Blog Archive

Kids and Cousin

Kids and Cousin

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I am reading A LOT of posts and articles from women and girls who are currently struggling with their body image. I am also seeing more and more posts about women who struggled in the past and are now trying to help their own daughters navigate through life. I always have the same answer, here is part of it. I responded to an article with this comment;

I have always been VERY conversational with my kids. If they are too young to understand something, I honestly tell them “That is not something that is appropriate for us to discuss, when you are older, (or we are in private) I can tell you more about that.” As a result, my kids talk to me. They know they can count on me for honest answers to their questions. In the case of my almost 13 year old daughter, we are dealing with self image issues. She, like me, has a thick frame. She is gorgeous, and curvy, just like I was at her age (now I have a hypothyroidism and 4 kids which has led me to struggle with quite a bit of extra weight.) Which kills me since she still seems so young to me. She sees her frame as perfectly acceptable, but constantly nit-picks about a few small things. I always have the same answer. “You are beautiful, but MORE importantly you are smart, and kind, and always the first person to stand up for someone who is being mistreated. If you don’t like the way your abs (or whatever the focus of the day is) look then choose to eat as healthy as possible, and continue to exercise. Right now you are still young and your body is not a ‘finished product’ but now is the best time to live a healthy lifestyle and promise yourself that you will continue it.” I think that girls will always compare themselves to the “ideal.” In my house we have magazines and art, and classic books that paint the “ideal” as something more like a size 16 Marilyn Monroe, and classic renaissance women who had a maternal, beautiful, full-figure. It isn't perfect, but I want her to know that women are beautiful for lots of reasons, and in lots of ways. Size negative 2 and tan isn’t the only way to be “pretty.” We also spend some time looking at pictures of girls who have gone from hollywood thin to anorexic bone-bags. (Think Callista Flockhart and Nicole Richie.) We discuss how that is neither attractive nor healthy, and always keep the goal of health at the forefront of the conversation. As a result, my daughter has chosen to forgo the occasional soda and chooses juice, or water, plays several sports, and focuses on being strong instead of skinny. Her strength gives her confidence, and she knows that muscles are way prettier than stick figures.

I would like to add that one of the reasons kids are encouraged to play sports, have hobbies, and participate in other activities, is because they find a big-picture kind of self worth. If a child is skilled in art or music or chess etc, works hard for his/her grades and achieves goals, plays a sport and excels at it, and makes good quality friends because he/she knows how to be friend, then that child generally has a wide range of places to feel special and will tend to acknowledge their looks, but not obsess about them. If you feel good about yourself in a thousand ways, the self-doubt can't find room to grow.

I also know that if your family values you, your church community values you, your friends value you, and someone takes the time to let you know that Christ values you, YOU will value YOU. :)

I say this knowing that it is not a hard and fast fact for every child. Kids are different, and we all have struggles in life. I  also know that lots of women have gone through this as teens and come out the other side just fine. An honest evaluation of your weaknesses is only an opening to improve, it is not a crisis. Until a child is choosing unhealthy behavior over an attitude of self-improvement, there is no need to worry. We can't make problems disappear for our children (nor should we) we can only be there to love them and encourage them through it. It is how they learn to navigate life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Update...the pumpkin garland is soooo cute. My Sunday school kids LOVED putting faces on theirs, and this week I am making kits for the older group to make the pumpkins and decorate them. I just know they will love it too.

On another note have you seen this?  I WANT ONE!!! If anyone would like to send donations to me I promise I will put it to good use, to support my children, and create for my Sunday-schoolers. Please?!?! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall designs.

Since we are living in a rented house, I am struggling to find ways to make it "ours." I spend a lot of time just trying to keep us all organized in this tiny space. Yesterday I cane across this tutorial for paper pumpkins, and I just had to make them. I am using some colors that aren't available on a pumpkin farm, and I like them all the more for their uniqueness. I grabbed some BIG paint chips from Home Depot the other day, and the colors, plus the sturdiness of the paper make them so easy. Here is the tutorial  on the Craftaholics Anonymous Blog. Check it out!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation Photos.

Every day was filled with activity. This was Wednesday, when Jason's cousin Lizzy came to visit and play. 

This is the plane trip home. 

At the Airport
These are my sweet babies, waiting for security to clear out a little so we could parade through together, and hopefully not lose anyone.

1st Flight
Annika was a little nervous. She is, in some ways my most cautious, and sometimes my least. She did GREAT on the plane. The couple that sat in front of us even commented that they had a son about the same age, and he would NOT have done so well. She barely made a sound. She did NOT like her seat belt buckle though. It kept poking her.

My men on the plane. 
Aeden and Noah had a great time. Noah (by the window) has been on several flights, and never really seemed to mind. Jason (the big one) was terrified, hates flying, has to grip the armrests until his veins pop out and drank most of the way there. Luckily it is only a one hour flight. Aeden LOVED it. He said "Woah" (as the plane hit the edge of a thermal and dropped. "That was scary, and sooooo cool."

