Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Parenting Column

My new column for is up and running! This first installment is about preparing for life with a baby, with tips on great products (nothing sponsored, just my own preferences) and practical advice on adjusting to breastfeeding. Check it out and leave your comments!

Sugar Attack!

As most of you know, I struggled for years with hypoglycemia, which is basically episodes of low blood sugar characterized by weakness, shaking, light-headedness, irritability, etc. which usually occur a couple of hours after eating. During my worst times I would experience "sugar lows" immediately after eating which was kind of scary, and even the occasional extreme low in the middle of the night which was terrifying (it felt like I was having a panic attack). It's taken some pretty major dietary changes to get over this problem, but once I made these changes I saw results almost instantly (I will talk about overcoming hypoglycemia in my upcoming November workshop).

I generally go for a few months at a time now without eating sugar (or corn syrup), but after a while I forget why it is that I've been avoiding sugar so religiously and I end up getting into trouble. This usually happens on vacation where there is less healthy food available and lots more white flour and sugar everywhere I look! While away for 5 days I had the following (all things I would not usually eat):
  • small piece of elephant ear pastry (about 1/4 of the whole thing)
  • about 4 oz. of Mike's Hard Lemonade spread over a couple of occasions (this stuff is just sugar and alcohol, which breaks down into sugar anyway)
  • "small" 1-scoop ice cream cone (butter crunch)
  • 1 piece cherry-filled Austrian strudel (the absolute best strudel in the world -- this is the only treat I should have had on the trip)
  • small piece of peanut butter & chocolate fudge
  • 2 maple cookies (small cream-filled cookies from Canada)
  • a few sips of Coke (maybe 2-3 swallows)
  • white flour in various forms (mostly wraps, rolls, sugar cone, etc.). It was basically impossible to find whole wheat or whole grain anything on the menus.
Now that I actually write out this list it is clear to me why this proved to be such a problem for me -- this was a LOT of sugar for someone who never eats any! I felt fine while I was away, perhaps more sweet cravings than usual, but overall the sugar didn't affect me too much at the time.

Starting the day after the trip, though, I began having symptoms of hypoglycemia again a few hours after eating. This was frustrating because I have gotten used to being able to go several hours between meals and I really like the freedom of not having to carry snacks with me. The hypoglycemia was pretty mild, though, and gone after a week back on my usual diet. The really bad part of this whole thing was that all week following the vacation I felt very off: my heart was pounding, I had actual chest pains (no joke), I was breaking out, I felt overheated internally, I felt extremely jittery, keyed up and restless (a sign of adrenal over-stimulation from the sugar), and every time I saw sweets (pastries, ice cream, whatever) I wanted to eat them! I never have cravings for sugar usually so it was really strange for me to walk into Whole Foods and look longingly at the chocolate-filled croissants!

It has taken about a week of eating my usual diet to feel back to normal:
  • oatmeal or brown rice for breakfast w/raw honey, butter & raw milk
  • lunches of the following: toasted whole wheat sourdough bread w/butter & homemade pate and side of sliced cucumber; cottage cheese & fruit; scrambled eggs w/cheese; cured bologna (from Abner's farm) with raw milk cheese & greens on sourdough; tuna melt w/homemade mayo & celery on sourdough
  • dinners of potatoes, veggies, meat or beans, brown rice (this past week I also made my special tuna-noodle casserole w/white flour elbow noodles! but there was plenty of cheese, butter, and tuna so it worked out okay as eating fat with a form of sugar (white flour in this case) slows its release into the blood stream)
  • snacks like yogurt w/maple syrup or fruit, homemade ice cream (which is very mildly sweetened), corn chips & salsa, cucumber salad w/tomatoes, sliced watermelon, roasted eggplant with olive oil and sea salt
This was a great learning experience, so I'm not too upset that it happened. Now I will (hopefully) remember why I don't eat sugar! I still include raw honey, occasional blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, and occasional succanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice) in my diet, but refined sugar and corn syrup simply don't work for me. White flour has to be kept to a minimum as well. Of course, I am much more sensitive to sugar than the average person so it may actually seem like a disadvantage to never eat it because you will have a strong reaction. However, the symptoms I get (hypoglycemia, acne, heightened adrenaline response, chest pain) are simply the short-term indication that something is not right. Over time, and with continued use, sugar will cause cellular aging (including wrinkles), diabetes, severe hormonal imbalances (like poly-cystic ovary syndrome, and thyroid & adrenal problems), heart disease, cancer (did you know sugar feeds tumor growth?), wacky cravings, headaches, and mental disorders.

