Friday, December 7, 2012

Body PAUSE-itive

Welcome to the Body: AMAZING Carnival!

This post was written as a part of the Body: AMAZING Carnival co-hosted by Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy and Amy of Anktangle. Carnival participants were invited to write about how we learn to appreciate the ways our bodies grow and change. Our posts explain some incredible ways our bodies impress and amaze us.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from all of today's carnival participants.

Pause for reflection, pause for admiration, pause for revelation.

This body is so beautiful.  I have so many wrinkles, so few from frowning, so many from laughing and smiling.  When I take the time to look at my face, I see stories and resemblances and time and love.  I see, up close, the work I put into being the best parent I can be, when before I had kids I took advantage of being a so-so friend.  Now that I have kids, I more fully realize the importance of those same friends and try to make up for it... but we know how that goes.  And paying homage to the friends from the past, the ones who helped shaped the future-parent I'd become...all of that lies in the depths of my wrinkles, the ones around my eyes and mouth.  It's not just the wrinkles.  I have stretch marks, too, where my skin stretched to try to accommodate the growing child that reflected the growing mother.  Those marks have faded from a fiery red to silvery slivers, as I hope my temper and sense of righteousness will settle into my children--strong opinions of equality and hope and faith that show themselves with a sparkle.  

This body is so strong.  I have three kids, ages four, three and zero plus.  I was so sad the day I was so pregnant with my third that I had to stop carrying both of my older children, but I had to let my body do what it needed to do to help build this new child.  I expect a lot from my body, and it's sometimes hard to shift the idea of being strong from one thing (physical strength) to another (a more parental, enduring strength).

This body changes.  A few months after my first child was born, a friend commented that I was still...she didn't know quite how to put it... I still hadn't lost all or most of my baby-weight.  I remarked that I was still 'squishy', in a lame, humorous attempt to put her at ease and let her know I knew my body was different.  I had become comfortable with my new body, and wore it proudly.  I was quite squishy, and I loved how my daughter could lay her head on my belly without hitting bone.  I loved my new, rounded appearance.  Each lump or bump or padded bit represented a new spot, a place that didn't exist, but that was somehow now relevant and useful.  I might not keep all of those bumps and whatnots, but I decided to love them in their time.

This body gives.  My body knows what it can give, and it does give.  Do my breasts hold the shape they used to?  Nope.  Do they give life and love, nourishment and comfort?  You bet your tush they do.  My arms give a different kind of hug, not the bear hug I'm known for, but a softer, more soothing hug.  My legs and back give support to the weight of my children.  I give my rides to my kids, sometimes for fun, sometimes out of need to get where we're going:  one child wrapped on the front, one riding in the soft-structured carrier on my back, and the third riding on my shoulders.  Do I want to give this ride?  It's not my favorite, admittedly, but this body gives that ride.

This body is the vehicle of my spirit.  This body is limited only by the weakness of my spirit.  My spirit enjoys the challenge of carrying all of the bags of groceries from the car to the house in one trip; the body answers.  Sometimes the body decides to leave a watermelon or gallon of milk for a second trip.  My spirit enjoys speed and the body answers by running.  When I have no children with me, I find myself running, running, running...running from the car to a building, down halls, all over.  My spirit enjoys headstands--still.  I remember my one of my first headstands in third grade gym class and the power I felt coursing through my self to be able to hold my body upright on my head.  I have never stopped doing headstands.  My spirit enjoys, for the most part, even the mundane tasks of daily life.

This body creates.  These hands work hard to cut, sew, crochet, stir, wrap, paint, bead, and in general create my 'good ideas'.  I love to make things for people.  This body makes food for those who are sick or who have recently had little ones or who have lost family members; it makes holiday presents, birthday cards, treats for the fun of it, baskets and boxes for friends traveling, photo albums for grandparents... There are so many ways my body works for me, without fail, without complaint.

It's good to PAUSE for a moment, to appreciate what my body DOES, rather than lamenting and focusing on what it doesn't.  The first time I heard the phrase "fake the funk" was in Sergeant school in the Army, the idea being we were supposed to pretend like we were good leaders until it happened for real.  So I decided to give it a shot, and I faked confidence.  The most remarkable thing happened--I grew real confidence.  It didn't happen overnight, but it happened.  After the change in my body with my first child, going from the most fit I'd ever been in my life to having a, well, squishy body, I decided to fake the funk of loving my body, and the most remarkable thing happened.  I really loved it.  And I still really love it.  

Now I take time to thank my body, for what it does for me, with me, in spite of me.  It is my ally, I recognize it, I pause to CELEBRATE it.

More to read and love about honoring our bodies at these other blogs. Please visit them all and leave some comment love!

Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy is moved to trust her body, even the fuzzy parts. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

Amy of Anktangle writes about living with chronic pain and how she appreciates the ways her body functions in spite of its challenges. You can also find Amy on Facebook and Twitter.

Mari from Honey on the Bum talks a little bit about how her body has changed and how she loves it and what it does for her. You can also find Mari on Twitter.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about why she's not worried about how her body looks, because it has a much more important job right now.

Joella from Fine and Fair discusses her love and respect for her body as it grows and changes during pregnancy over. Hear more from Joella on Twitter and Facebook.

Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow on how Paganism taught her to accept reality and by extension herself and her body. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares about her love/hate relationship with a nose that she saw as ugly . . . until she started to learn to love it. Amy W. can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Destany at They Are All of Me writes about releasing the negative notions she was taught about her period, and embracing it instead.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children talks about how she had to push through her pre-conditioned comfort level and found herself in a position to naturally be open and honest with her children. More great stuff from Mandy on Facebook.

Lauren at Hobo Mama is not a runner . . . but she proved herself wrong by completing a race. Keep up with Lauren's adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Loving Hard, Not Hardly Loving

This post was meant to be part of the Taboo Carnival, where the topic this fall is I LOVE YOU BUT I DON'T ALWAYS LIKE YOU!, but since I didn't even get my submission in on time, I have no idea if it would have been approved.  Regardless, check out some of the blog entries for the Carnival--there are bound to be some really great reads.

The things I find hardest to like (or, frankly, the things I don't like) in my children are the things I've retrospectively found to encompass or incorporate my most embarrassing or distasteful traits and characteristics.

My Rainbow is four and a half years old, and not for one moment has she ever refused to be heard.  She is persistent in her attempts at communication, and even polite, for the most part.  This sounds good on paper, but what it sounds like to the ear is, "Excuse me!  Excuse me!  Excuse me, So-and-So, Excuse me!"  When she's not feeling civil, she just says whatever message it is she's trying to convey over and over until it's repeated back to her.  Her repetitiveness can be so irritating, especially when I'm answering her.  I do, however, find myself to be very repetitive, and even though I'm an adult and I can make my unforgiving attempts at communication much more's still there.

My Cloud is just over three and he loves hard.  He inspired the title for this blog.  He inspires in me so many things, so much empathy, so much slowing down and listening.  He loves me, he loves his dad, he loves his sister and his little five month old brother.  That's never a question.  Whether or not little Dragon will survive the love sometimes seems to be in question, especially when that love manifests itself as Dragon being the horse and Cloud riding him with the most joyful grin, bouncing up and down as care-free and happy as you'd like any child who's not riding another child to be.  I have to physically remove myself from Cloud's presence when he starts hurting his siblings. I don't just let him hurt them.  That sounded bad.  After telling him in every gentle way I can that we need to be gentler and play in a way that's respectful and blah blah blah, I get to where I want to sit on him.  But what am I known for?  I'm known for rib-crushing bear hugs, for wrestling and rough-housing, for loving hard--and never for hardly loving.

Both of my children are loud.  It hurts my ears.  I'm loud.  I hurt my ears.  Enough said?

The thing that annoys me most about myself is my interrupting.  I try to justify it sometimes and say I'm so excited about a topic that I'm having a hard time keeping my comments, even if it's just a boisterous "uh-HUH!!" to myself.  But even knowing all that, I still have no desire to be with my kids when they're interrupting.  Typically they're trying to interrupt a conversation I'm having with an adult.  It's not that I think the adult is more important; I've taught my kids to come put their hands on my leg to get my attention, and then I cover their hand with my hand to let them know that I know they want my attention, and then I ideally finish my thought.  I don't finish my conversation, just my thought.  Or do I...  Nope, I don't.  I get interrupted.  I really don't kow what to do about it, and it's not something I think about until it happens.  And then I start thinking about my own interrupting...

What helps remind me of the underlying LOVE for them, regardless of any ephemeral issue of disLIKE, is their unceasing resistance to my attempts at molding them or hampering their unfoldment or tying them down so their petals don't bloom into the beautiful flowers they are.  They are stronger than I am, they are innocent but all-knowing, and that always ends up shining through, as does my love for them.  So even when I don't like them, I can still see that glimmer, and admire the persistence or the ferocity.  I hope to always be able to detach myself in such a way that I can see something positive in what they're doing, but if I can't...I'll still always love them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Control Freak

I can joke all I want about my friends being control freaks, but really it takes one to know one, right?

I need to chill out.  Let go.

Why (to me) are Rainbow's art projects beautiful and Cloud's wasteful?  He uses more paper, more glue, more tape, more everything, so WHAT?  I shouldn't let him?  I should micromanage and ask a three year old to understand the greater workings of production and waste?  Should I sacrifice art in the meantime?

NO.  No no no.

I knew in my head what I was thinking, but I didn't feel it until today, when I saw my son creating on the floor his masterpiece.  I'd been with Dragon for a while and had stopped really paying attention to what Cloud and Rainbow had been doing.  Rainbow was sitting at the table making a sparkly hat.  And there was Cloud, on the floor, deep in concentration, pulling long piece after long piece of tape off of the dispenser, twisting them and curling them just right, so focused on taping the brown and purple pieces of paper to each other and to the floor.  After the tape was gone, he started cutting, then he needed glue, and, of course, buttons.  Sometime during the tape I just...softened.  I looked at my little guy, so intent like I rarely see him these days, and I fell in love with him and his uniqueness and I decided to just keep my mouth shut, keep my heart open, and remember he only gets one chance at this.  His understanding the concept of waste will come, but it's not going to come now and that's ok.

