Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baby Fuzzy Brain

I apologize to my few regular readers. Lately, I just can't seem to form a coherent thought. I spend more and more time staring off into space while my toddler destroys something fundamentally important. I spend 20 minutes looking for my purse before remembering that it's in my hand. I walk into a room and don't remember why, but while I'm at it, that reminds me to hang up those shelves I bought 2 months ago and never took care of. Then I walk out the door without doing that, either.

I have a severe case of "impending baby brain." Right now, I can't seem to focus on much of anything. So I apologize, because while I would love to be able to read your blogs and comment, my brain has turned into a mushed banana and focusing on reading something other than light comedic dialog has proven futile again and again. I just keep staring at the same paragraph and wondering why my feet are cold? Oh yes, because I never put my slippers on this morning. Silly me. :)

On the plus side, the husband, the toddler, the baby-to-be, and I are doing just fine. The toddler is over the 95th percentile for height, which means he's really freakin' tall. He can reach just about anything including the ceramic plate I just ate from that I really don't want to break, the computer keyboard, the library books that I stupidly left on the table, etc... The husband is cussing out his workplace again, which is completely normal... the baby-to-be has found my cervix and seems to know that there's a door there somewhere so she's trying to beat it down (ow)... and I am staring at a cartoon person on the front of a book and thinking "if only I could remember what I was going to do 5 minutes ago."

Oh yeah. I was going to make a list. Sometime in the next 2 months I might actually get it done. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What You Think When You're Pregnant

This is what's going through a pregnant woman's mind, in case you wanted to know...

Week 4: My period is a day late, am I pregnant?
Week 5: Oh my God I'm pregnant!!!
Week 8: Oh my God I'm sick to my stomach... what the hell is this baby doing to me?
Week 10: AAAAH I have baby poisoning. Yep, "baby poisoning" is the right word to use.
Week 11: Oh this nice cold toilet bowl feels good against my face...
Week 12: Why is my husband/family/boyfriend such an IDIOT? He left the toilet seat up again and now I want to punch his face in!
Week 13: I never want to eat another saltine cracker EVER again.
Week 15: The morning sickness is gone... oh no! Am I miscarrying?
Week 17: Wait, what happened to the ice cream? Did I really eat it ALL yesterday?
Week 18: Oh no, I can't feel any kicks yet! Is my baby alive? What is wrong with me?
Week 20 (or whenever you got your ultrasound): Oh my God! There s/he is! My baby is so cute!
Week 21: I'm only halfway done???
Week 22: Oh this picture of a kitty is so cute. *Starts bawling*
Week 23: It's seriously only been another week? When am I going to be DONE?
Week 24: OK my baby might survive if it's born now, I really am going to be a mom!
Week 25: What if I'm not a good mom? What if my baby grows up to hate me? What if I can't handle having a child?
Week 26: Seriously, the morning sickness is back??? WTF?
Week 27: Oh wow I'm SO tired.
Week 28: Where did I leave my car keys? Oh well it's too much work to find them, I'm going back to bed.
Week 29: AM I DONE YET???
Week 30: Only 10 more weeks. Am I a bad mom for thinking that I just want him/her to be born now?
Week 31: OMG the baby is almost here and his/her room isn't finished yet! What am I going to do, I only have 30 onesies and my hospital bag isn't even packed yet!
Week 32: OK baby, STOP kicking my ribs now, I'm going to have broken ribs because of you...
Week 33: Is this a contraction?
Week 34: What will labor be like? Can I handle it? I can't even put on my own socks!
Week 35: OK this baby can really come out anytime now...
Week 37: Yay full term! Time to birth this baby...
Week 38: It's only been a week? Come on out baby!
Week 39: I wonder if it's too soon to drink castor oil? Eat spicy foods? Have lots of sex?
Week 40: OK baby GET OUT! Yes, please strip my membranes!
2 hours later: Can I make another appointment today? I want my membranes stripped again, it didn't work the first time. I have to wait a whole week to do it again???
Week 41: Please? Mommy will buy you an XBox if you just get out now! I wonder if it's a crime to break your own water...
Week 42: What do you want from me?? A pony? I'll buy you a pony, a rocketship, anything you want just get OUT!
Early labor: Is this it? OMG I need to get to the hospital pronto!
Active labor: Come on baby just get out...
Transition: I can't do this!!!
Seeing baby: WOW, s/he's so tiny, didn't I just give birth to a train?
2 weeks later: OK baby, you can get back in the womb now, you were quieter in there...

Sock Diaper Wipes?

A couple of days ago I went through all our socks (yes the WHOLE tote of them!) and got out the holey ones to throw away.

Only, instead of throwing them away, I cut them up into diaper wipes for the new baby.

Sounds like a BORING afternoon, but it gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

1. No longer would I have to wear holey socks! Yay!
2. No longer would 20+ holey socks clog up our already jumbled sock tote. (It's a sock tote, not a sock drawer, because we have too many socks to fit in a drawer.)
3. 20+ holey socks would NOT be clogging up space in the landfill. :) Your welcome, Mother Earth.
4. How many diaper wipes does a new baby go through in a week? Well... a lot! A. Your welcome again, Mother Earth, and B. Hooray for having diaper wipes that do not have a ton of chemicals, are free, and are re-usable.

