Friday, October 30, 2009

All Hallows Eve

I love Halloween. I think it is the one holiday where it doesn't really matter at all who you are, what you do, how much you make - we all look goofy dressed up as someone else. Dressing up opens the door to conversation with folks you wouldn't necessarily have anything to discuss otherwise. And man, those little kids look so darn cute in their outfits! The older kids can be a little creepy, but the little ones are just adorable.

Our farmers market had trick or treating today, and Peanut, Pumpkin and I ran over to show off costumes and meet some other 2 year old buddies. Peanut was so excited to wear her blue ballet kitty princess outfit! It was a bit hazardous though - she couldn't see her feet through all the tulle and almost fell down the stairs. The outfit also makes it completely impossible for her to climb into the car on her own, so my well planned and practiced logistics of getting two kids in the car were destroyed. It was freezing (for us Virginians) and Peanut wore a blanket as a little cape, but only warmed up truly by running circles with two of her friends by the coffee truck.

Pumpkin dressed as a Penguin - OK we dressed him as a penguin. He was warm and toasty, and pretty much just played with his toys and watched the big kids run. Peanut had a shy moment when we first arrived at the market, but slowly warmed up, even saying "trick or treat" to a few vendors. She gorged on bread and cider, and got a mini pumpkin, a cookie and a cake to take home. Yeah - just what we need. Thank goodness we are hosting the mom's group party tomorrow (Holistic Halloween) so we can serve cake then!

After all the sweets, she has been having a rough time getting to sleep tonight. If we didn't realize the connection before, we can sure see it now that our diet is so much cleaner. There she goes again - mommy mommy mommy...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Small pleasures

Some days it feels like I am living someone else's life. I had a little bit of an out of body experience last night when Peanut woke up just as I was settling down for the night. She was obviously not feeling well, and my mama instinct kicked in as Honey and I tried to figure out how best to settle her back down, but it felt like someone else. You ever get that? Like I was still laying in bed without responsibility or desire to respond while "grown up me" was out there doing what mommies do. Weird. She woke up with another cold, so we are in for the day. We went to the pediatrician yesterday for Pumpkin's 4 month check up - that's always a good place to catch something new. I whipped up some chicken soup for lunch and have a pot roast in the crock pot for dinner. Hopefully, she will eat and drink and get well sooner rather than later. She is taking a power nap right now, which will definitely help.

Pumpkin has been moving and grooving - he is rolling and pivoting all over the floor and grabbing everything he can get his little hands on. I love to watch him explore. It was funny answering the doc's questions yesterday - is he smiling? as he smiles and laughs at her - is he reaching for toys? as he reaches and pulls his sisters hair. Check, check. I am not concerned about this kids development. He's been doing some more sleeping in his crib - staking a claim on his room, and I am feeling like we will get our bedroom back to ourselves one day.

So our bathroom has a real floor! The shower floor is tiled as is the main floor and it looks beautiful. I had been a little concerned that we had too much white with the floor and wall tile but I really like how clean it looks. The bits of green in the shower floor help break it up and I know the glass tile on the wall will be fantastic - once it gets here that is. Oh I am so excited to have a working bathroom right there!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A little retro

I got really into mid century modern furniture somehow and with our 70's house it is a perfect match! As we put our stamp on the inside of the house, we are beginning to find pieces we love to add a little flavor. We found a guy on craigslist who has a bunch of storage units in DC full of this stuff, and we just dove through them looking for furniture we liked. Eventually, he is planning on opening up a storefront, but while he is preparing for that he just sells out of storage. It was hysterical to see furniture from my mom's or grandmothers house in there. We came up with a sideboard (that's what started the hunt originally), a coffee table and a pair of lamps. I had been searching for a sideboard for a while and it seemed like everything was shoddy and expensive, and I really didn't want to buy new. As I was going through the storage unit, I noticed these lamps on the very top of a pile of end tables and chests. I couldn't see them well, but I liked what I could see - they are cork and really cool. The guy came and delivered our stuff and we love it - it feels like home. I especially like the lamps - they have their original shades and give off a wonderful warm golden light. It makes me think of my grandfather, whom Pumpkin is named for. I think it is the shape of the lamp and the light it gives - reminds me of the apartment in Forest Hills...

