Big Sister Sewing

When it comes to my accomplishing sewing tasks, inertia really is key. I'll put off even simply sewing tasks for months but once I get the machine out and set up, I'll get on a roll and start sewing everything not nailed down. So when I had Craig carry my machine upstairs last week so I could hem our new curtains, I was pretty sure what was going to happen so I made sure to have all my supplies ready and yep, I got everything done - and more!

My goals were curtains hemed, beanbags sewed, and some baby doll diapers made. I'll show you the beanbags later but here are the diapers - aren't they cute?

I used skiptomylou's pattern but I ended up enlarging the sides and using bigger pieces of velcro so Lucy wouldn't have to be so precise. The last thing I wanted was another "baby" that needed me to attend to its diapering needs. The fabric was just scraps I had lying around - quilting cotton on the outside, flannel and knit on the inside. 

My favorites are the pinks, the inside is an old nightgown I cut up. I'm waiting to give them to her until it is closer to Dewey's arrival but its so hard because I know she will love them. After that sucess, I added another project - a kid-sized ring sling and since I haven't really seen any tutorials for this only, I thought I'd share how I did it.

The only tricky part of this is getting the rings. I happened to have about 40 metal rings from when I bought curtain clips for our living room bay window but only needed the clip part. That was last year and I kept them because I just knew I could find something to do with them and finally I did. But even if you don't have them on hand, they aren't that expensive. Target has a set for $6.39 and it doesn't say how many are included, but I'm sure there would be enough for several slings so you might even be able to find another mom to go in with you or you could do what I did and end up having so much fun you make 4 slings! (Don't worry, Lucy's only getting one, the others are going to some other little girls I know). My rings measured about 1.5 inches in diameter and that worked but a slightly larger ring would probably work even better.

 The only other thing you need is a piece of fabric 10.5 in x 45in. This is approximate too. I just estimated based on my ring sling - mine is slightly taller than me, so I made Lucy's slightly taller than her but you could probably adjust it slightly without harm (but alas, I wouldn't go down to 36 inches no matter how tempting it would be to get away with only using 1 yard of fabric, there just won't be enough of a tail). I used a quilting weight cotton but anything light weight would work. Even a knit would probably be fine since safety isn't a factor. And part of the "wrong side" will show so if you care about that, pick a fabric that has a subtle wrong side.

Start by heming the rectangle on all four sides. 

Then lay it flat, wrong side up, and slide both rings onto one end.

Fold over that edge a few inches, right sides together and sew the end down. I just followed the hem line.

And that's it! It's really easy. Perfect for walks around the house or when baby needs attention but tea must still be served.

Of course, I'm assuming that you know how to use a ring sling since you care enough to make your kid one, but if you don't, check out Youtube, there are lots of tutorials. Between the fairly grippy cotton and the small ring, I don't actually have to adust Lucy's very much so I help her put it on one arm (she always tries to put both arms through but that doesn't work) but she can take it from there. 

This should go without saying but I'll say it anyway, these are directions for a child-sized carried meant to hold a doll, not a real baby. Because of that, I've left out a lot of the safety features a real ring sling would have so please do not size up these instructions to make a full sized ring sling. It wouldn't be safe or comfortable. There are lots of ring sling tutorials out there if you want to make one for yourself. 


33 Weeks!

Less than 2 months to my due date! And I'm feeling - not horrible.

I'm having a few more aches and pains, partly because I'm getting bigger but also because I've had to stop working out. We just can't get the house below 79-80 during the day, which is fine if the fans are on and I'm just putzing around doing chores and such but the few times I've tried to work out, I can just feel my body saying STOP. So I have. But I'm still doing lots of tailor sitting and squatting plus keeping up after Lucy so that is something.

I went to the midwife last week and everything looks good - and big. I'm actually measuring 2-3 cms ahead. She isn't worried about it although she suspects this baby will be bigger than Lucy. I'm lucky to know lots of supportive women who have had successful natural and/or homebirths with babies in the 8, 9 and even 10 lb range so I'm not worried either. Actually, I've kinda been hoping this baby is 8lbs+. Lucy was 7lb 14oz  which is sooo close to 8lbs even though we didn't measure her until after her first big "output."  It also makes me feel better. I was feeling huge and uncomfortable but didn't want to whine about it but now I feel slightly more justified in feeling that way although I still don't want to be a whiner - even thought it is ridiculously hot (yesterday = 108! 108! What's up with that?) and I am ridiculously uncomfortable :-)

Lucy is really getting excited now. She loves to go over to the baby's dresser, open up the drawers and point to all the baby clothes and diapers. She still thinks it is a boy although I always remind her that it could be a girl after which she says "but we'll see. We don't know but we'll see when da baby comes and Ms. Dana comes(our midwife's name). And den da baby will cry and den da the baby will have mi-mi (nurse) and den da baby will be HA-ppy." She says it exactly the same way each time and it cracks me up.

