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reading the fine print

There is much medical research that touts the benefits of eating a diet high in Omega 3s and DHA, especially during pregnancy. One of the best places to get your Omegas is through fish. Not only does eating fish help lower depression during and after pregnancy, but it is also shown to aid in eye and brain development of the baby. Okay. I’m on board. Time to eat my omegas.

Except…except…I don’t really like fish. I loved fish when we were sailing in the Caribbean and we hauled fresh tuna and mahi aboard for sushi and tuna tartare. But big game fish are off limits during pregnancy due to increased levels of mercury and other toxins. I’ve tried wild caught salmon, catfish, tilapia–yuck, yuck, yuck. So what about taking fish oil supplements? A recent study (which, for the life of me, I can’t find) argued that you have to actually eat the fish to get the benefits. Other studies now show that there is no correlation between enhanced levels of DHA and baby brain development. I say tomatoe, you say toematoe?

Regardless, eating fish is a healthy, low-fat way to get protein. I’m trying to make an active effort to get some canned tuna (ok as long as it isn’t albacore) or sardines in my diet a couple times a week.

open-face sardine melt on homemade whole wheat bread. Cabot, seriously sharp cheddar.

I was excited when I found this new brand of sardines in the grocery store: Wild Planet, wild sardines. The box and their website purports that they are “sustainably caught along the California coast.” Great. But then turn the box on its side and look at the fine print: “processed in Vietnam.”

Are you kidding me? They sustainably catch the fish off of California, ship it to Vietnam for processing, and then ship it halfway across the world to Philadelphia where it ends up on my plate? Sure, they may be practicing sustainable fishing methods, but Wild Planet is not practicing sustainable processing and delivery methods.

Don’t even get me started on the canned yellowfin tuna you can buy at Trader Joes.



it’s always snowy in Vermont

Or at least it’s always snowy at Christmastime in Vermont. We crossed the border from New York State last Wednesday around 2PM and as soon as we got into the mountains we were greeted with a snowstorm. It snowed 6″ overnight in north/central Vermont but the roads were dry by the time we made it to southern Vermont the next morning.

A few days later and we were hit with the Christmas blizzard: we woke up on Monday morning to 16″ of snow on the ground and and estimated 3-7″ to fall before 4PM.  Hans got to practice his snow blowing skills while my mom and sister got out the old snow shovels. My nephew, Chase, and I tromped through the snow and took turns lying in the deep powder.

Everyone inside for hot chocolate!

the Christmas list

To do lists: I rely on to do lists on a daily basis. Sometimes my to do list is very short and simple (laundry, post office, bake bread); other days it is seemingly never ending. Enter the Christmas to do list. How many people have a Christmas to do list? I’ll guess a lot.  It seems like every time I cross a task off my list, I add two more. And suddenly my to do list is not keeping my stress level at bay but rather is acting more like a billboard of all my tasks left untouched. And I begin to feel a little daunted that I won’t get it all done. (Pregnancy hormones–and the little person standing on my bladder–certainly don’t help as I wake up at least once every night, wide awake and my mind starts wandering.)

I have re-evaluated my list and realize that even if I do nothing on the list, everything will be OK.  How many of my items are voluntary tasks? Wishes for Christmas, but not requirements? Instead of racing against the clock today to check these tasks off my list, I will let the day lead me. If I’m still in my pajamas at 11:30–oh well. Don’t bake that pound cake? Oh well. Haven’t knitted four squares for the baby’s blanket? Oh well.

In other words, I need to re-adopt Island Time. Besides learning how to tie knots, take a third reef, and read the depth of Bahamian waters, the most important lesson I learned while sailing around the Caribbean for 2 1/2 years is a concept I call “Island Time.” My stress levels were nearly non-existent while we were cruising. Certainly there were times when stress and anxiety were present: a rolly night in a bad anchorage, getting caught in a squall, using that eyeball navigation over a coral reef, another boat dragging into us at 2AM. Yes, there were stressful times on our Caribbean cruise. But, while the stressors were large enough to cause us to worry about our safety and the safety of our boat (and home), they were few and far between. It was very easy to put all of the other small stresses of daily life in perspective and realize they were not make or break. No milk for tea in the morning? Oh well. The internet connection is down (again)? Oh well. I adopted Island Time. And my overall well being was good. Excellent in fact.

It is hard to adopt Island Time living in a big US city. The hustle and bustle gets into my bones and, before I know it, the small stressors become a major deal. I was talking to my pastor about this and he agrees. Why does a trip to the post office suddenly seem like a major task?  Why does the pile of unwashed clothes seem so daunting? Are we hiding our major stressors behind our small stressors? Perhaps my Christmas to do list isn’t as important as I think it is, but I am using it as an outlet for other stress I am feeling in my life that I don’t want to deal with.

