Sunday, April 29, 2012

Their Furry Bodies, and Their Sticky Webs, and What do They Need All Those Legs for Anyway? I'll Tell You: For Crawling Across Your Face in the Middle of the Night. How do They Not Ruffle You?

It's been a boring week. Not in a bad way, just, uneventful; nothing worth posting about,

And then this morning happened.

First off, some background:
Yesterday Drek, Ash and I volunteered with Mormon Helping Hands. Our service project was to repaint a house for down syndrome adults. Before we painted, we scraped, before we could scrape,  we needed to take down the Christmas lights. The ladders hadn't been brought out yet, so I grabbed a plastic lawn chair, climbed up and started to take the lights down. Apparently I shouldn't have had such a big breakfast because the chair couldn't hold my weight. The plastic broke and I fell through the chair. It scraped up my legs and did something to my back. I feel really old saying it, but my back was really hurting for the rest of the day. It hurt when I went to bed last night, and it hurt this morning.

Okay, so this morning: My back hurt while I made Ash her breakfast. I even made her some hot chocolate (out of coconut milk, cocoa and xylitol). I got ready for church and picked out a dress for Ash. Drek got Ash dressed and the morning went on. Ash came into Ben's office and said "I'm sick." before throwing up the hot chocolate all over the carpet. She then turned around and threw up all over the hallway carpet. Drek and I rushed to make sure Ash was okay and clean up the many messes.

Drek decided he still needed to go to church and I would stay home with Ash. I loved this idea since my back was hurting and I didn't want to sit on church benches for three hours. Drek left, and I dressed Ash in warm pajamas and pushed the couch in front of the computer so we could snuggle under blankets and watch movies. I had Ash in my arms, and adjusted the couch, when I looked down, and there, right in front of me on the couch, right next to my hand, was the BIGGEST SPIDER EVER. One of those ginormous wolf spiders that were everywhere when we moved in and I haven't seen since.

Needless to say, I momentarily forgot about my back pain. Basically I screamed and jumped away, then screamed again and ran into the bedroom. Ash was like Did my mother just go insane? but was very comforting. "You okay? You scream? You okay?"

I made it to the bedroom, couldn't find my phone and broke down into a panic attack. I finally made it over to Drek's laptop and tried to call him through google voice, but couldn't get the audio to work. I resorted to texting him (something incoherent like EMERGENCY! Being attacked by monster arachnid!) and when he texted me back I heard my cell phone ping was able to find it. By the time Drek came home I had barricaded us into my room.

Drek didn't even have to ask the location of the spider. He bravely vacuums it up, slaying the mighty beast. He emptied the vacuum and then came to free his princesses from the tower. Ash was delighted to see her dad: "Hi daddy! Mommy scream! Mommy scream!" And I was delighted that my hero had come to save me.

Lets hope things go back to uneventful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hilarious! Earth Gets One Day. The Other 364 We're Cranking the AC in Our Hummer and Then One Day A Year, Ooh, Separate the Plastic.

I supposed I should do my annual Earth day post. I missed posting on the actual day (April 22) because I was at my Twin Cousin's wedding. They purposely scheduled it on Earth Day and did everything they could to make it a very earth-friendly wedding: They were married in a beautiful grove of trees. The decorations were all done by mother nature: nothing was added. The music was provided live by an amazing violinist. The bouquet was an artichoke and they even included a part about "I will leave the earth better than I found it" in their vows.  The whole thing was really beautiful.

We had a great time at the wedding. It was wonderful to see my Twin cousin and I love her new husband. I am so happy for them! I got to spend some time with family and take a road trip with Drek and Ash. We had a great time! 

So, what have I done since last Earth Day to save the planet? Well, I've planted twenty two trees (two of which died. Sigh.) four raspberry bushes, a blueberry bush and a strawberry patch.

Thank's to Drek's awesome birthday present, we recently started composting! 

