1. I love to knit.
2. Waking up to a baby is waking up to giggles and a smile.
3. It's how you play the game.
4. Show me, don't tell me!
5. Well, would you do it all over again?
6. Our basil seedlings are our spring peepers.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to signing a new lease, tomorrow my plans include cleaning up a beach and watching a friend's kids and Sunday, I want to knit!
Before continuing, I wanted to give a shout out to a new blog, Our Mother's Keeper. It's a new eco-conscious Mormon blog and I'm excited to start following it. They have some great permas there.
Now my happy news!
Did you see #7 there? Signing a new lease?! It's exciting, let me tell you. It's like this place was made for us.
It's a basement of a 1895 Victorian home and there's a yard we can use to garden in! I'm so excited! And that's not the only awesome part. The whole place is awesomesauce. They have ducks, fruit trees, solar panels, and major plans for a steampunk playhouse.
And future projects may include: grey water, water catchment and storage, irrigation system in front and back, hot tub install, clay pizza oven, taking care of the ducks, beehives.
Um, did I just die and go to heaven?
No scratch that. When we first moved to the Bay Area, I joked to McKay that it was like coming to the Celestial Kingdom: everything is in walking distance, there's great diversity, you can find crunchy people and resources, volunteer opportunities, the ward is the bee's knees, it's perfect.
And now this! I think we've upgraded to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom and I'm going to explode because it is so radiant and happy.
I'm really excited for this move. It's slightly more expensive, but with free utilities and a yard to use, I'm ok with that. The layout of the apartment is funky because the house wasn't built to have an apartment in the basement. We also don't have the security of a gated place anymore.
The biggest downside is that we're taking a hit in counter space and cabinet space, but I'm sure our landlords will be ok with us installing some counters. I'm looking at this as a crunchy apprenticeship: From now until we have the money to buy our own home, I can learn how to do grey water, how they set up their solar panels, how to (organically) garden in the local soil and climate, etc. And then when we have the money to buy, I'll be ready to set it all up there!
And what does this mean for you readers? Well, now I'll have more blog fodder, starting in June!
That is all.
Friday, April 29, 2011
1. I love to knit.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
We've been drowning in our CSA greens lately, and stir frying everything was getting old, so this past week, I've been trying new recipes.
On Sunday we made tzaztiki (recipe here) to share at an Easter gathering. I've been eating the leftovers for lunch all week. Yummy tzaztiki! I think I went a little overboard on the lemon juice, though. There's quite the zing.
We were still overrun with chard after that recipe, though, so after googling "what to do with too much chard" I found a pesto recipe. This is now going to be my go-to recipe for when we have too many greens. I learned anything green can be pesto! And it freezes! I'm so happy. Last summer, a lot of our greens were wasted because we couldn't eat them quickly enough! Pesto!
After the pesto, for almost 24 hours, our house was chard-free. Unbelievable. Then our CSA box came again yesterday. What has our $20 given us this week?
1 bunch of Asparagus (3rd week in a row!)
1/2 pound of Braising Mix (do I hear more pesto?)
1-1/4 pound Potatoes (soup!)
1 bunch of radish (2nd week in a row!)
1 bunch of Chard (pesto pesto!)
2 heads of cauliflower (plus the head from last week we haven't eaten yet)
1 bunch of spinach (green smoothie? pesto? salad?)
1 head of lettuce (hugest head we've ever gotten! Yay for sandwiches and salads!)
1 bunch of fennel (hugest bunch ever)
We were still drowning in all our leeks (7 stalks) and carrots from the 3 previous weeks, so last night, I shredded enough carrots to make 2 cakes later for McKay to take to work (I'm cutting back on my sugar intake). The rest of the carrots have been peeled and cut into sticks for teething and snacking. Some leeks will go with the potatoes for soup. The rest of the leeks will become toppings for our pizza tomorrow, additions for scrambled eggs (my main breakfast), and whatever else. We also have a ton of green garlic to through on a pizza and in eggs and soup.