Now, I wouldn't be betting on a boy just because Lucy thinks so, she also thinks we should name the baby Eeyore and while we are pretty secretive with our naming options, I can guarantee you that Eeyore is not a possibility. But I happen to think its a boy too. Not necessarily because this pregnancy has been very different, although it has been, but its more of a feeling. But it might only be a feeling because we have a awesomely perfect boy name picked out and are still undecided on a girl's name. There are several options that could work but nothing seems just perfect yet - to me at least. Craig is perfectly happy with one of the names and I agree that it is a very nice name, but I'm just not sure if it is the right name for our baby.  I have these daydreams were we have a girl and she is nameless for a week and it is driving me nuts. 

But names aside, I don't really have a preference for one over the other. People seem to assume that we, and especially Craig, want a boy and it's true that I would love a boy. I always imagined myself the mom of boys and it wasn't until I was pregnant with Lucy that I really really wanted a girl. But on the other side, I don't have any sisters and between losing my mother and getting to know my sister-in-laws, I've realized that I really hope Lucy has a sister someday. But we still hope to have more kids after this so either way, there is still time and I'm fine with whatever. 

But I'm not just sitting around worrying about names, I'm actually starting to prepare for labor. I've started a herbal regime for group b strep prevention. I won't be tested for another few weeks and was negative last time and don't have a reason to think that will change but none of these things will hurt either. I've also started taking floradix and drinking lots and lots of pregnancy tea. Iced pregnancy tea is actually starting to grow on me now, perhaps it is the heat. I don't even have to add honey anymore, just a squirt of lemon juice. And as soon as I muster the energy to dig through my birthing box downstairs and see what I have left over, I'll be ordering my birthing kit. I've been thinking a lot about Lucy's birth and I'm actually getting excited about labor. Well, not the labor part exactly, but getting to meet this baby and knowing what his/her birth story will be. Only a few more weeks!


I finished...so now I start!

I haven't talked about it on the blog yet but I've been working this past year and half on becoming a lactation counselor. I'm working with a specific organization (which shall remain nameless for legal reasons* so if you know or think you know, please don't mention it by name. Thanks!)

Anyway, last month, I finished the accreditation process and am officially a lactation counselor! Yah for me! I'm really proud of myself for finishing. As tempting as it is to say something akin to "wow, that was a lot of work. I'm done now," I'm not. Really the work is just beginning (and by work, I mean volunteering). But that is even more exciting than finishing, I'm ready to see how God can use me in this position to help other moms (and babies :-).

Mostly I'll be working in a small group setting but I'll also be "on call" with a hotline occasionally. This is my first week on call and it really couldn't have been worse timing. Craig's just started night shift work and my whole schedule is wonky. During this pregnancy, I've pretty much been counting on my routine to get me through the day - my brain is just too shot to do more thinking which is obvious by the mess that has been the last week - my first with the new routine. I've forgotten appointments, meals, all sorts of stuff. And on top of that, Lucy is sick. Which meant she hasn't been sleeping well and since Craig is gone, all night time duty is on me although he is around in the afternoons to deal with the super cranky toddler and let me have a break. But I've only gotten one call and luckily I was driving when it occurred so it went to voicemail and I was able to gather my thoughts, hide in the bedroom while Craig played with Lucy and return her phone call with my brain sorta ready to work. Whew, first one down, many more to go!

But don't worry, this won't suddenly become a "lactivist" blog. At least not anymore that it already has been. I love breastfeeding so I probably will occasionally talk about it, but honestly, I don't really care if you breastfeed or not anymore than I care how much tv your kids watch, or when they are potty trained or learn to read, or any of those other decisions you make for your kids. I care about those for my kids but when it comes to your kids, they are your problem - haha.

Of course, I do care if you want to breastfeed but are struggling and need encouragement. I care if you want to but are having trouble finding the information you need to solve a certain problem. I care if you think you might want to breastfeed but are worried about things you hear, like your boobs will end up all saggy (FYI - saggy boobs are from pregnancy and the lack of a good bra, not breastfeeding) or your husband won't bond with the baby if he can't feed him/her as much as you. But if you don't want to or tried and couldn't or had to stop for some reason, okay. That's cool. I'm swear I'm not giving you dirty looks when you pull out a bottle. Pinkie promise.

So that's the new hat I'm wearing these days. And if it was a physical hat, it would probably look something like this:

*That sounds scary but basically, I want to make sure what I post here remains as my personal opinions and is not seen as this organizations official policy. I obviously agree with them on a lot of issues or I wouldn't be working with them, but still. I just wanna be me!


Kid Kitchen

In response to MacKenzie's demand request, I built this play kitchen:

I made heavy use of recycled products to build this:

  • The base is made one of these upper cabinets from our pre-remodeled kitchen. I turned it sideways and cut off the upper section (where the little door is). Then I took the main door and cut it up, discarding part of it and using the rest to make the two doors on the left above. I used the upper cabinet door to make the oven door.
  • The faucet came from our old kitchen sink.
  • The counter top is a leftover section of our island butcher block. This may be the only kid kitchen in existence with an oak counter top.
  • It was painted with leftover paint.
The hinges and cabinet hardware are new, as is the dog bowl we used for a sink. The burners are wooden discs from Hobby Lobby, and the pot rack and pots are from Ikea. The window in the oven door is an acrylic sheet from Home Depot. I ended up using magnetic door latches to hold the doors shut; they are still easy enough for Lucy to open. Inside each door is a shelf resting on shelf pins.

