Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where do you put the batteries?!

I was playing with my munchkins this afternoon and decided to snap some photos of them playing. I can count on two hands the toys these kids have that are battery-powered. Most of our toys are kid-powered :)

We used to have all of the light up, noise making, Disney character covered plastic junk. The more I researched, got headaches from the noise, and realized that the mess was NOT something I wanted in my home, we started slowly but surely minimizing the number and type of toys in our house. At last count, we have 7 toys that require some sort of power, including the tv that I have in the back of the house for the kids to watch the occasional movie on. The rest is mostly wooden, imagination requiring, and I love it! And so do they!

Keelin trying to use a wooden pizza cutter on a wooden apple stuck together in the middle with velcro. She's wearing a bioME 5 "K for Kangaroo" shirt.

Click here to see bioME 5's organic clothing options for kids!

Here is Jackson playing with the apple and Keelin playing with the darn pizza cutter ;) She's cutting a wooden loaf of sliced "bread" held together with velcro.

They were pretty hung up on play food this afternoon, but you can also see the Plan Toys lace up shoe, and the Melissa and Doug toys- the word matching game, the tool set, etc. We love Melissa and Doug, even though their items are mostly made in China and we wish they would make them here in the U.S.A.

Jackson, making a pizza for his big sissy!

Little mess maker! Keelin would run away before I could take many pictures with her in them. Don't know why she was being camera shy today :-/

So there ya go, y'all! Just a little peek into the toybox. So many people act like our kids are deprived because they don't have TONS of toys or the "latest and greatest," but shoot, they are happy kids and I feel good about what they have to play with. Kid-powered is the way we like to do it at our house :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An incredible Etsy find!!

Happy Wednesday!! :) The kids and I have been focusing a lot on weather and seasons here lately with our un-schooling/homeschooling, since it's been what has interested them. I'm hoping to move on to rainbows in the next couple of weeks, since I've put together a really great set of plans for activities in many areas that involve rainbows- including making some decorations for our house! (That doesn't qualify as child labor does it?!) Since I'm planning more than a week of total rainbow goodness, I thought I'd shop for a nifty, handmade learning toy for the kids and came across Mama Mama May I on Etsy.

her etsy shop

This is a picture of her "Nesting a Rainbow" playset.

I don't know about you, but I think it is devastatingly beautiful.

Putting it on my list of things to buy for my curious, feisty, little ones!

Just had to share!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A trying evening...

I buckled up the kids and drove 45 minutes to pick up some chicks tonight. The guy wasn't home. What. The. Heck? I called. Knocked. Nothin'. Dude knew I was coming. Well, there was a place about 15 minutes down the road that supposedly had the same breed I was looking for, so I drove there. It was about an hour before they closed, supposedly. Closed. Dark. Locked. Nothin'. At this point, I'm thinking- "Seriously, people? You consider yourselves businessmen?!"

So, after two hours of nonstop driving and nonstop disappointment, I took home two heartbroken kids and no chicks. We stopped and split a milkshake, but it didn't help. By this point, they were exhausted, sad, and my composure was slowly but surely fading.

Oh, and lest we forget- I'm 17 1/2 weeks pregnant. So, yes, I cried the whole way home with the kids.

I didn't care about not getting the chicks (I'll get them eventually), I didn't overreact to the kids being upset (They're 4 and 2, it happens, they'll be okay), but I had just had it.

Then my sweet Keelin reminded me that our night could have been much worse. I asked her how she thought it could have been worse. She said, "We might have seen a rabbit get eaten by a lion- and that would have been bad." Yep, Keelin, that would have been bad. Shaking off the annoyance, crawling into bed, and reading a book. Goodnight :)

The Wildflower Patch!!

I was lucky enough to stumble across a blog written by a fellow crafty mom and blogger named Mandy! Her blog AND store are named The Wildflower Patch. The name just makes me wish for sumer! She sells felt playfood, family cloth, diapering supplies, items for mom and baby! All handmade and at very reasonable prices!!

^ link to her blog

^ link to her store

This week, she is holding a giveaway on her blog! You can enter a number of ways before the 31st of March and can choose from a number of prizes should you be the lucky winner! Show this mama some love, guys! :)

Cloth diapering a newborn!

I started cloth diapering when Jackson was 4 months old. Before then, I was researching like it was my job. I had tried to cloth diaper Keelin, but just didn't quite have the knowledge to pull it off. I had problems with leaks, buildup in the diapers, and looking back- I had a GREAT stash of prefolds and Snappis, I was just missing out on some really good covers and a kick butt cloth diaper detergent. If only I'd had someone to give me advice on what to buy! With Jackson, I started out with WAHM (work at home mom) made all in ones that were great during the day, but wicked at night, leaving his clothes wet. I eventually discovered Thirsties covers (to this day, my favorite PUL covers) and fitted diapers. I finally got the guts to try prefolds again and boy, was I in love! I then ventured into the world of wool covers- knit and interlock. And I found my true love! WOOL! So breathable, so natural, so virtually bombproof- what's not to love? Baby Finn already has half a dozen wool covers, some bought for him, some that Jackson has outgrown! When we found out in December that we were expecting out third and final baby, the first thing I did was start shopping for diapers. I've never diapered a newborn before and have always lusted after teeny tiny diapers. And guys, they are soooo teeny. Can't help but "awww" over them! I posted a few pictures last night, but forgot this one! It's my drawer of fitted diapers. The ones on the left are Tinkle Traps (prefolds cut and sewn to fit like a sized fitted) that were dyed by the previous owner plus a couple of bamboo fitteds that I got in a trade! Those two bamboo diapers are my only new diapers!! The ones on the right are Kissaluvs Size 0, also known as KL0s. They're super fluffy and I adore them!! Can't wait to put them on Finn's teeny hiney!

