Cancer-causing meats and feeding the family

I’ve been feeling a bit disturbed about the WHO’s classification of processed meats and red meat as carcinogenic. Not that we eat a lot of processed meats in my family, but we do eat a fair amount of red meat, because I was all pumped this summer when I found a local grass-fed beef producer at the farmer’s market and bought a bunch of ground beef, which tastes amazing and is super versatile.

I heard a dietitian on the radio yesterday talking about processed meat alternatives for lunches. And for school lunches, peanut butter is out too, what does that even leave???

Tuna. She recommended tuna. And also she poaches chicken breasts in water with carrots and celery and then slices the chicken up for sandwiches.

These seemed like good suggestions, and I’d like to throw this question out to my readers…

What do you eat for meals that is super fast and healthy but doesn’t contain red meat or processed meats?

We’ve been eating a lot of scrambled eggs lately. We also have a local chicken hookup so we roast a full chicken fairly often and eat the leftovers for a few days. I really like the breaded haddock from M&M Meat Shoppe. I’m scratching my head to think of other easy and tasty foods we enjoy that I don’t put beef in. I guess I could start making vegetarian chili again like I did in my vegan days.

Please, load me up with suggestions, and even simple recipes.


Book Review: French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting

You’d think that after having read Bringing Up Bébé and French Kids Eat Everything (And Yours Can Too) I might be finished reading French parenting-style books written by North Americans. Well after reading French Twist, perhaps I am.

Not because French Twist is the be-all, end-all of American-French parenting books (I actually liked Bébé and French Kids better) but because I am finally tiring of this sub-genre (and have started reading biographies of Canadian political figures, reviews of which don’t really belong in this blog).

French Twist is different than the other two books because the author didn’t actually live in France ever. So this book loses the armchair travel dimension that the other aforementioned books had. Also, it makes her observations about French parenting more indirect. The author has some French-American friends and she gets parenting tips from them. In a way this is helpful because she is using French parenting techniques in a North American context, and something that I found disheartening about the other books was the realization that societal infrastructure (e.g. daycares, schools, close-knit family) that differs between France and North America has a huge influence on the process of raising children.

This book is also different from the other two books because the author attempts a lot of humour. This was okay for about half a chapter but then it felt tedious.

All three of these books really boil down to a few very useful principles though. Some ideas that have stuck with me include:

  1. Authority: A French parent is an authoritative parent. There is no bribing (rewarding) your children to do things. They do things because they are told to do things. That’s how it works.
  2. Dignity: I’m not sure if this is the right label, but by using the term ”dignity” I mean not always getting on the floor to play with the kids. Children and adults have separate interests, and adults are not expected to drop all of their interests to entertain their children. The children learn to be self-sufficient and entertain themselves.
  3. Food: You can never talk about French parenting without talking about food. I think some of the key concepts are that French adults don’t eat junk food, and French kids occasionally eat junk food but then grow out of it. I remember a scene from one of the books where there was a child’s birthday party with cupcakes, and only the children had cupcakes, not the adults present. That’s just not the way we operate in North America. French kids are introduced to a variety of healthy foods from the time they start solids (blue cheese for babies? They do that… but I have not tried yet with RJ. She has, however, had Brie and Camembert). French people, in general, eat fresher and whole foods. The parents eat healthily so the children eat healthily.

These are just a few of the ideas that have stuck with me. If you are interested in reading more about American-French parenting, I would recommend you start with Bringing up Bébé.

Liebster Award

A fellow SAHM nominated me for this award that bloggers give to each other. I think it’s very sweet– thank you Laura! Find her blog at


Laura wrote some questions for me to answer, hopefully I can get through them before RJ wakes up from her nap.

Why did you start your blog and what motivates you to write?

I started my blog because I was lonely and I wanted to have a record of the occasionally interesting things that fill my time on this profound but also tedious journey of motherhood.

When do you find time to write in your blog?

I blog while RJ is napping, when I probably could be cleaning the food off the floor that she spilled an hour ago. 

What is your favorite/best part of your day?

My favourite part of the day is after I put RJ to bed and I get to hang out with my husband and relax. 

What helps you stay sane?

Mom and baby fitness classes.

If you had unlimited funds where would you travel to and why?