Anything you want to be...

I don't want to jinx it, but it seems that we have had a few nights of good bedtime routines and sleep. Honey and I realized that we were dealing with the endless bedtime by being angry and our expectation was that it would be awful no matter what we did. We shifted our thinking, and decided that Peanut was absolutely capable of going to sleep nicely on her own, and approached bedtime with confidence, pride, and high expectations. We told her exactly what we would do and what we expected from her. We told her we thought she was big enough to go to sleep without help from mom and dad. We told her she was lucky and that very few parents let their kids fall asleep on their own. It worked! She has gone to bed really well the past few days and we have started to relax again. We still have some night waking, but we used the same ideas with that yesterday and she only woke once last night and got back to sleep herself. Hurrah!

Our little man has been working hard as well - he is rolling over on his own! He flipped once a few days ago when I wasn't watching. I came back in the room and he was on his belly. Yesterday he started rolling without making it a secret. Oh my, now he is getting off his blanket or mat and onto the hardwood... Pumpkin has also gotten really into grabbing things - anything he can get his hand on gets smashed and crushed and brought to his mouth. He is trying to imitate raspberries too - so cute!

We are getting ready for Halloween, and Pumpkin will wear the Penguin outfit that Peanut wore two years ago. We will have yet more photos that we can't tell them apart I'm sure. Peanut wants to be a "blue kitty ballet princess". Hmmm. We bought a purple dance outfit that she has worn for dress up, but it is not what she wants to wear for Halloween. So I've started getting that blue kitty ballet princess outfit together, but I could barely get the skirt back off her to finish it once I had her try it on for size. Here she is watching football with daddy in her tutu. I'm not sure how I'll do the top yet, but I know she'll have a crown and some kitty ears. Who knew you could be all of these things rolled up into one?

Friday, October 23, 2009

A floor with no leaks

Well our bathroom is coming along. All the drywall is in and mudded, the shower floor is in (this picture is from before the walls were mudded), our closet has new doors, and I went to pick up most of our tile and the toilet yesterday. It looks like a bathroom now and I am starting to get psyched to have one just for me and Honey.

It looks like tiling should begin next week! We just need to pick up the accent tiles when they arrive. All the tile is at least partially recycled, which is great, and it is really nice looking. We went with a basic off white floor and wall tile and put a little pizazz in with recycled glass accents and a river rock shower floor. Hopefully our vision will come through and it will all meld beautifully.

The only downside to this remodel is that all of the tile, toilet, medicine cabinet, and fixtures are in boxes in our bedroom, and the dust from the drywall and the boxes is making us all ill. Tonight we did a full cleaning of the room and covered the boxes with sheets - hopefully this will help with our noses and throats tonight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Tribe

I've talked about it before - finding my tribe, my people. I am so grateful to have discovered a wonderful group of moms like me. So when I first saw the remarks below, I smiled, teared up, nodded with recognition, and just felt this had to be shared. This is from the Holistic Moms Network Blog and was posted today on our national yahoo group for us all to share. If it speaks to you, you may want to check out HMN - there are chapter all over the US, or you can start one yourself. Being involved in this organization has made me feel accepted in so many ways, and has helped me grow as a person and a parent.

These are the words of our Executive Director, Nancy Massotto from the 2009 Natural Living Conference Introductory Remarks:

For those of you unfamiliar with the Holistic Moms Network, we are a non-profit support and resource network for parents interested in holistic health and green living. I like to say that we are part community building, part support, and part education and information provider.

At a recent event, a man asked me about HMN and what we did. I offered my standard explanation.

And his response was, “Oh, so you’re just a mom’s group.”

Years ago this might have thrown me into a state of rage.

The feminist in me would be angered by the suggestion that moms are undervalued in our culture, that our child-rearing is not accounted for economically, much less psychologically or socially.

The political scientist in me would be frustrated by the dismissal of a “group”, particularly one of parents, and the failure to acknowledge that significant social and political change has occurred in this country because of the passion, knowledge, and dedication of parents who have rallied around an issue and demanded change from our legislators.

