I’m A Half Organic Parent, And That’s Okay
Yep, I’m trying to be an organic mom. Well, somewhat. As much as I can be.
And I get slammed and challenged for it at every turn.
I’m a child of the 80s, a generation who thrived off of new and excitingly convenient packaged foods. I love it all: Kraft dinner, Cheese Whiz, bologna, frozen pizza, bottled salad dressing, cheese slices, the works! But when I had a baby I realized that I could help create a new little person’s tastes and preferences, encourage healthy eating from the get-go, and I ran with it.
I breastfed… reluctantly, and I hated it every single moment, and I held out for four months until (thankfully) he started refusing it. But I’m glad he got it. When it was time for solid foods, I started him on only organic veggies and fruits… and so the bullying began. “Are YOU eating only organic too?” “Organic is such a hoax.” “What’s the point – he’s going to have regular food eventually.”
OK, I’m by no means an expert on organic, but I do know that in order for companies to be certified organic, they have to adhere to certain guidelines, and personally, with all the crap that is going on with our food, if my organic options are being a bit more scrutinized, then I’m happy to pay more and go with the organic for my child.
I hit a bit of a wall with the organic options once the baby moved onto meat… first of all, organic meat is exorbitantly priced. It’s outrageous. As much as I was paying extra for organic produce and grains, we couldn’t afford to go all organic with meat too, so instead, I researched. I looked into where the meat at my grocery store and local market was coming from. I scrutinized labels. I went to farm websites. We visited a farm and stocked up on their hormone-free meats after seeing what a great place it was. We spoke to our butchers and fish guys and sourced the freshest meats and seafood we could find. We even have an egg guy at the market and get our eggs the day after they’re laid.
Now we’re into toddler-hood and this kid eats everything (and when I say everything, I literally mean we’ve given him everything from pickled eggs and Brussel sprouts to smoked salmon, trout, lemons, and humus, and he has never refused a single thing). So going organic is difficult… my entire kitchen would have to be filled with organic options and my bank account would be in the red. My halfway solution: no processed foods. Whole grains. Organic and local as much as possible. And food with labels that I understand
I try and make everything from scratch, from dips and salad dressings to cookies, soups and stocks, breads, and more. I’ve mastered an array of Popsicle flavours and fruit roll-ups are a cinch to do yourself. We eat whole wheat pasta and bread. We even got our son involved in our veggie garden this summer, where we made daily trips to pick tomatoes and berries, and took him apple picking (if an apple a day keeps the doctor away this kid will live to be 130!) – he was excited about all of this.
And I go local. When there are two bins of broccoli and one is from Quebec and one is from California, why would I choose the latter? Local produce is always fresher, meaning healthier, and you’re supporting a local company. Do you pay attention to where your produce is from? If you’re buying fruit from Chile, consider how long ago that fruit was picked.
Being a fan of organic is like being a Nickelback fan: it’s hard work. You find yourself constantly defending your choice (when it’s a better healthier one, so go figure!) and constantly having to research food sources to ensure legitimacy.
“What are you going to do on Halloween?” Um, go trick-or-treating, and get candy, and have the occasional treat.
“What if your son goes to a birthday party and they’re serving hot dogs?” Truthfully, he’ll have a dang hot dog. I’m not crazy! Even though I’m trying to encourage my son to enjoy healthy foods, and even though he still genuinely wants a pear instead of a homemade peanut butter cookie (seriously… this happened the other night), I know kids are going to have junk at parties and sporting events and at school. And that’s awesome – if anyone is a fan of the junk it’s me! But the junk shouldn’t be your go-to food choices (like they are for me), and if I can encourage that, awesome!
Top 10 Challenges of having an active toddler
Want to know what’s challenging about having an 18-month-old who is always on the go? EVERYTHING!
I love that my son is so exploratory and has such great energy, but there are times when it can be absolutely exhausting as a parent! Here are the top 10 challenges of having an active toddler.
10- Mornings. Early mornings. Like 6am mornings where you go from a dead sleep to chasing around a kid who is tearing through Tupperware while munching on Cheerios that he’s littering across the floor after leaving a trail from his bedroom to the kitchen of clothes (socks, PJ top, blanket). By the time I’ve made my coffee I’ve done more than I used to do in an entire morning of my pre-baby days.
9- The messes. By the time I’ve tidied up his bedroom he’s dumped two more bins of toys in the living room. While I’m cleaning that up I can hear the sound of books being tossed here and there in the kitchen. Sigh…
8- The PVR backlog. It literally takes me all day to get through a one-hour show (thank goodness for “Pause”). My husband and I were religious followers of a number of series and we’re now seasons and seasons behind. How can I keep up on my TV viewing when I have to constantly watch my son?!
