31 May 2011

I Am Enough

Take a deep breath in and let it out. Close your eyes and repeat this to yourself:

I. Am. Enough.

Let this be your mantra this week (and hopefully for weeks to come.) Say it with me again:

I. Am. Enough.

Repeat it as often as you need to: in your head, out loud or scream it if you have to.

You were created, crafted to be the person that you are. You were made on purpose. How could you not be enough when you were made to be enough?

On a daily basis, most of you are struggling with your own worth. For one reason or another, you have lead yourself to feel as though you're a bad person, mother, wife, sister, citizen or something else. Today I tell you, you have a choice. You no longer have to feel this way. You can choose to believe and know that you are enough.

 If you read yesterday's post about removing certain words from your vocabulary, you might also have started to practice the art of forgiveness, specifically yourself. When you forgive yourself, you acknowledge that you are enough and accept that everything you have ever done has also been enough.


In forgiving yourself, knowing that you are enough, you will teach your children the exact same thing. Teach your children that they are enough and they always will be. But remember first:

You. Are. Enough.

30 May 2011

Don't "Should" On Yourself

I would like to set a new goal for you: Make the word "should" a curse word in your house. Here's why:

Merriam-Webster defines "should" in the following ways (emphasis added):

1 - used in auxiliary function to express condition
2 - used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency
3 - used in auxiliary function to express futurity from a point of view in the past
4 - used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected
5 - used in auxiliary function to express a request in a polite manner or to soften direct statement

Let's think about this for a moment. How many times a day do you use the word, "should" in reference to yourself? How many times do you use it for others? Now, how often do you put "should" and "have" together? That, my friends, is a one-way ticket on the guilt train and it needs to stop.

"I should have baked chocolate cake instead of vanilla."
Well, why didn't you? Is it because you're a slacker? Is it because you don't care? Is it because you're in favor of vanilla over chocolate? Do any of these questions even matter?

NO. When you set yourself up with a "should have" statement, you ignite an almost never-ending self-beratement (<-- it's a word now!) in your mind. How long does it take for you to go from "should have" to "I'm a horrible person?" When something is probable or expected and you do not fulfill those obligations, you spiral into a "should have, could have, would have" cycle that ends in pain, depression and guilt.

Enough already. Get the word "should" out of your vocabulary just like you would any other curse word. Instead of "I should go to work today" say "I'm going to work so that I can provide for my family."
Instead of "I should have said something to her" say "Even though I didn't get the words out this time, next time I will be more relaxed and more prepared."
Instead of "I should try to be a better parent." say "Every day I am the best parent I can be as I continue to grow with my children."

To get rid of the "should have's," you must forgive yourself. Forgive every "missed opportunity," every "failed obligation," every "unfulfilled expectation." There is no place for "should have" in your life. You don't need self-projected guilt in your life. Forgive and move on.

I implore you to try this for one week and see if you notice a difference in your own thoughts and behaviors. After that week, come back and tell me how you feel. Look for tomorrow's post to help you even more.

27 May 2011

How I Stopped Saying No

This would be flour.
First of all, I know this title is misleading. I don't think you can ever stop saying, "No" totally because it can be pertinent in many situations, e.g. your child running out into the street, your child putting a live grenade in her mouth, your child voting for Ron Paul...just kidding.

I used to say "No" all the time when talking to Heidi because I never thought there was an alternative, nor did I think it was a problem. When I started researching different parenting methods and started being more mindful about what I say and do to and with my children, I realized that there are many ways to say "No" that are more effective and serve to strengthen the parent/child relationship, not weaken it. Please remember that this is a process; don't expect too much from yourself immediately and try not to get down on yourself if you slip up. I think you will see a noticeable difference in your child almost immediately though. 

One of the easiet alternatives to actually saying "no" is to use gibberish. This is the perfect stepping stone because you are still allowing something to come out of your mouth (the way you are used to saying "no"), but it is not something negative.Another positive effect of this method is that it may cause both you and your child to crack a smile or start laughing. This will break any tension that was building and help lift your own mood so you can go back to being a conscientious parent.

Another strategy is to say "No" in your head and continue the rest of your sentence out loud. Here are a few examples:
"No! Don't touch that!"
"No! You can't have that now!"
"No! We are not going to Alcatraz!"
In each of these instances, you can forcefully say "No!" to yourself and then speak the meat of what you actually wanted to say. You might even start finding that when you say "No!" in your head, the rest of your sentence comes out a lot calmer than you thought it would. You will soon start to realize that you don't even need to say "No" because your sentence is completely sufficient. And, you'll really start to have a better relationship with your child.

