made from cotton and soybeans or bamboo, they are incredibly soft. Your baby won’t have to wiggle to get comfortable. The fabric is anything but scratchy. To be honest, I’m a little jealous! 102CA L

Check them out and let me know what you think. They wash well, wear well, and are worth the price. If you are past the infant years…these make adorable baby gifts. Just pair it with a super cute organic teething ring or finger puppets! All of these images are taken directly from the Babysoy website where you can make your purchase. Amazon also sells this brand (for all of my Amazon Prime fans!)

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

Butterscotch-Caramel Brie with Dried Apple, Pecans, and Cranberries: an appetizer worth craving!

Running sport fitness woman. Closeup of female legs and shoes in

YOU MIGHT NEED TO TAKE A RUN AFTER THIS ONE! CALORIE LOADED BUT TOO GOOD TO PASS UP!

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that wows every time? This tasty version of caramel smothered brie does just the trick.

The tasty supplies:

1 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch and Caramel Topping (you may have to hunt for this in the grocery store, but most mainline stores do carry this. If you can’t find it, it is okay to substitute with a mixture of Butterscotch and Caramel from another company such as Sanders. If you have the time, you can also order Mrs. Richardson’s online from Amazon)

1 bag of dried apple slices

1 bag of dried cranberries

1 cup of whole or chopped pecans

1 wheel of briecheese

How to smother your brie:

Simply heat your Butterscotch and Caramel in the microwave or stove top until warm. Add in your dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour over the wheel of brie. Serve with crackers. Oh, my goodness! It doesn’t get any better! So simple…so fast…so good! Great in the summer for picnics, fall for tailgating, winter for the holidays, and spring just because!

From The Mom in Me, MD

Fired Up for Garlic-Pepper and Lime Fish Tacos on the Grill: super healthy…super tasty!

photo 1

That’s my husband’s, “These are killer tacos” face!!!

photo 4Growing up, I always gagged when my mom said that we were having fish for dinner. But, today, the main ingredient in one of my favorite recipes is FISH! I guess my taste buds have matured over the years. So, lets talk fish tacos. These have gained popularity over the years and have ended up on a lot of menus. I’m going to give you the skinny on my healthy, home cooked version. Fire up the grill! It’s taco time!

How to Fill Your Taco Shell: 

1 package of soft flour or corn tortillas

1 package of shredded Mexican cheese

1 package of tilapia (3-4 filets)

garlic-pepper seasoning

olive oil

1 cup light sour cream

1 package taco seasoning

1 package chopped cabbage

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 large fresh lime

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 red onion finely chopped

2 stalks of scallions finely chopped

1 vine ripened tomato chopped

1/4 green pepper chopped

1 sprig of fresh cilantro finely chopped

Let’s get this Fiesta Started! 

For the Fish: 

Start by rinsing your fish. Place them in a bowl and lightly coat them with olive oil. Sprinkle the garlic-pepper until the fish are evenly coated on both sides. Let them sit in this mixture while you prepare the rest of the food. Now cup up your lime into small wedges and place on a plate.photo

For the Cabbage: 

Pour approximately 1/4 of the bag of chopped cabbage (or if you chopping your own about 1/3 of a cabbage) into a bowl. Add your lime juice and your mayonnaise. Chop up one stalk of your green onion/scallion and 1/2 of your red onion and add to mixture. Mix and set aside.photo 4

For the Sour Cream: 

Mix your sour cream with 2 tablespoons of your Taco Seasoning Mix (if you want it to have more flavor feel free to add more seasoning. I usually do this to taste.) Set to the side.photo 1

For the Pico De Gallo: 

Use the remainder of your scallions and red onion and mix with the chopped tomato, green pepper, cilantro, and your garlic salt. Set to the side.photo 2

Back to the Fish: 

I always cook my fish right before we are getting ready to eat. It doesn’t take long to cook on the grill, and the tacos always taste best with hot fish. Heat the grill to a medium temperature. Place your fish directly on the grill. Make sure that their length is perpendicular to the grill slats so that they don’t fall through as they start to get flaky. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side or until fully cooked (grilling times may vary).photo 1

Loading your Tortilla: 

I usually let everyone make their own tacos at the table. Everyone starts with the flour tortilla, spreads a layer of the sour cream mixture on the bottom. Adds some fish. Then tops with the cabbage mixture, pico de gallo, and cheese. The last step is to squeeze fresh lime on top! Delicious and healthy! I usually pair this with a watermelon salad and chips and salsa.photo 2

From The Mom in Me, MDIMG_8320

Anyone craving a free form tart (Galette) with Cherries???