Some people are hesitant to cloth diaper. Some people would be even MORE hesitant to cloth diaper with used cloth! But I've been cloth diapering full time for a couple of years now and I LOVE to buy used! Saves a ton of money, the cloth is already prepped (natural oils that can prohibit the best absorbancy have been washed out), and sometimes you find really special diapers, like the dip-dyed Tinkle Traps! I don't know if I'll ever get around to tie-dying the prefolds like I want to, but it's nice to have some already done for me!

As far as santitation goes, I sanitize my diapers when I buy them used. I boil the daylights out of them, strip them using Rockin Green (my favorite cloth diaper detergent), wash them with baking soda, rinse them with vinegar, dry them in the sun- in no particular order! :) That, my friends, is more sanitary than the hospital sheets most of us have given birth on top of!

For those of you that have cloth diapered a newborn or are planning to, what kind of diapers are you using, have you used, or are thinking about using?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where did Spring go!?

Not good pictures in the photography sense, but MAN I love these kids! They're so darn squishy!

Well, today was another chilly day here in North Carolina. I really wish Spring would hightail it back here, so I can get to work outside! This damp cold gets in my bones; special thanks for that goes out to the douche waffle that rammed his SUV into my station wagon in late 2009. My back always aches when it's cold and damp :( Doesn't help being 17 weeks pregnant, either.

Anyway, no more whining from me! We had a productive day inside, regardless of the weather. I signed up for a local consignment so that I could sell off some Medium maternity clothes that I purchased online when I first found out that Baby #3 was on his way. I'm carrying MUCH higher than I usually do, so I'm actually still wearing my larger, regular jeans. I am pretty sure I MIGHT fit properly into size Small maternity clothes by the time my pregnancy journey ends, but I will never in a million years fit into these Mediums, so to the sale they go! They're mostly new with tags and I got a sweet deal on them from a mama who never got around to wearing them, so I just hope to get out of them what I paid. Fingers crossed that I'll find some great items at the consignor pre-sale, too! :) Definitely my favorite part of consigning... getting to shop early!

So, are a few more pictures of our day!

Bottom drawer of Baby Finn's organizer- organic cotton prefold diapers in the back, handmade all in ones to the left, tinkle trap pre-fitteds to the right, plus some Thirsties XS covers and Loveybums wool wraps! All purchased used from other mamas! Prepped and ready for baby!

Here are the clothes we have so far for Baby #3. Soft, organic cotton everything in gender neutral colors, all purchased from consignments or purchased used from mamas online.

Here is a full length shot of the organizer. It's one of two I've purchased for our last baby. It's an organizer made by Badger Basket- unfinished wood, sustainably harvested, organic cotton baskets. I think the look is to die for! The other is put together in Jackson's closet, holding his diapers and wool, since Baby doesn't have much yet!

A thrifted table I bought for $10 last fall. It was BRIGHT blue and hideous, but I liked the lines. Scraped the junk and paint off, painted it white with no VOC paint, and voila! Perfect bedside table for Jackson!

Happy Monday :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet Saturday!

Today was super chilly, but I got up at 7am to meet my friend Dana at one of our local farmer's markets. I really got some amazing things, but more on that later!

Here is a picture of my strawberry and rhubarb pie filling! The strawberries are from a local farm (by local, I mean 3 miles away!) and my Dad picked them last year, cut them up and froze them! So on a cold, rainy day in early Spring, I have beautiful strawberries to use in a pie with some gorgeous, but bitter, rhubarb. The rhubarb is soaking up some of that glorious strawberry sweetness before I bake it into something incredible using my late grandmother's cobbler recipe.

This, my friends, is raw milk. In the state of NC, it is only sold "not for human consumption," BUT we consume it. It is pretty incredible, albeit expensive, and we can't get a hold of much at a time since the people we get it from are very small scale, but it's absolutely incredible. It is unpasteurized, so it does carry some risk of contamination, but so does pasteurized stuff. That's my disclaimer :) The people we buy it from sell it for pet use or product use, so they do their part and follow the law. We are the "bad" ones.

I have some pretty serious lactose issues, but for some reason raw milk (cows and goats) doesn't kill my tummy, so I'm willing to search it out and pay for it.

I used my raw milk this morning to make a smoothie with a whole banana, raspberries, lots of kale, honey, probiotic powder, yogurt, ice, and flaxseed oil. My hubby said it was like a salad in a cup (I think I might have used a bit much kale for his liking- haha), but that it was good! My little boy hung out drinking it and "yum!"-ing to himself this morning. Precious.

