Friday, September 27, 2013

momma tips

Recently a friend of mine announced she is pregnant with baby number one. As we exchanged e-mails I assured her I am always here if she has any questions, but I am far from knowing what I am doing. ha. When I was pregnant, I never read books or anything to know what to do. I asked friends their advice and just learned as I went. Same goes for now. I haven't really read ahead about teething, transitioning from formula to baby food to table food. I kinda just winged it. Sounds bad maybe, but it is what worked for me. I have some books about parenting and raising children virtuously, etc, and that is what I read in advance, but not the rest. I stay more calm this way so I don't read all the what ifs that are out there. So. With all that being said, giving you my disclaimer that I don't know all the right answers, I thought I'd occasionally share some of my momma tips. Completely random things that pop into my momma brain.

What works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you. End of story. Don't let people pressure you into doing things just because it worked for them.

Give your kids one kitchen drawer. I suggest giving them one drawer with things they can't get hurt using or make too much of a mess over. I put in their extra sippy cups and things that we don't use all the time. Completely little boy safe. For me, I don't mind some things out all over the kitchen floor, but if it were things from each cabinet or drawer, I would constantly be cleaning up and washing the items. So one drawer makes them happy and keeps Momma happy too!

Don't stress over the mess, but don't let it get out of control either. I let the boys play with their toys all over during play time. When they are napping, I pick up and put away so the floor is trip-free. If I left things all over and ran around the house during nap time trying to get things done, I would trip over something. Guaranteed. So I semi-clean up while they are napping. No serious cleaning because they are going to play again. And then when they are put to bed at night, that is when all the toys go away in their toy baskets.

Don't buy your kids a million toys. The boys were given so many toys. We have two entire baskets full of toys. Of course they love each one, but they always play with the same few toys. So we leave their favorites out, and when it seems like they are a little too familiar with them, looking for something else, or if they have advanced above that toy level, we switch out. Currently, their favorites are blocks, large legos, and trucks. They have more than that out, but limited amounts.

Keep your sink and counters in the kitchen and bathrooms clean. I like to use the Fly Lady's advice and  I shine my sinks each night. I have always liked to clean my sink and keep it clear. I wipe my counters down after each meal (if needed) and rinse and load our dishes into the dishwasher to be washed right before I go to bed. I don't run the dishwasher right after dinner as to make sure any glasses or snack plates are added and washed and not left sitting in the sink overnight. I keep a plastic basket in the sink to throw all the boys' bottles, spoons, pacifiers, etc in to keep them corralled. I don't like them sitting in the sink all mixed in with other dishes and I don't always rinse them and load each thing into the dishwasher after each use, especially dirty pacifiers. So the basket keeps the sink neat, even when there are a few things in it.

Have a general routine, but don't stress out if the timing doesn't always go as planned. Babies are always changing. And in my case, my boys change at different times so we are really always changing. I try to keep to the same meal times, nap times in the general area of the same time, a set chore for each day that stays the same each week, and one given project each day. That is always changing.

Don't stress out too much. Wait, who am I kidding? No really. Try not to stress too much. About the messes, about schedules changing, about any of it. The more you stress over things, the harder your day is. I mean, don't let everything go and be lazy, but don't get all OCD on things.

Make the time. Record the little moments. You will want to remember even the littlest things. Keep a calendar / journal. Even a one liner journal. I regret not writing more things down, even though they seemed somewhat meaningless at the time. I like having the dates with their little memories too. What I do is get a planner, with room to write every day as well as the monthly calendar. Each day I write a line or two at least to remember fun things that went on, things to do with the boys' health, milestones, etc. And then the big events go on the monthly calendar. It's cheap and easy!

Be in pictures. If you are like me, you pretty much just take the pictures. We have just a few family photos. One when they were born (a bad one at that), one for their Baptism, one or two around Christmas time... You get the idea. Not many. And I wish I was in more. Nice pictures for the boys to have when they are older.

Have a station. That is what we call it in our house. It is our go to spot that we keep our stuff. Whether it be your desk, a basket or even just a tote bag that can be moved around. I personally like the idea of a tote bag because sometimes I am at my desk in our kitchen, sometimes on the couch, and other times lounging in bed. This way my current read, the boys' journal, my blogging note book, a knitting project, etc, is all together and can go with me. Being in a tote is good too if you are going to be out all day and you might be at a kids soccer game or waiting in the car a while, or like what happens to me, your kids will nap for two hours while you are sitting in a parking lot waiting to grocery shop. So all my random little things stay in one spot and can travel near and far. It keeps things neat too and you know where all your stuff is! Just don't leave that tote in arms reach of your littlest ones.

The grumbling stops at their bedroom door. No matter what time they wake you up, even if it is at an ungodly time like my little men sometimes choose, greet them with a smile and happy voice. Even though I am incredibly tired, I miss them when they are asleep. And even though I hate being woken up super early, I am very happy and eager to see their angelic faces and hug and kiss them. Don't let them catch the vibe that you are irritated to be up with them and would kinda rather be sleeping.

