Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days 25-30







To Grandmother's House We Went

I am Thankful for....

Day 25

1. Both sides of the family only living 1 1/2 hours from each other (we spent lunch with my family and dinner with Papa Bear's side).
2. Long car rides promoting good discussions.
3. My Mama's cousin making a beautiful dress 32 years ago that my daughter got to wear (she is the fifth girl in the family who wore this dress).
4. The sight of My Little Ham dancing for the family as everyone made a circle around her and clapped, while I sang "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain."
5. Feeling the Love from our Family.







Day 26

1. A Lazy Day.
2. Being able work on two Christmas presents.
3. Saving money on two Christmas presents.
4. Walking hand-in-hand with Papa Bear.
5. Coming home to our little Nest.

Day 27

1. Good bread.
2. Good walks.
3. Good deals
4. Good surprises.
5. Good times.

Day 28

1. Fun making noise.
2. Chats with other Mamas that like to paint and meditate.
3. Watching my Baby Bird open her mouth for a taste of smoked trout, green beans and cooked onions (????)
4. The sight of my Babe kicking her feet with excitement when we stepped into the Library,
5. Time to Sit and Be.

Day 29

1. Finding the perfect children's book to give to my step-father (about a husband who deals with a wife always rescuing cats).
2. Making it to Trader Joe's despite the rain, getting lost and juggling a stroller, a baby and an umbrella.
3. Seeing my daughter's delight and wonder at the playroom.
4. Getting the chance to swim for the first time in months.
5. Successfully pulling off a family night at the gym.

Day 30

1. Feeling the Sun on my face today.
2. The wonderful lady at the Charles Houston Rec Center who let us in to their playroom for free (they only accept cash and I only had a card).
3. The feeling of snuggling with my Love Bug during our chilly walk today.
4. The taste of the clam linguine Papa Bear made for us.
5. Getting out of the house several times today to go on some mini-adventures.

Wellness Wednesdays: How to Make a Red Raspberry Leaf Infusion



Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is a wonderful tonic for women during pregnancy and afterwards. I drink it religiously during the first day or two of my period. It's a life-saver with cramps.

A few years back, when I was subbing at my local Baltimore City school, one of the teacher assistants was having awful cramps. I lived half a mile away, so during my lunch break I went home and brewed up Red Raspberry Tea. She drank it and later asked me what was in it, her pain stopped so quickly.

Infusions are different than brewing up a cup of tea. The magic number is 7. If you are using tea bags, the ratio should be 7 teabags to 1 cup of water.

If I don't grow the herb, I usually buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs. They come in plastic bags, so I generally store them in mason jars or other glass jars.

How to Make an Infusion with Leaves....

1. Take two handfuls of cut-up leaves or three handfuls of whole leaves.
2. Put in glass quart jar.
3. Fill to top with boiling water.
4. Put lid on.
5. Steep for four hours.

I reuse the leaves 2-3 times by just filling up the jar again with boiling water.


According to Susun Weed (herbalist extraordinaire and writer of the book Herbal for the Childbearing Year )....

Rubus is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. Most of the benefits ascribed to regular use of Raspberry leaf tea throughout the pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragine or to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant.

She lists the following; vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, vitamin A and B complex, phosphorous and potassium. That sounds like an awful lot of goodness, doesn't it?


**** A Reminder, please check with your Doc and get the okay, okay? ******

Wellness Wednesdays: The Chinquapin Recreation Center

My family arrived at a very quiet Chinquapin Recreation Center; it was 7:45 pm and only the pool was moderately busy. There were a few people in the work-out room but we got the famous soft playroom ALL to ourselves (well, famous in certain, limited circles). It worked out perfectly for our family.

Papa Bear hit the gym, while the baby slept in her carrier for 15 minutes and then I introduced her to the playroom. I only wish I had brought my camera.

Ever since she was a few weeks old, Lina has shown her excitement by doing this funny lip/chin quiver. She did it several times a day when she was brand new to this world. The last time she did it was two months ago (when she got up close and personal with a cow). Yesterday, she did it at least seven times in less than ten minutes. I think she likes the soft playroom.

Lina and I played in the ball-pit, climbed over a wide array of stuffed shapes and stared at each other in mirrors for 35 minutes until Papa Bear finished his work-out. I went off for a short swim while they continued to play.

We met back at the entrance after a 1/2 hour and left one very happy family. Both adults got to work-out briefly while the baby burned off some of her energy. Next time we'll see if we can add some baby swimming time to the mix. I can't wait!



PROS: reasonably priced ($6 per resident, $4 per child's visit to soft playroom), decent pool, large sauna in women's locker room (didn't get a peak at the men's sauna), racquetball courts, not crowded and an AMAZING soft playroom for babies and toddlers

CONS: limited equipment in gym, small area for kids in pool, only 4 showers in women's locker room (means long wait after a class has let out)

How I Stay Sane in Old Town When it Rains: Hooray for Books

Yesterday, it rained. I've decided to do a series of posts on places we venture out to when in rains. I'm a huge fan of independent bookstores, so our first post is on the wonderful, children's bookstore, Hooray for Books.