We're trying to eat more local food. By "local" I mean "things we produce ourselves." We have a wonderful garden this year and should have lots of vegetables within the next few months. We got honeybees! Our hive is doing fantastic, I discovered I LOVE being a beekeeper and we'll be able to harvest our own honey in the fall! We did have chickens, up until last week when Sun, Charlotte, Anna Lucia and Ji Yeon were all eaten by a coyote. They didn't lay a lot of eggs, but we were getting three our four a week. Poor chickens. I suppose they were getting old. Anyway, we did still buy eggs, but it was either from a neighbor who owns lots chickens or our backyard neighbor. Our backyard neighbor has already started to raise a whole coop of chicks. In a few months they will be old enough for us to buy so we can have our own chickens again. 

 Recently I've decided that I just don't want to drink cow's milk until I can actually own the cow myself. That means for now and the foreseeable future we don't drink milk or eat cheese. I've also cut out sugar, which basically means I've taken one huge step towards Vegan this month. I still use butter and cream, though, because I'm lazy and they are delicious.

We're trying to use less gas: Drek rides his bike to work everyday and Ash and I either take the bus or ride our bike and bike trailer most places. I try to carpool as much as possible. 

Drek set up rain barrels to catch and store water so we can use that to water our trees and garden. I try to be really conscious about the electricity we use by making sure lights are turned off, things are unplugged when not in use, we don't leave phone chargers plugged in, and such. I've managed to get our bill down to $20-$35 per month. We still don't own a dryer so for a full year now I've been drying laundry on a clothesline, which is very eco-friendly. 

I've also tried to be more aware of packaging: When I'm shopping I mostly try to avoid packaging, but when it's unavoidable I try to buy as little packaging as possible. This has affected things like butter: I buy the brand that comes in a one pound block, rather than the little individually wrapped sticks. I've started saving my produce bags and taking them back to the store to re-use. I actually love doing this because it's so much easier to reach into my cart and pull out a bag to fill with apples, then to look around for the role of bags, navigate my cart/toddler over to it, pull one off, navigate back to the apples and then fill it. 

So, mostly this year I've just made little changes, but I use those changes almost everyday. I'm hoping they add to big things. I didn't have an awesome wedding to promote Earth Day, but I did attend one and that was very cool.

Goals for next year:

Make more of an effort to buy organic. I know it's healthier. I know it's better. It's just that it's more money and I hate spending money.

Produce a higher percentage my own food: Through gardening, chickens and honeybees!

Stick with no milk, no cheese, no sugar.

Reduce waste

Do another month of  self-imposed non-consumer store/shopping ban. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Right. Wasn't Here. Didn't See It. Couldn't Have Stopped You

Okay, I've been twenty-six for eleven days now. Maybe I should finally blog about it.

My birthday was on Easter this year. It's not the first time that unfortunate scheduling dilemma has cropped up. It's hard to celebrate Easter and a Birthday on the same day. Still, Drek surprised me by unveiling the super secret project he's been hammering away at for the past week: He made me a composter! My husband is a genius! Now, a composter might not shout "true love" to you, but I actually asked Drek for a composter and he went above and beyond to actually build me one. He is so amazing.

Drek's sister also surprised me by arranging a birthday hunt for me. I came out to the front of my house and found a card that said "Pull Here" attached to a string. I pulled the string down and on the other end was a balloon! Taped to the balloon was a little bag full of little squares of paper. A puzzle! Not a jigsaw puzzle, mind you, apparently that would be too easy. These were all straight edges with no design, just words, that I somehow had to piece back together. What fun! I don't know how long it took me, but I finally came up with this:

I went snooping along the fence and found this cleverly hidden: 

The pieces of paper are coupons from a few of my friends! They are things like "one free dinner" and "Free babysitting." Also, a rosebush, a hummingbird feeder and food and a bottle of the most delicious Japanese dressing ever. Is't that so sweet?! I loved it! It was such surprise and I was so thrilled that it was actually done on my birthday. My plan was simply to put of celebrating my birthday until next year, but there was this wonderful surprise. Other than that it seemed everyone else's plan was to still do birthday stuff this year, just not on the actual day: Drek took me out to dinner the night before, my friend took me out to lunch the day after, and I got a few packages in the mail last week:

One was a card from my parents. I opened it over breakfast. My breakfast was a banana (I only mention that because it becomes important). The front of the card had a picture of a monkey dressed up like a fortune teller. The inside of the card said: We see a great year in your future...or Banans. It's Unclear.  Best. Parents. Ever. I laughed and then had to read the card aloud to Drek who pointed to my breakfast and said "It's happening already!" It was a great card.

