More Lentils

Now that we have a great Lentil/Rice base, we can do so much. Here are a few of my favorites but if you think of it as a blank slate, like ground beef, I bet you could come up with even more ideas.

Lentil Soup:
Cut up some veggies, I usually stick with the basic Mirepoix (don't that sound so much better than carrots, celery and onion?) and sautee in butter or oil. Add two cans worth of broth (chicken, vegetable or beef would all work well) and let it melt. Okay, most of you can skip the melting step but I store my homemade broth in the freezer and I never remember to take it out in time so I have to wait for it melt in the pan then dilute it to normal levels. Then add a few big wooden spoonfuls of your base, more for a more stew like meal, less for a soup. Add more seasonings if desired plus a bay leaf. Everyone knows a soup isn't a soup without a bay leaf although I really do have my doubts as to it's effect. If you have a can of diced tomatoes lying around, you can add that two, if not, well, then don't. Since your beans and rice are already cooked, you just have to wait for it to be warm. Best served with fresh bread and a nice salad. It is a lot easier to convince Craig to eat a meal of beans if I serve it with fresh bread or rolls.

Lentil Gyros:
This is a weird take on this Rachel Ray Recipe for Gyros. I made it with ground beef and liked the flavor but didn't like how long the log took to bake (much longer than her 20 minute estimate if you don't want to eat raw meat). So the next time I just added all the spices to browned ground beef (like I would add seasoning to make taco meat). That worked well but we still had pitas and cucumber sauce the next day but no beef. So then I just used my Lentil Mix. We like it, especially with these homemade pitas. So here is my adjusted recipe:

Several cups of Lentil/Rice Base (or ground beef)
5 oz frozen spinach (~ half package) (Optional - Craig doesn't like this but I do)
1 T grill seasoning (I like this stuff, it's awesome one all things grilled)
1 t cumin
1/2 T Chili powder
1/2 T Coriander
A pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 t Oregano

Heat the L/R base slightly in a skillet on the stove (if using beef instead, brown it). If adding the spinach, cook it in the microwave or another pan according to the package. Add the spices and spinach to the L/R base or beef and cook until warm. You might need to add a few tablespoons of water. The L/R
is going to be a bit more mushy and wet than ground beef but that is okay. Eat in pitas with yogurt sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes. People that like feta would probably want to add some of that too but I'm not a big feta fan.

Yogurt sauce:
1/2 c greek yogurt (or drain regular yogurt for an hour to thicken it up if you are cheap like me)
small clove garlic, chopped or pressed
a few tablespoons of grated cucumber (sliced the rest to add directly to the pita)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 t cumin

Mix together.

Lentil Tacos:

Do the same thing as above but instead of adding those spices, add a packet of taco seasoning or homemade taco mix. And don't serve with cucumbers and yogurt sauce on pitas. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and cheese on tortillas. But I think you get the picture

Lentil Patties:
This one is the hardest to explain. Basically you mix some of the base with some tomato product (I normally do ketchup but you could do tomato paste or tomato sauce) and some breading (Again, I normally do breadcrumbs but you could use crushed crackers too). It's like meatloaf, there are a lot of ways to get to the same thing. There are no amounts, it just how much you need to make a substance that you can mold into patties. If it is too dry and falls apart, add more ketchup. If it is too wet and sticky, add more breading. Then add a bunch of spices and mold into flat little cakes. Similar in size to hamburger patties, you want them thin enough that the middle gets warm before they are done browning but not too thin or they will fall apart.

Pan fry in a bit of oil (I like coconut!) until brown. Flip carefully (the break apart easily but you can just use a spatula and smoosh them back together). Brown the other side. Serve with ketchup.

Now this may seem like a lot of Lentils but when I make the base, I freeze half and make one or two lentil meals that week and save the rest for a few weeks later. Except last September when I started writing this. I wanted to remember how I made everything and take pictures so I did it all in one week. Poor Craig, by the end of the week he was begging for a non-lentil meal. And alas, I have no idea what happened to all those pictures. Next time I make these meals, I will take pictures and come back and add them, especially the patties, it would make a lot more sense with pictures.

And in case you aren't entirely sick of Lentils, here are a few other non Lentil/Rice base recipes for you to try:

Lentil/Rice Casserole - My mom has been making this casserole since I was 7 or 8 years old. I used to despite it but now I quite like it.

Sloppy Lentils - A new crockpot recipe we tried last night. Craig called it a keeper as long as we refered to them as Sloppy Irvs. (Joe is a nice normal guy who likes eat beef but Irv is a hippy weirdo whose wife makes lentils instead)

Spiced Lentils and Rice
- I still haven't tried this but Elaine mentioned it and I think the idea of making lentils in a rice cooker is ingenious.

My splurge that wasn't and a Thank You!

Craig and I are really working on keeping the baby stuff we buy to a minimum. Even most of the "must haves" we aren't planning on getting. Most of the time it is pretty easy as a lot of stuff just doesn't appeal to me. We went to Babies R Us on Saturday to use two $5 gift cards we had gotten from Facebook. I thought I didn't like the store on principal but was still a bit worried about getting sucked into it anyway. I didn't need to worry. It was the ultimate baby stuff-mart. While we did find a few things we needed like a baby first-aid kit complete with snot nose bulb nasal aspirator, the majority of things there just seemed ridiculous.

That isn't to say I don't sometimes get sucked into the baby gimmes. I do, believe me, it's just that my common sense normally stops me from giving into them since my tastes run towards the organic/natural stuff which is also tends to be ridiculously expensive stuff. No matter how adorable I think that little onesies at Cotton Babies are, one glance at the price tag turns all my desires for it into ridicule. Who in their right mind would pay $18 for a single newborn onesie? I don't care if it is made of organic bamboo. It had better be made of gold if they want me to spend that much on a article of clothing that will be worn for maybe a month and will spend it's life getting spit up and pooped on.

So we are sticking with mostly the basics. It's actually a good thing we are doing cloth diapers as there would only be 7-8 items on our baby registry without them.

But there was one item though that I really wanted - a co-sleeper. I knew a lot of co-sleeping moms make do just fine with a pack n' play next to their bed and I kept going back and forth between those options since it felt so silly to spend that money on a item with such a short lifespan. But I had been saving my swagbucks since I first started with the intention of getting one and since I had almost enough, I splurged! Except with my swagbucks, it was only $35 so it really wasn't much of a splurge. It came last weekend and we set it up. I lurve it! (And unfortunately so does Zeeba but that is another matter) I'd show you a picture but I'll wait for now since I'm sure it will be much cuter with a Nigel inside.