PROS: when store first opens you may be the first people there, lots for kiddo to look at and touch, story time area gives them a little bit of open space to walk around, you can read lots of books to them, kiddo may love sitting in the little rocking chair, gorgeous puppet collection for them (and you) to drool over

CONS: may feel obligated to buy something after spending 1/2 hour in the store, stressful making sure kid doesn't "buy" a book by ripping it, etc....

Overall, a positive experience. But a short one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review of Storytime at BARRETT BRANCH of Alexandria Public Library



My daughter and I got kicked out of storytime. Technically, we were asked to not come back until her first birthday. I guess it was my fault for trying to sneak her in to a storytime for 1-2 year-olds. But I was desperate for something free to do with her and my daughter looks older than her age. Now, I found Super Nova Mommy and don't have that excuse (lots of free events listed on her blog).

Before Halloween, we went one Wednesday to the 10:30 am storytime at the Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Public Library. The room was very, very crowded (hence the strict rules about age). Once the librarian began, I understood why.

The librarian has amazing energy. She makes an effort to remember all the children's names and is talented at engaging both babes and adults alike. Plus, she's passionate about books. A lady after my own heart.

We sang lots of seasonal songs, most of whom I didn't recognize. She didn't have the greatest singing voice and made you feel okay if you didn't either. I haven't sang "The Wheels on the Bus" in ages and I'm so glad she reminded me how much I love that song. Puppets, songs and tons of smiles....the 45 minutes flew by! I am so glad we went, especially since we won't be coming back for another 4 months or so.

I had a great chat with the librarian afterwards. She pointed out that between the ages of 6 months to 1 year the best kind of books are the ones with photos (forget the illustrations for now). She also told me that books of babies' faces are guaranteed to make my daughter happy (very, very true).

She mentioned that she is trying to start this winter an afternoon group for babies under the age of 1. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping she is successful!

If you live in the area, go check it out for yourself and make sure you actually check out a book for yourself and a book for your babe.

Just Remember...

1. Get there early.
2. Don't forget to sign-up at the desk in the Children's Section.
3. Make sure your kid is between the ages of 1 and 2.


1,000 Books Before Kindergarten: Books 6-10



6.  Busy Kitties

7. Peek-a-Boo

8. Baby Bunny

9. Touch and Feel Farm Animals

10. Baby! Baby!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Mama Mondays: Surviving the Tornado

I have one word for you. Baskets. Once your kid is mobile and getting into EVERYTHING it's time to break out the baskets. They help contain the chaos and keep things relatively organized. You can usually pick up some decent ones at thrift stores and yard-sales for $2-3.


In our living room, I have a basket for...

      Technology
      (old phone, remote, flashlight, etc...)

      Books
      (4-5 that I rotate every few days)

      Shells
      (only 3 conch shells right now)

      Balls
      (4-5 that I rotate every few days, more on this
      basket later)

      Wooden Blocks
      (she is currently not too interested in these)

      Musical Instruments (more on this later)

      Toys Not in Use (these are kept out of sight and
      not in reach like all the other baskets)

The baskets are placed on shelves and other surfaces (a stool, a chair, etc..) throughout the room and can all be reached by my kiddo. Our place isn't over-run by toys and I can straighten the living room in under 2 minutes, I love it!



Lina at 4 months was already excited about my use of baskets

Montessori Shell Basket: Babies 6-12 Months



 
I get frequent inspiration from the blog Sew Liberated Sew Liberated. Amy is a certified Montessori teacher and has a son who is two weeks younger than my daughter. Recently, she mentioned that she had collected a basket of shells for her son to explore. Ever since then, I’ve been on the look-out for non-sharp, non-pointy shells.


I found three perfect ones at my Mama's house. My Grandfather brought them back from the Marshall Islands when he was doing research there in the early 1960's. I love seeing my daughter hold them in her hands and stare at them, it makes me smile every time.


Hopefully, a trip to the beach will be in my future sometime this winter and I can add to our collection!

New Mama Mondays: Clothes After the Baby

Pardon the superficial post but it's Cyper Monday....

Going shopping after having a baby was pure torture for me. Unfortunately for me, I have had to find something to wear for 5 different weddings since giving birth. Three of them were weddings in the same group of friends and Papa Bear didn't want me wearing the same dress over and over again (there were also rehearsal dinners). I hope never to have to spend the same amount of time in front of dressing room mirrors that I have spent over the last few months.

But I feel like I have gotten over the hump. There is one wedding to attend next year (thankfully an Indian wedding, which is way easier to dress for in my opinion) and I am finally exhaling.

