Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My daughter's enthusiasm...

I don’t particularly like grocery shopping. It’s not that I’m absolutely opposed to it- and there are some fun elements (for instance, getting a great deal, or balancing a budget, or shopping with my mom and getting to spend time with her), but…it messes up my day. It sacrifices time that could be spent at home, getting stuff done. And I know that I have no room to talk, considering the stores I use on a regular basis are all within 5 minutes, and typically, I’m there and back (try to keep it to 1-2 stores) within an hour. Milk is a separate trip (also about weekly), currently, and takes 30-45 minutes. I know some of you spend more than that amount added up just in your driving. But anyway…

Once a week, I plan on it happening, and just look forward to having it over with. At least, that used to be the case. I get us ready to go early in the morning, and accomplish various odd-jobs with Vivi till Timothy’s taken his first nap. As soon as he’s up, we bolt and try to be back before he’s exhausted and ready for 2nd morning nap.

Last time, though, I was really blessed by Vivi’s enthusiasm. She’s always loved grocery shopping (at least, since she was about 6 months old…and especially over the past 9 or so months), or going places with me in general. The older she gets, the more she expresses that. Ben’s offered before that while he’s working at home I could leave Vivi and just take Timothy if I wanted….but that’s definitely not an option; Vivi loves it too much. For some reason, her enthusiasm really struck me on our last trip.

She was pretty sure she knew where we were going when she saw we were going somewhere without daddy. And when I turned the car in the direction of the store, she had no doubts- and she got really excited. She laughed and made excited noises- and if she wasn’t buckled in her seat, she would’ve been dancing. She talked happily and excitedly all the way to the store, while I chatted back about what all she was going to help me get, and so forth. We had so much fun, Vivi and I. We were spending time together doing something that she loves.

And suddenly…I love shopping. I’m looking forward to our next trip and the one after. It isn’t just a hurdle in my morning anymore- it’s an opportunity to spend time with Vivi. A chance to let her know what a big helper she is, as she holds my lists for me, talks to Timothy and does other odd things. It’s also a chance to share with her why we buy what we buy, and how we like to prepare our foods. She anticipates getting to eat certain things when we get home. And, it’s a chance for her to say hi to lots and lots of people (whether or not they say hi back doesn’t daunt her- though she loves it when they do). Viviana soaks it all in, loving every moment of it. Me too.

Since I’ve had the option of leaving Vivi home with Ben, one of the main reasons I’ve opted to always take her with me is the training field- besides that we just aren’t ever separated. I don’t want to someday have to take her and multiple other children with me for some reason, and have them all have no idea how to behave in the store…and thus, be overwhelmed and stressed. Certainly, that’s been an advantage- she is very well behaved in stores, and knows what to expect- but that’s only been a small part. I’m richly blessed with a sweet shopping companion who makes the time enjoyable. And I am so grateful we get to shop together.

*So far, Timothy’s mostly just along for the ride- and I enjoy getting to wear him. We’ve finally turned a curve so that it’s usually a happy curve, since he’s sliding into a beautiful sleep routine, equaling the ability to shop when he’s well-rested. But I smile at the months to come, and wonder what he’ll think of shopping.*

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan 1/23/2012-1/30/2012

having fun exploring mom's cupboards with daddy....

cute as can be!

Well…here we are at the beginning of a new week already! :-) Last week, Vivi and I ended up doing a ton of “extras” in the kitchen, which was a lot of fun. Ben started student teaching, and with him gone all day, it’s been fun to work out a new routine for the kids and I. So far, something Vivi and I have really enjoyed, is working in the kitchen together. It’s been fun to pass things on to her and teach her as we’re going, too- such as explaining why we wash and soak the beans (a process she loves!). So far, we’ve been spending at least part of both Timothy’s morning naps in the kitchen, making dinner and/or extra stuff. Today we started a sourdough starter- we’ll see if it gets anywhere this week! Otherwise, though, I don’t have too many extras this week…planning to focus more on sewing and housework, but we’ll see. The kitchen’s a very tempting place….

We officially have till Saturday left of the grain fast, but I partially broke mine this past Saturday. I was having some (minor) physical issues towards the end of last week that I wondered if could be caused by diet, so made a batch of soaked tortillas and have eaten some of those. Not sure if that was the issue or not…or sub-products of not eating grains, such as consuming less fats or not getting enough of the right kind of proteins. I still have been limiting my grains since then (about 1 tortilla a day, toasted with butter), to sort of carry out the fast with Ben. I felt like just the week fast had positive results, though- I can’t wait to get back to baking since we have way too many good recipes currently tossed to the way side- but at the same time, I feel like I haven’t been as much of a grain-addict, and after the first several days, started craving them less. I’ve also (currently) lost the desire to eat any yucky grains- store bought breads, white products, white tortillas, etc. We’ll see how long that lasts… :-D The sugar fast is starting to get a bit easier, too- though, again, there’s lots of yummy things I’m looking forward to making again. Especially since Ben’s bringing home fresh milk today. And absolutely nothing beats homemade ice cream….current addictions is lightly sweetened with a small amount of honey, with peanut butter and homemade chocolate chips. Yum!

