Monday, April 30, 2012

Party Preview

We are finishing up our week long celebration as NanaPop prepare to head home today. Here are a few sneak peaks of the party before the big entry this week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

She's One!!

My baby is one. I missed Wordless Wednesday, so I'm making up for it today.

Monday, April 23, 2012

525,600 Minutes

A year ago, Drew was putting Miss Moo to bed and I was checking the clock again. They were coming closer together.

In a little over 12 hours our family would grow as would my heart.

Tomorrow we celebrate many Firsts- First smiles, coos, giggles, words, and almost steps. We will celebrate a year of living and loving. We will spend time as a family. We will be filled with joy.

But I can't help but ponder, how could my Little Roo be a year old??

Moments old. 4/24/11

My heart grew.

With Mama.
With Daddy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm a Wood Dying Fool!

The dyed wooden eggs were a HUGE hit here with everyone. Especially for Perl -  our big, orange lady tabby. She chased them around the family room for an hour. If you know Perl, then you understand why this occurrence was epic.

I, too, loved the way our eggs turned out and how simple the process was. While NanaPop were visiting, I gathered up some of the wooden parts for Miss Roo's birthday presents and started dying. I made her a set of rainbow wooden sorting bowls. I'm more than a little excited about them. They are perfectly sized for our little kitchen, our dolls, our sorting pieces, and our little hands. The bowls came in packs of ten, so I decided to make a set of lime green bowls for my friend's little girl. She's a few years older than Miss Moo, but I am hoping the size and the color will win her over.

Moo woke from nap to find me sitting at our kitchen table with a dye bath, wooden bowls, and a rubber glove on my left hand. After answering several questions about what my project was I asked if she wanted to help. She squealed with excitement and responded yes.

Our process for bowl dying was a little different than our eggs. I first poured clean water into each bowl to almost the rim. I then poured the water back in our glass measuring cup and added drops of food coloring. I took a paper napkin and dipped it in until I found the color I was looking for in the dye bath. I then repeated this process with the same number of drops for each bowl. I asked Moo to watch me do this part because we have yet to find any suitable craft gloves that are sized for her little hands. After pouring the dye into each bowl, Moo went to work.

Moo painting the sides of the bowls.

With her biggest watercolor brush, she painted the bowls by dipping her brush in the dye bath and painting down the sides. This method was the least messy and the most engaging for her. She painted the sides of each bowl and the rims. She noticed how the "paint" from the rim ran down the side and "went away" into the bowl. She giggled and showed NanaPop what she had done.
Four lime green bowls.

Then she asked to do more.  Roo was up from her nap by this point in our day, so we postponed our sorting checkers project for another afternoon.

A few days later during nap time, I repeated the dying process with some wooden checkers we will be using for sorting, counting, addition, etc. I was running low on dye from our previous two sessions and our checkers turned out very pastel (and I forgot to take pictures!).  I showed Moo what I had done and told her she would get to help me make them darker. Again, there were squeals of delight.

Yesterday afternoon after naps, we went outside to play, get some air and sun, and to re-dye our checkers.
Wooden checkers waiting to become yellow.

Red and orange checkers together- difficult for me to sort.

Purple checkers before their second swim.

As you can see our checkers were very light and difficult to distinguish in some cases.  I purchased another small box of food coloring to finish up this project in an attempt to be consistant. I have read elsewhere on the net that you can also dye some materials with KoolAid. We have a TON of leftover sugar-free single serving packets in our pantry. I intend to see how that works in the coming weeks.

Blue checkers taking a swim.
 This time I used much less water and added more dye. This tactic yielded much better results. Moo helped me place all ten of our blue checkers into the Pyrex bowl with our dye bath. I used a spoon to fill each checker with dye. This step helped to keep the checkers from floating and concentrated the color on the top of each piece. Each checker was in the bath for about 3-5 minutes before I removed them with a gloved hand.

I repeated this process for each of the colors.  We created an assembly line on our old cardboard box. Moo would help me stir the dye bath and gently place the checkers in. I'd fill then, monitor them, and call her when I would remove them to sit on their paper napkins to begin drying.

Assembly line ready to go.

Our drying tray.
Our new art paper awaiting inspiration.

We tried to use this project as a learning experience to be both green and educational.  I reused the primary colors to make secondary dyes and to review color mixing with Moo.  She still finds the process of making colors magical. We counted each checker as they went into and out of the bath to verify that all 10 were there. We talked about how the "paint" that was on our checkers was absorbed by the paper. Moo could even point out that the secondary colors bled two primary colors onto the paper. She told me that the papers were pretty and I told her that we'd use those again for making some art rather than throwing them away. She was pleased to hear that would be more art. I was pleased to not be throwing trees away.