So if you signed up for swagbucks through my referral - Thank you! It would have been much more of a splurge without your help. And if you haven't signed up, what are you waiting for? Swagbucks are awesome!

*You may have noticed that I was going to get it at Target but the ratio of gift card $ to swagbucks is the best if you get $5 amazon gift cards. Just be sure to notice that you can only get 5 prizes a month (or $25 worth of $5 amazon gift cards). You can use as many gift cards as you want on one purchase on Amazon.com just be sure to give yourself enough time to redeem your points for cards. I didn't realize that originally and had to wait a few extra weeks to get the last few cards.


Don't Judge a Cover By its Book

Did I ever tell you about the book cover I was on? Er, I mean, the book which I was on the cover of? No, wait, the book of which I was on the cover. There we go. Here it is:

I was a mascot back in college, if you didn't know. This book came out in 2002. It was written by the longtime radio announcer for the mens' football and basketball games, and it tells some stories about noteworthy and interesting games and athletes at the University. Just recently, I finally decided that I should own this book, since I'm on it, and I bought it online. When the book arrived, I found that it was even autographed by the author. Neato.

You might be asking, though, how do I know this is me? It could be someone else in that costume, from another time period. Well, here's how I know:
  1. The shoes. Those are my shoes. In fact, I just threw them out a few months ago (I get a lot of mileage out of my shoes).
  2. The sport. Basketball games were my thing.
  3. The head. We had two heads that we used. I preferred this one because it had a more secure fit. The other one, which a couple of my comrades preferred, was liable to slip off. You could tell them apart by the nose; this one is a little bigger.
  4. The pose. Climbing up on the basket support after the game and leading the crowd in the school song was my shtick. I was also quite festive (see the Santa hat).


UHF: There's no place like home.

If you missed "The Clause" I put up earlier today, please start there.

We are planning on having this baby at home.

There, I've said it. No doctor, no hospital, just us and our (Certified Professional) midwife here in our nice cozy home welcoming our little one into the world.

Now comes the why part. I wanted to start off now talking about the main reason we are choosing a homebirth but honestly, there isn't just one main reason. So I'll just go over the mental journey we took to get here.

It started off with the idea that it was possibility. This was definitely one of those things I had never even considered before several bloggers mentioned theirs. Until then, I didn't know anyone who had ever had there baby anyplace other than a hospital so I probably wouldn't have even considered it if it wasn't for them.

And then, still way before I even got pregnant, I heard that in there were those who didn't want it to be a option. Well, that made me mad. But also curious as to why one would be so opposed to it, not just for themselves, but for others. So I did some more research and found out some interesting things:

Home birth is safe:
Despite what you may have heard, in terms of infant and maternal mortality rates, home birth is just as safe, if not safer, for mom and baby as a hospital birth is. In fact, in the last study I linked to, newborns in the home-birth group were less likely to require resuscitation at birth, oxygen therapy beyond 24 hours or meconium aspiration. There is a ton of information out there but the two pamphlets and two study summaries above will give you a good start if you are interested.

Many medical and public health organizations consider homebirth a good option for low risk mothers:
While the America College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes homebirth, the American Public Health Association, the World Health Organization, Britain's Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada all support midwifery and an individuals choice of birth locations. (Links go to policy statements or recommended birth guidelines)

Inquisitive Reader: Okay, so it's one option, but why are you two choosing it?

Our research taught us that there were two main ways of looking at birth and that as a family, our thinking about birth was very much aligned with the midwifery model of care and not very much aligned with the typical medical model of care.

Basically, I don't think birth is a problem, an illness, or anything that needs to be fixed or solved. Birth is the way life is supposed to begin. A woman's body, including mine, has been specifically designed to go through this process. It doesn't mean it always goes perfectly, but it also doesn't mean that the whole thing is one big medical mistake that needs to be managed. I hate the saying "Giving birth is like trying to fit a orange/watermelon/grapefruit/fruit of choice out your nostril." Well, that is just stupid. Nostrils are not made to have large pieces of fruit go through them, birth organs are (well, not fruit, babies, but you understood that right?)

With that knowledge base already in place, when the time came for us to make a decision, the right one (for us) was obvious.

Inquisitive Reader: "Why can't you just have that mindset while having your baby in a hospital like a normal person just in case something goes wrong with this whole natural, normal process?"

That was what we probably would have tried to do if I didn't know about home births. But along with my midwifery mindset came certain ideas of things we want:
  • chance to labor in multiple places and positions
  • option to eat and drink during labor
  • the baby placed immediately on my chest
  • the opportunity to breastfeed within the first hour
  • allow the cord to stop pulsing before it is cut
  • nothing going inside the babies mouth unless it is attached to a human being. (Fingers and boobs = okay; water, glucose, pacifier = not okay)
and do not want:
  • Induction
  • membranes artificially ruptured
  • drugs of any kind
  • an IV
  • electronic fetal monitoring
  • to labor on my back
  • episiotomy
  • any forceps or vacuum assistance
  • c-section unless absolutely necessary
  • any shots to be given to the baby right away
Now some women are fine with all those things and that is their choice. I hope that they make well-informed decisions but either way, it's up to them to figure out what is best for them just as Craig and I have looked at each of those things and determined what we want and why we want it that way - we think it is the safest option for me and the baby.

And yes, it is technically possible to have a completely natural childbirth in a hospital, but it isn't easy. And to be honest, I know quite a few women that wanted it but not a lot that have actually managed to get it. You have to be willing to fight for want you want and have a bit of luck on your side.

Midwifes are experts on birth, they are trained for this and they see so much "normal" that they can recognize abnormal and take the appropriate action. And unlike doctors who you will likely only see for a short period during the labor and the nurses who come in every so often and check the fetal monitoring system, the midwife is with the laboring women the whole time. She knows her and her body and is there for her.

Doctors are trained to find problems and solve them. And they are very good at finding problems. In fact, they find so many problems that the national c-section rate is now around 30%. But maybe those problems weren't there until they started messing around. Because those things I listed that we don't want, they can cause problems and they really aren't individual requests like it may seem but are tied together.

Induction means you get an IV and drugs, which pretty much guarantee you need electronic fetal monitoring. Even if you can take the extra long and hard contractions that come with Pitocin and don't get an epidural (and that is a big if), you will still probably need to be on your back and that means you will probably need at least an episiotomy or "help" getting the baby out. But you probably won't be able to take them, so you'll get an epidural which might slow things down to much so that now you need more Pitocin. And you may be numb but the baby is still feeling all those super strong contractions so due to fetal distress a c-section becomes necessary to "save the baby's life." Suddenly, all your hopes for a natural birth are out the window. There are lots of ways to get sucked into the non-natural birth cycle and very few ways to get out of it again. It's a vicious version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

From our very first doctor's appointment, I felt like I was already fighting the system with the testing that we didn't want done. And I don't want to fight during my labor. I don't want Craig to have to fight for me during out labor. I want to work on getting this baby out and I want Craig to be able to help me without either of us stressed or distracted.

