Thursday, April 30, 2009

Summer break camps

Summer vacation is quickly coming upon us and I've been looking into several places to send my almost 5 year old son for classes. We are going to start homeschooling him this fall and I want to supplement my teachings with outside classes so he can have regular social interaction in a class form. In doing so, I've found several programs that run year round and would be nice for the summer time.

Did you know there's a Lego Learning Center in Southlake? It's the only one in North America and according to my son, it's super cool. They have several spring, summer, and winter camps. They also have regular sessions throughout the year and camps specifically for homeschoolers. They learn several skills including math, engineering, and fair play.

The Fort Worth Zoo has camps meant for homeschoolers, but anyone can attend. The children are in groups according to age and learn about various animals and their habits, etc. The Heard Natural Museum offers a similar course, but seems to focus more on local flora and fauna. How cool for a 5 year old to get a zoology class?

There are several local gymnasiums that have weekly drop in classes for under a couple bucks per child. These free play classes are always super fun and non competitive. You might also look into local music schools for summer programs and there are now cooking classes for children as well. I know that Whole Foods, Central Market, and Market Street offer cooking classes for children ages 5 and up. They also offer parent and child classes for ages 3 and up.

We're trying really hard to get our kids out more, but I find it difficult to motivate myself to go farther than the local park or the mall. It's often too hot or too cold outside for the kids and to be honest it's hard for me to get all three kids ready and out the door. So this year we have made the resolution to get our children more involved in activities outside of regular playdates or the play area at the mall. I hope I've given you a few ideas for your own kids and maybe we'll even see each other there!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Here a Cluck, There a Cluck

About 4 years ago, I decided to get some chickens. My husband and dad built a nice chicken house. It's of moderate size with several roosts and nest boxes. I think we started with about a dozen chickens. Over the years racoons, hawks, snakes, and cats wreaked havoc in our chicken yard. When our numbers dwindled, I'd buy a few more. Last year we had a terrible time with the coons, and eventually lost our last chicken to a hawk. Since I was busy with a new baby I didn't bother to replace them. Lately, though, I've been considering getting back into the chicken business.

We have an area fenced off around the chicken house. Originally we had a garden there (the fence was to deter deer and rabbits). The chickens roamed around the garden, eating all the pests off our plants. They didn't do too much damage to the plants. Since the chickens could fly over the fence we opened the gate and let them run around the yard, too. A little before dark they'd head back to their house. We had to shut them up at night in order to avoid serving an all-you-can-eat buffet to the racoons.

Chickens are fun to watch, especially banties (they're a miniature variety). No chickens are noted for their intelligence, but banties seem to be a little smarter. Olivia enjoyed feeding them and watching them (and chasing them). Jesse enjoyed watching them, too, even though he was tiny when we lost the last of them.

When you have chickens, it's nice to be able to run outside and grab some eggs. You know what they eat and that they run around outside all day, so you know they produce good eggs. Likewise, their meat should be healthier than what you can get at the grocery store. Also, chicken litter makes wonderful organic fertilizer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a day

I am so exhausted that I can't see straight. One child has a high fever and puked red juice and grapes all over my parents carpet. Another child has a mild fever and two teeth just breaking the gums. Of course, she doesn't want to be outdone by her brother so she's puking all over the carpet too. This is a result of her over eating everything in sight. The third child is fine, but he's warm and I have a sneaking suspicion that he might not be feeling good as well.

Some days as a mother are just hard. Just honest to goodness back breaking, exhausting work. I am covered in puke, but haven't had the energy to change and I've been scrubbing said puke out of the carpet all day. I need a break. But, I'm a mom and this is what we do. I'm sitting here typing this rant and I'm listening to my daughter cry because she's feeling ignored since I'm not holding her. I want to cry, but as soon as I look at her she breaks into a huge grin and her gap toothed smile makes me smile too.

I love my children. Yes, it's hard to have three small children. Some days are harder than others. But, everyday is filled with so much love. My pukey child only wants me to hold him and snuggle him. He hates the cold washcloths I'm using to bring down his fever, but he trusts me when I say it'll help him feel better and allows me to lay the cold cloth on him. I am so tired but I feel so loved that I will find the strength to get through this day so when I lay down tonight I will know that I did my best in caring for my sick kids.

Mother's Day is coming up and I want to remind everyone that moms are special every day. Not just on that Sunday in May. We all work so hard and I want to tell every one of you that I'm proud of you. It's not easy to be a mom. It's long hours and selfless dedication, but the rewards are great and it takes a strong woman to be a good mom. Happy early Mother's Day and happy late Earth day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Off to a Good Start

I recently read "The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood" by William Sears, M.D., Martha Sears, R.N., James Sears, M.D., and Robert Sears, M.D. I was in the middle of it when I came across this article which states that 18.4% of 4-year-olds in the United States are obese. 4-year-olds!