By the way- the alfredo chicken sauce over broccoli and cauliflower, lightly steamed, was incredible. It will definitely be seeing the table again soon- next time with a side of a hearty bread! We don’t do pasta super often, since it’s something I haven’t really made from scratch (did a few weeks ago for the first time, and hope to again…but it’s time consuming enough that it doesn’t change the factor of not eating pasta often), so I don’t feel very good about preparing it for our family. Plus- it’s not Mexican. Which isn’t a total crime….but it certainly makes it much less necessary. :-D

Anyway, here’s what’s cooking:

Monday- grilled chicken pieces (probably broiled, and from the freezer), oven fries, salad, pineapple

Tuesday- taco salad- new recipe from a Taste of Homes cookbook

Wednesday- Graber’s, green bean salad

Thursday- steak (yes, again- I’m feeling rather uncreative, and there’s a lot of them in the freezer), mashed potatoes, salad, veggie

Friday- White Chili

Saturday- Taco pizza (with sauce from the freezer)

Sunday- Carmichael’s, TBD (Yes, my family’s is usually officially that way- being in on the menu plan and general plans, I usually plan according to what mom is…or help with the meal there…or bring the whole meal….or sometimes we just mooch. I figure it all balances out!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Current Thoughts on the Baby Carriers in My Stash

Thanks to a friend's "prodding", I thought I'd share about some of my various baby carriers and what I do and don't like about them. It's no secret that I have quite a stash....or that there's a few more I'd like. That's what happens when your passion is also turned into your hobby. :-) You might not believe it, but I'm actually not a spender...I rarely spend money (besides on groceries) and when I do, I agonize over whether I should or not and weigh all the pros and cons. I'm just not the type of gal that likes to go out shopping and come home with a bunch of stuff. I own the shoes and clothing I need, and don't often add to the collection. So baby carriers are my one weakness...although I still don't add to my collection very often, or without significant thought. There.

As a disclaimer, I think I have a tendency to go through seasons- and what I'm loving right now might not be what I'm loving in six months or years. So, this post is in no way comprehensive...down the road, I'll learn better how to use certain carriers, I'll explore new ones, I'll possibly have different physical issues and strengths, my daily circumstances will be different, my babies will be different....etc. I'm just sharing what's worked for what so far in my babywearing journey- which hopefully has many years left!
Currently, I wear Vivi only occasionally- usually when she needs some close mama-time. Especially if Timothy happens to be sleeping down. Otherwise, I might meet her needs in other ways, such as reading to her on my lap.
I tandem wear sometimes- again, it generally corresponds to Vivi’s needs. I tandem wore almost daily the first month or so (once I was getting around), because Vivi had greater needs through the adjustment period. We would often go for a tandem walk. Now, she loves it when I take her outside and hold her hand, helping her walk around on her own. I tandem wear at the store occasionally, but not ever time. Vivi likes the cart a lot- sort of a “graduation” aspect to it all, I think. :-)
I wear Timothy a greater part of the day. He’s just starting to nap down more, so I can probably count on him napping down once a day, or every other day. He usually takes about 3 naps…and then typically falls asleep for the night either nursing or in a carrier, and stays with us for the night. Except occasionally, when I can leave him on the couch and creep away with just Ben for a while. (actually, I think we might be moving in the direction of that being the norm….he’s growing up!) I’m also hoping to be able to get to one of his naps being consistently down, so I don’t have to forfeit all Vivi’s naps once Ben starts student teaching. (she still requires being nursed to sleep at naps) Timothy sleeps really well on me, typically. He’s starting to get to a point of not being able to fall asleep in chaos, but generally Vivi’s (and others’) noises don’t bother him once he’s actually asleep, when he’s snuggled on me. That’s a totally new- and very nice!- playing field. When Timothy’s awake, I vary between wearing him, holding him, and having him on the floor with Vivi and I when we’re playing. We also have a bouncy seat he sometimes goes in when we’re playing/reading, folding laundry, or when I’m going to the bathroom. Vivi’s finally getting predictably good at “playing” gently with Timothy, which is so fun to watch and be a part of. She loves bringing him toys and piling up the blanket with her favorite treasures. So….he’s definitely down more than Vivi was, but, in correlation with his needs, is still up the majority of the day, in one form or another. Consequently, using supportive carriers is just as important with him as it was with Vivi- maybe more, since he’s heavier.
2nd time around, I’m still so grateful for baby carriers and how the enable me to meet my baby’s individual needs. Timothy’s really different from Vivi, but still has reasonably “high” touch needs, and doesn’t just fall asleep at the drop of a pin. Baby carriers enable me to meet his needs and Vivi’s and usually get everything else done, too, since he sleeps well in them. (not that all our days go that smoothly and no one ever has to wait to have a need filled!) I’m grateful for the legacy my mom gave me and the jumpstart into babywearing- our days would be much more difficult to balance if I wasn’t a full-time babywearer! :-)