Annika was not particularly fond of the ups and down of takeoff, and decided goldfish were an acceptable bribe.

Lots of People in the pool
This is the BEAUTIFUL backyard of my MIL and her partner. They were so generous to have all of us, and pay for the trip. We love getting to see them, and the pool is the only way to survive Florida.

Anni always has something to give
They have a storage shed, and several bins all for pool toys. We had been there about ten minutes before the toys were scattered EVERYWHERE.

The family Joke.
"Why isn't your pool clean? Who does your service?"
 It is a joke, because MIL owns a pool service business, and by the time she gets home doesn't want to do much with her own. Nevertheless, it is lovely, and I wouldn't have gone if the pool weren't there! (Well, maybe)


New Friends

Having so much fun!
 Aeden got to spend some much needed play time with his cousin Jake, and this sweet little boy Randy. Randy speaks almost no English, so Aeden had to do most of the talking. His Spanish is good for a four year old with non-Spanish speaking parents, but it still made for tough conversation. They didn't care. Pool time/play time is universal.

Pool Toys!!!
Annika went no farther than the top steps for three days.

Blake and Noah are GREAT swimmers, and it was almost impossible to get them out of the pool. Again, food is an acceptable bribe. 

Raven Sleeps...SURPRISE! OK, not really

Aeden and Jacob Together
Aeden and Jake are the best of friends. I hate that they live so far apart. I have never seen two kids so compatible. They almost never fight, always want to do the same thing, communicate beautifully, and just LOVE being together.

Aeden sleeps ON Anni

 Apparently, a blanket is not necessary (it was like 40 degrees in the camper), but a pillow must be had. One way or another. This is the morning we left to come home. It was VERY early.
Haha, I just noticed the drool spot on Anni's pillow.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Pictures will be uploaded soon, but for now, a step-by-step, as I remember it.

We spent almost every day with my sister and nephew, mother-in-law, and her partner. You can not imagine (unless you have done it) what it is like to take 4 kids on vacation, and squeeze them into a two bedroom, one bath house that is already occupied by two adults and two giant dogs. :) We spent the entire ten days in the cutest little camper, in true Tampa trash style. Which means it was parked in MIL's driveway in the front of the house. I am sure the neighbors were tired of looking at it, but it was great for us. Bunk beds, and a fold down table-to-queen bed were our sleeping spots, as well as a futon and a couch in the house which the two older kids rotated using. The camper was loaded with cool stuff like; a digital TV antenna, a flat screen, and a DVD player, as well as a bathtub (really unusual for a camper), a fridge, microwave, stereo, and gas range.

We arrived in Tampa on Friday the 22nd of July, and had a great flight. The only hiccup was the torrential rain as we loaded the car, and the unfortunate breakdown of the cart that moved our luggage off the plane, so we waited for an hour and a half for the little belt to deliver our car seats and main suitcase. We live in the same area as the unclaimed baggage center, so I know too well how many items are never found again. I was getting a little panicky that they had sent the plane to its next stop without unloading it first. YIKES. However, it did eventually make its debut, and we were on our way.