Although "The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood" is directed to parents (particularly those with young children), the information put forth would be beneficial to everyone. At the beginning of the book, the authors list 10 changes every family must make. The rest of the book is devoted to explaining how and why to make these changes. I've listed them below, along with some examples.

1. Shape young tastes early.
2. Feed your family the right carbs. (fruits, beans, peas, nut butters, soy foods, veggies, whole grains, yogurt)
3. Feed your family the right fats. (avocado, flaxseed oil, nut butters, nuts, olive oil, seafood, seeds)
4. Feed your children grow foods. (avocados, beans, blueberries, eggs, flaxseed meal, nuts, oatmeal, salmon, spinach, tofu, tomatoes, yogurt)
5. Feed your family fill-up foods. (apples, beans, beef, cheese, cherries, eggs, fish, grapes, nuts, oatmeal, olive oil, oranges, salads, soybeans, vegetables, whole-grain breads and pasta)
6. Begin the day with a brainy breakfast. (A brainy breakfast includes protein, fiber-filled carbs, omega-3 fats, and minerals such as calcium and iron.)
7. Raise a grazer.
8. Feed your child's immune system. (chili peppers, cold-water fish, flaxseed oil, fruits, olive oil, nuts, spices, vegetables, whole grains, wild game meats)
9. Raise a lean family. Get active as a family.
10. Teach your children to be wise supermarket shoppers. (mainly shop the perimeter, buy whole grains, buy mostly grow foods, read labels carefully)

The authors note that by not feeding your children anything containing high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils ("trans fats"), or any color additive with a number symbol attached to it (e.g., blue #1, yellow #5, red #40), you'll have gone 90% of the way toward de-junking your child's diet.

You can find a wealth of information at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth Day Sale at! Save 20%

Just a quick announcement to let everyone know that we're having a fabulous STOREWIDE sale in honor of Earth Day!

Head over to and save a whopping 20% on everything ~ yes, even clearance! Just use coupon code "EARTHDAY2009" at checkout :)

Thanks and enjoy your most beautiful day!! <3

You are beautiful just the way you are.

I recently went with a friend to her breast augmentation consultation. She has lost lots of weight over the past couple of years and in the process she lost a big portion of her breast size and firmness. So, she has made the decision to "buy her self image back" as she put it.

While we were at the doctor's office, there were several brochures and medical magazines on different procedures that were available. One magazine called for a "mommy makeover". It had a checklist of various items ranging from belly firmness to breast floppiness. If you checked one or more box then you were instructed to see the corresponding surgeries that would make you look beautiful again.

I was appalled by that article and survey. I am a young woman with three small children. I often have days where I lament the loss of my pre-baby body. I look at my breasts and wish they were perky again and I didn't have that "mommy apron" belly. But you know what? I GREW humans! I made life three times in my belly. I have love scars not "war wounds". I am proud of every stretch mark. My husband cherishes my fleshy hips and thicker thighs because he knows I'm eating well and nourishing his children while I'm pregnant and then while I'm nursing. I am a woman and I am a mother and I wouldn't change that for anything. I've learned to dress a little different and use some more drastic tricks to reshape or hold in various jiggly bits, but I'd rather buy less revealing clothes than have a major surgery that takes away my memories of carrying my children.

My friend feels she needs this surgery to make her feel like a woman again, and that's okay. I don't judge anyone for feeling that they need to have a procedure to make them feel attractive. You need to be happy with yourself and if cosmetic surgery makes you happy then go for it. My issue is doctors trying to make me feel ugly for having children. I was not one of the women who bounced back and lost all the weight and extra skin in three months. My daughter is 10 months old and I'm still a little bigger than I'd like to be, but I know that those extra pounds cushioned my baby in utero. I feel that my stretch marks are a road map of growth. I know which ones are from which pregnancy and I remember what months I got them in those pregnancies. They're badges of honor and I'm proud to carry them.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Let me start by reminding you that we use cloth diapers. Then you'll understand how I can devote a whole post to dirty diapers. The other day Jesse had THREE dirty diapers before naptime. Back in the good ol' days (before solid foods were introduced), I could treat wet and dirty diapers the same: toss them in the diaper pail, wash, dry. As long as your baby is exclusively breastfed, you don't need to rinse the diapers. Everything comes out in the wash. So easy! By the way, sunlight is a free and easy stain-remover. Now I have two choices...use a diaper sprayer or *gulp* dunk and swish. Looong before Jesse started solids I asked my husband to install a diaper sprayer. I LOVE it. I didn't realize how much until we spent a few days at my parents' house without one.

You can find "real" diaper sprayers for around $30 or more (on eBay and other sites), but I had read that many people make their own for less. Referring to this picture, Hubby bought some things at Lowe's and swiped the kitchen sprayer from my sink (I never used it for dishes). Apparently we don't have a standard toilet supply line, so he spent quite a bit of time collecting parts to make everything fit together. He thinks it would have been just as efficient to install a "real" one.

