31 January 2011


I just want to say that, for the month of January, I spent LESS than $400 on food for the ENTIRE MONTH!

I'm very proud to have accomplished this feat because it means I can put a little money away in our 'savings jar' and also have some money to spend already for next month, which is tomorrow. This makes me happy.

Think Positive(ly)

I've been making a conscious effort for quite some time now to stop using the word 'no' every time I don't want Heidi to do something. Mind you, this is an incredibly difficult pattern to break and I am far from achieving my desired state, but I do believe I've made progress. How do I know? Because I have seen a marked improvement in Heidi's behavior recently.

I've been taking to heart a lot of the status updates and quotes of certain pages on Facebook like TEACH through love and Positive Parenting and I truly believe this has made a difference. Mind you, Heidi is not, has not and never will be an 'unruly' child or anything like that. She is just a typically rambunctious, curious toddler, doing everything a 'normal' toddler should. Obviously, she has a lot of behaviours that are less than desirable, but rather than jumping to the reflex of 'NO!' I have started to reform my words to use things like 'Please don't do that,' 'That's not a good thing to do,' 'I'd rather you didn't do that,' etc. etc. I still use 'No' on occasion because it is, unfortunately, a very easy word to say. And usually, when I use the word 'no,' the response I get from her is an extremely negative one that often involves hitting me (as hard as a 2-year-old can hit when not trying to hurt).

Anyway, though we still have some snags with putting her toys away at the end of the day, she generally does it without question, even happily. She says 'thank you' almost all the time (still working on saying 'please' all the time) and she's very into giving hugs :). She loves to hug Piper too, though Piper is not usually a fan of these since she is often in a compromising position. Overall though, the atmosphere in my house feels different, happier and better, since I changed my attitude towards Heidi and I'm very glad I did! I only see it getting better as time goes on.

30 January 2011

I feel like a total failure.

A lot of women are unable to breastfeed for one reason or another and often feel an extreme degree of guilt because of it. It makes them feel like they are not real women, like they have failed as mothers for not being able to feed their children the way it was intended. Some women do not feel like women because they have not given birth naturally, the way babies are supposed to be born (I am one of them, but that's not what this post is about). Why is it that I feel like a failure? Not for as noble a cause as the ones I listed above but for one that, in writing, seems so petty. I feel like a failure because I have yet to successfully cloth diaper my daughter.

I started cloth diapering in June of 2010 when Heidi was a year and a half old and Piper was four months. I made the decision largely because having two children in disposable diapers was going to be an amazing strain on our finances and I really wanted to do something that was better for my children. I started out with a wonderful homemade detergent recipe that I thought was perfect to help save even more money since I could use it on all of the laundry. Since it was summer, I could even let the diapers dry in the sun, which is the best place to dry anything. All was wonderful, for about two months.

In late August, Heidi developed a rash. Piper, on the other hand, was perfectly fine and has generally remained fine throughout the duration of cloth diapering. Heidi, on the other hand, was suffering horribly while I tried to get this rash to go away. Of course, I did not have any cloth diaper safe creams on hand so she was between cloth and disposables whenever I put ointment on her. My first reaction to this was to switch detergents. Heidi had been diagnosed with eczema, so I knew she had sensitive skin, and someone told me that borax (which was in the detergent) was often an irritant for sensitive skin. So, I switched over to Rockin' Green. I stripped the diapers according to what a Rockin' Green representative told me and once the rash was completely gone, I put her back in the cloth. Lo and behold, no problems! At least, for a few weeks.

Suddenly, the rash came back. This time, it was even more horrible and I felt like a terrible mother for putting my child through this pain. Her diaper area was bright red and blotchy and even got to the point where it was almost entirely open sores. And I mean, open, bleeding sores all over her little bottom. So once again, I moved her into disposables in order to load her up with diaper cream and I decided to switch detergents again. She was also diagnosed with diaper dermatitis, basically meaning that she was allergic to her diapers.

This was the real kicker for me. How is it possible that horrible, chemical filled disposable diapers never gave her any problems but when I put a real, cloth diaper on her, she gets bleeding, open sores? I tried to do something good for her and it blew up in my face. Twice. I went to the wonderful Jillian's Drawers in Ithaca and spoke to their staff on several occasions. I went home with some RLR to strip the diapers again and some Allen's Naturally detergent, which they recommended for sensitive skin. Once the rash was gone, again, I put her back in the newly washed cloth and amazingly, we had no problems for two months!

