Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Stuff

So, you know how we have Quirky Thursday and Wordless Wednesday? Well, my recently increased blog-reading has led me to several more of these things, some of which I wish to add here as well...

Grateful Friday
This week I am grateful for:
  • Hubby being home!!!
  • good friends
  • making a lot of sewing progress and adding several new things in my store
  • my knitpicks order shipped (yarnny love coming my way!)
  • my cheerful baby
  • my health
  • the sunshine we got on Wednesday. I needed that.

In recent weeks I have been much inspired by the lady at Throws Like a Girl, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Last week she initiated the once-a-month Feel Yourself Up Friday, reminding all you ladies out there to do your breast self exams! She found a lump barely a month ago, and has already had a masectomy, because the lump appeared so fast and grew so quickly that they could not wait. This isn't something to take lightly, so go feel yourself up right now!

...and Haiku Friday I will ignore, because I'm no good at Haiku, and don't really like them anyway. :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not My Laundry Day

Just in case you got the idea into your head that I was some kind of Laundry Queen, let me set your mind at rest--I am not. I have been taught how to excell at this...but I don't actually do it very well. Last night, at 9pm, I realized that the load I had put in the laundry at 8:30 am was still sitting in the washer...still wet, and now a little, erm, special smelling... I had to run it through another rinse before I could move it to the drier (at nearly 10pm) and I didn't go collect the clean clothes until this morning.
This is a normal occurance at my house. I SHOULD do the single-laundry-day plan, because then i'd keep it moving, but I do the one-load-a-day-on-some-days-and-two-loads-on-other-days-and-skip-some-days method.
Right now I do have to tromp downstairs into the cold basement to do laundry, but even when the washer was right across from my sewing room I always forgot about the laundry. It's just how I am I guess. (In college I was VERY on top of things, but then I had a regular laundry day and did it all at once...)
I have regularly been known to grab the huge heap of clean clothing and pile it on my sewing desk so I could climb into bed at night. I also follow the principle of "if it won't wrinkle, there's no need to fold it" and so there are more than a few clothing drawers in our house that are just stuffed, not stacked. Hey, the stuff is clean, and this is faster.

By the way, as a postscript to my other laundry post...I wanted to add the comment that I am NOT a fan of having everyone do their own laundry. I think each person should learn to do laundry, yes--but they can learn by helping with the family loads. If you have each person do their own, then 1--they need more clothing to be able to make a whole load with only their stuff. 2--more loads need to get run in a week (taking more time, using more soap and water, etc). 3--unsupervised children washing laundry is more likely to result in pink socks and shrunken sweaters....let them learn by helping you, rather than dropping them in to swim on their own.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Childhood IS Life

I did not find this myself, it was shared by my friend over at Pondering Parenting...

Childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live; a child is living. No child will miss the zest and joy of loving unless these are denied by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation. How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize children as partners with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing them as apprentices. How much we could teach each other; we have the experience and they have the freshness. How full both our lives could be.

~~John A Taylor

I've been mulling over some things I want to post here about my (ever-developing) philosophy of parenting. This quote seems like such an excellent way to kick all that off...

I Won!

I'm all warm and fuzzy inside! I won a contest!
One of the MDCetsy moms made a new soap and had a contest to name it, and I won the contest! (she's sending me a bar of it as the prize!)

Here is Moonlit Snow

Just in case you wondered, I was inspired by walking home from the library one night. When I made the suggestion I told her that, and when she announced that I won, she said it was because "the image of Alaskan snow under a full moon stuck in [her] mind."
So yay!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Laundry Day

So, Kate, the Picklebum Mum is doing a series on organization...I go read her blog and then feel the need to write about the same you can blame her for this post.

Also, you can blame the fact that I truly don't mind doing laundry. I accept that I'm abnormal in that...but I also suspect that the enjoyability quotient of doing laundry is directly linked to the organization of the process...


First of all, I must issue the disclaimer that my mother is the Queen of Organization. She is concrete sequential and very on top of things. She taught me everything I know, and I don't begin to compare to how well she pulls everything off... She has 9 children (I am the oldest). She homeschooled the lot of us, taught us all how to keep a home and run a house, and all on a single school teacher's income. My mom is amazing.

Secondly, the question has been raised about whether having more (or less) clothing makes laundry easier or harder. My experience has been that when you have more clothing to wear, you will wear it, and procrastinate on the laundry, leading to the virtually insurmountable Mount Laundry...on the other hand, if you have fewer things, then you will do laundry more often, BUT, it will be easier each time you do it, because there will be less to do. So I hold to my basic less is better theory.

I will begin by discribing my Mother's brilliant plan of attack. This is not to suggest that you, gentle reader, need to do the same thing...just a discription of one way to keep on top of massive amounts of laundry without losing your mind!

With 10 people in the house, mom had about 15 loads per week, so it was very organized. Laundry was done on certain days (M/W/F when I was in high school). There were 4-5 loads per washday, so she got it started early. She always scheduled outside appointments (dentist, lessons, etc) for non-laundry days. On laundry day, she was home, and could keep things moving along... That is essential! You will not get 5 loads done in one day if you are gone!

