Stickin’ It Out

Recently Randy and I have been battling deep anxieties about determining the next “big step” in our lives.

Although Randy is dedicated to working with at risk youths for a non-profit organization, he is eager to work in his field of study, IT Management. He would love to find another job in IT, but we know how difficult it is in this recessive economy to land a job, and it’s even more challenging to switch careers.

For me, being a stay at home mom living in a small studio has slowly taken its toll on me and Evan. We often find ourselves feeling so confined in our small home, also because we don’t have a second car to get us out of the house. The restrictions of living in such a small space for me and my growing energetic toddler becomes more difficult every month.

There’s only so much freedom playing in the backyard or a walk around the neighborhood can give you.

If we reveal the dreams in our hearts, you will see that our family’s goals are for Randy to work in an IT department, to move out of California, and to settle our family in Colorado, where the lifestyle is slower and the cost of living is more affordable.

However, we understand that it’s just not logistically reasonable to uproot our family at this time.

My husband initially thought of looking for another job now, but that would mean he would be competing with all the recent college graduates who are willing to accept jobs for lower pay.

Also, my biggest concern is that even if Randy could land a job, even in his desired field in IT, there would be a lapse in our coverage as he waits a few months to qualify for health benefits for our family.

After hours of heartfelt discussions, we ultimately decided that although our hearts are eager to move out of San Diego to relocate to Colorado, the most responsible move is for us to wait.

We have to wait for a better time to move. When Randy finishes his IT degree with CSU Global in a year and a half, or even maybe before that, when he has acquired a couple of IT certifications, we will surely be better equipped to face a job search, a career change, and an interstate relocation.

Randy and I in the end decided that retaining our family’s health insurance is more important than his desire to change careers and my desire to live in a less confining house. Especially because we’re trying to get pregnant again, protecting our health insurance is inarguably our bigger priority.

In the meantime, as we wait another year for our lives to transform, we continue to have faith that God has prepared a wonderful life ahead of us. We know it won’t be easy, and our patience and understanding will have to be rigorously tested daily, but we choose to believe that a better life is possible for us sooner than later.

We have to just believe, support each other, count our blessings, continue to work hard, be patient, and always, always trust in the Lord that He will never forsake us.

Like my good friend Rowena advised, “Have faith in the Almighty. He watches out for you, your friends and your family.”

We may not be at our desired destination, but every day that we work hard for our family continues to be a step in the right direction.

DISCUSSION

  • What are some of your family’s life goals that had to be put on hold for better timing?

Share your story, your story matters.

I Want To Become A Vegetarian

I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. Having a meatless diet has never been an attractive option to me before, but for some reason recently, my body has been yearning for more natural and plant-based foods. I’ve also developed an aversion to meat lately. No, I’m not pregnant by the way. I’m just curious about transitioning into a vegetarian-focused diet.

I’ve been studying the benefits of having a vegetarian lifestyle. One of the most helpful articles I read listed the following as some of the many benefits of being a vegetarian:

1. Lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer. A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help reduce the risk of lung disease and related illnesses.

2. Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is becoming more common with the rise of obesity around the world, and vegetarian diets may even prevent this disease by including complex carbohydrates and fiber that help the body manage insulin more efficiently.

3. Healthy skin. Diets rich in water-based and plant foods are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins-ideal for healthier skin every season.

4. Chemical-free food. Meat-based diets take in animal cells and fats, along with chemicals and byproducts used on the animals during processing. This can include chemicals sprayed on the dead animal, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients used for packaging and mass distribution.

5. Hormone-free eating. Unlike many meats we buy at the grocery store, fruits, vegetables, and soy products are not injected with growth hormones and “fillers” that may harm the human body.

6. Increased energy. With the body spending less time digesting animal protein, an energy boost is a nice side effect.

7. Lower blood pressure. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be naturally low in fat and sodium, helping reduce blood pressure and improve circulation instead.

8. Improved digestion. Plant-based foods and fresh fruits are rich in fiber, improving the digestion and elimination process.