The mom in me would be dismayed to hear that my community was viewed as some irrelevant social club that doesn’t matter to the larger society.

But instead, I just smiled knowingly because I know the truth.

The truth is that we’re a mom’s group who calls on parents to embrace nature and all that it has to offer us for life, health, and the future.

A mom’s group that honors a woman’s natural ability to birth and to feed her baby, empowering her to be in control. To instill a mother with the confidence that her body is powerful and able.

A mom’s group that validates a mother’s desires and dreams and to realize that childbirth is a sacred rite and not an inconvenience.

A mom’s group that recognizes the power of a parent’s natural instincts. To trust in our wisdom about what is best for our children and not to be devalued by anyone, simply because they claim to be a professional, and to reinforce what a parent already knows.

A mom’s group that understands and respects children, that nurtures their needs and desires and does not push them into independence before they are ready, helping to raise a positive and powerful generation.

A mom’s group that embraces the power of the body to heal. To nurture ourselves and our children naturally and simply, allowing the body’s innate power to shine through. To be open-minded to the ways in which our bodies heal and thrive that do not come in a bottle, off a shelf, or from a prescription. And, by doing so, we empower parents to make choices to enhance their innate power to achieve wellness.

A mom’s group that understands the connection between food and health. To call on nature to provide us with nutritious, abundant food. To honor food as it should be: fresh and local, untainted by chemicals or pesticides, cultivated by the hands of farmers whose passion and commitment gives grace to our meals. To shun food that is altered in a science lab or trucked across the country at huge environmental waste. A mom’s group that protects family agriculture and the land that feeds us.

A mom’s group that accepts the idea that there is not one path for education. To recognize that our children learn in many ways and to honor their choices, their interests, and their passions, regardless of whether or not they fit into an “appropriate” curriculum. A mom’s group that helps our children learn to be the future leaders of our society.

A mom’s group that understands that holistic parenting is a journey that takes time. That some of us pursue our journey in baby steps and others speed through. We respect the journey – the places where we are and where we’ve been, the many options and choices, and the people around us, wherever they are in their journey. A mom’s group that honors diversity, refrains from judgment, and encourages respect.

A mom’s group that realizes that the decisions we make impact others and the earth. A group that empowers families to change their lifestyles to reduce environmental impact, to respect the power of nature, and to honor the beauty of the world around us. A group that will take the road less traveled because it is less damaging to the planet. To make simple choices every day to conserve, to live simply, to work in harmony with our environment and not against it. A mom’s group that is protecting the health and well-being of our planet, providing for a future of our children’s generation.

A mom’s group that accepts people from all walks of life and that is open to more than moms. A group that welcomes dads and partners, step-parents and expecting parents, practitioners and professionals, because we recognize that our voices are stronger if we work together and that there is power in us coming together. A mom’s group that understands that social change comes from community building and that community is the wellspring from which activism begins.

A mom’s group that is proud to take the unconventional route and to stand our ground by becoming informed and educated. A group that understands that popular wisdom is not always wise and that convention does not mean truth. A mom’s group that has created a community voice for holistic living and that helps thousands of parents across North America to stand their ground, to be unified, and to be heard.

This is who we are. This is the Holistic Moms Network.

So to the man who asked me:

Yes, we’re “just” a mom’s group. And I am “just” a mom.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What DO you eat?

In college and for many years after, I was a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. I ate well, exercised well, and was pretty fit overall. As my regular work took over and my fitness classes became a very slim sideline, I became less and less connected to the fitness world and all of its "stuff". I've always stayed connected to more natural health - especially when I became pregnant with Peanut. I wanted to bring her into the world in the best possible way for her and I with the nest nutrition and surroundings I could give her. Well, I had forgotten how much I love the bodybuilder/fitness enthusiasts attitude until I came across Mark's Daily Apple. I had forgotten the unapologetic either you do it (eat well, work hard, make the commitment) or don't expect any changes. It was just what I needed - we have started the GAPS diet here and while I am not really feeling deprived, I am a little sad and nostalgic about what I can't have. Honestly, I had become a little bit of a pansy about the whole diet/fitness regime. After reading through Mark's blog and a few other ones he has listed, I have decided that it's not that I can't have some things, it's that I choose to eat only what makes me feel good and be energetic. Just that thought makes a difference. I want to feed my body well, feed my family well, and look and feel great all the time. Boy I missed this part of the health world!