At the farmer's market, I got some humanely raised and butchered lamb ( from the same guy that gave us the free eggs and sold us the sausage a couple of weeks ago- I told you he had a customer for life!). I got a ton of kale, some free range eggs (6 different colored eggs- love the variety) even though we are hoping to get a few grown chickens this week to get a start on laying, since our chicks are still way too young to lay. Also got some goat cheese, olive bread, and bacon pimento cheese for my dad and husband to enjoy.

I made a killer lunch this afternoon- baked winter vegetables (winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, and cabbage) and honey cornbread! My husband and father were here watching basketball (please, let March Madness be over SOON! I can't take it anymore!), both gave me funny looks when I served lunch (because there was no meat, I guess?), but they both really enjoyed it and went back for seconds of one thing or another. :)

Oh, I almost forgot... Tim and I got down into the basement while the little guy napped and went through quite a few boxes that were never unpacked from our move in August. The amount of clothes the kids have outgrown, toys they wouldn't play with now, things I'd forgotten about- it was just incredible. I boxed up a ton of stuff to take to Goodwill, pulled out the clothes to wash and freshen up before passing on to friends with kids smaller than mine, and really noticed that we had a lot more room, but ran out of time this afternoon. Will continue another day! Minimalism makes this mama's heart happy. Clutter steals time away from what you truly love.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The first week of Spring!

The first week of Spring was really kind to us, aside from the last couple of days being a little chilly for my taste! I was really productive at home and we got some great news. Tim got a great job offer from a company he was interested in working with, so he officially is employed for when he gets out of the Army two weeks from today!

I felt the baby kick from the outside for the first time last night! I'm almost 17 weeks and felt the baby start moving around right before I was 13 weeks. I guess with this being my third and final baby, I know what to look for- or this baby is just wild at heart!

Speaking of the baby, I believe we are going to name him Finn. It's a Gaelic name that means "fair." And yeah, all of my kids are pale- go figure. :) Having a hard time choosing a middle name, though. We'll let you know when we come up with something, but it will definitely be a tough decision.

I made a tablecloth for the kidlet's table! We eat a lot of yogurt and fruit, all of which were ending up on the unvarnished wooden table. Had to protect it somehow. My elastic wasn't tight enough on 2 of the corners, but it was my first shot at it, so I will tighten it up at a later time. For now, we're loving the easy cleanup!

The results of my first knitting lesson with my friend Kate! I've practiced a bit since then, so I hope that eventually I will actually start trying to make something :)

One of my 2011 Resolutions was to learn to knit and it was the last thing on my list I had yet to start, so I'm really excited. Progress- and it is so relaxing!

Short rows tilled in the garden, two peach trees planted (now we get to just wait about 5 more years for peaches), marigolds planted (help with bug control and pollination), and some of our seedlings put in the ground.

We did have a little cold snap, so I'm afraid that some of them aren't looking so good. I think I have enough seedlings left to make up for it if those kick the bucket, though, and end up in the compost bin.

Diapers on the line right above my daffodils! See the brownish colored diaper? I heard that you can dye fabric with tea, so I tried it and the color looks really strange. I think I did something wrong, but I definitely will try again. Some of the fabric I've seen dyed with tea is just lovely, so we'll see if I can't get the hang of it :)

My beautiful seedlings! Can't believe that I grew these from seeds and only killed a few of them :) My thumb is slowly changing colors!

Our upcycled chicken coop! It is finally finished and our 10 oldest chickens are spending their second night out there (with a heat lamp, of course) tonight. They love it! I've never seen them happier! It's 88 square feet, 44 feet of perches, 7 nesting boxes, a large fenced run is just beyond the window, and there is a closeable "chicken door" on the bottom left, so I can shut them in at night to protect them from predators. There is electricity out there, so our feathered family members will have a heat lamp as long as they need it and a fan in the summer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My hair is everywhere!

Some of you might know what "no poo" is and some might not. I'm planning on doing a really detailed blog about it tomorrow if all goes well.

Well, I am about to finish my first week of no poo-ing and WOW. All I can say is WOW.

I have really wavy, slightly curly hair that has gotten straighter as I've gotten older. Big disappointment, since I love my curls, even though I do take a flat iron to them occasionally. At first, I blamed the lack of curls on my hormones changing during pregnancy, nursing, etc. but after my first couple of times no poo-ing (i.e. not using shampoo, but instead, using a homemade mixture of totally natural cleansing product- I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar, not at the same time), I realized that it was the products that I've been using in my hair! I thought that since they rated pretty well on websites that rank toxicity of beauty products, I was safe, but it is clear to me now that my hair is just really affected by what is put on it.

Last night, I took a late shower and fell asleep with my hair down and damp. Yeah, I was absolutely zonked and drooling... Woke up this morning with curly hair like I haven't seen since I was in high school. I've been putting my hair up to work outside in the yard, so I guess I just haven't noticed the curls! Now, there will be no pictures, because my hair is still rebelling a bit against the lack of product, so I'm rocking a look that speaks of wild woman of Borneo chic and it is not to be immortalized on my blog.