1--All laundry baskets were collected in the basement bathroom (where the washer and drier were) and it got sorted into loads all across the floor. Loads were as follows:
a--whites (underwear, white socks, light/white linens--hot wash)
b--lights/delicates (paler colors that won't bleed, bras, nylons, dress clothes--warm wash)
c--darks (jeans, dark tops, most socks--cold wash)
d--medium (as needed--stuff that falls between 'light' and 'dark' if those loads are too big--cold wash)
e--dark linens (dark towels, sheets, etc--done once a week--hot wash)
f--dark & dirty (as needed--grubby jeans, work clothes, etc--cold wash, extra rinses)
g--diapers (when applicable--usually done on their own schedule, not with other laundry)
(I still sort this way, and it drives me nuts if a white t-shirt goes in with the whites instead of the lights...I have accepted that this is not really a life-or-death situation, so I do not complain to Hubby about it, but it does make me a little bit crazy!)
2--one load would get sorted straight into the washing machine...the first one was usually going by 9am.
3--every hour or 90 min during the day, she would go down and 'move the laundry.' Whenever weather permitted, she hung them out on the line; when it did not, she used the drier...
4--all clean laundry got dumped on her bed. She had one small clothes basket for each family member--our names were written in marker on the basket. As she folded, she would drop our items into our basket. (If you dont' care about folding, so much the easier!). I think this is about the simplest, easiest way to do it. If you prefer, use those square laundry baskets, and give each child a place where they can keep the basket and just use it as clean-clothes-storage rather than a a step, make happy kids...I don't see why we make life so complicated for ourselves anyway. (Mom always said 'handle paper once' and the same applies--the fewer steps in the process, the less it wears you out!)
5--mom delivered the baskets to our rooms, but each child was then responsible to put away their own clothing. She put away linens.

Some people, like my mom, prefer to assign laundry days and get it all done then. Some people just do one load per day (doing whichever load needs it most at the moment). I think either way works, so long as you pick something and stick to it--isn't that the definition of 'routine'? I think the method you pick should reflect your personality--does it bug you if something is 'never done'? Then do it all in one day and have it 'done' even for a few brief hours! Are you constantly on the go, needing to leave the house every day? Then the one-load-a-day may suit you much better.
I used to have a set day when I washed all our clothing, but once we got our own machine I stopped doing that. I only have 2-3 loads to wash per week (plus diapers every third day) so it is not hard to keep up with it. As we have more kids, I will probably assign days. Currently, I do something more like the one-load-a-day, although not every day. We also have the rule that if you grab the last pair of socks or undies or pants from your drawer, you tell mom and she makes sure to do that load today. Wolf (age 7) is REALLY good about this. He had to wear dirty socks one day because he'd neglected to tell me, and I hadn't done the wash...and now he never forgets. Anyway, it breaks down to about once a week for whites, once a week for darks, and one other load (light/dark/medium, depending what we wore that week!) Every few weeks I do a load with the sheets etc, but there are few enough of us still that towels and washcloths just go in with the undies/socks.

Picklebum Mum made a comment about clothespins (she's down under and refers to them as 'pegs'), so I thought I'd give my take on them.
I don't use pins on things like sheets or tablecloths that will stay up by themselves.
I do not leave pins on the line, but just drop them all in a little pocket apron that I made. (something like the one pictured which I found here on etsy.) I tried leaving them on the line, and found that it took longer for me to unclip then re-clip them each time, rather than just grabbing a handful out of my handy apron...
I pin items up in whatever order I pull them out of the basket--with the single exception of socks, which I pin in pairs, by the toe. As I am taking down the socks, I roll the tops together, then remove the pin, and they fall into the basket already folded!
I overlap my pinning--which saves time and pins. By that I mean that I start with a towel, one pin on each side...but then as I put up the next item (say, a t-shirt), I use the second towel pin as the first t-shirt pin. So the fabrics overlap an inch or two on the line, and one pin holds the edges of both items. It does not seem to affect drying time, and it makes pinning up and taking down go much faster.
I do not fold as I take down, though some people do...for me it's easier to just drop it off the line and then carry it in to fold it, but not everyone agrees.

As for ironing--well, I don't like the effort of waiting for the iron to heat up, getting out the board, etc just for one item. SO, for the most part we don't get things that need ironing. The one exception is Hubby's work shirts. I still dont' want to do the work for one or two shirts though, so I just hang the wrinkly stuff in the back corner of the closet until I have 5-6 things there. Then I iron them all at once. I have a routine for ironing them (learned from my costuming days); it takes about 30 min to get it done, and is a once-a-month kind of thing. I told Hubby from the beginning that I would do it that way, and that if he needed a certain thing for a certain day to let me know, but that if he didn't tell me, then he could either iron it himself or wear something else. He has not done any ironing that I am aware of, and has only asked me for a certain thing twice.

The best tip I can give on stain removal is to get to the stain immediately--before laundry day. My son has been known to eat half a meal shirtless because he ran to put his spilled-on shirt in the sink mid-meal. Most any stain will come out easily if treated before it gets a chance to set. If it's very fresh, wash with hot water; if it's not so fresh, soak in cold water.
Somebody, (I think it was America's Test Kitchen) did a test of about 15 different types/brands of stain removers. They got lots of white t-shirts, and made spots of 6 classic stains (tomato, wine, chocolate, mustard, etc), and then used a different product on each one. The winner by far was Oxy-clean. Yes, the brand name--I rarely buy brand name anything, but this is one that is worth it to me. Oxy-clean requires you to soak the stained item for 30+ minutes before washing it, so you do have to plan ahead, but the results are worth it. I have gotten out 'set-in' stains with it on several occasions. Second runner up was basically any type of squirt-and-scrub cleaner, with plain sprays being last. I throw a little oxy-clean in with my white loads to help keep whites bright, and I also throw in a little with a grungy load when I have one.
For grungy loads (or just to make your soap go farther) consider adding cheap salt to your wash. Salt will help open up the fibers of the fabric, which helps the water get in and the dirt get out. I know people who wash with only salt and they say it is very effective.