Close behind was a card from Mei-Mei. She's in the MTC so I was just excited to get a letter from her!

The next package was from Kristling: Two seasons of a new show to obsess over. Krisling is usually the one who introduces me to my favorite shows: Firefly, Lost, all thanks to Krisling. I'm only on episode four of this new one, but I'm already in love.

My friend made me (because she is a sewing genius) kitchen towels with bananas on them. They are adorable.

But the most touching present came before my birthday. My sister gave it to me early. She knew one of my favorite authors is Shannon Hale, and that I had just finished the Goose Girl series. She bought be my favorite book from that series and had actually gotten it signed by Shannon Hale (It says: For K La- May you find your voice and shout it to the world). But here is the best part: Shannon Hale asked if she (my sister) was a writer and my sister answered "My sister is."

Yeah. Basically I tear up every time I think about it. I have the best sister in the world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thank You, Dawson. Smile Everyone!

There are ten children in Drek's family. I assume with ten kids, family pictures are difficult, and it only gets worse when you add in-laws and grandchildren. I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong) the last picture with the entire family was taken around seven years ago. Since then, the family has changed drastically, adding fifteen new people, including me and Ash. Two years ago another family picture was attempted, but three people were missing from the photo shoot and the pictures turned out...comical. I still framed it and put it on the bookshelf (as it is the only picture of Drek's family with me and Ash) but I was holding out hope for a better one.

Back in March we were determined to get a good family photo! Drek's sister is an amazing photographer and she brought her professional camera up to make sure we would have high-quality pictures. Everyone was instructed what to wear, and a location with the perfect background and light was selected. We were still missing one person from the photo shoot, but we were determined to make it work with what we had! 

For the actual photo shoot, Ash wanted to be with her Daddy. I thought this over very quickly: doesn't the mother usually hold the child in family photographs? But why? What message are we sending with that subtle image? Is that my personal bias? Do I want to raise my kid with that same bias? If Drek wants to hold his child for a photo, why not?  And so Drek held Ash for the duration of the photo shoot. 

Ladies and Gentleman, I can now tell you why the mothers are traditionally the ones holding children in family photos: It is because fathers are completely oblivious to the fact their precious little angels have their finger up their nose for EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. Mothers are aware enough to notice and hold the child's hand before a single photo is taken, but Father's won't notice until several days later when the photos are emailed out and everyone is looking great except your kid, whose face is obscured by a finger jammed up a nose. Only then will they notice. 

Twenty-nine people in the photo. The lighting is perfect, everyone looks so nice, and then my child is right in the middle, making me question if I should use this photo to replace the last photo, or if I should just stick with what we've got. 

Luckily, Ben's sister photographer was prepared for such a disaster and took a single photo in a different location. That picture turned out great, at least as far as fingers and noses are concerned. I think that will be the one displayed in out living room. Until the next attempt...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

She's Exhausted from the Days Work. Uh, Not That it Was to Much, We, We Quite Enjoyed It...

Happy Passover! Okay, so it's not Passover. I think it ended yesterday, but that might not be accurate. I really wanted to celebrate it this year (It's an entire holiday devoted to my favorite Bible story!) and picked yesterday to celebrate (since I don't know how how to make a celebration weeks long) but I was too tired yesterday. I did it today instead. Hooray!

First off, I am not Jewish. Sadly, I don't know any Jewish people I can ask for help (or invite myself over to their party) and I've never been to a real Jewish Passover, so I had to rely on my books for information:

Yeah, those are children's picture books. So what? They were helpful.