We spent most of the weekend in the pool, and enjoyed a visit form my youngest sister, and lots of food on the grill.
On Monday I got to visit with a long-time friend and her bunch, as well as a sweetheart friend from high-school who just recently had her first baby. I could not have had a better time, and it was so wonderful to catch up. Facebook can NOT compare to face time, although it is way better than nothing.
Tuesday was spent re-acquainting myself with Tampa, and visiting Aeden's godparents. Since they are not on Facebook, face time is beyond missed, and I hated to leave them when we had to get back to my sister to return her car.
Wednesday was a great day spent almost exclusively in the pool, broken only by lunch with Jason's cousin who came to eat and swim with us that afternoon.
Thursday we had the opportunity to visit my baby sister at work. Most people wouldn't want to do that, until you find out that my sister works at an animal rescue center, and my kids got up close and personal with some VERY cool animals. We were greeted by a camel, and immediately given a full  male-dominance display by a HUGE turkey. He is tremendously friendly, but may suffer from delusions of grandeur. He is convinced that the place runs solely on his whims, and that his shows and noises are the only commands needed to keep the rescue going. We were introduced to hedgehogs, squirrels, rabbits, marmosets, groundhogs, dagus, and who knows what else. Then we met a very sad anteater with PMS and a badly broken nail. She snuggled right into my sister's arms, and then Blake's, and then Noah's, and then Aeden's. After that, we played with a room full of ferrets, and then moved on to see, touch, and talk to some of the coolest birds I have ever seen. One large cockatoo took one look at Aeden and fell in love. She danced, and talked and moved with him for a very long time, and if he tried to look a the other birds, she would imitate a home alarm until he returned. We moved on to the back porch and yard of the main building and got to see two kangaroos, one was an albino. In the yard we saw guinea fowl, chickens, and a gopher tortoise (my favorite Florida native) that had been hit by a car. We continued walking, and met sheep, a miniature cow, a ram, and some llamas. It was soooooo hot, but every animal was worth it. We took a look at some large goats, and then left that enclosure to move on to my favorite part of the day. We got to have a long play session with kangaroos and white-tail deer. The youngest independent roo, really thought Annika was fascinating, and spent a long time making eye-contact, nudging her hands, and kissing her arm. I was completely taken with the mamma roo with a new-ish baby still rolling around in her pouch. She was obviously aware that I am also a stressed out mom, and came to talk to me. She licked my hand, bent her head to have her ears scratched, stood tall and balanced with her tail, and was just generally very cool to be around. We walked through the same enclosure to the area where white-tail deer were lounging in the shade. The larger female immediately realized that we were there to shower her with attention, and was all-in. She nuzzled and nudged each of us until we were overwhelmed by her affection. Annika was very tentative to have this big deer in her face, but eventually Lily (the deer) realized that Anni was frightened and spent a long time approaching her slowly, with her head down, and waiting for Anni to be ready. After that we might as well have left because they had bonded. Lily and Anni stood together playing, snuggling, petting, licking, and talking for I am sure it was at least 20 minutes. We went back inside and Aeden got to see the face of the giant parrot that had been calling "peek-a-boo" the whole time we were watching the deer. I am not sure why birds like my son, but they really do. That bird barked like a dog, said hello, and hi and whatever else all at the request of a 4 year-old, but had no use at all for the adults. He came down from his normally very high preferred perched, just to be face-to-face with my sweet son. Aeden was fascinated by talking to this bird, (which was taller than him) and the amazing colors and personality he was all-too-willing to share. We grabbed some fruit and veggies, and made our way back to the car. On the way out we fed a deer that had been hit by a car and her tongue hangs out to the side, and she drools, and she is so sweet. We fed two rotten little pigs (Blake and I love pigs, and were very happy to get to scratch on the big pink one.) We were followed by the big friendly turkey (or led by him depending on your point of view). The last thing we saw was the camel who greeted us, and we gave him some treats. All in all a very cool experience. After all of that craziness, we got in a quick shopping trip (which held a new shirt for me in waiting), and went to my sisters for dinner and to get Blake and Aeden a haircut (my sisters other job). We were joined by my sisters new husband, one of my other sisters, and her son. Burgers on the grill, and macaroni and cheese. It seems like all we have eaten this summer is hamburgers and mac and cheese, but we never get tired of it. Sadly, we left to go back to our camper in the drive, and made plans to have drinks on Saturday.
Friday was a crazy day at Adventure Island, and except for a baby who is still a bit frightened of the water, we had a great time. I have a family of adventurers, and they were in full swing all day. Big slides in every direction, and my kids didn't shy away from any of them. Luckily, we took the camper, and the babies and I got in a nice nap despite the stifling heat. Annika didn't hit her stride until the end of the day, when we found a way to snuggle in the lazy river, and float along. She was finally content (or too tired to fight it anymore). We left about 8:45 and spent a good long time changing and prepping the camper to go home. We made it back about 10, and were exhausted. Annika and Aeden were too wound up to settle, and ran around like someone had spiked their dinner with speed. I thought I was in real trouble, but they went straight to bed as soon as the camper was re-positioned, and we all slept like logs.
Saturday was a great day. Jason's grandparents and Aunts and two of his cousins all came to visit for the afternoon. We ate, and talked, and caught up. I love them!!!! I have often told Jason that if we were ever to split-up, I would hire a hit-man so that I could keep his family for myself. They are too awesome to let go (then again, so is he). We followed our pool, play time, by an evening out at Carrabbas with my sisters, and brother-in-law. We had a few drinks, and some munchies, and laughed until we were all gasping for breath. I don't ever want to move back to Florida, but I really miss them. Our time is almost always good, and I hate living without them day to day.
Sunday was a recovery day. We packed, swam, cleaned, washed clothes, swam, ate, swam, and relaxed. Jason took Blake and Noah to see the final Harry Potter movie, and came home late. We finished getting everything together for this morning, and again, SLEPT.
This morning, Monday, we were up at 5:40, and on the move. Jason is not a morning person, and had a ROUGH start. Blake and Noah popped right up, Annika snuggled for a minute, but was on her way pretty quickly. We hit a speed bump with Aeden though. He opened his eyes and immediately burst into tears. After much effort, I got him somewhat calmed, and he said "I didn't want to go home in the middle of the night." We assured him the sun was on it's way, and he settled in to having to get up earlier than anyone wanted. We were pretty quickly out the door, and if it hadn't been for my slow-poke, morning-hater husband, we would have been at the airport on time. As it was, we were there in plenty of time to inhale breakfast sandwiches that we picked up on the way, and boarded the plane pretty quickly. We had a mildly bumpy flight home, and landed 20 minutes early. Luggage was already in my dad's hands by the time we made it to baggage claim, and we took a long drive home. We all managed to stay awake in the car except Anni and Jason, and after a nice nap, we are having dinner, and heading back to bed. A little sleep, and I think we will all be a lot happier. Tomorrow is August 2nd, and I have a lot to do to get Blake ready to start school. Where did this summer go???