A few specific stain treatments:
  • For blood (or other biological matter stains): hydrogen peroxide--put it straight on the stain, without water, and let it fizz for a minute. Rinse and repeat until stain is gone.
  • For grease: Dawn brand dishsoap--get area damp, scrub in a tiny bit of Dawn, scrnub scrub scrub, rinse. Repeat as needed. (Works on oven hoods as well as clothing!)
  • If you do not have oxy-clean, or want a little extra 'muscle' on something, try using a little powdered detergent mixed with just a little water. Make a paste, and then use it to scrub the spot...This is the budget stain remover, and works as well as most of the fancy sprays or scrubbers.
  • If clothing is really dirty (ie, actually has a lot of dirt in it), do a cold rinse prior to washing. Yup, just like diapers.

Well, so there you have it--another novel from me about how to make your life better...or more organized...or something.


Alaska Joke

I just love this joke, so I had to share....

A Texan was boasting about his home state. He went on and on about how it was the biggest and the best... eventually an Alaskan stepped in and corrected him.
"Alaska is actually the biggest state."
The Texan was flustered and frustrated.
"Well, if all the ice in Alaska melted, then Texas would be the biggest state!"
The Alaskan smiled.
"If all the ice in Alaska melted, Texas would be a lake!"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Dozen Reasons to Have a Ring Sling

Thank you to the several people who gave me permission to use their photos here!

I was starting to work on this post last summer, and then uprooted and moved in a great hurry...months of sporadic internet access and simply having a lot to do have delayed its fruition...but here it finally is.

This is the post where I tell you that you need a ring sling...and then I show you why!

1--most commonly seen--newborn cradle carry

2--kangaroo carry
3--nursing cover4--upright on the front (even with a newborn!)
5--cuddle with dad
6--go exciting places
7--hip carry (for older babies/toddlers)
8--changing pad (with super-cute mommy-made diaper!)
9--provider of shade10--naptime snuggly11--chew toy
12--playmat/protector of baby from pokey grass
See, I told you that you needed one too.
Next I want to do a post with pictures of wrap uses...if you've got one you're willing to share, please let me know!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quirky Thursday--Got Water?! (updated)

Another quirk to share with the world...
I do not drink milk. I don’t really object to milk, I'm not vegan, I'm not allergic or even lactose intolerant. I just don’t drink it. I eat butter, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt. I use milk in cooking, in my cocoa, on my cereal, but I can’t stand it straight out of a glass. With my last pregnancy I was working hard on drinking lots of water to stay properly hydrated, so I just never had any room for milk, and I guess I just got out of the habit…Hubby is entirely supportive of drinking water, but thinks I’m odd to not want milk at least with brownies or cookies…so I tried a few ounces of it last month with brownies—it was disgusting.
Upon consideration, while I find nursing a perfectly wonderful thing, weaning is also a natural part of the cycle, and all mammals I know of give up milk sometime during childhood...except humans. We just start drinking some other mammals' milk... I'm not saying that I see this as a bad thing, because actually I'm not sure what I think. I have just observed....

For what it's worth, we were drinking local, organic, and even raw when I finally gave up milk. I didn't like milk at all as a child, but in my pre-teens through young adulthood I drank a LOT of it. Then I developed a milk intolerance (as in, it turned my stomach) during one of my pregnancies. I could eat yogurt and cheese, but plain milk (even just the little bit on cereal) made me feel really ill. So I stopped drinking it (I won't touch psudo-milks like soy milk, especially when pregnant...but I'll have to blog about the evils of soy some other time!). Even after that pregnancy I never drank as much as I had before...I didn't have that intolerance with subsequent pregnancies, but with this last one I was working so hard on drinking water (summer in Utah!) that I didn't have any room left to drink milk...and you know, I just never re-developed the habit!

On a somewhat related note, if you haven't visited my cooking blog, you might want are some photos of recipes that have gone up lately...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What they Don't Tell You...About Those First Hours After Birth

(My favorite Anne Geddes photo EVER!)

A few hours after giving birth to *Bear,I noticed movement in my abdomen. It felt just like when the baby moved around--a very familar feeling by that point--except that the baby was in my arms and I did pretty clearly remember having pushed him OUT, so I knew it couldn't be him! What, then, could be moving around inside of me? I finally figured it out (I was having a brilliant moment, truly!): It was all my internal organs settling back down into their normal places after having been pushed and shoved all over creation during the final months of pregnancy.
I was so glad I figured it out. NONE of the books talk about this! And yet it must happen to was such a strange sensation, and would have really scared me had I not determined what it was.
So, yeah, since probably nobody told you either, after you get the baby out, everything inside will play musical chairs for a day or two. It's ok. It's normal.

*yeah, so I got tired of initials. It's true. S's middle name is Bjorn, which is a common Norwegian name, but literally translated is 'Bear'...after some months of calling S "Bear," W decided he needed an animal nickname too, and dubbed himself W Wolf. So now I have two preditory children. It has on occasion caused me to pause and ponder... Hubby joined the game and became "Daddy Dragon" (he is a green dragon, in case you wondered--hobbit blood is strong in our family!)
Yeah, and I'm just a little bee. Hmmmmm. (Although Hubby says I can be a fox!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Finished the Stranded Hat!