When we met our new midwife, she had just gotten home from an 18-hr birth and had barely had time to shower before we got there. I could tell she was exhausted and at first, I was a little worried and wondered if we should reschedule. But unlike the 10 minutes quick visits I was used to with my doctors, she sat with us for about an hour talking with me and examining me to see how things were going. I feel very confident in both her ability to guide me through this process and my ability to deliver my baby and am sure those feelings will only increase as we spend more time with her.

One common misconception, perpetuated by the ACOG, about women who want home births is that they are willing to trade safety for comfort. Not only is that not statistically true, I hope I showed above that is is not the attitude we, and I believe most other home birthers, have. We are doing this because we value safety.

But beyond that issue, that misconception fails to recognize the link between the two. And there is a link between the two, but you don't have to take my word on that:
Routine, though unfamiliar, procedures, the presence of strangers and being left alone during labor and/or delivery cause stress, and stress can interfere with the course of birth by prolonging it and setting off what has been described as a "cascade of intervention." -World Health Organization's Care in Normal Birth, pg 11.
A cascade of interventions - that is exactly what Craig and I feel want to avoid because it is unhealthy, for both my body and the baby.

I'm not saying home birth is for everyone. Decisions are about weighing the risks and benefits. For some high risk pregnancies, it just isn't worth it. For others, they wouldn't be comfortable laboring at home and believe the risks and benefits are again on the side of the hospital. Even with us, if something arises later on in this pregnancy or during labor that warrants going to the hospital, we won't hesitate to do so. If we get to the point where our midwife says go, we know that the benefits will far outweigh the risks. Our midwife will become our doula, supporting us and helping us make the right decisions at the hospital but allowing us the medical support that we will need in that case. I hope we don't ever have to deal with that, but if we do, I know we can trust our midwife to help us make that call.

Inquisitive Reader: But what about the pain!

Ah, yes, why go through the pain of childbirth if you don't have to? I have heard those that choose natural childbirth described as supermoms who obviously have more pain tolerance than normal women to martyrs who are only doing it for selfish egotistical reasons. I honestly don't think either is true of me. I'm doing what I'm doing because I think it is best but also because I think it will benefit me the most in the end.

While I have heard stories of women that through natural childbirth methods have been able to labor pain-free and would not mind at all if that happens for me, for most women pain seems to be part of childbirth no matter what route you choose. Without drugs, you feel the contractions but have a better chance of a normal delivery without episiotomies, non-superficial tearing and c-sections. With drugs, you might not be in as much pain during labor (if they work), but your recovery time is often longer. I would rather suffer for 12-48 hrs before the baby comes then get to enjoy my first few weeks with the baby with as little pain as possible than try to juggle the care and feeding of a newborn while balancing a bag of peas on my crotch for the first month. But that is just my opinion.

To summarize, I think home birthing is a great option. I don't think it is for everyone but I do wish that more women would look into it for themselves and make an informed decision. They might like what they find.

UHF: The clause

I've been debating for a while how much I want to talk about certain baby issues and whether I even want to bring up a couple in particular.

Mostly because when I write about things I am super passionate about, I worry that it comes across as judgmental towards those that choose not to do them which is almost* never the case. I know we are making unconventional choices. I know that most people won't choose to do many of the things we do. Just because Craig and I can't imagine not doing them doesn't mean we don't have enough of an imagination to understand why others wouldn't want to. So if I continue y'all have to pinky promise not to take anything I say to mean I think badly of people who disagree.

I also hesitated because I don't want to rock the boat. I don't necessarily want to fend off "loving, helpful" advice and this may sound silly, but I don't want people to think I'm weird. I can say I'm weird, my close friends and family can tell me that (lovingly of course) but second cousins three times removed or my neighbor from down the street - not so much. I want those people to think I'm normal.

One of my favorite things about the blogosphere is the niches. I love reading other hippie mama style blogs because I find myself saying "exactly" all the time and it makes me feel so normal. But then I snap back into reality and realize despite what it might feel like in one small section of the internet, to a lot of the world, we're kinda freaky. I don't think that's all bad and I certainly won't change my actions because I'm worried about what others will think but sometimes a girl just wants to fit in, ya know?

But I've decided to write away. We started this blog as a way to keep up with friends and while that is still one of the way purposes, it isn't the only one. I feel like I have to work harder to keep it edifying but that is one of my main goals. Sometimes it means I struggle with the line between being honest and being too open but I think if it has the potential to help someone else, I would rather fall on the too open side.

Which brings me to our main reason for wanting to talk about our decisions. Blogging and the internet is often times how we first learned about things and without that information, we might not be making the same decisions. I don't mean that we read some random blog post and it convinced us. That would be silly. But because without my hearing about things like home birthing, co-sleeping and cloth diapering on several blogs, I wouldn't have even known they were options. But when we did hear about them, it became an option that we could research and talk about. And we are excited about them and want to share that information with others so that they can research and talk about them as options too.

So coming up later today - our birth choices!

*I say almost because some choices are just too stupid not to judge. I may choose to get a convertible car seat because I firmly believe that car seats are for cars and I want to avoid the temptations to act otherwise. Others may choose to go the traditional infant system route. Those are both reasonable choices. If you choose not to use a car seat at all then I will judge you because that is just ridiculous. Unless you don't have a car, then it makes sense I guess :-)


Video Trick

Remember that McDonald's coffee commercial I showed you the other day? Go watch this.

I started the video at a random spot in the middle. Neat, huh? Here's how to do it. On the Youtube site, when you find your video of choice, just add #t=1m12s to the end of the URL, replacing 1m12s with whatever time you want to start it at. In this case, I used #t=25s. Did you know about this? It doesn't seem to work with embedded videos, though, so I had to link you over there. Now you don't have to say to someone, "Watch this video, but skip ahead to the 1:36 mark." You can send them right where you want them to go. Have fun with that.


Owls, Owls, Everywhere

Nesting. They say that about the 5th month, the nesting instinct kicks in. For me, it started about a week or two before we moved, which was ridiculous as I couldn't do anything about it. But now that we are semi-settled in our new place, I can! So let's talk about my favorite room - the nursery. Except that it isn't a room, it's a nook. We have a two-bedroom place but the master is big enough for us and Nigel so we have decided to keep the spare bedroom available for all the people that will want to visit us the baby.