Here is Lucy enjoying the kitchen:



The list - updated

I thought I'd do a little update on my list. I felt like we haven't spent any time doing indoor stuff lately because all our attention has been going to a few large and unexpected outside needs so I was pleasantly surprised to see how much we've accomplished. Although of course, I've added a few new things as well (* indicates a new item). 

I'm happy with the bathroom and the last adjustments on the closet and living room are just waiting for a shelf from my dad's house. We should be getting together with him one way or another in the next couple of weeks and I'll be able to wrap those things up easily enough. That really just leaves the kitchen and the master bedroom. 

The master bedroom is my priority since it is also the baby's new room and my nesting instinct wants it to be all fixed up nicely before Dewey makes his/her arrival. I'm also going to blame that nesting instict for the 8 color swatches on the walls by Craig's side of the bed trying desperately, but silently, to convince Craig he is willing to repaint. That's basically my only hope of it happening but a pregnant girl has to try. If I can get the camera to cooperate (it's moved from totally not working to sometimes working), I'll even put up pictures of the few changes I've already made and so you can see the old color and help me convince Craig it has to go :-)

Okay, on to the list: 

Kitchen: SOOOO Close!

- Last trip to Ikea
- Install remaining drawers/cabinet door
- Install remaining drawer pulls
- Replace temporary island countertop with butcher block
- Install backsplash
- Caulk backsplash 
- Decide on and order stools for island
- Buy and install blinds (one down, one to go)


- Order baskets for closet
- Reorganize closet
- Order one more basket because apparently I can't count :-)
- Add "green"

General Area Closets:

- Paint
- Shuffle
- Order baskets for cat supplies, hats/gloves, etc
- Find new home for brooms so Lucy can get hers without seeing paint and getting distracted (just waiting for my dad to recover from a minor surgery so he can bring the shelf over. No hurry dad!)
- Find new home for board games since Tray/Art supplies are taking over (same as above since I decided to move art, not games)

Lucy's room:
- New bedding
- Finish tot wardrobe - see results here
Rain gutter bookshelf  (Started and finished this yesterday, pics coming soon)
- Decide if new bedding matches embroidery hoop wall fabric; if so, finally hang fabric hoops
- Blackout blinds 

Living Room:
- Frames for Art Gallery - bought 2 at goodwill. Need a few more but waiting until after art shelf arrives to see what sizes I want. Then need to paint and hang them.
- Reading nook - Arranged then unarranged when cat's bladder infection/stones issue arose. Yes, it was gross so I'll leave out any more details but now Lucy has a reading chair in her room and we are good. 
- Unroll rug as soon as latest potty training crisis is over
- Watch Craigslist for the perfect brown leather sofa for a really good price (hey, miracles can happen!)
- Replace sheer curtains with drop cloth curtains that block more light/heat*

Master bedroom:
- Make room for Craig's non-closet clothes- Find a small bench/chair so Craig has an acceptable "used but not yet dirty clothes spot" before WWIII breaks out (We went all fancy and got Craig a rubbermaid container for under the bed. Not super creative but it was cheap and doesn't take up much space in our tiny master)
- Pare down trinkets/memory items so dusting is possible
- Paint nightstands
Spray paint lamps
- New lampshades
- Art for above baby dresser
- Art for above headboard
- Make jewelry holder for wall (found a cute one at t.j. maxx)
- Put together succulent terrarium/arrangement 
 -Replace two succulents in arrangement - Lucy wanted to see the roots on one of the plants and the    plant didn't respond well to her hands on learning approach. Darn you books that make kids interested in science and nature!*
- New white bedding*
- Pick new wall paint color*
- Convince Craig to paint walls again*
- Wall shelves for over dresser*
- Arrange for baby (bring up co-sleeper, changing mat for dresser top, etc)*

Getting close now!


Toddler Tuesday: Kid-friendly kitchen

When I was first designing our kitchen, I knew I wanted to make sure it was kid-friendly. The biggest thing we did in that area was what we call the "Craig pantry." They are a set of shallow lower cabinets under our pot rack. 

The cabinet on the right holds canned goods and pasta which a shallow shelf is perfect for because things don't get lost back. But the one of the left is probably my favorite - it's Lucy's cabinet. 

The top two shelves are the ones she really uses. The white bins holds her silverware. We have this set but need to move up to this one. Then there is her utensil caddy which holds her mini whisks and spatulas although it looks a bit empty right now - she loves them and every time we mix something, she insists on using hers even though it isn't always very efficient to stir a double batch of pancake batter with a teenty tiny whisk. Below them are her mixing bowls - just the smallest two from a nesting set my mother-in-law gave us. These items pretty much stay in those places. 