When all else fails, don't say anything at all. Pause for that moment when you want to yell and scream, bite your lip and do whatever it takes to stay silent. Sometimes, the situation will resolve itself. When it doesn't, you will again be calmer than you would have if you let the "word vomit" leave your mouth and you might even come up with a more appropriate thing to say to your child once the heat of the moment has dissipated.

The most compelling argument I have for you is this: Think about the way you speak to strangers, acquaintances and *most* co-workers.  Do you generally afford them a degree of courtesy, kindness and respect? Why then, should you treat your child, with whom you spend nearly every waking moment, any differently? If your child has "behaviour problems," stop for a moment to assess the way you speak to her. As I remind myself every day, I must treat my children the way I want them to treat me.

26 May 2011

Crystal Children

As my good friend Amy over at Nom Nom Yum can attest, it is difficult for me to go anywhere in public without someone stopping to tell me how beautiful my children are. I am accepting of such compliments, but when it's literally every five feet in the grocery store, I start to get annoyed. All I want is to get my shopping done! Leave me alone!

Anyway, I do have a point here. A few weeks ago while we were participating in grounds keeping at church, one of the parishioners asked me if I knew what crystal children were. I was unfamiliar with the term but she said that without a doubt, my children were crystal children.

PhotobucketSo what are crystal children? I've looked at several websites and though they all say somewhat different things, one general idea is that crystal children are like indigo children, souls who are here to help bring peace and balance to all of us. What a beautiful thought.

There are a lot of people who believe that the Mayan "apocalypse" scheduled for the end of 2012 is not the end of the world, the end of civilization or some catastrophic event but rather a collective change in consciousness. Some believe that these children, crystal children, indigo children, rainbow children, are the individuals who will catalyst this global event. This website explains this with slightly more detail (minus the specific 2012 date).

Here are a few reasons why I think my children might be more special than I already think they are:

- Piper attracts a lot of attention, even more so than Heidi. People seem to be drawn to her wherever we go. She makes them smile and stop and talk to her, always generating positive, happy feelings.

- Heidi must say 'Hi' to every living creature that she sees. She has no fear of rejection and shows no discrimination. When we walk along the canal, or anywhere really, I'd say she gets a positive reaction from at least 90% of those she engages, while the others ignore her (I used to ignore children before I had them because I had no desire to talk with them.)

- While at a wedding reception in October, all of the children were dancing on the dance floor. Since Piper was 7 months old, I sat her down at the edge of the floor. Immediately every single child in the room came over and formed a half-circle around her, just looking at her. It was quite the site to see. That same evening, one child in particular hung around us a lot, continuously asking if she could hold Piper. Throughout all of this, Piper remained passive, calm and pleasant.

- Heidi said 'Hi' when she was 3 months old. I am fully aware that it could have simply been a coincidental and perfect expulsion of air from her mouth that sounded like 'Hi,' but it was real to me.

There is another more scientific suggestion out there that some children, born after 1980, have new genes not previously seen in humans. It is believed that these genes regulate the brain in some manner; those who believe in crystal or indigo children know this to be evidence of their telepathic or psychic abilities. You might want to watch this documentary, which explains this more in depth.

Why am I being so vague in this post? Well, as you may gather, there is very little "real" evidence about this subject and there is not a lot of agreement across websites about the definitive characteristics of these children/people. Many say that children are often misdiagnosed with autism when in fact they are crystal children who have nothing wrong with them at all, they just have trouble adjusting to this world.

If nothing else, these ideas provide very interesting concepts to ponder. To me, a lot of what is described about these individuals makes sense; as to whether my children belong to this elite group I'm still unsure. Perhaps they will continue to be identified as such throughout their lives or I will simply know that this is who they are.

Do you have a crystal child or children? Are you an indigo child?

24 May 2011

My First Curry!

The other night I made curry for the first time and I was so pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out, I've decided to make it a staple in our house. Even Steve ate it! So, in honor of my recent discovery, I'm sharing my very simple recipe with you.