After cleaning up from our project, we all went inside so I could cook dinner and the girls could color and watch a little t.v. (I wish I knew how to cook dinner without using the t.v. So far, nothing else has worked to keep them playing in that room and not under my feet.)  After dinner, I went outside and gathered up our almost dry checkers. Before placing them on the shelf in the sun room to completely dry, I showed them to Moo.

          One set of sorting checkers.
 "OOOOOOO! Mommy! A rainbow! Geen! Lellow! Ordange! Wred! Purptle! Buue!"

I can't wait see all the fun we will have with these!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Closely Knit

I took a knitting class with a friend from college in March and it was great. While apprehensive at first that I would find knitting frustrating and counter productive, I find it quite the opposite. Knitting has become one of my outlets. It soothes me on days (like today) when I have not been in a room - yes that includes the bathroom - by myself all day. It helps me process when I'm upset or concerned. It helps me wind down at the end of the day. And it helps me feel like I can make something from the simplicity of some yarn and two sticks.

To say I've become a little obsessed in an understatement. I've knitted:
in the van...

in the floor during tantrums...

on the back deck during naps...(by myself!)

in bed.

There have been a few other locations, but I think you get my point. I seem to have knitting projectS with me no matter where I go.  Miss Moo is asking to knit. (There's a story there later). Drew finds it "Neat!" (He's a man of few words so that's a pretty good one.) NanaPop are prepared for a slew of knitted gifts at Christmas.

I am also thankful that knitting is a gift in many ways. Sure I can knit something for someone in a hurry and it's a "gift", but the time I put into things that are gifts for others are precious to me as well. Knitting gives me a sense of myself. Knitting gives my husband a wife who is sane. Knitting provided me the opportunity to make Roo a blanket for her first birthday. (Yes, her blanket was KNITTED. I am registering for a crochet class tomorrow. ) That's an heirloom in the making I hope. Knitting provided us that chance.

Moo sees me sitting quietly and calmly knitting and she sits down and is calm too. She picks up yarn and twirls it in her fingers. She watches what I do and listens as I explain my loops and twirls.  Daily I am reminded that there are so many skills, so many crafts, that will be lost unless we take the initiative to learn them and teach them to our children. In five years I want children who can knit, cook, grow, and create. I want children who take joy in slow creation and uniqueness of their fruition rather than having something that carries a particular label. I strive to not only create things but to create a legacy.

I'm planting that seed with Roo. 

Roo's blanket a few hours before completion.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Much to my suprise, things are GROWING on our back deck. We haven't made our raised bed because Drew is killing himself to keep the gumballs from taking over our backyard. However, Miss Moo and I are enjoying our daily afternoon ritual of check on our plants and watering them.

So far we have strawberries, beans, spinach, basil, lettuce, and tomato plants all sprouting and looking fabulously green.

Moo was particularly excited about our first strawberry.
Doesn't it look delightful?

Very proud of her berry.

And the taste test!
I'm very glad that we've been able to do more planting this year. Last year I was GREAT with child right now and trying to plant or maintain flowers for my porch seemed like climbing Everest, much less plants to tend daily for food. Moo has enjoyed planting and having her hands in the dirt. She's much more aware of what we have to do to keep our plants healthy and growing this spring.  And she's delighted to pick the berries each time they appear.

We are also using our plants as another way to ease into homeschooling. Moo is learning the proper tool names for the gadgets in my gardening pouch and has a set of her own.  We are also working on a very elementary discussion of photosynthesis by discussing why our sprouted plants, and our big plants and trees, need sunlight, water, and their pretty green leaves and hidden roots. I was skeptical that any of our discussions were sinking in. I know my kid is bright but she's still two and a half and some concepts could be difficult to understand.

While driving towards the store this week, Moo pointed out the window.

"What's that, Mommy?"

"Those are trees."

"Tees? We need to take care of tees, Mommy. They help us have air to live."

"That's right Baby Girl!"

That's MY kid.

A visit from One E. Bunny

Life is sllllllowly returning to normal after Easter, NanaPop, and "Spring Break."  Miss Moo is back to her routine and Miss Roo has another tooth - for a grand total of 5. I am still behind on all I need to get done and I'm starting to accept that as the norm around here.

