Archive for June, 2009

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Name-brand vs Generic Peanut Butter

June 30, 2009

I know… I haven’t forgotten. Last week I said I’d start comparing name-brand vs generic products, starting with peanut butter on Monday of this week (yesterday). I bought a little jar of Safeway brand peanut butter over the weekend, and it is sitting on my kitchen table. But I’m scared to try it! There’s a layer of oil on top, and it’s marked on the lid that “Oil separation naturally occurs with this product. Stir fully before use. Refrigerate after opening.” It may be natural, but my Kraft peanut butter doesn’t do that. And who refrigerates their peanut butter? I actually saw a debate about that recently, and it seems very few people actually refrigerate it unless it’s natural (organic type). Again, Kraft doesn’t say to refrigerate.

So let’s compare nutrition information:

  Kraft Smooth Safeway Creamy Old Fashioned
Serving Size 1 tbsp / 15g 1 tbsp / 15g
Calories 90 100
Fat 8g / 12% 8g / 12%
  Saturated + Trans 1.5g / 0g = 8% 1g / 0g = 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Sodium 70mg / 3% 0mg / 0%
Carbs 3g / 1% 3g / 1%
Fibre 1g / 4% 1g / 4%
Sugars 1g 1g
Protein 3g 3g
Vitamin A 0% 0%
Vitamin C 0% 0%
Calcium 2% 0%
Iron 4% 2%
Vitamin E 8% -
Thiamin 6% -
Niacin 10% -
Folate 15% -
Magnesium 8% -
Ingredients Select Roasted Peanuts, Soybean Oil, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Dextrose, Salt Peanuts

From the nutrition information and ingredients, I’d say the Safeway brand is kicking peanuts! But again, I’m scared to try something new (and I just finished a huge chunk of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory). Tomorrow I will actually TASTE the two kinds and see which one tastes better, and I’ll update it here.

Kraft versus Safeway brands of peanut butter - Kraft on the left, Safeway on the right

Kraft versus Safeway brands of peanut butter - Kraft on the left, Safeway on the right

Update um… 6 days later? I have finally tested both peanut butters. Yes I was scared to try something new. But we also had nothing in the house with which to eat peanut butter. No bread, no crackers, or celery or bananas. I would have had Court make some peanut butter cookies, but he was sick all weekend (which he kindly passed on to me last night). So to get to the gritty details, the winner is the Kraft PB!

To be fair, the generic PB tasted better, flavor-wise. It definitely tasted like peanuts – not that I was expecting anything else with only peanuts on the ingredient list. And if that was the only thing I was basing my opinion on, I’d say switch to generic! But, it’s not. The generic had a totally different texture, less smooth than the Kraft. Where the Kraft is sticky and gooey, the generic seemed to lose all of its moisture once it hit the back of my tongue. I had to take a sip of my tea in between almost every bite with the generic PB to wash it down. That, coupled with the separation of oil and needing to refrigerate the generic PB, means that I’m going to pay the extra to have that creamy goodness called Kraft peanut butter.

Check back soon (well, maybe in a week or two) for another name-brand versus generic review!

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DeviantArt on Display

June 30, 2009

5a64b90cc2ff11f4

Lunch-time – Audrey O’Haare by =Thally

Please note, this sketch is not animal-izing breastfeeding. The artist’s note on the piece reads: “Just goofing around, sketching! This time I’m giving Audrey some loving, here she is feeding her baby!” I take this to mean it is a recurring character for her artwork.

A small note about DeviantArt on Display: I have saved all of the artwork and uploaded to this blog simply because it only takes one person reporting this art as offensive for it to be removed from DeviantArt.com. They are beautiful, not offensive. This is why I am displaying them here.

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My birth experience

June 28, 2009

We didn’t plan to get pregnant. But Penny wasn’t an accident either. I stopped taking birth control 6 months before we got married. I’ve heard it takes 3 months to get birth control out of your system, and we figured even if I got pregnant right away, 3 months pregnant at the wedding was acceptable to us. I didn’t get pregnant until 7 months after our wedding.