9. Lower risk of Diabetes. Steady blood sugar is easily achieved with a nutritious vegetarian diet. The cycle of blood sugar peaks and crashes is almost eliminated without the meat and unhealthy carb combinations.

10. Lower grocery shopping bills. By shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and stocking up on high-fiber, highly nutritious food, vegetarians can eliminate almost 25% of their food budgets without pounds of meat on the bill. In some cases this balances out if the vegetarian shopper chooses to buy premium vegetable brands and gourmet ingredients, but average costs do tend to be much lower per trip.

11. Toxin-free food. Some studies suggest that when animals experience fear, the adrenaline rush causes a release of epinephrine, steroids, and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. These are then ingested by the meat eater, presenting a range of toxins that can accumulate in the blood.

12. Healthy amino acids. Plant-based proteins (e.g. soy) can be an excellent source of amino acids that help with protein assimilation and metabolism.

13. Low or no saturated fat. Vegetarian menus typically use all-natural oils and cooking methods to enhance flavor. This is free of unhealthy saturated fat which can lead to a variety of heart problems and cardiovascular disease.

14. Increased life span. With the body in harmony and free of harmful toxins and chemical buildup, vegetarians may live longer than their fellow meat eaters.

15. Appreciation for simple flavors. After eliminating meat from the diet, it becomes much easier to differentiate flavors and get a real taste for fruits and vegetables. Palettes can become much more sensitive to different flavors, textures, and combinations.

16. Healthy cholesterol levels. Without unhealthy meat and fat sources in the diet, cholesterol levels of vegetarians can be considerably lower and easily fall into a healthy range.

17. Lower risk of cancer. With a diet rich in antioxidants, phytochemical, and vitamins, vegetarians naturally lower their risk of cancer and other diseases. Meat eaters, especially those that indulge in fatty meats are at a much higher risk of cancer.

Impressive right?!?

Just reading this list once makes me even more convinced and inspired to learn how to become a vegetarian!

To explore this new chapter of my life, I will be entering several posts in the future about how I’m learning to become a vegetarian. Here are some of the questions I will examine:

  • How do I become a vegetarian?
  • Should I gradually lean into becoming a vegetarian? Or just give up meat all at once?
  • Once I’ve eliminated meat from my diet, will my body experience withdrawals?
  • What does a vegetarian grocery list look like?
  • Will my vegetarian meals still be satisfying?
  • How do I supplement protein and iron in my diet?
  • Should I also only feed my toddler vegetarian meals? How will having a vegetarian lifestyle affect my child?
  • What are the good “starter” vegetarian recipes I should try first?
  • What if I only eat lean meat like turkey, chicken breast and fish? Will this be a more satisfying alternative to being a complete vegetarian? In other words, instead of converting to a meatless diet, is having a “less meat” diet just as healthy?
  • Or does eliminating meat completely from my diet really that much healthier?
  • What about becoming a vegan?
  • What are the added benefits of having a non-dairy diet in conjunction with vegetarianism? Should I consider having a non-dairy diet in addition to a vegetarian diet to really optimize my health?
  • What are the most helpful books, websites and magazines for vegetarians?
  • Can I really make the commitment to becoming a vegetarian?

I look forward to learning all the answers to my very curious questions about vegetarianism.

I’m not quite sure (yet) how to become a vegetarian, how to maintain a being a vegetarian, or if I will even like the vegetarian lifestyle.

What I do know for sure is that I want to live a long and healthy life so I can grow old and gracefully with my husband but also more importantly, so I can be an example of healthy and abundant living for our son. For these profound reasons, vegetarianism is certainly worth exploring.

Please come back regularly as I share with you my journey to becoming a vegetarian!

DISCUSSION:

  • How did you transition towards a vegetarian lifestyle?

Share your story, your story matters.

Weaning a Toddler

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in several days. I’m in the middle of weaning our 20 month old toddler and it’s been quite a fitful week!

BREAK FROM BREASTFEEDING

As I mentioned in a previous post about expanding our family, my husband and I would like to get pregnant again, and we decided it would be best for my son to wean from breastfeeding before I get pregnant with our second baby.

