Thursday, February 26, 2009

What if I Miss It?

Pumpkin didn't nurse before bed tonight. She did last night, and she probably will tomorrow night. She's been dropping the occasional before bed nursing, and not just on nights when I'm not home.

On the one hand, this is great. I'm all for self-weaning- it will save me from figuring out a plan for weaning her. Pumpkin is almost 23 months old now, and I'm ready to wean.

On the other hand, I'm a little freaked out. What if it is the last time she nurses, and I don't pay any attention? For the most part, I've really enjoyed nursing Pumpkin. Early on, it was a bit draining, both emotionally and physically. But now, as we are winding down, the demands are few. I love the contented look she gets when she latches on and nurses. I love the way her little hand still absentmindedly reaches up to twirl my hair (something she has done since she was first able to grab my hair). Part of me wants to know when the last time comes, so that I can really savor it.

The other part of me, which rationally points out that it would be soooo nice if Pumpkin just stopped wanting to nurse (no fuss! no whining!), ensures that I stick to my "don't offer, don't refuse" plan. This is the part of me that is winning the internal argument. But I'm paying more attention to each session now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Bedtime Disagreement

I think it is time to move Pumpkin to a big girl bed. I think that she wants to fall asleep laying down in her bed (and clearly she can do this, because she goes to sleep on her own at day care, on a little cot), but that she needs some help with the transition. The easiest way to give her that help would be for me to lay down next to her and let her play with my hair. After all, this is what works in the middle of the night, when we bring her into bed with us.

I've been trying to do this with her in her crib, but it is uncomfortable for me (I end up with my face smooshed up against the bars), and doesn't really work for Pumpkin.

Also, she seems to be getting tired of her sleep sack. It is only a matter of time before she can get herself out of it- she can already unzip the little sleep sack my Mom made for her baby doll. It seems like moving her to a big girl bed would be a good time to swap the sleep sack for a regular blanket.

I can envision a whole new bedtime routine, in which she gets in her bed for her bedtime stories, and then one of us lays down next to her while she goes to sleep. And then, if the sleep gods finally decide to smile on us just a little bit, we somehow slowly transition her from needing one of us there to fall asleep.

Hubby doesn't see things this way at all. He sees her getting up in the middle of the night and wandering around the house once she is freed from her crib. He thinks we should leave her in her crib as long as possible.

I know I'll win this one eventually (who ever heard of a first grader who sleeps in a crib?) but I wonder if I'll win it before the current bedtime routine ("Mommy stand up." "Mommy sit in chair." Mommy rocks Pumpkin to sleep for 20+ minutes in the rocking chair.) makes me crazy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Still Here

Its been a long time since I last posted. I have no interesting reason for the break- we've just been busy.

One of the things we've been working on is augmenting the closet space in our house. One of the disadvantages of buying an older house is that the closets are in no way large enough for our modern volume of clothes. This says something sad about modern life, I think, because I've never heard that the people in the 1950s stunk from wearing the same clothes everyday or anything like that.

Be that as it may, when we were house hunting, we passed on a cute house with an amazing, sit down view out to the bay and ocean because we couldn't figure out how to make the smallish bedrooms and tiny closets work. I was arguing that we could do it, until we revisited the house and saw that the master bedroom and the second bedroom literally shared a single closet. Some one had converted the original master closet into a bathroom (this conversion required an extension that also made it awkward to drive a car into the garage). The solution was to add another sliding door that opened into the closet in the second bedroom. This closet was maybe 5 feet long. That pretty much sunk the house for us, but we still think about it a little wistfully about that house on nice, clear days, when the sunset view would have been spectacular.

The house we ended up buying has closets in 3 of the 4 bedrooms- we turned the fourth into our office. Hubby took the small closet in the master bedroom. I put my clothes in the guest room and in the hall closet. We have decided we want to do other things with the guest room closet, so we started looking for some way to move my clothes out. We considered various options, and finally settled on Hopen wardrobes from Ikea. Hubby got them set up a couple of weeks ago, and I have been slowly moving my clothes in, using the exercise as impetus to also weed out some clothes I never wear. I have a hard time throwing out clothes, but I am determined to fit everything into the one double and one single wardrobe allotted to me. I am almost there....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Substitute

Pumpkin adores cupcakes. When someone in her class turns two and moves up to the next room, there is usually a party, and the parents of the "graduating" toddler often bring cupcakes. On those days, I hear "I eat cupcake!" for most of the drive home, and when Hubby asks her what she did that day, she tells him all about the cupcake she ate, and how she wanted more.

Given Pumpkin's fascination with cupcakes, I thought I'd try making some muffins. I had grand schemes in my head of getting Pumpkin hooked on muffins and then using them to get her to eat some vegetables (by adding grated zucchini or carrots). I'd love it if she'd eat vegetables in their natural form, but so far the closest we've come is to have her nibble on a baby carrot and promptly spit it out.

So during her nap on Sunday, I made some muffins. She was so excited when she came out for her snack and saw them. The excitement was short-lived, though. She quickly determined that these cupcakes were sub-standard, and asked me for a "different cupcake". I felt so bad- she was so disappointed. Luckily, we still had some homemade cookies on hand, so I gave her one of those instead, and she seemed to forgive me. I also told her that those cupcakes were really muffins. She'll eat the "fuffins" for her snacks now, but she still asks hopefully for cupcakes. I may try again, with a sweeter muffin recipe. Maybe a chocolate muffin would work? I could surely hide some zucchini in there....