PS    K, and anyone else I didn't get to see... We missed you, and hope to see you soon. I am sure you can see from this post we were BUSY, and I can't convey how much time we spent working out logistics.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stuff I made

I am getting the hang of this. 

Business card or gift card holders. A little feminine, but I have some more masculine ones planned

It seems, that if you have the right tools, this sewing stuff isn't so hard after all. 

This is a pencil pouch I made for Blake to use at school. She was impressed. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Christian Blanchet

This is my AWESOME cousin Christian. He has just graduated form the University of South Alabama, and is beginning a life quest to play in the PGA. This is his site, and blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visions of the future.


I wrote last time about the property we have found. We have searched, and been patient, and prayed...and prayed...and prayed. We have come close to finding things, and at the last minute, been turned away for one reason or another. I have always seen the possibilities, but never had "the feeling". That moment of being so sure, the feeling a bride gets when she finds the perfect dress, the feeling of knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt that "FINALLY, THIS IS IT"...until we saw this place. All I could say to Mom was, "this is what I dream about at night." We are so close, and yet sooooo far from actually having it. I have felt, for a while, that the Lord is telling me to "be patient." I am trying. If, someday, my patience pays off this is what I dream of doing with this slice of heaven in the near future. 

2 Horses. We already have one, very young, very sweet, trail horse. She is technically Dad's, but she has been trained extensively to be able to handle time and activities with the kids. The second, will be mine. Not  that I am unwilling to share, but while most little girls outgrow their pony dreams, mine just grew into a draft horse.
Cows. This gets a bit complicated because at any given time we will have a different number. In theory we will always have one good momma. From January or February we will have a calf, until he or she is big enough to sell or butcher. Then probably no baby for about a year. That number may eventually grow to be two mommas, so that we will always have milk, and have a calf big enough for butcher every year in order to provide enough meat for the family.
I am always looking to have animals and crops that do double, or triple duty. In that regard I am interested in a breed of catlle called a Milking Devon. They are a heritage breed that provide great milk, and good meat, combined with a gentle personality, typically easy birthing, and usually great mothering skills. They have also been known to be trained as a team breed for pulling a wagon or plow.
Chickens. I started with 24 female chicks, a rooster, and a mystery bird. We lost one chick right away. Shortly after we added a large white hen to the mix. Over time, one by one we have lost them all, except for our mystery bird. It turns out he is a giant rooster. By breed he is a Cochin. He is beautifully colored, gigantic, loud, and feather-legged. The plan is to add a few hens back into the mix as soon as possible and begin raising chicks to repopulate our greatly diminished little herd. I like Rhode Island Reds for their prolific brown egg laying, but I have not experienced any of the gentle personality they are purported to have. I am looking to learn a bit more into some other layers.
Pigs. I will be the first to admit I don't know much about pigs. The limit of my experience is one week with a relative who taught me a little about moving piglets from place to place, but not much else needed to be done. I also watched Doc Hollywood, (which incidentally was filmed partially on that same relatives property) and a very young Michael J. Fox walking through town and everyone telling him he had a "good pig." I had a friend in high school who had a pet pig, and I learned one very important fact. I LOVE pigs. Maybe not as much as I love cows, but it's close.
Bees. Bees are in trouble. The fact is, they are dying for reasons known and unknown by entire hives. It has become a fairly serious problem for earths most prolific pollinators. Bee enthusiasts everywhere are begging regular folks to try their hands at beekeeping. It may literally be a matter of life or death. The more we can encourage genetic diversity the better chance we have of saving the bee. I mentioned before the admiration I have for the "double duty" animal. While I believe that all animals are endlessly useful if given the chance, no other animal produces HONEY. To have access to such a phenomenal source of nutrition, anti-aging, anti-allergy, fragrant, multi-purpose food, as well as skincare product, and beeswax for candles and skincare, and making all kinds of things, just makes sense.
Some other thing. I don't know if it will be a few rabbits, or a few goats, or some other thing, but eventually I want to have fiber, food, fertilizer, soap, cheese, and lots of other things all coming from my little domestic zoo.

Hubby and I have debated endlessly on what will serve as our temporary shelter. My wish is to go as inexpensive, and low impact as possible. I want a YURT.
My husband, on-the-other-hand, wants no part of what he perceives as long term tent-living. My way we put every extra penny into the farm, and building a house. His way we live in a too-small trailer for many years while we pay down the mortgage enough to scrape together  money to begin building. Either way it will be a while before we are finished building, but my way is years, his way is decades. I don't know if I can wait that long. I really don't want to be under a mortgage either.
Not only do we have an immediate need for shelter, but so will all of the animals in some form or another. It means building a coop, a barn, and probably a few other short term pole structures while we work towards permanence.