I spent a few hours yesterday finally packing away my maternity clothes and putting away non-maternity clothes that I wore when I was pregnant. Everything that I wore too frequently is getting a much need break or is being given away to a thrift store. If something only looks "so-so" on me, out it went. I feel so much better, so much lighter.

It also helps that I went shopping on Black Friday for the first time ever. It may have been at 7 pm Friday night but the deals were still there. I bought several thin, brightly colored sweaters that can be worn with all three of my new pair of pants. Just grab and go.

These corduroy pants make me feel like I have a tiny inkling of fashion and these black pants are the "perfect-I-can-wear-them-EVERYWHERE-pants." I liked them so much, I bought them in gray too.

I had to laugh when I bought the 2nd pair and was asked if my mother got "Chico's" catalogue. I hadn't really noticed how much younger I was than all the other women there.

Before this weekend,  I felt like a 12 year-old again....too old for certain clothes and too young for others. Now, I've hunted down some pieces that I like and feel just the right age.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hello, Lovely....I'm so Glad You are Finally Here!

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite Holiday and I am so thrilled that today is Lina's 1st Thanksgiving! Here is a photo from 1979 (I was 9 months-old and must have been napping when the photo was taken or else on my Mama's hip). Wishing you a day full of Good Food, Good Friends and Many Laughs...







Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What does a "Former Black Panther" and a Nurse from the "Bataan Death March" have in Common?

Both of them used sliced onions and sugar to make cough syrup.




I was talking to my mother last week about my Failed Experiment and she suggested next time I make some onion syrup. She said Lou told her about it years and years ago.

Lou was a friend of my mother's from back in her Marchin' and Protestin' Days. I'm not sure if they met at "Resurrection City" or if it was later. Lou would leave his house in Anacostia and come to our farm for some fresh air several times a year. Sometimes, Lou's son (who lived with his mother on a Lesbian Commune) would also join us. He took his daughter to her first March when she was 6 weeks-old and introduced my family to Pow-Wow Dancing. Lou had a painting of  Che Guevara in his hallway, a porch swing in his living room and mirrors in his bedroom. He went down to Mexico in the mid-1990's and worked with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Growing up, I was in awe of Lou.

So, when my Mama told me about Lou making onion cough syrup, I smiled. She also mentioned that she had recently read about nurses using the same method during the Bataan Death March. She had a cough, so she made a batch. Super-duper easy...





To make the syrup....

1. Slice the onions in very, very thin slices.
2. Cover with sugar.
3. Wait 24 hours for the sugar to meld with the juice from the onion.
4. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.





I tasted it and it was decent. I think a young kid might even swallow it. I haven't decided, yet, if I'm going to give it to Lina next time she has a cough. I don't know about the sugar. But I have a feeling, if it's really bad and I have nothing else, you will find me slicing up some onions.

****Just a Reminder, I'm not a MD, so please check with your Doctor before taking this syrup. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eight Months: Happy Birthday, Lina!

My Dearest Lina,

Yesterday, you turned 8 months-old! This past month was a very exciting month for you. You started out the month taking 3 steps to Grandma, then half-way through the month you started walking tentatively (first at the playground and then to Dadi when we were getting your Christmas photos taken). By the end of the month, you were a pro, even carrying a broom over your head while walking (hopefully you will inherit Dadi's housekeep abilities, not mine). You are very proud of your accomplishments and seem much happier now that you are even more independent.

I guess none of us should be surprised but you love to dance until you drop. Last week at Dada's and Dadi's, you danced for 45 minutes straight (sitting up on one knee, hands in the air, shaking your head side-to-side). Everyone laughs when they see your dancing moves. It makes me so happy to see you spread joy wherever you go.

You still love giving me raspberries on my belly but you refuse Daddy's belly. You must think it's too hairy. You and Daddy have the absolute best time playing peek-a-boo behind our living room pillows. Yesterday, Daddy was estatic when the two of you "played catch" with a hacky sack. You have become a little yogini especially when nursing.

You get very, very frustrated when you can't do something or something doesn't go your way and immediately let us know. We are working on helping you learn how to play for longer periods of time by yourself. We are also trying to teach you how to be more "gentle" when touching other people'e faces. When you aren't "gentle" to Mommy, you almost always try to give me a kiss afterwards. Thank you.

It has been so thrilling to watch as your personality ripens before our eyes. You wake up with a huge grin on your face each morning like Grandma and are a big fan of cats like Grandpa. You have my curiosity, Daddy's energy, Aunt Mimi's intensity, Dadi's observational skills and Dada's determination. We love you from the tippy-top of your head down to the soles of your feet.

If you were a Greek Goddess, you would be Athena. Shrewd and fearless. But, you know, even Goddesses sleep, so no more waking Mommy up five times a night, okay? We can't wait to see what this next month brings!!!

Know that you are very, very loved,
Mommy

One of the Reasons a Friends Education Rocks...