Moo was very excited to see that Mr. E. Bunny visited us on the morning of the 8th.

The girls shared a basket.
Roo happily received a book, a Waldorf doll from a local artisan, and a wooden bunny teether.

Moo was elated with her dragon and rider, book, coloring book, and CAMERA!!
Moo is ecstatic about her camera. She's been interested in our big camera for a while, but I've been too frightened to let her try. Although her camera IS plastic, it is highly reviewed as durable and should last us through her sister.

She spent a few days taking pictures of herself, NanaPop, Roo, and the ceiling and floor. We haven't loaded them to the computer just yet, but at this point its all about process and not product. 

We also plan to use it as a way to engage her in things she otherwise might find - less than fun. I am hoping that giving her a way to document from her perspective and be able to share that with us will bring us another type of bonding and a new platform for discussion.

Or maybe it will just be something fun for her while I take pictures with the big camera.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Break

NanaPop are here! We are a little busy playing, giggling, and having fun but we'll post something soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I am a Villager

There are times when words are chosen with great care when discussing things with a two and a half year old. I seldom give her enough credit for her knowledge of things in general and the ability to really understand what we are saying. Sure, she has convenient hearing like most young children, but she also has an amazing sense of compassion and understanding that makes her seem wise beyond her years. Our close friend LizBet described her as having an old soul at times. I couldn't agree more.

Last Thursday, the girls and I left the house on an adventure. We were traveling a little ways down the road to Goochland Courthouse to order a GF cake for Miss Roo's big birthday bash. The weather was a tad chilly and there were rather seriously looking skies around, so we spent some time looking out at our surrounding as we drove. Moo asked questions about the countryside and I silently longed for where I grew up - summers that seemed to never end, lightning bugs in Mason jars, and mountains.

We drove past a school with a lot of yellow buses, fields with grazing cattle, farm houses, ponds, and the river. We found the main street and the bakery. We kept driving to explore for a few more minutes before turning around to go back to order Roo's cake. As we crossed the river again, we came upon a building now on Moo's side of the van.

"What's dat, Mommy?" she asked pointing at the colonial looking building and grounds.

Great. The prison. How do I answer THIS question.

I remembered reading a blog entry from Checklist Mommy that I had linked to my Facebook page on calling strangers "Tricky People" rather than strangers. There are times when your child might need a stranger if something happens -you're at the Children's Museum and she can't find you. Other Mommies are strangers but they can help you find Mommy. However some people might be out there to hurt you. These people are tricky people.

From this article I also thought about the consequences present from branding certain people as "bad" to my children.  Often we throw the word bad around without thinking of the lasting effects such a word has on our children because they ARE listening to us.  We are all guilty of making poor decisions from time to time. Some decisions are just larger and carry larger consequences than others. I wanted to be sure to not plant the seed of "bad" people in her head regarding a prison. I'd like to think that our system works occasionally and that some men and women use their incarceration to better themselves and plan for their future.

Somehow ALL of this runs through my head in 5 seconds. So, what do I tell her about the prison?? I quickly read the sign and I remember that it indicated there were mental and substance abuse treatment there (the exact words are now cloudy). It was also a women's center.

"Sometimes people are a little sick in their minds. That makes them do not nice things. They can go there and the people and doctors try to make them better."

Silence. Was that too much, I wonder.

"Oooh. Those poor people."

I glance at her and she genuinely has a look of compassion on her face. My eyes well up.

"Aww Baby Girl you're so sweet. "

"They will be otay, Mommy?"

"I hope so, baby."

We pull into the bakery parking lot and I get both my girls out of the van. We order our cake and I buy a cupcake for us to share as a treat. I load them back into the van and divvy the treat between them. Roo stuffs her face. Moo licks her icing. She giggles at me and then her sister. I look at them and wonder how I have managed to be blessed with two gorgeous and wonderful girls.

I know I can't protect them from the harshness of the world forever. There will be times when I will have to use terms that may be uncomfortable for us all but are needed to convey the gravity of the situation. I also want to teach my children compassion, love, and forgiveness. Setting them up to stereotype those around them hurts them more than anyone else. I was very thankful I had read something from another Mom that helped me with my girls in a moment where there was no manual for what to do or say. Far too often we try to do everything on our own, assuming that we are the Mom and therefore we should have all the answers.  We have some answers, but we are only one person. We need each other. We need to talk, to listen, and to learn. Not everything I say here works for everyone but it will work for some Mom who is suddenly faced with a decision for herself or her child.