Just when I thought there would be a happy ending, I get a curve ball. Ever since the diagnosis of diaper dermatitis, I've been wanting Heidi to use the toilet so I could just forget about the diapers on her and never have to see her suffer again. Unfortunately, we've hit a stalemate recently with potty training and while I am following her lead and leaving her alone about it, I also wanted to help her better understand her urges. For a few days, I had her go diaperless for most of the day and amazingly, she wouldn't pee for 3 or more hours at a time. Then, she would ask for her diaper and promptly soak it through. Yay for being able to hold your bowels! Unfortunately, I started to notice that her skin in her diaper area was so dry it looked like the desert floor. Thinking she may have had too much exposure to the air, I promptly put a diaper on her (a pre-fold so it wouldn't be too tight) and I did notice a slight improvement from being exposed to moisture. However, even with some cream (using a washcloth as a barrier between the cream and the diaper) it got better but kept coming back. So, since I was just about at the end of my Allen's detergent, I decided maybe I should switch again because that might also have been part of the problem. I read tons of posts about what detergent other moms use and looked at all the cloth diaper sites' detergent sections and finally decided on Charlie's. I started to regret it a day or two after I placed the order because I then found out it has been reported as causing rash or burns in some children. But, I figured I'd give it a try anyway.

So after stripping with RLR again, I used Charlie's. And bam, she has a rash again that I cannot get rid of. The ONLY cream that works for her is A & D. Desitin, buttpaste, california baby cream and even calendula all make it worse. I was at my wits end with this the second time it happened. Now, I don't even know where I am.

I have changed my wash routine a million times. I constantly hear conflicting reports about how to wash diapers and whether or not to use vinegar. Every time I've used vinegar with every load, I seem to have had better results so it was stupid of me to stop doing that. I think vinegar with every load may be the only reason Allen's worked so well for so long. Anyway, I've decided to go with All Free and Clear, since it was on a list of cloth diaper safe detergents and got 3 stars. I'll take that, since I already have it and don't have to spend more money on things that don't work. On a positive note, I won't have to buy laundry detergent for the next year between the Rockin' Green I still have, the tiny bit of Allen's and the Charlie's.

The bottom line is I do not want to see my child suffer any more. No one wants to see his or her baby in pain. I don't want to see her walking crooked because she hurts so much she can't walk straight or hear her scream when she sits down because of the pain. I don't know what to do because I absolutely, positively do NOT want to go back to disposables! I would rather stick needles in my eye! (OK, that is a bit excessive, but I just want to get my point across.)

Right now, she is in a disposable night-time diaper because the 3+ applications of A&D cream today did not work that well. I am praying, PRAYING that maybe the All Free and Clear will finally be the answer I've been looking for. I don't understand how so many people can switch to cloth and have perfectly lovely experiences when I have had so much freaking trouble.

OK, my rant is complete. In the morning, I shall take Piper's dirty diaper and wash the few others that are still dirty and strip the remaining ones I did not strip tonight yet again. If this doesn't work, I guess I'll be back at square one and one step closer to losing it.

28 January 2011

Potato Chowder

Yesterday I made potato chowder from a Whole Foods recipe, but I adapted it to make it heartier and use a few ingredients I had sitting in the fridge. So, I wanted to share the original recipe and my adaptations because I think it's a really great base for a soup and a tasty winter meal. Plus, it can generally be made without a trip to the grocery store as everything in it can probably be found in your cabinets!

1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 1/4 cups water
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

Place onion, celery, green pepper, carrot and garlic in a soup pot with 1/4 cup of water. Saute for 5 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add potatoes, soy sauce, basil, paprika, pepper and remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serves 4.

So that is the regular recipe, but as I said, I made a few changes. First, I wanted to add protein so I threw in some lentils and cannellini beans because I like to have two types of bean or protein when I can. I also had an open box of chicken broth in the fridge from a previous recipe, so I substituted most of the water in this recipe for broth, which I think gives it a richer flavor. I also ended up adding a container of my frozen, homemade vegetable stock because I ended up having quite the hearty soup by the time I was done! My mother, who is visiting this week, brought with her a bunch of greens that needed to be used so I threw in an entire bunch of swiss chard and some baby bok choy. By the time I was done, I had a huge pot that we were able to feast on for dinner and lunch today.

This soup has endless possibilities! I would definitely suggest adding some greens to it, even if you don't add any protein. Spinach is always good in soup, but I also like to add kale because it really can be a versatile vegetable if you know what to do with it! Hope you enjoyed this!

27 January 2011

Kale Chips and Roasted Broccoli and Asparagus

I decided to document my most recent creation of the above mentioned tastiness just for the heck of it. If you have always wanted to try either of these recipes, now is your chance!

First, I made the kale chips because they cook at a lower temperature and I wanted to be sure we had something to munch on before dinner. First I took the kale out and broke it off the rib. I have baked it without removing it from the rib before, but occasionally you get a really hard, stringy rib that totally ruins the experience so I decided to remove the leaves this time. I washed them and dried them and threw them into a bowl. Then I added a very small amount of lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. I don't know why, but I think the lemon added a slightly less delicious taste this time so I think when I make them again I will omit it.

