Podcasts for People: You’re the Expert

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I love podcasts. I’ve been into podcasts since I was in high school and most people had never heard of them. I often listen to podcasts in my home and Dominic can name most of them and sometimes pretends to be Peter Sagal. Now, they are much more popular and people often ask for recommendations. So, I am starting a series to share my favorite podcasts with you. I hope that you’ll discover newYou're the Expert gems along the way. I’m starting off today with a podcast called You’re the Expert.

Like some of my other favorite podcasts, You’re the Expert is a live show. It features a panel of comedians attempting to guess about the unusual studies on one professor. First they have to figure out what their job is and what they study in a 20 questions type format, then they talk a lot about their job and it includes fun games, like the game that involves jargon where the comedians have to guess what common words in their field mean. It’s a hoot and a riot. It combines information about research with humor for a witty combination that always has me laughing. For an idea of what it’s like, some of their guests have included neuroscientist Dr. Robert Provine, who studies behavior such as laughing, farting, and sneezing, and Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, who studies dogs to figure out what they think and feel.

If you want to get a feel of what they are like, they have a list of some of their favorite episodes to help you get a feel for the show.

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants a bit of humor while they learn something and who enjoys engaging their brain. I’m comfortable listening to this around my kids, but as always, I recommend you pre-screen because everyone has different levels of comfort with what they allow their kids to hear.

Have you ever listened to You’re the Expert? Are you a fan? Favorite episode? 

(FYI, I’m not being paid for this or anything, I’m just a bit podcast obsessed! They are great for doing laundry and dishes and other mundane tasks that I often have to do). 

I Let Fear Stop Me

People tend to think of me as a confident person. But I have a secret. Deep down, I’m afraid. Deep down, there is fear.

I’m afraid of a lot of things that are common fears. I’m afraid of spiders. I’m afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of getting into a car accident.

But none of that stuff is shocking or hard to admit.

But sometimes, I let fear control me.

Not the fear of spiders or the fear or snakes or the fear of getting into a car accident.

No, it’s a different fear. A fear that I suspect is more common than we let on.

The fear of being judged. The fear of people making negative comments. The fear of people not liking me.

I am afraid sometimes that if I open my mouth and disagree with someone that people will like me less. I am afraid that the more people know about me the less they will like me and that the only reason they like me is because they don’t really know me. That they will think I’m a bad mom or a bad human being (the propensity of strangers to give me unsolicited, unhelpful, sometimes judgmental parenting advice doesn’t help me either).Me climbing the ropes course at Kalahari Theme Park

I let this fear stop me. I let it stop me from saying things that I really want to say. I let it stop me from doing things I really want to do. I let it nudge me into doing something I don’t want to do because I’m afraid if I don’t do it that they’ll think less of me. I let this fear control me.

I know who I am, but I find it hard to set myself free of caring about what other people think. Perhaps it’s insecurity. Perhaps it’s just my struggle with people pleasing. Perhaps it’s a million different things, but why should I let those things stop me? I am a redeemed child of God and my friends and family love me for who I am. I know this. But yet, I doubt myself all the time.

Towards the beginning of April, Nick and I went away for the weekend, just the two of us, for the first time. Part of the time we went to this indoor theme park and they had a high ropes course. So I thought, I’m going to do it.

Getting all hooked up, I wasn’t afraid. But it was terrifying once I was actually up there. And I was shaking. But I thought to myself, if I just keep moving, if I just keep going, I can do this. This is perfectly safe. I can do this.

And I did it! I completed the whole course.

But then, I decided to try the climbing wall. And I didn’t even make it halfway up. I came back down, defeated, unable to do it. Because while I was up there I started to think about how I couldn’t do it. And then I got nervous and I got scared and I couldn’t do it. Even though I had seen kids half my age doing it with no problems.  I quit.

And I think sometimes that’s my biggest issue, that I get inside my head too much and I think about it too much. I think about how people will perceive me too much. And really, it’s all wrapped up in me. I highly doubt other people are thinking about me as much as I think they are thinking about me.

Me attempting the climbing wall at Kalahari Theme Park

We’ve been reading (affiliate linkThe Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst in my moms’ group and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I say yes to things and no to things and sometimes I do think it is fear. But fear, I don’t think, is a good reason.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this blog post. I’ve been trying to think of one and I’ve got nothing. The fear part of me says, “Without a conclusion people will think this is a terrible post!”

But so what? So they think it’s a bad post, then so what? Does it change who I am? No. I am who I am and I want to live confidently in that.

Is this a struggle for you? How do you combat feeling like this? 

Simple Pleasures Book Review

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Regardless of getting it for free, you know I will always give you my 100 percent honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links, for which a small portion of the funds will be credited back to me if you buy through them. 

