Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Heart Is Spread Across the State

This morning, Miss Moo had gymnastics as usual. She was a little sad that Miss Roo was going with us  and she'd miss Mommy time but seemed to warm to the idea when she saw I was packing a few of her favorite toys, along with her "Punzel" blanket and a mysterious duffle bag, into the cargo area of the van.  She was even happier when we piled into the van after gymnastics to run errands and I pulled her baby doll from the back for her to play with. After a quick stop at Target for some random items I wouldn't have been able to explain (and thankfully she didn't ask) we traveled off to a mystery location for lunch.

We arrived and the 3 of us went in to grab a table. What was going on? Why weren't we eating? Suddenly I pointed out the window and who appeared???


A surprise lunch with NanaPop! And the news that she was going home with them ALONE! If a 3 year old can glow, my daughter did for a solid hour. She talked with all of us. She told me lots about what she planned to do. We played with her baby together for a bit. Then Roo and I loaded in the van to gas up and head home and Moo climbed into NanaPop's backseat. There were no tears from children nor from me - because I kept myself distracted by planning the rest of the afternoon in my head.

Roo and I returned to town to hit the baby store for some nursing and car seat items for Baby Boy and the pet store for food for Lady. Moo went to the grocery store with NanaPop to select some juice and fruit and then to their house to play with a new mermaid (be still her heart!). We spoke on the phone a few times. The 3 of us went to dinner together- very different from our normal family outings.

Now Drew and Roo are sleeping in Moo's bed- bedtime was a little different, too. I'm sitting here pondering how my heart can stretch so much for my girls - and how it will possibly be able to stretch more in April.

My heart is spread across the state tonight. My girls are happy, healthy  and surrounded by love. Sometimes I can't believe all the blessings in my life.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baby Stats

At 29 w 4 d:

32 cm fundal height
turning head down
HR in 140s
No Anemia

He also doesn't like getting messed with by anyone :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Simple Faith

Sometimes, it's just a simple "quote" and a story that make our Sundays blessed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snow Much Fun!

Thursday night brought us our first "snow" of the year.  I use quotes on snow because it started as ice pellets so it wasn't the delightfully fluffy and packable stuff I prefer to play in. The last two winters haven't provided us with much of the white stuff, so the 4.7 of us headed outside with Miss Lady to enjoy it while we could! Here are some of our pictures.

Our snowman was more of a snow penguin.

Happy Saturday! Enjoy your weekend with your family!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fairy Fun!

Miss Moo has been VERY enamored with fairies lately. We have been talking about them, playing with them (Disney ones are at our fingertips -it's time for Mama to get crafty!), learning about them, and looking for them. So far, they have only visited at night but they have left us some GREAT stuff!

Gold Doubloons

We love all things pirate-y at our house and in the fall Miss Moo and I made some simple gold doubloons with food coloring, wooden disks, and a Halloween stamp. However, they weren't really special because they didn't glisten and sparkle. Moo asked me how we could make them sparkly and I told her we'd have to ask the Fairies. She forgot about it for a week or so - and then the Fairies (using some glitter glue, I think ;) ) left her a treat!

The Fairies left behind some Fairy Dust!

A doubloon.

Look at that sparkle!


Moo also left a note a few nights later asking for some Pixie dust. Now we have determined that since the Fairies brought it, it is Fairy Dust- but either way she was OVERJOYED to see it on her chalkboard.

Can you see the sparkly "mess" they leave when they fly? ;) 

A Little Tea Party

Apparently, Fairies also like to party - tea party that is!!

Look at those tiny, Fairy cups! So resourceful, those Fairies!! ;)

Next Week

I'm not sure what our Fairy friends will be up to next week- but it might have something to do with special, magic markers, a treasure hunt, and some new friends! Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Fairies Have Been Visiting....

Miss Moo has left notes for the Fairies and they have been visiting us on and off this week! She is SO excited!!  I think they may be returning tonight- so look forward to some Fairy Fun tomorrow!!

Also- let's hope the rain will settle down so we can get outside and PLAY! Our daily 15 minutes has been suffering because even with NanaPop here, this pregnant Mama can't deal with the rain for play with this sciatica!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Little Teaching Tidbits

Sometimes, getting Miss Moo to sit down to do any structured learning is next to impossible.  We have been able to clean up the playroom in the last few weeks, go through and arrange toys, and move out books so that she isn't as distracted by everything that is going on in her space. Doing so has led to some fantastic improvements.

