Maple Syrup. 100% Pure Deliciousness.

Maple Syrup

100% Pure Maple Syrup.  

Cracker Barrel.  The place where bacon is alway available, the mashed potatoes are downing in white, peppery gravy, and you ask the waitress for extra syrup in those cute little bottles so you can stash them in your purse for later.

Growing up, we went to Cracker Barrel quite often with my grandparents for birthdays, anniversaries, and the just-because meals.  I always ordered the chicken-fried steak with green beans, mashed potatoes with white gravy (none of that poopy brown gravy for me!), and biscuits with grape jelly.  I’ve never had a problem getting food in, so even when I was 8, I ordered this meal and you better believe I ate every bite.  Other family members ordered breakfast items and would send my siblings and I home with the extra little bottles of syrup.  And it was the best syrup ever.

When Andrew and I started buying more whole foods and less processed foods syrup was one of those things that kept popping up into all my research.  “If it’s pure maple syrup, it’s a great natural sweetener!”  “I use syrup in baking!”  “I put syrup in my coffee/tea!”  I was so confused.  Syrup is for pancakes, waffles, and French toast.  Mostly for pancakes.  I was also intrigued.

So we decided to buy some 100% pure maple syrup a few months back at an Amish store.  I was so baffled that it said to store it in the fridge because wouldn’t it get all hard and goopy?  It never dawned on me that real maple syrup is stored in trees in the cold temperatures!  (Isn’t it funny what you learn about food when you start eating the real stuff?!)  So.  Here we were with the real deal.  And I was a little apprehensive.  We’d made pancakes and the only syrup we had in the house was this new, real stuff.  Would I be able to tell the difference?  Would it taste better than the stuff I was used to?  The stuff that, let’s be honest, is anything BUT maple syrup.  If it didn’t taste good, we were going to have a pretty lame meal because we didn’t have any backup in the house.

Coming out it was runny, which took me off guard because it had been in the fridge and I expected it to be thick.  So it came out a lot faster than I was thinking it would, meaning I poured way more on my pancakes than I meant to.  But that’s ok because it was delicious.  SO GOOD!

The only sad part about discovering the real/whole food version of something comes when you realize no restaurant (that is in your budget or your family’s list of preferred places) offers the real deal.  And can you blame them?  People would be knocking down their doors and breaking windows to get to it.  There would be riots and stampedes.  So restaurants continue to serve the not so good stuff to protect their staff and establishments I guess.  For me, this means I don’t enjoy stealing  a bite of someone else’s Cracker Barrel pancakes.  It also means no stuffing syrup into my purse.

But the real stuff?  I’m hooked.  Even more so in the past few weeks after I tried it on some Greek yogurt.  Can you say amazing?!  Because I can and I do every time I have this snack.  Which is really often cause a pregnant mama’s gotta eat and I need protein but I crave sweet things.  My next adventure will be to make my own iced coffee and add it to that and I think it’s going to be mind-blowing.  I’ll let you know when I confirm.

Do you have a favorite maple syrup?  Have you tried the real deal?

Done breastfeeding…for now.

Since Malachi was was born in May of 2011 I have been breastfeeding nonstop.  Till two weeks ago when Amos decided he just didn’t have time for it anymore.  Big brother (or literally anything else going on) was apparently way more interesting and I was tender (and maybe a little grumpy) already being six months pregnant, so I wasn’t putting up with all the latching off and on.  And off and on.  And off.  And on.

So we’re done.

I am deeply thankful we made it this far so easily.  I have been incredibly blessed to never have any issues nursing either son apart from mild discomfort here and there.  I was worried heading into a c section with Amos that our start would be rocky, and I was right, it was, but not in the way I expected.  I expected trouble latching, engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis/thrush due to the antibiotics.  I even thoroughly researched tongue and lip ties because I just *knew* something was going to go wrong.  But the only thing that went wrong is we had to wait a few days to nurse while he learned to breathe on his own.  And the first time he latched I knew instantly I had worried for nothing.  He was a natural.  It was like all the days in the NICU when I couldn’t even touch him hadn’t happened.  It was such a huge answer to prayer.

He is our emotional little guy and until a few months ago was a complete mama’s boy.  To the extreme.  I thought for sure he would be the kid still asking for milk when he’s 5.  There were plenty of moments I didn’t enjoy nursing him.  Just like every mom and baby we had our ups and downs.

Growth spurts are never really fun for any nursing mom.  Just-popped-though-the-gums teeth are exciting for all family members except mom.  They can be a really scary thing for a mom.  (Everyone keep your fingers away from baby’s mouth now, but go ahead and stick your tender titty in there, mama!)  Then there were the nights I just wanted to sleep one night through without having to wake up and feed someone.  As much as he loved  nursing, Malachi never asked much for milk.  But once Amos learned how to sign ‘milk’?  Yeah, you can bet he asked for it all the time.  I swear he asked sometimes because he was bored and what’s a better thing to do when you’re bored than eat?  (He definitely learned that from me.)