Here is what I used:

1 cup chicken broth
1 can cannelini beans
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp corn starch
Hot cooked brown rice
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Curry Powder

-First I sauteed the onions and garlic (not the green onion) until they started to get soft (over medium heat). I drained and rinsed the beans and threw them in, tossing them around a bit.
-To my cup of chicken broth, I added the cornstarch and stirred it until it was combined well. I was hunting around for my curry powder at this point, so I added a little bit of onion and garlic powder and then several dashes of cumin and some salt.
-When I finally found the curry powder, I added about a tablespoon. I stirred in the chicken broth, brought it to a boil and lowered the heat so it could simmer for a bit. I was doing many other things at this time so it sat for at least 10 minutes.
-Just before serving, I threw the chopped green onions in and let them cook just a bit. Of course, you could also leave them completely raw and put them on top of your food, but I think either way is just dandy. I served this mixture over short grain brown rice (mmm, my favorite!)

I plan to do infinite alterations to this recipe in the future - using chicken or maybe beef in substitution for the beans (or addition to). OK, maybe there aren't infinite alterations, but I look forward to trying it a number of ways. Heidi and Piper had 3 helpings each so it's worth a shot!

23 May 2011

Passive Solar Homes

If you have ever considered building your own house, this post is for you. Even if you have not thought about it, please read on while I explain the benefits of a passive solar home.

A few years ago, my mother was fortunate enough to come across an amazing piece of old farmland for a very reasonable price. She had longed to build her own home for as long as I can remember, so this was an incredible opportunity for her. Although she had once looked at geodesic dome homes (and other related structures), she finally settled on passive solar construction. With the help of her designer, Bruce, she was able to construct a chalet style contemporary passive solar home.

The solar battery.

To begin construction, the workers first laid down a solar battery that would be encased in a 12 inch thick concrete slab, the purpose of which is to retain the sun's energy and heat to be fed back into the house. How does this happen? The house is equipped with a 3-stage fan system that circulates the heat from the slab all the way up to the top of the loft, allowing the entire house to be the same temperature at all times. My mother's house has a loft instead of a full second floor so the distance from the living room floor to the ceiling is 30 feet. Thanks to this system, the entirety of those 30 feet is the same temperature.

It looks like a spider, eh?

In order to get heat into the house in the first place, it is positioned perfectly to get the most sun all day long. There are two large 'heater' windows on the front of her house, which bring in the majority of the heat, and all the windows on the east side of her house also contribute. In the summer, these windows must be covered lest the house becomes a proverbial sauna as I can attest, so they are fitted with solar shades. In the winter, if it is not sunny for several days in a row, my mother uses her wood-burning stove, which is enough to keep the house comfortable most of the time. This past winter, my mother only had to use supplementary heating (electric) about two or three times when the temperatures went into single or negative digits.

The slab.

As you may imagine, her house is very heavily insulated and is generally a thicker than normal home. The layout of the inside of the house also serves the purpose of airflow. Each room has several vents supplied by the 3-stage system and when all the doors are open, the house literally helps itself stay at a constant temperature because of the circulation. When my mother spent a month near my home before Piper was born (from Feb. to March), her house never went below 50 degrees - for an entire month!

My mother in her "kitchen."

Though she loves her house, she thinks that if she ever builds again she would add geothermal energy to the house in addition to the passive solar to make it really, really efficient. So why am I telling you all of this? For a number of reasons, really.

1. You don't have to have the same house everyone else has. There is a tendency here to "go with the flow" in terms of what we know and "what the neighbors are doing." However, if we dig a little deeper, we might find that there is a better option out there for everyone involved. Any house plan can be turned into a passive solar home, so don't think you'd be giving up your dream home to make it passive solar. If you can dream it, they can build it.

2. I like saving money and I bet you do too. Though it can take 5 - 6 years to see a "major" improvement in the heating cost of a passive solar house, you WILL see a difference. This past winter my mother spent $600 on wood and that was it. Not an overly impressive number, but not the most expensive either (she heats about 1300 sq feet). Over time though, this number will likely get smaller as the house works better and better each year.
Lowering the 26ft beam.

3. I am very passionate about this subject because I hate waste and to me, not using the sun's power is wasteful. When you start to understand how much of the Earth we could be using to solve our problems (instead of destroying it and creating new problems), the idea of a "traditional" house might make you ill. While you're at it, get a composting toilet, rain barrel and some solar lights to light up your yard.

Note the two heater windows above the door.

What would happen if everyone in the world lived in a passive solar or geothermal home? Can you imagine an Earth like that?