This hat is my first experience with stranded knitting (which is knitting with two or more colors, and carrying the strands along inside the work when not in use). KF said I did really well with keeping my tension even (the biggest concern with stranding, as too tight will make puckers, and too loose will snag). Here it is from the inside. See my pretty stranding!

And here is the outside. I figure that's the part you actually came to see...

I had found several patterns online, but ended up deciding to design my own, because I wanted to feature both colors more evenly. I also hope to be able to sell the hat, and most free online patterns are copyrighted. Now that I have a pattern as well as a hat, I am thinking of selling the pattern too! I need to make it again, make sure I don't have any kinks in it, and then I think KF is going to give it a try, and see how well another person can follow my pattern...but assuming all goes well, it'll be going up for sale in my store in the not too distant future! Yay! (I am thinking of adapting it slightly--expanding the purple section at the top so that it's a little more prominant, more equally balancing the grey at the bottom...thoughts?)

I have decided what the prize is for my who-reads-my-blog drawing! I love
etsy, and wholeheartedly believe in supporting handmade cottage industry etc, SO, the prize is a 'gift certificate' to etsy. I know, there isn't really such a thing, but the way it works is I grant you a dollar amount, you browse around and let me know what you want from there, and I will buy it and have it shipped to you! You can buy from ANY etsy store you like! I decided this was more practical than choosing an item myself, because my readership is pretty varied, and I don't think any one thing would appeal to everyone...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Is It With Those Big Families Anyway?

I am the oldest of 9 children. Throughout my life, when someone learned of my family size, they immediately asked “Mormon or Catholic?!” Then there were often questions about “Don’t Mormons believe in birth control?” and “How many moms did you have?” Polygamy is a thing of the past for the LDS church (breakoff denominations still practice it, but it is neither promoted nor tolerated by current leadership). And, just in case you wondered, we are not told to have a certain number of kids, nor is birth control forbidden.
The truth is, most LDS families that I know have 3-5 children—higher than the national average, sure, but not THAT high.

In the hopes of clarifying some of these misconceptions, here is what we DO believe:
• We believe that the spirits or souls of all people (past, present, and future) are literal children of God. We believe that there is a finite number of spirits, and that all must have a chance to live in a mortal body before Christ can return—therefore, many LDS want to provide bodies for as many spirits as they are able.
• We believe that all people who have ever lived or will ever live will have the opportunity to learn the gospel. (We believe that after death there is a waiting time prior to final judgment, and that during that time there will be missionary work until all have heard, and been able to choose to accept or reject the teachings.) With that in mind, there is some advantage to bringing children up in the church, because that’s one more person who knows the gospel now and won’t need to be taught later.
• We believe that the command given to Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish the Earth” is still in force. Therefore, we encourage couples to welcome children, and not to delay them for selfish reasons (such as ‘financial stability’ or finishing school). We believe that when we welcome these children to our families, God will help us provide for them. (As one of 9 children in a family with the single-income of a school teacher, I can attest that this is true.)
• We are counseled that it can be appropriate to delay or avoid pregnancy if there are health risks (mental or physical) for the parents, and that this should be considered prayerfully.
• We are asked to look to the Lord, and not to the world when making decisions about the number or timing of our children.
• We believe that children deserve to be raised in a family with both a mother and a father, therefore we encourage unwed mothers to either marry or allow the child to be adopted. We strongly support and promote adoption.
• For more information about the LDS stance on families, read The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Hopefully that helps to clarify why it is that many of us choose to have large families. Sure, we are encouraged to do so, but nobody is laying down a law against family planning. It is always a personal choice, it's just that many of us choose large families because of the things we believe!

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.
~Psalm 127:4-5 KJV

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sushi Cake

This was the cake I made Hubby for his birthday.

I decided this didn't really belong on my cooking blog, because there's nothing spectacular about the's just a plain white cake recipe and plain cream cheese frosting (of course they're scratch, not boxed, but simple, nonetheless).
However, I wanted to share pictures...

I baked the 'sushi roll' parts in tuna cans which I lined with foil--it gave a more even round shape than if I'd used a cupcake pan. I used coconut for the 'rice' on the sides of the rolls, and 'filled' them with chopped mandarin oranges and my mom's homemade blackberry jam. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beloved Gift from God