For the first time in a few years, I’d actually motivated myself enough to go to work out with my best friend. We were talking about if I could be pregnant. I was having pain in my lower stomach that felt like the day before I’d get my period. I always had bad cramps, and the day before I’d start getting a dull ache. That’s what it felt like all the time. And my breasts were very tender. I had 2 pregnancy tests that I had taken about a week and a half before, which showed up with VERY faint pink lines. I chalked it up to the fact that they’d been sitting just inside an open window all winter. The day after exercising with my friend I went and bought a pregnancy test. And it was positive! Court was cleaning the litter box when I tapped him on the shoulder and held up the test. He kind of shrugged and said, “Yeah? And what does that mean?” I laughed and told him I was pregnant! I was due December 24th (of all days in the year…)

I was late (according to the doctors). But I was going to a Low Risk Obstetrics Unit, and one of the doctors explained that if I refused to be induced 10 days past my due date, I would be considered high risk and wouldn’t be able to give birth there anymore. Court has had 2 day surgeries at their hospital and we really liked all of the staff and how friendly they were. We told them we’d be back to have our babies there. I tried…

We drove to the hospital in High River (an hour away) for 8am Saturday morning, January 3rd, to be induced with Cervadil (to ripen the cervix and hopefully get me dilating). Before we left, they said I was having contractions about 11 minutes apart, but I couldn’t even feel them yet. We went home, putzed around a bit, then I had a nap. When I woke up I was having contractions, but wasn’t too sure they were contractions. I didn’t want to get Court worked up for no reason, but they seemed pretty close together, so I asked him to time them. 2 minutes apart and lasting a minute each! I called the hospital to ask if I should come in. Of course they said yes. It just seemed strange to me that there was no build-up, so I didn’t really believe I was in labour. Once we got to the hospital they checked me out and unfortunately I still wasn’t dilating very much. They also had 3 women in their delivery rooms already, with only 3 rooms in the hospital.

They kept me overnight, using morphine and laughing gas to get through. Because of the cervadil, at one point I was having 4 or 5 contractions one on top of the other, with no break in between. I remember trying to push my head through the bathroom wall because it hurt so bad. I remember vomiting once because of the pain. But they’re distant memories now. The morphine might have slightly helped, but not so that I’d remember it now. The laughing gas was interesting! I would use it all the way through a contraction, and the next, and the next, until I’d just about pass out. I had to start using it for the contraction, then switch to oxygen in between. Trying to get comfortable and get some sleep was not fun. I am not a back sleeper, but every time I tried to lay on my side the contractions would get stronger. I should have clued into this at the time, but hindsight is 20/20! The next morning my contractions were down to 20 minutes apart, a little bit more dilation (but still only 3 cm), and I wasn’t hurting during the contractions. At one point the nurse asked me if my water had broke. I said no, but she said my bed was wet. So I’m one of those lucky ones whose water broke and didn’t even know it!

After the anaesthetic guy, obstetric surgeon and on-call doctor had a talk, they decided that for a number of reasons, they didn’t feel safe delivering Penny there. Mostly because of how much water I was retaining would make it hard to put any drugs into my spine. They shipped me off to the Rockyview (allowing us to get ourselves there, not by ambulance).

Rockyview was also very busy and we had to wait for a delivery room. But I did get some measure of priority because I’d already been in labour overnight and my water had broken the night before. We got into a delivery suite about 8pm, got on the epidural and oxytocin and started from there. Sometime between midnight and 7am (I’m not too sure when…it was pretty boring) they got me started on pushing during contractions. It feels like it was only maybe 10 contractions, but they told me it had been two and a half hours. The doctor was concerned because I wasn’t progressing at all and started talking about vacuum extraction. I had let my epidural wear off a bit so that I could feel the contractions and push, and all of a sudden the doctor said yep, we’re doing the extraction. I didn’t have time to get the drugs back up so it hurt like hell. Penny made her very delayed appearance at 7:26am on January 5th. For those keeping track, that’s 47.5 hours since I was induced with the cervadil (but about 24 hours of labour, and maybe 3 or 4 of active labour).

They got Penny out and took her to clean up and I guess I just lay on the bed for about an hour and a half while they stitched me up, pulled my placenta out for me and dealt with a major hemmorage. I knew something was wrong but they didn’t say anything, so I didn’t even want to ask. Court just stayed with me and held my hand and talked me through it. I had to make him go take pics of Penny.

My birth experience didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted it. I didn’t want an epidural, but I wasn’t against pain relief. I know that if you get an epidural, you’re more likely to need other forms of medical intervention, and I just didn’t want to go down that road. I wanted to deliver in High River, and ended up in Calgary instead. I wouldn’t have opted for a vacuum extraction (who would?), but it is better than a cesarean. Since Penny was born, Alberta has started covering the cost of midwives ($3000-$3500). Midwives have hospital privileges, so you can have home birth, in a birth centre or at a hospital with a midwife. This is the route I’d like to go for the next time. I’ll also look at having a doula, but they aren’t covered so I’ll start saving now.