The bottom line is there have always been people (usually indigenous) who worked with the Earth instead of  against it. We have come a long way with technology and yet continue to destroy our only home. If you ever have the opportunity to build, please consider alternative building materials, alternative houses and alternative sources of energy. It could be the salvation of our planet.

(Also, please forgive the photo quality. I used a scanner on my phone...real technological!)

21 May 2011

Onions and Garlic

What I'm about to share with you may cause you to think I'm a little weird, but I don't care. It is soooooo good. Mmmm....

The other night, I made this combo of onions and garlic for some reason (obviously doesn't matter) and I was reminded of how desperately I enjoy it. Thus, I made it again the next night so I could enjoy its deliciousness.

PhotobucketTo begin, chop up one onion and several cloves of garlic. Duh.

Then, heat up your little sautee pan and add whatever oil you prefer. At this time, I used coconut oil because it's my new BFF. You don't want your pan to become terribly hot, so I'd keep it at medium-low (for me, this is around 4).


I then add my onions and garlic to the pan and sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder on top of them. Did I just blow your mind? I bet you're sitting there thinking, "Why on Earth would I need to do that?" So just trust me for a second. On we go.


Sautee them for a while until the onions start to become translucent or whatever. Then...are you ready?? Sprinkle some Bragg's all over them, about a tablespoon or less. Yeah, that's what I said. Mmmm. Then you stir them up a bit again, make sure you're still in the medium-low range on the stove and cover it.

He's not getting any.

PhotobucketAfter allowing this to chill out for 4 minutes or less, remove the cover and gasp at its beauty! Stir it up and make sure you gather all the crusty goodness that has formed on the bottom.

Here's a close-up so you can see how awesome it is. It isn't burned, just tasty. Ugh I want some right now!


PhotobucketAnywho, for this particular mixture, I put it over some potatoes (the other potatoes have salsa), but this can go with nearly anything. Put it over a steak, sautee in some chicken or some mushrooms, top a rice pilaf or whatever you're in the mood for. This is so tasty you won't regret it! Do you know what you're making for dinner tonight?

19 May 2011

Another Guest Post!

Today I have a guest post up at The Accidental Natural Mama so if you're not too busy reading my other post, go check that one out (along with the rest of her blog :) ).

Menstrual Alternatives

*Warning: If you are a man, there is virtually no need for you to read this post.*

If you read my post about the fabulous things I purchased while I was visiting my mother, you know that I was able to get a few mama pads as an alternative to the disposables I've used my whole "adult" life. Since switching to cloth diapers for both Heidi and Piper, I have wanted to try cloth pads for myself as the next step in "greening" my life.

Before I go on, let me put this in perspective, just in case you have an "ick" factor about cloth menstrual pads. If every disposable diaper that has ever been changed is still out there, that means that every disposable pad you have used is also still out there. It takes 150-200 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. If your parents were in disposable diapers, you can go and visit each and every diaper that was on them. If you put your children in disposable diapers (as I did for a while), when they have children, you can also take them to go and visit every. single. diaper. that they wore because they. will. still. be. there.  THAT is gross.

So first I wanted to make sure that H & P had enough diapers before I got myself any alternative menstrual solutions because, well, they do cost money and the start-up cost for these two ventures can be daunting. Also, I was lucky enough to have a delayed period for 9 or 10 months while nursing Piper so I did not have a need for any of that. Then I had to burn through all the disposables I still had because I really hate to waste anything and didn't think of donating them at that time (is that even possible?). Finally, when we got our tax return this year, I was able to start this greening process.

I started with the DivaCup and in hindsight, I really have no idea why. I think I was lured in by the fact that you can leave it in for 12 hours, take it out, empty it and put it right back in for another 12. I'm sure busy moms everywhere will also see the appeal of this particular item as we don't always have the opportunity to go to the bathroom and make the sanitary switch.

What is a DivaCup? It's a menstrual cup that sits in your vagina and simply collects the blood. It is minimally invasive and works similarly to that of a tampon so if you are a regular tampon user, this might really appeal to you. However, unlike a tampon, you can reuse your DivaCup for a whole year. Yes, it does cost between $30 and $40 (and there are other brands though I am unsure of their names/costs), but that is a once yearly payment and you are not adding to the landfill mess.