I had my first miscarriage in April of 2004. In the months that followed we very much wanted to conceive again, and I read book after book on fertility trying to figure out what had gone wrong the first time. Finally, on Thanksgiving Day 2004, we conceived. (Yes, I know the day, that is one of the beauties of charting!)
The pregnancy was hard for me from the beginning: my morning sickness was horrible (I literally could only eat about a dozen foods, and constantly felt as though I would vomit at any moment), and of course I was really scared of losing this baby as well. It was difficult to feel so awful, and not even know if anything good would ever come of it. Around Christmastime I asked Hubby to give me a priesthood blessing, which he did. In the blessing, I was told that God wanted us to raise this spirit in our family, and that I should feel comforted. Of course I felt better after that! After all, God wanted us to raise this child! I moved forward with renewed hope and trust.
In early February I had my second appointment with the midwife. She was not able to hear the baby's heartbeat, but I was only 11 weeks along, and we knew that I had a tilted uterus, which makes it harder to hear the baby in the earlier part of pregnancy (because it is farther down in the abdomen), so we didn't worry much. We tried to listen a week later (with a more experienced midwife), and she could not hear a heartbeat either. We still assumed all was probably fine, but decided to schedule an ultrasound just to make sure.
On Valentine's Day 2005, I had my first ultrasound...
There was no heartbeat.
Our little one had stopped growing nearly a month prior, but my body (which is really good at being pregnant), had not miscarried the body.
We evaluated our options and chose to have a D&C that night, because I had had so many complications during my prior miscarriage (including heavy bleeding, retained placenta, anemia, and a trip to the Emergency Room).
In the days the followed, I struggled to understand what had happened. The weeks of pregnancy had been healing in many ways, but the actual miscarriage had torn my heart open again. Hadn't God told me we were going to raise this child? No, I realized, He had said we would raise this spirit...and so I know we shall. I do not know when this child will come to us, or whether she will come biologically or via adoption, but she will come to us, because God wants us to be her parents.
And yes, I believe she is a little girl. I felt her presence when I carried her. I have had a feeling about the gender of each of my children, and in the cases where we could tell, I was right, so I have no qualms about assuming that my feelings were correct in this case also.
Naming my angel helps me with the grief, and so we named her. I spent several days pouring over baby name books and websites, but had not found anything that seemed appropriate. I wanted her name to reflect the love and healing that her pregnancy had brought, as well as the fact that her angel day was Valentines. Hubby speaks Norwegian, and we'd often talked of using Norwegian names, so finally I asked him the Norwegian for "beloved." It was perfect. As we discussed middle names, one jumped out to us both...I later discovered its meaning: "gift from God."
And so our precious little Valentine's baby, our Kjersti Eliana ("Cher-stee El-ee-ahn-a") was, indeed, our Beloved Gift from God.

I miss you baby. I'm waiting for you.

On True Love

For some reason February 14th has been dubbed the day of love. Why this, over other days? I know, there was some guy a long time ago, and this is his birthday, or something... Honestly I think the whole concept of the day is skewed. We get all wrapped up in one day of gifts and treats and special favors, and somehow that is supposed to compensate for another 364 days of negligence. Flowers and dinners and chocolates and lingerie on February 14th mean nothing unless there is true love on the other days as well.

And what is true love?

It's not giving candy or balloons or flowers, although those things can be nice expressions of it.
It's not laying your coat in a puddle for her to walk on (does this really produce anything more than a wet coat?!)
It's not making wild declarations or performing daring deeds.
It's not kisses or hugs or long moonlit walks.

What is true love?
It is when Hubby took an hour every night with the colicy baby, singing Beatles and James Taylor songs to him, so that I could take a shower or even sleep for a few minutes.

It is when my 7 year old asked me to teach him how to wash dishes, because he wanted to help more around the house.

It is when my Hubby can look down at the mess where our baby was just born, and then look back up at my sweaty face and wild hair and say "I love you. You're beautiful."

It is pumping and freezing your breastmilk to share with mothers who don't have enough.

It is getting your wife the unscented lotion, not because you're not sure what scent to get, but because you know that perfumes make her queasy.

It is making your son's favorite cookies for him, even though you think they're gross.

It is being a doggie, and letting the baby climb on your back and sit on your head, because you know he's still learning to be gentle.

It is when my baby takes a break from running around the house to lay his head in my lap.

It is hearing the plaintive word "Nurn?" for the forty-third time today, and still smiling as your toddler climbs into your lap to nurse for six more seconds.

It is spending your whole day off helping someone move.

It is teaching someone a skill.

It is giving up the easy life for the good life as you welcome a child to the family. It is giving up the simple life for the concerned one when you send them out the door.

It is giving up Your Only Begotton Son to save the world.

Our children will view the world through the glasses we give them: what perception of love am I teaching my children?
As a culture, we have developed the idea that 'true love' is a romantic thing. Something that develops between couples. We are wrong. The truest kind of love is the kind that goes far beyond romantic, couples, or red hearts with lace. It is the love that gives.

I would love to hear your thoughts on true love. I was inspired to do this in the first place by a series of "true love" posts that Nessa was doing (hopefully she doesn't mind my putting them here!) Please leave your link!

Own Up To The Odd

So, apparently great minds think alike, because just after I came up with Quirky Thursday, a friend of a friend came up with “Own up to the Odd” which is, essentially, a meme challenging people to confess to their special little quirks… along with it though, she’s setting up a link forum on her site, so you can go read about the weirdness of MANY people, and hopefully feel a little more confident in your own special oddities. Heeheehee!

Some more confessions of genuine weirdness from me:

I never thought this was unusual until other moms started telling me how weird I was…but laundry does not pile up at my house. Occasionally we’ve been known to run out of somebody’s socks (usually because he went through 2-3 pairs a day stomping in puddles or playing in snow). But in general, I do laundry one or two days a week. I do hate folding the clothes, but I don’t mind washing them.
I also don’t like anybody else to help with the laundry (except folding/putting away). I have my own little system and I have a really hard time not getting frustrated if somebody messes with it. I also get annoyed if someone drops an item into the wrong basket (we have separate baskets for the different loads).

I do not mind doing dishes or loading the dishwasher. I HATE unloading/putting them away. I do not know why this is, but it’s a big deal with me. One of the nicest things Hubby can do for me is put away the dishes, regardless of whether he washes the next batch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Hubby Loves Me

I should begin here by explaining a little something about love languages. For those not familiar with the book, or the concept, essentially the idea is that people tend to fall into one of five categories in terms of how they prefer to have love expressed. Some people like little gifts, some people need words of affection, some like physical touch, some prefer quality time, and some, like myself, speak the love language of "Acts of Service." This means that if you want to tell me you love me, don't say it, show it. Do the dishes for me. Cook dinner. Put the kids to bed. Clean the toilet (please!). Most especially, if I ask you to do something for me, and you say you will, then DO. Almost nothing makes me feel so unimportant as when somebody forgets to do something for me that they said they would do.
So, when Hubby had to go to Juneau, we put together a list of a few things for him to pick up. Then he ended up being stuck there, and we thought of more things we wanted, so the list grew...finally, when he came home on the ferry yesterday, he was bringing a LOT of things...a bunch of it I had asked for, but some of it he just got for me. A fridge (and freezer) very very full of fresh foods...veggies, meat...all the stuff that's hard to get here. And see that whole drawer full of yogurt? THAT is serious love. That is my favorite yogurt, and I can't get it here.