I want to move around, I want it to be more natural than it was. But more than that, I’d like to be in the comfort of my own home for the recovery. It was more of a stress for me to be sharing a room with a screamer who wasn’t getting enough to eat, and having a migraine that the hospital couldn’t give me any drugs for. I want to prepare myself better for the next pregnancy and birth, including yoga to limber up, and hopefully having less of a pre-pregnancy weight than I did this time. It’s a process I’m going to start now, in hopes of having an experience I want next time.

This post naturally leads into

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A Lighter Side of the Recession: Having a Baby in 2009

June 25, 2009

Welcome Babies of 2009 Carnival Readers! Once you’ve read my story, wander on down to some of the other links at the bottom of my post!

It doesn’t matter what news media you read or listen to – everyone, everywhere is telling you we’re in a recession.

re·ces·sion An extended decline in general business activity, typically two consecutive quarters of falling real gross national product.

People everywhere are losing their jobs, which is especially hard if you’ve just had a baby. My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost jobs recently, but especially those from our prenatal class. Some of them just keep pushing on and make ends meet. Others see it as a great time to get in on the reality tv show trend, like one couple who is a top 5 finalist for the My Rona Home show (CityTV this fall), where they build their own house in a head-to-head competition against another couple. The winners get to keep the house they built, plus all the furniture and accessories in it. The “losers” get to keep the furniture and accessories, and have the option to purchase they house they built. All in all, that’s not a bad deal, I’d say. From what I understand, the participants will be able to get friends to help them, as long as they are not tradespeople. The couple we know are well… not housebuilders by trade, so hopefully getting to watch them build their house is going to be amusing to say the least. Our fingers are crossed for them that they are one of the two couples who get to compete. They deserve the house!

For those who, thankfully, didn’t lose their jobs, times are tough. I’ve heard of normally-annual raises not happening, as well as salary increases being rescinded after the fact. When you’ve just started maternity leave and are bring in 55% of the bacon you used to be, the BLT is looking more like an LT. Then you find out that your amazingly hard-working husband is getting a raise, YAY! It lifts a bit of a load off your shoulders, you can afford the name brand diapers again. Wait… nope. Come February, hubby’s company decides that times are tough for them too and they’re going to take away the aforementioned raise. Oh well, we didn’t have it long enough to enjoy anyway. But speaking of name brands… Whether you have a baby or not (but more often when you have a baby), you do constant battles with name-brand versus generic when stretching your meager dollars out.

When to buy the name-brand:

  • Kraft cheese slices
  • French’s yellow mustard
  • Heinz ketchup
  • soft drinks
  • baby food (the generic contains almost 10x the sodium in the two I compared)
  • electronics (you have a new baby – you really think you can afford new electronics? ha!)
  • some people say Oreos – personally I like to store brand cookies, but Chips Ahoy, definitely name-brand!
  • Kraft peanut butter
  • Kraft Dinner (the generic is edible, but it ain’t no KD)

When to buy the generic brand:

  • Q-tips (or whatever the non-branded product is)
  • Superstore or Costco diapers (apparently work well, I haven’t personally tried them yet)
  • Fruity-O’s (generic Fruit Loops)
  • over-the-counter medications (they contain the same amounts of the same ingredients at half the price)
  • organics (according to AOL Money & Finance certified organic is certified organic regardless of the brand, so you will pay more than non-organic, but still less than branded organic)
  • pasta
  • Ichiban noodles (can’t think of the generic product name)

Obviously there will be other products in each category, depending on your preference and experience with them. Just keep in mind with food, check the labels. Quite often, generic brands have high sodium content which is a concern if you’re overweight like me and my husband. Then again, like Chad Skelton says in his recent article “Are Cheerios too high in salt to be healthy baby snack?“, some brand name products are high in salt too. Apparently Cheerios have as much salt as 30 potato chips!

Looking at the generic versus brand-name debate, I think I am going to embark on a weekly test of which is better. I will keep it focused on items bought at the grocery store (which is Safeway in my case – go AIRMILES!). Check back on Monday for my first review – peanut butter!

Money Talks … but all mine ever says is Goodbye!