The glasses are these Montessori weaning glasses but again, she is ready to move up to these. The bowls are pyrex custard cups that came with plastic lids - perfect for storing her uneaten yogurt or snack in the fridge for later. And her plates are just clear glass plates my mom had for when she hosted luncheons - she had about 50 so I "stole" 6. 

Lucy is responsible for keeping her pantry tidy and she does a good job. I didn't change anything when I took this picture. All the glass items tend to shuffle around since she is responsible for putting them away and she is often returning them to a empty shelf - but she does keep the bowls with the bowls and the glasses with the glasses, etc. And while you might think all the glass is dangerous but she has been using a glass cup since 6 months old and has only broken one glass and no plates or bowls so far. I wish I had that track record - I just broke a glass last night :-)

I take her dishes out of the dishwasher and stack them on the edge for her to put back on her shelf. She's been doing this for quite a while but until she was 2, it was optional. Now it isn't. Sometime she doesn't want to but I just remind her that it is her responsibility and we all help in our family and she's never really fussed after that (same thing with making her bed and putting her dirty clothes in the "dirty bin"). She also helps me unload the rest of the silverware which is nice since it lessens the amount of bending over I have to do. 

 The bottom holds wooden trays we use if we take our food outside for a picnic and some plastic stuff we use when other kids come over or for outside.

I also need to make room for a basket of kid-sized cloth napkins. She has just reached the stage where she wants to use a napkin instead of being attacked by a washcloth after every meal and depending on what we eat, that is normally a reasonable request. I just need to find the 10 minutes it will take me to sew up some. 

I've seen other Montessori toddler/preschool kitchen areas that have a dirty dish bin and sponge area but we didn't add that to her responsibilities until a month ago when we moved her from a high chair to a junior chair and she could get down on her own and now she is tall enough to put her dirty plate and glass on the counter after she is done with her meal so we do that instead. 

Putting together a kid-friendly kitchen took a little bit of planning but was well worth it. Lucy is able to be independent and I get some help that is actually helpful.


Baby Needs and Wants

According to the media, babies are expensive and needs lots of stuff but most of the mothers I know recognize that the media doesn't know what the heck they are talking about. But I'll admit, it's a bit odd this time around because I really don't need very much at all for this baby. Of course, there is always at least a few things that I would want to have for a baby, some reasonable and some, not as much.

Baby Needs:

Car Seat - We do need one of these and because I don't have other things to research, I'm afraid I've gone crazy with the car seat research. I love our MyRide but it's a fairly deep seat and since Lucy is still rear facing with a good 10lbs or 3-4 inches before she switches, we'll have to put someone rear facing behind the driver so I think we will go with either a Roundabout55 or a Radian (putting Lucy in it with the angle adjuster). The local place that sells the Radian will let us take it out to the parking lot to try it out before we buy it which is very helpful since not only is the rear facing recline an issue, but some cars seem unable to have the Radian installed forward facing at all - and how frustrating would it be to spend $250 on a car seat only to find out it won't work after a few months! Update I wrote this several days ago but just got a Roundabout 55. Craig hasn't tried it out yet but I like the look so far. 

Diapering - Don't really need anything for the first few months. Our prefolds are in excellent condition still and since Lucy outgrew her size 1 Thirsties Due covers at about 4-5 months, they are still in really good shape too even though I didn't expect any of the covers to last two kids. The size 2 covers are still in use over undies when we travel so they have been in service for 20+ months and will probably need to be replaced when Dewey gets that big. I'd also like another wet bag since I keep one available for potty accident cleanup and Lucy and Dewey may occasionally be in different places and I could use a few more wipes but still that puts our second child diaper needs at about $13x5(covers) + $20(wetbag)+$10(wipes) = $95. Not too shabby.

Clothes - We are set for the first few months. All of our newborn clothes and most of our 0-3 mon clothes are gender neutral. They are being washed as we speak and will soon fill up Dewey's drawers.

Others - We definitely have enough burp rags and receiving blankets and we didn't really use them much last time. Lucy was a big spitter until 12 weeks when I figured out I had oversupply and got a little help from my hormones slowing things down but we mostly used prefolds for that. We did have a miracle blanket that we used at the beginning. Craig loved it but I wasn't really a big swaddler and recently I've been reading more and more about the negatives of swaddling so I don't think we will be swaddling Dewey much if at all.

Sleeping location - We have our co-sleeper. The only time we used it with Lucy was for the first few months if I put Lucy down for an hour or so before going to bed myself. I think it might get used more this time since Lucy still joins us in bed in the morning and I'll need to keep them safely separated.

Carrier - Although I don't really have an Ergo anymore, or never did or whatever - I do have a moby and a sakura bloom ring sling.. I love them both for the first few months. But we will be getting some sort of ssc in the future, I really don't think I can do two kids without one. 