If you have a standard flexible toilet supply line and prefer step-by-step directions, here is a tutorial I recently found. Hubby thinks you should have a turn-off valve between the T-fitting and the diaper sprayer, as does one of the tutorial's commenters, because a kitchen sprayer isn't meant to have constant pressure. Either way you go, you won't be sorry. When Jesse has a dirty diaper, I turn on my sprayer, hold the diaper over the toilet (seat up), and spray away. Then the diaper goes in the pail until wash day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Yay! Spring is in the air!

I recently went to the grocery store and came home with a bounty of vegetables and fruits. Everything is becoming in season and everything is super cheap! Yae! We got cantaloupe, all kinds of berries, bell peppers, even artichokes for super cheap. Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables, but they're normally very expensive so we aren't able to buy them fresh on a normal basis. Having freshly steamed whole artichokes was a special treat!

I highly recommend growing veggies and fruits in your garden like Rachel does, but if you've got a killer thumb (like me), then the grocery is the next best place. The Farmer's Market in Dallas should be filling up with lots of yummy goods right now also and they are usually inexpensive and it's a fun experience. I find that stores like Sprouts, Natural Grocer, and Whole Foods have great produce for a fair price and good selection.

I love springtime and all it's bounty. I get to cook with fresher ingredients and our menu is so varied according to what's in season. I like to ask my 4 year old what color he wants to eat today and we buy our veggies accordingly. He has fun and feels more involved in our menu planning. Don't forget to start going outside to grill. Get vitamin D from the sun and save some electricity!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nursing in Public

Earlier I was trying to remember the last time I saw someone nursing in public (other than at a La Leche League meeting). It was March 2. I remember because we were at Dr. Seuss's birthday party at the Nacogdoches Public Library. Before that...I can't remember. I don't feel we should run away and hide to nourish our babies, nor do I think we should bare all. I've breastfed my babies at weddings, funerals, the library, WalMart, restaurants, school, church, the mall, picking peaches, garage sales, relatives' houses, friends' houses, anywhere we happen to be. It can be done discreetly. Here are some ideas to help you.

* Nursing covers are available from several sources. I haven't tried these. One reason is that I don't think Jesse would tolerate it. You could just use a receiving blanket.

* A plain ol' t-shirt works great. Pull it up enough to allow you to get the baby latched on and you won't show much skin.

* A nursing tank underneath a button-up shirt is a nice combination. You can use the button-up shirt to cover what the baby doesn't. It doesn't even have to be a nursing tank. You could use a regular tank and pull it down or up for access.

* Nursing tops are also available from several sources. I would not recommend the kind with two layers. By the time I get the layers separated and Jesse hits his target, he could've been halfway finished if I'd just pulled up my shirt.

* When wearing just a button-up shirt, try lifting it from the bottom (you may need to unbutton a few bottom buttons) instead of unbuttoning the top. It's easier to stay covered, especially if your baby gets distracted and pulls away quickly.

* Wear your baby while you breastfeed. Mei tais, wraps, ring slings, and pouch slings let you feed your baby while you wear him. Usually the baby carrier helps you stay covered.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kefir grains

This week I am going to go boldly where no one in my family has gone before. I am going to start using kefir grains. Or is it growing kefir grains? I am so excited and a little overwhelmed by my "natural" decision. My hubby is extremely skeptical to say the least, but he's humoring me at this point.

I have started to look at healthier things to eat and drink and thanks to our very own wonderful Crunchy Bunch Kathy, I have started into looking at eating some things raw. I started drinking kombucha which was an adventure in itself and has taken several tries before finding one that I could almost like. This journey into raw, healthy drinks got me on the road to kefir milk. My son is lactose sensitive and I thought that using kefir milk might work for him as a drink on a daily basis since it acts as a catalyst to help the body digest lactose. Kefir grains can feed, grow, and ferment on the milk of any mammal and even some milk alternatives such as soy milk, rice milk, or coconut milk. I am excited to try making kefir milk from coconut milk since I'm hoping the natural sweetness of the coconut milk will help cut the sour, fermented taste of the kefir milk.

I've read that you can use kefir milk in smoothies or even add flavorings to the milk itself. Some of the additives I want to try are agave nectar, honey, fruits, and maybe some vanilla bean. Several countries sell kefir milk as an all day beverage and it seems to be very popular all over the world. I've also been told that you can eat the grains themselves. These are very good since they have lots of probiotic bacteria. The milk has the same benefits as well.

Do you use kefir grains and/or milk? Do you have any tips or recipes for me to try? I am extremely interested in hearing your stories or recipes so please, please share! Otherwise, wish me luck and I'll keep you updated! Hopefully, soon I'll have enough grains to share with everyone!