thoroughly obsessed with….lactation cookies

A cookie is a cookie.  But, a lactation cookie has the added benefit of claiming to help with one’s milk supply, therefore you are permitted to over indulge, no? I am really proud to have made it all the way to 6 months exclusively nursing Henry. With going back to work when he was a wee 8 weeks old, I did not have much confidence in being able to maintain my supply through pumping.  Thankfully, I have been able to.  There have been a number of days or weeks when I felt that my supply was going down or Henry’s appetite was peaking and these continue to concern me. My next goal is 9 months and then 1 year. I feel that by setting these shorter nursing goals I relieve a lot of the pressure on my body to produce what it must. I have a little stash in the freezer that provides added comfort toward making my 1 year goal, but I also know how quickly that stash can be depleted! Henry has recently started to add solids to his diet and while these do not act as meal replacement, they do help him get through the work day on what I am able to pump from the previous day and then I frantically fill in the gaps with nursing at home and still at least once in the early morning hours. Having just come off a two week vacation (where my pump retired itself to the closet) I feel as though my supply has changed.  I know my body needs to get accustomed to our old work routine and I need to be patient but I also need something to help calm my racing, frantic mind.  That is where the cookies come in. If you Google how to increase your breast milk supply a few suggestions are commonly shared: Pump more. check. Nurse as often as you can. check. Drink mother’s milk tea. Yuck, but check. Try Lactation cookies. Mmmmm check!  I have made these cookies a few times and really love them. They may be helping, they may not. But, they help give me peace of mind and that is priceless. it also helps that I think they are delicious!

I have been using this recipe (although interestingly they come out a little different each time). I know in the picture they look a bit like dog biscuits, but truly they taste much better than that. Trust me!

  • 1 cup  plain flour, add 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup low fat butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brewers yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups steel cut oats
  • Chocolate chips
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.
  • Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your additional ingredients) and mix well again.
  • Finally, stir in the oats and your chocolate chips.
  • Bake for around 10-12 minutes at 350

the great pancake challenge

Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake. -Julia Child

I have to confess…I cannot make pancakes!  I know, I know, how can this be?  Well, I just never learned and now I feel thoroughly incompetent in the pancake department. Whenever I try, they always come out a mess. In my mind, I imagine pancakes hot off the griddle cooked to perfection. They are lightly golden in color with butter melting into the nooks and crannies. Perhaps blueberries or chocolate chips are nestled inside. The pancakes are stacked three high and look as fluffy as a cloud. The taste is divine with subtle sweetness and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Alas, these are definitely not my pancakes. My pancakes cannot hold a candle to this perfection! My griddle is too hot or too cold, or too greased or not greased enough. The pancakes are always undercooked or burned.  I never quite know when to flip them. Flipping them is an awkward movement in which I attempt to quickly toss the pancake often leading to batter disintegration. They are never rounded, golden suns but odd shapes with globs of batter. They never taste semi-sweet but like flour stuck together with water. I have tried to jazz up the pancakes with blueberries, chocolate or even bacon.  It has not helped. The perfect pancake remains as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster.

Therefore, I have decided (which David thinks is ridiculous) to try to hunt down this perfect pancake each Saturday morning. From changing recipes, to ingredients, to whatever else is necessary, this hunt will be serious!  In light of the culinary journey I am about to embark on, I am seeking any advice, tips, tricks, recipes or words of encouragement from the perfect pancakes makers that I know are out there!  Thank you.

39 weeks 5 days and a few delusions

2 days, or 48 hours, or 2,880 minutes, or 172,800 seconds until I arrive at the baby’s official due date.

The 39 weeks leading to this moment went by in a blink, but these last few hours feel like slow, grinding years.

Everything on the to-do list is complete (seriously, I have no list for the first time in my life!). And, yes, these last quiet hours before the arrival should be relished and cherished as this kind of solitude will probably not be revisited for another let’s say 5 or 10 years! Yet, I feel nothing but restless energy. So many of the mommies I have spoken with  describe a similar emotion when it was their time. They shared that now that the finish line is completely in sight the waiting becomes unbearable. When I try to describe this to the non-pregnant around me, they tell me to relax and to rest my aching body.  The thing is my body doesn’t ache.  I am very lucky that despite my large belly full of baby, I do not have any aches or pains to complain of and could theoretically continue on in this fashion for quite a bit longer. The only “ache” I have is in my emotional center. I am ready to meet this little guy, I am ready to face labor head on, and I am ready to endure the birth process. And this waiting, this daily waiting around, goes against every fiber of my busybody being!

So what happens to one’s mind under these conditions? Delusions start.

