Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Hopefully this is one of the bumper stickers we can hang on our refrigerator (because even if our kid becomes an astronaut Shelton will not allow for the placement of stickers on our cars!): My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus, and Yours Eats Chicken Nuggets.

Growing up I was a painfully picky eater. And to be fair, “growing up” can best be defined by the last 28 years of my life. My palate has the depth of a teaspoon. I blame this, and mom DO NOT take any offense to this, on my parents. My exposure to food was pretty limited. We had Pizza Hut on speed dial, were on a first name basis with the Burger King manager, and probably consumed every flavor of Hamburger Helper on the grocery store shelf. (Thank someone for our metabolisms because we would have been poster children for childhood obesity!) I inherited my picky ways from both nature and nurture. My dad is also a very picky eater, so if I saw him turn his nose at something (oh, I don’t know, say RICE!) I wasn’t about to eat it. My mom, on the other hand, would have had us eating everything under the sun if she’d had her way. But my dad’s rule over what we ate (ground beef and potatoes) and our limited budget precluded us from broadening our culinary horizons.

As I grew up this became a huge handicap for me. To this day I have an almost fear of eating at other people’s houses. What will they serve us? How will they prepare it? Are there onions in? You put an eggplant in what? I got good at telling people that 1) I’d either had it several times before and just couldn’t stomach it, or 2) I was allergic. Neither of these were or are true. I have zero food allergies and if it looked even remotely suspicious there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to try it.

And on the very rare occasion that I had to try something, it would go terribly wrong. Take for instance the family vacation to Disney World where I was forced to eat a bratwurst with sauerkraut in the middle of Epcot’s Germany and proceeded to puke my guts out. I, to this today, have a tremendous gag reflex and I’m not going to keep anything down that my tongue deems not worthy.

So as I said, my persnickety eating habits have been a hindrance. Business lunches and dinners at ethnic restaurants are a nightmare – and I either beg to go somewhere else, or I’ve even been known to go a day or so ahead of time and “test drive” the menu to ensure I can find at least one thing that won’t lead to a “most embarrassing moment of my life.” Exhibit A, I had dinner with Jillian Michaels last spring at a sushi restaurant in LA. Three days before the dinner, I made Shelton take me to a local spot where I tried sushi for the first time, rather enjoyed it, and made copious notes in my phone so that I could order with out fail in front of Ms. Michaels.

In the past few years, as my love of cooking has developed, so have my tastes. I’ve discovered when in the privacy of my own kitchen with me at the ingredient controls I’m willing to try just about anything. I even attempted to make a Thai dish once that before completion ended up in the trash because the smell was so overwhelming, but the point is I tried. My mother-in-law keeps a list on her refrigerator of the foods I will not eat, alongside a similar list for both of my sisters-in-law, and I’m proud to say mine is the only one that has been mostly crossed off. I eat rice now people – white AND brown!

What could this possibly have to do what having a baby? A lot actually. One of my fears for my ability to raise a child has been my picky eating habits. I don’t mind passing on my curly hair or even my ability to speak my mind and share my opinion no matter what; but I do not want to create another generation of people who curl their lips and noses at the thought of – VEGETABLES. Oh the horror!

As editor for, I’m sent a library worth of books every year, books related to diet, health, wellness and fitness. We review them, but as most editors will tell you, I don’t read them cover to cover. A few months ago a book showed up that really caught my attention, and the title is My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus. (Kudos to the author and editors for coming up with that one!) I read this one cover to cover, in fact, I couldn’t put it down and haven’t shut-up about it since i started reading.

Nancy Tringoli Piho is the author, a former food industry PR guru who handed over her press releases for mommyhood. She and her husband are foodies, so when she had her first child, she set about feeding him the same way they ate. What a novel idea. Or is it? In her book she discusses how eating trends for American children have so drastically changed from those of even our parents or grandparents. There’s an entire industry of kid foods, and for some reason, most parents only feed their kids from this limited, starchy, processed menu of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches. Meanwhile, the parents enjoy pasta with pesto and shrimp or a curry or fajitas or God knows what else. The point is, this act limits the development of their children’s palates.

My family gives me a hard time because even now when all we have is a bump in my womb, I’m adamant about how our child will and will not eat. I’m not going to raise a kid who is all strung out on sugar and refuses to eat vegetables. How do I make that happen? Well, My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus helped me feel justified in this early parenting decision that I’ve made and even offered a few ideas I hadn’t yet considered.

