Friday, April 26, 2013

new sun hats and "peek-boo"

The sun has been out in the Pacific Northwest (yay!) and we've been out enjoying it...but the girls had grown out of last year's sun hats! A quick trip to Old Navy and problem solved.

And they love to play "Peek Boo."

It's pretty dang cute. And it occupies them for a good half hour!

Happy Spring! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Home is...

There are a lot of things I want to share - the newest Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids about handling meltdowns (can I get an amen and a yes please?!), pictures from our family vineyard planting at my aunt and uncles and our anniversary weekend, and then a big thank you post for all your supportive comments after my last imma go crazy all (we in the PNW don't say y'all authentically, much to my disappointment)...but instead...

This has been a learning month for us. Most of you know that we moved into a new house and that I was very excited about it, and there was so much meaning attached to "the big move."

And now I go back and read about my feelings and I laugh sardonically, cynically, sadly.

"This weekend, we found the house. The yard is ginormous. They could probably build two more houses back there. So that means a garden. And maybe chickens. And lots of running and rolling around in sweet, clean grass. It's right in our price range and so not financially stressful for Andy. It's not 100 years old, so it's better insulated and it's clean. Still small, but we like small. But it's farther out than I wanted to go. It's not in a trendy part of town (at least not yet). It's a quiet street in the 100's block."

Ha. Ha. Ha.

We moved in and shortly after, I started finding random bites on my body. Pretty soon, I was itching frantically and trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Andy and the girls weren't getting bit, so what gives? It happened only when I was sleeping, so I slept on the couch. Then it started happening more frequently until I was utterly miserable. After I found three little bites on Ruthie's thigh, I called my friend sobbing, and later that day, packed up the girls and headed to my parents house with only a trashbag full of clothes and a small makeup bag.

They were fleas. Our house, the house, was flea infested. We caught them in traps and saw them on our socks, and once on Ruthie's head. No. And we had no animals, so we asked the landlord if the previous tenant had any animals - the little cat door in the garage entrance gave us a big red flag, as did the bottle of flea shampoo we found out by the trash - and he confirmed that yes, they had a cat and apparently the cat had kittens.

Long story short, I stayed with my parents for almost a month while Andy dealt with the exterminator and the vacuuming, washing, and cleaning that had to be done every single day. After the second spray and me coming home to more bites, we decided it was enough and are breaking our lease agreement to move out.

Talk about stressful. Spending time at my parents house was a wonderful escape; I could sleep without a hoodie pulled tight across my face and my socks tucked into my pj pants. Being around my parents, in-laws, and old dear friends was like a balm for my soul, even though we missed Andy (dada) a lot. Thank God for Facetime.

Now we're back and in between houses, staying with our generous and kind friends while we figure out what to do with everything in the flea house, and soon moving into Andy's uncle's basement apartment for a bit.

I wonder why these things happen, and even though the simplest explanation is that's just life, it still feels like a bad dream. It was like we were trying our hardest to be in a house like a "real" family, and we took one step forward and now are two steps wayyy back. Today, Andy actually called our old apartment building to see if they had any openings. They didn't; the place has a waiting list. And what I wouldn't give for that apartment right about now.

Did we jump the gun? Make a mistake? We don't know. But we do know you can't go back, and can only tuck this experience into our backpack of life lessons and move forward as best as we can. It's definitely harder when you have two little toddlers who sense your stress and frustration, and when you worry about their health and safety, and all you wanted was a yard for heaven's sake.

But we learned some important things:

  • The safety of your family comes first, even before binding property contracts
  • Andy is actually great at gentle but firm confrontation 
  • I am allergic to flea bites (called flea allergy dermatitis) 
  • The things I think I need, I don't really (I took a trash bag of clothes to my parent's house and was fine for 3 1/2 weeks) 

and probably the most important, bordering on cliche but SO TRUE:

Wherever we are together, that is home. 


and for me especially, because I'm emotional and slightly depressed and just on autopilot...