I really want to give my body a rest before getting pregnant again. Although extended breastfeeding has been a positive experience for both me and my son, I’m looking forward to regaining my body back.

I JUST WANT MY MOMMY

My son has been nursing on demand ever since he was born, even through the night since we co-sleep with him as well. As an infant, Evan was never interested in bottles or pacifiers, he just wanted to nurse exclusively.

As Evan started eating solid foods at 6 months old, he received other forms of calories and nutrition aside from breast milk, but he still relied heavily on nursing for comfort and closeness with me.

But now that pregnancy is back in our family plans, I want to wean Evan from breastfeeding now, before I’m pregnant, rather than traumatizing him by abruptly forcing him to “quit cold turkey” once we’ve conceived.

I’ve known other mothers who continued to nurse their older child throughout being pregnant with another baby, but I don’t want to nurse while I’m pregnant.

TECHNIQUES

So that’s what I’ve been doing this whole week, trying to at least, weaning my very attached toddler from his beloved breastfeeding.

To wean Evan, I’ve eliminated his mid-morning and mid-afternoon nursing sessions. I take him on long walks and play a lot of silly games with him to distract him from his “comfort” feedings. I also give him plenty of snacks, offer him water and milk in sippy cups, and entice him with Big Bird apple juice boxes to keep him hydrated. If he really resists and becomes inconsolable, then I let him nurse, but no longer than 5 minutes on both sides.

So far, despite the battles, I’ve successfully been able to delay each daytime nursing session to at least 4 hours apart. Yesterday, he didn’t nurse for almost seven hours!

By the end of May, my goal is to only nurse Evan when he wakes up in the morning, before his one afternoon nap time, and finally before his bedtime at night. I imagine the nighttime feedings will be the most difficult to take away, but I’ll just have to cross that very long bridge when I get there.

RESISTANCE

Just as I expected, weaning has turned out to be quite a challenge. As a result from this new restrictive weaning schedule, Evan has been very grumpy, defiant, and irritable.

I feel terrible that my decision to wean has caused Evan to be so miserable. He must be so frustrated that he can’t nurse as often as usual, which was pretty much as often as he wanted!

NURSING AND WEANING AS SAHM

As a stay at home mom and his only caregiver, I didn’t mind nursing him on demand. I take great pride that I was able to nurse Evan so much, well past his first year. But now that I’m ready to stop breastfeeding him, it’s a really bittersweet period.

Another added challenge to the daytime weaning is that my husband is at work from 6 am to 6 pm. So I’m home alone with Evan all day, battling with no relief all the flaring temper tantrums filled with screaming, crying, arm-flailing, back-arching, pleading, and worst of all, the heartbreaking lip quivers : (

It’s so hard to refuse him repeatedly, especially because he’s my first and only baby. I hate seeing him cry : (

Weaning a toddler that’s so deeply attached to nursing will never be easy, I suppose.

There are many discouraging moments when I feel like giving up and I think in desperation that maybe I should just let him nurse on demand again.

But I know that it’s time to detach Evan from breastfeeding; my mother’s instinct is telling me it’s time to wean. 

IT’S GONNA BE OKAY

Seeing Evan so unhappy breaks my heart, but I have to remind myself that Evan will be okay. I have to just find other ways (cuddling, singing, reading, taking long walks) to comfort him and bond with him besides nursing.

Like during any major life transitions, I have to face this new chapter of parenthood with plenty of patience, persistence and grace. This difficult period requires a lot of adjustments for my entire family. Though I am confident that one day, Evan will eventually adjust to weaning, and he won’t have to be comforted by nursing.

I am so grateful that I was able to nourish Evan and bond with him through nursing for so long. Breastfeeding has been a beautiful experience in my motherhood journey. However, the time has come to end this chapter. I look forward to discovering new ways to connect and bond with my dear son.

“From the time you were a tiny seed inside me, you were fed from my body.
When you were born into this world as a baby, you were fed from my breasts.
Now, I give you this cup, so you can feed yourself.” ~ Shea Darian

Recommended Readings

DISCUSSION

  • How was your experience with weaning?
  • What were some of the most effective approaches to weaning your child?

Share your story, your story matters.