I loved my (homemade) moby wrap for about two weeks after Timothy was born. Then he was 11 1/2 lbs, and we haven't used it since. If you have itty-bitty babies, it's nice. It's easy to use and accurately adjust; when you're just learning to wrap it's nice to have something that you fully put on before inserting baby. I first used it when Timothy was a couple days old- long before I was even able to get around much. It snuggled him in close, which he liked, and enabled me to stay caught up on thank yous or have my hands free to interact with Vivi. I used it interchangeably with the ring sling, using each a couple times of day at least. Another thing that was nice about being able to put it on fully before putting baby in, and take baby in and out while leaving it on is that if I just got Timothy in and he started crying, I could take him out without undoing all the time I spent wrapping, and try putting him in again once I felt like I had a better handle on what he needed. (For a mama who doesn’t like to let her babies cry and stands on her head and way over-works to make them happy (especially in the early days, when you’re totally still figuring them out), that’s a pretty big plus. It’s easy to not want to put the effort into putting a carrier on when Timothy’s fussy because of the chance of him screaming in it and feeling like I need to take him out and try something new. Because, as it happens, so far I’m two strikes for two on having a baby who, when fussy, calms down while being worn, However, on the down side, by the time Timothy was 11 lbs, he was heavy enough to stretch the wrap out enough while in it that it was really too loose if I took him out and put him back in.
All-in-all: if you have tiny babies, you might love it. If not, or your babies have a record of growing quickly….it’s probably not worth the money, even if you make one yourself. With small babies it is nicely supportive, because of going across both shoulders….it also snuggles the baby in well, keeping them close to you and fully supporting their head/neck, especially while sleeping. Overall, woven wrap is way more supportive.

I love my ring sling. It’s versatile and easy to get on and off. It’s also easy to adjust for nursing, typically. I’ve had discomfort issues with it with Timothy, though…I think if I had a size large (instead of medium) I’d use it more, as I’m usually (easily) able to get my mom’s large slings to work comfortably. Timothy’s a big baby- but still without the body control of a much older baby- which can make it a little difficult to fanangle him, especially in a smaller sling, into a nursing position. Another issue I’ve had is due to how strong and wiggly he is, if he’s tired and unhappy, for instance, he throws himself back and/or arches his back a lot, which calls for readjusting the sling. Not a big deal (and I don’t feel like he’s in danger of falling out, because our bodies are very in tune with each other), but eventually it gets to be a pain to constantly readjust until he settles down/falls asleep. This isn’t a problem with a woven wrap.
I anticipated it being my primary carrier with Timothy for the first handful of months, and that hasn’t been the case. Timothy’s really taught me that while what carrier works depends a lot on each mom, it also depends hugely on each baby. Not only their likes and dislikes, but also their size, physical ability, etc. 15lbs isn’t totally huge (I still enjoy comfortably wearing Vivi in spurts, who’s 27 lbs- and also tandem wearing), but when you wear most of the day, it does get to be a lot, and optimal support counts. So my woven wrap has become my best friend.
I still love my sling for it’s easy on-and-off, so I tend to use it if I’m not sure how great my chances are of getting Timothy to sleep, or if I know I won’t be wearing for very long (say, an hourish or less). I love it for shopping, because I can quickly get it on in the parking lot- a major plus particularly right now when it’s a bit frigid. If I didn’t have the sling, I would probably be tempted to wear a lot less, so don’t get me wrong…I love my sling. It’s great when I need to make breakfast or lunch or just want to vacuum the house- all stuff that’s generally under a half hour. Or if I just need some“where” to put him while I’m helping Vivi with something….and putting him down isn’t an option because he’s fussy.
When Vivi was just a bit younger and lighter, I loved the sling for hip carry for her. When she hit the stage of wanting up and down a lot, it was a perfect way to hold her when she needed it without spending a lot of time fiddling with a carrier. That way, it wasn’t disappointing when she wanted down 5 minutes later. I also had zero issues nursing her in it at a year and beyond. I still can carry her in it- but at 27lbs, it’s a load on one shoulder and putting her on my hip feels slightly lopsided.
Timothy’s in the sling as I write, bouncing on a ball….because it’s late at night and I’m tired and I’m really hoping we’ll be crawling to bed at some point- hence, he won’t be sleeping an entire length in here.
All-in-all: it’s a great carrier and I wouldn’t want to do without it. I probably use it daily, and like the wraps, I like that it forms to his body and supports him pretty well (unlike SSCs at his current stage where he doesn’t have perfect body control). If you like to babywear, but aren’t an addict (i.e. you wear a handful of hours a day or less) and/or your babies aren’t beastly, chances are high this could be a great all-around carrier for you.