Lavender & Tea Tree Herbal Laundry Booster {Post for Natural Parents Network}

I have a post today at Natural Parents Network for the Simply Living Carnival about making your own Lavender & Tea Tree Herbal Laundry Booster. Check it out!

"We're a no-fragrance detergent family, but sometimes it feels good to slip into a warm bed, sheets fresh out of the dryer, and catch the subtle smell of soothing lavender and refreshing tea tree.

 As someone who is sensitive to synthetic scents, essential oils are a wonderful way to add safe and natural fragrances to cleaning supplies, achieving that "fresh and clean" scent that I love. Not only do essential oils have great fragrance, but many of them have antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

 Lavender oil is one of the most versatile oils and is a must-have for every natural health cabinet: it disinfects, improves sleep quality, soothes tension and headaches, promotes respiratory health, treats skin problems, and much more. Tea tree oil is anti-viral and anti-fungal, also treats skin problems, repels insects, stimulates the immune system, and can control mold and mustiness.

  Continue reading at Natural Parents Network for the recipe ››
  Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating eco-friendly living solutions into their everyday lives. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Daily Lives!
  • Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much - Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the many things that have an impact on eco-friendly renovating
  • Growing Native in My Flower Beds - Destany at They Are All of Me takes the guilt out of her flower habit by switching from high maintenance flowers to native plants which not only lessens her gardening load, but also benefits the local wild life.
  • Baby Steps - Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares how her family became more sustainable, one step at a time.
  • A Greener Holiday - Sara from Family Organic discusses the overwhelming amount of "stuff" that comes with every holiday and talks about how to simplify instead.
  • Forcibly Green--Obligatory Organic - Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about her family's evolution from passive to active green and sustainable living.
  • Giving It Away - Juliet Kemp of Twisting Vines writes about the role of Freecycle, the giant karmic lending library, in her simple and green living.
  • Simply Sustainable - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses her family's attempts to live in harmony with the earth by living simply and more sustainably.
  • How Does Your Yarden Grow - Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras writes about an ongoing permaculture project, converting her grass lawn into a mower-free paradise.
  • Green? - Is it about ticking the boxes? sustainablemum shares her thoughts on what being green means in her life.
  • Using Cloth Products To Reduce Household Waste - Angela from Earth Mama's World shares how her family replaced many disposable household products with cloth to reduce their household waste.
  • Going Green in Baby Steps - Joella of Fine and Fair shares some small, easy steps to gradually reduce your environmental impact.
  • Are You Ready To Play Outside?! - Alex from AN Portraits writes about gardening, and playing in the dirt, and how it's O.K. to get dirty, play in the dirt, play with worms, for both adults and kids.
  • Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Laundry Booster - At Natural Parents Network, Megan from The Boho Mama shares an all-natural way to freshen laundry.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Love & Banana Bread {Carnival of Natural Parenting}

Welcome to the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing their recipes, their stories, their pictures, and their memories.

The one baked constant throughout my life has been my grandma's banana bread. She'd come to visit and bring frozen foil-covered loaves with her, or we'd go visit and she'd have fresh-baked slices waiting for us on the counter. It is love in bread form, and we've had many a conversation over the steaming banana goodness. 

A few months after I had my girls, I opened up a care package to find a dozen or so wrapped mini loaves made with love by Grandma, and it was the best gift she could have sent. During and after nursing marathons or midnight feeds, I'd cut a few slices, load them with butter, and pour myself a glass of milk, thinking about special childhood memories and the memories I hope to make with my own family. 

Everyone in our large family knows about grandma's banana bread, and we request it by name. The recipe is simple but special, and it will be the first thing my daughters and I bake together. 

Grandma's Banana Bread

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 extra ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a large loaf pan or 2 small loaf pans. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, and add the eggs in one at a time. Add bananas, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then add to the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. 