Although I have had some difficulties with the DivaCup, I would still recommend it to anyone who was really interested in trying it. My main problem is that it "rides up" on me quite significantly even though I am wearing the right size. I've been trying to work on my Kegels, but most often forget so I'm sure that is part of the problem. Perhaps if I had delivered vaginally I might not have this problem so if you have, this might really work for you. I have tried tying a string around the base to pull it out and that helped quite a bit. Unfortunately, the string needs to be replaced often so Steve told me he would get me fishing line, but that has yet to happen. I don't want to spend half an hour taking this cup out every time I put it in, so that is where cloth menstrual pads come in.

The larger blue pad is esbaby and the other two are ImseVimse.
If you read my post describing things I bought in Ithaca, you'll know that I have two pads made by esbaby and three from ImseVimse. I decided to try the esbaby ones first and found it to be incredibly uncomfortable, so much so that I had to take it off. And then...I realized I had it on the wrong way. :) When I eventually put it on the correct way, it felt a million times better. It was still just a tad bit bulky though not unpleasant or unbearable. Of the two products I have, I do prefer the ImseVimse to the esbaby because they are much less noticeable yet still very absorbent. I really enjoyed wearing them and actually looked forward to changing to the next cloth pad (is that even possible?).

When it came to washing, I decided to wash them much like I do my diapers. First I ran them through a cold wash with Rockin' Green detergent and then through a hot wash with some vinegar. Then I dried them in the dryer with medium heat. I only have one pad that ended up staining significantly so I stuck that one in the window to get some sun (sorry passersby!). I'm sure if you care about stains you can pre-treat in whatever fashion you choose (as naturally as possible), but I choose not to focus my energy on stains because especially for things like this, it makes absolutely no difference in terms of how the product actually works.

In a nutshell, here are the reasons I think you should switch to mama cloth (or a menstrual cup) over disposables:

Softness: Obviously, having real fabric against your skin is much more enjoyable than plastic. (And having specially crafted silicone inside your vagina is a lot better for you than bleached chemically treated processed cotton.) It might take some time to get used to this feeling, but I really think you will prefer it over disposable pads.

Absorption: My first day is usually extremely heavy but I still only had to change pads twice (put one on, change, put one on, change, put one on - DivaCup/bed). Even the unassuming ImseVimse pads were really absorbent and the only reason I "leaked" (I didn't really, just got a bit on my underwear) is because I had the pad positioned a little weird.

No yuck: OK, this may sound a little weird, but for those of us who have hair in certain places, have you found that with disposable pads the menstrual fluid gets trapped/clotted and stuff there? (Yes, this is an odd thing to discuss, sorry :) ) This always happens to me and it drives me nuts! But, when I wore all cloth this past cycle, I did NOT have this issue! I was really, really clean each time I went to change the pad and this made me very happy.
They're Moveable: Have you ever put a pad in your underwear and realized it was incorrectly positioned, yet when you tried to move it found the stickiness to not work as well? With cloth, you will never have this problem again! The pads are held onto your underwear with snaps (or maybe velcro?) and are fully moveable! You can slide it up and down to wherever it feels best as many times as you want. However, this does not mean that the pad will slide around all over the place while you're wearing it. It might move a bit, but for the most part it stays put unless you act upon it to make it move.

Some drawbacks:

Washing: Those of you who do not use cloth diapers might find washing these a bit of a problem. But don't you already wash  your underwear if it gets stained? Don't you wash your clothes if they get dirty? The best thing to do is not think about it. Just throw them in the washing machine and let that contraption do the work.

Start-up Costs: As I said before, the start-up of anything cloth is daunting. You might look at the prices and think "Holy cow! That's so much!" But, if you add up all the money you spend on pads/tampons for 5+ years, the cost of these pads is so minimal in comparison because they will last for 5 years or more with only a one-time investment.

Are there other drawbacks you can think of? I'd love to hear them :)

Now, if you are interested in trying this method, here are a few avenues for you to check out.

  • Lunapads has a lot of kits where you can try a variety of sizes/absorption levels.
  • Talulah Bean is another option with packages and they have a lot of different patterns to choose from.
  • Glad Rags also has a number of kits, but I believe they are more expensive than most I've found on other pages. 
  • There are also a lot of WAHM shops on Etsy where you could find more inexpensive pads to try.
How many pads do you need? If you do laundry every day, as I did, depending on your flow I think you could get away with having 5 or 6 regular daytime pads and 2 overnight pads. Even on light days you can wear the regular pads and later on, whenever you have the money, you could add some lighter, smaller panty liners to your stash. So if, for example, you decided to go with ImseVimse pads (like the ones I have) and you buy them through Jillians Drawers you could get two 3-packs of regular pads at $14.50 each ($29) and one 2-pack of overnight pads for $18.75, bringing your total to $47.75 - for the next 5+ years of your menstrual cycle. Don't you think that's worth it?

