Dairy Free = Happy Baby


By Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa – sxc.hu, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134636


Yes folks!  It’s true.  I’m dairy free.  I avoid dairy because through trial and error, I discovered it really affects my baby (now 6 months old!).  The one exception I make is butter because well butter is delicious and I don’t think it affects him when I nurse.  I started all this in May for two reasons.  The first reason was really that I was trying to cut all forms of sugar out so that I would heal my body of some issues.  I also discovered I was VERY much addictive to sugar.  I craved it and depended on it to get me through the day. Milk products contain natural sugar so I needed to cut those out.  😦  An unintended pleasant discovery was that taking our dairy temporarily helped my little one’s belly issues.  The incessant screaming and hard tummy and evening discomfort no longer became such a huge issue.  Things have improved greatly.

At first avoiding dairy was so hard.  I longed for slices of cheese on my sandwich and I missed Greek yogurt, and real ice cream.  I needed to totally revamp my typical go to dinner menus to make sure there was no cheese or dairy.  The thing I missed the most was (and still is) pizza.  Because cheese is what makes pizza…well… pizza.  I also learned to substitute things in recipes.  Almond milk and I have become quite friendly. I use  unsweetened almond milk in recipes like egg bake, banana bread, and white sauces.  I’ve even learned that there is something out there called dairy free dessert (aka ice “cream”).  My favorite is almond milk ice “cream”.  It costs quite a penny so I learned to make almond milk custard in my ice cream maker.  It is pretty time consuming to prep so I’ve made it… once.  Here is the link to my favorite recipe.   https://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/5835/ .  It is awesome.  I also discovered many frozen yogurt shops carry a flavor or two of dairy free.  My favorite is always key lime!

Dinner recipes have been fun as well.  It’s amazing how many recipes out there that are dairy free.  Some of my favorites are fish tacos, taco stuffed sweet potatoes, and salisbury steak -all from one of my favorite websites called Paleo Leap.

I plan to be dairy free until my son is weaned.  After that point I plan to add back in dairy products. Once I do, I hope to have whole milk products  that are free of extra added sugar because I think I can eat way to much added sugar if I’m not careful.  But I guess that’s a topic for another post.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my almond milk custard and a happier baby.



A lawn mower, a random play date, and hangry-ness.


Feeling quite discouraged about not being a light to my neighbors, I hurried to church with our almost two year old. (Ask me sometime about the beached whale style dive I made into my car instead of introducing myself to the new family on the block. And other graceful stories.) Back to the current story: we walk the block and a half to get there, and we are always late. He stopped to check out a lawnmower on the sidewalk, and as he fascinates over it the owner comes up, apologizes, asks if we are going to church (yes), asks what I think of it (I like it. They have a cry room, and they are welcoming), and says he’s been getting an itch to maybe start going back. Turns out he was a lifelong, faithful churchgoer until his dad died.

I felt encouraged that I was there to talk with the guy. As a friend put it, “I think the Lord meets us where we are at.” Continue reading

We Made Cupcakes

Author’s note

Let me tell you  I have just  written  my first blog post  using  the WordPress app  and the voice to text feature  on my phone . I wrote this blog post while nursing a baby. Have mercy on me and ignore all typos

It was a morning that was not very typical for me. I decided not to go somewhere outside the house this particular morning. Instead I decided to have the baby take a good nap in his crib. The baby went down after two tries. I was pretty happy with this and then realized I had a decision to make at that moment. My three-year-old son I was anxiously awaiting me to return to the downstairs after putting his brother to sleep. I was tempted to immediately begin some housework. There was plenty to do. My options were endless. Dishes laundry cleaning picking up Etc. But I took a moment and realized this may be one of the Limited moments during the day when I can with him one-on-one. Instead of jumping in to the chores  the first thing that popped into my mind was to ask him a simple question. Do you want to play with me? Yes! He answered and said that he wanted to play trains. Just be honest with you I don’t like playing trains. So I made another suggestion let’s bake together. And so we did. We made yellow cake mix cupcakes cupcakes with pink frosting and some with green frosting. He loved it. And the funny thing was it seems like I got more chores done yesterday because I found ways for him to be involved. He sat on my bed and played while I folded clothes. I put away dishes while he ate lunch and he was very understanding. I managed to sneak in a load of laundry between nursing the baby. It was a fine day. Of course not perfect. But I won’t get into that part. My point is that all too many times I am so focused on what I have to get done that I miss what’s really going on in front of me. Theres 2 little brown haired boys who need me to be present to them today. I still remember my mother-in-law’s advice when I was expecting my first baby. She said number one  sleep when the baby sleeps and number 2 chores can wait. Unfortunately with two kids now I can’t sleep when the baby sleeps if my toddler isn’t sleeping too but the second one always applies. Chores can wait.

Pray the Ninja Way

Alternate title to this post is: The Steal, Sneak around, and Hunker Down Prayer Hack Method for Moms.

Sheila posted a fantastic entry and asked some salient questions regarding prayer. And it’s just the perfect timing, since I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time, and also since I had writer’s block until she posted on Tuesday!