Well these are a lot to have to read for now. Like I said, I don't know it all. I don't know nearly a fraction of other moms out there, but these are my rules that I am sharing with you! Feel free to share some of yours with me! I'd love to hear them and adopt them on my list!

we need a goat

Yesterday I wrote about having to switch over to coconut milk rather than cow's milk to eliminate dairy from the boys' diet. Well, after successfully making the coconut milk last night, it was ready for them first thing this morning. I gave them their bottle with cold coconut milk and they would not have it. I tried every way imaginable. Cold in a bottle. Warmed up in a bottle. Warm in a sippy cup. Cold in a sippy cup. With an ice cube in a sippy cup. Nope. They would not drink the coconut milk. I tried it again a few hours later and they had the same reaction. So now my already frazzled self went into minor panic mode. What was I going to give them now?! No cow's milk. No coconut milk. The almond milk has some junk in it I don't like. I do not do anything soy, so soy milk was out. The only two options were goats milk (ick) or going back to formula, which I didn't really want to do. So, off I went to give goats milk a try. I bought the smallest carton they sold (a quart) let them try it in their bottles out in the car and when I saw they liked it, I went back in and bought some more. Now y'all, it's $7.99 a half gallon. Is it a golden goat or something?! At the rate these boys drink milk, the hubs and I are going to be living on rice and beans to afford that bill! Okay, it's not that bad, but you see what I mean. I'm praying these little ones don't have a milk allergy for many reasons, but let me say, I am going to be adding this one to the list! I have no food allergies, nor does my husband or really anyone in either of our families. So this is a really new thing to me. If it is longer term, I am going to have to do some research and reading to know what I am doing and how seriously it has to be taken. Thank God they do not have very severe reactions. My mother-in-law, who is endlessly helping me with this situation, has found that you can buy a powdered form. So I am going to look into that and see what kind of an option that may be if this is a long term thing... or just buy a goat and milk that baby every day. Hey, it'd help the hubs cut the grass! I just think we might have some neighborly issues to deal with if we added a goat to the family. I can see our next Christmas card: Merry Christmas! Love, Gus, Mare, Gus, Will, Jimmy, and Miss Goat. I think we will have to leave buying our very own pet goat for the last option. 

losing grip

Over the past few months, I have started noticing pain and weakness in my right hand. Over the past two months or so, it has becoming considerably worse and certain functions can't be done without bad pain. After speaking to a few people and doing research online, it seems pretty clear that I have some sort of tendinitis (De Quervain's Tendinitis). Unfortunately I have been told that lifting heavy things... or babies (two is even better!)... continually aggravates the situation not giving the area enough chance to heal on its own. The pain is in my right hand, the one I do everything with. Even the smallest things have become painful. From putting a pen to paper for a grocery list or note to a dear friend. Or capturing all the cute moments of my boys' lives behind my camera lens. Changing diapers, brushing my hair or teeth, or washing endless dishes. The pain is here. Sometimes it completely cripples my abilities. Temporarily.

Now, I am not writing this for a poor me so you feel sorry for me. I am because it leads to deeper thoughts. While I am temporarily crippled, my thoughts travel to my sweet Aunt Mare, my mom's lifelong, dear friend. She is the kindest, fun-loving, God-lover, enthusiastic, creative soul. Her glass ia always full. Back in August, she was diagnosed with ALS, the same disease she lost her father to. And to now see her suffering the effects of such a deadly disease stings my soul. I think of her husband, her two daughters, one of which is one of my dearest and closest friends, having to watch their wife and mom suffer is painful. My friend, Jilly, has been such a support to her mom, taking off weeks of work at a time to be there to care for her in every way needed, taking her to quilting retreats, helping her sew still. Everything. She is such a strong heart for her mom.

Each and every day I notice the immobility of my hand, it send my thoughts directly to her and what she is going through. It helps keep her always in my prayers. Her entire life and those around her that love her has dramatically been changed upside down. When I pick up a pen to write a check and can't for the moment, I think about how she can't just reposition her ways to regain the ability.

Aunt Mare is blessed with a joyful outlook, a positive mindset, and an incredibly loving and strong support group of family and friends. She has a long road head of her and it certainly won't be an easy one, so if you would, please keep her and her entire family, especially Jilly, on your prayer list. You can also follow her blog that she just started up. She has a gift of sharing her words. Share her journey.