For the longest time, I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with the baby's space but then my friends threw me a surprise baby shower before we left. For party decorations, they used receiving blankets that I got to take home and one set was blue, green, and brown and had owls and some other animals on them. The colors were perfect (as in, my favorite color is blue, our bedroom is done in chocolate and blue and therefore boy or girl, Nigel gets a blue and chocolate room) and I absolutely fell in love with the idea of owls for the nursery.

I'm not going to go super-themey with the room mostly because I don't want to spend a lot of money on a lot of stuff - we finally fit nicely into the square footage we have and I don't want to lose that feeling! But I do want just enough decor to make it look put together. So I've been searching around for some owl stuff and apparently, owl is in right now because there is a lot out there. Whooo knew?

To me, this is practically nursery perfection.

Obviously, I'm not going to spend $500 on the custom painted mural but in terms of the look, the colors and the subtleness and variety of the theme (every single item is not covered in the same company's blue owl design), I love it.

I do want to get a stick-on tree for the wall although I haven't settled on which one. This one is currently my favorite,
although I've seen others for about $20-25 which are nice as well so I think I'll keep looking for a better deal. Here is just a branch with an owl from the same company, but it's cute too and only $18.

And these are just some things I stumbled upon on etsy while searching. I don't have a place for them nor are they quite the right colors but I had to show them to you anyway because, aren't they cute? They are all by the same person and she has a lot of pictures in her shop of owls fishing, and dancing and flying a plane.
I also have a little owl beanie baby from way back when I was younger and they were worth their weight in gold so that will go in there and I will probably crochet an owl amigurumi or make this cute little owl taggy toy. In fact, I think I have enough scraps to make that toy already! And when I get a glider or rocker I might make a pillow from it with an owly fabric. So those are the plans for now, I'll keep you posted as the design progresses! And be sure to send me links of any cute owl things you stumble upon. Once you start thinking owls, you will see them everywhere!

Update: Since writing that post, I found this tutorial. It would involve a little more artistic ability since I would have to drawn out the tree pattern myself but I think I can do it.


Beans, Beans and more beans - Lentil (and rice) Base

One of the methods I learned and quickly grew to love, was to start with a big pot of beans and use them in different ways throughout the week. My biggest set of recipes is with a lentils and rice base so I thought I would start with that. Plus, I love them. They are so versatile because they take on flavors very nicely. In fact, you really want to flavor lentils a lot because they tend to taste very "earthy" on their own.

You'll notice the title actually says Lentils (and Rice). That is because I almost always serve them together. Lentils are actually deficient in two amino acids (methionine and cystine for any fellow science geeks), but combine lentils with rice, which do have those two, and you get a complete protein! (Lentils are also a great source of Iron so Fallon, start eating your lentils!). In addition to the health reasons, beans can be dense if you aren't used to them, and I feel the rice helps balance out the meal.

So to start off your bean journey, sort your beans. Unlike processed foods, bags of beans are not always throughly checked and you don't want to end up with a rock in your soup. Just dig around and make sure nothing non-beany is in there, then mix 1 part lentils with about 1.5 parts rice. I know, could I be more vague about quantities, but really it doesn't matter. Beans are easy.

And the amount you will want will depend on how many additional meals you want to make from it. I do a whole bag of lentils with rice so the rest of my "measurements" will be based off of that but it makes a ton of meals for the two of us so feel free to start with just a cup or two of each.

Lentils are a quick cooking beans so you don't have to soak them, but I still do for phytic acid reasons. It's easy, just cover them with water and leave for the day with a spoonful of lemon juice. The next evening, you're ready to start cooking and flavoring. Throw a few tablespoons of butter in a big pot and add a cut up onion and a few cloves of garlic. Once the onions are soft and translucent (and buttery, yum!), drain the beans/rice, add it to the pot and add fresh water to cover it plus and inch or so. (When I'm feeling lazy, I just skip the sauteeing step and add everything together at once, it works.)

The beans and rice will absorb the water so just keep adding more a little at a time if you need too but don't add too much, you don't want it to be soup (not yet anyway, that recipe is coming!) Let simmer for about an hour, or until rice and lentils are soft. Then add more flavor some spices - salt and pepper plus anything else you have around, I like basil, thyme, parsley. Stick to more general spices because you will be using it for other things unless you take out what you want and flavor just those bowls and not the whole pot. Rosemary is a nice flavor, but not in your tacos.

That is it for the base. We normally eat the base as it is for the first meal, served in a bowl with toppings of our choice (sour cream, cheese, tomatos, lettuce, salsa, etc). It's not the most gourmet meal ever, but it's very filling. But the best part is the leftovers. The base might be a little soupy now but after a night in the fridge it will get nice and thick and from this base I can make: Lentil soup, Lentil Patties, Lentil Gyros, and Lentil Tacos. Stay tuned to see how!


None for Me

I don't drink coffee, except on rare occasions. People often express shock when I tell them I don't like coffee, as if everyone drinks it. This commercial epitomizes for you why I don't drink the stuff:

No, I'm not referring to the fact that the actor is a chinless loser. I'm referring to the fact that people become addicted to caffeine in such a way that they can't function without their morning hit (tea can have the same effect). Sure, this is an extreme example, but it isn't too far off for some people. After a time, one cup isn't enough, and it becomes necessary for people to drink two, three, or four cups to get going in the AM. I do not want to become such a person.

Besides, coffee is gross. I'll stick with orange juice, thank you very much.


Crafts on the cheap

After those last posts, I felt it was time for a little bit of fun around here and thought I would show up some of the cute baby stuff I have been making. I had so many project ideas but wanted to start with the ones I had all or most of the supplies for already.

I really wanted a floor blanket/quilt but my first one didn't work out so well so I tried again. If I couldn't knit a cute blanket for Nigel, maybe I could quilt one from pre-knitted fabric. So I took my favorite old sweaters from college that I had saved.
They were too ragged to wear anymore but I just couldn't get rid of them, especially the blue one. It was my very favorite. I called it my Lorelai sweater because Lorelai wore the exact same sweater on Gilmore Girls once (it has a weird neckline so it is easily distinguishable).

I just cut the biggest squares I could from the front and back. Since I only had four sweaters, I only had 8 squares which is not a great number for making a quilt. So I used the sleeves to make a smaller patchwork for the center square. Then I sewed it together, alternating directions of the knitting to reduce stretch, found some old fabric and batting I had for the binding and back, sewed it all together then tied it.