I didn't really realize until today that while I give them lots of opportunities for free art, there are hard boundaries.  Since Dragon's been with us, I've not had the time to pay as much attention, and both Rainbow and Cloud have become more self-sufficient and exploratory in their creativity.  Rainbow has blossomed, while Cloud has sort of sputtered.  He wants to cut toothpicks with toddler scissors, he wants to pour the glue out and then not stick anything to anything.  He doesn't really get into the groove like his sister does.  Until today (and really a few times recently, but more so today because Rainbow was completely focused on her own and in a different space.)  Today I saw him all over the floor, getting his own supplies, creating a big project, focused, oh, so focused.  I got sucked in to his focus and just watched him.  I eventually got my camera and took a couple of pictures without disturbing him.

I really need to let go.  Cloud is my greatest teacher for this.

Here are a few pictures.  Please excuse the pull-up.  Ick.

I hope you're able to enjoy your babies for the own unique personalities.  Our version, our creation of the flowers they were meant to be can't touch the exquisite beauty of the flowers they will unfold to be on their own.  I hope you have a lovely day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Too long...

Well, it's been a long dang time since I've posted.  A friend is putting together a blog carnival, and I respect her a lot.  Her topic, which I'll keep under wraps until she puts the word out about it, made my mind start turning again in a blogging sort of way.

It's not that I don't like to blog.  I love to write, I love to share my opinion and advice, which I always hope people will find helpful.  I also hope people will share their views of my advice with me to make it even more helpful.  So why don't I blog very much?'s not that I don't have time.  I do.  I don't like it when people say they don't have the time.  Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but it's such a general excuse.  I just don't make it a priority.  I'm in charge of all of my priorities.  I make my decisions as best I can to fall in line with my priorities.  And there just happen to be other things that I put ahead of blogging.

One of these things sucks my brain right out of my body.  It's called "watching TV", and you may have heard of it.  Now, if I were left to my own devices completely, I probably wouldn't even own a TV.  But my partner watches TV and enjoys it, I choose to spend time with him in a way that he enjoys, and that means I watch TV with him.  Only we react to TV in completely different ways.  First, he can do something I have never been able to do--fall asleep while watching it.  I get sucked in.  I have to know how something ends.  I bite my nails, I sit on the edge of my seat, I have my unfinished project sitting in my lap and my laptop close by for those intense moments when my heart is beating so hard I'm SURE my partner could not possibly fall asleep because it'd be disturbing him so much.  But no, there he is, snoring.  Which leads me to the other way in which we react differently--commercials.  I get so fired up over, and I hate to use this word, STUPID commercials, that I become an irate, nonsensical, stuttering fool, picking apart the commercials (which I call, in the moment, advertisements), speaking loudly and intensely about how asinine they are.  Luckily we have a DVR and I can fast-forward through many commercials in the grand scheme of our TV watching, but sheesh!!!!  Ugh!  And there is he is, snoring, not giving a lick about the crazy ways we are trying to be persuaded to buy...a car.  Or toilet paper.  Or toilet scrubber.  Those are even better, because apparently you can get toilets to basically scrub themselves.  AGH!!  I shouldn't start...

So why have I made this a priority?  I tell myself it's so I can spend quality time with my partner.  This is not quality time.  It's stressful.  My sleep suffers for it because I replay all of the intense stuff, the suspenseful stuff, the moronic commercials in my head over and over and over... and over.  And over.  I try not to.  I meditate, but end up re-focusing on TV.  I tap (EFT), but go off on tangents.  I drink water.  I count.  I do the dead man's yoga pose.  I say my intentions for the night over and over in my head, but the TV stuff creeps in and disturbs my...intentions.  Ha ha!!  Not funny.

So I need to re-think things, but that would require...time.  And what's my lame excuse for not just sitting down and thinking about this?  Well, I just don't have enough time.  :)  So here's my plan.  I want to convince him that TV is not getting us anywhere, that it's a waste of money, that we're losing valuable sleep over it, that we could be doing other things that are more productive or bonding or fun or whatever.   He thinks I'm silly for getting so worked up about TV.  Am I?  I can't even tell anymore.

Since my son Dragon was born (he was born first day of summer and I credit him with bringing to the Pacific Northwest the gorgeous summer we had starting pretty much on that date), I've had so much time I'm not even used to it.  All at once (after that initial healing time, of course) it seems, my kids have been sleeping through the night, my life got bigger in love, but more simple and sweet at the same time.  I do less, I've slowed down.  Dragon actually sleeps.  He knows how, he sleeps for good chunks of time, and the evening (from about 7pm until at least 10pm) is one of those times.  I have finished projects, I have started more projects to finish, I have re-arranged, sold stuff on craigslist, cleaned stuff out, picked stuff up...pretty much, I've gotten into a good routine.  Not a rut, but a routine--except for the TV thing.  It's become a sort of horrible comfort zone, and I've GOT to get out of it, because I really feel like my brain is being sucked right out of my head.

And with that, I'm going to finish crocheting the strap for this bag I'm making for a holiday present, and start the next bag.  I'm not turning on the TV.  :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Funsies

Ok. St. Patrick's Day. Arrived, spent, gone. All of my intentions of blogging about our fun disappeared as well when my son woke up relatively early with leg pains. Poor sugar.