I hear that after a week or two, your hair starts to calm down. So I'm ready for that to happen :) My hair is shinier than it has ever been, super soft, starting to get the natural curl back, and I think I made the right decision to switch to no poo-ing when I ran out of conditioner and didn't want to buy another $20 bottle. Baking soda wash and vinegar rinse plus some cool water has really worked wonders for my hair. Who could have possibly imagined that "not" washing my hair would give me back my high school hair?! haha And it's ridiculously cheap. Can't beat it with a stick!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Carseat Post #2 with pictures!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! As a follow-up to the post I made yesterday about my support of extended rear-facing, I thought I would post some pictures of my little ones in their carseats! I took these this afternoon around lunch time, so pardon the glaring light!

This is my 26 month old son, Jackson. I am not entirely sure what he weighs at the moment, but he is wearing 2T clothes and growing like a weed! He is in a Britax Marathon carseat, which has a rear-facing limit of 35lbs. and a forward-facing limit of 80lb. I didn't check height limits, because both of my kids are fairly short, so the weight limit will be an issue before the height limit will. (My love, Keelin, is shielding her eyes from the light in the background. Sweet girl!)

I do not have a LATCH system in my car, so the carseats are secured with seatbelts. We climb in the car, putting weight in the seat, in order to get the belts as tight as they should be. Those suckers are going nowhere!

When I turned him forward-facing, he liked being able to see where we were going and wasn't thrilled when I turned him back rear-facing. To make the transition back to rear-facing easier for him, we brought out some books, toy cars, stickers, etc. that are "for carseat use only!!" :) So we went on and on about how AWESOME Jackson's big boy carseat was and how GREAT it was that it faced backwards!!! Then we made a huge fuss about Jackson's fun car toys that he can only have if he's buckled into his seat. Now, he thinks that getting in the car is the best thing since sliced bread! I know that not everyone will have such an easy time with a rear-facing two year old, but I can only tell you what worked well for us.

My sweet love, Keelin, forward-facing at 41lbs and almost 5 years old. The straps are nice and tight, the chest clip is where it should be, and her seat was installed the same way Jackson's was. That sucker is going nowhere. Gotta love the mud on the side of her carseat. That's what happens when you hurl yourself into the van straight from the playground area of our backyard where you were communing with mud. She's also in a Britax Marathon.

We bought these two carseats in December of 2009, when we were in our accident two days before Christmas. I wouldn't put them back in the wrecked carseats, so I went to Target and got the only two Britax seats they had- hence the fact that they don't match (which does bother me a bit, lol). My back was so messed up from the accident, that I had to get the guys at the car rental place to install them for me when I picked up my loaner while my car was in the shop. You should have seen me asking these mechanics to climb up in the seats so that the belts would be tighter! ;) They looked at me like I was absolutely mad!

Here is a picture of the carseats with no munchkins in them. I keep the LATCH belts attached, because I get to use them when we put the carseats in someone's car that has the LATCH system. Looks a little goofy to have straps hanging everywhere, but I hope to one day have a LATCH system installed in my vehicle, so I'm hanging on to all of the pieces and parts :)

Addressing the issue that a lot of people have mentioned ("What about their legs?!")- Jackson, in the first picture, has one leg bent and the other hanging out on the back of the seat. He took a nap in the car this afternoon with both legs crossed, clearly comfortable enough to go to sleep! Sometimes I look back and see him poking a leg out towards Keelin, goofing off with his feet (he's a no shoe kinda guy if he can help it, so they're off the minute we get in the car- haha), kicking the seat, trying to put his toes on the window, etc. There hasn't been a time yet where he has seemed uncomfortable and I really paid attention to him at stop lights and in parking lots today, just to see if I noticed him acting like it bothered him. And he was fine, just like I imagined he would be.
I hope this post has been more positive than my last one. I was super frustrated last night with the negative reactions that people were giving to the newest recommendations on carseat safety, so my claws popped out. I find that people listen much better to reason and passion than they do to fussing and judging, but I am human and sometimes it shows. I hope that anyone considering extended rear-facing is encouraged by my photos. Let me know if you have any questions!

A vent about carseats!

This will probably be one of the most judgemental posts you will ever read of mine and I will go ahead and give the disclaimer now, but I absolutely will not apologize for it. I mean every word that I'm about to say.

Reading the discussions online regarding the recent AAP recommendation that parents rear-face their kids until two has really made me think. I rear-faced Jackson until he was a year and a half old. He was 19 months old when I turned him- it was actually around the time he self-weaned. I decided that with this baby, I would rear-face him until he hit the weight/height limit on his carseat and knowing how skinny my kiddos are, that will be when he is around 4 years old. This is why...

The science behind extended rear-facing is undeniable. Rear-facing kids in 5 point harnesses are 500% safer than their forward-facing counterparts. That is a HUGE number!