Environment is Important

Cleaning things out has given us the opportunity to actually PLAY more in the playroom.  And the greatest thing about playing is that it leads to TRUE learning. We have built with blocks, colored, drawn and written, taken care of babies, read books, and cooked. Each simple activity has involved problem solving, dramatic play, creativity, motor skills (both fine and gross), and/or some basic subjects- math, reading skills, etc.

My Approach

I am trying to think more outside the box when it comes to homeschooling my children - learning the 3 R's is less imperative than learning life skills and thinking skills. The subjects will come as (and at times after) the foundations are laid. However, I do try to do something daily that deals with some type of "core" learning- whether it is patterns, counting blocks, letter recognition, cooking and measuring, etc.

One Example

This morning after playing with her babies and cooking some pizza, Moo found a little "worksheet" on her chalkboard. It was a simple exercise in letter recognition, letter sounds, and sight words. Once she noticed it I asked if she would like to give it a try. I'm trying to let the structured activities be self-initiated for a change to see if it leads to more interest in any subject areas.  At first she said "No, please," but walked to the chalkboard within a matter of 30 seconds.

Moo's "worksheet"- after Roo's additions.

I gave her no instructions- I simply asked what the pictures were on the board. She would identify the picture and then would tell me the first letter in each word.  She then took it upon herself to circle the correct letter and move to the next image.

At the bottom of the board were the words that corresponded with the images - I responded similarly when she asked what they were. She then related the first letters to the first letters that she has circled above. She looked at me and grinned. "I did it, Mommy!!"

Praise Her, Then Let It Go

I told her what an awesome job she had done and we high five'd. Then she moved on to her next activity of choice - loading produce onto her Whole Food truck. I gave the chalk to Miss Roo- who had been standing by to observe the whole thing - and she began coloring over our "worksheet". She scribbled over "BAT! BAT!" and Moo drove her truck around. 

Then I heard a slightly worried little Moo say, "Mommy, some of produce is missing. There are only 7 crates!"

Playing teaches everything.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hello Sciatica- I HAVEN'T Missed You!

At around week 27, Miss Moo decided to turn breech and park on my sciatic nerve. She turned head down at 36 weeks, but still liked my sciatic and decided to stay until about 24 hours before I went into labor. I'm 28w4d and Baby Boy decided to park on my sciatic yesterday afternoon. I'm hoping it means he has turned in the correct direction from my Chiropractor adjustment last week when she thought he was transverse.

Although Sciatica was pretty awful with Moo, it was manageable because I was only taking care of myself. This time I'm taking care of two little girls and myself. Thankfully NanaPop are still here for a few more days!

What is Sciatica?

There is a nerve in your lower back called the sciatic. As your uterus expands, it can put pressure on the nerve and cause pain, numbness, and tingling in your lower back, rear, and down your leg. It can also be a result of the baby getting into a head down position and putting pressure on the nerve. It can come and go, or be constant. Either way, it can be uncomfortable and can last through the end of third trimester and into the first few weeks of the postpartum period.

What I'm Doing for Relief

I'm not one to take any medicines other than herbs of vitamins- even when I'm not pregnant. Here are a few things I have done to try to get some relief from this condition.

  • Heating Pad- I sit on a heating pad on the lowest setting with a blanket between me and the pad. This helps relieve the pain temporarily and makes getting up and walking/standing for a few minutes less of a challenge. Heat isn't something I can do for a long period of time without feeling warm all over and then feeling sick. Changes in body temperature must be done slowly for me and managed to keep everyone okay.
  • Warm Baths- This one helps me relax and gives some temporary relief, much like the heating pad. Getting in and out of a warm bath before bed helps me get a little more comfortable in order to sleep before I have to get up for the first potty run of the night.
  • Stretching/Pelvic Tilts- This one worked with Moo, not so much with Baby Boy. Sometimes, stretching, squatting, and doing tilts would shift her momentarily and I could get 10-15 mints pain free. This little guy seems pretty set in where he wants to be right now.
  • Getting off my feet - This helps because pressure off my legs takes a little pressure off the nerve. I'm trying to force myself to sit down every 45 minutes to an hour- much more difficult this time around.
  • Water- I have noticed that the more I hydrate, the less I notice the pain. Maybe I'm just telling myself that one ;) 

Moving Forward

I go back to the Chiropractor on Wednesday, so hopefully that will help some. Given my history, though, I'm resolving myself to living out the rest of this pregnancy with some pain, lots of heat, and a limp. At least the end result is worth it!