Breakfast was not supposed to be noteworthy. My mom was the one with the big plans--green deviled eggs, green this, green that...and later green veggies and green dip for the folks at my grandma's nursing home. But it didn't work out for her, and she was sad, I could tell, so I made a breakfast with her in mind. I didn't do green, because I really wanted my kids to eat it. So I went with rainbow. We had rainbow eggs (minus blue, I couldn't think of anything blue that was savory enough to go in eggs) with red and yellow bell pepper, purple onion and green cilantro. We had sausage links, which are my gold at the end of the rainbow, because it's a guarantee for getting some protein into my kids. We ate the Irish Gold Soda Bread that we made earlier in the week, and for something blue, frozen blueberries. Aren't frozen blueberries delightful?

Oh! I can't forget the Irish coffee. I mean, it wasn't technically an Irish coffee...but it did have Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream, was close. When my brother and I went to England to visit relatives a little over a decade ago, a cousin told us how to make real Irish coffee. I still don't know if it's the real way to make it, I'm sure there are variations, but his was smokin' good, and this was his recipe.

Pack some brown sugar at the bottom of the coffee cup, about a tablespoon. Then pour in enough whiskey to get it wet. Then pour in a little more. Pour in your hot coffee, and then add cream. No stirring. The act of drinking it causes a bit of stirring to happen, and every sip ends up having a slightly different taste. It's amazing. I recommend it, and I don't think you need to wait until the next Irish-loving holiday. :D

Next Scotch (my partner and the father of my amazing children) and I cut the potato stamps you see for this craft. I did it last year, but just didn't have the right kind of paint (tried watercolor, tempera, markers.) So I researched and came to the conclusion I'd have to use acrylic paints this year. They worked FANTASTICALLY, and we'll be doing it again next year, I'm sure. Here we have Rainbow, in her pretty St. Patrick's Day shirt and a pillowcase smock, stamping shamrocks onto paper. I had that oval ceramic dish and put some dark green and some lighter green and some yellow into it, with the colors a little bit separated. Then I added water and swirled it about a bit. The swirls didn't show up, but there is some color variation. The kids really liked that, so I kept adding colors, using more yellow, ochre (dark yellow), burnt sienna, dark brown, white, and more green. I tried to keep all the colors on the green side. I'm so happy with this project! Each kid painted four sheets of paper.

Here's my potato stamp. I'm so proud.

By his second sheet of paper, Cloud was getting into smearing the paint around.

Then we had snack. This was also not an intentional St. Patrick's Day deal, but we had guacamole, and I'll be damned if it isn't green. Guacamole is one of my favorite things in the world. I used to be this purist snob until I got together with Scotch. He likes to experiment with flavors, and to date we have smashed up nothing short of mouth-watering creations every time. Sometimes we stick with the traditional pico de gallo sort of ingredients, but when he makes it, he often wanders into Tapatio territory, and we're not talking Guadalajara. He uses the sauce, adds cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, Valentina, lemon or lime juice...whatever he feels like at the moment. This particular one had some Tapatio, cumin, salt, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili powder, paprika and cilantro. Cloud ate most of it.

Then we made our St. Patrick's Day treat. I wanted to make something fun and easy. I found a recipe for whiskey balls, but I didn't have the ingredients. So I started looking at other recipes for whiskey balls, and found that most of them called for crushed Nilla wafers (one of the ingredients I didn't have.) Here, I thought, "Hmmm...Nilla wafers? Maybe not so Irish, but my kids will like it." So I found one with chocolate, Scotch went to the store for me (got some more whiskey for himself, as well) and we made some salty, chocolate-y whiskey balls. I modified the recipe, found at (,1613,157164-250202,00.html), just a touch. Instead of adding the powdered sugar, corn syrup, and whiskey to the melted chocolate, I just threw them all in the double boiler and mixed them up as the chocolate melted. And I didn't make 55 balls... Also, I LOVE salt and dark chocolate together. After I made the first three rows, I decided to add some sea salt to the rolling mixture, and rolled the last two rows in that. I had to keep adding more salt to the cocoa and sugar because it stuck better to the balls. The recipe calls for leaving the balls in an airtight container overnight, and today I know why. Yesterday (we couldn't wait) we couldn't taste the whiskey. Today there's a very pleasant albeit very light aftertaste. We're DEFINITELY making these again next year, although I think an earlier-in-the-week project will be to make Nilla wafers from scratch. I'm an ingredient snob.

And then again, dinner...not intentionally noteworthy. I'm not an Atkins girl AT ALL. But when I heard that In 'N Out Burger had hamburgers with lettuce instead of buns, I decided to give it a try (I DO like lettuce) and I fell in love. I mean, I AM a burger girl, and I never really disliked the bun. But after eating one without the bun, and WITH extra, crunchy, fresh lettuce, I was won over. And now that's how I prefer my hamburgers...and cheeseburgers...and green chile cheese burgers with homemade mayo and homemade lacto-fermented ketchup. But I digress. If you like lettuce and if you've never tried it, go for it. It just might change your world. AND lettuce is green! AND we had POTATO chips. HA! So I just had to throw in dinner. This is getting ridiculous.
Here's a fun fact. REALLY fun. Potatoes come from Peru and the Andes, not from Ireland. I know more, but will not be sharing more here. I bet your good friend Google will share. :D

And here's the baby, and the baby decorated for St. Patrick's Day. I guess I'm about five and a half months along. I never got into tracking the weeks.