We have debated how we will build our house at least as intently as we have discussed our short-term plan. Some considerations are:
1 Using the bamboo we planning on growing for Lumber. 

2. A cob house. This has been a fascination of mine ever since I first saw Mike Rowe making Cobs on Dirty Jobs.

3. A log cabin is something of a stretch, to both our budget and our ability. I think we could do it, if we really wanted a small square cabin, but I don't. Lumber prices are prohibitive these days, so buying is out of the question, and we don't have enough large hardwood on our property that we want to strip it just to build a house. There are better options.

I have so many things I want to grow. We will start with the ready-made product. Of our hopeful 40 acres, 30 are head high with several types of grasses that are suitable for hay. To that we will obviously add a garden. Tomatoes, lettuces, cabbages, carrots, broccoli, celery, peppers, cukes, okra, watermelons, beans, and lots of other veggies are possible in our fabulous climate. Just to make sure that my days are too busy to slow down and breathe, I want to grow bamboo. It serves a thousand purposes. No matter how we build we will use the cured product for flooring, shelving, and probably internal wall framing. We will certainly use the cane for fencing and wildlife refuge. It cleans runoff from animal waste, or human waste, so it can help prevent that lovely smell that frequently results from keeping livestock. Bamboo thrives on wet, dirty water, it filters like no other bush, tree, or grass can. It renews itself at such an astounding rate that some varieties grow three feet a day.

I guess that is it. HAHA. I picture my day busy from start to finish. We want to be green, and as self contained as possible. I have some other ideas in the works, but I think I will save that for a new title Maybe *special projects*

Relocation, relocation, relocation,

Is it wrong to pray for someone to die?

Since the last time I had access to an internet connected computer I have moved 3 times! I am not finished either. We are currently staying in a two bedroom cabin, in a beautiful neighborhood, a stones-throw away from the Tennessee River. I can sit on the front porch and watch the boats fly by.  Sounds great right? Sure. 
Consider what your life would be like if you averaged three bodies per bedroom, and six bodies all sharing one bathroom. It could definitely be worse, but it could certainly be better. 

Here comes my point. We, as a family, have found 38.98 acres of raw land, on top of a mountain, with several runs of hardwood trees, acres and acres of hay ready grass, a tract God specifically designed to house my cows and horses, and 1 remaining chicken (that's a story for another day). It has hilltops for houses, and valleys for water management, and farm irrigation, and animal water supply, and general "I knew what I was doing here" when God looks at the beauty of the whole thing. The problem? Why am I not living there instead of here? Why have we not sold the property that would pay for the whole thing (outright, NO MORTGAGE), even though buyers are lined up for miles waiting? Because one man, with late stage Alzheimers, no quality of life, and no concept of what is going on, married my grandmother A LONG TIME AGO.  

The property that could make the bank needed to fulfill my dream was purchased and the house and barns built by my grandmother and grandfather. After many years of life together my grandfather passed, and eventually my grandmother remarried. The house was not this new husband's financially, but he contributed (everything) to the family finances every day for decades. He absolutely deserved to live out his days there. The problem is this...He can't live there anymore. He is too ill, and too confused to live alone, and he has been residing in an Alzheimer's facility for about a year (his daughter and son made that choice). Aforementioned daughter and son have no claim to this property, but Granny's will says that as long as husband number 2 continues to draw breath, the property must be available to him. Daughter has the power of attorney to sign away this last remaining caveat, but, at nearly 70, she seems to have almost as much memory as dear old dad, and can't find the paperwork. 

These choices remain:
1. We can drop a ridiculous $10,000.00 to have him declared incompetent.
2. Husband number 2, can die. 

I pray, for a solution, for God's will, for patience (I believe the Lord wants me to have patience), for HOPE that we will move forward soon. I think that praying for him to die is wrong here, as much as it would be kinder for him, easier for him, gentler to him, it would be for my own selfishness that I would ask that, so I don't (usually). Perhaps someone with a purer heart could intercede for me, and pray for his passing, for his own well being. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Baby Products I LOVE

I know that this blog lacks a common theme so far, but oh well. If the point of this is to share my experiences and "wisdom" (ha ha ha) than it will be varied.
I learned a new word today "generalist" - meaning, I have some information about a lot of things, but lack a lot of information about any one thing. A Jack of all trades.
In the words of Mike Rowe "Beware of Experts"

I have seen a ton of lists "Things you have to have for your new baby" Things not to spend money on" "You can't get by without these" etc... I have hated most of every one. Here is mine, in no particular order, just call it a shopping list. :)

1. Robeez- They are great, soft leather shoes. They STAY ON and are comfortable for babies of any age. It is hard for babies to learn to walk if they aren't used to shoes and all of a sudden they have to have them on to go everywhere.  Also, being in TN for the first time with a baby last winter, they were great. The soft soles allow babies feet to move the way they would without shoes and most "experts" agree that is best. However, there are lots of places babies go where there little feet need to be protected. I can't get by without these. They are a little pricey, but because they are so soft you can get them a size too big and they still stay on and go with baby everywhere.