Alright….my latest addiction. Timothy has totally made me a wrapper. The wrap is my favorite carrier for exercise and long periods of wearing- i.e. naps. It’s ultra supportive, so comfortable, and supports him perfectly. It’s only downside is the amount of time it takes to put on, but the more I do it, the faster I’m getting, anyway. Nonetheless, I probably wouldn’t be motivated to wear as often for the short periods if the woven wrap was my only carrier.
I recently found a new reason to fall even further in love with my wrap- back wrapping! Unlike SSCs, it totally supports his head and neck (even when they aren’t tucked in the folds of the fabric), so he stays completely nuzzled on my neck or back, depending on where I have him. A week or so ago, at first with the “help” (direction? I think I mostly just needed someone to tell me I could do it and that he looked good in it…and to help work out any kinks) of a friend, I back wrapped Timothy. Instant love. My only issue with it is if I don’t catch his nap just right, and he’s pretty fussy/over tired, I don’t like that I can’t put my arms around him and comfort him as I lull him to sleep….I almost always end up switching to front wrapping if he doesn’t fall asleep peacefully. Back wrapping is really awesome for so many reasons- cleaning bathrooms, mopping, giving Vivi a bath and any other bending chores are SO easy. I forgot just how easy they are- it’s pretty awesome. It frees up my whole lap for Vivi, enabling her to get as close to me as she wants- and enabling me to interact fully with her, without reaching around Timothy. It’s sort of like waking up one morning and discovering you’re super fit- way more fit than you ever were. Except I’m not. :-) It means no food-spills on Timothy when I’m eating or cooking. No risk of burning, either. I like interacting with him when he’s awake, so I enjoy front-carrying (and it’s fun to soothe him asleep in front sometimes), but if he’s just going to be sleeping anyway, it’s nice to be able to snuggle/touch him, and practically still have my whole body free. He usually nuzzles right into me and falls fast asleep. He’s also woken up happy and content on my back several times, now, and enjoyed looking around from his new little perch. If I had back-wrapped with Vivi as an infant, I could’ve stayed caught up on weeding our garden. (Theoretically. I’m not guaranteeing it would’ve looked perfect! But it would’ve been theoretically possible, something it wasn’t when I always had her in a front carry, which prohibited me from getting into a lot of the garden spaces very well- especially with the bulky ergo.)

I anticipate continuing to use the wrap a great deal with Timothy. I love it for front and back....the support is amazing, and I love how snuggly it is. I hardly ever leave the house without it, and would highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a learning curve thrown into babywearing.