Hope your day was spectacular. Mine was.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good Idea Number 13,683

I don't like drying some things in the dish drainer, lying flat on a towel , or propped up against the the dish drainer and the towel.

I had a spare vase (really a vase, since all my vases could be considered spare) and some whole coffee beans I liked the smell of but not the taste of. They just weren't oily enough, but they had a soft, pleasant coffee smell.

One day while being frustrated about not having a good way to dry the kids' paintbrushes and while doing major cleaning, I decided to throw away the beans I just wasn't ever going to make coffee with, and BAM! I was struck with Good Idea Number 13,683...or so. I could put the beans in the vase and stick stuff in there to dry!

It works great, when I shove the wet paintbrushes and straws (like the hard kind that come with re-usable smoothie cups) in there, I get a quick whiff of coffee. The items dry very nicely. It's pretty enough for my...decor. It's simple. It doesn't take up much space. I love it. Happy to share it with you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fun, Kid-Friendly Bread Recipe for St. Patty's Day Bread

Confession: I don't really enjoy holidays very much. It's not just the consumerism aspect. It's the cutesy aspect. Everything's so damn cute and festive. I'm not a particularly grumpy person. I'd call myself cheerful, actually. But cute and festive I am not. And I'm ok with that.
I do, however, love the color green, and I love clovers, and, And Irish car bombs. So I do have a little more fun celebrating St. Patrick's day than say...Valentine's Day. I'm glad they're almost back to back. I love replacing hearts with clovers for the hot second that disappears before Easter pastels take over.

And this year my kids, who I'm going to refer to as Rainbow (my almost four year old daughter) and Cloud (my two and a half year old son), are old enough to do a few more crafty things than they've been able to. So as we finished off our second pint of Guinness...

Just kidding. Cloud loves beer, but since I'm pregnant, we're not drinking that much these days...
This year I decided we'd try a recipe! It's called Irish Gold Soda Bread. I found the recipe at Apples4theTeacher, but modified it a bit. The Gold comes from the golden raisins that are in the recipe. Think Gold at the end of the rainbow. For funsies. Raisins are not typical for Irish Soda Bread.

I didn't want to have a ton of bread laying around, so I made half for myself and the family, and I gave a quarter each to the kids to play with. It was a bit tricky doing the measurements, but this is what worked for us:


  • Large 1 3/4 c. flour for me, very scant 1 c. flour for each kid
  • 1/8 c. brown sugar for me, 1/16 c. for each of the kids (this was actually pretty easy because since brown sugar is supposed to be packed into the measuring cup, I just cut it in half with a knife, took out my half, cut the remaining half in half and gave each kid one portion)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder for me, 1/4 Tbsp. for each kid
  • Very scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda for me, very scant 1/4 tsp. for each kid
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins for me, 1/4 c. purple raisins for Cloud (he loves them, won't touch the golden ones) and none for Rainbow (ew!, she says, I'm not a raisin kind of girl!)
  • 2 C of buttermilk
  • 1 egg
For the buttermilk and the egg, I first measured out the buttermilk, added the egg, whisked it in completely, then measured out 1/2 c. of what was in the bowl for each kid and took the remainder for myself. I really didn't want to have to divide up an egg into...bits.

Then we followed the directions mostly as they were posted. My modifications are after the asterisks. **


  1. Allow the oven to heat up to 375 degrees. **We preheated and started preparations immediately. Cooking with kids always takes longer.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. **We used a silicone liner . It's awesome.
  3. Place the flour into a large mixing bowl. **I had the large bowl. Each kid had a smaller one. I just don't have three large mixing bowls.
  4. Dump in the brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda and toss to combine well.
  5. Fold in the raisins until incorporated into the dry mixture well.
  6. Pour the buttermilk into a separate small bowl.
  7. Break the egg into the buttermilk and whisk until completely combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated together and soft dough has formed.
  9. Flour a flat surface lightly and transfer the dough to the surface.
  10. Knead the dough 10 times or until the dough is pliable and smooth. **10 times was about right for us, but Cloud's got a little extra love.
  11. Form the dough into a large mounded round. **The mounds were small. For reference, later in the blog I have my hand, which isn't that big, over my larger loaf to show how big it is. I'd call it a nice size, nice enough to not overdose on Irish Gold Soda Bread.
  12. Place the dough on the prepared cookie sheet and use a sharp knife to cut a shallow X in the middle of the mound.
  13. Bake the bread for 45 minutes or until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. **I started the baking all together on one cookie sheet. I pulled the kids' loaves out at about 25 minutes and I pulled mine out at 35 minutes. I'd call them perfect.

And that's it. Pretty fun. Very tasty with butter. Exponentially more so. Stay tuned for more St. Patrick's Day activities...just don't get your hopes up for good Easter ones. :)

Honey on the...Burn?