Now to do the same thing with Husband's holey underwear.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stay at Home Mom

I really dislike being dependent.

At age 12, I started really resenting the fact that I was so dependent on my parents. I wanted to be as independent as possible, but became surly over the fact that I couldn't drive, couldn't live on my own, couldn't be hired to work, etc... As a homeschooler, I was already pretty much in charge of my own education, or at least I wasn't being micromanaged when it came to school. That responsibility made me happy. I just wished I could be entrusted with more decisions in my own life. This attitude lasted all through high school up until I moved out of my parent's house.

Now, I'm facing the same sort of resentment, and I'm really trying not to let it get to me. I'm a stay-at-home mom, which means I'm depending on my husband to provide financially for me while he is depending on me to watch our son, farm, and house.

I love being a stay-at-home mom! I love the independence that comes from setting my own hours, work schedule, and pace. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get a big project done despite a toddler running around and trying to ruin my efforts, and I love the flexibility of being able to take a trip to the grocery store or library on MY schedule. When I worked outside the home, I was miserable. I was micromanaged and I didn't get along well with my managers. I thought I did a good job and I certainly wasn't slacking, but I felt constantly watched, criticized, and judged. Often, I felt like expectations weren't clear and I therefore couldn't live up to them. Being a stay-at-home mom is a lot like homeschooling, I can get what I need to get done and not worry about the things that inevitably don't get done.

However, I really dislike the fact that I don't get paid for it! It rubs me the wrong way to have to ask my husband to pay for something. I hate asking for "his money" and I hate just taking "his money." And he hates it too! I know he feels like he has to constantly evaluate my purchases because he doesn't trust me to spend his money wisely. It's a big fat thorn in my dream job. And I'm not sure how to fix it, either. Hopefully, the farm will become prosperous enough to provide me with a little money of my own. Or, after the kids have grown a little, I could get a part time job or a home-based business. Or, my husband could just learn to TRUST me with OUR money... but I'm not sure if that will ever happen.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baby Brain

...I forgot what I was going to post.

.... This seems to be a perpetual state lately.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ultrasound! :D

Today I had my ultrasound! I got to see this little baby that's growing inside my uterus. She... yes, SHE, was being camera shy so I didn't get any really cute pictures like I did with my son.

However, I am so stoked that I'm having a daughter! I can't believe it! :) To me, a son and a daughter are just so perfect, I'm wondering what I ever did to deserve this happy life. She looks happy and healthy and everything is measuring normal.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Parenting Naturally on a Budget Part 3: Laundry

These are just a couple tips to be more cost-efficient when doing your laundry, and better for the environment at the same time.

1. Wash most or all of your laundry in cold water.
Most laundry gets just as clean in cold water. It's a simple step to take. Exceptions are washing cloth diapers, clothes or sheets with bodily fluids on them, or anything that has sopped up massive quantities of milk (such as my milk-straining or cheese-making cloths. Or spit up rags.) Washing underwear and socks in hot water is the norm, but honestly I haven't found a difference in cleanliness if I only wash them in hot every other time.

2. Use less soap.
Most people use too much soap. The recommended amount of soap on the jug of detergent is usually too much. You can be just as effective by using 1/2 the recommended amount, or 2/3 if you want to be safe.

3. Make your own laundry detergent!
If you are concerned about the chemicals in commercial laundry soap, or have sensitive skin, then make your own! There are many recipes on the internet, and I will post one here. The powdered form usually does the best, but some washers will only take liquid detergent.

2 Cups Soap, finely grated (Fels Naptha is the most commonly used kind, but I make my own organic soap!)
1 Cup Washing Soda (Not Baking Soda- washing soda. I found it in my grocery store but you might have to go to a department store or Fleet Farm.)
1 Cup Borax (I found this at Fleet Farm. Sometimes grocery/department stores also carry it.)

Mix well and store in an airtight container. Use 2 TBSP per load.

Easy, huh? :) All ingredients are pretty darn cheap, and making laundry soap isn't hard at all. What soap you use determines how "natural" the detergent is. Borax is pretty strong stuff, so don't let any little kids near it. But it's also a great cleaning agent for heavy duty jobs as well. Sometimes when I have a really messy clean-up (like cat pee on the carpet) I'll mix some borax and baking soda with water and wash with a rag. It does the job quite nicely!

4. Line-dry if you can.
If you live in a neighborhood that will allow you to line-dry your clothes, do it! It'll save you money and be better for the environment. Some people experience scratchy clothes when they line-dry, and if this happens, just add some vinegar to the rinse cycle before you hang them out to dry.
Also, they make "laundry trees" for winter use. You put the trees indoors and hang laundry on those. I love using these because in addition to drying the laundry, they also humidify your house! :) You can also use these in the warmer seasons if you put them in front of open windows and it's not too humid out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Potty Training Journal

Day 3:

1. He now poops on the floor right next to his potty, but won't go inside it. Augh!

2. I... think he ate some of his own poop. :( Not dwelling on that too much...

3. He will sit on the grown-up potty as long as I let him read his dinosaur book while he's up there. :) Still never used it for its intended purpose, but at least he'll sit and try.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Potty Training Journal


Here's how my day went.