Name of book: Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother

Author: Marianne Jantzi

“Marianne Jantzi is an Amish writer and homemaker in Ontario, Canada. Formerly a teacher in an Amish school, Jantzi now educates and inspires through her “Northern Reflections” column for The Connection, a magazine directed mainly to Amish and plain communities across the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband have four young children and run a shoe store among the Milverton Amish settlement of Ontario.”
Summary: “Young Amish homemaker Marianne Jantzi invites readers into her family’s life on the snowy plains of Ontario. The mother of four 

Simple Pleasures Book Coveryoung children and wife of a storekeeper, Jantzi writes about her daily routines and heartfelt faith with equal measures of wit and warmth. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and helping to manage the store take up most hours in her day, but Jantzi finds time to pen columns for the Connection, a magazine beloved by Amish and Mennonite readers across the United States and Canada. Never sugar-coating the frustrations of motherhood, Jantzi tells it like it is, broken washing machine and bickering children and all. But through her busy days, Jantzi finds strength in simple pleasures of family, fellowship with her Amish community, and quiet time with God. “

Rating: 4

Reason for rating: This book is full of brief snippets and stories of the life of one Amish family. When I was reading it, it felt very similar to reading a blog of a good friend, if that makes sense. The stories are easily read and short. I was really surprised by how much I connected with Marianne. I have always viewed the Amish as very different from me, but in Simple Pleasures, I realized just how similar we are, the common bond of motherhood between us. All of my experience with the Amish has been in other books or tv shows, written by non-Amish, but like the brief note in the beginning of the book, these books are meant to bring words from the Amish people directly to us, to allow the Amish to speak for themselves. I remember thinking, in one of the very first pages, where she talks about using Johnson’s baby lotion, that it never even crossed my mind that they would use the same products as us. In my mind, I imagined the Amish made everything from scratch, the way some of my friends do, making their own lotions and other personal care products. I love how even though we were two mothers, with different backgrounds and different lives, living in different countries, and yet, her stories felt so familiar to me, as I could see my own kids doing or saying similar things, as I could relate to the common struggles of motherhood. It definitely made me rethink the images that I had held of the Amish in my head prior to this. I would recommend the book to mothers and to those interested at a glimpse inside Amish life.  

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Read the other bloggers’ reviews at Litfuse!

I Vaccinate My Children and I Am Not Ashamed

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I vaccinate my children and I am not ashamed

As much as I hate to admit it, once upon a time, I was sucked in by the anti-vaccine arguments. Their case against vaccines sounds scary. Who wants their children to be injured? Who wants them to change from the child you know and love into someone you don’t recognize? These things sound scary. I’m not denying it. It made me not want to vaccinate my kids.

But the science simply doesn’t show any of these things to be true. Science shows that vaccines are safe. Science shows that the side effects are rare. Science shows that they do not cause autism, despite many people’s continued insistence that they do. History shows that the diseases we vaccinate against are serious and can be deadly.

In fact, it is the very efficacy of the vaccines that is the enemy of their continued success. Many of us don’t know what whooping cough looks like. Many of us don’t know anyone who was in an iron lung for polio.

But the stories that go viral and the stories that get shared are those that make you fear. That make you doubt the years and years and years of research and the years and years of progress.

So today, I’m sharing my story.

My children received their vaccines. And do you know what happened? They cried a little when they got their shots. Who wouldn’t? I don’t like to get shots and cried getting shots for many more years than I should be okay with admitting in public. They slept a little more for the next few days. They had band-aid adhesive on their legs that was much harder to wash off than one would expect (What are they using? Super glue?). My children got protected against multiple deadly diseases.

Despite nothing having happened, despite nothing having happened to millions of children who were vaccinated, it’s still scary putting my story out here. Why? Because the anti-vaccine movement can be cruel. I’ve been told that I was “experimenting” on my children, despite the years and years of research. And the comments can hurt.

But I refuse to be silent any longer. I think we need more stories of the good effects. It is my hope that by rising up and telling my story, that others will be unafraid to stand with me and proudly say, “I vaccinate my children and I am not ashamed.” Are you with me?

Photo credit: NIAID via Foter.com / CC BY This photo was cropped with text added by me. 

So, What’s Your Dream Job?

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The question “So, what’s your dream job?” in and of itself is innocent enough. And I don’t blame people around me for asking. Everyone’s curious and I think the assumption is that pretty much nobody is working in their dream job.

I have typically said in the past that my dream job would be working at a newspaper or working for a non-profit helping people. And while neither of those are false, I would love doing those things, I have come to realize they’re not 100 percent accurate.

But my real answer never felt good enough.

Because truth is, I love being a stay at home mom. I don’t mean it in like an “every moment is perfect” kind of way, because it certainly isn’t. There are moments that are hard. And moments where I want to quit and throw in the towel.