Bake in the large loaf pan for an hour, or in the small loaf pans for 40 minutes, checking with a toothpick until it comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. 
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • German Red Cabbage: A Family Tradition — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares her favorite dish and a part of her family's history.
  • Rotisserie Chicken Recipes for Meal Planning — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama shares a new recipe that is in her family's meal-planning rotation. Check out how she uses a rotisserie chicken to get through the week.
  • Grandma Wicken's Sugar Cookies — Jana Falls at Jananas talks about how special her Grandma's sugar cookies made her feel.
  • Recipe: Seed and Bean Burgers — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings shares one of her favourite frugal recipes that is also super-healthy and totally delicious.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich — Lisa at The Squishable Baby PULLS dinner together for the kids.
  • The Best Banana Muffin Recipe (Gluten Free & Vegan) — Dionna of Code Name: Mama's adventures in gluten free baking have not been 100% successful. But today she is guest posting at Fine and Fair to share a banana muffin recipe that will knock your socks off!
  • The Pierogie Mama Whips Up Strawberry Pierogies! — Bianca at The Pierogie Mama shares her family's recipe for strawberry pierogies…a sweet, summery version of the Polish dumplings that she affectionately named her daughter after.
  • Mom's Cookbook — Tree at Mom Grooves digs into the big book her mom created for her six daughters and shares a favorite family recipe.
  • Crispy Duck Confit — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes the liberty of starting a family recipe tradition with this super simple, totally delicious crispy duck confit.
  • Stovetop BBQ Chicken — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares a yummy BBQ chicken recipe that you can make on the stovetop in less than 25 minutes, fridge to table!
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Casserole w/Bacon — Martine at Whey Beyond the Naked Truth shares a naked food twist on an old family favorite!
  • Strawberry Panna Cotta — KerryAnn at shows you her favorite dessert, a quick and easy Strawberry Panna Cotta that she enjoys so much, she had it instead of a birthday cake this year.
  • Special crepes for a special day — Mikko at Hobo Mama is learning to cook his grandma's signature holiday meal alongside his dad.
  • Three Favorite Family Recipes: To Eat, To Wash, To Play — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is back with three family favorites: gluten-free shortbread, DIY powdered laundry detergent, and something fun for the kids: homemade "Flubber"!
  • Black Bean Soup Forever — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a soup recipe that's been around forever.
  • Do you want to know a secret? — SRB at Little Chicken Nuggets lets go of her mac and cheese recipe, a comfort food favourite for friends and family for years.
  • Creating Our Own Family Recipes — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM shares how she's trying to create meals that her girls will want to pass down to their own children some day.
  • Vranameer Chicken: A Family Recipe — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares a recipe that reminds her of childhood and more specifically, of her mother. It's a South African take on sweet and sour chicken and what it lacks in healthy it makes up for in tantalising to the taste buds.
  • One Recipe, Three Uses: Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Dish Soap, and Hand Soap — If you love saving money and time, you'll love this green recipe from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network.
  • Our Family's Favorite Pies — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares recipes and tutorials for the quintessential American dessert.
  • Deliciously Easy Crock Pot ChiliLactating Girl shares her crock pot chili that is not only quick and easy, but awesome.
  • All-Purpose Crock Pot PorkCrunchy Con Mommy's simple "recipe" for cooking perfect pork in the crock pot is for whatever mood her family is in!
  • Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony — Cooped-up kids + winter weather + frazzled parents can all blend together into a recipe for disaster. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares what brought back the peace in her house.
  • Favorite Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s healthy eating experiences along with links to free printable vegetarian recipes that her family has created with love.
  • Grandma's Banana Bread — Megan at The Boho Mama has early and fond memories of her grandma's banana bread. It's love in a loaf!
  • Family Comfort Food — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares a recipe handed down that moms have made for their kids, for regular meals as well as to comfort.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

BabyWeightTV Review: online fitness classes for moms & moms-to-be

Squeezing exercise into my busy day is no easy task. There seems to be so many things that I'd rather be doing...but I recognize the importance of taking care of my body, both for my physical and emotional stamina.