Galettes are one of my favorite desserts. They can be made with most fruits including peaches, pears, apples, raspberries, and plumbs. Their simplicity and understated elegance add to their sumptuous flavor. Since we are in the middle of cherry season, I thought a Cherrie Galette was the perfect taste treat to feature today. Pick some cherries…roll some dough…eat some tart! Let’s get started.fresh red cherries on a wooden table

What your kitchen counter needs to get started: 

1/2 package of refrigerated pie dough. I usually grab the 14 oz Pillsbury package.

3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch

3 1/2 cups of pitted Rainier cherries (you can use any kind that you want, but these are a little sweeter than other types of cherries. If you choose a different kind, increase your sugar by one tablespoon.)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons buttermilk (you can make your own by mixing 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before using)

Raspberry Galette

This is a raspberry galette! Just as delicious!

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (this is the coarser sugar often used on the top of muffins)

Lets get free form tarting! 

DSC00047

sitting in a French cafe awaiting my dessert! More galette please!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull out a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Unroll your pie dough onto the parchment and roll/form it into a 12 1/2 inch circle. Mix your cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of your granulated sugar with a whisk. Once whisked, sprinkle this mixture over the dough, but leave a 2-inch border. Now you want to mix your cherries, the other 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the lemon juice, and lemon rind. Spoon your cherry mixture onto the dough. Again make sure that you leave a 2 inch border. Fold the dough border over the edge of the cherry mixture. This isn’t a pie! The dough is only meant to fold over the edges of the cherries like a tart. It won’t cover the entire top! Press the dough edges softly to seal them. Next brush the edges of your dough with the buttermilk you made. Pull out the turbinado sugar and sprinkle this over the dough edges as well as the cherries in the center. Place your free form tart (galette) in the oven for 25 minutes or until you notice that the dough is slightly brown and the cherries are bubbling. Once you have whisked it from the oven…let it cool on the cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Now all you need is a plate, some vanilla bean ice cream, and a spoon! Oh, how I love European desserts!!!! This recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine’s Cakes, Pies, & Cobblers 2014. 

From The Mom in Me, MD

Get Your Baby Out of Your Bed: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Update!

Co-sleeping has gained popularity over the years. Cuddling and snuggling…doesn’t that offer the greatest sense of security for your baby? Yes, but not in your bed! A recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, confirms that the highest risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants three months and younger is bed-sharing. While this doesn’t erase the risk of SIDS from co-sleeping for older infants, it does help moms realize that sleep environment safety is of the utmost importance from day one.Baby Sleeping With Mother

Unfortunately, day one is when bed sharing is the most attractive. Your cuddly newborn longs to be held, snuggled, and fed constantly. And, while napping in bed with your infant may make nursing more convenient…it’s just too risky. Trust me, I know how exhausting nursing a newborn can be! Co-sleeping does let moms get just a little extra shut-eye at night, and in a sleep deprived world, every extra moment of sleep counts! But, moments matter for your infant as well. It only takes a moment for your child to become a victim of SIDS or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). That is a moment that you NEVER want to encounter!Fingers Of Newborn Baby

Having had a preemie, I know more than many moms about kangaroo care. For nine weeks in the NICU all that I did was Kangaroo my baby (Okay, I did a little more than that according to the breast pump and stock piled freezer and fridge). Even after we made it home, I continued to Kangaroo for months. There is definitely evidence to say that skin to skin and close contact with an infant is imperative for their mental and physical wellbeing-from heart rate and breathing regulation to increased oxygenation and bonding. And, while I’m an advocate for kangaroo care, I’m also an advocate for SIDS and SUIDS prevention. Doing what is safest for an infant is always what is best in the short-term and long-term. While there may be validity to the benefits of co-sleeping/bed-sharing, these benefits don’t out weigh the risk of death from SIDS and SUIDS.Newborn Beautiful Baby Sleeping

Every mom wants to do what is best for her infant, and creating a special bond between baby and mommy is definitely BEST!  Ensuring INFANT SAFETY is also BEST! So…what’s a mom to do? Here are some SAFE ways to bond with your infant (note…co-sleeping/bed-sharing doesn’t make the cut!)