1. Kept him in a disposable while we ate breakfast and I cleaned up the house, getting everything off the floor, rolling rugs up and storing them because I KNEW what I was getting into!

2. Set him on the potty while I went too. He peed! YAY! Annnnnd then subsequently tried to play with the pee...

3. On second thought, I don't think he has the concept quite down. Put the potty in easy reach of him and he decided to put all his toys in it.

4. He now stands in the potty with both feet, puts toys in the potty, and tries to play with the poop that's on the floor. I am frantically trying to wipe up his accident with one hand while holding him at bay with the other.

5. He is now bored with the potty and won't sit on it for more than 2 seconds. I read to him: didn't work. Brought out a new toy: didn't work. Sang "itsy bitsy spider" with hand motions: didn't work. Guess he just doesn't want to sit still now.

6: Just woke up from his nap. He sat on the potty for a while: nothing happened. Then I put him in a cloth diaper and 2 seconds later: poop. Changed his diaper, sat him back on the potty: nothing. Of course.

7. Then again, he has been laughing and happy the entire day. Guess I am doing something right...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pregnancy Commandments Part 5

9. Thou shalt not covet thy pregnant woman's baby name

If you're a friend or relative, and you like a name we picked out, don't say "oh that's a wonderful name, I think I'll name my puppy that." It's not a puppy name, it's a BABY name, more specifically, it's OUR baby's name and OUR intellectual property. OK, so most baby names are not our intellectual property, it just FEELS like it sometimes. Either way, name your puppy something else.

Penalty: We might yell out "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT! I'M GONNA SUE YOU!" in a loud, angry voice. It might startle you enough to reconsider. Or, the conversation might go something like this, "Well, I'm glad that you like the name. However, it'd be too confusing to have 2 Jades in the family. I guess I'll have to give your daughter a nickname, like 'Wubby-wubby'."

10. Thou shalt not dictate to thy pregnant woman how to raise her child.

Maybe you've had 13 kids, maybe you just like to discuss childrearing despite having no real experience. But there's a difference between sharing tricks of the trade and dictating how someone else parents their child.

For example... Helpful: Using crisco or petroleum jelly on baby's bottom helps with diaper rashes. Unhelpful: If you let your baby sleep with you, he'll never learn to sleep in his own bed and become a dependent 30 year old still living in his parents' basement. Helpful: Sometimes leaving a fan on will help soothe babies to sleep. Unhelpful: Letting your baby cry for 5 minutes is cruel and wrong, if you do that you deserve to have your baby taken away!

Trust us, we have researched parenting methods and probably have figured out if we're going to spank or not spank, use cloth diapers or disposables, let our child run on the freeways or be strapped down in a padded room for their own safety. And if we don't know yet, we'll figure it out. Giving us tools to work with and use/discard as necessary is a lot different then judging a parenting method because you would never use it. If you have a solution to a common problem, by all means, we're all ears. If you want to put other parents down because obviously your way is better, shut it. We have better things to do than listen to such things. Like, painting the nursery for example.

Penalty: Bitch slap, with a "come to your senses!" in an imperious tone.

Pregnancy Commandments Part 4

8. Thou shalt not make dumb comments or ask dumb questions.

It's pop quiz time. Which is the correct response? Situation: A heavily pregnant woman waddles into work. You thought her due date was a week ago. You say... A. "Wow, haven't you had that baby yet?" B. "Look out, here comes the bowling ball!" or C. nothing, but get out of her way. I'll give you a hint, it's not A or B. A nice "good morning" would be fine, but no need to mention the baby at all. If she's still waddling around, she obviously hasn't had it yet, so no need to ask her if she has. And likening pregnant women to round objects, or waddling animals, is just downright rude.

Unless you're going to be in the delivery room with us, it's also rude to inquire of the status of our cervix, or sex life, or tell us how much your labor hurt or how much went wrong. First of all, we don't especially want to discuss our cervix, mucus plug, hemorrhoids, or vaginal discharge with casual acquaintances, co-workers, or extended family. Occasionally, pregnant women like to pretend that our bodies are private and maintain the delusion that the various fluids and developments within are NOT topics of casual discussion. To a close friend, it might not be embarrassing to discuss, but better err on the side of caution.

Secondly, complete strangers need not ask personal questions such as "were you trying, or was it an accident?" (Nope this baby is completely unasked for, just like your comments) or "you do know they make a pill to prevent that, right?" (Why no sir, in fact, where do babies come from?) or, if we're having twins, "are they natural?" (Nope they're... alien babies?)