Have you ever had Sciatica during pregnancy? What worked for you to get some relief?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

This Weekend - We Play!!

We are all finally feeling better- even NanaPop! They're here! 

We are looking forward to using the warm weather to get some Vitamin D, fresh air, and plenty of playtime. We're thinking of going to a local park and perhaps Lewis Ginter.  Miss Moo wants to go play in the sand and visit the fairy house in their Garden Keeper's Cottage.

Here's what it looks like:

Both girls love mermaids, but Moo is particularly interested in Fairies as of late. Perhaps visiting this little house will get all of our creative juices flowing. I've thought about making a Fairy wand or a Fairy bed for visitors. We'll see where the weekend takes us!

What do you have planned for fun this weekend? Do you let you kids take the lead from time to time?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun Friday: Two of My Contributions Around the Web

Contribution to a Project at Abundant Life Children

A few months ago, I wrote a little bit about our family feeding habits when the girls were little. It's part of a series called the Global Voices Project started by Emily Plank at Abundant Life Children. Here's the link to see a little about how we've handling the learning curve from breast to table (and so great pictures of the girls, too!) I'm looking forward to participating in the future if Emily will have me!

Modern Alternative Mama  - January 2013

Taming The Toy Tornado — Let’s Plan The Playroom

By Malissa McClintock, Contributing Writer
The playroom. Out of all the rooms in my house, I am fairly certain it is the room I like least. I wish that weren’t the case. I have always dreamed of having an amazing playroom for my children that we would spend countless hours in making memories I would always cherish. Instead, it’s a room they go to when I’m trying to get something accomplished and a room that I don’t enjoy being in because it’s always a mess.
To top it off, the playroom is in the space that should be the formal living room to our house — the room that you walk into through the front door.  We keep moving the playroom back and forth from the sun room to the living room, but nothing helps.  This year I’ve decided things are going to change and this plan is how I’m going to attack it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm New to the Neti Pot

Although I managed to escape the funk from getting into my ears or my chest, I didn't escape congestion. This ailment was probably fed by the fact that I'm pregnant and have a higher production of mucus that usual due to heightened estrogen (and other hormones) levels. Yippee.  Luckily, I had a scheduled visit with my fantastic midwife and I was able to tell her all about the germs in my house and the steps I had taken to fight them off.

A Quick Recap

I tried to do all I could, especially when I wasn't at home with my medicine cabinet, to stave off any infections or horrible viruses from zapping me and Baby Boy.
  • Emergen-C: 1,000 mg , 2x a day since the onset of the girls' and Drew's symptoms.
  • Kombucha: One bottle twice a day -  I increased this by adding the second bottle.
  • Zinc: I was taking a zinc supplement but it seemed to create some nausea so I stopped after two days.
  • Elderberry syrup: 2 tsp, 2x a day.
  • Pregnancy Tea: All kinds of goodness, including nettle and peppermint. (You can get some from Totem Herbal.)
  • Regular, daily multi-vitamins: We use doTerra.
  • Good, real food.
  • Resting and staying off my feet when I could.

My Midwife's Suggestion

I mentioned the concern that I had over the change in color I was experiencing in my nasal discharge, shall we say. I told her all I had been doing to fight off the funk and my overall healthy status other than my congestion. I asked for any additional tips she had and she suggested a Neti Pot.

The Neti Pot

Image by epidenver via Compfight.

A Neti Pot is a little, ceramic pot that looks like a tea pot that has been stretched. It is used to irrigate the sinuses and clear them of any congestion and debris. You use it by mixing up a solution of salt and warm water and pour the solution up one nostril into the sinuses and out the other side. Gently blowing can rid any additional clumps that were loosened. Then the process is repeated on the other side. 

This process is very different than a saline spray that is sometimes used when experiencing congestion. A saline spray is good for moisturizing nasal passage when they are congested and temporarily relieving symptoms. However, they do nothing to remove the mucus or blockages that are present in the sinuses. 

Neti Pots can be used therapeutically. Regular use will remove mucus and prevent bacteria from growing and causing infections. It's use is also helpful in preventing ear infections. Clearing out blockages in the sinuses prevents anything from backing up into the ears and breeding bacteria. Much like hand washing to get rid of germs and prevent the flu, Neti Pots wash the germs out of your sinuses and prevent the funk.