SSC (soft structured carrier)
I really like soft structured carriers for their support (putting the weight on your hips with the waist belt feature) and ease of use. It only takes a few moments to get one on. It was my go-to carrier during pregnancy, when just the idea of exerting energy to get Vivi in a carrier sounded exhausting. I love it as a 2nd carrier for tandem wearing. I still enjoy using it to put Vivi on my back- especially since she isn’t likely to stay super long, and therefore it’s hard to want to spend the time back wrapping. I’ve also used them some with Timothy. I still prefer the wrap for sleeping, and in general with him, but if he’s wide awake and I just need to wear him for a little bit while completing a task, I’ve often reached for one of my SSCs.
I have an ergo, which I used with toddler siblings when I lived at home, and we’ve owned since before Vivi was born. I used it exclusively the first month or two of her life, because I was already totally familiar with it, and I needed ultra-fast with her. It worked well for nursing, too. However, it was bulky, and kind of a pain to have a separate infant insert. Hence, I didn’t use it with Timothy as an infant, and don’t plan to with others. Ben did, though….guys like buckles. It’s seen a ton of use, and will continue to. Now that I have a beco (see below), it’s more officially “Ben’s carrier” and something I just use occasionally.
I also have a beco butterfly, which Ben got for my birthday in November. I’ve really liked it so far. Overall, I’m pretty sure I like it better than the ergo, but I feel like I’m still figuring it out, since it’s only recently starting to work well for Timothy. I like that I can put it on and easily get Timothy in and out- I’ve used it for shopping once or twice, and this was nice since, if I wore one, I could put it under my coat and still get him in, and it didn’t take very long at all to get us situated. With 2 non-walkers, I need to get Timothy securely in a carrier in the parking lot, so I can carry Vivi easily without risk of dropping anyone. :-) (Side-note: Vivi isn’t exactly a non-walker anymore! She took her first steps about a month ago, and is slowly gaining confidence and walking more. She has yet to take off 100%, though she loves walking holding my hand, even outside and on rough ground.) I also like that if he does fall asleep in the Beco, I can also take it off without taking him out- I’ve used this feature a couple times when he fell asleep on walks, and it seemed like he would get too hot in his snow suit bundled against me- so I put him and carrier on the bed and he slept through the transition. I also like that I can put it on Vivi (like pants, sort of), and then hoist her and carrier up on my back, so I don’t have to bend way over to get her on, when I have Timothy in the front. I also really like that it’s higher than the ergo, so Vivi can’t lean as much- I was using the ergo for her recently after mostly using the beco lately, and noticed a huge difference in how my back felt- I’m pretty sure it was a carrier difference. I don’t love that there are more buckles and adjustments to deal with. One is particularly hard to adjust because of how they have it wrapped, and so I’m not sure that I’ve yet hit on the perfect adjustment- I’m too lazy to keep playing with it, and especially to have to find different spots for Vivi and Timothy.
Overall, I think I would tend to recommend the beco over the ergo to people now. I would also strongly suggest checking out the Boba 3G- which I haven’t tried and don’t own, but have heard some pretty rave things about. (Sorry if you’re one of the people I’ve sold on the ergo! :-) It’s still a great carrier…and I wouldn’t have any issues with mine if other companies hadn’t come out with other ones. If you are able to get an ergo cheaply (definitely more likely than getting one of the others cheaply, being more popular) and are interested in a SSC, go for it. But if you’re going to pay full price anyway, definitely consider other options.) 

ETA 5/4/20112: I don't like my beco as much as I had hoped to.  No matter what I try, I can't fall in love with it as a back carrier.  I think it could have to do with the fact that my kiddos are big?  I've heard it works better with smaller kids....  It's still quite comfortable for the front.  Now that Timothy and Vivi are both pretty big (22 and 27lbs respectively) I adore it on the front for tandem carriers.  I put it on (since unlike most SSCs you put it on first, then pop baby in), put Vivi on my back in the mei tai with straps crossed in front under the beco, then pop Timothy in.  It avoids the issue of dumping Timothy out on his head while trying to get a really good carry with Vivi. I briefly borrowed a Boba (2G, I believe) from a friend, and loved it.  Seriously, truly loved it.  No learning curve.  I would love to own one someday, although I'm hanging on to my beco for now since it was a gift from hubby and we love it for tandem wearing, which we are back to doing almost we'll see when/if the Boba happens.  :-)  The ergo will stick around for Ben- he found that the Boba wasn't quite as adjustable as the ergo, and consequently the chest strap was in his neck when doing back carries- he wears it rather low.


Honestly…I haven’t used this one much lately. I have a Kozy Carrier, and I do like it. But I find my soft structured carriers to be more supportive, generally, so I tend to just use those. I was thinking recently, though, that it could be really nice for tandem wearing, because you can put the straps where you want them- I have issues with everything being rather uncomfortable and straps falling off my shoulders and others digging into my neck when tandem wearing with a SSC and something else. So I’m hoping to give this a shot soon, and it just might become a frequently-worn carrier.
I also liked it during my 2nd trimester of pregnancy, because it’s easy to put on, but didn’t have the issue of a belt going right around my bulge and just making me look fat.

WRAPPING IT UP (no pun intended)
Saying much here would probably be repetitive of what I’ve said elsewhere in the article, so I’ll just sum up really quick. If I absolutely had to pair down my collection and could only have a few carriers, I would currently choose a ring sling, woven wrap and SSC. I use each of those often enough on a regular basis to completely merit their staying around.
What’s your favorite carrier(s) and why?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan 1/16/12 - 1/23/12 (grain and sugar free)

Well...I have way too many ideas for blog posts, including some that are just about done- but my computer access has been very limited the past week or so, so most of it's still in my brain, waiting for it's turn to get here. But...since I don't have anything to do for dinner till the end, the house is picked up, Ben's outside with Vivi and Timothy's napping (talk about the stars all aligning :-)), I get a few minutes.....yay me!