Thirdly, pregnant women worry enough. We don't need to hear how you were in agony for 36 hours before they rushed you in for a c-section and didn't let you hold your baby afterward. All these imagined fears are already floating around in our heads. We go through life wondering if our baby is going to come out with Down Syndrome, or need to be in the NICU for months, or have a fatal condition. We already think about labor like a soldier thinks about being sent into a war zone... will we survive? Unless you would willingly tell a new recruit about how your uncle was blown to bits in Iraq, don't tell a pregnant woman the grisly details of your friend's childbirth.

Penalty: Usually a nice, snarky comment is warranted. A glare and snarl also does the trick.

Pregnancy Commandments Part 3

6. Thou shalt not commit to plans without consulting thy pregnant woman.

Travel is uncomfortable. Especially in the third trimester, when pretty much anything is uncomfortable. (But even more uncomfortable when you don't have a body pillow, ice, and a cupboard full of chocolate handy.) If you are living with a pregnant woman, don't make travel plans for the 2 months before delivery and 2 months after delivery. Yes, we know you are getting antsy, we are all getting antsy, and yes we know you need a break from all the baby stuff (umm where's OUR break?) but the fact is that at 8 months pregnant, we are pretty much an immobile, bitchy blob of baby belly.

Plus, what happens if we go into labor? The nearest hospital will not do... we must deliver at OUR hospital, with nurses and doctors who know us.

This includes visiting relatives over an hour away. Trust me, after stopping every 15 minutes at the nearest gas station so we can pee and stretch, you'll know why. Relatives 2 hours away can perhaps be visited up until the 8th month, but there will be mutterings under the breath.

Penalty: If you go, you'll have to go by yourself. And if you go by yourself, expect to find your belongings dumped out the window or given to the poor when you return, if you have the gall to return at all.

7. Thou shalt not steal thy pregnant woman's food.

Should be self-explanatory. Let me put it this way. Pregnant women are like mother bears. Crabby, crabby mother bears. Protecting hoarded food comes only second to protecting our young. Especially if that food includes snacks on days where food is scarce. If there are 3 bags of doritos in the cupboard, you might get by with sneaking a handful every now and then as long as you don't dent the supply too much. However, if your pregnant woman has a bag of gummy worms in the car on the way to the beach, leave it the hell alone. Her mind has made mental inventory of every single worm in that bag. Don't be fooled. Even though she is comfortable lying under an umbrella on a chair right now, in 20 minutes she will be hungry, and the only thing that will keep her from going into a hungry, homicidal rage is that lonely bag of gummy worms she brought along precisely for that purpose. So don't you dare swipe even one.

Penalty: A hefty fine, at the very least. (Fines are to be paid in chocolate bars, preferably.) If you are foolish enough to try to swipe a snack that a pregnant woman is currently eating, prepare to lose a limb in the process. Fines double if the snack includes ice cream or chocolate. Fines triple if the pregnant woman makes "mmmm mmm" noises when eating it, as it is obviously a treasured possession at that point.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pregnancy Commandments Part 2

3. Honor thy pregnant woman's cravings and treat them as holy.

So your pregnant girlfriend wakes you up at 2 in the morning, wanting you to go to the store because you're out of frozen pizza, and she NEEDS some frozen pizza to go with the jar of peanut butter. You have only 2 options, and neither of them include sleeping. Option 1: you mumble under your breath, go out to the store, buy her some pizza, (and while you're at it, everything else in the store, just in case) and go back to sleep. Option 2: tell her no, and listen to her clatter around downstairs trying to find something resembling frozen pizza, give up, and sob the rest of the night because she's hungry and the only thing she can stomach is pizza.

Just a heads up, sometimes cravings are not just cravings. Sometimes cravings are the only thing we can eat without throwing up. And, OUR options are, 1. throw up from hunger, 2. throw up from eating a nauseating food, or 3. eat what we are craving.

So please, just suck it up and tell yourself that this is just preparation for meeting a baby's incessant nighttime demands. You're about to become a parent- you knew that sleep was one of the sacrifices you would have to make, anyway.

4. Honor Father and Mother's Day, even if it is a bit premature.

It's Father's Day and you're not a father yet? Too bad, expect a date night anyway. It's Mother's Day and your bun is still in the oven? Too bad, buy her an ice cream cake anyway. For women, we become mothers long before our babies are born. We read books on mothering long before we deliver, we follow our fetus' development week by week, and we can feel the little bastard kick bruises into our ribs. Motherhood, by definition, (well, it SHOULD be the definition) is "voluntary torture", which begins long before the little devil makes his appearance.

Penalty: Buy us an ice cream cake. Seriously, that's all we want. Just buy us the damn cake and give us a hug. It's not hard.

5. Thou shalt not murder thy pregnant woman, despite the temptation.

It's the hormones. Really, it is. Hormones can turn a perfectly rational person into a raging psychotic drama queen. It's been all day and she hasn't quit sobbing? Just hug her and hold her until the clouds clear. She throws a toaster at you for saying it's too early to pick out names? At least listen to her suggestions. After all, she's already made a list of her top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names, the least you could do is take a look at it. She asks you to move the couch to a different corner AGAIN? Well, at least you're getting a workout.