A Papa Murphy's pizza--not only did he 'make dinner' for me, he also got my favorite kind: veggie ranch (with tomatoes, onion, spinach, artichoke hearts, zucchini, and hey, with all that goodness, I don't mind the mushrooms!)

A new rug for our living room--which used to be cold and bare and cave-like. The rug is sooo soft and happy on my bare feet! And I really couldn't care less that it clashes with the couch (see upper right corner!). After all, the rug is ours and we'll take it when we move, but the couch goes with the apartment. (Also note that he got me new tennis shoes for aerobics--I haven't had a new pair of tennies in, erm, about 7 years I think. and the last pair has most definitely given up the ghost!)

The classic, red roses...not something I would ever ask for, but something that does make me feel special all the same...even if the only 'vase' i have here is a blue plastic pitcher!

And this is actually probably the sweetest thing of all: 4 seasons of a show.
When we were first married, we used to watch an episode of X-Files almost every night after W was in bed. It was shorter than a movie (so great for a weeknight), but didn't have the interruptions or lack of choice that comes with watching TV. After 10 seasons of X-files, we watched 10 seasons of Friends, then 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We started The 4400 but it got dumb. I started watching Angel (Buffy spinoff) and he started watching 24, and neither of us could stand the other's show, so we didn't watch them together... So we've been without a show, and we've been missing that couch time together each night. So Hubby borrowed these from my second cousin (who lives in Juneau), and now we have months of "date nights in" ready to go! Yay!

I think my Hubby loves me.

Many Moods

My brother took these at Christmas, over the period of about one minute...(I don't know if I kept them in proper sequence or not)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Some Great Things About Alaska

I came across this post on another Alaskan Mama's Blog.
Now, she lives in Anchorage, which is up "in the interior" (or at least on the edge of it!) and has some differences from the islands of "southeast" where we live...additionally we are in such a teeny town that some things she mentioned (such as the great food) isn't so applicable here...but a lot of things are!
To her list, I want to add a couple of things we love about living in Alaska:
**At least out here in Pelican, it's a dog-friendly place. Dogs are part of the family, we know each others dogs' names the way we know each others kids' names. When invited to a friends house, the dog is usually welcome. Leashes are more or less optional (so long as the dog is reletively well-behaved).
**FRESH fish like I have never had before. And, since most of the town is fishermen, everybody has fish just laying around...I don't even know how many times somebody has dropped by to give us some (ie: 5lbs) of fish!
**Black Cod. All I gotta say is, if you've never had it, poor you. Salmon is common (and I don't love it); halibut is common (and I do love it); but black cod rocks my world.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yes We Can

I have still not settled entirely on one candidate as my 'favorite' in the current electoral proceedings. I am inclined to agree with my friend Magical Mama that we need a composite candidate. But, in light of that impossibility, I continue to seek realistic options. I liked a lot of things about Romney (and his religion being the same as mine had nothing to do with it, I assure you). I see a lot of things I like in Ron Paul (and will likely be posting about him again, as I recently read something else I liked). Today, however, I want to share something I recently encountered about Barack Obama. In terms of realistic candidates, I feel pretty good about him, and this little clip just gave me warm fuzzies all over.

I was able to find a video of the original speech (in New Hampshire, on the night of their primaries). You can also read the full text of the speech, although this clip (the finale of course) is, obviously, the best part.
(and, if the video won't play correctly, here is where to go to see the original.)

This music video was created by of the Black Eyed Peas.

Because of the overlapping of the words on the clip, it can be difficult to hear all the words. However, I was so moved by this that I transcribed it so that I wouldn't miss anything.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality.
Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.
We want change.
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics...they will only grow louder and more dissonant. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea: Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can.




Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I was just reading over at picklebums here where she talks about organizing and de-cluttering...
I have to say that moving 2000 miles with only 20 boxes and 6 suitcases (for a family of 4 for a year) was an amazing lesson in how little STUFF we really need! I had a fairly massive freesale on my front lawn the day before I moved, and got rid of literally a roomful of stuff. It is so freeing to get rid of things! It's a little hard at first, I know. I was a pack rat for most of my childhood and teen years...but I finally am learning to let go of STUFF. Have I missed a few thing? Yes. Many things? NOPE! And I love that my tiny little apartment is reletively clutter-free!
Now that we know that we're going to stay up here long term, we're going to drive back down to Utah this summer and empty out the garage full of stuff that we left there. We have decided to keep a couple of things (heirloom cherry wood dressers, various sizes of childrens clothing, most of the books), but we are going to get rid of about 80% of what we have there. It costs more to move it than to replace it... My goal is that when we are buying new things, we will be buying the things we truly want or need, not just trying to replace what we had, does that make sense?! For example, we had a dozen little mismatched bookshelves to hold all our books--books which were stuffed in sideways and two deep in places just to try to get them to fit. Our ideal is to have a large wall (one) of built-in shelves (or a large matched set if we buy a home rather than build), and to get rid of books we won't read over and over, and have things neat and sorted and organized...