Some final thoughts:
- If you cloth diaper your baby, why not cloth pad yourself? Don't you deserve to have the feeling of real cloth against your skin, just like your baby does?
- If you don't cloth diaper but are considering it, why not test the cloth idea out on yourself? You already make self-sacrifices for your children on a daily basis; consider yourself the eternal experimentee!
- If you have a daughter, imagine how enjoyable you can make the experience of getting her first menses when she picks out the pattern or color pad she wants?
- Water is a renewable resource; land is not.

So, have I convinced you yet?

*Also worthy to note that I have not been compensated in any way for the opinions given here; I simply enjoy sharing things I'm passionate about. *

18 May 2011


I received my first blog award yesterday thanks to the wonderful Melissa of The New Mommy Files: Memories, Milestones and Missteps. Apparently, this means that I'm versatile and will need to continue being versatile in order to have this award make sense. OK, here goes.

In accordance with the law of this award, I'm required to reveal seven things about myself.

BAM! - I have never had more than 3 (alcoholic) beverages in a sitting. Yes I am serious. I just can't do it because....

BAM! - I'm a control freak. The first step is admitting I have a problem and I know I do, which is why I've been working on it for a long time now. I think I've become a lot better, but there are still times when I literally feel physically sick if I am not in control of a situation. Yikes.

BAM! - I was George Washington in high school. No really, I was. In my psychology class junior year, I signed all of my papers as George W., G. Washington, George Washington or any other variation you can think of. I even earned a coveted place on the final exam as the answer to the last question. I'm not entirely sure what the question was, but I'm pretty sure it had to do with how awesome I was at being alive for over 200 years.

BAM! - I played the trumpet from 4th grade through senior year of high school and then off and on afterwards. I was in marching band, jazz band and concert band and I can also tinker on the piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone (duh) and timpani (yeah right). Also, I was drum major. Yes, I was. I'm awesome.

BAM! - And...I sing. I've been in some form of choir since 6th grade of high school be it at school or at church. However, I still get so nervous when I'm about to sing in public that I could almost pass out. I've been trying to overcome that fear for a long time.

BAM! - I took scuba diving in college as my gym. In the pool. It was pretty dope, but I knew I'd never be able to keep up with the requirements to be a certified diver. I still remember the underwater hand signals though.

BAM! - I've been to Canada, Australia, Panama, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin (The last four were a cruise). I long to go back to the Outback. That place has a feeling I have never felt anywhere else and sometimes it still calls me to return (that 16+ hour plane ride is a pretty big barrier though...). 

Let's see, that's 7 things about myself, I've named the fabulous individual who awarded me, so all I have left is to name 7 new award winners and let them know. Here goes:

Nom Nom Yum - I did this to annoy her.
The ArtsyMama - Eh, why not?
Random Mama Brain - Because it's random?
Hybrid Rasta Mama - Because I heart her.
Becoming Crunchy - She's pretty versatile.
Chasing Dreams - Because she just started but I know her blog will be awesome.
Our Small Tribe - Because she's gotten this award before so it will be hard for her to come up with more answers. HAHAHAHA.

Please check out all or most of these lovely women, though you may or may not regret it in the end :)

17 May 2011

There's Just Something About Spaghetti...

Every so often, I get an intense, irresistible craving for spaghetti with meatballs or meat sauce. Of course I can go long periods of time without it, but there's just something about the blend of flavors and the delectable texture as it rolls around in my mouth that keeps me coming back for more...and prevents me from being a full-fledged vegetarian.


Mmm...doesn't that look tasty? I bet you're jealous right now. (Though not quite as jealous as Kelly at Becoming Crunchy who is going grain free right now...sorry :) )

Anyway, the point of this post is to give you my brief yet tasty recipe for garlic bread because a pasta meal is never complete without it.

How I Make Garlic Bread:

PhotobucketLook at this loaf of literal garlic bread I picked up! Of course you can use whatever bread you want, but as my father always says, "Too much garlic is never enough!" This type has garlic cloves embedded into its soft goodness so each bite ends up bursting with garlic, buttery goodness once it's done.

First, I slice the bread into reasonable slices (feel free to define what 'reasonable' means to you.)