I turned Jackson because I felt happy with my decision to continue rear-facing him until he was 19 months old. I thought that him having the extra 7 months was GOOD! And it was! If I'd turned him earlier than a year, he very well could have died two days before Christmas in 2009 when we were rear-ended by an SUV (that put me in physical therapy for 6 weeks 6 times a day and still causes me back pain) at a red light by being internally decapitated (a major cause of car accident deaths in kids that forward face too early, because their spines are still in 3 separate "pieces" and their heads are sooo heavy compared to the rest of their bodies)- which is not a thing meant to cause doubt or fear- look up the YouTube videos! He was 11 months old at the time. If I'd turned him "a month early," I could have lost my son, so I am passionate and outspoken about this.

Do NOT turn your child forward-facing before 1 year. In my opinion, it is reckless and dangerous. Any excuse that a mother could come up with to do so is NOT good enough and she needs to have her head examined.

As far as the moms I know making fun of the recommendation to extend rear-facing until 2, saying that their kid screams or their legs are scrunched- turn up the music and let them cross their legs. A loud kid is better than a silent, dead kid. Yes, I said it. I don't like everything the American Academy of Pediatrics says (read: vaccines)- but this is good information that is undeniable, even for a crunchy skeptic like me.

I didn't rear-face Jackson until two, but if I knew then what I know now, I absolutely would have, at a minimum. Keelin is too tall and too heavy to rear-face in her Britax, but I am thankful that I kept her rear-facing for well over a year. And again, I thought I was doing pretty good, there.

You live and you learn. Don't hear the facts and mock them. Take the facts to heart, take the research in and make a positive change for your kids. With Keelin, I didn't even know people kept their kids rear-facing past a year. I felt like the odd man out! With Jackson, I felt like I was doing something good, but didn't realize how seriously he could be injured in an accident even up to the age of two. I thought that at 1 we were out of the "danger zone" and anything past that was just gravy on my safe baby!

With our third child, Little No-Name, I am ready to bring him into this world and rear-face him until the cows come home, nurse him until he stops- there is no amount of ridicule that will change my mind, no differing opinions that will make me choose popular opinion over the absolute best for my children.

Now, here is where I am going to get a little judgey.

I do judge moms that buckle their kids in with big coats on and don't listen when told it's dangerous. Your child is not in their seat tightly enough if they are wearing a coat.

I do judge moms that leave carseat straps loose, when the dang directions tell you how to buckle them and tighten the straps properly. Read. The. Directions. Please, no slack straps! And chest buckles go on the chest, not near their lap!

I judge moms that forward face before a year, because there is NO excuse for it. It's dangerous AND illegal. I only personally know two people that have done it and I was absolutely appalled.

I judge moms that carry their babies in bucket seats with their legs hanging out- get the kiddo a convertable carseat and HOLD your baby! Heck, I'll give you one of my extra baby carriers or wraps! Just pick up that child, please! And get them a carseat they fit in properly. Geez.

I judge my mom friends that put their kids in booster seats with seatbelts when they are NOT old enough (yes, manufacturers say they are, but not safety experts) to be in one. They aren't recommended by safety experts until kids are SIX and the manufacturers say FOUR and 40lbs. That is absurd! Put the child in a 5 point harness and potentially save his or her life.

If I offended someone, okay. But I think that when you have the right information about safety issues regarding your kids and choose to do what is cute, convenient, or cheapest- then you really just need to hear the facts one more time, I hope. I know there are a few mommies that read my blog and a lot of you have similar parenting mindsets to my own, so I doubt any of you are going to read this and be offended, but I offended some people on my Facebook earlier, so I figured I should put up a warning :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, Chilly Sunday.

Saturday was spent playing and having our ultrasound done. Today, we had my 16 week appointment with our midwife (who is so amazing! and graciously comes to our house on Sundays so that Tim can be here for my appointments!) and everything looks good.

Our little one was kicking the daylights out of the fetoscope and doppler. I loved hearing that! I'm getting a bit more energy these days, now that I'm over the stomach bug and in my second trimester. Maybe I will start gaining back some of the weight I've lost.

I'm craving fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, and steak (of all things, considering I'm not a big red meat eater). So tonight, I went to Harper's (a local restaurant where my friend Kristin works) to get my second Steak House Salad in a week, since we went there last Sunday. It is a delicious salad. Like I mentioned last Sunday, lots of greens, bleu cheese, maters, portobello mushrooms, a little bit of steak on top- and tonight, I added avocado. Totally hit the spot!

Before we went out to eat, though, I went to a fabric store that I've never been to before. They had a lot of good stuff! I got 4 different kinds of fabric to make various items for the baby, a bunch of clearanced elastic (for making fitted sheets, tablecloths, pants, etc.) for $0.23/ package, and fell in love with the staff. I only spent $30, too!

Greensboro, NC people- the Hancock Fabrics on the corner of High Point Road and Groometown Road has incredible customer service, a really good selection, and wonderful prices. I haven't been to a craft store in Greensboro yet that has employees that are this cheerful, enjoyable, and on point. I highly recommend stopping by and visiting them! :)

On that note, I'm going to go take another few bites of my garlic noodles, watch the series finale of Big Love, and go to sleep. Barring chilly weather, I will be outside all day tomorrow working in the yard- because today was chilly and I wasn't about go to digging in the cold. It seemed like a much better idea to stay inside and read.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Giveaway at A Playful Day!

