Friday, December 30, 2011

Projects for 2012

Here are some projects I would like to make:

Any more ideas for me?

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book of the Week: The King, The Mice, and The Cheese

We get on book kicks, and our current one is The King, the Mice, and the Cheese.  It is a book from my childhood collection.

It is a sweet story about a king whose cheese is so delicious that the local mice come and take up residence.  Then his wise men call in a series of animals to get rid of the previous animal until they are back at the mice.  In the end, the king comes to his own solution (without consulting the wise men): to call a meeting with the mice and agree to live together, but not antagonize each other.

It is very sweet, and interesting, and has a bit of a moral at the end.  It also teaches a little about other cultures and places, and the drawings give us a lot to discuss, since they are full of facial expressions and numbers of animals to count, and cause and effect, among other ideas.  It is one I really enjoy reading over and over and over and over.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Travel with Two Kids (Baby and Preschooler)

We made it!  There... and back...

I made a monster list before we went, and ended up bringing all of it except the music toy, which I thought I could substitute out for a different mobile.  Alas, the other music didn't do it for the baby, so we slept sans that part of our routine for a week.

So~ we had a good time, except the series of tiny naps the baby took (in lieu of long naps).  Sleep is HARD when traveling... blame it on altitude, time change, teething (a tooth actually did cut through while away!), different bed, whatever.  I just always get less when we are away.  And my base amount is barely enough.  But anyway... on to the highlights...

The preschooler learned to ski...

The baby discovered doorstops as fun...

And ate some good food...

We got THREE pairs of new shades... (yes, I forgot mine and the kids needed some for the sun.  We also forgot sunscreen)...

We rode the bus (which I think was the highlight for a certain preschooler in the crowd)...

And we celebrated Hanukkah...

And now we are home!  Whew... and happy holidays...

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to Nap Baby while Caring for Toddler

Uh, I'm trying to take a nap here...

Isn't that the million dollar question?  Basically, how do you give your baby the attention they need while not ignoring your other children's needs for attention?  My toddler suggested we get four mommies: one for baby, one for him, one for daddy, and one who goes to Yoga.  

I posed the query to my Facebook friends, and got a pretty good array of answers.  There were the technology answers like put the older child in front of the TV/ netflix/ iPad app/ etc.  Then there were a few creative answers, like set the older child up with a snack or an art project, then slip away to put the little one down for a nap.  I liked the inclusive answer, which was to allow the older child to be in the room, as long as they were silent and non-disruptive.  

We have tried a few different options, and none have been ideal.  I feel like the toddler is constantly waiting while I am in the other room with his brother.  Then I let him in the room, and he finds it excruciatingly difficult to be quiet, so then he has to leave again.  I am trying to tell myself that he is learning patience and that he is not the center of the world.  It must be hard on a little fellow, although I do agree that he must learn this at some point.  Our best days are those when daddy is not only home, but more interesting than mommy.  

Another solution we are working on is to time the nap just right, and to have a short nap time routine that is the same every time in order for him to fall asleep more quickly.  This seems to be working, although our current struggle is to get the baby to remain asleep for longer than about 45 minutes (he is now just over 6 months old).  He will go back to sleep if we do the routine all over again at his first awakening, but the toddler is then asked, without warning this time, to remain in his current activity or swap to a solo activity, when mama runs into the other room to do the nap routine again.

Do any of you have any ideas that could help? Preferably without technological assistance.

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Reversible Diaper Inserts

I was browsing at the EC Store and saw their SIMPLYinserts.  For $22, you get 4 double-sided diaper inserts.  One side is feel-dry and the other is feel-wet.  There is a soaker in the middle.

I thought it was a great idea to make some reversible diaper inserts, just for those times when you can't change baby right away and don't want them to get used to wet diaper on their bum.

To make these, I used the dimensions from the EC store (large as 5" by 13.5", though I could have also done small at 4" by 10").  I used an old golf shirt made out of wicking fabric as the feel-dry layer.  I used Zorb as the soaker, and sandwiched it between two layers of cotton birdseye.  So each one was a layer of blue wicking fabric, then birdseye, then Zorb, then birdseye.