I've Never Done This Before

I've never been a fan of anything going in my nose. That's a serious understatement.  I'd fight my mom about nasal and saline sprays as a child to the point I'd make myself sick. Yet, here I was as an adult, purchasing a device to pour a salt and water solution through both sides of my nose.

I read websites and the instructions- several times. I climbed into the warm tub and filled the Neti Pot. I added my salt and mixed it. Then I stared at the pot for a few minutes. Here I was a 32 year old mother of 2.6, but I was afraid of the Neti Pot sitting on the side of the tub. I took a deep breath, placed the spot in my nostril, got a good fit, and tipped my head down and to the side.

What Happened?

At first, nothing- I wasn't tipping my head down enough so nothing was happening. I relaxed my face and tipped my head a little further down the left. The warm salt water started running up my nose and into my sinuses. It felt similar to getting water in your nose but not nearly as painful because it was flowing through, not being inhaled. It wasn't nearly as horrible as I thought it would be.

I felt things in my head loosening. Some water/discharge mixture did flow/fall into my mouth and I'd spit that out. After using half the solution, I switched and cleaned the other side. The process was a lot easier now that I knew what to do. I emptied the pot, bent over, and gently blew through my nose to get everything out that was loosed but not removed. 

When it was all over, I felt like my head was 20 pounds lighter.  My ears, which had felt stuffy for the last two days, seemed to be loosening. Over the next hour or so I would get the sensation that my nose was running, so I'd blow it and get a lot more grossness out that I anticipated. My cough from drainage stopped. I had no problems breathing clearly and that distant sick taste in the back of my throat disappeared.

Moving Forward

I plan to use the Neti Pot daily for the next two weeks to be sure that I have washed out all possible bacteria from my sinuses and allowed my ears to drain completely. I will then use the Neti Pot every 2-3 days as a preventative measure to keep things clear and germ/bacteria free. I've also done a little bit of research on naturally treating sinus infections and will be getting some garlic supplements to start taking. I will be staying on those through the end of the pregnancy in order to prevent the development of Group B Strep, which we'll discuss soon.

Have you ever treated your sinus congestion or infection naturally? What did you find most helpful?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sticker Activity

Miss Moo loves doing activities with me as well as on her own. She loves to play school and do worksheets with me. We have learned that while some Kindergarten-age sheets are too advanced, the Preschool age sheets bore her immensely. We have been using all the Kindergarten sheets we can as she requests them and she's thriving.

It has been a challenge to get back into a routine from the holidays and the wave of illness that knocked down everyone in the house. With everyone starting to return to normal, so am I.  I have TONS to do to catch up on all the time the funk sucked away from all of us. Moo has been asking for school time again, so we're slowly doing sheets and activities once again in conjunction in the non-traditional lessons and unschooling that takes place in our home.

One day a few months ago, I was cruising around Pinterest looking for some homeschooling ideas. I ran across a pin to this link from Rockabye Butterfly I loved that the activities featured in this post were so versatile and focused as much on following the directions as they did basic academic skills. I made a poster for Moo to do that day and she happily completed it after nap time.

Sticker Activity

  • Take a sheet of paper, turn it lengthwise and draw a line near the bottom of the page. I used a few scribbled on pieces of large drawing pads the first few time to be sure she would be able to see everything clearly.
  • Write a few numbers, I usually use 4, under the line. 
  • Assign a sticker to each number. 
  • Write each of the numbers randomly around the paper over the line. I am sure there are at least 4 of each number at the top.
  • Give the child(ren) the sheet of numbers and the sheet containing the stickers.
  • Give very clear instructions on what they are to do: "Match the color of the stick of the number at the bottom to the same number when it appears at the top. Place that color sticker on that number only. " 
  • Have them tell you what color sticker is with each number and have them identify/help them identify the numbers they are matching.
  • Let them do the activity on their own.
  • Look at their sheet when they are done to be sure they have matched all the numbers to a stick and have done so correctly.
  • If there are any mistakes, work with them at their lead to find the mistakes and correct them. You can do this by prompting in a manner like "Let's point out all the green stickers and see what numbers they are on."
  • Be sure to tell them they followed the instructions well.   Positive reinforcement doesn't always need to be based in academics. Hearing that they did a job despite any mistakes they may have made will give them desire and momentum to try again.

Moo's completed sheet.