Then, after I lay them out on a baking sheet, I sprinkle them with olive oil, oregano and garlic powder. After that, I place the butter atop the spices as evenly as possible, though it depends on whether or not I've actually let it get soft (usually I don't). Then I sprinkle more garlic powder and oregano on top of the butter and throw it in the oven until the butter has melted and it starts to get crispy.

You could really use any spices you desire to tailor your bread to the meal like basil, rosemary or parsley and of course you can always add minced garlic on top of the butter. Even better, you can roast the garlic beforehand and squeeze it out onto the bread so it can melt along with the butter.

Are you on your way to the store yet?

10 May 2011

Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I hate weeding. Let me rephrase that.

I hate weeding.

No different? Yeah, it isn’t any different to me either.
As a child, my mother and I did a lot of gardening. She worked tremendously hard to make our yard a beautiful sanctuary where I spent long summer days fantasizing about fairies and far-off places. I loved watching the flowers change throughout the season from pansies and daffodils to irises and lilies. I also loved being able to eat the fresh vegetables I helped grow and understanding what real, fresh food should taste like. Though I took a break from gardening in my upper teen years, I returned to the tried and true methods I grew up with when I started a family.

I was lucky enough to marry a man who already owned a home so when he found out I wanted to garden, he had an area in the backyard tilled for me. I was newly pregnant during our first summer together but already envisioning the following year and how I would take the baby out to the garden with me every day while I weeded and picked vegetables so he or she could experience the outdoors and learn about our food. Unfortunately, reality is not exactly the utopia I imagined.

One of Heidi's first trips outside.
Children love being outdoors. But children also love moving around a.k.a the opposite of sitting still while mom is gardening. Sure, I still got some stuff done, but with a newly mobile infant, it was difficult to truly concentrate on what I was doing while making sure my daughter wasn’t eating rocks (good for parakeets, bad for children). I tried putting her on a blanket with lots of toys to distract her, but she did not find that nearly as amusing as eating grass. I also attempted to confine her to a swing or stroller, but particularly in the swing, she managed to climb half out of it and then proceed to enlist my help to further her exit.

With my second child, it wasn’t any better. Initially, she was not at all fond of grass and actually found it revolting to the point of tears. My older daughter was also at this time exploring the boundaries, or lack thereof, of our yard and habitually wandered towards the front of the house where there was no fence. Needless to say, I did not get a lot done while they were with me.

Piper in a brand new outfit.
 Still, I had a garden and I got a lot from it. I was able to give my children food I had grown myself and sometimes give it to them straight off the plant. I haven’t given up on teaching them responsibility via horticulture because as long as they are continuously exposed to it, it will become a part of their lives. Right now, they still don’t want to sit still and watch me carefully extract weeds, spread soil or delicately plant seeds, but I know that some day they will. Leading by example is my current MO so I will press on and continue to show love, compassion and dedication towards everything I grow.

They will be weeding before they know it.

"A man is ethical only when life is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as that of his fellow man, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help." - Albert Schweitzer

***Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

09 May 2011

Look What I Made!

I came across Mama's Felt Cafe during the first Carnival of Natural Parenting that I participated in and I was hooked immediately. Her stuff is absolutely amazing and exactly what I'm looking for to slowly replace some of the less-desirable toys we have with ones that I can feel proud about and will hopefully last a long time. And if you don't want to make these things yourself, you can always visit her Etsy shop!

When I saw her tutorial for "Squishy Squares," I immediately thought "Well, that looks like something I can do!" She breaks everything down really well so that you know exactly what you are doing and how you are going to do it. Unfortunately, I am incredibly slow and this task took me for.ev.er. OK, it took about two weeks but it still felt like forever. Anyway, I know mine don't look half as good as hers (please check hers out because they're awesome :)), but they are done and the jingle a little. I've watched both Heidi and Piper play with them numerous times since I made them, so it was worth it.


Please note: I was not compensated at all for my opinions here. I wrote everything of my own free will :)

05 May 2011

The End: 40 Days of Homemade Food

I know I totally slacked on this post, but I'm sure you didn't miss it...until now!