I have a fennel salad recipe that I tried a few weeks ago and it rocked all kinds of socks, so when I make it again, I'll take a picture and share it with you all. I know this isn't a food blog, so I don't blog our recipes often (and I'm terrible at remembering to take pictures!), but my world is so full of wonderful food right now I almost can't not blog about the food we're eating.
Today's plans: after spending some time outside, I'm going to make lots of pesto and that fennel salad. We have run out of space in our fridge. Luckily, we are doing so well in the food realm that grocery shopping tomorrow will be easy: eggs, a couple of cups of milk, and maybe some bread, if I don't feel like baking some myself.
Happy eating! I'm so glad the growing season is upon us. We have a small cup containing basil and there's a possibility we might move to a new place in a month where we can garden!
Monday, April 25, 2011
Today's Inquisition Monday question comes from Betttina on Twitter. She asks, "How did you survive the last weeks of pregnancy, mentally and physically? I've been saying for 9 mos that this kid will arrive when the kid WANTS to arrive, but I find myself getting impatient (and uncomfortable!)"
Good question! I actually have a lot of experience in the waiting department. Margaret was 21 days "late" and Isaac was 9 days "late," both due dates calculated by my ovulation date instead of LMP. That puts me up for a total of 30 days, or an entire month of sitting around "overdue."
Mentally, waiting around can be rough. It got really bad when I hit 42 weeks with Margaret. I spent time on message boards asking people about being overdue, and trying to figure out if I was mentally stalling labor or if she was just comfy in there. In the end, I have no idea why she wanted to hang out in my uterus for so long, but she was only 8.5 pounds, definitely not an "overdue" baby.
The best thing I did with Isaac was not tell people my due date or even due month. It was like a little game, "When are you due?" "Oh, sometime this summer." Meanwhile, I secretly knew the answer was "last week." That was fun. But in the in between times when I was sitting at home not playing the I'm-not-telling-you-I'm-due-yesterday game, it wasn't as fun.
When I was in high school, I was really impatient for school to end. Or for a holiday. Or a 3 day weekend. I wanted the semester to be over NOW and not in 4 weeks. So what I did mentally was think to myself, "I have 4 weeks left of school. Now what was I doing 4 weeks ago? I have only to live the last 4 weeks over once more and it'll be over. And I know I can do that because I just did it." This mental game works for all kinds of waiting. I do it often when waiting for McKay to come home from work to relieve me of kid duty. I do it when I'm driving and there's traffic. I do it when I have to do public speaking, "It's only 20 minutes; I only need to get through these next 20 minutes alive, that's not bad!"
Then there's the "Well, what else is there but to wait?" Especially with Margaret, I would ask myself, "Well, what is the other option? An induction for a kicking baby who is in the exact position for birthing and shows no signs of needing an intervention? Castor oil? Jumping jacks?" All of those options just sounded absurd, so I just kept on.
Now, I'll admit, that can be easier said than done when you're physically uncomfortable. With Margaret, I didn't get particularly uncomfortable until I was past my due date, but with Isaac, my back hurt from week 13 and on. And sleeping was difficult because I'd be on one side to nurse and then I'd get uncomfortable, but I couldn't really change sides without waking Margaret up. And I also had some swelling in my ankles because it was the summer and warm.
I tried lots of different sleeping positions as well as sleep pillows, I tried reclining for my ankles, but that hurt my back. I also meditated with lavender oil on my wrists to help me sleep at night. I drank a ton of water and red raspberry leaf tea. I waddled a lot. And I tried to keep myself busy with things like book groups, knitting, and playgroups. But I'll admit I never felt nesty at the end either. Who wants to scrub floors in that state? Not me.
