New year, new hair (same me)

I started 2015 by heading to see my family in Houston.  I got to chill with my mom and sister, watch lots of Disney on VHS with my kiddo, stay up late with a dear friend and see my Abuela Pepa at her absolute more alert and animated in months (she’s going to be 93 soon!).  It was just full of humble-awesome.

I did have some excitement while I was out of town: I finally woman’ed up and dyed my hair.  My sister, Sarah Victoria, is a cosmetologist and salon manager at Solution For Hair & Makeup in Houston.  She and her assistant, Crystal, did a two-step process to tint and glaze my natural dark hair to plum.  Straight on the color is subtle, but in the right light, it glows with an intense hue.

I’ve longed for awhile to try a new hair color I’m so glad I took the plunge – what do you think of my new look?

snapshot of Ruth Castillo
My new hair color – a subtle purple by Sarah Victoria of Solution for Hair and Makeup, Houston.


I’m glad to be back home tonight.  Back to work tomorrow!

Enjoy Your Holiday Beverages (Responsibly)

Drinking while breastfeeding is okay
Is that glass of champagne at the stroke of midnight okay if you’re breastfeeding? (Photo: Chris Chapman)

Many parents worry about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.  That’s a very valid concern, especially when we consider how much we are cautioned against drinking alcoholic beverages while enciente, because of the risks to the child.

But a drink or two while breastfeeding is OKAY – and you do not have to “pump and dump,” either!  If you don’t believe me, check out this FAQ on Alcohol from La Leche League.

An IBCLC colleague of mine, Tina, of the MILC Group, did offer a good reminder: because our hormonal chemistry is different while breastfeeding, and because you may have avoided alcohol for the better part of a year during pregnancy, your tolerance for alcohol will be different.  So, as always, drink responsibly!

Enjoy your New Year’s celebrations, Mamas!  See you in 2015!

A disclaimer: I am not telling anyone to drink, nor encouraging anyone to do anything they are not safe or comfortable doing.  Please use your best judgement and consult a health care professional for advice specific to your situation.

Mary’s Christmas

Mary totally breastfed the infant Jesus. Merry Christmas from your favorite Salty Mama
Well, the story of the nativity *is* a birth story. (“Virgin of the Green Cushion,” Andrea Solari)

Does a woman born without sin get to complain about cankles?  Did she get excited when she felt those first contractions?  How did she feel when she realized she was going to labor next to livestock?  Did a sweet local woman or relation hold her hand and guide her through transition?  Did she hold that sweet infant to her chest and exclaim, “my baby, my baby!” in postpartum ecstasy?

I can’t help but ponder the details of how Mary birthed and breastfed the infant Jesus.  I think it’s part of being a doula.  Birth is a universal experience, yet it seems we always seek out more details on what made each experience unique.  (Edit: My friend and fellow doula, Nikki, has a GREAT post on Mary’s birth story as told in the Qu’ran, and the wisdom it holds for modern mothers.)

I bet the first time the Holy Mother latched her infant son on to her breast, she looked down and there were tears in her eyes, because as it is for all mothers the first time they gaze upon their child, he was perfect and the moment was magic.

I wish everyone a merry Christmas!  My thoughts are especially on new and expecting parents today – may the trials and joys of parenthood leave you a stronger person, and may your love for your children grow without bounds.

Thanksgiving 2009

We’re keeping this Thanksgiving celebration low-key. My mother will be in town from Wednesday afternoon until Friday morning so with her, I’m feeding a grand total of 3 adults.  I’ve worried over and over about what we should prepare for our meal.  Here’s what I’ve designed:

Turkey-free Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Pork Chops, seared then cooked in the slow-cooker with apples, brown sugar, peppercorns, spices.
  • Corn bread, possibly with cranberries stirred in.  I like Jiffy Corn Muffin mix for this; you should too.
  • Fresh “classic” cranberry sauce.  That’s right:  just sugar, water and cranberries.
  • Green bean casserole with frozen beans, bacon, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, generic condensed mushroom soup and the ever present fried onions in a can.
  • Roasted and whipped sweet potatoes – my secret is ground ginger and nutmeg with the basic honey, butter, milk/cream, salt and pepper.
  • Cranberry-Pomegranate Terrine (basically a gelatin mold with nuts and fruit) modified from this recipe on  I believe this is supposed to be more of a side dish but I’m going to go a bit sweeter and play a bit loose with the ingredients and make it a dessert.

My husband was a little disappointed hearing that we were not going with a “traditional” Turkey dinner like the ones he’s had “all his life” (and we prepared Thanksgiving ’07).  Okay, to be perfectly honest, he was shocked and appalled when I broke it to him over lunch yesterday.  I thought I had told him beforehand…  Luckily, we went to a dinner party last night to have a turkey dinner amongst friends – the hostess even set out supplies to make “apple turkeys” and feather headbands.  It was fun and he got his fix: crisis avoided.  My lesson from this: include him more in meal decisions for celebrations like this so that he is not surprised or hurt.

Do you always have the “classic” turkey-dressing-cranberry sauce-veggies-rolls dinner?  Do you have your own traditional menu that you follow everytime or do you make something different every Thanksgiving?