Kate at A Playful Day ( is giving away one of three bags from The Lollipop Stop (

They are ridiculously cute zippered project bags and all you have to do to have to chance to win one is to comment on her post from Friday that you'd like to win and which one of the three bags is your favorite (my favorite is the knitting bag!)'

For a second chance to win, follow her blog!

For a third chance to win, post about the giveaway on your own blog, like I'm doing now! :)

It's a baby...

BOY!!!! :)

And boy, was he being uncooperative! It took us forever and a day to get any decent pictures of him! But he was definitely not shy about showing us his little boy parts. I saw it almost immediately and blurted out, "Holy CRAP, it's a boy! It's a boy, isn't it?! I was WRONG! I could have sworn this baby was a girl!"
And yes, people. I was wrong!!!
We haven't quite decided on his full name, so I'll have to update with his name another day.

The last Saturday before it's officially Spring!

Today was such an amazing day. I don't even know where to start! I hope I can remember everything!

I planted daffodil bulbs all around my clothesline posts. My gift to myself :) I learned today that daffodils will come back AND multiply every year. Very exciting, since we had none on our property before today.

My brother jacked up the shed that will turn into a chicken coop soon and reinforced the floor. Thank goodness! He also started spreading a thin layer of concrete over the inside floor so that the chicken poo won't damage the wooden floor over time.

I spread our organic (i.e. super smelly) compost/ soil enricher onto my garden today and then my brother tilled it into short rows for me, so I can now start planting as soon as the weather is agreeable to various seedlings! I'm hoping to build some trellis structures for my beans to climb tomorrow with leftover bits of wooden pallets and chicken wire. We'll see how that turns out! :)

This afternoon, we drove an hour to a 3d/4d ultrasound place to find out the sex of our third baby bump. Tim said it was a boy. I said it was a girl. I'll tell you what we're having and post pictures as soon as my kids are in the bed :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh, Happy Thursday!

While our friends spent the day wearing green and such, we didn't celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. We spent the. entire. day. outside! I have the pink shoulders (ouchie!) to prove it :)

Keelin at her finest and Jackson was climbing her chair. Wild ones!

This is how we spent our day! The kids got so muddy and messy that I changed their play clothes 3 times! That is how you can tell it was an awesome time!! :)

Jackson went mud puddle stomping, clearly. This is about the time we started going barefoot! ;)

Here is my 15 week and 4 day belly picture! I am starting to get a bump! Finally! This is just so exciting. :)
Oh, as for being productive today... I put diapers on the clothes line and took them off. Not productive, but I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed spending the day doing nothing but playing with my kids and enjoying the beautiful weather in my chair outside.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others, by Mark Bittman (one of my favorite NY Times contributors)

This is an article that touched a nerve with me and I wanted to share it. The basic premise is that a girl in NY was sent to jail for killing her brother's pet hampster, while animals raised for food are tortured legally- and the double standard in that.

It absolutely tortures me to watch something like "Earthlings" (which will change your life), because it just makes no sense to me to harm a creature for any reason, much less justify it by saying that the animal is for food, leather, fur, etc.

Our chicks are absolutely pampered from day 1. The coop that they are going to move into when they are bigger is made to keep them happy and safe, from the height of the nesting boxes, to the type of materials on the floor, to the location of the run designed to keep them safe from predators while they forage, to the materials used for their perches.

Some of our chicks were purchased to be pets. We don't expect our bantams (our little guys) to be big egg producers or be big enough to eat. They're here because they're adorable and we wanted our kids to know that they were permanent and meant to be pets. Some of our pullets (female chickens) were purchased to be egg producers- the eggs will be eaten by us, our family and friends, some will be donated to those less fortunate should we have that kind of bounty. Some of our chicks, on the other hand, are going to be eaten. They will be killed humanely, processed in a clean and effective manner, and never once do we plan to lose sight of the sacrifice made by an animal that is to be eaten. The chickens meant for food will never be kept separately, treated with any less kindness, fed any less quality organic food, or spoken to less kindly than our pet chickens.

For this reason, I cannot understand the abuse of animals raised to be eaten. We know that some of our chickens will be eaten, but that does not change our treatment of them. It doesn't change the fact that just by living and being here on this planet, they deserve to be treated with kindness and not deprived of attention, food, water, proper living accomodations, or anything else that we consider important to give our pets.

I encourage everyone to keep that in mind when they shop for groceries. Grass fed, free range beef is the way to go. Preferrably from a local farmer that will let you visit his herd. Free range hens that are allowed to have sunlight, fresh air, and forage. Eggs produced by happy, well cared for hens. Cage free does not mean free range, either. A cage free chicken can live it's life in a hen house with no sunlight.

Just be aware. Be conscious of the decisions that you make when you buy groceries. It makes a world of difference to creatures that most people deem unworthy of such considerations.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My productive Tuesday!

Well, today my little brother came by early so that we could take my van and my dad's van and go pick up more free wooden pallets. We got darn close to a dozen! Very exciting!