With these books as my guide, I looked up Passover recipes online, then traditional Jewish recipes, then vegetarian Passover recipes. It was an adventure. At first I was surprised that so many people suggested Challah (pronounced Halla!) because I thought you weren't supposed to have any chometz, which I thought was yeast. I looked up the wiki on Chometz and still can't tell you what it is, but the important thing is it's not yeast. I suppose there might be a downside to the simplicity of my resources.

The whole thing required me learning a lot of new words:

Kugel, Matzo soup, charoset (which is amazingly delicious) hard boiled eggs, and just look at how beautiful my Challah turned out! 

This is my first attempt at Jewish food. I think it went well! We even had Matzo brie for breakfast! 

This was our sedar plate: 

I read that vegetarians can use a roasted beet instead of a shank bone and that it is even more effective because it has more blood. I also forgot the lettuce and didn't have any horseradish. sigh.

But dinner went great! And then we watched the Prince of Egypt. Next year in Jerusalem!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Buried My Easter Eggs Five Feet Underground. And I Left Loose Dirt to Indicate a Fresh Dig. Yeah, Under a Camoflauge Tarp Covered with Bricks and Broken Glass

To me, Easter means eggs. My favorite thing is coloring them, my second favorite thing is eating all those dyed hard boiled eggs.

When I was a child, our next door neighbor threw a huge Easter Egg hunt and brunch at her house. She invited all her children, grand children, great grand children, the whole neighborhood, anyone who had ever lived in the neighborhood, and anyone else that wanted to make her Easter Egg hunt a part of their Easter tradition. The festivities were always on Saturday and I grew up assuming all Easter Egg hunts took place the day before Easter. I actually really like that tradition and hope that my daughter grows up with the same belief.

Anyway, she didn't use plastic eggs for her hunt, she used real hard boiled eggs. Her children colored a lot of them, but she needed more. My family volunteered and several years in a row I remember having two or three dozen eggs per family member. Coloring eggs was a serious job in my house.

Unfortunately I haven't found such a demand of colored hard boiled eggs in Sunland; it seems most people use plastic eggs. Still, last Wednesday our little family colored three dozen Easter Egg. Our neighbor hid the eggs in her front yard for Ash to find. Maybe three dozen eggs is a little much for one two year old? I don't think so. She's actually at the perfect age for Egg hunts and it was high entertainment just to watch her.

After that hunt we went to another one at our church where Ash discovered plastic Easter eggs:
That same day we did all the Easter basket stuff so that on Sunday we could focus more on the Christ aspects of Easter. We went to church, had the missionaries over for lunch, and then had a huge dinner with our neighbors.

I worked really hard on the dinner. everything was made from scratch: Red Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Wild Rice casserole, Orange Rolls and Deviled Eggs. I took a little artistic licence with the deviled eggs:

See? We have to color all those Easter Eggs so we can use them in adorable recipes like this!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Or What? Are You Gonna Release the Hounds, or the Bees, or the Hounds with Bees in Their Mouths so Every Time They Bark at You They Shoot Bees at You?

So there I stood, in a swarm of 15,120 honey bees looking for their queen. Actually, I was looking for the queen myself. Yesterday, when the postman dropped the box of three pounds of bees on my doorstep, the package arrived with instructions that said what to do with the queen, but didn't specify where she was located. After dumping the bees into the hive (No small feat, but a great workout for your arms) I opened a can hoping to find the queen inside: nope, just more bees.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour (time slows down when you have have thousands of little stinger-ed creatures  flying all around you), Drek pointed out a small metal hook in the box. The queen was put safely into the hive and then I assembled the rest of the hive. I started to walk away, but the bees followed me. I think that sugar water I sprayed all over their frames must have gotten onto me. They thought I was dinner.

I took off my gloves and one brave bee landed on my hand. It walked around for a bit before stopping on the top of my wedding ring. It seemed very content there. So content I had to gently blow it away to make it leave.