Although, I am not a Quaker and knew very little about the Society of Friends before I started teaching, I quickly fell in love with the spiritual component of the school. The students and I were able to have a safe space to discuss their spiritual questions and learn about all the major World Religions.

Each month, our spiritual discussions revolved around a theme like Courage or Kindness. The teacher in me couldn't resist, so I've decided to give my blog a bit more structure by having a Monthly Theme. Check out my new page on Monthly Themes!

This Moment...A Little Late

I was at my Mother's on Friday and wasn't able to post my "This Moment" photo (inspired by Soule Mama).

Here it is....a little late...a little blurry but it sums on my Friday.



The Gratitude Month: Days 20 and 21


I am Thankful for...

Day 20

1. Good times at the playground!
2. A yummy time at the Pita House.
3. One present down...
4. Getting started on my Mama's gift.
5. Having a migraine that didn't make me throw up (migraine trigger of lack of sleep + baby still waiting up 5 times a night = more frequent migraines than before the baby).

Day 21

1. Finishing the design for our Christmas Card (Ritz Photo rocks).
2. Finding some interesting balls to add to Lina's Montessori Ball Basket.
3. Having the time to switch out Lina's toys (I try to rotate everything every twice a week, so things are always fresh and interesting for her).
4. The sight of my daughter walking across our living room with my grandmother's sash draped across her shoulders (she looked so proud of herself).
5. Writing some lists and checking them twice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

8 Months-Old Today!

A letter to my Darling Daughter is coming soon but here is a photo from today!


If You Liked the King’s Speech…


And enjoy light whodunits, you'll enjoy Rhys Bowen's latest series of books. Royal Blood is the fourth installment of this series which follows Lady Georgiana Rannoch as she stumbles through life during the 1930's.
Georgie is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and is grateful for the fact that there are thirty-three people between her and becoming Queen. She is often a visitor at the Palace, much to her non-royal sister-in-law's fury. Each book follows Georgie as she is sent on errands from the current Queen (during one adventure she is even commanded to keep an eye on Wallace Simpson and we all know how that turns out).
Who can resist a feisty heroine? I certainly can't. These books are light on gore, heavy on wit. It's a fun concept reading about an upper-class woman who was bred for a life of luxury but due to her father's gambling habits and the stock-market crash has to learn how to support herself. 
I have not jumped on the vampire band-wagon but Royal Blood  gives a nod to that genre. Georgie is asked by the Queen to represent the Royal Family at  a wedding between the Romanian Royal Family and the Bulgarian Royal Family.
The setting is a terribly Gothic castle in the middle of Transylvania, where Georgie ends up being framed for murder. Throw in an overbearing chaperon, an incompetent maid, a possible vampire and a persistent and unwanted suitor (nicknamed "Fishface") and Georgie is one busy Lady. Some tasty candy for your Inner Anglophile!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days 18 and 19



I am Thankful for...
Day 18: November 18th

1. Good fresh country air.
2. Long lanes perfect for contemplation.
3. Witnessing the love between a grandchild and her grandparents.
4. Thanksgiving almost being here!
5. The chance to take some photos around the farm.




Day 19: November 19th

1. The sounds of constant shrieking when my Explorer finds another kitty.
2. Laughing so loud at how proud my Little Hercules is of her strength.
3. Finally cranking out my letter for the family Round Robin.
4. Seeing how excited Papa Bear was to hug his girls after 4 days away
5. Coming up with a Christmas present idea for my Mama that's free and would be a great outlet for her creativity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days 17


I am Thankful for...

1. Successfully helping beating back the cold Lina was beginning to develop.
2. The sun finally coming out at the end of the day.
3. Watching the sunset over the mountains for the first time in a long time.
4. Discovering a well-crafted, informative blog for holistic practitioners on developing your practice.
5. The sound of my kiddo laughing in delight for 10 minutes while she opened and shut a tea pot.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days 14, 15 and 16




I am Thankful for...

Day 14: November 14th

1. Only living a 10 minute away from our Music Together class.
2. Smiles from Grandmothers.
3. A sleeping baby during my grocery store run.
4. The calmness of my Meditation group.
5. Taking a risk and putting myself out there (the possibility of teaching some yoga classes this winter is looking better and better).






Day 15: November 15th

1. My Grandmother being a total warrior 61 years ago and giving birth to my Mama.
2. The smile on my Mama's face when she saw her present.
3. Delicious crab cakes.
4. The sight of my cat-obsessed child chasing a 20 lb ball of fluff.
5. My parents snuggling with the baby at night, so I could get some rest.






Day 16: November

1. Finding some smooth shells to put in a Montessori Shell Basket.
2. Finding a wooden egg to borrow for a bit.
3. The sound of my Mama and my baby giggling together.
4. The sight of my step-father glowing with love while he's patiently walking the baby around the house.
5. The time to read a novel.