But he hasn’t asked for it once since we stopped.  NOT EVEN ONCE.  It’s like he doesn’t even remember it!  And I’m not gonna lie and say it doesn’t make me a little sad.  I’m not going to pretend that it would have been cool to be able to say I nursed non-stop from baby #1 to baby #3.  (Can you even imagine the crunchy-mama points that would have scored me?!  I could have been crunchy royalty!)  And dang it, I was so close.  But I have to be real and respect that baby led weaning means weaning when baby is ready, even if mama is not.

As with many other aspects of parenting, it’s more complicated than me being ready or not.  I’m in my third trimester of my third pregnancy so yeah, I was more than ready for a break.  For a while during the beginning of this pregnancy I wanted to quit because I was so sore and it was seriously painful.  Weaning was/is never back and white.  Never yes, I 100% want to quit or, no, I 100% do not want to quit.  Parenting seems to be a lot of that not-black-and-white, but very gray stuff.  Very mixed feelings.  It’s hard work, keeping on top of your feelings and emotions as a parent.  But rewarding work for sure.

My second nurseling.

My second nursling.

Scariest and silliest confession EH-VER.

I really like writing.  A lot.  Probably because I have a problem with talking.  I really, really like talking.  An awful lot.  But it’s hard to talk about grown up stuff with my two toddlers all day, so I turn to writing/reading comments on Facebook most of the time.  Yup, I’m cool like that.  I get most of my social interaction through Facebook.  Well, not including the constant social interactions I have with aforementioned toddlers.  (Every second of every day.)  (Seriously, even in the bathroom.)

But back to writing.  I really like writing, so I started this blog a while back.  And then the worst thing ever happened.

People started reading it.

I know.  Curses!  And not just any people, sometimes people I know in real life (not just internet life) would read it!  The horror!  So I freaked out and stopped writing because hello, what would they think of the things I wrote?!  What would they think of me?!  Probably not much.  If anything.  But apparently it was a big deal to me because I stopped writing.  Completely.  It’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything even though I think about it almost daily.  Isn’t that the silliest thing you’ve ever heard?  LAME.

So I’m going to get back on the writing band wagon.  And hopefully I don’t fall off again.  Cause apparently it is waaaay hard to get back on.

Now You Know.

We’re not looking to move anytime soon, but if we were to move again there are some things I would be on the lookout for in a new house.  Things it never crossed my mind to think about before I had a mobile child.  I thought I would share my house wisdom so others will know what to be on the lookout for.  Things like this:

Doorknobs – The round, turny-kind that require a decent-sized hand and a firm grip are not toddler-friendly.  Instead look for handles, not knobs.  A handle ensures your child will be able to open doors as soon as they take their first step.  And there are no child-proof safety latches for these kind of handles that I’m aware of, so just keep a good eye on the bathroom door!  Having a baby is like having a cat or dog, they all like to play in the toilet water and with the toilet paper.

Fireplace – Definitely look for a home with a fireplace.  It will teach your child soooo much.  It’s a great tool for teaching:

  • How to be aware of your surroundings – As in, “Don’t play on the fireplace!  You’re too close to the fireplace!”
  • Textures/sensory – “Oh, honey, the bricks are hard!  When you fall on them you get hurt.”
  • Science – “When you crack your head open it bleeds.”
  • Pre-med – “We’re going to the ER because you need stitches.”
  • Colors – “Good job!  You’re right, the baby gate in front of the fireplace does have red and yellow on it!”

Outlets – You never know when or where you’re going to need an outlet, so it’s good to make sure there will be enough for all your electronics and floor lamps.  You know you have enough when you have to buy THREE packages of outlet covers for safety.  And that doesn’t cover the outlets that are always full/in use.  That would take yet another package.  So you want to look for a house that has enough outlets to need four packages of outlet covers, or, about  60 outlets.  That should just about cover everything.

Dark Walls – Dark walls are super great because they show every little scratch and mark.  This will be beneficial to you because you’ll know when you need to wipe down walls (every day), bust out the magic eraser (once a week, but be careful not to take paint off!), or just repaint (ideally every month or so.)

Fences – A fence might be a need if you have a pet, but a fence will only hold your child back.  A fence prevents children from going up to the neighbors back door and peering in.  It prevents a child from wondering into a neighbors yard and picking their flowers.  Not having a fence allows them to run out of the yard and explore the world around them at every opportunity giving both of you exercise as they run down the street and you chase after them.

Butterfly-friendly landscaping – It is so nice to be outside with your little one, especially when you have beautiful flowers around the house to enjoy.  Not only will flowers attract lovely butterflies, but their friends the bees, in the honey and bumble forms.  Yay, nature!

So there you have it.  Plenty of tips for what to look for when buying a house with children.

Got any ‘tips’ you want to share with other parents?  ;-)