7- Staying one step ahead of him. I am constantly anticipating what he’s going to get into next. One day he can’t reach the top of the counter and the next day, he can, meaning knives and cutting boards and hot beverages all need to be rearranged so they aren’t within reach. Twenty-four hours ago he couldn’t open doors but now he can, so there are even more things to get into, more messes to make, more dangers to keep mummy and daddy on their toes.
6- The shot nerves. My son loves to “dive” off of the very top of the couch. He’ll climb up shelves, onto the kitchen table, or on top of stacked toys. He shows his older friends how to turn his toy bins upside down and stand on them while pounding his chest like a gorilla. Seriously… my nerves are shot. Seriously.
5- Figuring out mystery marks. Does your kid all of a sudden wake up with a little dot-shaped black-and-blue on his forehead or shin? A strange little scratch on his cheek or finger? A rip or a stain on a shirt? Or am I the only one?!
4- Keeping up on snacks and drinks. Active toddlers need lots of fuel, so we find ourselves constantly filling sippy cups and putting out snack plates to ensure our bean is topped up.
3- Discovering the hiding places. Maybe it’s just our kid, but because he’s all over the place, he seems to stash things while he’s on the move. I’ve found socks, washcloths, bottles, puzzle pieces (that sometimes I’ve looked for for days), stickers, diapers (clean, thankfully), Tupperware lids, spoons, and electronic devices (like our TV remote and cellphone) stashed just about everywhere.
2- Not being an active adult. My husband and I like to do things, and I’m a busy bee at home with my own little projects, but for the most part we have a rep of being homebodies. So keeping up with a kid who is buzzing more than the Tasmanian devil is, well, challenging (to say the least).
1- Witching hour. You know: that hour leading up to bedtime that seems to draaaaaag on forever and ever? By 6pm (God love him) I’m ready for some quiet alone time. But it seems that in that hour, our bean is especially rambunctious, running here, there and everywhere, making messes just for the sake of the mess and the noise, yelling, dancing, and basically running amok.
Hooray for fall, my favourite season of the year after summer and winter.
Pinterest is all aflutter with great ideas for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and general fall merriment. What’s your favourite thing about fall?
Yep, who doesn’t love apples in fall? This is a fun way to jazz up those crunchy autumnal gems: peanut butter apple nachos!
Such a lovely table setting in such unique and unconventional (yet oh-so-PRETTY!!!!!) colours
I love handprints. And feathers. And clothespins.
Q-Tip art – fun!
Come follow me on Pinterest!
Am I the only one who can’t turn my brain off? Like my brain is literally thinking until the moment I fall asleep and then kicks back into gear the second I open my eyes.
No wonder I wake up with migraines!
I’ve taken yoga that involves meditation and I concentrate and listen to the instructor tell us, “Clear your miiiiiind. Let everything goooo,” and I open my eyes just a crack to see if anyone else is sitting there running through to-do lists in their heads and they’re all peacefully sitting cross-legged in their Zen-ified states. WTF is wrong with me?
How in the hell do you clear your mind?! The closest I get to clearing my mind is thinking of white…. like actually making myself THINK of the colour white, which is technically not clearing my mind because I’m stressfully repeating to myself, “You’re not thinking of anything but whiiiiiiite. White. White. Think white dammit.” I don’t think that’s what the yogis have in mind.
I wake up to pee in the middle of the night and the gears are immediately turning. I’m lying in bed trying to fall back asleep and not wake myself up too much, but it’s usually too late: my brain is running through a laundry list of tomorrow’s chores, errands, and work assignments. I’m going through dates in my head and schedules. DING! I forgot to send so-and-so a birthday card. Crap. Must remember to do that tomorrow.
Now don’t forget: tomorrow is gym day. And you always forget to bring a towel and that stick-in-her-butt at the front desk chimes after you. Don’t forget to bring a towel.
We need milk.
When is that article due again?
I should be writing all this down…
OH MY GOSH SHUDDDDDDUP!
I can’t stop thinking! Can you??
Now that my birthday is over I’m looking forward to the next holidays: Thanksgiving and Halloween! Which brings me to my latest pins…
Such a cute way to make fun personalized candy pails
I remember doing potato stampers when I was younger. Cameron LOVES stamps so this will be perfect this year!
He can make a mess and it STILL looks like an actual Jack-o-Lantern. Love this. Look for a messy stamped pumpkin or two outside our door!