I am giving myself a day off today to do what I want. I will not worry about my novel. I will go to yoga at 6PM if I want to. I will bake cake if I want to.  I will only look at my to do list if I am sitting on the couch staring at the wall and twiddling my thumbs. Island Time. This is my early Christmas present to myself.

pregnancy cravings

lunch in 8 minutes...can I wait that long?

Pregnancy cravings. Are they real? Or just a real good excuse to eat what you want?

A little of both I think. At 25 weeks pregnant, I’m hungry almost all the time. (Yes, Mik, this is different from pre-pregnancy!) But now when I’m hungry, I need to eat within ten minutes or, or . . . I don’t want to know what I’d do. Perhaps start eating dirt and fabric softener? That does happen to some women.  And when my stomach isn’t growling, I’m still thinking about food and dreaming about what will be good to eat. (Again, this is different from pre-pregnancy, I swear!)

These days, my food dreams revolve around cheese, eggs, salt, and bread. And the beauty of pregnancy is that I pretty much can eat whatever I want. Luckily I never want to eat McDonalds, chips, or other junk food (Ben & Jerry’s has calcium). So when my stomach growls, I need to eat. And since I’m always thinking about food, I always have a food dream that needs to be fulfilled.

Is that a craving? Yes. But is it a scientific event happening in my body? I don’t think so. I crave food because I think about it all the time and I’m hungry about 80% of the time. So, when I get a craving, I usually satisfy that craving.

Does this make any sense? I don’t think so. I’m deliriously hungry as my Trader Joe’s box mac & cheese boils on the stove. I rarely eat box mac & cheese, but I’m hungry, I’m pregnant, and I got a craving. So I’m ignoring the sodium content and focusing on the organic label. They cancel each other out, right?

What I’m trying to say is that cravings are not specific to pregnancy, but pregnancy is a wonderful reason to satisfy those cravings. Nearly guilt-free eating!

back on the gypsy boat

laundry day on Whisper

In March 2008 we sailed into Antigua with all of our clothes, towels, and linens dirty, salty, and sweaty. Friends were arriving in two days. We searched for a laundromat only to discover they didn’t exist. Laundry service cost over $20/load. (I can’t make this up.) So, we did what any resourceful–and budget-minded–cruiser would do: we washed our own laundry by hand and hung everything to dry.  You can read about it here.

Now that m/v stinkpot’s bridge and back decks are completely enclosed and protected from wind and rain, they serve as the ultimate drying room for wet laundry. I hate clothes dryers. They are a complete waste of energy and one of the most environmentally unsound appliances you can use (okay, I have no facts to base this statement on, just a hunch). Not only are they bad for the environment, but they are rough on clothes too.  I prefer air-drying. Thus, we’re back on the gypsy boat!

m/v stinkpot's laundry room

21 weeks and healthy

I’ve read in numerous books, online forums, and blogs that women often remark that they have never felt more healthy than when they are pregnant. Writers, by sharing this sentiment, are implicitly acknowledging that pregnancy is not accepted as an inherently healthy condition. In online forums women write: “I’ve never felt healthier!”–as if they were expecting to feel unhealthy.

In contrast, the only feeling I would share on an online message board would be: “I’m not feeling healthy. What gives?” This time in my life is naturally my healthiest time. I have never been more focused on my body and its health. No alcohol. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Extra protein. Emphasis on whole grains. Exercise. Lots of exercise.  Happy. Excited. And this is all easy for me because, at the risk of sounding self-righteous, I am not doing it for myself, but for a completely vulnerable human being.

I recognize, of course, that I am in an enviable position. I work from home on my own schedule  thereby minimizing my daily stresses. I have a supportive husband. We know that we want this baby. We are ready for this baby. I felt far from healthy  in my first trimester, but now, well into the second trimester I feel great.

The same cannot be said for other women. They may be uncertain if they want a baby. Perhaps they are single or in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. Nausea and feeling uncomfortable may persist throughout the nine months. Money may be an issue, creating stress. I understand that many women many not feel healthy during pregnancy for a variety of reasons.

What I don’t understand, however, is the widespread belief that a healthy pregnancy is an exceptional pregnancy. Pregnancy is not a medical condition. It is merely a  stage of life that many women experience in many different ways, but automatically viewing it as unhealthy or as a challenge does not need to be the conventional wisdom.

sewing Sunday

Blue blue blue. Light blue, sky blue, sea-green blue, dark blue, royal blue. The interior of m/v stinkpot is blue. The quilt on our bed; the couch; the dinette cushions. My goal is to break up some of this blue, especially the 1980s light blue vinyl dinette cushions.

Step 1: Place mats for the table.