Fairly Reasonable Baby Wants 

Diapering - I'm pretty sure I'll be getting rid of most of our pockets. I will keep our newer pockets since Lucy still uses those pockets night but the rest are going and I just got and the three brand new all-in-ones I got for free (one one-size, twoi newborns). I just couldn't turn down free diapers but I really don't like pockets/all-in-ones and really want to switch to all natural materials, especially those that actually touch baby skin. I didn't think I would like fitteds but I actually love them so I would like to add a few more of those as well as more wool covers. My favorite fitted and the only bumgenius diaper I truly love was, of course, discontinued, but I just bought a firefly fitted to try and I'll probably try out a few other brands too. I want to go a little more off the beaten path with the diapers I choose from now on.  In an ideal world, I would do all wool covers but realistically, I don't have the money to pay for them or the energy/time to make my own and I still prefer a PUL cover for riding in the car situations (or swing, exercisaucer type situations except we don't really do those things). But I would love to have enough wool for overnights at least - perhaps a lanacare sleeper plus a disana cover and/or pants in every size? I'd like to try a firefly cover but they have always been out of stock when I look.

Clothes - I'll say it. I hate onesies. Okay, I hate onesies for newborns and little infants because I'm always snapping and unsnapping to change diapers or take off spitty clothes and they are annoying. And I hate onesies after 9-12 months because babies start crawling away while I try to snap them and we start doing potty learning anyway so they just get in the way. So I guess I don't mind them in size 6 months :-) I love tees - kimono style for newborns and lap tees for older babies. They work well with wool bottoms and if it gets cold, I can just put baby legs on. If a diaper is untucked, no wicking onto a onesie leading to an entire outfit change. Perfect baby attire - so why are they are so hard to find?! I don't blame people for always buying us outfits with onesies because 90% of what you see in the store is a onesie. I am so happy Lucy finally made the switch to 2T because finally finally we can get away from the onesies. I guess I'm in the minority with my onesie hatred but if anyone knows of a good source of cute colorful (and preferable not ridiculously expensive) t-shirts for babies, please please please let me know! I know many people like american apparel but there are aspects of that company I'm not very comfortable supporting. Update: Someone recently shared this company's information with me. I haven't ordered from them but at least it is an option!

Big Sister Kit - This one is really for Lucy, but ties in with the new baby. She loves to take care of her baby right now and I have a feeling that will only increase when our new baby arrives. I'd love to get her a baby carrier of her own (like this little boba or a ring sling to match mine or maybe even a mini mei tai )) and I plan to make her a few doll sized cloth diapers since she currently uses her own pockets (or undies) but they are difficult for her to fasten correctly and dwarf her baby. And don't forget a big/lil sib shirt although I might go this direction instead.

from etsy seller Uzume

Misc - Amber teething necklace. I always meant to get one for Lucy but somehow never did. But I've heard from enough moms that I think they must work.

Not nearly as reasonable baby wants

Montessori mobiles and "toy" set - I wasn't nearly as "into" Montessori when Lucy was first born as I am now. I still don't think these are necessary, babies do just fine with a couple faces to look at for fun. That said, I can see this baby spending more time on the floor since Lucy doesn't like to play alone (she will play by herself but likes me to be sitting near her) and I do like them a lot.

from etsy seller Bella's Casa
 This particular etsy seller, Bella's casa comes recommended to me but if I do get some mobiles, I'll probably stick with one of the smaller sets of say, maybe the blue gobbi and the dancer? Or I could try making my own. Kylie over at How We Montessori has just put up a few posts about mobiles that have inspired me to find a way to get at least a few. I'd also love a simple Montessori baby toy set like this.  

Baby hammock - This would be a total splurge and should probably be in it's own "Super ridiculous baby wants" - at least for our family anyway, but they are so cool I had to include them. Amyb's are probably the most well known although I've heard awesome things about the kanoe. If I did get one, I'd probably go for a style more like the specialdelivery or magic cabin ones though.

Woven wrap - This was a mayb before the whole Ergo fiasco but since then I've actually decided I don't think I really want one. I love soft structured carriers and while they may not be as fancy(hippy) looking as a cool woven wrap would be, they are very practical.  Still, they are beautiful and wearing Dewey in one would completely my hippy mom package.

Have any baby wants that have caught your eye lately (reasonable or not)?


The many oatmeals of Lucy

When we first did solids with Lucy, she refused all pureed and super soft foods, even applesauce. Eventually  she came around to yogurt and slowly some other spoonable foods. Which makes it funny that her big thing lately is oatmeal. But to her, lots of things qualify as oatmeal.

Oatmeal = Oatmeal 

A really cheap breakfast considering I buy oats in 25lb bags but also a bit low on protein and Lucy can eat three bowls and be hungry in 30 minutes if I don't add some extra protein in so I make ours a bit differently.

To start with, I make it with half of the recommended water amount. Then when it is pretty much cooked, I turn off the heat and add in an slightly beaten egg (1 egg for 1-2 servings worth, 2 eggs for 3 servings worth) stiring quickly to prevent the egg from cooking as a lump. At this point it is a nice custardy consistancy but still a little thick. So I dish it out and add milk. The milk cools it down for my impatient little oatmeal lover, adds protein and thins it out just a bit. (This is why I start with half water, if I did the recommended amount of water, it would be too thin for lucy to feed herself without making a mess). And now it is a still cheap but long lasting tasty breakfast. I'm not really a big oatmeal fan myself but I'm often too lazy to make two breakfasts and with the egg and some cinammon on top of mine, this isn't bad at all.