To stitch these, I first made one seam down the center.  This was to hold the soaker in place.  Then I continued along the edges, using a wide zig-zag as a faux serge.  I alternated between folding the blue up and down because I wanted the birdseye's edges covered up so it wouldn't ravel.  I also didn't want extra thickness at the edges.

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Pattern Review: Tee for Two by Patterns by Figgy

This pattern by Figgy's actually helped me get over my fear of making shirts and I made a shirt!  And it fits!

Don't worry, I still modified it.  I added cuffs at the ends of the sleeves (by using her collar method and halving the collar length on the pattern), hemmed the bottom, and hid the stitching inside instead of letting it show to the front.

Next time I make it, I am going to lengthen the collar piece, though, because it was a bit tight to get over the head.

Overall, I found the pattern easy to follow.  There were a lot of directions for how easy it was to make, which made it seem more complex than it actually was.

It also and printed a LOT of pages on my printer.  I should have looked through it first and not printed all the dress pages at the end.  The pdf was also set across the pages in a way that made me need to put a lot of little pieces together, but that is probably because I started with the smallest size instead of the biggest.

I am a little disappointed that it is a rough edge pattern (which is why I added arm cuffs and hemmed the bottom).  It also swings outwards a bit at the bottom.  I think I thought it was more of a t-shirt than a baseball shirt style for some reason.  Maybe next time I should embrace the baseball shirt style and use a different color for the arms and collar.

I am pretty excited that I made a shirt~ they have always seemed a bit difficult and now I know that is not true.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Packing List for Travel with Baby and Toddler, A to Z

Yes, we are going to do it.  We are going to leave the house with two children and sleep elsewhere.  We are going to travel there by airplane.  It is going to be winter there (we live in a semi-winter climate), and we plan on tubing and some of us will ski.

The place we will stay has beds and a crib, bath toys, a baby bath tub and towel, baby and toddler toys, a high chair, a full kitchen, toilet seat reducers and bathroom stools, appropriately sized ski clothes and ski gear and winter boots, a little sled, and a hot tub... should be fun...

A Menorah out of Blocks.
Regardless, we need to bring lots of our own stuff.  Here is our list-in-progress.  The baby is now 6 months old (read: eats food and is starting to crawl, but is mostly nursing and naps a lot), and the toddler is actually a 3.5 year-old preschooler.

  • airplane toys
  • apples (airplane food)
  • arrowroot powder (to make special holiday sugar, egg, and wheat-free cookies to eat when everyone else has sugar cookies)
  • baby legs
  • baby monitor
  • backpack
  • bathing suits
  • beef jerky (airplane food)
  • bibs
  • Blue, pillow (this is preschooler's special blanket and pillow)
  • boba 
  • camera
  • car seats
  • chargers 
  • chicken water and food (chore to do as packing)
  • clothing (yeah, I agree it is a bit nebulous. Refers to everyday stuff)
  • diapers, covers, overnights (ah, another nebulous one)
  • elephant music maker (music baby sleeps to)
  • gifts
  • green powder 
  • hats
  • IDs
  • itzbeen (baby timer)
  • jackets
  • kindle
  • long underwear
  • lovey (baby's)
  • luggage on wheels (we hook a car seat on top so the whole unit rolls together)
  • pills (prescriptions)
  • receiving blanket (for nursing cover or crawling mat or warmth on plane)
  • sleeping mats 
  • sleepsack
  • sling
  • thermometer, motrin, A+D
  • toiletries
  • vitamins
  • wet bag (for wet diapers)
  • wool socks
  • yoga shorts, sports bra
Wish us luck on our journey!!  And check out this cute post from Rookie Moms...
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What is Zorb? And Zorb 2...