We’ll make our own baby food. That way, our child immediately learns the flavors, smells, colors and textures of what a green bean or sweet potato really is, rather than the high-sodium, high-sugar, over-processed version that Gerber wants to sell us at the grocery store.

We’ll introduce broader flavors and varieties of foods at an earlier age than most people do. Piho explains that in other cultures children are eating spicy foods and even more complex flavors like lamb as first foods, and we’re all human, so why can’t my American baby eat that too?

When we make dinner, that’s what everyone is eating. Shelton and I aren’t going to have sushi while the kids munch on Goldfish crackers and cheese sticks.

My goal here is to help develop a taste and appreciation for good food, health them understand that food is fuel and serves a purpose, and help my kids grow to be healthy and strong.

My picking eating habits are infamous. Friends, family and colleagues will all attest to the to down-right aggravating way I eat, or rather don’t. But hopefully, twenty or so years from now, or even five, no one will be able to say that about our child.

I really do recommend this book and hope you’ll give it a read. You can see more of my My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus review here at, and you’ll see that I think it should be added to the must-read list for all expectant moms.

It Sucked and Then I Cried. And the Book Scared the Bazeezes out of Me!

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I regrettably don’t read as often as I’d like. In fact lately, I’ve literally been craving reading a book. Hard covers and greyed pages flipping between my fingers. So when I cracked the cover of ”It Sucked and Then I Cried“ yesterday afternoon, my brain felt like a dried-up sponge soaking in ever paragraph and syllable it could. Then seven hours later, I closed the back cover. I read that 250 page book in seven hours. I can be a voracious reader, when it’s something I’m interested in… or when my brain has been completely starved of something printed NOT on the Internet.

Heather Armstrong is the author, and I’ve been following her story for nearly five years with a level of stalking that is only legal when reading personal blogs. I’ve mentioned Dooce here before. She’s irreverent, brutally honest, her writing style enviable, and she makes me laugh. I’ve watched the growth of her site, and daughter, and become a huge fan, cheering her on as she becomes one of the most famous bloggers around. It makes about as much sense as how emotionally involved people become with reality TV stars. On a recent trip to Austin where I attended the SXSW conference for work, she spoke in a panel discussion about blogging on the morning of my last day. I’d waited the entire five days to see her speak, hoping I’d maybe bump into her in one of the hallway shuffles that felt like class getting out in a large, geeky high school. The guys I attended with teased me a bit as we sat behind her husband at the panel and I cooed over the “khaki trench coat maternity jacket she got at Target!”, defending that the only reason I knew that was because she’d blogged about it. Of course! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her afterward, and she was generous enough to let the giddy twit in the second row take a photograph with her.

So, the book. One of the major themes of Heather’s story at has been her battle with post-partum depression following the birth of her daughter five years ago. She’s always been very open about it – about the fact that her depression lead her to some of the darkest places a mother can go. She checked herself into mental hospital after six months of sleep deprivation, feelings of hopelessness and throwing milk jugs at her husband’s head had finally taken its toll. This book is that story. I laughed out loud several times, often having to stop reading for a few minutes to catch my breath. And I only cried in the last couple of pages of the book. I loved the book – and yet it completely freaked me out. Talking about her insatiable craving for nacho cheese Doritos (which I love and God save the soul who doesn’t let me have any if that becomes my maternity craving!), her level two episiotomy, how her daughter NEV-ER wanted to sleep and her screams could wake coma patients, how she and her husband didn’t have sex for SEVEN MONTHS after they had the baby, and of course, the post-partum depression, it all left me wondering why I would voluntarily “do this” to myself.

It’s in those last few pages, when I eked out a few tears, that she reminds why I, and she, wanted to “do this” to ourselves. Heather is now six-months pregnant with another little girl and I’m really thrilled for her. I’m so hopeful that this time is different, that this time she and her husband are able to not only cope, but thoroughly enjoy the new little addition to their family. I appreciate books like hers. She didn’t sugar coat a damn thing. In fact, she brought up a lot of things about pregnancy and post-partum that most people avoid or just don’t talk about.

So, to say thank you – here’s a link to buy Heather’s book, “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita.” If you buy it from this link, Heather will get some cash to buy Doritos and margaritas, and 4% of the purchase will be a donation to Everyone wins!