In theory these are super cute… it’s more a matter of trying to get my son to hold still long enough to paint the undersides of both feet and stamp em…
Hooray for turkeys, handprints, and candy!
Truly the scariest word to me: migraine.
I fear them every day.
I worry about when they’ll strike next… will it be on vacation, on my wedding day, on my birthday, or the day of the big concert? I hate worrying about migraines but I’ve had them since forever and there’s simply no rhyme or reason to them.
They started when I was a teen and everyone chalked it up to puberty. I’ve tried cutting out all caffeine and then all sugar from my diet for months at a time. I’ve kept sleep and food journals. I’ve tried aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and prescriptions (that are as much as $30 a pill!). I’ve tried home remedies like potato peels on my forehead, rubbing lime wedges on my temples, massaging that fleshy piece of skin between your thumb and fingers (yep, it’s supposed to do something). I’ve hydrated with water and Gatorade. I’ve caffeinated with Coke and coffee. My migraines still strike at random times and stay for an indefinite amount of time.
The doctors are clueless when it comes to migraines. There are too many possible triggers to narrow it down to one, they say. We can just keep looking for common variables and trying different medications.
And yet, the more I seem to talk about my migraine suffering, the more common it seems to be. I know so many people, especially women, who suffer from regular headaches and migraines.
Here’s what I do… I need to catch a migraine from the onset. That means taking extra strength Excedrin right away. I also need to drink lots of water. Many times my headaches are brought on by not drinking enough water. And I need to eat – an empty stomach will always bring on a migraine for me. Hot baths helps, especially soaking my feet – it helps to draw the blood and throbbing away from my head.
What do you do when you feel a migraine coming on? Share your stories and advice here and maybe you can help a fellow migraine-sufferer.
Jenn: The Dreamer
Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I’m pretty naive. I like to see the best in people (even though a lot of people do not give it their best) and I try to always see things in an optimistic way (when things often don’t… well, you get the point).
Because I was one of the last of my friends to become a parent, I always attended birthday parties and religious rites of passage sans baby. It all looked so fairytale-like as the parents leaned in with their 1-year-old to help them blow out the candles, or smiling as the priest poured the holy water over their head. And that’s what I thought motherhood was all about: storybook snippets of time that culminate to one giant satisfying super life.
You can roll your eyes now.
Don’t get me wrong – I definitely had those incredible moments with my own bean. But it’s the other “firsts” or new activities that make me completely set myself up for disappointment. And it’s not just with my own kid but kids in my family and friends’ kids.
Cameron’s first haircut… how sweet it would be to see him sit there as they transformed him from a baby to a little boy. We decided to do it after Christmas while his grandparents were visiting. We’d make a wonderful memory together.
Instead, he screamed from start to finish. Huge tears rolled down his red cheeks. One grandparent fretted in the background at the sound of his cries while another mouthed to us “Make them stop.”
It was awful. A memory, but awful.
A food fight with my niece. She wasn’t a girly girl and was down with getting dirty so I planned it all- I bought pie pans and aerosol whipped cream and made two kinds of jello and a huge bowl of pudding. I thought it would be fun to surprise her with a whipped cream pie to the face to get things started. Wrong. She burst into sobs and then nailed me as hard as she could with her own pie.
Niece: 1 Auntie: 0
I need to just let things happen. I need to understand that making memories can’t be forced. I need to stop planning good times and just let those good times come to be in due time.
But first, I have to start planning Christmas Kids Day. All of the children are going to have so much fun and be kind to one another and not make a mess at all and they’ll walk around with little shining halos over their heads… I can’t wait…
Jennifer Cox… Author?
As my childhood friends will attest, I’ve been writing “books” since I was a kid. My parents will also confirm this, spending hours patiently listening to me read my latest novel as I stood in our living room in Florida and made the household stop everything to listen. My teachers would even confirm this… I had more math and history teachers take away my journals with my latest work of fiction scribbled between the covers than I can count, and I had more English teachers who would push blank pieces of paper in front of me and sharpen my pencils.
I’ve written books about everything… two whales falling in love, a teenage couple who live next door to each other and fall in love by talking through the fence (and then he discovers she’s in a wheelchair but he loves her nonetheless), murder mysteries, love stories, and teen angst. I would fill an entire spiral-bound notebook with the beginnings of a detailed story and need to continue in a second and even third notebook, tying the metal curlycue bindings together with string from the garage.