Here is a picture of Daniel measuring the board on the pallet to determine where to saw. The piece he's cutting will be the front of a nesting box.

Here is a picture of the finished compost bin! I hammered this thing together today with minimal help from my brother. I'm proud of myself, because I am certainly no carpenter. I can't believe that I only smushed my thumb once!

The organic material that is in the bottom is leaves and such that I raked out from under some neglected landscaping around the house a few weeks ago. I left it sitting in piles and wouldn't you know, when I went around collecting it today to put it in the compost bin, it definitely looked like the beginnings of a rich compost, complete with DOZENS of earthworms! It was definitely the perfect thing to start our bin with. (I'll cover composting and the importance of worms in a post later, maybe this week.)

Here is a picture of one of the nesting boxes. So far, this thin sheet of plywood has been the only thing for the chicken coop that we've spent money on. Got a big sheet from Lowe's for $15 and it will make up the sides of 10 nesting boxes. Not too bad! The backs and fronts will be made from the repurposed pallets!

Here is Daniel hiding, from the rain we were expecting, in the shed hammering nesting boxes!

I saw this soil test kit at Lowe's today and it was fairly inexpensive, so I grabbed it and decided to test our soil. Results: Our pH balance is good, our Nitrogen is on the low side, our Phosphorus is on the low side, and our Potash is low. This means that I need to enrich our soil a bit, so I'm now on the hunt for natural ways to bring up those numbers a bit before my seedlings go in the ground! That will be my project for part of the day tomorrow.

And since I know that our soil is in need of some TLC, I'm even more thrilled about having the compost in the works.
So today was just really nice. The kids spent most of the day outside playing, Daniel and I snagged some free wood (and found 3 or 4 other sources for possible pallets to reclaim), he put some nesting boxes together, I worked on the compost bin, cleaned out the chicken brooders, and did quite a bit of laundry.
I was going to take a picture of our super cute newborn diapers on the line, but wouldn't you know- it started raining and I had to dash to grab them before they got even more wet. Will take a picture next time!

No, we're not "going green!" We're striving to be more conscious!

The next week or so will include quite a bit in my blog about what we are doing at our house (lovingly referred to as the Emerson-Power Homestead) to become more sustainable and self-reliant.

I just want to make a few things clear before I really get into this over the next few days, weeks, and months-

1. We don't give a flying flip about "going green." The whole "go green" movement has turned into a joke, a consumerist hullaballoo or a hollow bragging right, if you will, and we aren't buying into that sort of thing. This isn't about fancy water bottles (although we enjoy those) or buying organic cotton shirts from Wal-Mart (which we do not do, since we don't shop at Wal-mart). This is a bit different.

2. We won't be doing much of anything that you'll see and go, "Oh, how cute!" This project, for the most part, is not fancy or attractive. It is basic and sometimes raw, a modern attempt at returning a place that is more responsible and conscious.

3. If anyone is interested in any of the projects seen here, please let me know and I will help you in any way I can to help you introduce any part of this to your family. I'm a modern gal. I shop, I mix a mean margarita, and I drive a mini-van... but I also dream of vermicomposting and converting our swimming pool into a salt water pool. Everything that you will see us do as a family is totally doable by a normal, modern person.

So yeah, this is for us, for our planet, for our great-grandchildren. It isn't going to always be pretty, but it's worth it. Here we go! :)

These are wooden pallets that I got from a local company that is giving them away. We are going to be hammering these together to make a frame for our compost pile tomorrow. They are about 4'x4' with one not pictured.

We are taking my dad's truck this week to get an entire truckload of these. Why, do you ask? Because it's free wood! This wood can be popped off of the pallet and used for any number of projects around here. And if you've been to a home improvement store recently, you may have seen how expensive wood is.

By using scrap wood or recycled/repurposed wood, you save a TON of money and you use a wood product from a tree that has already been cut down. It just makes sense!

Here is a picture of the two 60 gallon black plastic barrels that my dad and husband got me for my birthday. (See my new mommy-mobile in the background?! :)) They are food grade barrels that have been cleaned out and sold off to be repurposed. These were picked up for $20 each from a guy that sells them downtown out of the back of his store. He also has smaller red ones, but I loved the simplicity of these (and the extra 5 gallon capacity), so we went with black.

These are going to be converted into rain barrels. They'll be connected to a down spout on the side of our house and will catch rain water. There will be netting to prevent leaves, bugs, and whatnot from getting inside. At the bottom, we'll insert a spout that will hook up to a standard garden hose. The pressure from the weight of the water will cause the water to flow through the garden hose. This will provide water for our garden!

This is a good idea for a number of reasons. Foremost, we have a well! In NC summers, we tend to get a bit dry and while I've never heard of our well going dry, we have neighbors that have had to come shower at our house before due to their wells going dry in a drought, so we're going to try to utilize our resources wisely!

This is the label on the black barrels. When I opened the lids to check inside of them to ensure that they were in good condition, I immediately knew what they had originally carried! Gherkins in brine!! My rain barrels smell like pickles!!! How appropriate for this pregnant lady, right?