Monday, February 09, 2009


I'm too tired to write a proper post tonight, but I have been meaning to capture a couple am sad to report of my favorite phrases in Pumpkin's current usage:

"I weeve it on" - said when I try to take off a jacket that she wants to keep on. She is at the point of fighting us when we put jackets on AND when we take them off.

"Tuh-lor" (color) - one of her favorite activities right now. She likes us to color with her. We have to draw whatever she requests (usually an elephant or a fish) and then she "colors it in" (i.e., scribbles all over it). She got an easel from one of her aunts for Christmas, and is thoroughly enjoying it. We've recently introduced "tay-doh", too. She hasn't really figured out what to do with that yet, though.

We've been working on counting, and she knows her numbers from 1 to 10. However, she is a bit Monty Pythonesque in her counting. We'll say "one, two..." and half the time she'll say "five!" The rest of the time she says "three". I think she keeps saying "five" because it makes her Daddy laugh. However, she is also fond of counting "six, seven, nine", so maybe she just hasn't gotten the sequence down yet.

And I am sad to report that "yepf", one of my earlier favorites, is fading from common usage. It has been replaced by a very carefully pronounced "yes". All good things must come to an end.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Zenbit: Reaching

Moorea, French Polynesia
December 12, 2005

Monday, February 02, 2009

Some Research on High Fructose Corn Syrup

I've been hearing a lot lately about high fructose corn syrup. A lot of the comments on various blogs that reported on the mercury contamination issue (including my own post on the subject) said something to the effect of "mercury or no, there are lot of good reasons to avoid HFCS".

As I said in my comment on my original post, I have never bothered to do the research to have a firm opinion on the subject of HFCS. Today, I decided to start to change that. Afterall, while I don't consume much HFCS, it is in my favorite brand of yogurt (which Pumpkin also eats) and in the Nutrigrain bars that Pumpkin loves and expects at day care pick up time. Should that bother me?

I have heard two main charges leveled at HFCS:
1. It is making us fat, and doing so more than other, more "natural" sugars would.
2. It is contributing to the corn monoculture on American farms, and this monoculture is bad for the environment and/or our food security.

I decided to start with the first charge, because I know a heck of a lot more about biochemistry than I do about farm policy (this is not really saying much- I don't know much about farm policy, and what I do know comes primarily from having read The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. I never really think I "know" anything that comes from only one source, even one as well-written as Pollan's book.)

So, is HFCS making us fat? I did a PubMed search to see what the latest literature says. I found several reviews and study reports indicating that fructose (clearly a component of high fructose corn syrup) might in fact lead to greater weight gain than equivalent calories consumed as glucose. This perspective article from a former editor of a nutrition journal summarizes some of this evidence. In addition to the evidence summarized in that perspective, I found some studies indicating that levels of the hormones that control our appetite are different after fructose consumption than after glucose consumption ( this abstract summarizes some of these studies).

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? However, HFCS' "competition" isn't glucose, it is sucrose, which is a complex sugar composed of one fructose and one glucose. The fructose to glucose ratio in HFCS is 55% fructose to 45% sucrose, and as this abstract states, "The fructose:glucose (F:G) ratio in the U.S. food supply has not appreciably changed since the introduction of HFCS in the 1960s."

I also found several abstracts for studies that showed no change in metabolic parameters when HFCS consumption was compared with equivalent sucrose consumption. This study looked at metabolic parameters in subjects on different days, depending on whether they were fed fructose, glucose, HFCS, or sucrose. This study compared the effect of HFCS, sucrose, and milk (in which the main sugar is lactose, which is galactose + glucose). This study worked directly with sodas sweetened with either HFCS or sugar, and looked at "perceived sweetness, hunger and satiety profiles, or energy intakes at lunch".

I did a lot of this reading during my lunch break, and I felt a lot better about my HFCS sweetened yogurt as my research progressed. I don't think we can completely rule out differences between the metabolic treatment of HFCS and sucrose, but the preponderance of the studies I found indicates that HFCS is no more likely than sucrose to make you fat.

However, I also found a lot of studies that indicated both sucrose and HFCS are bad and that the increase in fructose in our diets (caused by an increased consumption of refined sugar, be that sucrose or HFCS) may indeed be contributing more to our growing waistlines and diabetes rates than you would predict purely from the calories consumed. So I should really switch to unsweetened yogurt. Too bad I don't like that! At least I don't drink a lot of soda. I prefer unsweetened seltzer water.

I also have heard that the argument Michael Pollan makes in his book In Defense of Food is that since we need an enzyme (sucrase) to break apart the fructose and glucose in sucrose but the sugars in HFCS are already broken apart for us, our digestion of sucrose is slower (or perhaps less complete?) than our digestion of HFCS. This is biochemically plausible, but I didn't find any studies about this. I also haven't read this book, so I am only working from second-hand accounts of the argument. I wold like to read the book, but am unlikely to have the time to do so anytime soon. Has anyone read it? Would you care to fill me in on his argument about the health impacts of HFCS? As I said above, I think I'll consider the environmental and food impacts separately. I'd also be interested to hear of any other arguments about the health impacts of HFCS. As of right now, I consider it much like I consider regular sugar- fine in moderation, but a source of empty calories.

Updated to add: I promised to tell you if I found any studies showing a difference between HFCS and sucrose. Well, one just came out. Here is my post about it.