Thumbs Up Thursdays: My Ergo Baby-Carrier



I've been fascinated by baby-wearing for years now. When my nephew was 5 months old, I babysat him and created a wrap from some fabric I had laying around. I wore him on my hip while doing the dishes; both he and I were in heaven. Sigh...now he's eight.

When I was pregnant, I (like most first-time mothers) did a crazy amount of research. I couldn't wait to jump into baby-wearing and when it came time to register for our baby shower, I included several wraps and slings. I added the Ergo thinking that my husband might be more willing to wear it. Our amazingly generous friends and family bought us the Ergo, a Maya Wrap Sling and TWO  Moby Wraps.

Lina was born 14 days after she was due and then spent 16 days in the NICU recovering from Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. By the time she came home, she was close to 10 lbs and not really seeming to miss being in the womb too much. She HATED the Moby Wrap and let us know that she was NOT a fan of being restricted in anyway. My dreams of wearing her in the Moby all the time....went out the window.

We bought an infant insert for the Ergo, which she tolerated. Everyone always commented on her neck control and by 9 weeks or so, she was in the sling sitting on my hip. She soon graduated to being worn in the Ergo without the insert and then it was off-to-the-Races for us. She is now in the Ergo several times a day; we are both big Ergo addicts.

Here are some Reasons....

1. It has awesome back-support.

2. There is a big pocket (for a diaper, my keys, phone, and wallet).

3. It is easy to put on by yourself.

4. Both my husband and I can use it.

5. It can be worn on the back for those toddler years.

6. Both the baby and I get in more snuggling time.

7. I don't have to push the stroller in and out of stores.

8. We both stay warmer during our daily walks as the winter approaches.


I was so surprised because I thought the Ergo would be my husband's thing. A good, early lesson in motherhood...babies are all different and never make assumptions about how your child is going to react to something!

I love these folks. Go to a meeting with your newborn and check out a million different carriers for free! Spend $30 on a yearly membership and take some carriers home to test-drive for awhile. What a brilliant idea!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wellness Wednesdays: Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE)

I feel that books find you. Frequently, I have been given a book or owned one and never read it. Then suddenly one day, my gaze falls upon the book and I know it's time to read it. And then the previously ignored book blows my mind.

Two years ago, this book jumped out at me when I hanging out at Breathe Books after an acupuncture session at Metta Wellness Center. I took it home, read it and started doing the exercises. It made absolute sense to me.

The idea behind the book is when one experiences stress or trauma, one's body creates a record of the event. Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) provoke your body's natural desire to shake after experiencing stress and release the tension felt within your muscles. Dr. Berceli designed these exercises after having worked for years with refugees and now spends his life traveling abroad to teach organizations how to assist people in recovering from trauma.

Not all of us have experienced trauma but we all deal with stress and anxiety on a daily basis. TRE helps create a sense of calmness and relaxation. Who could argue with a little more calmness in their lives?

I still remember a few of the exercises and try to do them when I'm feeling stressed or upset. But, I think it's time for me to buy the video and re-incorporate all these exercises back into my life. I can't wait to see how I feel once TRE becomes part of my routine again!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy 61st Birthday, Mommy!


Do you remember how on your 33rd birthday, I commented on how you were the same age as Jesus was when he died? You've gotten a lot of living and loving in since then. Your love has always been an anchor during the tumultuous times in my life. Thank you.

No daughter could ask for a more devoted mother. Your fierce love for your children defies words.

The one incidence that may come close to describing your love took place when I was 5. I still had a few scabs left over from a recent bout of chicken pox. You were sitting outside of the dressing room of my ballet studio, when you heard another little girl make fun of my scabs. You explained how you felt yourself physically grow fangs and claws as you morphed into this fearsome mother tiger. You had to truly restrain yourself from leaping on that little girl and ripping out her throat. Despite growing up amidst some chaos, I always felt loved and protected. I hope when my daughter is 32, she feels the same about me.

You have taught me to have confidence in my ability to adapt and survive life with a smile. You have taught me how to use my creativity daily and to have faith in my ability to problem solve. You have taught me to be constantly curious about the world and to feel a deep need to be a life-long learner. I hope I pass these gifts onto my own child. Happy Birthday, Mommy!!!!

All My Love,
Me


Me (wearing the hat that Lina now wears) with my Fierce Mama



How to Make a Pocket Community a Reality....Quickly...




Thanks to Sara at Feeding the Soil for inspiring this post!

I have been interested in sustainable building methods and community planning for almost ten years now. Over the years, I've been interested in Monolithic domesCob Homes, Superadobe, Hexayurts and most recently Tiny Houses.

The Challenge

Going through the red tape of getting a community built can take years. How can one do it more quickly?

One Possible Solution

The Land

One family purchases the land and the other families pay a "community fee" (aka renting the land). A $300-400 community fee would easily help cover the cost of the mortgage.  Each family lives in their own "Tiny House." Most areas will allow a building with no permit as long as it is under the magic number of 120 sq feet. The nice thing about a "Tiny Village" is that you wouldn't need to buy as much land.