What are your experiences with sugar? What do you crave? How do you feel when you eat something sweet? How do you feel an hour or two later? Please weigh in on this important topic.

Gloucester Vacation

I thought a would post a few pictures from our recent vacation in Cape Ann, Massachusetts (specifically, in Rockport, a lovely fishing village, and Gloucester, the oldest fishing port in the U.S.). We managed to eat well while away by bringing a lot of food from home: Dave & Kim's eggs, chicken-rice stew, whole wheat sourdough bread, oatmeal & brown rice for breakfast, yogurt & sour cream, fruit, all the ingredients for taco salad, plenty of lettuce, and even homemade mayo, raw honey, and raw butter! We did enjoy some great local seafood as well, too. However, I had some sugar on this vacation (which I am not used to at all) and it's taken over a week to detox from this and feel right again. More on that later.

Oliver experienced the ocean for the first time and took to it right away (despite the very cold temperature). He practiced taking some steps which were mainly giant "monster" steps and very hilarious.

Before having Oliver I pretty much expected to never be able to wear a bikini again (if only because of stretch marks) but much to my delight I was wrong! Of course I credit eating well for most of this accomplishment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All eggs are not created equal

Do I really need to say more? Probably not, but I will. The egg in the center of the picture above is from Dave & Kim Raylinsky who have a flock of 21 heirloom-breed chickens (see below for her description of the breeds). These lucky chickens eat a delicious and appropriate diet of earthworms, ticks, mosquitos, lush grasses, weeds, table scraps, fresh veggies & fruit, a little chicken feed, and the occasional fish, frog, or snake. They also roam free on 3/4 of an acre. After looking at these pictures it's pretty hard to keep insisting that food has nothing to do with health or functioning! A quick glance at the yolk of an egg tells us a lot about that hen's health and diet. The yolks from Dave & Kim's chickens' eggs are clearly astoundingly full of vitamin A (which gives the deep orange color). You can't see the vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in these eggs (or all the other good stuff), but they are also totally filled with these nutrients. And have I mentioned the flavor? These eggs are incredibly rich and delicious, and satisfying in the way that your standard diner omelet will never be. Here's what Kim writes about their little family "farm" in upstate New York:

"We really don't have much of a farm, it's just under 4 acres, surrounded by lush green farmland and bordered by the Onesquethaw Creek, a Class A trout stream that flows to the Hudson. We live in the original Teunis Slingerland House, circa 1762 that was once on 10,000 acres of both lush farmland and slab rock ground. Our remaining piece sits on both.

The chickens roam on about 3/4 of an acre and are free to roam the st
ream which they do. They are amazing weeders and have taken care of our tick problem and the mosquitoes. I never knew they were such busy creatures -- they're up with the sun and as soon as it starts to get dark they retreat to their roosts in their coop. They come and go as they please. We chose heirloom breeds that could withstand our cold windy winters; we get horribly cold winds from the Heldebergs. We ordered the chicks through Agway in the spring of 2008. We chose Gold Laced Wyandotts, Black Giants, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons (the wandering blondies who we find right at our back door, eating our blueberries and raspberries, and scratching through my perennial gardens), and the blue egg layers, Aracaunas. They live with 15 Muscovy ducks, nine of which are newly hatched less than a week ago. Adjoining their coop and pasture are 5 sheep. Our intent was to fence off 2 acres to cut down on mowing. We had farmed before: Dave grew up on a small farm and I always lived with animals, both farm and pets. These animals though, are both, probably over fed and definitely worried about too much. The chickens and ducks get all of our vegetable scraps; they love leftover macaroni, boiled potatoes, cooked rice, scraps of bread, and the excess from our garden all summer. They do love ripe tomatoes and corn, on or off the cob. We supplement with a layer crumble and cracked corn, but they rarely eat it when the bugs are out and the grass is green. We've seen a chicken run by with a frog, a snake, and fish dangling from their mouth. Doesn't sound too appetizing but I guess they need their protein too! With our wet, wet summer the mosquito population has been worse than ever, and the chickens keep the fly problem in the coop completely under control; even a wasp isn't safe if they're nearby. Also, our chickens layed all winter, maybe not as frequently, but we would get at least a dozen every day from 21 chickens. Not bad; it's the lack of light more than the cold that affects them. We keep a red 250-watt heat lamp on in the winter, and switch to a 25 watt for the summer. They've never slept in total darkness except for infrequent power outages. Only a little spoiled! We also have an endless supply of earthworms, all sizes. Banner year for lush grass and worms with all of the rain we've been getting."