So I don't know if I have anything helpful. I know some people like to do big projects like baby blankets in those last few weeks, but I preferred small ones because I was worried I might not finish a project on time. I also tried to go on about my life as normally as possible: going to the movies, to the park, or wherever, just like I would have if I hadn't been pregnant. Then when the baby comes it's a pleasant surprise you weren't expecting (2 weeks later).
Tell yourself, "I know I'll be holding my baby within the next 2 months- and 2 months ago, I was starting my 3rd trimester, and look how that has already flown!" You can do it. When your baby is 16 these few weeks won't even make a blip on your parenting radar, I promise.
Any suggestions from my readers? How do you handle the last few weeks?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This post is heavily LDS-related, so if that doesn't apply to you, feel free to skip this.
Last year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created a prototype meeting house in Farmington, UT which utilizes solar energy and has many "green" features such as water-saving toilets, motion sensing lights, and the goal for the building's electricity to cost a net zero, culminating in LEED certification. According to George Handley on this panel (second mp3 on the page, minute 45:31), "They're building 4 prototypes that are LEED certified and they're applying to LEED for a portfolio certification which would basically mean they could then roll out all future chapels according to that prototype and all of them receive LEED certification."
When I first read about this, I was over the moon in excitement. I have a very special place in my heart for diminishing my family's carbon footprint- and the idea that the Church is going to try to do the same filled me with hope and happiness.
A couple of weeks ago in a forum, my friend Jena (link goes to a post about this!), posed a question about "green" garments, or garments made of sustainably grown or created fabrics. After working this in my mind for a couple of weeks, I decided that with Earth Day coming up, and with the Church's current efforts in being better stewards over the earth, what better time to discuss this important issue?
Currently, according to the most recent General Conference, there are over 14 million members of the Church around the world. I'm not sure how many are active and how many have been endowed, but even with a guess of 15% of the membership having been endowed in the temple, that means over 2 million people are asked to wear Church-produced garments day and night. Unlike in times past, members cannot make their own, but it is possible to request specially-made garments, though I don't know if fiber content is variable or if that is just for physical changes due to health or sizing reasons.
If you go to buy or order garments, you'll find that there is only one option for someone who would like to wear garments solely of natural fibers: 100% cotton. All other fabrics are synthetic (nylon, spandex, etc) or are a synthetic blend (cotton-poly). Synthetics come with quite the carbon footprint, but cotton doesn't have the best track record, either.
"Cotton is considered the world's 'dirtiest' crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop." Also, the cotton has to be bleached to get that crisp white we expect when we buy new garments, which means more chemicals and treatments. As a knitter, I've been able to find unbleached naturally-white cotton yarn (even fairtrade!) so I know it's out there! We just have to make use of it!
Then please let the Distribution Center know! For Earth Day this Friday and through May 1st, let's send in our suggestions! The email address for suggestions is email@example.com. It can be as simple as, "Please offer a hemp/cotton blend for garments. Thanks!"
And please spread the word. Blog about this, tweet it, sign up for the Facebook event and share it with your friends. You could even turn this into a family home evening activity about loving the earth and being grateful for what we've been given.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
In the past, I've talked about the benefits of breastfeeding from physical standpoints as well as emotional standpoints: it's good for mom and baby to breastfeed! But today, I want to strip all that away.
If I were to give advice to a mom (you, maybe?) throwing away all the issues that affect the ability to breastfeed (supply, support from friends and family, job situation, and everything else in between) and give the least scientific recommendation ever, it would be this:
Breastfeed at least until your child can speak sentences.
Yes. Do it. All those weeks of newborn colic, all the engorgement, all the mastitis, the thrush, the biting, and the standing-on-your-head-while-nursing frustration seems to disappear once the child can talk to you about breastfeeding.
One night Margaret woke up wanting to nurse, she rolled over and latched on. In her half-asleep state, a part of her remembered that I like to be asked before she nurses, so she unlatched and in sleepy toddler voice, said, "Breast, please." And then she latched back on.