In cloth diaper-making, there is the quest for the perfect fabric for the soaker (the inside part).  It must be highly absorbent (for pees) yet dry quickly (for washing).  It must be thin (for wearing).  It must soak quickly (as not to leak when it is peed on).  It must hold the moisture (until a diaper change).

There are many options for this piece of the diaper, and one option is Zorb.  Recently Wazoodle, the company who makes Zorb, introduced Zorb 2.  But what is it?  They won't say.  It is supposedly natural enough that it is okay against baby's sensitive skin.  From what I have read and seen, it most closely approximates a thick microfiber shammy.  

The original Zorb used to come in blue but now it is white.  It comes by the yard or as pre-cut soakers.  It is fairly thick, sort of like felt.  And it falls apart in the wash when not sandwiched between other fabrics.  But it is highly absorbent and really fabulous at absorbing quickly and holding the moisture, and at drying quickly after a wash.  Though to get it to hold moisture, you need to have a layer of a natural fabric between layers of it (if you use more than one layer in an item); for example, you must put a flannel layer between your Zorb layers as the soaker.

Zorb II is possibly Wazoodle's fix for the stiffness of the original Zorb, and its lack of being a standalone fabric.  It comes in quilted or dimpled, and in a cream color.  I have found it not as absorbent as Zorb, and it takes much longer to dry.  There is an advantage to being able to use it right on the skin, but the edges must be completely covered (not just serged or zig-zagged over) or it sheds its insides, which are stringy white pieces of fabric which look like thin Zorb.  It is quite absorbent, but not really a miracle fabric like I found Zorb to be.

These are baby pants I made out of Zorb 2.  I used FOE (fold over elastic) on the hem and waistband.  The inner seams shed even though I zig-zagged an overstitch on the seams.  These are nice instead of a diaper to hold a pee.

These are toddler pants with FOE on the hem and sherpa and hidden braided elastic on the waistband.  The inside seams also shed.  I made these for warmth, since the material is a nice winter-weight quilted thickness.

These breast pads have Zorb inside.

These lap pads are Zorb 2 with a cotton binding on one and FOE on the other.  They seemed to leak through when the baby peed on them and sat in that spot-- ie the moisture didn't distribute far enough to allow the excess fabric to help hold it (it didn't soak fast enough, maybe).  In the background is an orange-ish pad.  It is cotton on the outside and Zorb on the inside.  Zorb works great for piddle pads.
Other Zorb posts: here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here  Pin It

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Food Allergies - Breastmilk

This little angel has some allergies to foods Mama has been passing through in her milk. The good news is that an elimination diet seems to be working. That is also the bad news, though it is good discipline practice to stick to a diet with eliminated items.  

But his symptoms seem to be disappearing.  He had a red rash on his bottom, and a face rash at one point, as well as night wakings with gas and leg kicking and obvious discomfort (we treated him with Colic Calm, which worked to ease his pain on two occasions~ I didn't want to mask the symptoms, but I also didn't want him to be in pain!).  He also had little pimple-type bumps (excema) on his fingers and toes and ankles that has disappeared.

The idea behind an elimination diet is to keep a log and notice symptoms and try and link them back to what was eaten.  The tricky part is that some foods will linger and reactions can appear up to two weeks after a suspect food has been eaten.  That is why some, including the GAPS Diet followers, say that discovering the offending food is nearly impossible.  

Others say to give it a shot, and try to remove foods and see if symptoms clear. Sears and Sears are one resource who, in their Sleep Book, make a list of what they call the Nasty 9, or foods which are the usual suspects.  Here they are:

Nasty 9
Dairy Products
Egg Whites
Tree Nuts

They say if eliminating these doesn't work, to try elimination of the Other Suspects:

Other Suspects
citrus fruits

If you take all of these out for two weeks, and still can't find the offenders, then they say to remove everything except the items listed as the Desperation Diet-- and to only eat these things for two weeks.  Then add foods back in, one every four days, and notice and log if the symptoms reappear.  