Or you could find a family who already owns a house and is interested in building a small community around their already existing home. The family could either continue to live in the house or they could move into a Tiny Home and the original home could become the Community Center.


The Houses

The most recent Tumbleweed Houses now come in kits which can be built in a weekend and are under $20,000, when you add in the extra cost of window, finishing the interior, etc... When you move you can take your home with you (either as a primary residence or use it as a yoga studio, guest house, and/or writing studio). I'm totally in love with the charming, new designs. This house may be my favorite.

Due to the nature of "Tiny Homes," residents spend much more time out in the community and outside in general. If there is more than one person living in the house, I would think it would be mainly used as a "Bunk House."


Community Space
If there is already a house on the property....then creating a Community Center would be easy.

If not, on the property you could have an Art House, a Library, a Children's Room, whatever needs arise. A temporary solution might be to use portable yurts as the community rooms.

 These folks might be a good place to go. I've been checking them out for awhile and they seem to have a decent product that lasts for a few years.


Utilities

Could be tricky, unless there is already an existing house on the property. Most people who live in Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are off-grid.


Throwing this idea out into the universe, although I know I'm definitely not the only one. Here are some people already in Austin thinking up similar plans. I can't wait see this idea coming into being!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Mama Mondays: Reading while Breastfeeding



Books have always been my favorite escape. So, during the first few months of my daughter's life, I read every chance I got. Breastfeeding was the perfect opportunity to get in some reading time.

New Mamas out there (if you are nursing), don't forget that you don't have to spend all your time gazing at your child; indulge yourself during those long nursing sessions. (Now my daughter gets so distracted by everything, the sound of me turning pages in a book is just too fascinating. I have to get my reading fix other ways).

Several times I month, I'm going to review books that I've enjoyed during those early nursing marathons.

The Gratitude Month: Days Twelve and Thirteen


I am Thankful for....

Day Twelve: November 12th

1. Papa Bear taking the baby on their weekly Saturday morning walk, so I can sleep in.
2. Feeling a touch stylish by buying my first non-maternity jeans in ages.
3. My Grandmother buying well-made clothes during the '60's (I wore one of her jackets to an engagement party and it made me feel a lot classier).
4. The chance to talk to friends in a real-live adult bar (thanks to my lovely in-laws who watched our Little Monkey).
5. Having risotto fritters for the first time.



Me in the Fall of '79


Day Thirteen: November 13th

1. Having a partner that listens.
2. Having the time to start brain-storming Christmas presents.
3. Smiles from my Happy Camper when she came home.
4. Warmish weather (good for a nice night walk with my two Loves).
5. Nursing and cuddles time (good for Brain-storming and Idea Making).

New Mama Mondays: Staying Hydrated



It took me long enough but I finally found the drink dispenser that I had saved from our wedding. I have now put it to good use. It sits in our kitchen and when I walk past it, I remember to drink some water! It can be hard to stay hydrated when you are looking after a small person, especially if you are breastfeeding. I swear I have never been so thirsty in my entire life!

There are lots of pretty drink dispensers out there. I believe I bought mine here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Del Ray Halloween Parade: Some Serious Costume Inspiration



Better late than never, eh? Here is my post on Del Ray's Halloween Parade.

The weather was gorgeous, the baby cooperated and I was blown over by all the creative costumes. Thank God for my Mama and her spicing up her grand-baby's costume and wagon. I feel sad that I didn't have anything to do with my daughter's Halloween get-up this year but that's motherhood for you. Expectations run smack into Reality and sometimes don't get met. But I have lots of inspiration for the next few years.

Here are My Top Family Halloween Costume Themes...

1. Gotham City (Lots of super-heroes and a cityscape coming out of the wagon)

2. Bakers and Cake (I think you can figure that one out)

3. Hot-dog Stand (Stroller was a picnic table, Mom was a cashier, Grandmother was a bottle of mustard, Dog was a hot dog with relish and the baby was a hot dog without relish)

4. Lily Pad (Stroller was a two-level pond, on the top level perched the baby dressed as a frog, second level was the actual stroller seats, where the family dog sat dressed as a dragon-fly. Mama was a pond fairy and Daddy and Big Sis were frogs)  

5. Tooth-fairy (Stroller was made to look like a pillow, baby was the "tooth", Big Sis the Tooth fairy and the parents were giant teeth)

6. Firetruck (Sitting in the wagon was the "fireman" and a large apartment building that had tissue-paper fire coming out of the windows)

7. Santa's Sleigh (Santa was the preschooler, the parents were elves and the stroller was an elaborate sleigh bursting with presents)

8. Peter Pan (Lots of variations on this one but I saw a handful of strollers decked out like tepees)


Other Interesting ideas included....