This activity is simple and can be modified easily. We have used various types of stickers (shapes, colors, characters) to make the instructions more complicated and to be sure that she IS actually doing what is asked of her. We have also substituted numbers for letters and shapes to break up the monotony of the number she was doing often. My next idea is to begin using this activity for sight words and post the results of that adaptation.

I am always looking for independent ways to reinforce our "structured" learning time together. What do you do to foster independence in your homeschooling adventures?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mama, Naturally

Ever since I went through my great weight loss (which I still need to blog about), I've been slowly and steadily cleaning up my act. Once I met and married Drew, it became  a lot easier to change the way we lived because he is so supportive of a natural, real lifestyle. We started with food and once we had children our awareness spread.

Sometimes I am really hard on myself and think that I don't do enough to promote natural living in my children. Then I realized that I do more that I did as a child as does Drew. So I thought I'd take a minute to look at what we DO and WHY it's so important.

The Kids

Miss Roo sleeping in a GroVia AIO.

  • Cloth Diapers: Both girls have been mostly cloth diapered since birth. I say mostly because there have been times, travel, sickness, moving, when I just haven't been able to cloth diaper due to time, facilities, and sanity. The girls have been cloth diapered 95% of the time since they were born. Baby Boy will be as well. We cloth diaper not only to cut down on waste- more specifically HUMAN waste- in landfills, but to keep our children free of diaper rashes, harsh chemicals on their skin, and cleaner in clothes. I have never experienced a blow out in a cloth diaper. I don't have to slather my girls with ointment at every diaper change. I don't have to buy diapers every other week or once a month. I just do a load of diapers every 3 days.
Wooden eggs dyed for the girls' Easter baskets.

  • More Natural Toys: I haven't found a way to completely escape plastic toys. The girls receive gifts from family and friends. They also have particular things that they gravitate towards- pirates and their ships, Minnie Mouse, farm animals. Each time we purge and donate I try to slip more and more of the plastic stuff into the bags. I try to make gifts for them at every holiday that are cloth or wooden. Our toy kitchen is stocked with felt and wooden food and their dishes are wooden or Green Toys. Our trains and their tracks are wooden as are our fantastic set of building blocks.
  • Less Toxins: We don't use traditional bubble baths anymore. We use Dr. Bronner's baby wash for all our bathtub fun. We have wooden and metal toys in the tub. Our toothpastes have ingredients I can pronounce. Their supplements aren't filled with sugar. I get probioitics in them from foods. The juice they drink- with filtered water added - is just that -JUICE.

The Parents

  • No 'Poo: I've wondered for years what exactly mainstream shampoo was doing to my hair and my scalp. I spent some time researching it and learned it is essentially detergent. I decided to come off of it. And then I got pregnant and my hormones went NUTS. Everything I had been able to predict about my hair and manage with baking soda and vinegar wash went out the window. I am not using and Aloe based shampoo which I finishing making this little boy. Drew is completely on the no 'Poo routine with baking soda maybe once a week and he's doing great.
  • No Deodorant: We don't walk around stinking, we've just changed what we use. We were using Thai Deodorant Stones but I was still experiencing weird reactions to them. We then moved to alcohol while I did further research. After a few weeks, I switched to Milk of Magnesia. Plain 'Ole MOM. I have had no irritation, no sweating, no odor. I use a nickel size under each arm and let it dry before I dress. I spent around $2.50 on a bottle that will last us at least a year.
  • No Chemical Skin Care: I used to use all kinds of mass marketed skin care systems. Any time I would miss them for more than a day, my skin would go haywire. I started looking into what some of the chemicals in those cleansers and moisturizers did. Some chemicals in well known skin care lines are used to tan leather. I was done. I now use natural soap and tea tree oil as a cleanser and an oil cleanse 2-3 times a week. 

The Family

Local, organic, from scratch chicken and chili stew.

  • Food: We are on a real food diet now for 95% of our food. I say 95% because I am constantly learning and changing. We eat local, grass fed beef, lamb, pork, and chicken. We buy local and organic produce whenever we can. I try to shop the perimeter of the store- produce, meat, dairy, bakery - when at all possible. Some things I have not tried to make yet - bread, noodles, sprouted flour - but I do try to make things I always used to buy - diced tomatoes, sauces, soups. Processed foods are disappearing from our house and being replaced by homemade goods on a weekly basis.
  • Laundry Detergent: I now make a powder detergent. It isn't chemical free, but it's low chemical, low suds. I use bar soap, borax, and washing powder in a 1:1 ratio. This item is one of those things that I plan to tweak to lower the chemicals even more, but for now this is far down as I've gotten the mixture. Fabric softeners have left our home as have dryer sheets. I do occasionally use the Lavender sachet's from Trader Joe's to lightly scent our clothes, towels, and sheets.
  • Cleaning Products: I use On Guard cleaner from doTerra and Dr. Bronner's for most of our cleaning needs. Peppermint is my Bronner's of choice for general cleaning due to peppermint's antibacterial qualities illustrated in laboratory studies. I do use Clorox wipes when we are all sick in the bathrooms, but otherwise, mainstream cleaners are disappearing. For cutting grease, I use cleaners with a citrus base or make some heated lemon water to scrub through the gook. 
One of our vintage pans.