Penalty: Well, killing a pregnant woman is 2 counts of murder. That said, we do have some sympathy for you for having to put up with us. Just be patient and humor us if you can. After all, pregnant women are at least semi-rational beings. Babies are completely irrational. So count your blessings while you can.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10 Pregnancy Commandments part 1

This post is for husbands, boyfriends, lovers, family, friends, and innocent bystanders inflicted with a pregnant woman. Remember, although you are inflicted with a pregnant woman, we are, in fact, inflicted with a baby, hormones, and a body that feels like a pop can getting smooshed. So, here are the "10 Commandments" of pregnancy...

1. Thou shalt have no other women before me.

For partners: Self explanatory, you would think. Yet, as our bodies become less and less sexy, it's tempting to want to look elsewhere for eye candy (or worse). Even though we, as pregnant ladies, do not find our bodies especially sexy right now, do your best to find us attractive anyway. We'll think you're crazy, yes, but also take comfort in the fact that you at least want to keep us around long enough for us to pop out the damn thing.

Anyone else: Tell us that we're glowing, or cute. (Even if we look like miserable balloons at the moment.) It's your only option. Do not say things like, "you look like you used to be pretty" (yes, a real example of a comment by a stranger) or, "better put down those donuts, you'll never fit back into your jeans at this rate."

Penalty: A sock to the jaw, at best. If you imply that we're fat while we're actually growing a live human being inside our innards, you deserve worse.

2. Do not take the pain of thy wife (or girlfriend, sister, etc...) for granted.

"Your hips are moving out of their sockets and you have a horrible case of sciatica? Eh, women have been doing this for thousands of years, it's nothing your body can't handle I'm sure." Um, yeah, women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. Men have also been working 12 hour days doing hard labor by hand in the fields for thousands of years, so they have no right to complain about how their work day went, either. It's nothing they can't handle, right?

Penalty: Take a 10 lb rock and strap it to your waist. Wrap your chest and lower abdomen so tightly that you can neither breathe nor go 5 minutes without peeing. Inject yourself with massive doses of estrogen and wear nipple clamps constantly. Take tons of iron pills until you're constipated, then take a bunch of laxatives. When sleeping, replace the rock with a live animal such as a small dog, then try to sleep through its furious kicking. Do this for 9 months. For the first 3 months, maintain a constant state of food poisoning (but don't add the rock yet). For the next 3 months, add the rock/small animal, and for the last 3 months stuff a basketball between your legs while walking and tighten the chest/bladder binds in addition to the rest. Then go 2 more weeks. (9 months? Ha!) Periodically stuff a full hand and arm up your rectum to simulate cervical exams. Then, at the end of the last horrific 2 weeks, pull the pin out of a hand grenade and swallow. (To simulate childbirth.) When you do all this, you have the right to judge how much pain we are in and how much we can/cannot handle. If you decide to abandon the experiment, apologize profusely, buy us a hot fudge sundae, make us dinner, and give us a back massage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Parenting Natually on a Budget Part 2: Food

I don't know how any family can afford to buy all their food organic! If you can, kudos to you. If not, you're in the same boat I am, and the best thing you can do is prioritize.

You've probably heard that pesticides can have a devastating impact on our bodies. So, if possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticides when raised conventionally. These include peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, green beans, hot peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, plums, domestic grapes, and oranges. However, I don't worry about buying organic bananas, unless I plan on eating the peel!

If you can, buy directly from the farmer. Free-range eggs have much more nutritional value than the traditional cooped-up chickens can produce, but "free range eggs" at the grocery store might not really be any more nutritious than their competitors (and they will be higher priced!) This is because there are such lax laws about what constitutes "free range." So, if you can see chickens wandering around eating grass and bugs, and buy from that farmer, you're sure to get your money's worth and your body will get its nutrients. Also, buying directly from the farmer can save you a bunch of money, especially with bulk items, because prices are marked up in stores, and their products are fresher, and local!

Another option is to learn how to preserve produce yourself... freezing, drying, and canning... and then buy food in season and preserve it! I buy a half bushel of organic peaches in August when they are in season (through a co-op, which cuts me a deal) and then cut them up and freeze them in apple juice. I have frozen peaches to last me the winter.

There is no substitute for simply learning good nutrition and how to cook things from scratch. Unfortunately, you can buy all the organic cookies you want and still be unhealthy. The internet is a wealth of information on health and nutrition, although you can get bogged down in the "trends." My advice is to stick to advice at least 5 years old that the current experts agree on... and cook from scratch whenever possible. If you avoid the "trends," your pocketbook will thank you. And if you cook from scratch, you can often buy in bulk, make a large batch at one time, and then freeze/refrigerate meals to thaw out later. Consuming less meat is a good idea... most of us eat plenty of meat as it is, and it's expensive! If you can buy meat directly from the farmer, try to get the heart and liver as well. (They are chock full of nutrients!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Parenting Naturally on a Budget Part 1: Toys

This series was birthed by a need I've seen in the community for parents who want to become "green" but just can't afford to. And it's no wonder... with all the articles I've seen on how to parent "naturally," I figured I'd better give the low-budget parents some hope. After all, most "green" lifestyles (as portrayed in the media) are way over my budget, but it is possible to parent naturally and frugally at the same time. And since that very idea has been my goal from the start, I thought I'd share some tips with the rest of the world, starting with baby toys.