Rice Oatmeal = Brown Rice pudding

I know many people consider rice pudding a dessert but I make it with brown rice and just a bit of unrefined sugar so nutritionally speaking it really isn't that different from oatmeal. It takes a little bit of time in the morning but it's heavenly and I always make extra whenever I make rice for our dinners just so I can be sure to have enough to make this for breakfast the next morning. This makes about 4 servings which could be two breakfasts for us but instead Lucy and I normally eat the leftovers for a snack in the afternoon - it is just as good cold.

4 cups milk
1/2 t salt
2 T maple syrup (honey would work too)
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 -1t cinnamon (depending on how much you love cinnamon. I have to go easy on the cinnamon because if Lucy sees it in her bowl she thinks it is dirt and refuses to eat it but I add more to mine later)

2 T butter
2 cups cooked brown rice (if you are cooking rice specifically for this, start with about 1 cup of dry rice)

Bring to a simmer the first 5 ingredients, stirring to keep the milk from burning. Add the rice and butter and keep stirring, consistently but not necessarily constantly (I normally unload the dishwasher while I stir), until the rice has absorbed most of the milk and the result is a thick creamy pudding, this should take 20-30 minutes but the wait is worth it!

Chocolate Oatmeal = Peanut butter chocolate chia pudding. 

Recipe here (I make ours with honey or maple syrup since I've never used coconut sugar before).  We don't eat this for breakfast but as a snack. 


The things she says

Craig recently downloaded videos from our video camera and it was really interesting to watch the transformation in Lucy's speech over the past month. Last month Lucy knew a lot of words but still only spoke in short sentences, mostly to request something but everyone in a while to make a statement.

Now she talks non-stop. She narrates pretty much everything she is doing. "I'm holding a fishy, I'll put the fishy on the table while I eat lunch, the fishy can watch but the fishy can't eat because the fishy doesn't have a mouth"....it just doesn't stop. Sometimes, I think when she suspects we aren't really listening, she'll repeat a sentence over and over again until we repeat it back to her or comment on it. I can't complain though because she definitely inherited this trait from one of her parental units and it isn't Craig.

And if I can remember to stop and listen to her, she is really funny, both the things she says and the way she says it and I need to be better about documenting it.

She's started to tell stories. Of course, most of them revolve around Winnie-the-Pooh and other related characters. The first time she made up a story was when she asked me to tell her one but I said I was talking to daddy so she needed to wait a minute. Instead, she told herself one. It went like this:

One day, once upon time, der was Win-da-Pooh. And Pooh went poop and Pooh went pee. Yep, he did. Da end.

Since then, she has also let Pooh and his friends go on adventures to the library to get books and to the grocery story (for honey and thistles and haycorns and raisins). And interestingly enough, sometimes Pooh seems to get to do the things that Lucy is hoping to do soon as well...eat a treat, go swimming, etc.

She's also learned the art of the excuse. And by "learned" I mean that she understands the point and tries, but she is really really bad at them. "I can't take a bath because the water is to heavy" or "I can't pick up my toys because my feet are too big." She has also started using the "my belly is too big" excuse. Now for the record, I have only ever used that legitimately, as in, "Lucy, do not shove your blocks under the armoire, I won't be able to get them out for you, my belly is too big."

Of course, I can't possible capture the cuteness of her speech so here are a few videos.

I'm not sure why her staying hippopotamos is so funny, it just is!

But my very favorite thing to hear her say is God's word. We've been working on her first memory verse for about a week now and she has it down pat! In this video, I prompt her since she kept getting distracted by the camera but she doesn't normally need anything other than the reference. I think it's pretty clear what she is saying but I realize I'm used to her speech so in case you need a translation, she is reciting Isaiah 43:5a - Do not be afraid, for I am with you. 


Random life updates

I completely my two weeks of mommy makeover obligations and I did pretty well. I put makeup on and started the day with my hair down all but two days which is pretty awesome because I have the absolute worst timing seeing as last week the temperatures hovered between 105-108. I did "cheat" and put my hair up whenever we left the house because, did 108 people! The result of the fortnight was that I do feel a lot better and yes, as Rachel said, it was much easier than going on a deep soul searching journey to understand my emotions. I'll definitely be trying to keep it up for the rest of the summer and even when the baby comes. I know that I'll never be the type of mom who wants to put makeup on when she starts labor or before any family pictures are taken, but I will keep trying to find that elusive balance thing people are always talking about - hopefully before this kid turns 2!

Speaking of the weather, I won't spend a lot of time complaining but I do feel like I need to state the obvious. 108 + third trimester = cruel. Thankfully we haven't lost our power/air conditioning but there were times when our system was trying its best and still could only keep the house in the low 80s.