  • Cast Iron: We are slowly acquiring and upgrading to traditional, antique cast iron and enameled modern cast iron. Have you ever noticed little pieces of your non-stick pan were missing? Guess where those went while you were cooking? Modern cast iron isn't as good as the vintage/antique stuff because it is simply cast -not hand turned or smoothed. Drew has become very versed in all things cast iron and has been getting us great pieces to cook with in traditional ways. He's my go to guy.
  • Supplements: FCLO, multivitamins, Kombucha, probiotics, essential oils as medicines.

Moving Forward
There are countless additional changes I'd like to make in our home. I'd like our home to have less stuff in it and focus on all aspects of our family. I'd love to establish and maintain a better rhythm. I'd like to have a small garden to grow a few veggies and fruits seasonally. I'd also like to focus more time on my kids and ways to make their world a more inspirational, natural place to learn and evolve. 

As I look at 2013 spread out before me and all the changes it will bring, my only resolution is to be true to myself in my desire to Mama, naturally.

What is your biggest desire this year? Where are the biggest places you find yourself successfully Mama-ing naturally?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sometimes, We Get Faith Right

The girls were very excited about Christmas this year - Miss Moo in particular. At the age of 3, all of the magic surrounding the holidays was buzzing in her head. Questions about Jesus and God, Santa Claus, and other holiday icons surfaced daily. I tried my best to explain that Santa would bring presents if she was good, but not to focus on it. I don't want to deprive my children of the experience of Santa in any way, but I also don't want to use it as the only reason for her to given generously and love unconditionally.

We used several tools to keep the true magic of Christmas alive. We read from The Jesus Storybook Bible. We played with our Little People Nativity. I invested some money in some fabulous books for bedtime. Among them were:

We also talked about Jesus as much as we could. We talked about how he was a baby that grew up to love us all unconditionally. We talked about how God was his Daddy but Joseph was his daddy that lived with him. We talked about how he grew in his Mommy Mary's belly like her baby brother is growing in mine. And we talked about his birth.

We used all our nativities a lot. We talked about the people present in them and why they were there. We talked about why Jesus was born in a manger and why we celebrate Christmas when we do. I knew that some parts were sinking in where others might not be. She understood who the kings were but not really why they came or when. She understood that Jesus was God's son and that he was born on Christmas Day. But she didn't seen to understand why Christmas was such a celebration. Or so I thought.

One day were were wrapping presents for her cousins and she asked me if Jesus was coming for his birthday. I explained that he was always with us but that he would spend his birthday with God in Heaven. She wanted to know why we got presents if He didn't get any. I explained that we exchange gifts to remember his love for us and how we should all love one another. I told her it wasn't really about the presents that we received, but the love that we gave to all of those in our lives. I also told her that it was really a day about Him.

She thought for a moment and then said,
"Mommy, if we can't give Jesus a present, we need to bake him a cake. It's his birthday but he has a  party for all of us."

And so we did.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Recipe Collection: Real Food Christmas Morning Casserole - A New Morning Staple

My memories of the Christmases of my childhood all carry sights, sounds, and smells. I remember seeing the tree for the first time with all the gifts nestled beneath it. I remember the sound of carols playing softly in the background  amidst the ripping of paper as we opened gifts. I remember the smell of the coffee my parents brewed to cope with our early wake up call.

I also clearly remember the smell of Christmas Morning Casserole warming in the oven as we spent the last few minutes emptying our stockings and surveying our loot. I'm not entirely sure where the recipe came from or what year it started appearing on our table. I just remember it being delicious and paired with tomato juice.

This Christmas was the first that our family was home Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Being home afforded me the time to make the casserole with Real Food and have it rest overnight in the fridge for it to grace our table Christmas morning. Here's the modified recipe for the casserole that will now make more than a yearly appearance on our table.