The pale yellow yolk is from a standard $1.29-a-dozen egg. And trust me, you are getting only 12.9 cents of nutrition out of these eggs! I had to buy a dozen to get one for my photo, and I am the last person in the world to waste food, but we won't be eating these anemic eggs in our house; I plan to compost them (they are only fit for worm food anyway). The poor hen who produced this egg lived a miserable life in a tiny cage, probably without a beak (they cut them off the baby chicks so they won't peck each other to death in their close confinement), and definitely missing lots of her feathers. She was also dosed with antibiotics and received all sorts of awful stuff in her meager feed which was mostly genetically-modified soy and corn (and yes, the altered genes can be passed along to you, the consumer, and harm your health).

The other egg is from one of the farmers who produces our raw milk and grass-fed meat. This one was likely laid by a hen raised using the pasture-pen method (above). This method allows the chickens to eat what nature intended (bugs and grass mainly) and get sunshine (for vitamin D) which makes these eggs also very nutritious and delicious! However, since these chickens don't have the same range and they have to share the supply of bugs and worms available in this area this means their eggs won't be as dramatically orange and rich as their spoiled counterparts. This is the best way to produce good eggs (and poultry!) for commercial sale. The chickens fertilize the pasture which keeps the grasses and field plants healthy, consume the larvae of bugs in the grazing cattle's manure, and cut down dramatically on the amount of bugs and flies bothering the grazing animals -- a win-win situation!

It's also worth mentioning that the standard "organic cage-free" eggs from the grocery store are produced by hens who are allowed to move freely, but who spend little if no time outdoors. Spending time out in sunlight allows the chickens to develop plentiful amounts of vitamin D in their feathers, which is then concentrated in the egg yolks. It also allows them to peck around in the grass and dirt, which is what they naturally want to do! So check out your local farmers' market for pastured eggs, or join a reputable buyers' club.

The tricky issue of scheduling

As a mom who is at home most of the day with a small child I have become all-too-familiar with the challenges of trying to stick to some sort of routine. I always hated the routine of being chained to a desk, but somehow the floating-nebula schedule (or anti-schedule I should say) of being home all day at the mercy of a baby's whims doesn't work for me either; oddly enough it makes me kind of depressed! For the first six months of Oliver's life I felt like I was at loose ends, never knowing what might or might not get done during the day. Now that Oliver is going to be ONE next month (!) I have AT LAST evolved (and trust me, this process involved many evolutions) a sort of schedule that makes me very happy.

The key for me has been to find what will get me up in the morning. It is so tempting to just stay in bed and get an extra hour (or two) of sleep when there's nothing that you really have to get up for--and when you have a child who sleeps late (many babies rise early!). Scheduling something boring like a doctor's appointment or a meeting with someone early in the AM to get you out of bed is not really fun. I have found, though, that if I have time for writing articles, emailing, corresponding with health counseling clients, planning workshops, etc. in the early morning that really gets me going! The other key has been Oliver's development of course -- he is now at a point where he loves to explore and play right next to me, but independently. So this frees me up to do some cooking and cleaning, and occasionally some sewing. Working with clients over the phone or in person is still quite challenging with Oliver around, so that's a kink we have to work out as my client load expands; I will definitely need some help with childcare then. Here's how it goes on an ideal day:

6:30-8:30 work on Earth/Body Balance stuff (also blog sometimes)
8:30-8:45 yoga stretches
8:45-9:30 dress/shower (Oliver usually wakes up sometime in here)
9:30-11:00 breakfast, clean up the kitchen & bedroom (dishes, sweep, bed, etc.; I also use this time to do things like putting beans on to soak or cook, washing salad greens, or putting a meal in the crockpot)
11:00-1:30 out with Oliver, errands (farmers' market, library), walk, play, etc.
1:30-2:30 lunchtime (this is very fluid)
2:30-4:00 Oliver naps (or some time during the afternoon--this gives me time to sew or nap, too! The nap is preceded by about 20 minutes of nursing of course.)
[By this time of the day things usually start to break down...but my goal is after his nap to get into the kitchen and make sure dinner is prepared before Hugo gets home.]
4:30-6:00 cook dinner & do other food preparations, straighten the house
6:00 Hugo arrives home (if not working late); we have dinner together and hang out as a family (play time, watch TV, bath time, etc.)
8/9 Oliver goes to bed and I get a little more sewing done for clients
10:00 bedtime! (this is my chance to read for a little while)

I have learned to be more relaxed in terms of my expectations about when things will occur. There are weeks when Oliver takes no daytime naps, and plenty of times when he wants to just sleep in my arms like in this picture (which is very cute of course and I can always talk on the phone while I admire him :). It has helped a lot to allow 2-3 hour chunks of time for doing certain things. Mainly my morning is for work, then a relaxed breakfast and straightening the house, followed by a few hours for errands, taking a walk, or doing whatever we need to do for that particular day. Then lunchtime and Oliver's nap, followed by getting dinner ready. This sounds really simple but it has been REALLY hard arriving at this conclusion!

The other key for me now that I think about it has been committing to cleaning a little every morning and every evening. This way the house stays relatively clean and tidy most of the time and I don't have to wake up to a mess (I am the sort of person who can't sit still or work productively if there is total chaos around me). Of course, in times when I have tons of sewing to do for clients and Hugo is working overtime we have to let things go, and I have to sleep in to get enough rest. But this is how I prefer to do things on normal days.

If you are a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom please weigh in! Or if you have seen firsthand the struggles of scheduling your time as an unemployed or working-from-home person, I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you need structure? What gets you up in the morning?

Monday, July 20, 2009

La Leche League nutrition presentation


now I get it : stroller parking lot!
Saturday the 11th, Hannah gave her first "feeding babies" presentation! :)

it was quite the turn out! a dozen mothers with, what seemed like, twice as many babies! I snuck in a quick snapshot. ;) I was on the sidelines babysitting other kids and parenting Oliver. and as this is the first of many presentations to be sure, Ollie and I will be in the background smiling proudly.

--Posted by Hugo

One of the boys

This is a rare moment of Oliver tolerating his cap while away on vacation this past week. He was riding on Hugo's back in his special "kangaroo" backpack.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Seasonal Cravings

What to do when you are craving something totally out-of-season? (Assuming you are trying to more or less stick with seasonal produce of course. If you are an asparagus-in-January kind of person then this question probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense.)

Please weigh in here: what do you do when you have a hankering for cucumbers in March or strawberries in December? If you buy these things at the local grocery store (where they have likely been shipped in from California or a South American country) how do they taste? Do they satisfy the craving?

I have found that the more I eat with the seasons the less I can imagine eating something that's out-of-season or not grown locally. Not because I'm trying to be a local-food zealot, but because my cravings for certain foods have totally fallen into line with what's available at the farmers' market. I have found that the out-of-season foods create the wrong temperature in my body, which can lead to feeling imbalanced and, if this persists, a tendency to illness (for example, eating lots of cooling food like raw salads or melons in winter can bring down the body's internal temperature and lead to feeling cold and "catching" cold).

As I have become more sensitive to these things I've observed that certain foods feel really appropriate at certain times, and these times seem to be when they are in season. This is a bit like what happens when you become more sensitive to sugar and it doesn't feel good any more to eat something that's really sweet: you simply don't want it any longer -- it's not even a matter of deprivation. Have you noticed this at all?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes al fresco

One of the most delicious ways to enjoy fresh summer blueberries (aside from just popping them into your mouth!) is to make pancakes out of them. Something about the heat of the griddle makes the blueberries fantastically sweet & oozy, and turns them deep purple.

If you're planning a yummy weekend brunch, just take a minute the night before to prepare the following, and cooking the pancakes in the morning will be a snap!