I'm 30 weeks today which feels nice. I mean, it feels nice to say 30 weeks, it doesn't feel nice to be 30 week. But I'm taking it easy and staying around the house the vast majority of the time so it isn't so bad. The reason I'm staying around the house, I'm carless. We have always been a one car family but this week Craig starts his required year of shift work so unless I want to take him to his office ridiculously early/late hours of the day, I don't have a way to get around. That will change soon but for now, I'm appreciating the break from what has been a crazy summer so far. (Not only did we do 2 weeks in DC, but Craig's parents came last weekend. I still haven't put up any pictures of those days because our camera has kinda sorta died and I've put it in the closet in an attempt to bury my head and avoid the "I have better things to do with my money than buy a  new expensive DSLR but I don't want to settle for a cheaper camera with a new baby coming now" thoughts that would be running through my head everytime I see it).

Since we are home so much, we've have been doing a lot of reading lately. Lucy and I are determined to reach the children's summer program limit of 50 books. The program ends July 31st and she is currently at 34 so I'm pretty sure we will make it. I probably should be reading birth books and such but instead I've got a huge stack of chicken rearing and landscape books on my nightstand. And when I say huge, I mean, there was no room for my water glass on my nightstand last night. Of course, in my current condition, I won't actually do doing anything outside other than walking out to check on tomatoes with Lucy every morning or hanging laundry up but it is nice to plan things so I feel like I'm being productive.

What we haven't been doing is celebrating the 4th of July. Craig's new schedule meant that he worked on the 4th and I was completely unpatriotic so we didn't even do something that evening. Actually, I kinda forgot it was a holiday until I went on facebook - such a bad american, I know! This is the first year we haven't done even a fried chicken dinner so perhaps we'll have to make up for that on the weekend. Next year I promise I will make a very 4th-y meal and put the kids in matching red, white and blue shirts but this year I'll just pull the pregnancy card. That is probably going to be my life for the next 8-12 weeks though so better get used to it Craig.


Campaign for the Court on Health Care

Back in late May, columnist George Will wrote about the treatment of Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts by progressives. He said, "They are waging an embarrassingly obvious campaign, hoping he will buckle beneath the pressure of their disapproval and declare Obamacare constitutional." Many others made a similar observation. Will concluded, "Such clumsy attempts to bend the chief justice are apt to reveal his spine of steel."

Oh, that he were correct! But no, it appears as if this campaign was successful, according to CBS:

But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As chief justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the court, and he also is sensitive to how the court is perceived by the public. 
There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the court - and to Roberts' reputation - if the court were to strike down the mandate. Leading politicians, including the president himself, had expressed confidence the mandate would be upheld. 
Some even suggested that if Roberts struck down the mandate, it would prove he had been deceitful during his confirmation hearings, when he explained a philosophy of judicial restraint. 
It was around this time that it also became clear to the conservative justices that Roberts was, as one put it, "wobbly," the sources said.

The gist of this campaign was that a ruling against Obamacare would delegitimize the court, turning it into an ideological body. If the court didn't defer to the legislative branch, people would lose confidence in it forever. They sensed that Roberts' concern for the reputation of the court, evidenced by his pledge during his confirmation hearings to move towards greater agreement on the court, was his Achilles' heel. Never mind the fact that the court is far more popular than Congress, and Obamacare was an unpopular bill that passed only due to the employment of various types of chicanery. But it sounds like these arguments played at least some role in Roberts' ruling on Obamacare. Rush Limbaugh the other day compared this to the instructions jurors get from a judge about not reading news coverage of the case at hand. This is exactly why judges say that.

What really delegitimizes the court is ridiculous rulings, like the tortured reasoning that the individual mandate is not allowed under the Commerce Clause but is allowed under the taxing authority. Thus, the mandate is not permissible, but it is. And then there's the whole issue of whether it is a tax, or whether it isn't, which depends on who you ask and on what day of the week. This is reminiscent of the idea that one can find rights  that stem from "penumbras" and "emanations" from the Constitution.

What this ruling means is that, next time a big case comes up, the media will once again conduct a full-court press to tilt the ruling towards the desired liberal outcome. They will be joined by prominent Democratic Congressmen and Senators, and it will be disgusting and pathetic. But they know full well that it just might work.



Toddler Tuesday: Tantrum Tips

I have to say that overall, I'm not much of an advice-follower in general. In fact, if someone pushes a book or movie recommendation too far, I often won't want to read it just because of that. Sad, but true. So when Lucy was coming around, I read a lot of parenting books and took a little bit of advice and spit out a lot. It's just my style.

But one piece of information stuck with me, even though I read it when Lucy was itty-bitty and it has to do with tantrums. Since I know many of the mommy readers are just approaching the tantrum stage and I have never heard this anywhere else (although perhaps it is just one of those things more experienced moms have just figured out?), I thought I would pass it along. It comes from the Science of Parenting which I highly recommend if you are looking for a "guy parenting book." In fact, Craig liked it so much, he even wrote about it here. In fact, he mentions the basic concept but at the time, I didn't realize how helpful that information would be.