I really don't have anything Earth-changing, spectacular or miraculous to say about our Lenten challenge to eat only at home. While we did basically complete this challenge, we did end up ordering pizza more than I would have liked to and having fast-food (mostly chik-fil-a, which is thought to be the best fast food restaurant) also much more than I would like to. Of course, I journeyed to NY to visit my mother, so I am quite unsure of what Steve did during that time. :)

I will say that this was not as difficult as I thought it might be, which may be partially due to the fact that I cook at home almost every day anyway, but when you know you cannot eat out, you tend to throw things together to eat fairly quick. Even when I was so tired I didn't want to move, I still had to make dinner and I did. I often think about women who were housewives in the '50's or earlier who literally had no choice but to make three meals a day, sometimes with multiple courses, to please their husbands. I wonder how they managed to pull that off while still keeping the house clean and taking care of children and then wash most of their dishes by hand and do a lot of laundry by hand. Ugh, it makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it.

Some how, we all get through each day and still have the will to do it all over again tomorrow. I think making all meals at home really isn't out of anyone's league and is probably a lot more feasible than you think. It doesn't always have to be fancy and doesn't have to make sense. It's food. We need it to survive. We're going to chew it up and digest it anyway so relax a little. There's plenty of room for fancy, put together dinners, but if you do that a couple of times a week, feel free to throw random things together and call it a meal on the other days without any guilt. The point is, you're eating at home, you're eating together as a family and you're eating whole, real foods rather than buying something someone else made that came from who-knows-where.

On that note, here is a recipe for something I made the other day that I found completely tasty.

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 green onion, sliced
1 can tomato sauce
2 handfuls of mushrooms, chopped
1 handful of spinach (or however much fits in the pan), chopped a bit
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

1. I sauteed the onion and garlic in coconut oil, added the mushrooms and the green onion (this is because I forgot I had both of those in my fridge and added them last minute).
2. Add beans and tomato sauce, stir and bring to boil. Throw in spinach, reduce heat to low and allow spinach to wilt.
3. What's that? I forgot to season? Yeah, you bet I did! I took the girls outside and when I came back (this had been sitting on low for about 20-30 minutes), I added all the seasonings above. Serve over brown rice.

02 May 2011

Ithaca Finds

While visiting my mother outside of Ithaca, NY, I was able to get a number of fantastic things. First up, at Mama Goose, I got all of this stuff for free! What? Yes! I was able to sell some older clothes and things to them and I took store credit in return, allowing me to walk out with some new things for Heidi. Plus, I still have a little left over for whenever I get up there again (or if my mother wants to use it), which always makes me happy. I'm cheap so spending as little as I possibly can on anything I buy is my main goal.

PhotobucketIf you are ever in the Ithaca area, I would definitely recommend going there if you have children or are pregnant. They carry both used and new items and everything is usually in really good condition. It's also a really great store for grandparents to go because everything is really cheap and they can go crazy buying nice clothes for their little ones. Example A: My mother purchased 2 dresses and 2 skirts (one each) for Heidi and Piper because they were there.

I was also lucky enough to get to the Ithaca Farmer's Market, a place that has no equal for me yet, and I purchased some awesome blue/purple potatoes to have for Easter dinner. Naturally, there was really minimal stuff at the time I went there (plus we also go there right before they were closing), but I still enjoyed seeing all the evidence of people who truly care for nature and natural living. It annoys me, though, that this farmer's market opened in the beginning of April, yet I cannot seem to find one around me that opens before the end of May and where I live is 10 degrees warmer!


Finally, I visited Jillian's Drawers. I cannot emphasize their awesomeness enough. They are awesome! They have everything: cloth diapers, maternity/nursing wear, quality toys, locally made goods, shoes, slings and carriers, strollers, you name it! Everyone on their staff is equally as amazing, warm and informative, always friendly and willing to help. They have a common room in the store that is used by various groups for meetings about breastfeeding, PPD and even toddler music groups. The employees will often have their children in the store with them and they are also paid a living wage! Even though I hate spending money, I am always proud to give them some because it goes to working mothers who are treated really, really well. Here's what I got:
 I bought a Prorap cover and a Thirsties Duo cover (both used), two locally made mama pads, a set of cutlery for Heidi made from corn or something (I threw the packaging away), a set of spoons for Piper (BPA free) and some more mama pads from Imse Vimse. I was pleasantly surprised by these because I thought there were two in the package but there were three! Once I use them, I will certainly let you know how they work out.

If you ever have the chance to go on vacation to the Ithaca area, I think you will be extremely pleased with what you find. The whole area is very child-centered, Earth-conscious and fun-loving so you will not have a problem finding something to do that fits your lifestyle. Baby wearing and NIP is the norm, as is Organic goods. And they have waterfalls. You can't miss!