"So what DO you eat?" I can't tell you how often that question has been asked of me. I spent close to 7 years as a vegetarian, which really freaked people out when they cooked for me. They always wondered what I ate, ostensibly because they were meat eaters and couldn't understand how vegetables and grains would fill me up. I had all kinds of questions from people I hardly knew about my reasons and my comprehension of what I was doing to my body, how I possible came up with meals, and a multitude of other big and small issues that stressed them out. I was a certified "health nut". I was again questioned when I was concerned about pesticides in food far before it was the norm to buy organic, and again when buying locally grown was big for me. I love food, love what it can do for your body and am absolutely aware of how it can be "a drug". Now that we are working on a new paradigm where meat is king, and grains are completely out, the question has surfaced again. This, I think, is really funny. The same folks who wondered what I ate when I didn't eat meat, now wonder what I eat when I eats lots of meat.

Really, I think it all boils down to the fact that I don't eat things that are not food. Things in packages that you add water to and poof - it's a meal, things that say "food" on them (ever notice "processed cheese food" on a label? If they have to tell you...), fast food, TV dinners... Even when we were eating snacks and desserts - they are always better when you make them yourself from scratch. The eerie Twinkies that never ages or store bought brownies with 17 ingredients, 10 of which are unpronounceable, are not food people! I am always surprised that our way of eating is not "normal". We cook all of our meals and having had the experience of eating out all the time when our kitchen was under construction I can for certain say that our way is better, cheaper, and healthier. By far.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Very Brady

We have been sitting in front of the TV way more than usual as we are all feeling under the weather this weekend. We stumbled upon some Brady Bunch reruns and got sucked right in - "mom always said don't play ball in the house". As we watched, Honey and I realized several things.

1. The Brady's were really nice to each other and everyone else. All of them. And they said goofy things but meant them in the best possible way.
2. Peer pressure was a really good way to get the kids to see the err of their ways.
3. Mike and Carol had an awful lot of time to talk and team parent - will that happen one day?
4. Alice really kicks ass.

So we got to thinking, why can't we have an Alice? Someone who will babysit, clean, cook, crack jokes, and wear a uniform - that shouldn't be too hard to find right? How awesome would that be?! We'd let her wear pants, of course, but really, someone who randomly shows up to refill your drink? Who could live without that? Then we thought, well that's probably why they are all so nice, and have tons of time to chat, and always have wholesome sit down meals....hmmm.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

So sleepy

Well, we know Peanut is feeling better because last night we were back to the outrageous 2 year old bedtime routine we have grown to dread. No lie, almost 3 hours from the time we started reading books to the time she actually fell asleep. She is exhausted and can barely keep her eyes open but yet continues to ask for water and tissues and all sorts of other random things. At least we both (Honey and I) remained calm throughout. Oh but I am tired. Pumpkin is going through a little growth spurt and feeding frenzy so once he wakes at 2am to eat, he wriggles and fusses and eats some more until about 5am. So I sleep from 11pm - 2am and 5am-6 or 7am. No fun really. But look how sweet and adorable they are - how can two little ones this wonderfully cute make me so sleepy sometimes? I know, this too shall pass. And when it does, I will wonder where the time has gone and wish for these days when they were small.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Health in the season of flu

I'm not even going to touch the buzz about the swine flu. Or the vaccines. Or why we or you should or shouldn't get them. Do your research. Make your best decision.