We started our grain/sweetener fast on Saturday. So far, so good....except that there's a lot of things I'd like to eat. :-) Thinking of the grain fast in terms of only being two menu plans has been helpful for making it seem not very long. And since we'll be loosening up on our sugar fast mid-way through (like using a little bit of molasses to make bread and trying a recipe for chocolate peanut butter power balls sweetened with dates- I can't wait for that one!)

This Wednesday, Ben starts student teaching, which ushers us into a new era of life!

Monday- Grilled steak stir-fry salad (we don't have a grill pan, so I just stir-fry it on the stove- still delicious!) with homemade sides, but maybe we'll get some smoothies out of the freezer later in the evening. EDIT: nevermind, I really wanted something we had oven fries, too. :-) And smoothies are happening. ;-)

Tuesday- Carmichael's, chili (beans are soaking at the moment)

Wednesday- Graber's, Ben's birthday celebration bumped from last week due to illness there, so I'm still planning on refried black beans. Already made and in the freezer. We had enchiladas (from freezer) and the beans last Wednesday since it became a home night.

Thursday- chicken taco salad (lots of fresh ingredients, salsa, sour cream, seasoned chicken, refried beans)

Friday- Creamy alfredo sauce over chicken and steamed veggies, salad

Saturday- possibly Carmichael's....meal undecided.

Sunday- spicy cheeseburger soup (an experiment, because I usually use flour to thicken it, and this time I'll be trying arrowroot, since flour's a no-no), salad

Extras- yogurt, possibly more seasoned nuts of some kind, BLT soup for lunches that are leftover-less, beans for meals and extra for the freezer. I'm not sure if there's anything else....I'm keeping my goals pretty realistic this week. :-)

Time's up! So...hopefully that's more or less everything. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


“... because if grace is water, the Church should be an ocean” –Jefferson Bethke

Grace is the water which brought life
To the arid soil
Of my heart;
It is grace
That washes over the stains
Of my soul,
And brings me to the harbor
Of my Father’s arms.

I want the water to overflow the bounds
Of my heart,
To pour into the lives
Of those I love.
I offer my heart to you,
My friends,
But sometimes, as I stand here,
I feel more like an oasis
Than a part
Of the ocean
We were meant to be.

Where are the waves,
Oh Church?
Where are the rivers
Of mercy,
Where is a love
So deep
No wall could stand against it?

We should be the ocean.
The waves should swell
With grace,
Should roll
With grace,
Should roar
With grace.
May we drown the deserts,
Oh Church;
May we seal the craters we’ve created—
May we bring the life
They long for,
Filling, at last,
The hearts that thirst for love.

Playing with Your Kiddos

Vivi’s growing up, and becoming such a toddler! One result is that she loves to play…whether it’s with toys or stuff she finds in cupboards, she enjoys getting down, exploring, and playing.

So over the past several months, I’ve been working at getting better at playing. Playing is a weak point for me…I’m not good at it, and it takes a lot of effort to figure out how to play and be creative. So I feel like Vivi’s been entering a stage of life outside of my comfort zone as far as relating to her goes. I’m working at it, because it’s still important to me to spend a lot of time with her. She still enjoys doing things with me, and helping me with my various tasks….but she also loves to play- so if I want to get in plenty of time with her, I’ve gotta figure out this whole creative play thing. :-D

For Christmas, we splurged and bought Vivi a wooden kitchen, and my mom got her a set of playware to go with it. Vivi absolutely loves it. She spends a substantial amount of time playing with it- and always pats the floor and asks Ben and I to “sit!” and play with her….an irresistible plea. It’s fun to see her enjoying a toy so much as she continues to grow up. She hasn’t really gotten into babies yet, so most of her play (here at home, anyway…grandparents have much more variety of toys!) has been either with pots/pans/spoons, Tupperware, exploring closets and sewing buckets, baby toys and wedgits. So, the kitchen is a little different- being more of a “pretend play” item.

She loves it as much as we thought she would….but there’s been an unexpected blessing, too- it’s helped me play with her. I might not be creative….but I know how a kitchen works. My play might look awkward…but I can pretend I’m doing my typical deal in the kitchen while playing with Vivi, and making her day. And then Vivi can join me in my kitchen…. :-) Playdough’s something else we’ve played with more the past couple months, which works well for us, too. Going outside is another great way for us to interact…play together, find things together (her ears and eyes are amazing- she always is the one to hear/see things first), etc. Personally, it’ll be nicer when spring hits….but Vivi doesn’t see things that way. :-)

I hadn’t ever thought of it before…but having tools you can play well with is really helpful in playing and spending time with your kiddos. I’m keeping it on file in my memory, and sometimes I might not hesitate to invest in something I know I could enjoy doing with Vivi or Timothy.