2. Either Earth's Best Organic, or Burt's Bees Baby Bee Baby shampoo.
I Love and use them both. Burt's Bees smells a little closer to a "traditional" baby shampoo, but Earths best has a great lavender smell. The Earths Best is true Lavender, which some people don't like. It goes away as soon as baby is dry though. I swear the lavender in the Earth's best helps them sleep better and the shampoo is really thick, so it goes a long way. There are tons of organic baby shampoos on the market, but these are the most reasonable priced, they work perfectly, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

3. Burt's Bees Diaper Rash Medicine. There are some things that go without saying, and 1 is - your baby will get SOMETHING on her skin that isn't good. From sunburn, to bug bites, to small scrapes, to actual diaper rash, this stuff is worth its weight in gold. I love that it has real essential oils in it, not a pile of chemicals, and it is a zinc oxide base, so it goes really far. Just one tube will likely last a year or so (unless your baby is really prone to diaper rash). I haven't come up against anything yet that this stuff can't heal overnight. It is not supposed to be used with cloth diapers (no oils are), but I just apply a maxi pad in the diaper to keep it from making a mess. If it does get in the cloth diaper, a little Dawn dish soap breaks down the oil and solves any problem it may have caused.

4. A Moby Wrap- These are well worth the expense. A good carrier will allow you to live your life, and still be a mommy. A baby that is carried close to mommy sleeps better, longer (especially at first) than one left alone in a crib or bed. A baby that is awake can ride comfortably, experience all the things that mommy does, and have the comfort of mommies or daddies warmth, smell, and movement to keep them content. I love that this one can be worn so may different ways. It is great for distributing weight across both shoulders, and all across your back instead of being overly heavy on any one area. Baby can be worn lying down, sitting up, facing in, facing out, on the hip, the front, or the back. I have yet to figure out why anybody liked a Baby Bjorn. They are uncomfortable, they put baby right in front of you with no flexibility. You can't cook, wash dishes, see where you are going, nurse your baby, or anything else with it. What's the point? The next best thing is a traditional sling, but these offer more flexibility and can grow with baby better than a sling.

5. Econobum cloth diapers. I have also used FuzziBunz One Size Cloth Diapers,  and bumGenius One-Size Cloth Diaper, but for the bulk of my day at home I prefer the economy and ease of the econobum. If I am leaving the house, I tend to use one of the pocket diapers, because it is easier to fold up and store the full package than a wet or dirty insert. If I am at home, I love having to only change the inside, and reusing the cover until it is no longer clean enough to do so. Any of the pocket diapers have to be stuffed with various inserts anyway, I would rather do it with one cover instead of changing the cover every time.

I am a big fan of this one. We have always had an issue with space (with 4 kids who wouldn't) This is a great alternative to a full size high-chair that takes up precious floor space. They don't fold down, which is unfortunate, but if we are going anywhere for a long period of time (more than 2 days), we take this along. It can sit on the floor during family play time, the tray can hold a suction cup toy to keep babies hands busy and out of board games or puzzles with older kids. It is perfect for mealtimes and the base has an adjustable height, so when baby gets a bit older, he can use at the table with the grown-ups as a booster.   It means that if we are at the table, so is the baby, (not off somewhere else) because the chair is always the same height as your dining set.

AVENT-breast pump. I have tried so many others, I have an expensive double electric. I don't use it. I would rather have my Avent (evn though all I have is the hand pump). I get more milk faster, and more comfortably with the hand pump than I have ever gotten with an electric. I have never been able to use the Avent electric, but it is all the same parts (that count) as the hand pump, minus the work. I can only imagine it is spectacular, although, I don't know that the dairy cow feeling will ever go away. I am a huge fan of all of the other Avent products too. The fact that the Philips Avent 9 oz BPA Free Bottle, Dual Pack bottles work with the pump, and the Philips Avent Soft Spout Magic Cup, 9 Ounce, Twin  or Avent 7oz Magic Trainer Cup, is a huge bonus for me. When you cant always find the part you need, you know you can mix and match whenever necessary. The bottles are great for babies too. All 4 of mine have used Avent bottles for breastmilk and juice and have had an easier time with them than any other kind. They fit well in babies hands and mouths, and the wide bottle mouths make them easy to clean.

There are a ton of other things you can spend money on, but these are the essentials. Hope it helps you new moms.

There are also a few things I wouldn't buy....
1. Any product for my babies skin from Johnson and Johnson, they smell great, and come cheap, but you get what you pay for. They are laiden with chemicals that are known to cause skin allergies, are linked to cancerous tumors, and are generally less than best for your baby.