I hope we’re going back to Cuba this winter. I’m not big on traveling with a baby (its almost more trouble than enjoyment for me) but the flight is just over 4 hours and an all-inclusive means no dishes to wash. Someday when my kid(s) are older I’d like to go to Russia because I’ve read a lot of Dostoyevsky (and hubby likes Tolstoy). 

What do you love most about the city you currently live in?

I like living in Winnipeg because the weather is terrible. I used to hate the weather here but now I realize how experiencing a few months of brutal cold makes me really appreciate the other seasons. 

Where is your favorite place to shop (for clothes)?

Thrift stores.

What song puts a smile on your face no matter how many times you hear it?

I’m singing the children’s song ”I Had A Little Nut Tree” frequently these days. I like it. 

If you could stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?

I read somewhere that people are happiest when their children are between the ages of 6-12. So I’m going to say, that point in the future, let’s say, 38.

Who is your biggest fan?

Probably RJ? She should be anyway, I do a lot of things for her that I don’t do for anyone else. Like wiping her bum. 

What are three things you could not live without?

Food, sleep and love. 

Video Baby Monitor Reviews: Summer Infant Ultrasight and Clearsight

After testing both of these and agonizing over the decision, I have decided to replace my old broken Summer Infant Secure Sight monitor with the Ultrasight. Here’s why:

The Ultrasight

The Ultrasight has a wide angle lens that shows the entire crib at one time, plus a zoom and pan so you can zoom in on baby. The Clearsight does not show the entire crib from where it’s placed across from the crib on a dresser in the room. The Clearsight has a zoom but no pan which makes the zoom pretty useless. Unless you have a baby who always sleeps in the middle of the crib (RJ always sleeps at one end or another).

The Clearsight

This is nitpicky but the Clearsight talk-to-baby button is next to the volume button on the receiver which means I accidentally pressed it a few times, never actually waking the baby, but I could see that it might happen at some point. My old monitor did not have a talk-to-baby button and overall I think it’s pretty useless other than to scare the crap out of your spouse when they are in the baby’s room.

The reason that choosing between these two monitors was so hard was that the Clearsight video quality is much better. But like I said, occasionally she is out of the frame. The Ultrasight video quality is good enough to see if she is standing, sitting, lying down, or lying down with her head down (these are the factors that really influence how I’m going to respond if I hear noise from the nursery). It is easier, however, to see on the Clearsight whether baby’s eyes are open or shut and what sleeping position she is in (back, side or stomach).

Both the Ultrasight and Clearsight video feeds are more jumpy than my old monitor though. What is up with that?

I’m not thrilled with either of these monitors because I feel that my old monitor did everything that it needed to (the pan, zoom and talk-to-baby are pretty unnecessary features) and had smoother video. Summer Infant discontinued my old monitor though, otherwise I would have bought it again. Hopefully Summer Infant will improve their monitors in upcoming models, because adding useless features and not improving the lacklustre video quality is kind of lame.

Book Review: Goodnight, Canada

Once you’ve read Goodnight Moon so many times that the thought of reading it one more time makes you glum, Goodnight Canada is a great book to pick up. Because RJ has a short attention span, hubby and I usually skip the first few pages that have 4-line stanzas of introductory verse and go straight into saying goodnight to all the provinces and territories. The illustrations (which I believe are done by pencil crayon) are fun and have lots of imagery that represent distinctive geographical and cultural features of the provinces.

This is the type of book that can be enjoyed with babies and I imagine it will also be enjoyed by older children as well. If you’ve traveled around Canada a bit you will probably find that this book will make you happily reminisce about your trips.

Nap Strike!

For three days in a row, RJ stayed awake in the crib during her regular morning nap time (she is currently 11 months old and naps twice per day at 930am and 230pm). I wondered if maybe she didn’t need two naps anymore and already started feeling sad about the loss of personal free time that will mean for me.

Fortunately, I consulted my copy of The Happy Sleeper because I remembered that there was a sub-heading in there called “Wait, Don’t Drop that Nap Too Early!” The book suggested that if baby goes on a nap strike, continue to put them down at their regular nap time. It might take a week for them to go back to napping normally, but often their nap strike is a disruption caused by reaching a new developmental milestone. In RJ’s case I think it was learning how to go up stairs and getting more proficient at pulling up on the furniture.

After only 3 days of nap strike, RJ was back to her regular nap schedule yesterday.

I love The Happy Sleeper! So far, it has never steered me wrong. Here you can see the book’s handy napping chart (notice I dog-eared the page because I refer to it so often).