While these might appear to be rather diverse topics, they have something in common - our Darling Daughter. Two weeks ago DD and our sweet grandbaby BC came to our house. Our Son in Love was going to youth camp with the kids in his church. He didn’t want DD to be at home alone with the baby, so we enjoyed four nights and five days with our grandson who was almost four months old.
DD said she had a request to make, if we had the emotional stamina to take it. That got our curiosity up. It turns out that BC, precious as he is, refused to sleep in his bed. When he was a newborn, they planned to have him sleep in a bassinet in their room. But he didn’t like sleeping on his back, the way they recommend newborns sleep these days. To keep him from crying they let him sleep in their arms or on their chests. While that might have been sweet and practical with a newborn, at four months it was getting tiring. DD would nurse him and he would fall asleep in her arms. She would transfer him to the bed and he would instantly wake, and if she didn’t pick him up he would cry inconsolably.
When my own children were little, it had become popular to “just let them cry it out.” “Put them in bed,” my friends said. “They will fuss for about 20 minutes and fall asleep. The next night they will fuss for 15, and in a couple of nights you will put them to bed and they will just fall asleep.” I tried this method with our Strong Son. He cried for five hours. My sleep deprived husband said, “I’m not going to be able to work tomorrow if I don’t get some sleep.” I nursed him, rocked him and said I would never do that again.
When DD was a baby again friends told me to “just let them cry it out.” Against my better judgment, I decided to try again. She cried hysterically for more than an hour, then suddenly the pitch of her cry changed. I was afraid she had hurt herself or caught her leg on her crib. I opened the door to a horrific smell. She had a dirty diaper and it had leaked all over the bed. It was on her pajamas, and in her hair. We bathed her, put on fresh clothes, changed the sheets and said never, never will we do this again.
I don’t know what has happened in the intervening years, but today parents are being given the same advice. One of DD’s friends has two boys, and the “cry it out” technique didn’t work with them either. But she did her own variation. She sat in a chair beside the bed the first night and sang to them until they fell asleep. She did the same in subsequent nights until her boys could put themselves to sleep. DD wanted to try this variation, but SIL couldn’t stand to hear his son cry. She hoped to try it at our house.
The first night she sat by his bed stroking his head and singing while he fussed, whimpered, and clutched a blanket. After 45 minutes he was asleep. He woke once to nurse in the night and went right back to sleep in his bed. The second night he fussed for 20 minutes with her sitting beside the bed assuring him he had not been abandoned. The fussy period was shorter the third night. The last night she put him in bed, he sighed, grabbed the blanket and went to sleep. When they got home, SIL was delighted at the change.
None of that has anything to do with the BTD, it’s just the best advice for getting a baby to put himself or herself to sleep that I know. I’ve wanted to share it in my blog, but wanted to make some kind of BTD connection. This week we are at DD’s house, babysitting while DD and SIL work on a service project with the youth in their church. BC still goes right to sleep in his bed, the way he did at our house.
One day for lunch, DD said, “Mom, would you like to try millet pancakes?” It turns out that a few weeks ago she had been craving millet cornbread, but didn’t have time to bake bread. She mixed up the batter, poured it out on a griddle like pancakes, and it cooked quickly. She told me it was delicious.
I made eggs, she made pancakes, I cut up fruit and we had a delicious brunch. You can get the millet corn bread recipe here. The only change DD makes is that instead of 1/3 cup honey she uses a little less than 1/3 cup agave.
It is a delicious breakfast or brunch for a mother who has enjoyed 8 hours of sleep because her 100% breastfed four month old can sleep through the night.
I recently went to a banquet. The food was unusually good for a large sit down dinner - there were at least 250 plates served. I was the event photographer, so I got to wander all over the ballroom taking pictures. I recognized a friend who had volunteered to serve tables at the event. I complimented her on the food, and said that the green beans in particular were some of the best I had ever eaten.
She went back to the kitchen, and brought out one of the cooks, another volunteer who was also a friend. I said, “I don’t want you to give away any family secrets, but would you share your green bean recipe.” She said, “They are so easy. It’s not really a recipe. I cook green beans with soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic.”
Yesterday I decided to try to copy them for our lunch. I didn’t want to use soy sauce, because of the wheat. So I substituted Braggs Liquid Aminos. You could use Tamari. I didn’t want to use sugar, because if I’m going to break my no refined food policy, I want it to be for a memorable desert, not a vegetable. So I substituted agave.
Here’s how I made them.
Because roasted or stir fry vegetables retain more of their natural vitamins and phyto-nutrients, I started with a skillet and enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom. I added a substantial splash of Braggs, and a squirt of agave. I sprinkled garlic powder on top, stirred it all together, and turned on the stove. When the skillet was warm, but not piping hot, I added a pound of green beans. I sautéed them until they were tender.
They were at least as good, if not better, than the ones at the banquet. We are having the leftovers today for lunch with grilled chicken breasts.
As I ran this morning, I was listening to sermons on my MP3 player. A phrase caught my attention, “We are all evangelists about something.” He gave several examples - some people get excited about a sports team, and tell everyone about it. Some people get excited about a new exercise program, and they tell all of their friends how this new video or that new gym is better than anything they have ever done before. Some people are passionate about politics.
He said that he had always grilled on a gas grill, but someone told him about the Big Green Egg. Now he engages everyone in conversations about the superiority of the Big Green Egg. I had never heard of a Big Green Egg, but his enthusiasm, made me look it up online. It ought to be good, because it sure is expensive.