Desperation Diet
potatoes (white or sweet)
rice (or millet) - include flour, cakes, cereal, bread

Other books, like Is This Your Child, explain that foods come in families and give food family lists.  For example, someone who reacts to banana will possibly also have issues with avocados, since they are in the same food family.

It is also interesting to me that food allergies run in the family, so if these don't work, then ask what your parents and siblings have reactions to or love or don't like (we are often allergic to foods we love or hate) and try to remove these.

For us, we have identified egg, dairy, wheat, pineapple, and the cabbage family as probable suspects.  After I can be free of these for two full weeks, then I will be able to see if I am right or still have detective work to do.  Then I will be able to do "tests," and add one food back in and wait four days and see if there is a reaction.  I will first test butter, then kale, then yogurt, then broccoli and cauliflower.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Recipe: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Latkes (and regular)

3 eggs (3 T flaxseed meal soaked in 1/2 cup water for at least 10 minutes if egg-free)
3 cups sweet or regular potatoes (or a mix), grated and drained (food processor)
2 T grated onion
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 T flour (rice flour if gluten free)
1 t baking powder
olive oil for frying

Mix ingredients in large bowl.  Heat oil about 1/4" deep in skillet.
Place mixture in and flatten.  Fry both sides. Take out onto paper towels or brown grocery bags.

Serve with applesauce, cranberry-apple sauce, sour cream, or dripped yogurt (cultured cream cheese).

Happy Hanukkah!
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The regular version of this and other recipes are in the cookbook my brother and I wrote, Marsha's Kitchen.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011


We got to pick a LOAD of persimmons off a local backyard tree this year.

These are Hachiya Persimmons, which have a pointy bottom.  This means that they are full of tannins, and astringent if you eat them too early.  You need to wait until they are soft like a water balloon.  When that happens, you can slice them and eat them with a spoon, or puree them and add them to recipes.

I found a lot of recipes on the internet, and haven't tried any yet.  They are just so delicious raw, and have been ripening slowly, so we have been eating our way through them.  We did have about six come ripe at once, and pureed them, and froze the puree to cook with later.

Better than these are Fuyu Persimmons.  These have been at our local Farmer's Market for a few weeks now and we have been eating them hard and raw plain.  They also are excellent sliced in salad (spinach salad with almonds, for example).  They are sweet and tart, and delicious.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tutorial: Kindle Sleeve

My new Kindle Fire is awesome. It is so awesome that I want to take it somewhere with me.  But I don't want it to get scratched in my bag.  So I made this sleeve for it.  I used fleece for the inside and a quilter's hard cotton for the outside.
First, I put the Kindle onto the fabric.  I cut around it, leaving a generous seam allowance.

Then I cut the same out of the outer fabric.

I stitched them, front sides together, leaving a hole for turning.

Then I turned it and pushed out the corners.  Next I folded it in half and stitched three sides together (actually two because the fold counts as a side).  The turning hole got closed.

Here it is with the two sides stitched together.

Then I folded over the top and stitched it in place.

To make a closure, I took an old sweatpant lace and stitched it to the back in a loop.

Then I added a button on the front.

Other closure options would have been snaps or another way of doing the button, or more of an envelope with a tab over the top.  I chose not to do these because I didn't want any of these to scratch the Kindle on its way in and out.  I could have marked the fabric in advance and gotten one side of a snap inside, between the layers, then made a fold-over tab, and maybe I will do this next time.

It fits!  I knew it would.... since I tested it after each step...
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dunstan Infant/ Baby Language

Just learned about Dunstan -- supposedly across all languages, all infants make these sounds to mean these things -- then they start to cry.  This is their "pre-cry" language. What a great tool to help us understand what our babies are saying!