But wouldn’t every dream job be like that? No job is perfect and every job takes hard work. I know that people who did great and amazing things with their lives faced a lot of setbacks along the way. I mean, Marie Curie accomplished a lot of great things in her life and she ultimately died because of them, because of her exposure to so much radiation.

But sometimes what I am doing feels too mundane to be my dream job, feels too ordinary. I remember when I was in college and was first pregnant and I got some comments that I had so much potential that I was wasting by being “just” a mom. So then when I really started to enjoy being a mom, I sort of kept it inside. This wasn’t good enough to be my dream right? I wasn’t even sure I wanted this dream. I know it wasn’t the thing I dreamed about when I was a kid.

But this is the truth. I love being a mom. The good, the bad, the ugly. Well, maybe not the ugly. Maybe I don’t love every moment. And maybe sometimes it is hard. And it’s not perfect. And sometimes I send Nick a text that says, “I quit.” I’m only human. But most of the time, I love what I do. And that’s good enough for me.

This is not to say that everyone should love it. I know being a stay at home mom is not for everyone. That’s okay too. We are all gifted differently and we are all different people. Lots of people have a dream job that I would never enjoy. Like I would never want to be a veterinarian. So not my thing. But there are people for whom that is their thing. Great for them, not for me.

Being a mom is my thing. And I’m going to embrace it.

What’s your dream job? 

Me and my boys, just an every day in my dream job


Baby Led Weaning FAQ

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You may have heard me once or twice say just how much I love baby led weaning. We have done this now with both our kids and the second time around I am still just as pleased! It was still just as awesome! I am still so glad I did it! A lot of people are unfamiliar with the term baby led weaning though and because I spend (too much) time in Facebook groups, I see a lot of questions asked about it. Having done this with two kids now and also read about it, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on baby led weaning and what it entails, so here are my answers to the most frequently asked questions about baby led weaning.

What is Baby Led Weaning? 

Basically put, baby led weaning is feeding your baby whole pieces of food from the start, skipping purees and what people would traditionally think of as baby food. You allow the baby to pick up the food and feed themselves instead of spoon-feeding them. By contrast, in traditional weaning, people typically start with purees and cereals and then eventually transition to finger foods. One is not right/wrong or better/worse, they are just different approaches.

Allen eating green beans

But weaning? Doesn’t the term weaning mean cutting out breast milk or formula?

Well yes, in America, but in the UK where the term baby led weaning comes from, it just means the introduction of solid foods. Even though food before one is for so much more than fun, this is not an abrupt shift where you wake up one day at six months and bam! solid foods and bam! no breast milk or formula.

Dominic enjoying some cantaloupe

What resources are out there for baby led weaning? 

Personally, I am a big fan of the Baby Led Weaning book. We actually own the cookbook version, which I love, because it has all the need to know information in the front plus recipes. Some of the recipes are pretty basic, but at the time I first got it, I was still teaching myself to cook and having those ideas and recipes laid out for me was helpful. But specific baby led weaning recipes are not a necessity. I also like this baby led weaning handout from Gil Rapley’s website. My favorite Facebook groups for questions and ideas are Feeding the Littles and Healthy-Minded Baby-Led Weaning.

Allen eating kiwi

 What about choking?

Well, first of all, I just wanted to start by saying that no matter how you feed your child, I think a class in infant CPR and the infant Heimlich is valuable for all parents. I actually consider basic first aid a critical life skill and something that everyone should know.

That being said, in babies, the gag reflex is much farther forward than in adults. This helps protect them from choking. Additionally, you should not feed them any obvious choking hazards like whole nuts.

Allen enjoying scrambled eggs

What can my baby eat? 

I’ve put together a great flowchart to show you. Basically, no honey, and watch the salt, and no choking hazards, but other than that, the world’s your oyster!

Can my child eat this if we are doing baby led weaning?What about the three-day rule?

In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, the three-day rule refers to waiting three days between introducing any new foods. Basically, I think this one is personal choice. The three-day rule does not prevent any allergies, but rather allows you to identify what food might be causing a reaction if your child has one. We chose only to make sure to introduce these high allergy foods alone (ie we didn’t introduce eggs and wheat at the same time) but you may want to do things differently.

Dominic eating some peaches or apricots (I think)

What about high allergy foods? (Peanuts, fish, eggs, etc) 

The old advice was to wait on these foods until after a year or sometimes even two, but this didn’t have a strong solid backing in science. A lot of research in the past 5-10 years has actually shown that introducing high allergy foods earlier rather than later can actually help prevent allergies. However, if you have food allergies in your family, I encourage you to talk to you doctor about this to figure out the best plan for your child. (Added: My friend Alexis shared this wonderful summary of some of the current research on allergen introduction with me and I thought you would all benefit from it too.)