1. Take the time to snuggle your baby during the day (or, if you are working, snuggle in the evening)Mother Playing With Her Baby Boy Son On Bed

2.  Let your infant sleep on your chest…while you are awake. You can do this in bed or in a recliner as long as you are awake and aware of your baby’s position.

3.  Incorporate Kangaroo Care (skin to skin contact) into your routine. Strip your baby down to his/her diaper and either take off your shirt or use an open, button-down shirt. Place the baby directly on your chest and then cover over with a blanket. Enjoy the special bond that skin to skin contact can bring. (If you are breast-feeding you may even notice that you have a milk let-down. If you have trouble with let-downs Kangarooing would be great to try before feedings)Young Mother Breastfeeding A Baby In Nature

4. Carry your baby in an infant carrier such as a Moby or Ergo when you are up and about. This will allow your baby to enjoy your sense of closeness while allowing you to get things done around the house (who am I kidding! REVISION…while it allows you to wash pumping equipment, bottles, and pacifiers that the dog stole)Happy Mother Breast Feeding Her Baby Infant

5. Sing to your baby even if you have a horrible voice! If it is truly horrific…talk to your baby in soothing tones. Your baby was used to hearing your voice before delivery. Hearing you now will bring your baby a sense of security and calm. If you can’t think of what to say, reading a book to your infant is another great way to engage and bond. It’s also great for your child’s language development.

6. Massage your infant. Massage has been found to have a relaxing effect on infants. Its benefits have even made it a part of many NICU’s occupational therapy sessions for preemies. In addition to providing relaxation, infant massage can help with constipation and gas! It also helps prevent the newborn (especially preemies) from being hypersensitive to touch and can even enhance a baby’s immune system.

7. Play with your baby. While this may sound trivial or like a no-brainer, play time with your infant  creates an important bond. Letting your infant see you smile, laugh, tease, and tickle will enhance your infant’s sense of security and love. You may even be rewarded with a squeal!Beautiful Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her C

While these are just a few ideas to promote infant and mommy bonding, take the time to find other safe and fun ways to create special connections with your baby. While co-sleeping/bed-sharing may have its benefits, err on the side of caution. The bond that co-sleeping brings isn’t worth the risk of SIDS or SUIDS. Don’t be a mom with regrets!Mother Father And Baby Feet Under Blanket

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

My Love Affair with George Clooney’s Italy…Lake Como

012

Why the stars love Lake Como…umm who wouldn’t? My husband and I had been planning to revisit Italy after he graduated from residency. Although I was 23 weeks pregnant, I was up for the journey. Who wouldn’t be up for three weeks in Italy? We started in Rome but then made our way north toward Lake Como. I love European train rides, but I don’t love getting luggage on and off of them. Thankfully, I was pregnant (excuse central) so I left the heavy lifting to Dave.Iphone 1157Iphone 1129

I hadn’t anticipated the temperature difference between Rome and Lake Como, but I was grateful for the comfortable drop in temp. Rome had been almost unbearable, as had pretty much every part of the world that summer. Pregnancy, 120 degree weather, and limited air conditioning are not a happy combination. My favorite place in Rome was in the pool or in front of a fan!