Getting a regular prayer time in is indeed a challenge. We all know what’s individually keeping us from prayer, whether it’s illness, tiredness, interruptions, or lack of scheduling prowess. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been almost constantly trying to get back to the one and only routine that has ever worked for me: wake up x number of minutes earlier than normal, use that amount of time to make coffee and pray, and then continue as normal with the day’s schedule, whatever that may be. Continue reading

Birth Story Part 3: Precipitous Labor

Note: In case, you need to get caught up, please refer to part 1 and part 2 of my labor story.

So the moment finally came when we were heading to the hospital, but the contractions were so intense I couldn’t sit down in the car.  My husband suggested that I should lay down in the back seat, but that sounded awful to me.  I decided to wait out this one intense contraction and get in the car with the hopes that I could make it to the hospital without many more contractions. Luckily, we live very close to the hospital in town.

However, the ride to the hospital was tortuous.  I held onto the handle bar on the top of the car as intense contractions came over me, without much break in between.  In the 6 minute car ride it seemed as if I had nonstop contractions.  I texted my doula to meet us at the hospital. I couldn’t even talk to call the midwife the pains were so intense.  These contractions were nothing like the light contractions I felt on the way to the hospital with my first baby.  I thought to myself- there is no way I can endure hours of this!

When we got the hospital parking garage,  we parked, and I flew out of the car while my husband carefully turned off the vehicle.  I got to the front desk of the childbirth unit and told them I was in a lot of pain.  Then I told her I felt like I had to push. She asked me if I wanted to walk or go in a wheelchair to the triage, and I said- neither!  I was having a bad contraction, so I told them to wait until my contraction was over.  After it finished, I got in the wheelchair, and went to triage.

The moment I got in there, my water broke drastically. I got on the bed, and they said- You are crowning.  One more contraction and the baby will be born.  At this point, I freaked out.  I didn’t have my doula or midwife, and the biggest concern- there would be no time for my epidural.  The thought of a natural birth terrified me.  I panicked, and finally the resident doctor asked me what the baby’s name will be.  I told him.  Then, he said *** will be born very soon [I like to keep kids names private in my blogging].  Then, a moment later, with one push, my little bundle of joy- all 7 lbs 15 oz- was in my arms.  Soon after the doula and midwife arrived in triage.

This birth experience was fast and intense and quite different from a long labor.  It was intense and challenging in a different way than the 16 hour labor with my first baby.  Long labor was exhausting, but precipitous labor was like going down a tall, steep roller-coaster drop off- very intense!  Mentally I was not prepared for it.  And of course, like they always say, it was very different from I hoped for on my birth plan.  I NEVER thought I would give birth naturally.  But then again, I never imagined I would be among the women with crazy fast labors.

If You Do Just One Thing Today

“If you do just one thing…” It’s a phrase I’ve taken great comfort in ever since reading the marvelous column about this in Real Simple magazine, back in the day when I was a devotee of the mag. At the time, it just really helped me to focus my swirling mental list of stuff that I was stressed about accomplishing, whether it be in the apartment, my social/family life, or at work, and usually, all of the above at once. I could grab one task out of the chaos, focus on it, finish it, and move on to the next one.

It was quite a transition to go from working woman to mother, and a stay at home mom, at that, especially because it happened quite suddenly in my case. Two and a half months after getting hitched, we learned that we were expecting. And within 2 weeks of that, I was on bed rest until our little honey was full term. Given my pre-term labor, all I could do was “nothing”. Except, that is, cerebrally prepare for motherhood. But for whatever reason, I seemed incapable of even mentally preparing for a baby, much less adapting gracefully to this sudden new stage in our life. I didn’t have that 7-9 month transition period to bid farewell to the working world, ease into marriage, and work out the logistics of welcoming new life. When a discerning friend later empathized, “you didn’t have the mental energy. You were exhausted even as you lay there.” I was greatly comforted because then suddenly what seemed like 7 months of slovenly-ness was clarified into a very simple state of letting my body rest so that we could have a healthy baby. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Continue reading

The Three Hour Glucose Test

Author’s Note: I wrote this post earlier in the week while at a lab having a 3 hour glucose test done.  

I’m sitting at a clinic in town waiting for my third blood draw for my three-hour glucose test.  I’ve been here for a few hours already.  I’ve done this before with baby number 1, but this time it’s different… in a good way.

With the glucose test for baby 1, I was scared and nervous.  I had a friend come with me because my husband was at work.  It was great having this friend there.  She really showed the Lord’s love to me that day.

Today looks different. I am not scared, just tempted to be negative.  I rushed to get myself ready and get my two-year old out the door to a babysitter, who graciously agreed to watch him with less than 24 hours notice. She knows who she is.  Thank you!

Going out the door, my son had a tantrum.  He refused to put boots on and then refused shoes only to ask for boots.  Huh?  He threw his sippy cup into the dirt out of protest and then whined because his sippy was dirty.  Frustrating.

The babysitter met us at the car, per my request, and took him inside her house.  I later received a text he was happy.  Great!