I was a bit worried because they were different textures but that turned out to be one of my favorite things about it. In all it only costs me 35 cents for the embroidery floss to tie it!
To give you some idea of it's size. Here it is with a sleep gown from an old t-shirt. The gown was a bit confusing at first and didn't quite understand how it fit together so the front ended up being inside out but that is only a cosmetic problem. It really is a simple pattern and as soon as I round up some t-shirts, I can easily whip up more. Plus now that I know how to do the envelope neckline, I have so many ideas for more baby clothes! This one costs me $1.79 for three yards of elastic but that means I still have enough elastic for a lot more gowns.
I also made a minky taggy blanket. I have a love-hate relationship with minky. It is a great baby fabric. As soon as you feel it, you immediately want to put it up against your face it is just so soft. It is also super stretchy and doesn't glide through my machine very consistently which means I spend half my sewing time cursing the day I thought to use minky. But a square is relatively easy especially if you keep it small and use lots and lots of pins. Mine ended up being about 10"x10" so it's more of a cuddle toy than a for-warmth blanket but I really like it. It only costs $1.99 for a bag of ribbon scraps. And what baby doesn't want a lovey that matches their parent's lamps and camera strap?

That's about it for now but I have lots more projects in the works so I'll be back soon with another progress report. Yah for craftiness!


Shockingly Busy

I was reading a blog awhile back and there was a post about being busy. It referenced an article or sermon by a minister who basically stated that if you were single, you weren't busy and should be doing more for the kingdom of God. Of course, most of the commenters were single people and most of them took offense at that statement.

I can see why too. If you took a closer look at the minister, it become obvious that he had a heart for singles ministry and was attempting to guide them but the way certain phrases were said to begin with and then taken out of the full context in the article made it seem a bit harsh.

But I think there was more to it than that. We as a culture have seemed to equate busyness with importance. We may not say it in words but how often do our actions say "I am busy and stressed and therefore I must be important". I do not exclude myself from this at all (Hello! Do you remember Friday's post?). So when he said that singles weren't busy, many took that to mean that they weren't valuable when in fact I believe he was trying to say the opposite. They are very important, if they are doing the right things with their time. I am a big fan of marriage but ones singles years can be devoted to God's purposes in a way that no other time of life can be.

Looking back on my years in college, I thought I was super busy. And in some ways I was - I was taking tons of classes so I could graduate in less than 4 years, I worked part time, I was in leadership positions in a Christian Sorority, I was very involved with my church, I was planning a wedding. I thought I had a lot on my plate, but now I know that I wasn't really busy. My job was flexible. So was my study time. If I needed a "personal day" I could pretty much just take it. My life was my own....and I didn't always use it wisely. Yes, all those things listed above look like nice Christian things to do and some of them were very important, some were not as much. There were too many times when I said to myself, I'll do that later, when my life is less crazy.

Then I graduated and got married and realized I was more busy than I was before. My list had less activities on it but they were more important and took a lot more time. I had to work harder to fit things into my life. So when I read that article, I wished I was back in college, I knew I needed it back then. I realized I needed to be less worried about being "busy" and more worried about being intentional. I just looked up busy/busyness in the dictionary to see if I was spelling busyness right (I am but it still bothers me that there is a y in the middle like that) and noticed that one of the definitions is "full of distracting detail." How true is that. When I fill my life with busyness, I often get distracted by details and pulled from the things that God is calling me to do.

Now I'm realizing that I did it again. Opportunities for certain ministries are going away, at least for a while. I was sitting in church a while back and they mentioned a mission trip. I remember thinking how I had always wanted to do something like that and how I should look into it. And I realized I couldn't. It wasn't at all feasible for this time of my life.

There is a certain organization/ministry that I have felt called to volunteer with for a while now. In college I wanted to but convinced myself I was too busy and I didn't have a car so it wasn't the right time. Then I got a car but I only had a few semesters left and was trying to plan a wedding, it wasn't the right time. Then I moved to Utah and I even saw an advertisement in the paper asking for volunteers....but it wasn't the right time, or at least that is what I told Craig when he asked me about it, knowing I had been interested before. Then some things happened in my life and it truly wasn't the right time, it would have been unwise of me to work there.

And it hit me - I had said no to God. He had clearly told me this is what he wanted me to do, I didn't do it and it is too late to go back now. I'm like the Israelites, I made the wrong decision when God told me where to go. Once God had said "start wandering" they couldn't just change there mind and enter the promised land. They tried that, it didn't work so well. I can still contribute to that organization financially or through smaller ways but it will be at least a few years before I may even be at the point where I can donate my time the way I had originally hoped to.

I don't want this to seem like a "poor me" post because that is not at all how I mean it. I know that life is full of seasons and I am moving into a new one that will bring new opportunities and ministries and I am excited about that. I want to be fully present for what God is calling me to do today, not worrying about the past.

But neither do I want to miss the lesson. It hurts me to know that there were things I could have been doing to further the kingdom of God that I didn't do because of my laziness or false busyness. I want to move forward and be more intentional with my time. It's going to take me a while to figure out just how to be scheduled and organized enough that I am intentional using my time wisely, but not allowing myself to get caught up with feeling busy and important but I'll keep trying.

To end this, I think I'll leave you with a little song.


Olympic Observations

1. I really wish Canada would win a gold medal, because I'm sick of hearing on NBC about how they've never won one "on their home soil." Sports journalists really sink their teeth into a story and shake it around like a rat terrier, don't they? Plus, they should say "home ice" or "home snow" instead of "home soil." These are the Winter Olympics we're talking about right now, although I realize the no golds thing refers to both the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

2. I don't like how figure skating is the marquee event of the Winter Olympics. First of all, it's a judged sport, making it inherently inferior to real sports. Second, it's boring. I blame women for its popularity; women also make gymnastics the big sport at the Summer Games and make Democrats win elections (PDF). Boo!

3. Curling starts Tuesday! Curling is my favorite winter sport. In the past, I've had to bum other people's cable TV in order to watch it, but now it will be online. Awesome.


Ramblings of a hormonal woman.

The last week and a half have been a bit weird. After all the traveling then preparing to move then actually moving, I was very ready to settled down into a routine when Craig went back to work. I even starting organizing my home journal and included a schedule. Craig and I got to laughing when I read it aloud because it sorta resembled a kindergarten schedule with it's inclusion of things like snack and nap but really, if I want to get 100g of protein in, I need to schedule snacks. But it also included a cleaning schedule and my Bradley exercise reminders and an intense new Bible reading plan so it really would have me being productive. I had it all ready to go, when he started his job I was ready to going on top of things - but God had other plans.