Not long ago, I was nursing Margaret down for the night. Isaac was already asleep, but he started stirring. Margaret unlatched, looked me in the eye, pushed me away and said, "Go!"
"Go! Isaac needs breast!"
Her concern for him melted my heart. I turned and nursed Isaac through his restlessness and Margaret fell asleep on her own.
I think it's adorable that she cares so much about Isaac that she'll share me like that. And she knows how much nursing means to her- and surely it must mean a lot to Isaac, too!
Yes, sometimes she gets upset when she wants Isaac's turn to be over. And sometimes when I suggest to her that I like to be asked, she'll say, "I ask!" but not tell me what she's asking for.
The other day, I was lying down with her to go to sleep. She was done nursing, but she put her hands around my breast and said, "I'm holding it," and smiled. I don't normally let her use her fingers (because I'm so touched out!) but this time it was adorable. She just wanted to be close to me.
So my opinion, possibly wrong, of how long you should nurse: Can your child speak in sentences? If not, you haven't gotten to the icing on top.
I am so excited for her language skills continue to develop and to talk with her and enjoy life together.
And now, a word from my Margaret, who has a few sentences to say on this subject:
Friday, April 15, 2011
1. For me, it was like lightning running through my body.
2. I have found dry alphabet soup noodles at my local supermarket.
3. Behind the sound of the wind in the trees, I heard a bird! No, a plane! Superman!
4. To write well is something I always wanted to do.
5. When it was over, we were closer than ever.
6. I was only one person but I never felt alone.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include hanging out with friends and Sunday, I want to do some writing!
I don't think I've done a life update in a while. What have we been up to?
Isaac is going to be 9 months soon. He can stand on his own for a second or so and is very fast in the crawling department. He has something around 5 rolls on each arm. Very yummy. It's a wonder my children aren't eaten up by the time they turn 1. He's slowly getting used to solid food, but is still 98% breastfed. I haven't noticed any blood in his stools lately, so that's good. His rat tail is the most awesome thing ever and he is quite the chatter box. No idea what he is saying, but he has lots to say! Margaret never talked this much ever.
McKay is working on his thesis. He had a little set back last weekend, but we're hoping he'll defend it in May. Most of it is written, but there's a little bit of research that needs to get added. He's also having an awesome time at Pixar- he'll be moving buildings this month, so he'll get a kind-of-like-a-corner office. Haha!
I am so very busy. Highlights from the last two weeks include finishing our taxes! Oh my goodness, I think I probably spent over 10 hours doing and re-doing the taxes for our little family. I do not look forward to the day when we own a house and I have to figure out how to do all the real estate tax stuff. In celebration of the end of taxes, we went out for gyros and gelato.
I took a 2 week victory break after the 5k, but have started running again this week. There's a suicide prevention walk/run at the end of May that I think I'm going to sign up for. I'm also working on an art project that I want to submit (due May 1!) so that's what I'm doing during nap times. Knitting is on hold for this, though I have a knitting project I want to finish before the county fair. So many deadlines!
There's also a possibility of us moving. It's a hard decision because the pros/cons are so close! I think the biggest con is the kitchen. Our current kitchen is full of cabinets and counter space and it's pretty hard to beat that. But we'd be able to garden in this other place! And eat duck eggs! Another con is that we'd have to park in the street, which doesn't feel as safe as our parking garage, BUT we wouldn't have to pay utilities in the other place or quarters for laundry! (And it's mostly solar powered!) But the layout of the apartment isn't as centralized as the one we are in now. But there's no carpeting in the new place, so spills will be easier to clean up. But our feet will be colder. But if a kid pees or spits up it won't get into the carpet and become smelly. It keeps going like that, channeling Tevye: On the other hand... On the other hand...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Yesterday at the library, once again, I saw a couple of titles that Margaret didn't pick out, but I thought liked the titles, so I threw them in our bag.