I don't do many reviews on this blog, so you know that when I do it's something I really believe in. When Micky Marie Morrison, physical therapist, certified perinatal fitness educator, and the author of the book Baby Weight and the creator of the mama-focused fitness website BabyWeightTV contacted me about reviewing her site, I was excited to see what kind of content she offered.

What I found surpassed my expectations - over 70 different videos for every mother at every stage: pregnancy, postnatal, and post-postnatal, even videos specifically for mamas who are recovering from C-sections. As a subscription-based service, you pay monthly for the service or you can download individual videos to your computer for as little as 99 cents.

Morrison was prompted to create BabyWeightTV after the release of her book and her group class series CoreMama led to an increased request for classes all over and a DVD. She wondered how to share her vision, knowledge and experience with more women, and recognized that we women are busy and may find it difficult to make it to scheduled classes (amen!). Many of us also live in areas without access to prenatal or postpartum focused classes. And so BabyWeightTV was born!

While pregnant, I walked a lot, went to a wonderful prenatal yoga class at Zenana Spa as often as possible, but eventually my activity tapered off after experiencing preterm labor and really strong braxton-hicks contractions. I had the intention of doing a video at home, but I never could find one that made me look forward to replacing the Gilmore Girls DVDs that looped continuously in my final days of pregnancy.

After I had the girls, I felt extremely weak. I didn't like it at all. I slowly regained my strength as the girls grew heavier, and as they became more mobile, I moved with them. Still, it was hard to carve out time in my day to devote to exercise. I also didn't want to jeopardize my milk supply, so I was hesitant to get gung-ho about any postpartum fitness routine.

And I missed it. Sometimes you just need a good sun salutation and some deep breaths to recharge your mood and to make you feel strong again, right? On BabyWeightTV, there's a video for that.

Looking for something gentle and invigorating, or want to work on your breath to prepare for labor? The YogaMama videos are perfect. They can be paired together with other videos to create your own custom yoga session, and many are suitable for both prenatal and postnatal. She also offers videos for mamas who have had C-sections, starting at 4-6 weeks post-op.

Want to firm up and get back your core strength? Her CoreMama classes are challenging and includes your baby in the exercises! The PowerMama classes combine core work with stretching and balance exercises.

But perhaps my favorite videos are the Soothing Mama's Woes series of videos, aimed at treating the most common aches and pains and physical complaints of motherhood- sciatica, neck and shoulder pain (my biggest problem), diagnosing diastasis recti, and relieving lower back pain.

There's even more content that I haven't talked about - cooking videos, relaxing meditation - this site is a gold mine. Plus, they add a new video every week and are working on a Cardio series. I'm not much of a cardio person - I love how yoga makes me feel - but I will definitely give it a fair shot.

It's clear that Micky is passionate about promoting the wellbeing of mothers at all stages, and what I appreciate is that her site is focused on the health - not dress size or scale number - of every woman. The videos are encouraging and the fitness models are refreshingly normal and healthy looking. There's just a great feel to it all. And there is no pressure if you aren't doing the advanced videos right off the bat - in fact, she states, "You may be in a hurry to get back in to shape, but you can't rush nature. Respect where you are today and progress naturally."

While I can't speak to the book (I haven't read it yet), I can definitely give my full support to Micky and the BabyWeightTV website and highly recommend it to you, because it's promoting health in a positive way - something lifelong and attainable for every mother at every fitness level. Yes!

Want to learn more? Sign up for a free 30 day trial using the code BOHO and experience all that BabyWeightTV has to offer. 

Do you live in Portland? Come hear Micky speak at Zenana Spa and Wellness Center on April 13th at 10:30 a.m.! Reserve your spot and two raffle tickets for a book giveaway and subscription to BabyWeightTV by calling Zenana at 503-238-6262.

She'll talk about getting and staying in shape during and after pregnancy, and offer tips on carving out time for exercise - something most of us would benefit from! 

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