Love you Aunt Mare!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

switching over

The life of a mom is surely never dull. And I think that is just putting it mildly. Today I finally made the decision, with much help and advice, to switch my little men off dairy and onto coconut milk. At least temporarily. One, if not both, were showing possible signs of reactions to their beloved milk and yogurt. Unfortunately a diaper rash is getting so bad for one of them that we finally had to see if it was a dairy allergy. I really didn't think so, but today I just couldn't handle seeing his little bottom any longer. And to top off his problem, he is going through a current and weird fear of the bathtub so that means no sitting in warm baking soda baths. So... they love their milk so much, that I didn't know what I would give them in place of it. I try to give them as pure and healthy things as possible and even in some of the products at the organic grocery chains, there is still junk in some of the food. Now, I don't go crazy and never let them eat anything that is not organic, but I try my best at home. So, almond milk and coconut milk have some ingredients that didn't make this momma happy to give her littles. So I decided that coconut milk was the better choice for my little men and that I would actually make it myself. Okay, now I shouldn't take the initial credit for that. I was on the phone ranting like a crazy woman to my mother-in-law about this whole situation to then hear her tell me to check my e-mail... It was titled, Don't think I'm crazy. She gave me a recipe for making my own coconut milk and I was pretty hesitant. I went from baby food in jars (I used to make my own until I introduced meats. That is too much for me!) and powdered formula to now having to make my own milk product?! Are you kidding me?! But, I did want to figure out the best way to help my sore little man's bottom and if I had to make my own coconut milk at 8:30 at night, so be it! So, for any mom's that read this, that have thought about switching over, whether for good or temporary, here's how you do it! Mami got this recipe from Chris Kresser's site.


4 cups of water
2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes (I used these.)


Heat the water until just before boiling.
Add the coconut flakes and the water to a blender. (If all the water doesn't fit, do it in two batches, but mine worked out perfectly.)
Blend those together on high for a few minutes. Get it nice and creamy.
Poor through a colander to strain out the pulp from the coconut. Then take a spoon and press the pulp down so it squeezes out any more milk. 
I wanted every last drop!
Then take the strained milk and run / squeeze it through a cheese cloth. 
If you separated the water in two batches, put the strained coconut back into the blender with the water.
Mix the milk together and then store in the fridge.
Drink within 3-4 days of making it to be sure it is fresh and it keeps the best texture and flavor.

This made approximately 16 ounces / 2 cups of coconut milk.

So, tomorrow morning, we will be starting our dairy free day with the little men. I am crossing every finger and every toe and saying all my prayers that this helps him / them. And my sweet friend is mailing me some of her homemade salve to put on his bottom so we will hope that helps as well. I will let you know about that as well, with a link to how you can purchase some for yourself! Now, it is 9:20, the hubs is still at work and I just finished dinner. Time for a load of wash, run the dishwasher, quick check of the little guys and cuddle in my bed while I wait for his arrival. Thankfully these late nights are not often! Normally he is home within 2 minutes of the end of the work day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

going home

We just got home from a really nice 2 week long vacation. We spent time visiting our family in the northeast. We hit Maryland, Virginia, D.C., Jersey and New York and it was all a ton of fun. I wish we could have seen even more people and stayed longer, but as it was, the time was tight. When all of your family lives far away and you only have two weeks, the time goes by quite quickly! And throw in a first birthday party for the boys and visits to my sweet grandfather sick in the hospital, time was precious. The biggest thing that I missed was seeing my sisters. They weren't able to make it to the boys' party and I wasn't able to make it there. I hope that when we travel in the winter we can spend time together. I will post about our trip another day, but I wanted to write about coming back home.

Time away is always sweet, no matter where we are... visiting family or on a beach vacation. Time always flies by us and we have to make each and every memory count. But there is nothing like coming home. When we arrived home last night, it was surely bitter sweet, but we walked in and the house looked bigger, prettier, and cleaner. It's funny how time away makes you love your home even more. At least it does that for me. Whenever I leave home for a period, whether it be a weekend or two weeks, I try to leave our home clean and orderly so we can come home to no mess. Unpacking the car and bringing everything in creates enough mess for me!

When we arrived home last night, we pulled into the garage and opened the car doors and smelled a burning smell, something electrical. Then we got out of the car and saw a ton of water all over the garage/basement floor! Our de-humidifer system malfunctioned and water was everywhere. The burnt smell was from a motor that went bad. So within 10 minutes of arriving home, I was leaving again for Home Depot to buy a wet vac and special pipe materials for the hubs, who was staying home to work on the situation. It was a mess. When I finally arrived back home, I had Gus and Will duty, while unloading the car, bringing it all upstairs and putting everything away. And then I went to put something in the panty and I smelled something. And then I touched something sticky. I had three sweet potatoes in the pantry and they went bad, and oozed everywhere! When I say everywhere, I mean it went through the shelf liners, the baskets and onto the floor, from three shelves up. I had to empty the entire pantry and wash what could be rinsed and put things into new containers/baggies. And wash the closet from all stickiness. It was a mess and I didn't finish until 10pm. Then I had to put more things away from our trip and I went to bed at 11 and just collapsed.

Part of me wanted to go away again to leave the mess and not have to deal with it, but most of me was happy to be home in our little nest again. And now today, it is back to the routine along with catching up on a few things from while we were away. Hopefully I can get into the groove again and get some serious blogging done on a regular basis. Enjoy your day!