Delusion number 1: I am not pregnant. Despite the protruding stomach, I have begun to rationalize that there is not a baby in there after all.

Delusion number 2: If delusion number 1 is not true and I am indeed pregnant, then at this point my body has begun to reabsorb the baby.

Delusion number 3: I don’t look pregnant in the mirror.

Delusion number 4: If I wake up in the morning and have not already started labor than that day is “lost” and won’t turn into a labor day.

Delusion number 5: I will be waiting forever.

Obviously, I know that these thoughts are nothing but frivolous notions that fill the lagging time until the baby’s ultimate arrival but with each passing day they become a little more vivid and I have to check in and remind myself, “Melissa, you know this is just your boredom talking.” To counter the boredom, I have tried to at least venture outside once a day.  David doesn’t want us to go too far in case my water breaks but, “See delusion 4,” I  sometimes say to him.  We have gone on walks in the park, the mall, and the arboretum. We have spent some time shopping around Whole Foods and lounging in our backyard. These have all eased my spirit a bit but inevitably the restlessness returns. I know I am on “his time” and I know the closer we get to the due date the better for the wee man but I also know that this is hard for me and I am trying my best to stay relaxed while I wait incessantly for the inevitable.

strawberry scones

I can’t remember the last time we baked. Since there is not a lot of self control in our home when it comes to sweets, we try to avoid bringing them in the house in general. So sad, right? But of course, it is important to constantly remind myself that I need to watch the intake, keep sugars to a minimum, and eat meaningful calories. Nevertheless, looking through our pantry,  it became apparent that we had just the right ingredients to bake scones. Even though energy is a major commodity these days for me, I decided to expend a little in order to later enjoy a delicious scone while sitting with my feet propped up. The recipe from Eat, Live, Run was simple to follow and my first batch of strawberry scones were quite successful!  Every morning since, I have been very thankful to my former self for making these delicious treats that my current self can enjoy. Besides, it is made with whole grain and strawberries so it can’t be too “bad” for me, right?

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 9.15.15 AM

weeknight baking

I don’t’ have to go to “work” tomorrow. My sub plans are submitted and I am handing over my students for the day.  It is never something I enjoy.  I much rather prefer being in the classroom with my students, but tomorrow is our History Department retreat. Twice a year, the department gathers together in someone from the department’s home for a long day of brainstorming.  Last retreat we focused on implementing design thinking into our curriculum. This time, the focus is on designing one term elective courses for all four grade levels. This is quite the endeavor. Instead of full year courses catering to each grade level, we are throwing this traditional model aside and trying to create something more reminiscent of college course selections. The classes will not be grade specific and will use a thematic approach to Global History. Wish us luck!!  Any suggestions for course themes or structure?

To nourish our minds and stem the tide of hunger that will inevitably come crashing down on us during such a retreat, I made my semi-homemade berry tart to bring in the morning.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 9.18.53 PM

chicken, bacon, leek pie

Overwhelmed is an understatement. Physically and emotionally, I am drained. A co-worker came up today and asked, “are you burning out?” It stopped me in my tracks. What does a burn out look like? Sleep is interrupted, anxiety is constant, there are no breaks, meetings are back-to-back, lunch is not a guarantee. If I am not currently burned out, I am most definitely on the fast track to it. Five more weeks of this hectic schedule may be my undoing. The co-worker continued, “I just don’t want to see you turn against the job you love because you are exhausted…you know, spread to thin.”  On an ordinary day, in an ordinary term this would have triggered my defensiveness. But on this day, in this term in which I have taken on an extra class, an independent study, an afternoon program, technology integration, and an array of other commitments, he hit a rawness, and tearfully I replied, “I won’t ever hate this job, I am just really sad right now with how over-scheduled I am.”

Saying “No” is not in my DNA.  Always wanting to be a “team player” I create my on worst scheduling dilemmas. So what do I do now?  I have to continue like this for the next five week. It will be hard but I have got to stay positive, in control, and focused on the goal: facilitating teaching moments in my classes and being fully present with my students.  Coffee will help me stay alert and cooking will help me replenish my soul. How do I fill up my empty cup of energy at the end of the day?  Tonight I turned back to cooking. It always grounds me. The chopping, washing, prepping, sautéing, and baking puts me into a happy trance and fills my belly with homemade goodness. Perhaps I got a bit burned out because I stopped cooking for myself.  Too many nights eating out plus this hectic daily routine led to my tearful breakdown afternoon. Tonight’s chicken, bacon, leek pie put the breaks on my spiraling. Standing over the cutting board, I felt some of the stress melt away. It also helped to have David there as my sous chef.