When you have a baby, you quickly learn that you need to cut costs. But where do you cut, and where do you splurge? In a nod to my health, the environment and my wallet, I walked to the grocery store the other day. Packed up Penny in the mei tai, put the leash on the dog, and walked the 11 blocks. I only bought 2 small bags of items meant for dinner that night (thanks alot, Melodie! I was attempting her Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and didn’t have any of the ingredients). While in the store, it started POURING outside. I mean, the heavens let loose and if I’d bought some shampoo, I could have gone out and had a shower in it! The kid was bored and fell asleep – dead weight on my chest, the dog was terrified of the storm, and I was stuck 11 blocks from home. I couldn’t cab it, a la dog. If I started walking, we’d all be soaked. I seriously thought about calling my husband to leave work early, take the bus and come help me get us all home. Then I realized that would just make 4 of us soaked. In the end, another wonderful mother going in offered us a ride home, which we declined. So she lent us a blanket to cover sweet, sleeping, sack-of-potatoes kid. 20 minutes or so later, the storm passed on, we gave back the blanket, and slowly trudged home. Lesson learned: little bit of gas saved, maybe 0.2 ounces of weight lost, and 1 less footstep in our carbon footprint, but next time I’m driving to the store!

My one last attempt at saving money because of having a baby, is a library card. Invest in it! Stop supporting the big-box stores and buying $35 hardcovers that you read once, languish on your bookshelf (or stacked on your floor or dresser or even your couch), then get donated or recycled. Go spend the $13 or whatever it was on a library card. But, and this it a HUGE but, while you are still standing at the library counter, having checked out 6 books on parenting, 4 baby lullaby CDs, a recipe book for the husband, and one fiction novel that mostly likely won’t get read – take out your phone and program your return date in the calendar! If you let those 8 books and 4 CDs sit on your kitchen counter with the intent to return them the next time you head that way, you’ll find yourself with $21.85 worth of overdue fees when you finally make it there.

The biggest money saver at any time, no matter when you have your baby, is to breastfeed. It’s FREE! You can invest in some nursing clothes, but you don’t NEED them. You can invest in a breastpump or rent one (from OneTinySuitcase.ca), but you don’t NEED it. You don’t need bottles. You don’t need to worry about sterilization. You don’t need to carry everything with you when you go out. There’s just you. You and 2 built-in bags of pre-sterilized, customized-for-your-baby milky goodness!

There really are ways to save money when you have a new baby during a recession. The most useful one though, is to not be me.


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DeviantArt on Display

June 23, 2009

Melissa_and_Elijah_by_samanthaweber

Melissa and Elijah by samanthaweber

A small note about DeviantArt on Display: I have saved all of the artwork and uploaded to this blog simply because it only takes one person reporting this art as offensive for it to be removed from DeviantArt.com. They are beautiful, not offensive. This is why I am displaying them here.

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Drifting

June 18, 2009

The last few weeks have been… odd for me. I feel down and a bit depressed.

I’m not getting any work done around the house (not like I did much before, but now I’m not even doing the laundry and that was MY Thursday thing).

I want the elliptical moved out the garage because it was $60 and it doesn’t have an even stride on it. I love ellipticals. I thought great, I can get on there when Penny’s playing, and lose some of my baby weight (still 20 lbs to go). NOT! I want to clean out Penny’s room – she doesn’t use the swing, and now that she’s a rolling machine she doesn’t need the bouncer. There’s excess crap in there that needs to be either moved downstairs or gotten rid of to make it a little girl’s room.

I want the crap cleaned off the kitchen table. I mean, it’s not like we use it, but it has seriously become a catch-all for everything that doesn’t have its own place. Toaster, wine glasses, 3 dish towels, vase of flowers my wonderful husband brought me because he thought I was down, tupperware containers, a bowl set that I want to get rid of, a basket full of bottles and pump parts. Not to mention the box underneath the table with food for the food bank and a bag of old washcloths that I’m getting rid of.

The bathroom needs to be cleaned. Our room needs to be vacuumed. The runner is still sitting on the front step from when I swept. The front garden bed has grass growing into our bedroom window (not literally but it’s about 3 feet tall), the dog can’t find a place to do her thing in the backyard because THAT grass is so tall. I had been making an effort to go through our stuff downstairs and get rid of garbage and junk and repack (neatly) the stuff that we still need to keep. Then I go downstairs yesterday and it looks like someone dropped a bomb in the basement. The lawnmower and weed-whacker are down there (because our landlord has yet to get the previous tenant’s shit out of the garage). My computer is in pieces down there. There’s boxes of crap, there’s rubbermaid buckets of crap. Oh crap, there’s my all-season tires which should be on my car. It’s June and 30 degrees and I have winter tires on still. Then again, it took me until December 10th to get the winter’s put on.