Budgeting for Infertility Released 3/17

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Just yesterday a new book was released to help couples manage the financial strain of infertility. ”Budgeting for Infertility“ was written by Angie Best-Boss and Evelina Sterling, and is a friendly guide to “bring home a baby without breaking the bank.” They walk you through understanding the fertility clinic selection process and understanding its success rate, working ‘with’ your insurance company to get more coverage, how to find affordable fertility drugs, understanding traveling abroad where treatment can be more affordable, and how to steer clear of unnecessary expenses.

And…. is featured on page 191! In the chapter “I’ll Try Anything! Investigate Creative Alternatives,” they include a paragraph about creating a Web site to raise the funds. And that’s what we are, a fund raising site. Our first interview in 2006 was with the Wichita Eagle and they called us cyber-beggars, which went out on the AP wire and that’s what we were coined by everyone. Well, we sure aren’t beggars and unfortunately that’s what this book has called us, too. It’s unfortunate because creating a Web site is a creative way to earn the funds. It’s worked for us and we know others who’ve followed in our footsteps who’ve been able to do the same. The book seems to be positioning creating a fund raising site as a creative way to earn the funds, but calling the act “cyber-begging” has a seriously negative connotation and could possibly deter people who might have otherwise found value in it. Best-Boss also includes a quote from me during our 2006 interview, explaining what is.

I’m not going to ruin it though, I want you to crack the cover and check it out for yourself. While we’re disappointed by that one teensy-weensy item, we’re SUPER EXCITED to have been included in this book and hope that many couples find value in the wealth of information in its roughly 260 pages.

If you’re interested in buying the book, we encourage you to purchase it using the link below, as 4% of your purchase will come back to as a donation!

Waiting for Daisy, an infertility memoir

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Thanks to Jennifer P. for sharing the title ”Waiting for Daisy.” It looks like the type of infertility book that’s right up my alley. The full title is: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother. It’s the story of a 35-year-old woman, Peggy Orenstein, who decides to get pregnant and then becomes “hope’s bitch,” her description of the infertility joyride. I’m going to check it out… and if you do…. drop me a note and let me know what you thought.

An expert from the book at

Clomid was my gateway drug; the one you take because, Why not—everyone’s doing it. Just five tiny pills. They’ll give you a boost, maybe get you where you need to go. It’s true, some women can stop there. For others, Clomid becomes infertility’s version of Reefer Madness. First you smoke a little grass, then you’re selling your body on a street corner for crack. First you pop a little Clomid, suddenly you’re taking out a second mortgage for another round of in vitro fertilization (IVF).”

If it Has to Have a Reason

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

I feel like most of what I have written about on this site has been medical. We’ve spent so much time with doctors this past summer that it seems like that is all the information we’ve shared with you. In my early posts, I recapped the first few weeks and months of learning about our infertility and how there were so many sad days. I don’t know if we were just feeling better about it or ignoring it, but once we began working on BabyOrBust everything seemed to get a little better.

I definitely have my down days. Days when I see the cutest families grocery shopping or couples pushing a stroller on their evening walk. Being perfectly honest, my first nephew was born in May and the day he came was so painful. I was unbelievably happy for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and from the first moment I met him I’ve called him the love of my life! He’s perfect. I don’t think I was even jealous. Just something about someone so close being able to effortlessly have a baby- wondering when it would be my turn.

My sister-in-law and I were talking a while back and she told me that she and my brother-in-law had been talking one evening. They believe, just as I do, that everything happens for a reason. And while I can’t remember what reason it was that they came up with, I remember my response. I told her that it was for Shelton and I to learn patience. This is a trait we both lack and luckily our impatience balances one another. And since that moment, I’ve thought a lot about that. Most things in our lives have come so easily to us; But this, having a baby, one thing we’ve both wanted since the very beginning- God is telling us we’re just going to have to put some muscle into it. I was mad at first. Why not make me work really hard for something really unimportant? Why this?

Simply put, it’s patience. And I can honestly say it’s a lesson I’m not taking for granted. The past six months or so have been the most trying in my life. It started with the infertility, work got a little nuts for a while and most recently my parents divorced. I spent several weeks recently feeling like I was fighting for air. Where did I lose so much control? I’ve done a lot of soul searching since all this started and I’ve found my weaknesses, but I’ve also found my strengths. And it is those strengths that are making me work so hard on improving and changing my weaknesses.

I want this experience to mean something, I want to learn so much about myself, my marriage and this life. I mean, if God is going to make me work so hard to find my way to our baby, we might as well make it interesting, right?