Basically, it talks about two types of tantrums. The "Little Nero" tantrum is the one that is commonly thought of when you say "tantrum" - especially by those childless people who see your toddler in the store and give you dirty looks because you obviously can't control your child and if they had a child, they would be able to do much better :-) They happen because your child wants something and is trying his/her best to get it, even if the means are socially unacceptable. 

These need discipline. I won't even attempt to tell you how to discipline your child because 1) I don't know your kid and 2) I don't have enough experience. Maybe when my kids are all grown up and God-fearing productive members of society, I will have enough confidence to tell you but I wouldn't wait around for that day. I think the book says to ignore them but we don't. We take a more lay down the law/walk softly carry a big stick/that's not gonna happen so just try again missy approach which you can interpret however you want. We had a lot of these around 18 months but they have decreased dramatically since then. Every few months Lucy decided to try again so we have a rough week or so but we just don't let them work so they are going away.

The second type of tantrum is what the book calls a distress tantrum or what I refer to as the "It's too much" tantrum.This is when life is just more than your toddler can handle. They are little people , with big emotions and not very many skills to cope with them and frankly, that is just not a good combination.

And according to the book, and my experience has been similar, discipline doesn't do anything but make things worse in this case. This is more of a hug, snuggle/nurse, remove from the situation type of tantrum. Sometimes a nap or snack helps too. Actually, for a lot of these, Lucy just has to scream it out for a few minutes. She'll normally have to take a breather a few minutes in when I can step in and offer comfort and she will accept whereas if I try to do anything earlier than that, she just gets worse.

Of course, the problem lies in telling the difference. According to the book, the key is whether or not your child can tell you what they want while in the tantrum. Simple, yes, but not always easy to remember to do. It is so very easy for me as a parent to assume it is Little Nero tantrum because I know what triggered the tantrum, even if it has gone beyond that. Often times whatever started the "Too much" tantrum was really just a trigger and even if she gets what she originally wanted (not that I would normally recommend that but sometimes it happens) she is still so overwhelmed it does matter. She can't communicate what she wants, she doesn't even know what she wants, she just knows she is upset and I'm the mommy so I'm supposed to do something to help her. 

Example: While in DC, we took a shuttle to the Metro which meant Lucy had to ride on my lap for a little while. She didn't want to and started yelling to get put down.When I said she could get down when we got there, she completely fell apart - screaming, kicking, etc. It was bad. At first, I assumed when we got there and got out of the car, she would be fine since that was what she initially wanted, right? Wrong, that was just the trigger. When we got there, she proceeded to kick until we put her down on the ground and while I could tell she was just overwhelmed, sadly, there wasn't much I could do in the circumstances. She ended up trying to crawl into a corner and hide but there really isn't anyplace to hide in a metro station. Finally, when she started to calm a bit, I told her that we needed go get on the train now but when we sat down, we could have milk-milk. She looked up, took a big breath and said "oh-tay." It took a couple minute of her taking deep breaths on my lap before she was back to her old self but she was fine the rest of the night although Craig and I were a bit drained. I'd put it in the top three tantrum category (and yes, I can tell you exactly what all three of those were and they all involved stressful, busy, unfamiliar situations - airport, metro station and boat cruise).

The best thing about this information isn't that it gives you some magic tantrum stopping trick. It doesn't - as should be obvious by the situation above. The best part is that it helps me as a mom be confident in my actions. We run a pretty tight ship around here, we have clear boundaries on what is and is not tolerated in this house and we have high expectations of Lucy. They aren't unreasonable as evidenced by the fact that she lives up to them most of the time, but they are high. Perhaps because I don't always do thing the mainstream "Christian" way (as in we don't keep our marriage bed kid-free if by "marriage bed" you mean the queen sized mattress that sits in our bedroom and we let our babies "demand" to be fed even though according to some that will create a selfish child, etc), but I think I'm sensitive to the idea that we/she is/are undisciplined but sometimes punishment isn't what is needed and it is nice to be able to remind myself that I didn't decide not to take a specific action because I'm being lazy or irresponsible but because I'm doing what is best for my kid whether that looks good to others or not. In the metro, some people were giving us looks and probably thinking "shouldn't you be doing something?" but honestly, there were just as many people (mostly moms) who gave us knowing smiles.

Of course, I know lots of parenting "experts" who would say I am wrong and that all tantrums stem from a sinful selfish heart and need to be dealt with by corrective discipline. And I may have agreed with them before Lucy. But having seen her tantrums, I can't say that is the case anymore.

And really, we do "discipline" these types of "too much" tantrums, if by discipline you mean train or teach. We just don't do it in the heat of the moment. We are working with Lucy on understanding what emotions we are feeling and how to express them in ways that are okay. For her, books help a lot. She also roles plays a lot with her dolls which I can guide sometimes if we are having a certain issue. And we are helping her gain self-control in all areas of her life - sitting still in church may not seem like it has a lot to do with tantrums, but I think it actually does. There are times now when she is starting to get upset and I ask her how we can work together to stop her frustration and she'll ask me for a hug or milk-milk or even a book. Progress!