The covers always said something like “Another title from the award-winning author everyone loves, Jennifer Cox!” (with an exclamation point). In my earlier “works” I did my own illustrations, big bauble-headed characters with girls that always had cleavage and high heels. Later I wrote longer tales that were divided by chapters. I typed and typed and typed but I rarely ever finished one of the books. I’d think of a new idea and abandon the old one, even if I was 30,000 words in. I have a box full of half-written stories that I’ve brought with me from house to house, country to country.
Before I got pregnant with my son I started writing a teen fiction book. It was more as a creative outlet since I’d abandoned a lot of my creative writing because writing for work seemed more appropriate (I had bills to pay!). The words just poured from my fingertips. It was about my mom as a teen in 1967. When I finished it I couldn’t believe it – 35,000 words, 170 pages, with a complete beginning, middle, and end. My mom and best friend read and loved it, but, lets face it… they’re biased. I had an editor I admire very much read it and she even offered to edit it. She liked it too. And then I just let it sit there.
This past May I went to New York City with some girlfriends and we made a stop at Scholastic Publishing house. I stood in their bookstore surrounded by the over-sized characters that their authors have become known for: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Captain Underpants, The Babysitter’s Club, and it struck me: what was I waiting for?!
So I got home and wrote to a few contacts. I sent out a few emails. And lo and behold, an agent from the West Coast phoned me one afternoon while I was waist-high in my son’s miniature pool in the backyard. I hadn’t included my phone number in the email and he said he’d called two other Jennifer Cox’s before he’d found the right one. When I told him I expected an email and not a call, apologizing for not including my number, he said, “Not to worry. I had to meet the person behind this endearing email that I got…” And off it went.
I sent him my book. A month later I got another call saying that they loved it. They said they weren’t taking on any more teen fiction writers… till now.
This week, I finalized my agent agreement. I signed it, and two days ago, I got their signed copy. Now they’re shopping me around to publishing houses.
It’s just so exciting. I don’t know that I’ll get a book deal with this title but having an agent is a great first step. It would be a dream come true to see my string-tangled notebooks become a book with binding. I just gotta keep believing…
And I do…
Why your company isn’t getting press coverage
As a freelance journalist who is one of the few people who clicks “Yes, send me a newsletter” or “Yes, add me to your mailing list,” I get inundated with marketing material and media releases from slews of companies. Food and drink, fashion, beauty, home decor, and even entertainment news (talent and otherwise) pours into my inbox on a daily basis. And it simply amazes me how unprofessional and incomplete these efforts often are.
Here are a few reasons your company isn’t getting press coverage:
- Spelling mistakes. Did anyone edit your press release or marketing materials? I don’t think so. And it’s left a sour taste in my mouth. These words are a reflection of your business. And when they’re misspelled or surrounded by basic incorrect punctuation, it makes a journalist think that this is the type of company you are: you’ll give sloppy quotes, you’ll make it difficult for me to make deadline, and in general, I just don’t want to work with you.
- No supporting marketing material. A press release touting a new innovative product is one half of the equation, but the other half is, I want to see your product. I want to look at it and hold it and try it out. I’m always so surprised when I find out about a cool new gadget or item but there are no samples and, worse yet, no photography. I can’t pitch your product or service to a publication without visuals to go along with it. You’d be better to hold off on sending your press release until you have a more cohesive marketing package.
- Vague details. A company should be able to tell me where their product or service is sold, how much it costs, etc. It’s crazy to me that so many companies will have a fantastic idea on their hands and yet hire a PR agency who knows very little about the actual product. Have a list of points of sale that can be sent out, or provide a link to a page where it can be purchased. Establish a solid SRP.
- Filter your recipients. It’s very clear, by asking me directly (which I often am) or going to my website or social media platforms, that I don’t write about cars, or politics, or money matters. But a PR agency will send me releases on ALL of their clients, whether they pertain to me or not, and after awhile, it’s frustrating and I unsubscribe. Zero in on your target media outlets (industry magazines, niche-specific websites and blogs) and stop inundating others with what we consider “junk.”
I find so many incredible ideas on Pinterest (it’s actually quite overwhelming and often sends me into nervous sweats), and lately I’m on a home projects’ kick. I’ve been a tad pin-crazy. But how cool are these?!…
This is my kitchen project. Since we moved in we haven’t had anything on the wall over our kitchen table (except for birthday banners and seasonal stuff). I think these are super cute.
We have loads of wall space in our living room over our large L-shaped sectional, and this would be perfect over one side of it.
There are a few T-shirts that my son has had that I just love, either because of the memories they hold or just because he looked so darn cute in them. I love the idea of stretching them across a canvas and hanging them up. I’ve already started my canvas T-shirt collection.
This will be a mommy-and-son art project for mommy’s office. It just makes me happy.