So, I think the general idea here was to try to help inspire others in their own de-cluttering efforts. So here are a few stepping stones! (Please know that I share these ideas with full confession that I'm a work in progress too! But these are my guiding lights...)

1) Clothing
a) go through all your own (adult) clothing. If you have not worn it in the last year, get rid of it. I don't care how much you love it, how much you spent on it, or how much you believe you're going to fit into it again...if you don't get into it once in a year, you're almost certainly not going to in the coming year. (The exceptions to this rule are maternity clothing and the occasional non-nursing item). Ditto on shoes: I mean, how many pair do you REALLY need?
This could apply to jewelry too...I finally came to the realization that as much as I love earrings, I have worn the same diamond studs for over a year. I have actually not even removed them in that time. What is the point in owning 20 pair if I only wear one? So I gave a bunch to my sister, who is a teenager, and changes them twice in a day.
b) consider how often you do laundry--if you wash clothing once a week, then you need enough clothing for a week, plus a spare or two. For my kids, I have 5-6 short sleeve shirts, 5-6 long sleeved ones, plus something dressy (for church). 4-6 jeans/shorts. 8 pairs of socks, 7-8 undies. Spares are always a good idea with kids, as they have a knack for getting into things like mud and puddles, but really, does the average kid need 20 of anything? And with fewer, it's easier to afford higher quality. I pared down my childrens clothing in all sizes, not just the ones my kids currently wear. (I did keep more extras for infant sizes, to allow for blowouts and barf, of course!) For myself, I have even less, because I don't get dirty as often!
c) quality shoes are worth the cost. The damage you can do to your feet with used or overworn or lousey shoes can hurt you (literally) for years. Don't go for style so much as quality and support. Real leather is worth the money. And take the time to make sure you have a good fit!!!

2) Toys
Please realize that I do not just mean children's playthings. I mean grown up toys too--books, movies, board games, collectables, and, yes, even fabric and yarn. (It's ok my knitting friends, we're in this together!)
a) If it's broken or busted, toss it. Does Johnny really play with the one-armed dinosaur? If he does, fine, but if he doens't...bye bye T-Rex, ya know?! Get rid of duplicates--how many wire wisks do you really need?!
b) If it is useless, get rid of it. If you're not willing to get rid of it, then use it! My mother has some heirloom china and crystal...which she uses for serving sunday dinner every week. Do pieces get broken? Of course. But they weren't doing anyone any good just sitting on the shelf, so she uses them.
I know there are people who love to collect trinkets and knick-knacks...this isn't evil in and of itself, but consider your reasons and the results. Does the collection take up a lot of space? Is it difficult to keep clean? Does it serve an additional purpose? (For example, we get magnets as souveniers when we travel--our fridge not only shows where we've been, but also of course we always have plenty of magnets! My mother-in-law collects christmas tree ornaments on her travels.)
c) Evaluate what is actually being used on a regular basis. With fabrics and fibers, evaluate if it's actually in line for a project, or just sitting around because it was so pretty you couldn't say no... If it just sits in the drawer/box/bin/shelf and collects dust, get rid of it. No matter how much you like it, spent on it, or think it's lovely...move it out. Now, I'm willing to give fiber/fabric a longer shelf life than clothing, because I know creative projects take lets say if you have had it for 3 years and not gotten to it, then get rid of it...seriously people, 1000+ days is enough time to get to something!
d) Get the kids on board with cleaning out toys--they will probably be nearly as ruthless as you would! After all, THEY have a pretty good idea of what they do or don't play with! Have a yard sale and let them earn the money from anything they contribute! W made several dollars last summer!

3) General Tips
a) if you get something new, get rid of something old. This applies to closets, toy chests, kitchen drawers, etc. Don't allow stuff to accumulate.
b) just because it's free (or cheap) doesn't mean it's a good idea to take it. Consider whether you will actually use it! We were given a queen size fouton set when our neighbors got a new bed. We set it in the spare room, and did use it twice for guests to sleep on, but mostly it served as a trampoline for our preschooler. And it took up a lot of room. So when we moved, we got rid of it.
c) recycle or pass on what you can, but if it's junk, don't be afraid to just THROW IT OUT!!! Obviously the ultimate goal is to not accumulate junk in the first place, but I suspect we all have it, so, detox! Get rid of it!

I know I am ruthless. But you'll feel better afterwards, trust me! Physical clutter is emotionally and spiritually draining, even when you're surrounded by stuff you love.

4) Moving Forward Intelligently
the goal, of course, is to not repeat the past, and to not accumulate so much clutter again.
a) seek multi-functional items and open-ended toys. Legos, lincoln logs, building blocks, art supplies, playsilks, dolls, dress-up clothing, kitchen/food sets and the like lead to hours of imaginative, interactive play. And, for all that Johnny thinks he wants that latest greatest electronic talking whatever-it-is, it's very likely that the infatuation would be short lived. Once the novelty wears off, there is nothing additional to do with the toy, and so it is set aside in favor of more exciting things. Get your kids on board with this philosophy--W now often comments about why this toy is better than that, and now asks for higher quality items.
b) seek quality--get stainless steel or cast iron cookware, wooden toys rather than plastic, etc. If you use cloth diapers, put in the resources to have good ones. Be willing to spend a little more now, with the knowlege that items will last longer and work better. I LOVE my front-loading energystar washing machine. One small set of cutco knives serves ALL my cutlary needs, and will last me decades.
c) That said, if you are completely content with your simple hand mixer, don't fork out the money for the cousinart or kitchenaid. You probably won't use it much. I didn't. (anybody in the market for a kitchenaid stand mixer?!)
d) a place for everything, and everything in its place. And, I would add, if you discover that your things no longer fit in their place, you should get rid of some of them!!!