Craig's schedule has been kinda crazy due to weather issues, he's been working weekends and afternoon/night shifts that keep getting moved around. It should be over soon but for now it's definitely keeping us on our toes.

I knew it wasn't always going to be an easy transition from working to staying at home, especially since I am used to lots of verbal (and financial) encouragement and praise but sometimes I feel really guilty when Craig finally comes home, after midnight, and ask me what I've been up to and all I can think of it "well, uhm, I vacuumed." I know I did other stuff, I just can't remember it at 1am and then I feel bad. I know right now that my flexibility is needed right now, especially because Craig isn't able to be, but somehow it seems wrong. I guess when I thought about staying home and being a helper to Craig, I thought I would be helping him my way. If the only free time he has is 9-11am and he wants me to lay around in my pajamas with him and catch up on Psych, then that is what I should do, even if it makes me feel lazy and my schedule says I should be cleaning or organizing something. But somehow telling my husband that he needs to leave me alone so I can be a useful and helpful wife doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. I guess I just feel pressured to be proving I'm really working although I'm not sure who I trying to prove this too.

I should have learned by now not to push myself to much. That first Monday I was uber-productive. And then Tuesday was spent dealing with a reoccurance of morning sickness. The worst thing (besides the fact that vomiting has been a routine part of my life for over 5 months now! Not that I'm bitter about that or anything :-) is that my bad morning sickness days are also my about-to-start-sobbing-at-any-moment-with-no-reasonable-explanation-days. A fact I find unfortunate but not very coincidental.

I'm at this point in the post and can't seem to remember exactly what my point was. I don't have a nice wrap up that states the great take home lesson, other than it's been a bad morning sickness day and Craig won't be home till really late and I wouldn't want to vent to him anyway since then I would feel guilty for whining. But now I have the whining out of my system and I feel better so I think I'll go vacuum.

Beans, Beans and more beans - Ch-ch-ch-changes!

I originally started this series last September and have just now gotten around to starting writing it again. Hopefully the wait was worth it!

I think I've mentioned a time or two that I have come to love having beans be a part of our diet. Nutritious, cheap, easy and delicious. Yes, beans can be delicious! But I didn't always love beans. In fact, as a child, I hated them with a passion. My mom made one meal with beans that I liked a (tex-mex casserole) and even then, I would try and eat around the beans. But the more I got into nutrition and frugal eating, the more I realized that I needed to eat beans. So I kept making them and and forcing myself to eat them, over and over and over again, until one day I realized that I actually liked them, and not just hidden in brownies. Crazy, but true!

One of my biggest hurdles with starting my bean-eating journey was I didn't know how to cook them. But the Pioneer woman got me started with her pinto bean recipe and I also found a blog that went step by step through different types of beans and how to cook and serve them. Alas, that blog is no longer around, but I thought I would try to do something similar here.

So this series will be about beans! We'll be covering it all, lentils, pinto's, black beans, and kidneys - yum. And if you are starting to cringe, thinking "but I don't like beans," well, give them a chance, I'm hoping to change your mind!


The internet has ruined my decision making abilities.

I've recently become obsessed with keeping the house, and especially the floors, clean. I think there are probably three main reasons for this:

1) I now have the time and energy to do something about it. The floors sorta bothered me at our last place but I had to let it go. Obsessing about something when there is no fix is just torture.

2) The floors/carpet here are light. This means when they are clean, they look great. But when they aren't clean, you can tell. There is something good about brown floors, they hide dirt very well.

3) The whole nesting thing again. I know Nigel won't really be crawling around on them for a while but whenever someone walks on the carpet with shoes I cringe thinking about how they are dragging in germs that I won't every be able to get out! Yuck! (The irony is that in general we are not anti-bacterial people, I won't use antibacterial soap, never Lysol anything and think kids need a good dose of dirt in their life. I often complain about germ obsessed parents but this is one place where that fails me. I don't want my baby on a dirty floor!)

The carpeted area isn't so bad. We got a new vacuum for Christmas and it works so much better than the old one, I love it. It also is clear so I can see the dirt whirl around. It's a good thing I vacuum during the day because then it is only the cat who hears my raving about all the dirt I got out! Zeeba doesn't ever seem that impressed but at least she doesn't mock me.

Plus, I've now banned shoes from inside the house which helps a lot although Craig said I wasn't allowed to make a sign like I wanted too.

The problem is the non-carpeted areas. I've given up on cleaning them with a mop and bucket a while ago. I kept buying mops then realized all I was doing was pushing around dirty water and making a mess. I had been cleaning them Cinderella-style with a rag and a bucket of vinegar/castile soap water. It worked but was well, a lot of work. And getting down on my hands and knees for 30 minutes is sounding less and less appealing.

My solution - I think I need a steam mop. No yucky smelly cleaners that could leave residue, no hurting knees, a nicely sanitized floor - sounds great right? So I turn to my friend the internet to do a bit of research. The tend to run between $60-100 which is not bad if I remember that I have probably spent at least $60 buying mops over the last three years.

The problem is which one? I read reviews on the Shark but they all say the Eureka Envirosteamer is better. Most of the reviews for the Envirosteamer are great, except the ones that say the Monster and the Shark are vastly superior. And then their are people that love the Bissell....except the ones that don't. Ahh! I don't know, it's all so confusing.

So now what? I turn to you dear readers. Do any of you have a steam cleaner? Which kind and do you like it?

Or maybe the real question is, how did I ever make a decision before I had the internet to offer me 10,000 options when I really only want one?


MSM: Turning a house into a home

Most parts about moving are a pain but there is one thing I really do enjoy - redecorating. Even though I have the the same furniture, art and knick-knacks, everything looks new again in a new environment. I get all the fun of redecorating without having to spend money on new stuff.

And I really like our new place, it is one of the nicest we've lived in. The cabinets are new and made of oak, the walls and counters and appliances are all white and not dark brown or 70s gold - yes, my countertops at the last place were gold, as was the oven. It is very hard to make gold and brown look cheerful.

And we finally have enough space, actually we have more than enough for now but I have a feeling Nigel will take up the rest easily enough.

Things are still in progress, decor wise, but here are a few pictures of my favorite things:

Kitchen hutch and bar area: 100206 home 007

I love all my little jars and pretty cookbooks lined up (my uglier but still useful cookbooks are in one of the drawers underneath with my canning supplies and tupperware). The basket holds our cloth napkins and Craig finally has a little bar area! Although right now we don’t have anything to put there other than the Maker’s Mark and we aren’t opening that. But it’s a nice decoration :-)

My Cross Collection:

100206 home 006

Flowers in bathroom:

100206 home 010

After saying I was going to get these printed months ago, I finally did last week and actually framed them. The pictures were ~$7 total and each frame was $3 at Wal-mart so in all the project was less than $20 and added a nice pop of color to our guest bath.