Firstly, what are baby "toys"? "Toys" are merely tools of play that babies find fascinating and parents find safe. And babies rarely find "baby toys" fascinating, and many are not actually safe! The best "toys" I've found are not really toys at all. For example, just taking my son out into the yard gives him lots of fascinating "toys" in the form of grass, dandilions, rocks, bugs, and sticks. It doesn't get any more natural than that (assuming that you don't spray your yard, and why would you if you're trying to parent naturally?). If you want to encourage a more natural lifestyle, the best place to start is in the outdoors! Children love creating rock gardens, babies love looking at (and eating) flowers, and it's quite therapeutic for mom to walk barefoot in the grass as well.

No need to buy expensive organic wooden teething rings, just strip bark off a short, stout branch and let the kid chew! (Make sure you know what kind of tree it is and that it's edible and not sprayed) Or, I've found, rhubarb stalks work wonders for this purpose. So do frozen bananas (or other fruit. Experiment!) and cold, wet washcloths. Cloth toys are easy to make if you know how to sew basic stitches, just buy a yard of organic cloth and sew it (or tie, tightly, making sure there is no extra string) closed around a ball, rice, beans, newspaper, cardboard cut outs, or whatever else you can find that's interesting and edible. Take a page out of your great-grandparent's history and make corncob dolls or gourd dolls. Let your older baby rip apart old newspapers. Build cardboard-box and bedsheet tunnels and "forts." Be creative!

Bath toys are easy to find around the house. Anything that holds water will do, especially measuring cups. Pots and pans and simple stacking blocks are great for figuring out how to make noise, stacking, and bringing things in and out of containers. These things are not expensive!

Books are especially useful to have. I think 70% of my sons' belongings consist of books. (And most are hand-me-downs.) When he was tiny, I could show him the pictures. As he started exploring, he could put the board and cloth books in his mouth. Now, he loves flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures. In the future, he can learn to read them. At the moment, I like reading them and pointing to the pictures. They are a good investment to say the least! Who knew books would be so versatile?

By all means, buy a few organic toys to put in the car and the crib. But save yourself and your wallet some stress and find or make your own "natural" baby toys.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The Renaissance Faire was spectacular! We performed 4 times per day in 20 minute segments. Each time we performed, we were able to draw a good-sized crowd. The pavillion was even packed full a couple times! We had a good response, and the people in charge actually want to PAY us to come back next year. :) Everyone in our group performed to their best ability, and I am really proud of all of them.

The Renfest itself was also very nice. The people were friendly, there were interesting and funny shows going on, the vendors sold unique and beautiful pieces, and we all had a good time. I'm glad to have been a part of it!

Having said that, I did miss my husband and son a lot, and I'm glad to be home. :) I don't think I want to leave Taevyn for 4 days again anytime soon, but I'm happy I got to take a little vacation and do so well in the show.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Performing at the Renfest!

Sorry I have been away from this blog. As my little guy gets more mobile I'm finding it harder to find a spare 20 minutes to sit here and write. Also, I've been practicing for the SHARDS performance at the Iowa Renaissance Festival over Memorial Day. :) (SHARDS is the name of our theater troupe). So we will be performing this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday!!! I'm nervous but excited. I leave tomorrow, which means I'll be away from my little boy for 4 whole days. :( I'm a little sad about it, but I know I'll also relish the vacation and I'll probably be too occupied to worry.

Since I've been dragging him to Rochester, MN for practices nearly every weekend, his daddy hasn't seen much of him the past couple of weeks, but now they will get a chance to bond. :) I'm so lucky that Chris is a wonderful father, and that my son is such a pleasant baby (most of the time!)

At any rate, wish me luck!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


So it turns out my son has strep! Apparently it's very hard for babies to get but he somehow got it, and now we are very contagious! So, I'm a little stressed considering we have less than 4 weeks before we're going to perform our play and I still don't have my lines memorized! Anyway, I'm off to pay attention to the sick little one.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Fever

My little son is sick. :( I guess it was inevitable that he would get sick at least once before his first birthday, but I'm still sad about it. He has a fever of 102.1 and congestion and crabbiness. He had a fever yesterday too that was more intense in the morning and then went away as the day wore on, and now it's back to full intensity this morning. I'll take him to the doctor if he has the same fever tomorrow.

Until then, I'm just giving him cold wash clothes to suck on, dosing him with baby motrin when he's too miserable to sleep, and putting him in the swing to soothe him.