Christmas Casserole

Preparation Time:
20 minutes hands on then refrigerate overnight

Cook Time:
30-50 minutes

Total Time: 
1 hour 10 minutes plus overnight set

1.5 pounds local, ground breakfast sausage
6 free range eggs
2 cups raw/organic cream line or whole milk
2 (or more) cups freshly shredded whole milk cheddar cheese
1 TSP dry mustard
1 TSP Real Salt (or to taste)
2 slices sourdough (optional)

Cooking Instructions:
1. Brown the sausage in your pan until cooked throughout. -We've been transitioning to cast iron and it give the sausage a much more even cook than non stick pans.
2. In a large bowl, beat your 6 eggs. -This step is a GREAT one for little chefs to help with so they are involved. Miss Moo has even learned to softly tap the yolks with the whisk to break them before she begins to beat them.
3. Slowly whisk your milk into the beaten eggs.
4. Add your dry mustard and salt to egg mixture. Whisk again.
5. If using bread, cube the slices into bite size piece and line the bottom of your casserole dish. - I use a plain, white, oval souffle dish that has it's own lid. I used organic sourdough but am going to omit that next time so that we can cut our that grain and keep the meal mostly protein.
6. Grate your cheese. - 2 cups is a guideline. I started with that and did grate more before I decided there was enough. We love cheese.
7. Pour the egg mixture into the souffle dish and over the bread if you are using it.
8. Drain some of the grease from the cooked sausage so that the eggs aren't swimming in the grease but there is some for flavor and goodness.
9. Add the sausage and grease to the top of the egg mixture.
10. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across the top of the casserole.
11. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Uncover the casserole and let it sit on the counter as your oven preheats.
3. Place the casserole in the oven for 35-50 minutes, depending on your oven and the depth of your dish.  - Mine took right at 50 minutes to set. You are looking for quiche type consistency. A cake tester inserted in the middle should be clean indicating that the casserole is done.

Serve this dish with some delicious yogurt parfaits - we used granola, strawberries, and a little bit of maple syrup.

My family LOVED this dish and happily ate it rewarmed the second day.
Roo enjoying her breakfast.

 I love that this dish is protein rich, full of real food, and gives me time in the morning to be with my children rather than baked eggs, bacon, and the usual breakfast fixin's.
A satisfied Moo.

What easy, real food breakfasts do you love? What traditions do you see moving to your regular rotation?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Forget Resolutions – Develop 5 Easy Habits – THIS MONTH! - MAH January 2013

Image by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via Compfight
Image by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton
Today’s Daily Tip: Start with just one or two goals; if you have too many, you will be less likely to keep up with them.
Every year the 1st of January looms in the distance and taunts me as it comes closer and closer.  Each year I have made resolutions to lose weight, or get it shape, or travel more, or NOT resolve to do anything. I begin the year with gusto and by the end of February I am right along with everyone else – back where I started from on January 1.  So, I’ve thrown resolutions OUT the window! This year I am not making resolutions but developing 5 healthy habits to improve my life and health. Today is January 3rd, and it takes 28 days to form a solid habit. So join me and be on your way by the end of the month!

Head on over to read the rest and see what other great health tips we have!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Diagnosis: Mommy Knows Her Stuff

On Wednesday morning the girls and I dressed warmly and piled into the van headed for the pediatrician's office. We were fever free but still full of symptoms of the funk. Miss Moo was overly sensitive and being a bit mean to me which is generally an indication that she's actually sick. Miss Roo was still battling a runny nose and puffy eyes. Drew (and in turn I) had been up most of the night due to his cough.  I was doubting everything I had done to treat what I had been certain was a virus and afraid was letter my children suffer needlessly.

What it Looked Like

 * Cati Kaoe * via Compfight.

When the funk moved it, I felt that the girls had a virus. Their fevers, when present, weren't high. Their symptoms came and went at around the same time of day- nighttime was far more difficult on all of us than the daytime. Their runny noses were clear and their coughs were a result of that drainage. They felt bad but they weren't miserable and still wanted to play. However, the high fever spike (104.3) that Miss Moo had on Tuesday after several days of the funk indicated to me that something more was going on. I continued to keep her comfortable and did give her a half dose of fever reducer along with cold compresses to get her fever to a manageable level.  We coasted through the day and I decided to call the pediatrician the next day.

So what happened at our visit? 