This is a picture of the clothes line that I bought last year and my brother set in concrete for me a couple of weeks ago. I use it to dry my cloth diapers for the most part, because lately we have been getting quite a bit of rain. When it dries out a bit, I plan to dry my cloth diapers on it and at least the kids clothing. With this being a small line and me giving birth to our third baby this summer, I have a feeling it will be getting a workout!

Why is a clothesline an awesome option? We go through a TON of laundry! We wash, we dry. We wash, we dry. Hello, energy usage! By washing in cold water, we use our well water and very little energy to wash. By hanging to dry, we use absolutely no energy to dry our clothes! With my cloth diapers, I do a hot wash and two cold rinses, which uses a little bit of energy to heat the water, but I feel like by hanging them to dry instead of drying them using two cycles in the dryer (they're super absorbant, clearly!), I am able to off-set that extra energy usage. This will be really helpful with 3 kids, two of whom will be in diapers.

Here is a picture of part of our yard. Our yard is about 3 acres, but at least half an acre is occupied by a pool, play house, storage building (about to be converted into a chicken coop), and landscaping.

The sand box and teeter totter are in a part of the yard that sits low, so when it pours rain, it is puddle central. We put the play equipment back there so that we could utilize the higher areas of the yard for gardening and the like. Shoot, if it's that wet back there, the kids won't be out there anyway, so we figured it was a safe bet :)

The garden (still with long rows, we haven't put in the short rows yet- we had a little issue with the tiller this weekend and it should be out of the shop tomorrow) is just over a quarter of an acre. It should be more than big enough to grow the seedlings that I've been tending on the sunroom for the past few weeks!

If you got this far, thank you! I know, I ramble.
More on this topic tomorrow!

For the loves of our lives-

Tim and I decided this winter that as soon as the weather started acting Spring-like, we would get the kids some play gym things for the back yard. When I was out of town a couple of weekends ago for Elizabeth's baby shower, Tim put together the airplane teeter totter and the swingset. The swingset is small, sweet, and to the point. The airplane teeter totter is by no means minimalist- it was simply purchased for the love of the kids. Here are a few pictures of Tim's projects!

Keelin steering and Jackson hanging on for dear life!

Keelin pushing Jackson!

The airplane that nearly caused Tim and my little brother's heads to explode- it took 4 hours to build!

Our precious loves swinging together this afternoon!

I hate that the swing's chain was in the way of his face in this picture. He was just radiating pure joy.

Special thanks to Tim for being an amazing Daddy to our little ones. Any man can be a father. It takes something special to be a Daddy. So glad I'm married to one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy 24th Birthday to me!

Well, March 13th is my birthday :) I'm officially a 24 year old now. Next year, I will be a quarter of a century old! Halfway to fifty!

That might make some women cringe, but I'm loving the aging process. I like what it's doing to my heart, my mind, and even my body. I much prefer my mommy curves to my super skinny 18 year old figure. Sure, it's harder to find cute jeans, but I'm good with that! ;)

I had dinner tonight with some of my girl friends to celebrate. From left: Emily with her son Hayden, Jessica with her daughter Emily Kay, Courtney with her son Riley, and me holding my Jackson! Keelin was with her dad this weekend, and we certainly missed her!

If you look carefully at this picture, you can see a little bit of my teeny baby bump! 15wks

And in this one, Jessica is taking the picture and Kristin is out from behind the camera! Tonight was a joint celebration, since Kristin's birthday is ten days before mine! :)

I feel so lucky to have fun girl friends. And my belly is still super happy about my Steakhouse Salad. A big, delicious salad with bleu cheese (that I HATE when people refer to as "blue cheese." Spell it properly or don't eat it!), tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and a little bit of steak on top! It hit the spot without being overwhelming. It came with some fried onion rings on top, but I passed those off to one of my friends. Fried food and onions both give me serious digestive upset :-/ Even though I enjoy the taste, I will regret it for dayssssss after.
After we ate, a few of us went to the grocery store. It was really nice to walk and talk while we shopped for delicious, healthy foods! I love being pregnant and grocery shopping. It's just more fun that way! :) I got some Izze (the sparkling blackberry) and two kinds of vegan, non-dairy sorbet (blood orange and mango) as a birthday treat for myself... and yes, I am indulging as I type.
I'll update tomorrow with a post about my birthday gifts from my husband, Tim. Two rain barrels and 5 new baby chicks!!

Elizabeth's Baby Shower!

Just a quick picture post of a few shots from my friend Elizabeth's baby shower. She is due with her first baby at the end of June and I, along with our other friend Erica, threw the shower! Erica took care of food and drinks, I took care of invitations, favor, and decor. There was a pretty clear Duck theme, but since we are so close to having Spring grace us with her presence, I decided to incorporate fresh flowers and some goldfish (that are happily living on the windowsill in Jackson's room now)! I'll update later and link in the Etsy sellers that made the beautiful favors, but for now the pictures are the best I can do!

Handmade magnets from scrapbooking scraps!

Etsy soaps, scented like baby powder!

The favor table!

Design a bib or onesie for the new little one!

Fresh flowers, goldfish, and rubber duckies! My kids and my friend Patti's kids took home the goldfish to be pets after this was over!