The night before:
-mix together 2 cups whole wheat flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour which is light & fluffy) with 2 cups buttermilk or soured milk. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it in a WARM place (the warmer the better! a little warmth helps the good bacteria get to work on breaking down the flour, and helps the pancakes rise well and be light).

In the morning, simply add the following:
-2 eggs
-1 tsp. baking soda
-2 tbsp. shortening, like melted butter, lard, or unrefined coconut oil (I generally use coconut oil for baking)
-3-4 tbsp. sweetener (maple syrup, honey, or succanat which is a healthier unrefined form of sugar)
-a pinch of sea salt
-2 cups of fresh blueberries, rinsed and very well-drained

If you have an electric griddle and a terrace or patio be sure to enjoy the pancakes al fresco! This recipe makes about 16 medium pancakes; serve with plenty of butter and maple syrup, if desired (the blueberries are sweet, so I don't find syrup necessary, but Hugo does). Bon appetit!

Easy stock

Making stock is quite easy; all you need is all the leftover stuff (bones, skin, bits of meat) from making (and eating) a roast chicken (or just a piece of chicken on the bone), a bone-in steak, short ribs, or a ham. You can make a small quantity if you only have a little left over, or make a larger amount. The point is to let nothing go to waste! Bone broth is a fantastic source of calcium and many other minerals in the form of electrolytes which are easy to absorb. Here is how I do it:

Easy Stock:
Place leftover bones & skin from roast chicken, short ribs, or whatever in a large pot; OR you can buy about 3 lbs. of soup bones and use them for this. Cover with water and add 1-2 tbsp. of vinegar (or just a splash if you are only making a few cups of stock - this is essential as it will help draw the minerals out of the bone, marrow, and cartilage and into the broth). Bring to a boil and skim off the foam. Turn down to low heat and simmer for 6 hours or more. Add sea salt to taste. Remove the bones and strain the liquid into leftover plastic containers like this. Label and freeze each container. When you're ready, you can simply remove a container from the freezer and use it in a recipe! It thaws quickly in a hot pot. Of course, if you have veggies and fresh herbs on hand, as well as a little more time, it adds even greater nutritional benefit and delicious flavoring to include celery, carrots, onions, and fresh thyme while simmering the bones.

Today I made about 2-3 cups of broth from the leg bones of last night's roast chicken. I made a super-speedy version by covering the bones with water and a splash of vinegar, then simmering for about an hour; I added sea salt for the final touch, then strained out the bones and skin and enjoyed a little with Oliver. This afternoon I gave Ollie part of the neck from the roast chicken, which I read the other day in Real Food for Mother and Baby makes a good teething toy/treat for babies! This sounds pretty barbaric, but Oliver took to it very naturally. It's great for babies, pets, and anyone in general to gnaw on bones because they are such a good source of minerals. Of course, it's always best to make sure the bones are from an animal that was raised responsibly and happily on a clean, sustainable farm.

Summer appetites

I think some of you were a little surprised when I told you how much protein I usually eat during the cooler months (around 80 grams a day). As I related in that entry, I have found that I need to eat a fair amount of protein on a regular basis to avoid cravings things like French fries, mozzarella sticks, and KFC (shudder). I also get up to 50% of my caloric intake from fat in the winter. However, once the warm weather comes around my needs and cravings change considerably.

In hot weather I want a lot more fruit, for one thing, and also lighter meals in general. The summer has been pretty temperate so far so the change hasn't been as dramatic as usual, but these days light summer lunches like salmon patties, salads, cottage cheese-and-fruit, and toast with pate and a side of veggies are more my style. This was my lunch today: toasted sourdough with raw milk butter, homemade chicken liver pate, sliced cucumber, and a small glass of raw milk kefir.

Have you noticed a difference in your cravings since the weather got warmer? What do you think your body is telling you? A lot of people crave sweet things, like ice cream, popsicles, fruit smoothies, iced coffee with sugar & cream, and energy drinks. I think the craving for sweets is one way our bodies have of telling us we're thirsty. Sometimes I will be just dying for a piece of fruit, but when I drink a glass of water the craving disappears.