Yup. On the burn. A few years ago a friend of ours told us about putting honey on really bad burns, even sunburns. My mom tried it when she burnt her hand on my stove. She calls honey the bane of her existence, and it was hard to convince her to try. We wrapped her hand overnight and the next day she couldn't feel anything.

So... a couple days ago I was making naan in my cast iron pan in the broiler. I was using coconut oil, and I misjudged and kind of tossed the rolled dough into the pan. The coconut oil splashed all over the inside of my arm (got on my clothes, too, but the arm was the only exposed skin.) I ran my arm under cold water, realizing I wouldn't be using coconut oil as first aid in this situation. :) Then I went to my cupboard, pulled out the honey, applied to the inside of my forearm, and left it for the duration of the evening. Because it was a grease burn, it was, well...greasy. So the honey kept sliding off, and I'd slide it back on. I admit it, I took a few...tastes. Tasted just like honey. Mmm...

When it came time to go to bed, I put a bit more on, wrapped it so that honey wouldn't get all over my bed and kids (and so I wouldn't wake up to my daughter licking my arm) and when I got up in the morning I took off the bandage and VOILA! Couldn't even feel it. Now, two days later, I still can't even tell I have a burn. Except for looking at it, of course.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My One-Stop Cloth Diapering Opinion

I love cloth diapering. I thought in the beginning that it would be more of a hassle than disposable diapering, but that I'd do it for the health of my kids' bums and to lessen my impact on the environment. I ended up loving cloth diapering, not minding any of the bits involved. I thought my biggest problem would be storing know. When you're out and about and your baby poops and instead of putting the diaper and the poop in it in the trash like you would a disposable, taking it with you. It could be a bit cumbersome carrying that much...stuff around. But I'm strong, I found the system that works for me, and here's my sharing.

I like prefolds because I like cotton against babe's bum. I have used pockets, all-in-ones, all-in-twos, covers, you name it. I like the softness of prefolds, and they can be used with any type of cover. They don't work so well with all-in-ones, very bulky, but a prefold could be used to increase absorbency during night time.

Confession: I had a baby who woke every forty minutes to an hour for over two years. We did not cloth diaper at night. The thought of doing even more at night than I was already doing was so overwhelming. I was sleep deprived, nutty, it what you want. Nights were not my strong point, and I wasn't getting much help in the beginning. So we did a bit here and there, but for the most part we had disposable nights. Still, environment-wise, I think one diaper a day in the trash is way better than what it would have been.

So I have a favorite cover, of course. Sarah over at Softbums ( designed, developed and patented the BEST cloth diaper cover ever. She actually made a system where you can snap in inserts of different sizes and materials depending on whether you have a heavy wetter and whatnot. But like I said, I like prefolds, so I only used the shells, not the system. Her diapers are...amazing. They really are one-size. She's got pictures of the shells on teeny-tiny babies and big ol' toddlers. Same diaper. So if at first glance they seem expensive, remember you're only buying ONE set of shells and not having to replace them after intervals. The shells can be used several times if the prefold/insert only has pee. Just take out the prefold, put it in the laundry bag (more on that later) and hang the shell to dry. After I introduced solids to my kids (that's when their poop AND pee changed to start stinking) I'd put a few drops of lavender oil and some water in a spray bottle and give them a little spray. I'd grab a dry cover off the line or grab a fresh one, put in a prefold and BAM! Done. Then, after a few hours, I could go back and use the ones I'd used earlier in the day or the day before...

As for the laundry bag. I'm not fancy, and I just used a bag by the toilet. I didn't use a pail because it would have taken up too much space in the bathroom, and it would have been another thing to clean. I checked out some large wetbags and saw they were one layer of PUL, so I bought some PUL and made a couple of wetbags. They were about as big as a standard pillow case. I know this because before I bought the PUL I made a wetbag out of an old pillow case. I lined it with nylon and added a drawstring. Way too fancy for what I needed. I mean, I still use it, but after checking out the other wetbags, I just made some simple ones. I'd fit about three days worth of diapers into the bag, toss in my shells from the line that needed to be washed (those could accidentally go unwashed for a while, so I had to be diligent about making sure I threw them in) and there was a nice-sized load of laundry. It's important to remember that too few diapers won't have as much friction in the washer and won't wash as well, and that a load too large will not have enough space for the scrubbing action. I'd just throw the wetbag in the washing machine right along with the diapers, inside out. FIRST I'd do a cold rinse-only cycle with vinegar. SECOND I'd do a hot, heavy soil wash with an extra rinse (temperature doesn't matter for rinse.) Then I'd often hang dry both the prefolds and the shells, but at least once a month the shells need to be dried, and the drying really does help with the softness for the prefolds. Drying the shells causes the plastic part of the PUL to swell and close around the thread at each spot where there's a hole. I mean, really, each spot where there is a needle hole is a spot where leaking can happen if you don't take care of the diaper properly, and at least occasional drying is one way to take care of them and prevent leaking from being able to happen.