I preheated the oven to 250 degrees. Then I tossed the kale leaves with the ingredients and made sure to rub them down with the oil. I must point out though that the leaves SHOULD NOT BE WET. You only need a few drops of oil for each leaf, basically enough so they have a bit of glisten. But, if they are too wet, they won't crisp the right way. That is very important! I cannot stress the importance of that enough! :)

So I arranged the leaves on the baking sheet so they would not touch each other. Sort of. It was hard because I didn't have enough space, but I made do.

I put them in the oven for 30 minutes. When I took them out, I carefully turned them over (this is harder to do than you think!) and I returned them to the oven for another 10 minutes. Then, take them out and enjoy!

While I was baking the kale, I got my asparagus and broccoli ready for roasting. I used the same general technique of washing them, drying and placing them into a bowl.

Then I dressed them the same way as I did with the kale only here you can be more liberal with the oil and lemon. I also added fresh ground pepper in addition to the salt, but for roasting, the simpler the better! I turned the oven up to 400 degrees, but theoretically you can roast at any temperature, it just depends on how long you want to wait for your yummy food.

As you will notice, I actually cut up the stems of the broccoli to roast along with the florets because although Heidi is not fond of them, Piper and I really enjoyed the way they crisped in the oven. I did not chop the entire stem, however, just the lower inch or so below the floret. These veggies spent a good half hour in the oven and though I did not time them exactly, I specifically looked for a certain degree of crispiness on the florets of the broccoli. They get a nice brown color and appear to want to crumble at your touch. If they go too long, they could burn - so watch out!

Both of these are really great options if you want to add some variety to your vegetable eating. I love roasting potatoes, brussels sprouts, onions and garlic and I look forward to roasting cauliflower some day soon!

24 January 2011

This Week's Dinner Menu! 1/23 - 1/29/10

As much as it may look like I am posting this to give everyone grand ideas about what to make for dinner, I am actually posting it so that I might help myself keep better track of what I'm eating and what I am throwing at my children each night. Of course, if something you see interests you and you wish to know how I prepared it, I'll be happy to help.

Sunday: Sauteed chicken tenders with onions and garlic, rice pilaf and green beans.

Monday: Baked garlic rosemary tilapia with roasted potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Tuesday: Salmon burgers, kale chips, roasted broccoli and asparagus, french fries (I know, I'm bad sometimes).

Wednesday: Potato Chowder (adapted), salad.

Thursday: Spaghetti squash as pasta, salad.



Things I Love #1

I've decided to start a series of posts entitled, you guessed it, 'Things I Love' to give those of you who read this a better idea about who I am. Of course, once I get further into the series you may start to wonder if I really am just one person or a combination of multiple personalities masquerading as one individual. Now I know you're dying to get to the root of this post, the first little known thing I love, so I won't keep you in suspense any longer.

I love history. I LOVE history. I know, crazy, right?! Who loves history besides the people who major in it in order to teach or...what else does one even do with a degree in history? Who knows? Why? Because once everyone is done with history in school, it is never thought of again. I, on the other hand, love history (did I mention that already?) and strive to learn more of it as often as I can.

Before I go any further I must make one thing very clear: I am not even close to being anything remotely related to an expert in history. Please do not mistake my love of history for a vast array of knowledge. I know a lot of small, random facts and tidbits, about some topics more than others, but there is such a vastness that I do not know I'm almost ashamed. What I do know is passion. I have a passion for what was, the things that have passed in order to make all of us who we are today. I have a passion for spreading that knowledge to others because I believe in the importance of learning from others' mistakes. I can only hope to ignite this passion in my children and help them enjoy learning about history as much as I do.

(In the future, I may refer to specific historical events or places that I have grown to 'love' so much that they deserve their own post. Feel free to skip those.)

20 January 2011

I Forgot to Cut My Toenails

A lot of people have a problem with feet. I can see that. I mean, they are a bit odd looking if you really think about it, but I think they get a bad rap. Some people have foot fetishes, which may or may not creep most of you out. Irregardless, that is not what I intend to focus on, so let's move on.

We don't think about our feet very much, but why is that? They might just be our most important body part, next to our hands, since they provide us with so much mobility. We stand on them. Some of us stand on them all day long. We rely on them to help us carry our children, laundry, grocery bags, books, and dishes from one place to another. We use them when we are in a hurry, crossing the street, chasing after our kids, scurrying to class, or getting to our car so we can finally go home. Sometimes we stomp them when we're angry. Sometimes they leave the ground when we jump for joy. When our beliefs are threatened, or our ideals challenged, we grind them into the ground like roots to hold us down. They don't just get us from Point A to Point B, they get us from unemployed to employed, student to graduate, homeless to homeowner, and single to married. Your feet brought you to the love of your life.

I am starting from the ground up, using my feet as the basis for this new venture because they are my stability, my rocks, what I depend on 24 hours a day without even knowing it. I have real feet, clearly in need of some maintenance, but this is my metaphoric foot. The foot upon which I stand; My first "real" post. It isn't that ugly, is it?


Have I jumped? Perhaps. Let's see how long it takes me to fall off.