I found out I was right! All of the funk has started as a virus. Viruses must run their course - you can only treat the symptoms. Antibiotics only work when an illness is bacteria-based. Giving them to a child with a virus won't help kill the virus and will possibly prevent the antibiotic from working in the future if needed. Both girls had clear lungs and congested heads. Moo's emotions and fever spike were due to an ear infection. Her ear already presented puss and tons of fluid. The doctor was amazed she wasn't complaining or crying with pain. Roo also had fluid on the ear but was holding her own against the virus. Everything that I had done to help them and treat their symptoms had been just what they needed. And treating them cautiously had made Moo's spike in fever present as an even bigger red flag.

What I Did

  • Liquids: When the funk started, I upped the girls Vitamin C intake by offering more orange juice as well as giving them Emergen-C as a special drink. I also made sure their cups were constantly refilled with juice or water anytime they were low.
  • Low Key Play:  I kept them busy with activities that didn't exert them too much. Coloring and drawing, building blocks, babysitting with their dolls, watching movies together- anything that would keep them focused and relatively contained.
  • Food: Getting them to eat when sick is tricky. I tried to get food in that was protein rich - chicken breasts- or could easily carry more than one focus - bagels with butter and cream cheese.
  • NOT Treating Low-Grade Fevers: When the girls had fevers, they were 101 or less. These fevers aren't dangerous and illustrate that the body is working to fight off an intruder. Treating them could have led to a weakened defense against the virus, so making them comfortable in clothing choices, cool drinks, and compresses made more sense to me.
  • Lowering the Room Temperature at Night: The first night, Roo's cough sounded almost croup-like. She began to panic and I grabbed a blanket and took her out onto the deck. Within 30 seconds her breathing was much less labored and within 2 minutes it was completely normal. I kept her in a cooler room that night to ensure that she could rest. For the next several nights she'd start in one room and end in another.

What We're Doing Now

Moo is on a 10 day course of antibiotics. I'm not happy about it, but her ear was pretty far gone by the time we got to the pediatrician. After one dose, she is acting noticeably better. Her fever is gone, her congestion is draining well, and there is less coughing. 

Roo is still battling the virus and we are doing our best to keep it as a virus that we are treating.
  • Melaleuca: I have a bottle of doTerra Melaleuca in what I affectionately call my apothecarium. I mixed two drops of oil into to TB of water. We put a dropper full in her ear and let it set about a minute. We then drained it and put some cotton in to get the excess. We will repeat this in the morning and evening tomorrow.
  • Chiropractor: Roo and I will head to the Chiropractor for adjustments. Having her neck and spine adjusted could open up her ears and sinuses and allow that fluid to drain out rather than backing up and growing bacteria.
  • Massaging her neck: Our Chiropractor showed me a trick with Moo when she was little and would get congested. Rubbing her neck gently downward on either side from behind her ears down will relax those muscles and promote drainage if there is any fluid gathering. I did this with Roo tonight and her nose began running again. I hope this means we're on the right track.

And Poor Drew...

has bronchitis. He's also on an antibiotic and is starting to look normal again. I'm grateful for teacher immunity and pregnancy preparedness. Although I am exhausted from trying to take care of everyone and grow a baby, I have only had a few allergy like symptoms and have responded well to Emergen-C, Elderberry syrup, FCLO, and tons of fluids and teas.  I'm hoping my adjustment tomorrow will ease any congestion I still have then. And that we're all well soon.

Do you try to balance "wait and see" with "go and check"?* What guidelines do you use?

* Thanks, Kim :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


My girls are really health kids in general. But somehow despite my best efforts, the funk has found us. Today they were much worse and as I write this to post tomorrow I am certain we will be at the doctor before 10 am for Roo's first sick visit ever and Moo's first one in two years.

I've tried all I know to do to boost their immune systems, naturally treat their symptoms, keep the hydrated and feed them good food as best I can when they won't eat. I have gotten a little chicken, apple juice and filtered water, fruit popsicles, and soup in them today.

I am hanging my head in shame to admit that I gave them fever reducer so they would rest and have a chance at healing some overnight tonight and not needing antibiotics tomorrow.

Being a mom is the hardest job I've ever had.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013- Now go away crud!

Happy New Year! Somehow, despite all my best efforts, Drew and the girls managed to get sick AGAIN the day after Christmas. We are all at home and trying to recover as quickly and best we can.

I can't believe it's 2013! This is the year we get to meet our sweet boy!!