There are a lot of good, baby-friendly, environmentally friendly detergents out there. The better the detergent, the longer the life the diapers and the better the absorbency. Detergents should not have enzymes, fabric softeners, optical brighteners or fragrances or dyes. Charlie's Soap makes a great detergent. It's just plain old laundry powder and quite inexpensive per load.

I used a diaper sprayer, also called a mini-bidet. It connects to the toilet line, they usually have some kind of thing that attaches the head to the toilet or a wall, and it's so convenient to be able to spray the poop off the diaper (any kind of diaper, not just prefolds) before throwing it into the diaper bag. Read reviews of sprayers. Some of them are awful, and I'd stay away from those. Mine has been in use for about four years, and we've had no problems. I just read reviews and chose one that other people found sturdy and well-made.

Next: diaper wipes. If you're using cloth diapers, why not use cloth wipes? You'd probably want about 40 of them. They're easy to make, a couple of layers of flannel or a layer of flannel and a layer of terry cloth. It's easy to use those baby washcloths. A little bit of friction is nice for getting poop off, but remember the butt of a brand new baby is sensitive, so be kind. It's easy albeit expensive to buy them. They get thrown in with the wash. Wipe solution is really easy to make. This is all for poop and pee...doesn't need to be fancy. For each cup of water, add one tablespoon of oil (olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil...jojoba, apricot kernel, whatever you want) and one tablespoon of baby-friendly soap, like Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild. After the kid's got a few months under his belt, adding some essential oil is ok, but look first to see if the oil is safe for babies and how much to use. I liked to drench and then ring out about 20 wipes at a time. I kept mine in a plastic airtight container. Keep any extra solution for the next batch. For going out, I'd put about six wipes into a ziplock bag and keep it in the diaper bag. For longer outings I'd probably throw in a couple more because they're great for more than bums.

And what about going out? You'll know soon if you have a heavy wetter or if your baby poops frequently. I only needed to have a few covers with me, and I'd take in the diaper about five prefolds and I always left about ten in the car. I got mine on craigslist, and I got a bunch, so I could stash them all over the house and in the car and didn't have to worry about running out. I'd take my wipes already wet. I'd also take two wetbags. One was the poop bag, and in it I'd put anything that touched poop, including clothes if there was a blowout, and all of the pee prefolds. In the other wetbag, the shell bag, I'd put the shells that were only peed in. This way I could still re-use shells (they didn't dry in there, but they weren't really wet, just slightly damp, and really the dry prefold was what was touching the skin) and I wouldn't have to carry as much stuff with me. I was paranoid about poop leaks into the rest of my diaper bag, so I usually kept the poop bag, which was smaller, inside of the shell bag. When I'd get home I'd turn the shell bag inside out to air out, and hang it up with the shells. The poop bag would get turned inside out and put in the wetbag by the toilet. I had about four wetbags altogether, and so if I was going out again before laundry day would grab another poop bag to take with me, grap the shell bag and some shells off the line, re-stock my ziplock bag of wipes, and head on out. You really do get your system.

For the teeny teeny tinies...freshly born babes... my favorite was to just use a prefold with diaper pins on either side. They don't move that much, so diaper pins aren't scary for the poke-factor. They have those clips still on their umbilical cords, the whole thing is big and awkward... I didn't even use covers unless we were going out, and we didn't go out before their cords fell off. Mine peed such a tiny amount that it wouldn't soak all the way through a prefold, but I could tell right away if they were wet and could change them so they weren't sitting in their stuff.

Well, I think that's it. If you have questions or comments, please do ask or share. I'd love to be able to give my opinion and help, because I learned so much from trial and error, I experimented with so many kinds of diapers, it took a while to find my groove, and before I did cloth diapering was a bit frustrating. But when I found it, I found it, and I rocked it. I hope you do, too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I put the 'fun' in functional -- Apron Tutorial

Ok. First tutorial. Ever. We'll see how this goes.

This is the apron. I tried to make a pillowcase dress for my daughter and it failed miserably. I think the pillowcases were too thick. She said, "No! I wanted a fancy pillowcase dress!" I think I'll be making the dress out of something else, because even if I had not failed, it still would not have been...fancy. So. I'm not a fancy kind of girl, and this isn't a fancy kind of apron. But it's fun, I don't mind getting it dirty, and it is VERY functional.
I tried on the pillow case dress to see if it would fit around my hips and bum, and it did, but barely and not terribly comfortably. So I started fresh with two more pillowcases (and two more my color-style, as well) and cut the material up the back so that it tied in the back rather than being a slip-on. First I laid them on my surface (I don't have a good table or area, so I just used my living room floor carpet) and lined them up so that the inner layer would be sticking out of the bottom a bit. I laid right down on top of the pillowcases with the lower most edge at my knees and marked with a pen where my waist was. This was my measuring tape-less way to figure out how long I wanted it. Then I cut off the tops so they were even (the tops being the edges that were sewn) and stuck the inner one inside of the outer one.

Then I cut out what would have been arm holes for the pillowcase dress. I realized while I was...struggling into the dress that those arm holes were an awesome access point to my jeans pockets. So I decided to keep them.

When I cut them out, I realized after I opened them up that I had PERFECT pocket shapes.
So I decided I'd like to have lined pockets, with the blue side facing out, and nothing fancy. I turned the pocket-to-be upside-down and pinned along the top to give the final product a nice, rounded feel.