I find that I am a BTD evangelist. In conversations it is natural and easy to talk about the BTD. Someone says they are worried about their cholesterol - I tell them how my husband and I both lowered our cholesterol by eating very different diets. Someone tells me they have indigestion - I tell them how I found the BTD. Someone tells me they know they need to exercise but they don’t like running - I ask them what their Blood Type is. Someone on facebook posts in the middle of the night that they can’t sleep. The next morning I post my favorite calcium/magnesium supplement on her wall.
Our Strong Son brought a young lady to meet us, and we went for a picnic. As I was unpacking the basket, I said, “Did he tell you that I eat weird?” They both laughed and SS said, “I told her that you would ask what her blood type is.” I said, “So what IS your blood type?” She said that she didn’t know. My family knows that I can’t keep quiet about the BTD.
The point of the sermon was that while Christian people will tell others about all sorts of things that they are interested in, for some reason they keep quiet about their love for Jesus. So as I am running, I start evaluating myself, and my conversations about the things I care most about.
In this life - physically, here and now - to feel your best you need the BTD. It’s more than a diet - it is a lifestyle that includes eating, exercising, supplements, and stress reduction. I’ve experienced it, I believe in it, and I recommend it.
But the BTD cannot give meaning to your life. It cannot give you the promise of heaven. It cannot offer fellowship with God here on earth. Jesus is the only one who can do all of that. I’ve experienced him, I believe in him, and I recommend him to you.
Tuesday night I wanted dessert. I had eaten well all day, so I can’t say I was hungry. But after dinner as I was working on pictures, I wished for something cold and sweet.
Since I don’t keep avoids in my house, and we live 20 minutes from town, my choices were limited. I roamed around the kitchen thinking that I would have to make do with a LaCroix.
Then, in the back of the freezer I saw a bag of frozen mango. I put some in a bowl, and let it partially thaw - it was still frozen, but not hard. I ate it with a spoon. YUM! Cold, sweet, delicious. It satisfied my craving, and it was 100% beneficial.
We have had two groups of teenagers staying at our house for a church retreat the past two weeks. Did it throw us a little off of our retirement schedule - of course. Does the house seem empty today, and do we wish we had them back - absolutely yes!
I agreed to provide breakfast every morning. Their leaders bought food for lunch and dinner. The kids made their own sandwiches for lunch. I helped the sponsors prepare dinner. I haven’t done much baking since my children grew up, so I was excited to pull out our family’s favorite bread and muffin recipes. The first morning I made carrot bread - they barely touched it. The second morning I made cranberry crunch - they were suspicious of cranberries. The third morning I had planned to make pecan muffins, but I wavered. Pecans are expensive and pecan muffins are time consuming. Did I want to spend extra time and money on something the kids would not eat? No, I did not. So I bought 88 cent packages of refined blueberry muffin mix. The directions said just add water. Easy and fast! Every muffin vanished, and the kids said, “Mrs. Graham, those were delicious.”
For dinner, they basically had starch and cheese. One night we grilled burgers. We had lettuce, tomato, and avocado for toppings. The adults ate the vegetables; the kids ate burgers, buns, cheese, and chips. One night we had taco fixings, so the kids could make tacos or taco salads. The most popular dinner was to crush the taco shells and make nachos out of chips, beans, and cheese. The third night was pizza. Pepperoni was the most popular; supreme (with vegetable toppings) was the least popular.
The kids did love watermelon, and ate as much of that as we could cut.
Let me be real clear - I am not going to be critical of the kids or their parents. I was an extremely picky eater as a child. My parents were frustrated that I refused to eat anything except meat, fruit, bread, potatoes, and dessert. It would be highly hypocritical if I made disparaging remarks about our guests. However, from a nutritional and BTD standpoint, I am concerned about the future of this generation.
Statistically 43% of these kids are Type Os - yet they only ate meat one night that they were here. Statistically 40% are Type As. They can tolerate more grain than the Os, but also need lots of fruits and vegetables. Statistically, 12% are Type Bs - They are more likely to flourish on milk products, but all of the kids craved cheese for both lunch and dinner.
When I was a teen, I was an anomaly. All of my friends ate vegetables. They ate lettuce and tomato on their hamburgers. I was the one who got funny looks at restaurants and frowns for not eating green beans when I was a guest at a friend’s house. Forcing me to eat was a complete failure.
The media periodically runs a story about a school district that passes a law decreeing that schools will serve vegetables for lunch. Follow up reports say that those vegetables are mostly thrown in the trash. So coercion is no more successful with today’s kids than it was with me.
I made my own choice to change my diet when I was in college, to the shock and delight of my parents. I hope these kids will eventually do the same. Otherwise I fear that they will face a lifetime of weight, vision, joint, inflammation, and other health problems.
With my own children, I was continuously cutting deals - “if you eat this, then you get to eat that.” They cooperated. It helped that I was an at home mom who liked to cook and experiment in the kitchen. My heart goes out to single moms who try to juggle jobs and after school activities and chores at home. There is no time to cook. Fast food and frozen dinners are so easy and so tempting.
I started this blog with great passion, but I’m ending a little flat, because I don’t know the answer. The best I can do is point to a few communities, like Denver, Seattle, Austin, Charleston, and San Francisco, where for some reason the culture shifted, outdoor exercise became popular, fast food chains were snubbed, and health became important. Positive peer pressure would be the best way to change what today’s kids eat.