Someone recently gave me a copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I reluctantly started reading it, months after it was given to me. But I quickly pulled out my highlighter and started marking page after page. This isn’t just another self-help book. I was reading and found it was relevant to my work, my marriage, my relationships with my parents, my infertility- it was touching every aspect of my life.

So far, the one thing that has really struck me and I already find myself implementing in my everyday life- it’s the idea of your “Circle of Concern” and your “Circle of Influence.” The COC is a big circle, within in it is a smaller circle that holds the COI. In my circle of concern, I have my medical bills from surgery, my parents divorce, my infertility, work issues, school shootings, the price of gas, laundry, etc. I’ve concerned myself with all of these things, they are all stressers. But most of them are out of my control, nothing I can fix or change. Where my energy should be focused is the circle of influence- in here I can put the laundry, what we’ll have for dinner this week, work issues that directly affect me, many aspects of my infertility, living more healthy by diet and exercise, etc. These are all things that I have a direct influence over and can actually make a change in. All the other stuff just adds stress and drama that I don’t need, and no matter how much sleep I lose or anxiety I build, nothing is going to fix them or make them go away.

So I’m working on a little soul makeover. I want to be more positive, patient, smarter, friendlier- just an overall better person. I’ve always said that one of the things I love most about Shelton is that everyday he makes me want and work to be a better person. I tease him that he is so much better than I am, and in so many ways he is. If we were ever playing bad cop/good cop, he would be good cop. He has held my hand, soaked up my tears and held me close so much this summer. While most days he didn’t know what to say, and I don’t know what he could have said that would have made any of it easier, he was there.

The point to this long rambling post is this- whether you’re dealing with infertility, or any number of other major life events, find the meaning behind it. Why was this task brought on you? What can you learn from it to make not only the situation easier to deal with, but to make you and your life better? The many, many women, and some men, I’ve talked to since we started BabyOrBust have all told me about situations where major stress interrupted an IVF cycle or caused them to lose a baby- and I just won’t have it. All of the stress in my life is because of too much attention on my part. I’m saying NO- I won’t let you break me, I won’t let you wear me down and I refuse to let you get in between me and having a baby!!! I encourage each of you facing infertility to do the same. It feels really good.

And, I encourage you to pick up this book. Like I said, I didn’t want to be caught reading a self-help book. But every page so far has been worth it. When we get some free time this week, we need to update a few links that readers have sent to us and I’ll add this book to our book list. (FYI- if you would like to donate, but want a little something in return, any of the books posted under “About IVF” can be purchased through Amazon and a percentage comes back to BabyOrBust).

Internet- thanks for listening.

Saying it Outloud

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

At the beginning of our little adventure in infertility, we kept it pretty hush. Our parents knew, siblings, a few friends- that was pretty much it. We didn’t want to talk about it until we were clear where we were and where we were headed. Saves time that way.

In April, shortly after our first visit with Dr. T, we went to Barnes & Noble one evening. We enjoy spending a few hours, drinking coffee and pouring over books and magazines and enjoying the quiet. Shelton made his way to the “Geek” section (computers), I started to head toward the People Magazine. Then I realized that I could make better use of the time that night and went over to the pregnancy section. That seemed like a likely place to find books about trying to have a baby.

And there were plenty of books on how to make one, keep one, raise one, love one, even name one; but no books on infertility and IVF. A cute young couple was standing next to me. I had to assume they were pregnant because she wasn’t showing and I couldn’t imagine any other way you’d get a twenty-something guy into the pregnancy books section.

He wandered away and I asked her how far along she was. She replied about 4 weeks, they had just found out a few days before. She was positively glowing, so excited. She then asked me the same. And I immediately replied, oh, we can’t, we have to do IVF. We smiled nicely at one another and I moved on, since none of those happy, little preggers books applied to me.

I went to customer service and I was lead to the infertility section- a 2’ space at the very bottom of a shelf in the back. Of course, one more place to bury and hide it away. I sat cross-legged on the floor and looked over my options. Two books caught my eye and I read a little, cried a little, by myself, in the back of the B&N. I bought those books and they are listed under the “About IVF.” I highly recommend A Few Good Eggs, I couldn’t read it fast enough.

So that was the first time I had to say it to a stranger. The sentence kind of came out in slow motion as I looked at this overjoyed woman, my age, thrilled to pieces to be buying What to Expect. Lucky her.. I wonder if she knows just how lucky she really is.