Seeing Lake Como for the first time was like stepping into a scene from a movie. It is breathtaking! The charm of the winding streets, the beauty of the mountains against the water, the picturesque villas…a fairytale destination for sure. We decided to split our week between two hotels on opposite sides of the lake. Our first stop was the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. This charming hotel is situated on a hillside, offering great views of both the mountains and the lake. The restaurants and spa were charming, and the lounge and billiards room were like something from a different era. Although the hotel had an in-ground pool on the hillside, they also had a floating pool on the lake! Yes, floating! It was one of the coolest and literally coldest pools I have ever been in (okay, my TOES have ever been in. That’s as far as I made it!) Lake Como is chilly! And, while they say that the floating pools are heated…I question the Italian’s definition of heat.IMG_1461Iphone 1260Iphone 1310

We spent our time roaming the streets, lounging by the pool, and enjoying the pizza and pasta. On our second day we hired a driver for a day trip to Switzerland. I figured that if we were that close we had to make a dedicated chocolate run across the Swiss border. The following day we took a ferry-boat over to Bellagio. On the way, we passed the house where the James Bond Casino Royal movie was filmed, Villa La Gaeta! Too cool!

Bellagio is beautiful. Little shops and restaurants comprise this town filled with antiquity. My favorite stop was for Hot Chocolate! You may question this on a hot summer’s day, but Caffe Bar Rossi, the oldest coffee shop in town with a front row view of the lake, is known for their amazing coffee and hot chocolate. Since I was pregnant I was staying away from coffee, but I wasn’t going to pass up chocolate! I also had the best risotto that my tongue has ever tasted at a little restaurant down the strip (unfortunately, I can’t recall the name). We took the time to enter the historic gardens and park in Bellagio, Giardini di Villa Melzi. It was a beautiful hike and it offered amazing views of the lake.Iphone 1276Iphone 1183

Hopping back on our ferry, we headed back to our hotel for the last time before moving across the lake to Casta Diva Resort and Spa. This hotel comes with all of the amenities. It was recently built and the accommodations are probably the best on the lake. The service and food at the time was so, so, but I would return for the spa, pool, grounds, and accommodations. It was here that we met a lovely couple from the Ukraine who decided to host us for a couple of days. Oh, did I mention that they were mulit-mulit-mulit-millionares! They were Lake Como regulars and were generous enough to show us the sites on a private boat. The way to see Lake Como is definitely by boat! They were able to point out George Clooney’s villa and even took us to a luxury hotel, Villa d’Este that evening for dinner where Clooney was dining! What more could a girl ask for????? Okay, on a disappointing note, Clooney was hidden in a private tent away from the rest of the diners (poor Clooney…he didn’t get to enjoy the spectacular view of the hotel or water. It must be tough being famous). I’m not usually a star struck kind of girl, but knowing that Clooney was only a few yards away from me…!!!!Iphone 1300Iphone 1453

Iphone 1430Getting into the restaurant was quite the process. We were taken by a private driver, and then the guys were brought ties on a silver tray (since they were slightly under-dressed). Once their attire was up to code, we were led to an enchanting candle lit outdoor dining room. Tables were filled with fine china, gourmet pasta and risotto, and of course branzino and sea bass. Local fish is a huge part of the Lake Como experience. Since I was pregnant and unsure of the mercury content…I passed. However, the parmesan Risotto was love at first bite. How anyone can make something that spectacular from rice and cheese…???Iphone 1449

The following day, Dave and I took our own boat ride on the lake. It was amazing. When we returned, we headed to the spa and to this hotel’s floating pool (still freezing!) For dinner that night we went to another Clooney favorite, Ristorante Navedano. Although we didn’t get lucky with his presence two nights in a row, the food was still delicious and the setting charming. Make sure to have cash on you when visiting Como because many of the restaurants don’t accept credit cards! We learned the hard way. Dave ended up doing dishes and I cleared tables (okay, not really, but almost!)Iphone 1323

Iphone 1186As our time in Como came to an end, we sadly packed our bags and headed south from Milan toward Rome. With less than a dollar left in cash (again, Lake Como is pretty much a cash only destination…which we were unaware of!) and one pregnant momma dying for some bottled water, Dave generously handed me the last of our coins. In the meantime he said a prayer and felt in the bottom of the vending machine. Can you believe that someone had forgotten their change! It was just enough for another water. After a week of luxury, it was funny that we were now foraging vending machines for change:) It was worth it though! I’m not sure when we will make it back to Lake Como, but I’m sure we will return at some point. My one week love affair was amazing, but it definitely left me wanting more!photo

From The Mom in Me, MD