The second one I completely expected for it to be hippie dippy. I picked it up because the words "tree huggers" were in the title. Atkins' Aani and the Tree Huggers is based on a real event in India in the 1970s. What I didn't expect from this book was for it to make me so happy I cried. Either I was really emotional yesterday when I read it or it is a great book.
At the end of OK Go, they have suggestions for more books to read about saving the earth. I think when we go to the library next week, we'll see if some of those are available. Happy Loving-the-Earth Reading, everybody!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Lisa had a question last week, " I was just wondering if you knew anything about reusable swim diapers, good brands, how well they work, that kind of thing."
Good question, but I don't think I have a particularly awesome answer. The first swim diaper we bought for Margaret when she was 2 months old was from Target and I don't remember the brand name; it wasn't there the next year, though. It was blue and I can't seem to find a picture of her in it! Darn.
Since then, we've just used whatever old pocket diaper without the insert.
The point of swim diapers is to keep poo from getting out. Both cloth and paper swim diapers allow pee to get into the water and using regular diapers- whether paper or with a cloth insert, would just fill up and be heavy.
Some say that the chemicals in pools will adversely affect the ability of cloth diaper covers to be waterproof in the future, so we've only used a cover that we don't care too much about. The one in the picture above was bought second-hand and wasn't particularly water-proof anyway. It just needed to be poop-proof.
I've heard of some public pools turning people away if they have cloth swim diapers on their kids, but it's never happened to me and with cloth catching on, I'm hoping that'll be a rumor of the past.
Anyone want to chime in on the swim diapers they've found to be affordable and effective?
Thursday, April 07, 2011
A friend of mine does "Truth is..." Thursdays and I think I'm going to try it, at least for this week.
Truth is... it's easier to be patient with babies than toddlers.
Truth is... this baby, though, has the most pinchy fingers ever. He inherited that from his father.
Truth is... my ovary is in explode-mode. It doesn't make evolutionary sense for your most fertile time to be so painful. Good thing I don't want to be pregnant right now.
Truth is... I stayed up last Friday night on purpose in order to exert my "I'm an adult and I can stay up all night if I want to! Other 25 year olds do it and I can too! See! I'm not an old married woman!"
Truth is... I was subsequently tired all day Saturday and Sunday and had to nap with the babies Monday to make up for it.
Truth is... I never do April Fool's.
Truth is... we rarely celebrate anything. Ever. It's too much work. I'd rather just cuddle with everyone than decorate or go out.
Truth is... Margaret colored on my large drawing paper today because I was feeling the "look at all the other happy bloggers with toddlers and homeschooling" guilt. Flashcards! Memorization! So we colored and it made me feel like I was doing something.
Truth is... Margaret is a perfectionist and won't actually color because she can't do it as well as she'd like to. I feel like I did this to her, though I'm not exactly sure how. So I made her choose her colors and subjects herself and left her alone in the room so she could fully be herself with her crayons.
Truth is... it's mostly scribbles and the mom-guilt came back because my daughter isn't drawing anything that's recognizable like "all the other kids."
Truth is... I mentally tried to explain the scribbles away as "modern art." Look at the composition! The color choice! The depth of pigment here! The curviness there!
Truth is... I didn't want to write those last two truths because I'm afraid someone is now thinking, "Ha! My kid is better at drawing than her kid is."
Truth is... We hung up the pictures on the wall and Margaret was so proud and said, "When Daddy comes back, I'm going to show him and say, TA-DA!" (and she did)
Truth is... none of this will matter when she's 16.
Truth is... I have more anxiety where that came from. I'm not even mentioning the things that have occupied my mind all day.
Truth is... I'm spending the evening working on a funny photoshop picture instead of doing the dishes and vacuuming while McKay is out.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Last night at 9, I remembered I wanted to write a post for the April Carnival for Natural Parenting, but because I'm on the West Coast, I totally missed their midnight deadline. The prompt was, "Compassionate Advocacy" and since I don't really think I'm all that great at the compassion thing, I wanted to talk about a friend of mine whom I admire.