I just look at everything that needs to be done around here and I feel like shutting down. I can’t do it all myself, and I’m not even expected to. Court’s a big help. He’s been doing laundry the last couple of weeks (even though our definitions of “doing laundry” differ). Court cleans the kitchen… it’s his domain, and if I even dare wash one sink of dishes or put clean ones away, he goes into a tailspin thinking he’s not good enough for me and doesn’t do enough around the house for me. He remembered to take the diapers out before the garbagemen came this morning – for which I’m thankful. He does extra work for people on the weekends to make some extra money (which I am oh so good at spending). He’s a great husband! He cooks, he cleans, he treats me like a queen. If he’s getting up, do I need anything. If he’s sitting down with me, do I need anything. Can he get me a drink, do I want my feet rubbed, do I want to change the channel? He’s supportive of everything I do, and everything I could want to do. He’s supportive of me. He loves me and is very vocal (sometimes a little too vocal) about it. And he likes to show me he loves me too. He’s perfect for me, we’re perfect for each other.

So when he asked me last night why it feels like everything he does is wrong, and things don’t feel right between us, I adamantly said no, nothing’s wrong. But something IS wrong. I’m reminded of the movie Juno. “I feel like something has come between us,” she says, with a very pregnant belly in between them as they try to hug. Something has come between us, and her name is Penny. We both love her very much. We both devote our time and energy to her. It hasn’t left much for us, individually or as a couple.

I know we’re not the first parents to be affected by having a baby. By the way, have you noticed that I really hate when people tritely say “You’re not the first woman/parent/mom/couple/person to be go through __________”? I don’t care how many people have gone through it before me. They are not me. They don’t have my life experiences to know how to respond to any given situation the way I need to respond to it.

Anyway, back to drifting apart. I can go to all the parenting websites and read about making sure we have a date night just for us. The articles I read though just seem so impersonal and fact based, and don’t take into account what’s actually happening in different people’s lives. For example, I am exclusively breastfeeding. I have been unable to pump any significant amounts of milk (hence my email to Stacey at OneTinySuitcase.ca to come get the pump I rented). Penny refuses to eat formula (SMART GIRL!), and refuses to drink from a bottle. She doesn’t eat enough solids yet to base a meal solely on that. And she still eats every 2 hours during the day (day being when I get up to when I go to sleep). So tell me, how are we supposed to go out for dinner without her? How are we supposed to go to a movie without her? Penny goes everywhere with me. At this point, I am her supplier of all things food related, and I don’t see that changing overnight.

Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. We’ve been experimenting with solids – some pureed, some solid food like cantaloupe and cucumber. The solids don’t make a full meal for her yet. But maybe I’m depressed by the realization that soon they will be, and I’m mourning the nursing sessions that solid food will replace. I also have no idea how to transition to solids. Sometimes she’ll eat something, then nurse after. Sometimes she’ll eat a full meal of solids, but then that will leave me engorged. Or this is what happens in my mind – we haven’t actually tried yet.

Has anyone gone through this stage (and by that I mean lots of moms have gone through it, but are you willing to talk to me about it) of drifting apart from their significant other? And feeling useless and like you could be doing better as a mom but just don’t know how? What did you do that helped?

I go to playdates (which is bizarre for me because I’m normally an anti-social person). I had post-partum depression (I think I did, the docs did nothing and it did go away, so maybe baby blues). I’ve asked for help and been blown off so I think it’s pointless. I have no faith in our health region – they’ve failed me 3 times now since Penny was born. I had retained products of conception (fancy term for piece of placenta still inside me), that took 5 months to get out. I was depressed and they kept sending me to the emergency room for it, and nothing got done. And my milk supply had decreased and the public health nurses that I saw said “We’ll save you the trip to the breastfeeding clinic. Just feed her whenever’s she’s hungry.” Gee thanks. I never thought of doing that. She had only gained a pound in a month and a half prior to that. I went to the breastfeeding clinic (against the public health nurses’ advice), started domperidone, and Penny has since gained 2 pounds in 3 weeks. So to me, the Calgary Health Region (now Alberta Health Region I believe) equals FAIL in my mind. Why are they making it so hard to ask for help, only to be blown off when you do?

I am now rambling. I think I need to get up and do something. So I will put on a load of laundry before my little princess wakes up hungry. And then I think us girls, Hershey included, will go for a mei tai walk. I need the snuggles.

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DeviantArt on Display

June 16, 2009

As_nature_intended___by_Raynah

As nature intended.. by *Raynah

A small note about DeviantArt on Display: I have saved all of the artwork and uploaded to this blog simply because it only takes one person reporting this art as offensive for it to be removed from DeviantArt.com. They are beautiful, not offensive. This is why I am displaying them here.

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