We are a healthy bunch. I think we have brought the kids to the doctor for a sick visit maybe 4 times total and that includes two visits for diaper rash (don't laugh - I'd never dealt with rashes until Pumpkin - Peanut never had any!). So when we go down, it is serious. This morning seemed fine enough; I was tired as usual (we've had a run of 2+ hour bedtime routines which is really taking it's toll) but we all got up, ate, got dressed and went to play downstairs for a while before heading out to school at the farm. At some point, I realized that Peanut was really lethargic and I suggested we all lay down. The three of us went up to the big bed and lounged - that's when it hit me how tired I was, and how my head felt kind of funny... when I snuggled up to Peanut, she felt a bit warm and she was still kind of out of it. Well she did have a little fever, so we bagged school and turned on the TV and totally vegged all day. She ate very little, but did take some homeopathics and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. She went down for a nap and down to bed tonight without so much as a peep. Pumpkin has a little sniffle but has stayed in good spirits all day, so we will keep our fingers crossed. I'm feeling much better already, and if I can get a good sleep I'm sure it will make a world of difference. Peanut seemed a little more lively this afternoon so hopefully we have beat it.

In other health news, our family has embarked on a new eating adventure. We are making a slow transition onto the GAPS diet. Basically, this is a plan designed to kill off candida (yeast) and heal the gut which is where most of one's immune system "lives". The idea is that in some (most, actually) people there is an overabundance of yeast which interferes with the body's ability to digest certain foods, focus attention, and fight disease. So you cut out anything that yeast are likely to feed on - sugar, breads, grains - and be sure to eat meat, eggs and veggies, and lots of broth and probiotics.

Since this is a pretty intense plan, we are starting slowly, incorporating what is already in our pantry into the "approved" foods. Once the offending foods are gone from the house, we will do the real deal and add in the broth and probiotic foods that are recommended. When you read the diet, it seems restrictive but I am looking at it as a healing path with an end point. We won't stay on the full diet forever, we will at some point be able to add in things we miss in moderation. I think we will be able to benefit from doing this for several months, and like others we may determine that overall this is the best way for us to eat. But I do think it will be our choice rather than our need to continue. There are some situations that warrant this eating plan being a forever step. We have decided to do this primarily to see if it helps the boys in the family, but I suspect Peanut and I will have unexpected outcomes as well. Our doctor has taken Honey off grains, corn, sugar, and nightshade veggies (tomato, peppers, eggplant) and I'm off soy, most dairy, artificial colors, and white sugar because of Pumpkin's reflux. Pumpkin has had an ongoing yeast infection that we cannot shake, and the only thing he is eating is breastmilk, so by changing my diet, I can change his.

So we will see how this all works out. It is a lot of cooking, which I am used to, but some of the convenience foods I am accustomed to using need to disappear. So far, I am finding that we are using an awful lot of dishes and need to run the dishwasher almost every day. If that is my biggest complaint, then so be it!

Friday, October 9, 2009


We had solatubes installed yesterday in our kitchen and bathroom. OMG they are awesome! The guy who is working on our bathroom said "there is no excuse to not be clean!" when he saw how brightly lit our shower stall would be without a single light bulb on. My goal was to make the bathroom less cave-like and boy did it work!

In the kitchen, we have all these fancy can lights - four sets of lights on dimmers to light different work areas - because we chose not to take on the expense and headache of removing the load bearing wall between the kitchen and living room to get more light in there. The lights are wonderful, but we needed to use them all the time. There was honestly not a time of day that we could just leave them off and still see to make food. We have two tubes now in the kitchen and I have not turned on a light yet today, and last night I only turned on the under cabinet lights halfway through dinner prep as it started to get dark outside. What a huge difference!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The long road to...nowhere?

Peanut woke up in a foul mood. It was before 6 am when she started to whine; Honey went in and got her and plunked her into the bed with us. She continued to whine and I told her she could be quiet and stay or go back to her bed. So she went back to bed and I took a shower. By the time I turned the water off, she was wailing. Turns out she woke up again and her dad was advocating for using the potty before doing anything else, which she did not want to do. Now of course, she had to pee. Honestly, who doesn't have to pee when they wake up in the morning? So she pees under duress, and I think we are on our way out of crabbyville. But no. Over the next 15-30 minutes, she cries that she wants to eat then does not eat. She cries that she wants her vitamins, wants a nap, wants a tissue, wants her baby, wants to be held, wants new pants. And we end up going back to bed again. Her nose was snotty, her eyes were watery, she is either teething or sink, and so we call and cancel our playdate for this morning at Frying Pan Park. I was looking forward to catching up a bit with my girlfriend before Peanuts "farm school" tot class today, but it was not to be. So, of course, she has a tremendous temper tantrum right after Honey leaves for work. Sigh.