Other times we crave salty foods more, like pickles and potato chips, when we're sweating a lot or outside in the sun for long periods. This can be due to the loss of minerals through our sweat. In cases like these it's a great idea to have water with a splash of juice, or a naturally lacto-fermented beverage like ginger ale. Or try incorporating more bone broth or stock into your summer dishes: chilled soups, whole grains (like brown rice), and beans can all be simmered with stock. Stock made from bones and veggies, with a little bit of acid (like wine, lemon juice, or vinegar) supplies many important minerals in the form of easy-absorbed electrolytes. Forget the Gatorade: all you need is a cup of broth!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

oh the dreaded milk pick up

Posted by Hugo:

Of the many things that have changed the most in my life, I would like to address one today.
the dreaded milk pick up.
we are,as of late, part of a raw milk club. local farmers make raw milk and raw milk products and then sell them through a mediator. neat: local food, 'green' food, sustainability, etc. except for a minor detail- I have to go pick it up. so what's the big deal, right? get a bag, pick up some dairy and ride the train home badabingbadaboom? ha!
behold! the milk pick up!

it doesn't even fit on the kitchen table! dear readers, I implore you, does this seem like a 'run by the store and pick up some milk' scenario?!?
ok this particular day was an extreme version. but, believe me, it's only by two gallons and a few quarts that it is beyond normal.
however, I must say that using the pure butter has really improved the taste of my favorites: toast! pancakes! potatoes! (cereal! but dont tell hannah;) ) and Ollie loves his fish milk (milk and cod liver oil [CLO]).

it's worth it in the end-everyone is happy. what's a hundred pounds of dairy on this healthy burro's back every couple of weeks?
-- Posted by Hugo

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sweet Summer treats

NOW is the time for beautiful spring berries! The raspberries and blackberries won't be around much longer, and the strawberries are only available from a few farms now. The blueberries will probably run into later July, but the cherries only have a few more weeks, too. Get to the farmers' market now for some delicious treats! Blueberry pancakes are one of my absolute favorite things in the world, and fresh berries make them amazing. I will post the recipe soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Freshly-bathed Angel

Cutting down on health insurance

June is the time to change health insurance plans through Hugo's job, so last week we had a bit of a debate about what to do. This past year we've been paying over $400 a month for our HIP health insurance premium just for Hugo and me (we have other coverage for Oliver). I should add that this does not include dental -- that's an additional $40 a month. In addition, our co-pays were $25 per visit and our coverage only reduced prescription costs a little for generics.

I used to go to the doctor every few months. It seemed there was always something going on: a little cold or lingering cough, urinary tract infections, sinus headaches, birth control pill visits, or various other issues. Now I practice fertility awareness which saves a lot, so I only need to see a doctor a few times a year to check my thyroid levels. Of course, something might come up that I'll need a doctor for, but eating good food (and avoiding sugar) has really helped my health! I haven't been sick since November (I came down with a very bad cold after eating too much sugar over Thanksgiving).

So we took the plunge: we went down to the least expensive plan offered ($160/month). This way we will have help in an emergency, but will have to pay out-of-pocket for any visits and prescriptions we need up to $1,500. As I told Hugo, I would rather spend the money on good food than on health insurance! Hopefully we will not end up with this situation:

Interesting fact on derriere size

I was reading Real Food for Mother & Baby the other day (great book by Nina Planck), and learned a surprising fact: women store a certain type of fat in their hips and bottom (referred to scientifically as gluteofemoral fat) which is very stubborn (hard to get rid of by dieting & exercise), and is made up mainly of the type of fatty acid found in fish oil! This is also the fat that is so important for baby's brain development. If the mother doesn't consume enough of this fat while pregnant & breastfeeding, her body will feed the baby (through breastmilk & the placenta) off her fat stores. Now let me be clear here -- what the mother eats is still critical; fat stores alone will not provide plentiful amounts of DHA in her breastmilk (for example, vegetarians have MUCH lower concentrations of DHA in their breastmilk than omnivorous mommies). However, feeding your baby a bit of these fat stores is one way to "move" this weight.

I used to have what is referred to not-so-delicately as a bubble butt, but I noticed that while I was pregnant (I was pretty much vegetarian at the time, by the way) my bottom got quite a bit flatter -- noticeably so, and not really in a good way. Apparently I was feeding Oliver my butt fat! At last the mystery is cleared up!