So here is my shout-out to my friend, GoddessofBirth. I met her at my first LLL meeting in Provo and was invited to an attachment parenting playgroup that very night. I associate her with compassionate advocacy because I learned so much from her by just watching her parent without her having to say anything directly to me.
She has a daughter 3 years older than Margaret so I got to peek into the future a little. Today I want to share one of my favorite parenting techniques that I stole from GoddessofBirth. I remember once at playgroup when her daughter was upset over something and she prompted her daughter to breathe. There might have been some counting to 10 as well, but I don't really remember. And almost like magic, they breathed and the situation was easier to handle. It seemed like the most genius idea ever: if you're going to be dealing with meltdowns and upsets, what you need to do is teach the child how to calm down! Of course!
And I was hit with, "Oh my gosh I need to do that when Margaret gets older!" Knowing GoddessofBirth and her daughter, this was probably not a first-time fluke, but something they had done over and over again, so that now at playgroup, it looked easy. I mentally wrote that down on my parenting list.
And this past year or so, when Margaret has had meltdowns, almost every time I say, "Margaret, can you breathe?" and I demonstrated, "Breathe in.... Breathe out..." and I do it a few times and sometimes she does it with me. And it's magic! Suddenly she can talk easier and I can understand her because her words aren't garbled in with her tears.
Now, it doesn't always work, but it works some of the time and it's a gentle way to deal with, "He's getting my potty! He's getting me!"And instead of me saying, "Margaret, he's only 5 feet away and eating paper; he's not getting you," and dismissing her feelings, we breathe and talk about how she can move away if he starts "getting her" because she's bigger and faster.
So to GoddessofBirth and all the other great parents who are quiet examples, thank you! And GoddessofBirth, you rock. And thanks for being awesome.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Friday, April 01, 2011
On Wednesday, I had a picture of Margaret and her birthday cake with her friends. I thought I'd share what we did for her party last weekend.
First, she had very specific instructions for me: a square (rectangle) blue chocolate cake with one blue candle. Blue became the "theme" for the party. We asked everyone to wear blue!
Because I wanted to avoid as much food coloring as possible, I made homemade blueberry muffins (actually blueberry orange muffins), served blue corn chips and the leftover blueberries and had grape juice. I didn't find bleu cheese dip like I wanted, so the chips were plain. The cake frosting was colored as were the sprinkles, but since Red #40 is my main dye issue, I let the artificial dye slide this one time.
I went to the East Bay Depot of Creative Reuse for the streamers. Sorry we don't have pictures! It was just a partial roll of basic blue paper streamers. Recyclable! We did use plastic plates and cups (do they make colored paper plates?) so we had to recycle those as well.
When the kids first came in, I had some homemade edible play dough out for them to play with. It was a simple recipe: white cake mix, a stick of butter, melted and dyed, enough water to make it play dough consistency.
Another thing I picked up at the Depot for Creative Reuse was crayons. You can buy crayons by the pound! Margaret helped me gather up a couple of handfuls of crayons in various shades of blue. The night before the party, McKay and I peeled the paper off of them and at the party, the kids broke them up and put them in our silicone mini muffin tray. Five minutes at 350 and then 20 minutes in the freezer and we had round blue crayons!
One of my biggest pet peeves of children's parties is all the candy and plastic little toys that get lost in the car on the way home or are thrown away the next day. I wanted to make sure the favors were actually useful, so each child took home some of the edible play dough, two crayons that we made, and a knitted blue ball in a recyclable brown paper bag they got to color. It would have been better if I had sewn some fabric bags, I know, but I didn't have time.
So that's how we did a somewhat "green" blue party! The kids love it and we'll be able to improve on it in the coming years. Margaret had fun and Isaac got to play with lots of people.