Rainbow bookshelf:

100206 home 004

I started organizing our books by color a few months ago and love it! Not only does it look cool, but it is really practical. Even if I can’t remember the exact title of a book, I do normally remember the color of the cover and spine and can find it easily.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is all of our books, the shelf continues below but it is just the brown to white colors – boring! Plus I keep some things by subject still: my bible study and devotional type books over where I do my morning studies, my marriage, pregnancy, parenting and homeschooling books upstairs in our room, and the beginnings of our children’s collection up in the spare bedroom plus Craig has more in the basement in boxes. We have too many books but none that we can get rid of.

Spare Bedroom:

100206 home 009

I think this is actually my favorite room, or will be once it is done. Since we are planning on keeping the baby with us, at least for a while, we turned the extra bedroom into a guest room/office/craft room (next to the bookshelf and dresser is a desk but it was covered in fabric and crafty stuff) . I love it because almost everything in it means something: The quilt on the bed is my favorite of all the quilts I’ve made. The furniture was my bedroom set growing up and most of the little knick-knacks are things we gleaned from our parents home. I need to make a better sham (one that actually matches) and a dust ruffle but I still have the fabric leftovers from the quilt so that should be possible. Plus it still needs something on the walls. I’m not sure what but I’ll know it when I see it, hopefully at a garage sale or thrift store :-) I’m not in a rush.

PS: This post was my first made in Window’s Live Writer which Amanda recently informed me about. It’s pretty much awesome!


Read All About It

Much is made these days about the decline of newspapers. Circulation numbers are dropping and reporters are getting laid off as people rely more on the internet and TV for news. Some also like to blame media liberal bias for the decline. People wonder if the printed news model will survive.

Notwithstanding these facts, I signed up for the nearest big-city newspaper after moving to my new location. There are several reasons why I still like newspapers:
  • Coupons. If one plays the Sunday coupons right, big savings can abound which more than pay for the cost of the subscription. I though about getting just the Sunday paper, because its hard to read all of the paper everyday, but you can't just get Sunday. You can get Fri-Sun or Sat-Mon, but Sun-Sat costs the same as these options. If you're going to pay the same amount, might as well get the paper every day.
  • Local happenings. I've found that the paper is the best way to find out about local events, like concerts, speakers, or polar plunges. You might be able to find this stuff online if you actively search multiple sites for it, but the paper just plops it in your lap.
  • Local issues. I think it's important to know what's going on in your town, so you can vote effectively, decide if you want to live somewhere long term, become a full member of the community, and even enjoy local sports teams. The newspaper is the best way to become informed on local issues, unless your area happens to have good local radio shows or blogs, which isn't always the case.
For these reasons, I will continue to be a newspaper reader, even if it's soo 20th- (and 19th- and 18th-) century to do so.


Tutes to try

Edit: I found one of the other soakers I mention in the comments and added that to the list. I know I had one more but can't find it. Amy's website (linked through Little Fire Crochet Soaker) has a knitted pattern as well as a girly soaker so check those out too if you are interested in soakers.

I wasn't sure if I was going to post this or not. I was going to just post things as I made them but decided against that. I wanted to share them now since I have lots of crafty friends out there who are also wanting to make baby things. I've compiled a list of ones that really liked but I am going to take it easy and luckily, many of these are pretty simple. I have 4 months and even if most of them don't happen, that is okay. But these are a few of my very favorites:

For Mom:
  • Nursing pads (I've also seen nice wool ones on etsy that I might just splurge on)
  • Mama cloth
  • Nursing cover (Elaine gave me this great tip - be sure to make/buy your nursing cover in a fairly boring fabric. Anything too cute will attract too much attention!) I actually bought one not to long ago when I had a coupon code to get it for nothing but S&H. It ended up being cheaper than fabric but I still think this is a great idea for a gift so I left it in the list.

For Baby:
  • Babylegs
  • Babyshoes (These seem complicated but I've seen them everywhere and most of the comments say they came together very easily and quickly)
  • Diaper Cream (Linsay just posted this recipe again as her aftershave salve too, I think I might make some early and use it as a stretch mark cream).
  • Tie/RuffleButt Onesies (I think I'll make some girl and some boy types. I know a million preggos (okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration) so I can just pass on the other gender ones once the baby is born. I've also seen a tutu onesies but now I can't find the tutorial, anyone know where it is?)
  • Little Fire Crochet Soaker- I've seen lots of great reviews of this pattern. I tried to get wool for this last week but the Hobby Lobby I went to was lacking in yarn. I might have to order it online and wait :-(
  • Easiest Crochet Soaker - Another one, looks a bit simpler and says it is a more one size due to it's stretch.
  • Hooded bath towels - First I need to decide what color Nigel will be. I am totally going to color coordinate our kids. Craig and I already have assigned towel colors (I'm yellow, he is green).
  • Recycled t-shirt hats, sleep gowns and yoga pants. My favorite part of these is that I can make them in bright gender neutral colors. Everything I find is is too pastel and pink or blue (or flowers and trucks) and I wouldn't want that even if I knew the gender. I like bright colorful clothes for babies - oranges and greens and red and stripes and polka dota!
For Nursery:
  • Changing Pad Cover - I like the look of a changing pad cover but have since heard it is better to leave it just the plastic and throw down a cloth diaper underneath since they need to be changed so often.
  • Minky & Taggy Blanket (I want to combine these two tutorials)
  • Baby Wipes (So easy it barely qualifies as a tutorial but I don't want to forget them!)
  • Burp Cloths
  • Baby Wipes Container
Just for fun:


Baby Shower

I finally get to talk about the wonderful shower my Bible study friends threw for me! (I didn't want to mention until we announced the move since I figured most of you would wonder why they held it so early.)

They knew we would probably be moving but weren't sure when so right before Christmas we were supposed to have our last women's night of the semester but instead had a little party! I think this pictures shows clearly that I was thoroughly surprised...
but it doesn't show that right before this I jumped about 6 inches off the ground. Craig knew but was very good about keeping the secret although I do wish he had encouraged me to wear something cuter and fix my hair!

It was the perfect party for me, especially at the still-not-feeling-so-great time as it was nice and casual. We ate some good food, including delicious cake balls made by Amanda.
Then we sat around and talked about everything from our opinions on the end times to farting...oh yes we did! If our husband only knew the conversations we have had at women's times, they would want to start bugging them (for both blackmail and entertainment purposes).