2. A crib. A play yard is great for emergencies, or if you want your baby close, but not in your bed, but I think a crib is a crazy expense. If you really don't want your baby in your room (I am not judging) than a crib makes sense, especially the double duty ones that become a toddler bed, but it has never been right for us.

3. A changing table. In the real world, the changing table becomes messy storage for all things diaper, but the baby ends up being changed in whatever room you are in at the moment. I keep 2 plastic storage bins in the house with diapers and washcloths for changing, one in the living room, and one in the bedroom.

4. Baby cereal or formula. There is a rush to get babies on solid food. It is not good for them. Rice cereal is lacking in any nutrient except added Iron that your baby can't get from breast milk. The iron isn't very bioavailable anyway. The whole grain cereal is wholly undigestable by babies systems, and can lead to celiac disease, IBS, and generally poor health as the intestines are damaged trying to deal with the gluten. If your baby is lacking iron, then you need to eat more spinach, sorry, but its true. Formula was not meant to be the first option. It was designed to keep babies alive as a LAST RESORT. Its not convenient, it is hard for them to digest, it smells bad, and it removes many health benefits from baby and mommy. If you can't breastfeed, fine, but try before you make that decision.

5. A diaper genie. I know several parents who swear by them, but I have had one. It is a pain to change the bag, It stinks anyway. They are expensive, and I don't think they earn their keep. They don't hold early enough diapers (even disposables) to be really useful. By the time its full you are in one of two situations with a traditional system anyway. Either you have just started to smell your regular disposables in the garbage can because it has been several days, or the baby is older, and the poopy diapers smell soooo bad they have to go out right away, and no diaper genie can hold back the funk. If you use cloth, this is a moot point, and a good pail with a lid will get changed out about every day anyway.

I am sure more things will come to me as time goes on, I will update this if I need to.

Friday, May 28, 2010


As  many of my friends on facebook and here in town have heard lately, I have a new mantra. It is going to be okay, God has a plan for me. It has been a rough week, filled with difficulties, uncertainties, panic, frustration, hopelesness, any other negative emotion you can come up with. I am almost always a glass half full kind of girl. This week, my optimism has failed. I have even gone so far as to question "should I be saying that the other way around? God has a plan for me it's going to be okay. If I do it wrong He will forget me, He will be angry and ignore me." Again, not my typical response. I am waking up in a deep panic, and have to force myself into breathing exercises to keep from being physically ill.
I am flexible, and very willing to accept almost any hardship or uncomfortable situation for myself (this is not immodesty, just the facts), but when it comes to my children, I want more for them. Jason and I have aimed our entire marriage to provide stability for our children, and we haven't had much success. Blake and Noah have both had to change schools part-way through their kindergarten year. I hate that. I moved so much when I was a kid I have no friendships from before high school, and them only because the computer makes it easy. I have reconnected with long lost friends, but I am often envious of other people I knew, that maintained their friendships and are the godparents of each others children, and were bridesmaids in each others weddings. I have never had that. Not that I want to squeeze into a bridesmaids dress, just to have a friend that would want me too. I don't want my children to have the same regrets. I want them to learn that when you see someone everyday you can't walk away from them just because you don't agree. You have to stick it out and learn to navigate the conflict so that you can maintain friendships. The only other choice in a small town is to be isolated.
All of that was leading to this. We have to move. We are absolutely not leaving the area, but we can't stay in this house. I feel like we had just grounded ourselves for the first time ever, I made long-term plans. I have a five year vision of this place, but it will be someone else's place in five years. It is going to be okay, God has  a plan for me. I have decided, that our best bet, is to do what we should have done years ago. We need to live below our means. The problem is our means bring us to about the level of tent camping. Below that is a scary prospect. We are going to do everything we can to stay out from under a mortgage. If I can convince my husband to go along with the plan, we will build our own house. I am talking about a five year plan in a whole new light. I am talking about paying for land with monthly payments directly to the owner, not the bank. I am talking about saving ourselves money on insurance, and interest. I am talking about only hiring contractors for the things we physically can not do ourselves. Almost everything in TN is legal, as long as it meets basic code. There are very few things that have to be done by a contractor. We will push the limits of living in a tent, (okay probably a dumpy double wide) in the pursuit of a home that we can be proud of, and that is ours, and that will provide stability for our children. We will feed ourselves only what we can grow or trade for, and we will have income that can go into savings, and into our children's activities. Now, this is a tall order, and it will take time, and it may get derailed at any moment. But it feels like what we are being called to do. I feel like God has provided me with all of this information about homesteading for a reason, and that he is showing me, when I give  in to his design everything works out. We shall see how this plays out, but in the meantime, It is going to be okay, God has a plan for me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gods Plan

It is rare that any plan of mine comes to fruition. I have the best of intentions, almost always. It just always seems that something totally derails the whole thing.
Work within God's design and get the best results.

chickens in the yard

These are my chickens, eating the bugs off of my vegetables, scratching around and getting rid of the pests in my yard to protect my children. It may be 3 and a half minutes of the most boring video EVER, but it absolutely thrills me.