What are you good at? What realms are you creative in? How can you work into your child’s life and interests, in addition to working them into yours?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Menu Plan 1/9/2012 – 1/15/2012

As I’m continuing in the excitement of changing our diet and working on even healthier living than before, I’ve been contemplating over the last few days not doing so much at once that I get burned out. And quit it all. I can tend to be a “jump in” kind of person, once I’m certain that one route is the way I want to go. So I’m going to work on purposely pacing myself and my experiments in manageable chunks, so that it’s practical to fully integrate them into my daily life. For instance: I’ve been reading about fermented drinks lately, and I can’t wait to try some of it. It sounds healthy and like it could be a good source of energy, and a good thing to supplement for some of our water intake. But I think I’m going to try to wait a month or two before experimenting in that direction….till soaking/sprouting grains and beans, consuming more veggies, etc. are habits I could do in my sleep.

On to what’s happening in the kitchen this week….

Monday- rotisserie chicken, potato salad, soaked bread, stir-fried broccoli and peppers (amazing meal, by the way….all of it)

Tuesday- Carmichael’s (my family’s)…I know we’re having chicken salad (as in, salad with chicken in it- there’s always confusion between that and the chicken/mayo sandwich deal :-)). I think I’ll bring sautéed sunflower seeds and hard boiled eggs to add to it.

Wednesday- Graber’s (Ben’s family)…and celebrating Ben’s birthday with fajitas. I’ll bring black refried beans.

Thursday- Ben’s birthday….Mexican rice/black beans/seasoned beef stacks (do you see a trend here?) with plenty of fresh veggies. Raspberry cream pie for dessert.

Friday- Steak, potatoes, salad, green beans (grill extra steak for steak stir fry salad next week)

Saturday (start grain/sugar fast)- probably Carmichael’s again. I’ll probably just help with dinner prep over there (we usually go to family’s mid/late afternoon)….no plans on what we’re having

Sunday- church fellowship at Graber’s….we’ll do black refried beans/sour cream for the potluck. Might bring something veggie-laden, too, depending on my supply by Sunday- it’ll probably be low.

Extras for the week: cream cheese and whey (experminet- check!), 1 gallon yogurt, lacto-fermented mayo (experiment), chili lime almonds, possibly 5-10 lbs sprouted grain (need to borrow my mom’s dehydrator for that one). And broth made with the bones from the rotisserie chicken....which makes the best broth ever.

Breakfasts: fruit or chocolate green smoothies (every breakfast), breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls (for Ben’s birthday), possibly granola one more time before the fast.

Lunches are usually leftovers as much as possible. :-) When you consume an incredibly yummy diet, everyone loves leftovers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I Fed My Daughter (and the rest of us) For Breakfast

Creamy, chocolaty-peanut buttery goodness….and 100% healthy! It also works with our upcoming sugar and grain fast- I foresee this making the breakfast menu at least once or twice during that season!

I’ve been experimenting with green smoothies this week, as part of our incorporating more veggies in the diet. And today’s was super delicious. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to survive the sugar fast now, because I don’t have to give up chocolate all together. Yay!

Loaded with veggies, protein, healthy fats and fruit, it’s a balanced all-around winner. We ate it with an egg casserole from the freezer, but it’s really filling, so it’d work by itself for breakfast, too. If you have a source for pastured eggs, you could try throwing in a couple of those, too- we’ll be trying that soon! I really love that this and other green smoothies get so much lettuce and other greens in Vivi, since she still can’t chew up lettuce very well, so what she gets is pretty minimal. She gets a pretty large “salad” drinking the smoothie, though!

Green Chocolate-Peanut Butter Smoothie

-a handful of dates (about ½ cup…I soaked mine overnight in water, because they’re really old and kind of hard- if you have a Vitamix, though, you probably wouldn’t have to…and soaking for just a little while would work, too. You could exclude the dates altogether; we’ve found that they make a nice counter-balance to the bitterness of the greens without adding sweeteners.)

-6 cups of slightly-smashed-down greens (Excluding kale or spinach….this week we’ve been using endive and red leaf lettuce, next week I’ll get something different to experiment with. I like doing a mix so we can get variety without it being too bitter.)