OK, so I want her to rest and stay still and warm today. When you are given a lemon, you make lemonade. I had a few errands to run closeby, and since we weren't driving to school, I decided to bundle the kids up and walk. This seems reasonable - the two places I need to go are probably two miles or so from the house and it is a beautiful day. We head out and all is well, until at about a mile and a half I am reminded why we do not often walk to run errands. Who the hell is in charge of the sidewalks??? They randomly end, or disintegrate into a mess of asphalt and pebble trails. In order to stay on a sidewalk and get where I am going, I would have to add at least another mile or two to my trip. If I go the shortest route, I am met with a cliff off the edge of a perfectly good sidewalk on one side of the road with no discernible trail for a good 1/4 mile on the other side of the road. I think this is one of the reasons we Americans are so unhealthy (of course our food is a huge problem, but I will let blogger Laura tell you more about that - she can take the hit for telling you what you don't want to hear). We are forced to drive lots of places that we could easily walk because there is no safe passage for pedestrians and no solid ground for strollers. How hard can it really be to have one sidewalk meet another? I have seen spots where there are maybe 10 feet of grass in between sidewalks. Why can't the people responsible for each side get their acts together and build the middle? It seems like a really great thing we could do to help encourage folks to move more. In fact, there has been lots of talk about creating "Walkable Communities" in order to increase health, decrease pollution, and increase economic growth. I actually found the page to request a new sidewalk or trail in Fairfax County. If you are facing similar challenges in your neighborhood, send them a request!

In the end, we did make it over hill and dale to the post office, paint store and stopped for a snack along the way. I returned home feeling accomplished and energetic, both kids had stayed warm and happy, and Peanut was on the road to recovery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oh the fall!

What a gorgeous day! Cool, crisp, breezy and sunshiny! I love the fall, and wish I could be outside through all of it. Yesterday, we were able to get out for a long walk and see the beginnings of the changing leaves. I started to think about the trees in front of our house and the show of orange leaves that is soon to come.

This morning, we had playgroup here and before the kids arrived I went out in the yard with Peanut and Pumpkin and raked leaves into a few small piles. My original goal was to get the leaves into the composter. Once the kids got to the leaves though I realized that playing in piles of leaves is really a treat for two year olds, so all my work paid off in an unexpected way! They rolled and jumped in them and each wanted a turn raking. At one point, there were so many hands on the rake that it looked a little like the flag at Iwo Jima. There were some tussles and we had to pull out another rake, but they mostly worked through it and all had a good time. I did eventually get the leaves into the composter during afternoon naps, so all was not lost!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A little less musty

At the end of day one of bathroom demo, the tile and fixtures were gone and we were down to the studs in the shower stall and some of the wall. It was already an improvement! We learned that there was water inside the shower floor, which is crazy since we have NEVER used this shower so it had to be either from a leak or from a shower taken over a year ago. Gross.

The subfloor had to come up as it was totally waterlogged. I can't begin to tell you how yucky that was. Sadly for this bathroom there was little to be salvaged. I am all for passing on usable things but really, everything in here was well damaged.

You can see in this picture the curb between the bathroom and shower - it is totally rotten. We knew we'd find these kinds of things in here, so we are not surprised - it is just nasty to see (and smell!)

What a huge difference a little piece of wall makes! At the end of day two, the shower lost it's cave-like appearance as the header was removed. It opens up the shower significantly.
The wall next to the vanity was taken out as well. We will lose a few feet of closet space in the bedroom, and gain some cabinet and counter space in the bathroom. It is well worth it. The room seems twice the size when it has really only grown by 6 square feet or so.

So next up, the new wall gets framed in, the plumbing gets set right, and the new subfloor goes in!