Whew, so, that was long, I know. For those of you who actually read the whole thing, maybe you feel inspired! I know I feel inspired to jump back in!

Consider This...

Here are a few quotes I collected from this site. (I recommend the site for anyone not convinced on the circumcision issue--although I say this with the disclaimer that it has actual photos...) I believe these quotes can apply to a lot more than routine infant circumcision though...the cesarian epidemic, early weaning, separating babies from their parents, CIO (crying it out)...the list goes on and on.

"Tradition will accustom people to any atrocity." --George Bernard Shaw

"Habit and routine have an unbelievable power to waste and destroy." --Henri de Lubac

"As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." --Voltaire

"Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it." --Mark Twain

"What's done to children they will do to society." --Karl Menniger

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." --Mark Twain

"Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm." --Hippocrates

"We shall have to learn to refrain from doing things merely because we know how to do them." --Theodore Fox, Spech to Royal Physicians

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." --Bertrand Russell

"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies." --Friedrich Nietzsche

"What history teaches us is that men have never learned anything from it." --Georg Wilhelm Hegel

"It is never too late to give up your prejudices." --Henry David Thoreau

"All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident." --Arthur Schoepenhauer

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." --Thomas Jefferson

"Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." --Robert F. Kennedy

"[A] long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense

"Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; - history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!" --Frederich Nietzsche

"It's not the facts which guide the conduct of men, but their opinions about the facts; which may be entirely wrong. We can only make them right by discussion." --Sir Norman Angell

Monday, February 4, 2008

Foray into Felting

Here is the photographic evidence of my new addiction: knitting!
I started off with felting. Felting is very forgiving, since the wool yarn shrinks up and hides a multitude of little mistakes... So, my first project was to make a pair of felted socks, using the fuzzy feet pattern from knitty. I guess standard procedure is to also mention which yarn I used and all that...this is Caron's "Felt It" yarn in "Rose Garden." I found that it tore easily if, say, your infant grabbed the ball and pulled while you were trying to work. On the other hand, it is very soft and pretty easy to work with (it has substantial variation in width, so wouldn't be perfect for everything). In 4 balls of it, I did come across one splice where two pieces had been tied together mid-ball. Spit-splicing does NOT seem to work on this yarn.

Here they are before felting (winnie the pooh is there to show scale)

And here they are after felting!
I have concluded that this pattern is better when made with the short rolled cuff and worn like a slipper--just like it shows on the pattern. I lengthened the cuff to try to make them more sock-like, and they are kinda snug to get on and off, as well as being so thick that it is hard to zip up my boots. So I guess felting should stick to slippers, and not try to venture into socks. Ah well, I learned how to turn a heel!

And this sweet little hat was the product of having an extra ball of the yarn! Modeled here by S, I thought it had too much pink to be a boy hat, so it's now for sale in my store

More Movies

With Hubby out of town for more than half of the last month, I've been watching a lot of movies, so I thought I'd write a few more reviews...

Amazing Grace
PG for historical content (dealing with the slave trade)
This was such a fantastic movie, I can't say enough good about it. I'm not sure how tightly it follows the actual historical facts, but it is well worth watching regardless. The powerful, moving account follows the story of William Wilberforce and his endeavors to get the British House of Commons to end the slave trade.

The Holiday
PG-13 language and sexual content
It's funny and kinda fun, but at several characters are not terribly moral, and that always leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The previews are actually quite accurate--if you like them, you'll probably like it. If not, well, it's nothing spectacular.

PG for some scary moments and a brief scene which I'll explain
A 7 year old boy finds a duffle bag full of money, and believes it was sent from God. He tries to make the world a better place, but his brother wants to spend it all on toys...and then they learn where the money really came from. A charming little story about finding ones place in the world. That said, it's also a bit weird. It's British--let's just leave it at that, shall we?
In one scene (which doesn't have much to do with the rest of the movie) the little boy is with his pre-teen brother and they come across a picture of a woman in a lace bra. The woman's areola is visible, and the little brother asks what it is. The older says "that's her nipple." "What's it for?" "It's to feed babies. Mum fed us with hers." "How do you know, you can't remember being a baby." "I don't remember her doing it to me, but I remember her doing it to you." And that was the end of that...On the one hand, the scene is unnecessary, on the other hand, I was very pleased that they handled it the way they did...let's hear it for promoting breastfeeding in the movies!!!

The Nanny Diaries
PG-13 for language
It looked cute, and I like Scarlett Johansson...great acting, intriguing premise...but all in all the movie was kinda dumb. I am glad I saw it...but don't feel the need to see it again, ya know? It's depressing to see how dysfunctional some families are.

PG-13 for intense situations, storytale combat, and a few scary moments
So, I guess I'm not the first to say it, but this movie reminded me of The Princess Bride or of Shrek. It's not that the story is even vagely similar, but that, like those others, it is a whole new kind of fairy tale. It's not quite little-kid-safe (just a little step up from Princess Bride though), but thoroughly enjoyable. It's full of those far-out things that normal people never think of--like a pirate who catches lightening to sell on the black market, or a kingdom where the heir to the throne is the one who can manage to kill off all his brothers, or an old stone wall which separates the magical world from the mundane...

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