-Plenty of milk (1 ½-2 cups, probably)

-Heaping spoonful coconut oil (2 TBL)

-Several spoonfuls cocoa powder (1/3-1/2 cup)

-2 large spoonfuls peanut butter (1/4-1/3 cup)

-4 bananas, frozen or not, or a mix (depending on consistency you want- we used frozen)

Blend up the dates in their soaking liquid, or in some of the milk. Add ripped up greens and milk, blend well. Add remaining ingredients, and blend again. Dish up and enjoy! -fills 6 cup blender-

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Food Goals! (coinciding with the new year, but not exactly for it)

My focus has shifted more to the kitchen in recent months, especially the past month or so. In part, probably, because of a season in there of having more computer time (nursing/bouncing (on exercise ball) Timothy late at night when everyone else was in bed), but not being able to type very well. So I got into recipe browsing (and have become addicted to and infatuated with food ;-)), and as I started collecting a mega-stash, I got excited about not only trying new recipes, but incorporating healthier practices, and in general, moving more towards a Weston Price type life style. And, we’ve been wanting to step up our health, anyway. And it wouldn’t hurt to loose the last few pounds of baby fat, either! :-)

So, my current mental focus (the thing I think about most with spare thoughts) is food and health. And consequently, that’s the focus of more of my “extra” time. I’m still working on finding the balance with everything and making sure that it is just taking up extra time, and isn’t detracting from Viviana and Timothy. Trying to find the balance of nourishing my family physically, without sacrificing nurturing them emotionally. Because our physical health is really important…but my family’s emotional well-being is even more so. And I’m not super-mom. It’s been good to work on….I’m not perfect, but I try to work at breaking away from everything (and going for a walk, or tandem nursing, or reading to/playing with Vivi) when I feel my stress levels rising because of being too wrapped up in something when Vivi and Timothy both need me, and are making that well-known.

It raises plenty of questions about what this food journey will look like down the road as our family grows and/or family dynamics change- and challenges me to not judge other people for where they’re at in nourishing their families! I’ve noticed that all the real-food/Weston Price blogs/sites I’ve seen are done by small (or young, growing) families….which makes me curious as to what it looks like when you’re feeding an army everyday. While I hope that in general, we’ll continue to strive towards greater health in our journey, I recognize that in the ebb and flow of life, there’ll be seasons for going backwards for a time. Like buying pre-made dressings for a month after Timothy was born, along with canned beans- stuff we’d totally gotten rid of for several months prior to his birth. But if buying dressing meant that I was motivated to provide a salad at all our dinners, then it was worth it to me. And now life’s settling in, and we’re climbing back on the band wagon. Seasons. Ebb and flow. The month or two didn’t ruin us….it just gave a reprieve as I enjoyed and focused on my babies and settling into life. And now we’re ready to jump back in where we left off, and add some new things, too!

Some of my main food goals for the upcoming months:

-Eating more veggies, including getting much more creative with how I prepare them, and finding ways to hide them in non-veggie dishes (this has been fun, and we’re eating more veggies than we ever have before!)

-Soaking (the Nourishing Traditions way) all our beans.

-Soaking (most of) our grain foods, and continuing to make all of those from scratch. This includes keeping sprouted wheat made up and on hand for times when I can’t soak something ahead of time.

-Eating more varied breakfasts.

-Consuming less sweet stuff, and appreciating other flavors more when I’m craving sweets.

-Eating more eggs…as their own thing, but also in stuff (like loading our ice cream with eggs).

-Experimenting with more Nourishing Traditions practices as I run into them.

-Cutting out remaining processed foods in our diet. Current one in the works: mayo (which we use a lot of!).

-Consuming plenty of yogurt…and trying to do other homemade milk products, like whey/cream cheese.

-Consuming bone-in meat and/or homemade broth on approximately at least a weekly basis.

After Ben’s birthday on the 12th, which is the last celebration in either of our families for the next few months, we’ll be doing a month long sweetener fast, the first two weeks of which we’ll also be doing a grain fast. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m kind of excited, too….it feels like going cold turkey off some of that for a while will help to kick us full throttle into some of our new goals, and give a dividing ground for eating better. For instance, not eating grains will force me to do more with veggies, to make ample side dishes. It will also help me to be creative about doing meals without grains, which hopefully means once we start back, I’ll either be good about remembering to soak stuff, or be creative enough to do without if I don’t….and I bet I’ll get good at remembering pretty fast under that plan!

In light of all that....there'll probably be some more food-related posts in the near future. And I just *might* even get into sharing some of our menu plans. :-)

So….those are the directions we’re currently moving in! How about you? Did you create any goals/resolutions for the new year? What’s your current focus?