They go out in the yard and do whatever it is they do all day, and then at night they naturally want to go back to their nest boxes. They are still getting the hang of that one though. Last night I had to pull them out from under the truck one by one. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to build a chicken coop.

Wednesday afternoon, Mom came home to spend a few days. The idea was for the two of us to celebrate my birthday by going out to lunch, to have some help with the kids while Dad and I finished the coop, and to celebrate Aeden's third birthday before she returned home on Saturday. Ah, the best of intentions.
What really happened...
Thursday morning, we got up early, and I took the Blake and Noah to school. I got back to the house and we had coffee in the apartment. Eventually we all got moving around 9 and started banging away on the coop to get as much progress made as possible before Dad and Jason went to their man-party, "we are going to shoot things, and eat meat, and grunt" (at least that's how I picture it).

Dad and I had decided that the best place to put the chickens was under the overhang that Dad had added to the barn to house the old Ford that we have been relocating form house to house for way to long now. There was enough extra roof to cover the nest boxes for the chickens, and the posts provided a great framework to start with. We began by laying fence posts on the ground to make a base. Dad had gotten the posts really cheap because they had been in the lumber yard too long in the heat and rain and warped a little. $ saver #1. We started as close to the truck tires as we could get in order to get the most space. After that we tacked chicken wire to the support posts that were already part of the carport. We put a 1" by 4" across the posts to support the boxes. To that, we added old cedar shelves. Mom and Dad had taken a closet out of the room that is now Blake's and we have a ton of cedar leftover. $ saver #2. Each board was just over 2 feet long and about 15 inches deep. They already had shelf brackets, so we just screwed them in. $ saver #3. We used wall pieces that were already tongue and groove cut, stacked 3 high, to make the back and screwed them into the existing posts as well. After adding the bottoms and back of the boxes we cut some of the wall pieces into 15 inch pieces and stacked them 3 high. We used small (half inch by 2 inch) pieces to brace the slats and make the sides of the boxes. We laid the same wall slats across the top and weighted them with cinder block to keep them in place, but we didn't want to fasten them in the event that we have to do a major cleaning/restructuring/ or anything else. Dad built a handy little door, (see pictures) out of whatever wood we had lying around from other projects. (I think he did have to use one 2 x 4 that he had bought for another project.) We leveled the door at the end of the coop. Finally we covered anything left open with chicken wire, Do it Best Imp/Fence 764000 Poultry Netting  rolls of it. 4 rolls altogether I think. We tacked it in with fasteners I must admit I don't know the name of. They look like big giant staples and you bang 'em in with a hammer. That chicken wire is the strangest stuff to work with. It looks straight on the roll but as soon as you open it, it starts to look like they serve vodka all day long at the chicken wire factory. You have to brace it and stretch it because it is hard to pull, and amazingly frail all at the same time. We used two more wall panels and added some more of that half inch by 2 inch with a nail gun for them to use as steps up to the nest boxes. I didn't think they would be able to get up there, but they can. We did a double check and triple check until we were convinced there was nowhere the ladies could escape (we were WRONG), and called it a day. Okay, we called it three days.

We had already started some of it last week, we took until 2:00 on Thursday, and worked on it all day Friday. No birthday lunch. (Mom and I ended up taking the kids and getting a BBQ dinner on Thursday because we were too tired to cook.) We did manage to squeeze in cooking cake and dinner for Aeden on Friday, but barely.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Rude

I just have no patience for this. Why is "feed your child in the restroom. It's okay, it's really nice" an acceptable thing for anyone to say to another human being?? I don't get it. I just literally can't wrap my head around it. Please, we want to punish you for doing the best thing for your child. Instead of taking care of your baby, and having an adult dinner, we want you to sit in the place where people poop, ALONE, while everyone else has a nice dinner.

The 10 commandments of dining with little kids
GENESIS it begins. I always swore I would never have a blog. Something about it seems like one more way for people to not actually have a conversation. Yet here I am. I don't think I am an avid, every day, full-disclosure sort of blogger, but we shall see. I have so many small adventures every day that even though it is possible that no one will be interested in them, I now have somewhere to put them.
Today feels like day one of really farming. I had to get up first thing to see that the chickens were fed and watered. I think it might really sink in the first time my little rooster crows at sunrise. I even, (inadvertently) put on my overalls when I got up. I say inadvertently because I didn't intend or today to be farm day 1, it just is.
Maybe when I have had more sleep, and I can see the computer screen through not-so-tired eyes, I will detail the building of the coop, the moving of the chickens, and post some pictures of them roosting, scratching, and pecking happily in their new home.