Heh=physical discomfort

This is the 1st word (the video says it is the 1st 3, but it is cut off. I need help finding a link for the other 2!):

Here are the last two words and some examples:

Here is the Oprah piece on Dunstan.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baby Led Weaning for Baby #2

We just started foods for Baby #2. We are doing baby-led weaning again (previous post here).  It is an easy way to introduce foods to baby, and lets them choose what to eat, learn how to chew at their own pace, and gets them to love real foods in all sorts of textures.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Recipe: Cultured Cream Cheese

Cultured cream cheese is just a fancy way of saying dripped yogurt, or even Greek Yogurt.  This is delicious on crackers or bread, or even as a dip for veggies.

To make it, place your colander into a bowl.  Line it with a cloth (cheesecloth or similar~ even a light dish towel or cloth napkin would work).

Dump a quart or two of full-fat organic yogurt into the colander.  Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Save the liquid~ it is called whey and is useful for fermenting or it is high in probiotics and you could eat it plain or in a smoothie.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Red Light Green Light Tricycling

What a fun way to move around the neighborhood~ playing red light, green light~ plus it is great for practicing gross motor skills and listening skills...
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Train Trainers

I have a helper who likes to go into my stash and choose fabrics.  This time, he chose train fabric, and said we should make little brother train trainers.  Very sweet, since we have been using training pants lately.  Pretty punny for a 3 year old... so I indulged him...

We used my favorite waterproof training pants pattern but made them non-waterproof and used a thicker soaker.  For the outside, we used the train flannel.  The inside is Zorb 2.  I used the scraps from the flannel and Zorb 2 for the soaker.  I used lastin for the elastic and Kam snaps to close.  I modified the pattern to close it on all the sides and turn them, instead of leaving the sides open and closing them with FOE.

They turned out nicely, though a bit thick (read: takes a long time to dry and bulky) and diaper-like for my taste.  

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Baked Applesauce/ Baby Food

Step 1: Slice organic apples in half.  Place face-down in baking dish.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 350.
Step 3: Add 1/2 qt. homemade bone broth as baking liquid and a cinnamon stick.
Step 4: Bake for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Mash.

Step 6: Enjoy!  The adult dishes can use the skins and the kiddie cups could use the smoother applesauce.

Also good with pears.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recipe: Soaked and Dehydrated Nuts

There are some anti-nutrients in some of the foods we eat.  These little buggers take the nutrition out of foods we think are good for us!  The good news is that we can help neutralize ones like phytic acid in grains and buts by soaking them prior to eating (read more here or in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions).

One of our favorites that we like to soak are nuts.  We especially love soaked and dehydrated walnuts, though we also like to do almonds.  We dehydrate them after soaking because they will only keep for around three days wet, and need to be kept refrigerated.  I don't really like cold food.  Plus, the taste of wet nuts is slightly acquired.  Soaked and dehydrated nuts taste more like what we have eaten before, only better.  The flavor is enhanced.

Bag of raw walnuts or almonds
Filtered Water

Empty bag into bowl.  Fill with water.  Can rinse a few times of water looks cloudy.  Leave on counter overnight (beware of little fingers eating "wet walnuts" while they soak!).  Drain and place in dehydrator.  Set to 110 degrees in order to keep digestive enzymes intact.  Let run until desired dry-ness.  We usually run for around 12 hours, or until we bite into them and they are crunchy.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Preschooler Booster Seat

He came up with this himself. It is four chairs stacked. It happens to be just the right height and width for our little guy.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Facing Our Fears

This is a drawing of the "yap yap doggie" at the end of our block. It is a dog that one of the neighbors keeps in their front yard tied to his doghouse. Whenever we walk or bike past, he pops out like a jack-in-the-box and yaps like mad. We always jump. On more than one tricycling occasion, a little someone has veered toward the edge of the road and almost gone off. Scary.

So we drew a picture. In this, you can see the yap yap doggie. There is also a baby yap yap dogie here. They both have collars on, and leashes. The doghouse has a lock. There is a bed in front, with a cozy blanket. You also see the owner here (his legs and shoes).  I drew and the aforementioned scared party told me what to draw.  We taped it to the wall.

In theory, I was hoping that having this around could help us walk past that house without fear.  So far, we are still avoiding the walk.  I suppose only time will tell.
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