I'm worried the queen didn't survive the shaking, but we have to wait a few days before finding out. Other than that, it was a great experience! I look forward to a long and productive relationship with my new hive!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Trying To Make Breastfeeding Normal Part 2

Back in October I went to a baby shower with a Breastfeeding Basket for the mom. I love the idea of a Breastfeeding Basket; giving a gift that is actually useful at a baby shower, normalizes breasfeeding, supports the mother and so on, but after I gave the gift my self-confidence dropped and I wasn't sure it was such a good idea.

I posted about it and you, wonderful readers, really helped me with your comments. So much so that I went to another baby shower last week and once again made a Breastfeeding Basket as a gift. In this basket I included a little baby shower greeting card with a list inside of why I gave her all this random stuff:

Dear (Mother's name), 
 Congratulations!! I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world! I wanted to get you a Breasfeeding Basket because nothing I can get your new little one is as good as what you can give them. First, the basket. Just keep it stocked with water, snacks and books so you can move it around with you whenever your little one gets hungary, then you’ll have what you need within reach! 
Water: Make sure you stay hydrated! Not only will it make you feel more energetic, keep you healthier and slim you down faster, but it helps with milk production! 
Mother’s Milk Tea: Just in case you have supply difficulties. You can also try Fenugreek pills or sprinkle Brewer’s Yeast on your food. 
Luna Bars: Just a little snack in case you get hungry while nursing! 
Motherlove Nipple Cream: This stuff was a lifesaver for me! 
Booby Tubes: I didn't hear about them until after my baby, but I hear they are wonderful! 
All my love, 
-K La

I didn't include Fenugreek pills in this basket like I did the last one for a few reasons: one, the last mother was planning on a C-section, which can cause milk production problems. This mother was't planning a C-section. Second, I don't really feel comfortable giving pills as gifts and third, I don't want to cause milk production problems by predicting milk production problems.

I think next time I do a breasfeeding basket I'll include a book or some sort for entertainment while nursing. I should finds a good book on Breastfeeding. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Well, Let Me See. Oh Yes, Lovely. Lembas Bread. And Look! More Lembas Bread

The 182nd annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was Saturday and Sunday.

Once again we pitched our tent round about the computer. And once again I wanted to only eat food our of our 72-hour kits during the 48 hours of General Conference. This time it went much better. Last October, after discovering MRE's were not delicious, I went to the grocery store to find good I could cram into a backpack and eat six months down the road. I wanted food that was not only tasty, but also healthy (in this case, "healthy" means no MSG or HFCS). I wanted food that I after eating for 42-72 hours, would not make me feel sick or starving. This is my report:

Breakfast on Saturday was Pop Tarts and R.W. Knudsen Juice boxes. The poptars were tasty, but very sugary. I think they are more desert than breakfast. Maybe when I restock I should go with more fruit bar type stuff.  The juice box was a huge hit with both my taste buds and with Ash. I will definitely restock that one.

Lunch was the St. Dalfour Ready to Eat Gourmet on the Go meals. I was very excited when I found those on the shelf at my local health food store.  They have vegetarian and non- vegetarian options, they don't expire until 2013 and they come with a fork. It's perfect for 72-hour kits. I got one of each flavor and we taste tested them today. I'll re stock our favorite ones.

Dinner was the Pacific organic Poblano Pepper and Corn soup. It was actually very tasty. We heated it up and Drek and I split one box. I will get that again and also add some sort of crackers.

Snacks were Lara Bars and chocolate coconut milk. When I restock I'd like to add dried fruits and almonds.

Breakfast on Sunday was one i was excited about: cold cereal! It comes in it's own bowl so I just had to pack a spoon. Horizon organic milk comes in little juice boxes that you don't have to refrigerate so we just poured it straight into our bowls. There was enough milk in one little juice box for two bowls. That't a perfect 72-hour kit meal!

Lunch was more Gourmet on the Go and Pacific soups (by this time we were hungry). Dinner was MRE's we had left over from October's conference.

Around five our wonderful friends came over and brought us delicious fresh-made brownies. By this point we were all ecstatic to see "real food". Those brownies were the best brownies I have ever eaten.

I think I'm on the right track with my 72-hour kits. The next step is to go the store, get everything on my "restock" list and see if I can't get some more good ideas. Any suggestions?