That's why I write. I know I need villagers to help raise my children. Someday I hope to be that small voice in someone's mind. I hope that for a second they think and find the resolve to instill a sense of compassion in their children rather than an instant dismissal of someone they don't know. And I hope they are proud of their child. And them self.

I can see Moo's face in my mind as I glanced in the rear view mirror that cloudy, grey day. I saw a truth in that moment.

Go get 'em, girl!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Real Food - A Journey

Miss Roo's journey of food has been quite different from her sister's. Roo's place as a second child brought to the table (hee hee) a greater knowledge base, more patience, and a Mama with more resolve.

Breastfeeding is too often depicted as something romantic and simple. For me that was far from the truth. With Miss Moo I had supply issues and wasn't given any real support during my hospital stay.  I delivered on a Thursday afternoon and never saw a lactation consultant. She was born during the H1N1 panic and every type of drop-in care and support group was cancelled during her first 6 months of life. Visits to lactation consultants were costly after the first free visit and insurance wouldn't pay. She lost weight. We both cried. Our pediatrician sternly pointed at formula. Drew and I, being first time parents, conceded. And I cried some more. Moo began formula with what little breast milk I could provide and gained weight. By the next peds visit I was told she was TOO heavy. I felt embarrassed as I stood in the office. As I walked to the car I felt angry.

I began slipping into a terrible PPD because I couldn't feed my child and was filling her full of food that was now, seemingly, making her heavy. I decided enough was enough. I stopped feeding her formula and we took a nursing vacation. I nursed her every 2-3 hours from 2 months until 6 months when she began taking solids more easily and drank water willingly. I admitted I needed help with my depression and saw my Midwifes. And I began educating myself.

Moo's First meal - rice cereal with banana.

With Miss Roo we did things entirely differently. I was educated before becoming pregnant with her but after we knew she was cooking I read everything I could on herbs, supplements, foods, and depression. A friend from college mentioned placenta encapsulation. I had run across it in some research while I was nursing Moo but decided to do additional research now that I would actually have a placenta to use. I talked with my Midwife and we decided to use that as an additional  preventative measure. When Roo arrive my house was well stocked with Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Gaia Herbs Lactate Support, Mother's Milk tea, and placenta pills. When I prepare, I PREPARE.

Whether it was my planning, my supplements, my placenta, or my willpower doesn't truly matter. What matters is that it worked. Roo was a healthy breast milk baby. She made it a few weeks into her sixth month before she sampled food. This time we ignored what all the pediatricians and baby experts tell us to feed our children. We were (and still are) in the process of cleaning up our diet. We were replacing low fat, manipulated unhealthy food with real, organic, good fat, whole fat foods. We began this process shortly before we married but seem to layer our deck with life events one on top of another. So this evolution has been slow but consistent.

Where Moo had rice cereal, Roo had avacado and banana. Where Moo had jarred organic food, Roo had the food that we were eating. She sampled fruit, veggies, dairy and meat.

 Roo's first meal - whole milk yogurt with banana.

And she LOVED it.

This kid can EAT. Moo has always been a fabulous eater, but Roo puts her to shame. She is a carnivore. She loves pork and beef especially. She would eat bananas until they came out her ears, as Nana would say. She eats the rainbow daily and with fervor.  At most meals she cleans her plate and her sister's and then moves on to mine.  She has never turned down a food that we have preparedfor her. 

The girls enjoying a carpet picnic for "brunch":
Local, free range eggs, GFCF bacon, GF pancakes
with real maple syrup, organic OJ, and some local fruit
(missing from the picture because it is always consumed first.)

I know that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or scientist, but I CAN tell you that eating real food works for developing a great love of real food in children and a healthy weight in both children and adults. I was trying desperately to lose my baby weight from both girls. Nothing was working. I was staying heavy even breastfeeding and counting calories. After a few months, I decided I was only going to eat good fats from meat, dairy, nuts and fruit as well as remove gluten and eat more veggies. I was not going to count calories or read the fat grams in the food I was eating. The results have been amazing.

 December 2011
 Janauary 2012
 February 2012
 March 2012
 April 2012

I'm not runway ready, but I'm better. I've lost weight, inches, sizes, and pain in my back and legs. 

Real food. That's where it's at.

Interested? Here's some books and films I love:


 Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon  -

Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D. -

Real Food and Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck -

The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. -


Ingredients  -
Fresh -
Food, Inc. -
Food Matters -
Fork Over Knives -
Fat Head -