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Three Amigos and a handmade Peacock costume for a preschooler that included a beautifully painted cardboard tail


The stroller that stole the show wasn't technically a stroller. It was a massive wagon that sat at least 10 babies who were all dressed up as baby chicks. The wagon was decorated to look like an egg carton and had a sigh that read "Just Hatched." Pure Adorableness.

This parade is definitely worthy of becoming a beloved family tradition. Hope to see you there next year!




Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days Ten and Eleven

I am Thankful for...


Day Ten: November 10th

1. Time spent in the library (enough for me to even get myself a book).

2. The sound of a giggling kiddo as she drapes a glittery gold sash over her face.

3. My sister walking away from her car accident without being injured.

4. Not having to travel too far for a job interview that didn't pan out (you are only willing to pay me what???? to tutor...I think not).

5. The sight of Papa Bear snuggling with our Squirmy Wormy as she wound out for the night.


Day Eleven: November 11th

1. A slow day and a tuckered out kiddo catching up on her rest.

2. My daughter cooperating by playing by herself, so I could straighten up the house (funny how much better I feel when there aren't a million things laying around).

3. Finding my long-lost driver's license hidden under some leaves by our gate.

4. Finding out my mother's birthday present was ready, picking it up and being so excited to give it to her on Tuesday.

5. Being able to finally watch the last Harry Potter movie with only a handful of interruptions.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Failed Experiment: Cough Syrup


Horehound from my Mother's Garden

 
Maybe my first post on herbs shouldn't be about one of my failures. But I believe it's important to talk about one's failures as much as one's successes. Spoiled violet cough syrup, burned comfrey oil, spoiled comfrey oil, stinky garlic salve...now I'm adding infant cough syrup to the list.

Lina had her first cold last week and with it came a cough. Honey is one of the best things for coughs but obviously I couldn't give her any (no honey for a child under the age of one). Often, I will gently heat honey and add thyme to treat an adult's cough. When honey heats up it becomes thinner and it's easy to strain out the thyme when I am finished.

I thought I could just do the same with brown rice syrup....wrong. I added horehound and peppermint to the syrup. But when I heated it up, it did not thin out and I couldn't strain out the herbs. To compound the issue, it tasted VERY strongly. An adult could handle the taste but I knew no child would swallow it. Hmmmm....a new challenge for me.

I ended up just taking a thyme tincture myself and nursing Lina. We also spent lots of time in our steamy bathroom. Hopefully, I won't have to conduct too many more cough syrup experiments this winter!

Friday: This Moment

Inspired by Soule Mama here is my moment...


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soup Series: Vichyssoise



It is leek and potato season! Time for...vichyssoise. Okay, I know vichyssoise is technically a cold soup but isn't it so fun to say? Vichyssoise was something my grandfather made when I was young. It has always been one of my favorite words to say and it is now one of my favorite soups to make. Here is my ad-lipped, loosey-goosey recipe.

             2 leeks cut up (only the white part)
             2 potatoes (peeled and chopped)
             pat of butter
             thyme
             sea salt
             white wine
             half and half (or heavy cream)

Saute butter and leeks over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add dried thyme. Saute another minute or so. Add an inch or 2 of water. Then potatoes. Add sea salt. Stir. Add more water and then the wine. When potatoes are soft enough to your liking add half and half. Cook until it begins to boil, put it to simmer. Add black pepper. Simmer until you are ready to serve.

Thumbs Up Thursdays: My Favorite Meditation Book

There are books you finish, say "that was nice" and then you forget about them. Then there are books that you read once, twice...over and over again because you need them in your life. Learning to Dance Inside: Getting To the Heart of Meditation is one of those kind of books for me.

I bought my first copy here at Red Emma's. It was probably 5 or 6 years ago and I still can't get this book out of my head. I think it may be time to re-read it again.

It is the first book I've ever read on meditation where the author doesn't try and teach you how to "quiet" your mind, rather he guides you through actively using your mind to come to a place of Contemplation and Bliss. He doesn't focus on techniques and mantras but helps explain what it feels like to finally "Get It."

He wrote this book to help others not spend two decades (like he did) struggling to learn how to meditate. I am a big fan of some of those crazy Christian mystics, so I am happy that he discusses some of them in the book. Love, love, love this book.

Plus, the author's personal story is pretty amazing. George Fowler spent almost 20 years in a Trappist monastery, much of the time in silence. He left the monastery and married a nun. When I first read the book, I kept trying to find out more info on him (hoping that he might still be lecturing, etc...) but I just read on Amazon that he died in 2000. I'm sad. He's seems like the kind of person, I'd love to have over for dinner. But, he lives on in this book. If you are interested in meditation, go check this book out!

The Gratitude Month: Day Nine

Even though today was one of THOSE days, I have to remember to be thankful. So, here goes....



I am Thankful for....