I'm not feeling quite up to par either. I was pretty sick on Sunday but better now, although I still have a runny nose and the occasional sinus problem. So please don't hate me if i get nothing done this week!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Kids :)

On Easter, I got a wonderful surprise gift... new baby goats! Not only that, but our mama goat, Frigga, (who we suspected was pregnant but didn't know for sure!) had triplets! :) She gave birth to a white male, a cream-colored male, and a black female. They all have cute little wattles and are part angora so they have curly hair.
I named them Spring (the cream colored one), Bata (a spin-off of the name Obatala, the white one), and Ostara (the black one.) Right now they are frolicking around, playing with each other and the other much older kids.

Frigga is a good mom, although she overdoes it. She keeps chasing Dawn around all over the barn. I don't know why she has it in for Dawn. She also has it in for the cats, who better not get within 10 feet of her babies! Frigga is quite an assertive soul, even for a goat! I have a lot of admiration for her because she even beats up on the huge bucks! But she is definitely a handful. She jumps over fences and nearly climbs the pines to reach their branches. If you try to get her to go somewhere, she'll try to go anywhere else. If you hear colorful language coming from the barn, it's usually directed at her.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter/Ostara! :)
For the past 2 days my husband, son, and I stayed at a motel in order to attend a family reunion. I got to meet my 5 month old cousin for the first time and watch him and my son interact with each other. Babies are fun to watch when they are interacting with other babies! This was also the first time I saw my great-grandmother in a while, and so she got to see my son as well.

I also got to introduce my husband to the family, and he seemed to tolerate them pretty well. My family is pretty eccentric, so it's kind of interesting watching non-family interact with a whole gaggle of them! It cost quite a bit of money to travel there but I'm glad I went. Family is becoming an important concept to me and I am enjoying fostering the connections I have between extended family members. I also am in the initial stages of trying to piece together family history. It will be a long process trying to find out who my ancestors were and what kind of life they led, but I feel excited and grounded and refreshed after the "vacation."

Travel is a liberating experience, and visiting family is a grounding experience.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is Everything Supposed to be Equal in a Marriage?

So lately my husband and I have been having some spats, mostly about chores. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, he thinks I should be doing absolutely everything around the house, even though I also have to take care of the baby, do farm chores, strain milk and make cheese, etc... It's not like housework is any walk in the park, since we need to wash dishes by hand and hang clothes up on the line, vacuum these friggin' ladybugs from 10 large windowsills every other day, etc...

The point being, I have my hands full. And I would just appreciate it if my husband helped out every once in a while. He, however, doesn't see what I really do with my time and just thinks I slack off.

So we are doing an experiment where I work his hours and we split the stuff that doesn't get done 50/50 on the weekends. Fine, right? Since I have to get up earlier, I'm getting more things done, but otherwise it is the same old routine. I'm only on the computer while I nurse my son, for lunch break, and after work.

The experiment is going well so far, but instead of making me happy this arrangement is just making me more depressed. Why? I'm not sure but my theory is that I don't think marriage should adopt the attitude of strict equality. I just end up sad when I have to keep track of how long it takes me to do laundry, so that my husband can spend equal time doing dishes. I realize that this is necessary in our experiment but when this experiment is over, I really don't want to do things like that anymore. I really don't care if I end up doing more work than my husband. All I want, really, is for him to decide to help me once in a while.

In my vision, husbands and wives have their own things that they are supposed to accomplish on a regular basis. I'm supposed to take care of dishes, laundry, farm chores, etc... while he is supposed to take the trash out and empty the humidity bucket and go to work. But instead of strict roles, I need more flexibility. For example, every once in a while I'll take out the trash and empty the humidity bucket, every once in a while my husband helps with laundry or dishes or chores. I guess this is what I mean by "help each other." When there is a big project, I volunteer my help without my husband asking. But he never does the same with me. This is the real problem that I have, not that I'm doing more work overall.

So what do you think? Should everything be equal in a marriage?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This past week I've been very busy making goat milk cheese! Little by little, I'm learning how to cook and bake and mix things together. Slowly, but surely, I'm getting to know my way around the kitchen. We have an abundance of goat milk at the moment, so learning how to make cheese was a natural step.

I made a simple ricotta cheese using lemon juice to curdle the milk. It tastes delicious! I absolutely love the slight lemon flavor to the cheese, and we put in fresh organic herbs that really enhance the natural flavors. Even the baby likes it! We've been eating it on garlic crackers but I'll often eat it plain too... something I never like to do with ordinary cheese.

I feel very old fashioned, heating milk in a stainless steel pot on the stove, checking the temperature with a candy thermometer, straining out the curds with cheesecloth-lined colanders, chopping up fresh herbs to put into the cheese.

And, of course, hauling the whey off to the barn for the dog to eagerly snarf down. :) Whey is actually very nutritious, so I might try using it in bread making and other things. The cats aren't too keen on it (probably because of the lemon taste) but Halo (our Great Pyranese/German Shepherd mix) loves it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My son is crawling, and therefore getting into everything and anything he can reach and even some things that I never knew he could get to! He is getting to be very fast at it, too. I set him down and in 2 minutes he's in another room trying to chew on computer cords. Augh, computer cords are the worst, because you can't really do much to prevent a baby from getting at them, except just watch the baby very carefully.