I did that for both pockets. Then I hemmed all the way around the entire apron, one long hem-job.

Then I folded down the top of all three portions so that I'd have a place to put a belt or tie. I hadn't yet decided what I was going to do for that.

Then I pinned on two washcloths to act as small towels. I LOVE to wipe my hands on my thighs. I wanted some reinforced area where I could wipe, wipe, wipe, and even get a little friction-y scrubby action going if I needed. Towels seem to get more absorbent the wetter they are (up to an extent, of course), so I decided to just put some washcloths there.

The large size of the washcloths didn't leave much room for pockets, so I staggered them and added a little pen pocket out of the scraps of the blue material. I made a pocket out of the orange material that was pretty big and put it below the pockets you can see in this picture. It's as wide as the area between the washcloths and it goes to just below the line of the orange pillowcase. You can see in the last picture where it looks like the orange line dips down a bit. That's the bottom of the big pocket. It blends in a little, but I don't mind. I love it.

I pinned them all on, sewed them on, and then had to decide what to do about a belt. I ended up cutting the extra material from the tops of the pillowcases in the longest direction I could, in strips about an inch and a half wide. I folded the strips into thirds lengthwise, pinned them to the next strip all folded over and tucked in, saving the blue pieces for the ends, and sewed right down the middle with a zigzag stitch. I'm calling it the 'whatever belt'.

So there's the apron all laid out. I forgot to take a picture of it with the belt in it.

For funsies I tried the apron on with my arms in the...well, the arm holes that became pocket-access spots. I was thinking if I was frying food or something, I could pop the apron from around my waist up to the top for some coverage. Seems like it'll do the trick. I'm very pleased with this apron. The pillowcases were purchased at Goodwill. I had some new washcloths, but in hindsight I think I'd use some that had been washed and dried a few times. That seems to increase absorbency. So it's going to be a few washes before my washcloths are in prime condition. But how awesome to make a 'fun'ctional apron out of re-purposed items. This apron took me about two and a half hours, including laying it out to take pictures. I'm definitely a novice. And I don't care too much about fancy, like I said. So if you're a better seamstress or care more about looks, your time will vary...but probably not too much.

Have a good one! Please link back to this blog if you use this tutorial and/or the pictures, and comment if you do. :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baking soda and water

During my first pregnancy, my mother-in-law gave me a great home remedy for heartburn/indigestion. See, I have no torso. I mean, I have one, but it's so short, it's not good for much baby carrying. I do really well during pregnancies, but my baby, pretty early on, presses my food back up into my esophagus. After three pregnancies, I've learned I can somewhat alleviate the discomfort by not eating yeasty breads and whatnots. But that doesn't necessarily do the trick. Water makes it worse (a LOT worse), and I start getting dehydrated, then cranky... ugh.

So my mother-in-law told me she had major heartburn during her pregnancies and said her main remedy was to put a teaspoon or so of baking soda into a couple ounces of water, stir, and sip. Slowly. Very slowly. If you drink it too fast, you'll drink too much, and there's really a very fine balance between enough to neutralize the burn of what comes up (we're not fixing the problem, we're definitely treating the symptom with this one, so we're not stopping stuff from coming up, we're just helping the way it feels) and burping. Big burps. Not big loud belches, but big, baking soda and meal flavored burps that feel like they come from the intestines. So the way you do it is take a sip, wait a minute or so, take another sip, wait another minute or so, until you're feeling better (this is all after you start experiencing the burn.) Then you wait and you don't drink anymore until you feel more burn, which is usually a few hours for me. This little concoction can be left by the bed to be used for the first bit after bedtime. But do let me warn you--it tastes absolutely disgusting in the morning. It's definitely best to chuck it and make it fresh if you're needing it in the morning. It will taste something like the rotting fish at a poorly-cared-for marina.

And that being said, I hope you have a wonderful day and that this can be of some help to you or someone you know. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Honey...On the Bum

Yup. This first post should give an indicator of what kinds of things interest me.

Honey has got to be one of the best things in the world, and it has so many uses. My sister-in-law told me about putting it on the pad or adult diapers a mother wears right after she has a baby so that any healing down there goes more smoothly. It worked great for me for both of my kids (two tears with the first, and stretching for the second) AND it was comfortable. I was horrified that the honey would get all stuck in the hair and be smooshy and icky. But it wasn't. It kept any open areas from sticking to the pad/diaper, and it was cool, which was refreshing and nice after the burning of the delivery. I just kept a honey bear next to my squeeze bottle, and would put some on the pad before pulling up my undies! Voila!

I was pretty lucky about my kids' bums--no bad or lingering diaper rashes for either. I don't know if honey played an important role in limiting the duration of the rash, but I did put honey right on their bums after diaper changes at the FIRST sign of a rash, and by the next diaper change, all signs would be gone. One diaper rash for my daughter did linger, so I just...used more honey! Each diaper change, with plenty of airing out time between diapers. Their bums were easy to clean during diaper changes, no sticky-icky to wash off.

So there we have it. First post. About one of my favorite yummies in the world!