1. The perfectly ripe avocado I finally got to eat for dinner at 11 pm.

2. The look of pure pride on my daughter's face as she realized that she's now a walker.

3. Eventually (on the 4th try) finding a place that would take my daughter's holiday picture.

4. Getting to sleep for almost 4 hours after having sleep-walked through a day when Lina wouldn't take any naps and had woken me up every hour the night before. Thanks Goodness for my in-laws.

5. Having an hour to myself after everyone has been tucked into bed....blissful.

Voting: First Time My Daughter Comes with Me to the Polls!



Tuesday was Election Day. It wasn't a big election. But the one thing I am big on is doing my civic duty and voting. Maybe that's the politics major in me talking.






I remember being itty-bitty and going to the polls with my mother. It was so exciting, even if it was at my church's hall and even if I grew up in a very conservative area (which meant few of the people my mother voted for ever won in local politics). I always looked forward to solemnly going with my mother as she exercised her right to vote.






So, I made sure to take my daughter to the polls on Tuesday. She may be only 7 1/2-months-old but it's important to start good habits early, right?



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Gratitude Month: Days Six, Seven and Eight

I am Thankful for...

Day Six: November 6th

1. Having a house full of friends today.

2. Being able to check out the Beltway Babywearers Meeting and getting some tips. (Plus it was fun meeting a little boy who was born on the same day as Lina).

3. Discovering some friendly Stinging Nettle near our place.

4. Papa Bear and I working together as a team and getting our home ready for our company.

5. Stumbling across a bubble-machine blowing a constant stream of bubbles in the wind. (Too bad the baby was asleep and missed it).



Day Seven: November 7th

1. Having the chance to be silly in our Music Together class.

2. Living close enough to walk to Whole Foods and pick up freshly squeezed orange juice.

3. The feeling of Lina's little hand on my knee as she stands next to me.

4. Eating the amazing stir-fry Papa Bear made (bacon, bok choy and tofu...why not?)

5. Discovering this.


Day Eight: November 8th

1. Being woken up at 8:30 am instead of 7 am.

2. Watching my daughter's delight in making new friends at the playground.

3. My delight in meeting new moms at the playground.

4. Being able to exercise my right to vote and take Lina to the polls for the first time.

5. Taking baby steps towards my goal of becoming a yoga teacher by going to an information session and asking lots of questions.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Tree made out of Contact Paper


Nesting is a normal phase of pregnancy; many Mamas-to-be spend many, many hours planning their nursery. I was certainly no different but since Papa Bear and I only had one bedroom, I had no nursery to plan. Instead, I tried to arrange and decorate our room with the baby in mind (hence our black and white theme). The one part of the room I was really happy with was the family tree created out contact paper.

Wall decals have become pretty big business over the past few years. After visiting numerous websites, I realized that I could design and make a tree that I liked much better then the ones I could buy. Plus, I wasn't about to spend $75 on one.



This project cost about $15 dollars. I believe my husband bought the contact paper from here. 

The great thing about the black contact paper is that I was able to cut all the branches, leaves and flower buds individually and add or move as I saw fit. When I felt a burst of nesting coming on, I'd get out my contact paper, cut out some shapes and find a place that looked like needed a little love. It was especially great for those last two weeks when I was past my due date and everyone wanted to know if I was in labor yet!

I began cutting out the trunk and then worked my way up by adding the branches. I am a big fan of this material because there is lots of room for error, so it's a great project for someone one isn't too confident about their artistic skills. If you aren't too sure about making a natural looking tree have some photos on hand. If something doesn't look right you can always take it down and re-cut it! I love how up close you can't even see the seams between each individual piece. One of these days I'm going to make another one for our new place since the baby finally has her own room.



1,000 Books Before Kindergarten




I am so lucky there is a good library a few blocks from my house. The children's librarian told me about a program some libraries have started across the country. It's called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. It sounds like a fantastic goal; I've jumped on the band-wagon. I've decided to post the books I've read to Lina on this blog as a way to keep motivated. Wish us luck!

1. That's Not My Monkey

2. Little Giraffe Finger Puppet Books

3. Cheep! Cheep! by Julie S. Steigemeyer

4. Goodnight Moon

5. Fuzzy Bee and Friends

Monday, November 7, 2011

Montessori Child's Chair and Table




I worked as a teacher assistant at a Montessori preschool while pregnant with Lina. I observed lots of things I liked and lots of things that did not impress me, some of which I will be sharing on this blog.

One thing that I knew I wanted to try with my daughter was to have her own table and chair. I agree with the importance of scale while working with young children. Luckily, I was able to raid "Grandma's Antique Store" and found a chair and table that works (it helps having a mother who was a cabinet-maker and collector of antiques). I can't tell you how much my 7-month-old enjoys having her own chair; she usually refuses the high-chair now. She spends much of the day at her table, where I will often join her while sitting on a sturdier child's chair. I believe it is helping foster her independence.





 





 


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