I'm also starting to sleep train him. That is a difficult beyond hard task, and it's not always going so well. Last night, for example, I got around 4 hours of sleep total, and that's a pretty average night's sleep.

Tonight I'm going to the Twin Cities to their Fringe Lottery to see if my sister and my company (SHARDS) will get to perform our play at the Minnesota Fringe this summer. I'm crossing my fingers! It will also be a good place to get to know people, make connections, etc... something that really, really needs to be done as I don't even live in the Cities and my sister is new to the area.

Overall, I've been busy but when am I not?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I just went to the dentist yesterday, and I was expecting some more cavities, because I've been having a toothache and during my pregnancy my gums swelled up pretty badly and I have had not-so-great dental hygiene ever since. (Floss every day? I don't even shower every day!) But I wasn't expecting 10 cavities! Oy. Well there goes $350. :/ I guess i'm not too surprised though. I knew I already had 2 on my lower wisdom teeth, because I didn't get those filled before getting pregnant because I had the intention of taking them out... but since I got pregnant that idea flew out the window for a while. Now I will either have to get them filled or get them out next year... after they fill all the rest of the cavity-filled teeth this year. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it... besides go in to the dentist in a week to get 2 of them filled.
They also prescribed me a high-fluoride toothpaste since I drink well water, but I can't use that until I'm done breastfeeding (which makes me wonder how much fluoride is IN that stuff?)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baby Kid Pictures

So I finally found my camera cord... it was behind the baby's dresser... weird. :P Anyway, as promised... pictures of our baby goats.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Babies :)

This past week we got 3 new baby goats (well, 4 but one didn't make it)... the moms are being good moms, and the babies are eating well and cuddling up together under the heat lamp. :)

We are watching the other goats closely because we don't know when one will deliver. I think one is pretty close, but you never know when the babies will decide to arrive.

Also the young doe who lost her kid is back in heat, so she will probably kid in July.

The weather is warmer, the snow more like slush, the animal's eyes look brighter, and even though the sky is gray and the pine needles are frosty, there is evidence of the earth renewing herself. I can really relate to the pregnant does, who are slow and waiting, like the earth herself, urging time to pass just a little quicker.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Barn Fire!

Apologies for not posting in a while. Our computer has been down so it's hard for me to get onto the internet whenever I want to.
I've been having to do chores 3 times a day for a while, to check on our goats who are due to kid at any time. With the weather this cold, it's very important that the babies don't sit in a cold spot or they will die. We already found one dead from a first time mom who kidded much earlier than she was supposed to, and she never cleaned the baby off when she gave birth so it froze to death. :( So we put a heat lamp in our barn to warm up a spot for the mom goats to give birth.


While I was doing chores Monday morning, I smelled smoke. I looked around to see if the neighbors were burning anything but they weren't. I got a feeling of dread and opened the barn door, to get hit by a rolling cloud of smoke! The first thing I did was go in there and get the goats out! It wasn't a huge fire, in fact I couldn't see more than a flicker of flame here and there, but most of the floor was blackened and smoking and a support beam was pretty much gone from the fire, and the whole barn was under a dense cloud of smoke. I figured it must have been the heat lamp that started it, so I unplugged the cord from the heat lamp and ran up the hill to the wellhouse to get some water to dump on the fire. Several buckets of water later and there wasn't much improvement, so I went inside the house and got my fire extinguisher. Even that didn't improve things much, so I had to dial 911 and have the firefighters come put it out. I rushed around trying to get the cars and horse trailer out of the driveway so the fire trucks could drive in, and pulled down the fencing so that the firemen could get into the yard. In my rush, I drove my car into a snowbank! And after the firemen got here I realized that my hands were shaking. All I could feel was relief that none of the animals were hurt (well, a cat got its fur scorched, but he's doing fine) and that most of the barn is salvageable. Our milk stand got burned up and 2 hen nesting boxes, plus a barrel and of course the heat lamp plus the bedding, part of the floor, the support beam, and a couple of other wood pieces. Thankfully, we have stone walls on the interior of the barn! Oh, and the nice firemen even helped get my car unstuck!

Afterward, the firemen came to talk to me and told me it was a very good thing that I caught the fire in time, because the fire was creeping up to the hay loft and in a couple hours the whole barn would have been up in raging flames. He also seemed pretty amazed that I could think to do all that stuff and move the vehicles etc... because most people panic when they see fire. Hmmm... I guess I'm pretty cool when it comes to crisises.

Also, this is not the first fire that has started from a heat lamp, so I am definitely NOT a fan of those things anymore!!! We really don't need the financial trouble that comes with this fire, but hopefully the insurance will at least cover the cost of the 911 call. I'm pretty sure that barns are insured separately from homeowner's insurance so I doubt if they'll pay for the damages, so it's a good thing they are very minimal.