Now back to the waiting room. This time around, I am relaxed as can be and enjoying free WiFi on my laptop and an endless cup of water so they can get a good draw of blood.  I will have four uninterrupted hours all to myself (with a few breaks for blood draws.)

So now a little background to today.  Last night when I was struggling with having to come in yet again for this test, a friend suggested I look at this as an opportunity for some time to myself.  That was such a great suggestion.  It helped me to change my attitude about having to take this test…again.

I am also using this experience as an opportunity to be thankful for the ways God is taking care of me today.  It would be easy to go down the road of negative thoughts today. No one likes a whole morning of getting poked and going without food, but God has given me grace today to stop negative thought patterns and find ways to be thankful.

Author’s Note: Since writing this blog post, I found out that I passed the three-hour glucose test!  



The Small Success of the Week

I made sweet potato wedges on the fly, without planning, without a recipe, without any ingredients (other than the sweet potatoes, of course!). And they turned out!


Sometimes, when I am busy and anxious about many things (nothing too serious, just everything piling up in life), it’s really helpful to focus on something, any thing, even a very small thing, that is working. In this case, something I tried without knowing what I was doing, turned out just fine, and required only approximately 5 minutes of work total. And now, I have something to feed the beast (my 11 month old). That’s saying something, because of the grocery dearth we’ve been experiencing all week.


Bonus Round! The beast. I’ve been admiring our son’s long, long, jealousy-inducing long eyelashes, and I can’t seem to capture them well on my camera, but I got a hilarious shot that sort of shows them off! Enjoy!

2nd Bonus Round! “Blessed is the man whom thou dost chasten, O Lord…When the cares of my heart are many, thy consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94: 12 & 19, RSV)

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. Hope your labors are fulfilling and fruitful.

Mary Clare

It’s Been a Big Week…for My Living Room

PicMonkey Collage 2 before

Here’s a small sample of our living room situation over the last year. Yes, it has been quite a Situation. Occupying most of my angst and nearly all of my HGTV fantasies. The brownish black metal futon graced by my unshaved legs (lower right) itself graced our living rooms for the last 3+ years. It’s very comfortable. As a bed. For guests. Once a year. That’s about all I can say about it without hurting its feelings. So, I think you can imagine my eagerness to pitch it to the curb (or, more accurately, relegate it to the basement). Just this evening I am realizing the extent of my dislike for the looks of our living room. I have photos showing the layout of every room in our home. Except the living room. Close-ups of lovely people are about all the room could boast. And, thankfully, I do have many of those! So you may find it difficult to share my distaste for the room as it existed until this week. The futon is now in the basement! Erik’s men’s group delivered a previously enjoyed real couch last week, and also moved into the room the only piece of real life new furniture I have ever purchased (a large bookcase).

PicMonkey Collage during

Now, as of today, we boast what you see above. And I admit that it’s not much to look at. The couch is far nicer (though dated in pattern); it has a cover, but the color is primary red (I’m not sure I love it, but I may end up adoring it); there’s lots of clutter; some glass in the built-in is broken; I may never achieve comfortable seating for 8 (it’s a very small, broken up space); and my handsome husband has just finished taping up a bunch of holes in the wall and ceiling. You see, the room had some visitors a week ago: a nice police man and 2 nice firemen. We smelled smoke after a circuit blew. There was no immediate danger that night. So we called in Jim the Electrician, who came this morning. He poked around (at) the walls and found what he called a “smoking gun” and “ticking time bomb” in our 100+ year old (but 1 year old to us) home. He’s fixed the immediate issue and will be back to finish some residual issues. For all of those who know about things like this, I must apologize. We’ve reached the end of my understanding of the technical details.


Rather than bemoan yet another $1000+ repair out of our budget, I’m getting some peace thinking about this scripture passage that’s on the wall. Really, what is money, time, dust, and worry over lead paint contamination in the kids, when compared with love? It conquers all of that.


Then there’s this. The poppy painting that’s been relocated from said living room to the pirate-inspired corner of the dining room to make a place for the bookcase. I love this corner. And I love pirate jokes. (What’s a pirates favorite automobile?) I need some more jokes in my arsenal. The world needs more pirate jokes. Please, for the love of everything that’s holy, send me some new pirate jokes in the comment section. Thank you in advance!


Also, oddly, this scrap of Trident gum wrapper that I found when vacuuming out the couch has been a huge boon to my mode today. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned tonight. Sweep, then vacuum, then wipe down, then vacuum again, vacuum the vacuum, etc. We really went through the drill to try to get the living room livable again. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and remembering how much every one should pity me (after all, we’ve had major plumbing issues in the house too! And when my wee babe was only 7 weeks old! and we had to move out! and! and! AND!). And then I saw a gum wrapper below the cushion of the couch, and I knew that the world was ok. It’s a perfectly ordinary thing, you know, a gum wrapper in the bowels of a couch. And the electrical issues, and every trouble that may come along with them, submit to this perfectly normal, trivial little mess that any normal person will find in a couch from time to time. It doesn’t really make sense to me that this would clarify my mind so well. But it does.

And. I am being summoned to the nursing babe. Must go.

Good night friends! I look forward to welcoming you to my living room, some day!

Mary Clare