Then we had to open presents of course :-)

I got my first cloth diaper!
And a pouch. Here a friend lent me her baby so we could practice. I still wasn't quite confident if would hold her up (and from the picture, neither was she) but it did!
Then all the girls laid hands on me and prayed for our new baby, our family and our marriage.
I'm gonna miss these girls a lot, but it was wonderful to spend the night rejoicing and relaxing with them.


A Regional Party

During our recent travels, MacKenzie and I were thumbing through our National Parks Passport book, which we get stamped at every park we visit to record our exploits. We noted the US regions map in the book, which looks like this:

We had been talking about what region Missouri fits into, so this interested us. It got us into a larger discussion of how the US is broken into regions by various authorities. You could search around and find a number of variations of this map. We decided to contribute to the discussion by making our own region maps. We were going to make just one, but we couldn't agree on some things. Here's mine:

This map is based on a mixture of natural geography (climate, plants, topography) and culture. The western part of the map is more geographical, since I'm more familiar with these areas. I put Nevada in with the Mountain West because it is deserty like Utah, and I put Arizona in the Southwest for cultural reasons (people, food, Spanish/Mexican influence). It seems to fit best with NM and TX that way.

Oklahoma doesn't fit real well anywhere, but I put it in the plains because its flat and agricultural. I created the Borderland region because the three states it includes seem to split the difference between the areas around them, as seen by their unique positions during the Civil War. Florida is another state that doesn't really fit with its surroundings, but where else can you put it.

Finally, I don't like how many people compose what they call the "Midwest." Often it extends all the way to the Dakotas, encompassing states that are too disparate. I prefer the idea of a Great Lakes region.

Here's MacKenzie's map:

MacKenzie's note: I think my map is less geographical and more cultural than Craig's. I tried to classify the regions the way people from that area define themselves, which in some cases is easy as I have firsthand experience living in a lot of these areas. The way people define themselves doesn't always match how other states would see them but I think it is very telling of the culture. It seems fairly common to put Texas in the Southwest and I can see why someone might want to for temperature and food reasons but I don't know anyone from Texas who considered themselves from the Southwest. (I actually think a lot of Texans would want their state to be a region to itself but that is Texas pride for ya). And when I lived in Washington State, people refered to themselves as Pacific Northwesterners. I do feel like my map is a bit South-heavy though I couldn't really think of a state to take out other than Florida but as Craig mentioned, there isn't anywhere else for Florida to go. I guess people just like saying they are Southerners! Another difficulty I had was California. I really wanted to put Northern California in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California with the Southwest but alas, I had to select just one. Overall, this activity was harder than I though it would be but I like my end result.

Do you have any comments on our maps?


Happy Birthday to me!

(Caution: This is a really long post. But it is all about today so I didn't want to break it up. Feel free to skim if you wish, my feelings won't be hurt. Although I do still think it's a good post so don't feel like you have to skim it)

Today is a big day in my life. I'm 25 today. It know that it's not really that old, but it kinda seems like it is. That's a quarter of a century! I'm now in my late 20s. I've always thought about this as a big year and not always in a good way. So I might be more upset about it except that my 24th year was pretty bad. Imaging myself last year today, I had no idea that I was about to go through some of the worst experiences of my life. But I did. And while I am most certainly ready to move on, I don't want to only think negatively about them. For one thing, I love where I stand with what matters most to me and I am where I am because of those "negatives".

I now know, without a doubt, that no matter what happens to me, my God will not forsake me and will bring me through it; that my faith can with stand some pretty hard battering. I could have said that last year, but I don't think my heart would have completely known it like it does now.

I know that my marriage is strong and can withstand emotional experiences, physical separation and a few months of "survival mode." I would still never recommend that anyone improve their marriage by having their spouse live in another state for 3 months, but the things that last year I would have thought would weaken our marriage or be obstacles to overcome really brought us together. I love Craig more today that I ever have before - and that is saying a lot!

And this year also brought some of the best experiences of my life. But luckily, most of those aren't over so I get to look forward to more good stuff this next year, like meeting Nigel and learning to be a mom. Which is one of the reasons I'm looking forward to it so much.

And being 25 isn't the only change of today. It was also Craig's first day of work which means our little moving break is over and today I start being a SAHW. That really seems like a much bigger deal that my birthday actually because birthdays come no matter what, you can't stop them or hurry them up. But my being at home is something we have been working towards for a while now and I'm so proud that we have gotten here.

It seems odd to say that I'm proud of it but I am! I think women might be hesitant to put it that way because of the whole SAHM vs Working Mom stuff but I'm proud of staying home in the same way that I was proud of my outside the house job. I worked 3.5 years to get my degree and get a job in a lab. The first time I wrote down "Research Assistant" I knew what it took to get there, the time and energy and money that went into it, and I was proud of myself for accomplishing it all. The same is true with my new job. I know what Craig and I have both done to make this happen, the sacrifices and planning, the decisions, both large and small, that we had to think long term on even when it wasn't fun. Most SAHW/M "jobs" don't just happen any more than most people's careers do.

I'm also grateful because I know we aren't here on our own either. I'm grateful for my parents who gave me a childhood I want to emulate and showing me first hand how valuable a women at home can be. I'm grateful to God for providing us with the wisdom of our parents, mentors and other resources that helped us make wise decisions in the beginning of our adulthood and marriage so that we are able to do this now.

For example, we have always lived off of one income, even when we both worked full time. We house-sat even though it meant moving after three months in one place because it enabled us to save on rent. We haven't always made the best decisions ($5000 of student debt in my last semester of college, that one still hurts me to think about) but from the beginning of our marriage we have had people around us encouraging us when it would have been easy to fall into world ways of thinking about money and priorities. It really helps to have friends who also think a fun night involves homemade brownies and board games instead of going out for a dinner and a movie. Or thinking beyond finances just to attitudes of being a home. When we told people we were moving for Craig's job, most naturally asked what my plans were. I got a few funny looks when I said I was staying home but those were mostly from co-workers or general acquaintances. My family, close friends and church family were excited for us! They looked on it as a good thing and it is always much more fun to rejoice with those that are willing to rejoice with us!

In an odd way, I've been thinking of this as the goal for so long that it seems weird to actually be here. It's not an end, but a beginning and it's exciting to start thinking about it that way now. We'll keep moving forwarde on making new goals, financial and otherwise, for our family but this is a part of them now. And this afternoon, I'll march my barefoot pregnant self into the kitchen and make my birthday dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and wait for Craig to come home and tell me all about his first day. It's not a fancy life but it's my life and I wouldn't want it any way.