Dominic enjoying some berries (or cherries)

What about seasonings? 

Bland food for babies is not your only option. They shouldn’t really have a lot of salt, but other than that, you can feel free to introduce your baby to different flavors through herbs and seasonings. If you do offer something salty, offer some water too. Spicy food bothers some babies, but other babies love them. If you are serving something spicy, you can also add something dairy based to help bring down the heat.

Allen feeding himself yogurt with Baby Led Weaning

What about the mess?

Yes, BLW can be messy. Embrace it. I’m half-joking, but the way I see it, at some point, however you feed them, they eventually start to feed themselves and this learning process is messy. Nevertheless, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way about how to minimize and manage the mess.

  • Limit the amount you put in front of them. If you give them a smaller portion, it limits the amount they can be messy with. And if they eat all that, you can just add a bit more.
  • Opt to go without clothes if you’re anticipating a bit mess. That way you can take the kid directly from the table to the bath if you need to.

Dominic eating a quesadilla

What age should I start baby led weaning? 

Personally, we started at 6 months, in line with the current AAP and WHO recommendations. But the signs of readiness are important. Being able to sit up and hold their head up, the loss of tongue thrust, and so on. The physical readiness will make things go a lot smoother.

Allen eating a rice based dish

What will our pediatrician think?

I’m not a mind reader or your pediatrician. It’s best to ask them for yourselves. Ours was supportive, yours may feel differently.

Dominic eating some kind of casserole

What does the science say about baby led weaning? 

As you may have suspected, baby led weaning has not been widely studied. But, there have been a few small studies on it that you may be interested in. One study looked at the feasibility of baby led weaning based on when babies reached out for food and concluded that it was feasible for babies without developmental delays. Another study found that baby led weaning babies preferred healthier foods but also found that baby led weaning babies may be more at risk for being underweight – so that is something to keep an eye on, especially if you already have concerns about your child’s growth. Another study (granted, self-reported) found that a baby-led weaning approach led to kids that were more responsive to satiety, or fullness, cues. I did also find some interesting studies about mothers who chose to do baby led weaning (one, for example, that found that a baby led weaning approach was associated with a mom’s feeding style that was low in control), but that’s neither here nor there in terms of how well the method works, but if you are interested, they are out there.

Whew! That was a lot of questions! Is there anything else I missed that you’re just dying to know? Leave any further questions below! 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is not intended to be medical advice. If you have concerns about your child’s diet and/or how to feed them, please speak with a qualified medical professional. 

Why I Quit Potty Training

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Why I quit potty training

Potty training. It seems sometimes like it’s on your mind from the moment they are born, when you’re changing a million diapers a day and you’re like, “I can’t wait until this kid potty trains so I don’t have to change diapers anymore.” But I’m here to tell you that I am a potty training quitter. Yup, I said it. I quit potty training. Read on to find out why I quit potty training.

It seems around age 2 the pressure starts to build. People start asking you about it, other kids around you start doing it, and it suddenly feels like if you’re not doing it too, you’re missing the boat and your kid is never going to potty train or that if you “miss your window” it will be enormously difficult.

So, all of those forces combined for me to try potty training Dominic when he was 2 1/2. It was a disaster. We were having no success and it was stressing me out terribly. I felt like I couldn’t successfully prevent Dominic from having an accident and take care of Allen, who was still little and nursing a lot. But everything I had read told me that once I had started, I couldn’t stop or he would never learn to potty train!

Thankfully, some friends helped convince me that it was okay to quit. That it was stressing me out too much to continue and that he would eventually get it and we were not doomed to a life of diapers if he didn’t potty train that instant.

So I quit. And I felt at first like a failure. Even though my friends assured me that I was not a failure. But it’s not like I have a crystal ball – or even a magic 8 ball – that could tell me how this would all work out in the future.

But I am pleased to say that after Dominic was 3 we tried again and it was completely different. It was a breeze because he was ready and if I could go back in time, I would just wait until he was ready and save us both the stress of trying to do it just because everyone else was doing it and not because he was ready.

Every day, we all face pressures around us to do things a certain way or for our kids to be doing things a certain way or at a certain time because other kids around them are. Or because of something you read. Or because of a comment someone else made to you. It’s okay to do it in your own way and your own time. I need to repeat this to myself about 50 times a day, at least, but it truly is okay.

I wrote this today, because I wish I had read something, anything like this that said quitting potty training was okay and that you weren’t dooming your kid to a lifetime of diapers! But I think there are broader points here, that sometimes it is okay to quit and that knowing your limits and knowing when to step back is a valuable skill to have. I was glad I quit potty training! Have you ever quit something and were glad you quit? 

Photo Credit: Scott SM via Compfight cc Photo altered to add text.

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