Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Garden-Variety Healthy Kids

There is no greater gift than healthy children. My kids are what I term "garden-variety" meaning that they are just good healthy kids. They aren't especially spectacular in any particular area, but they are good and strong and are growing just as they should.

This is a gift!

I don't know why some kids get so sick all of the time, or why so many children are prone to severe food allergies. I have my suspicions on some of it. I think that scoring a garden-variety kid is part good fortune and part behavior.

Some of these may sound silly or superstitious! But here are some behaviors that I believe help to encourage one's odds of having healthy children.

1. Don't use hormone contraceptives (birth control pills are the most common). I've read way too many articles and have seen enough presentations here on the ol' 'net to convince me that the hormones in birth control not only kill a woman's libido (which is not a fun way to live!) but can actually disrupt a woman's natural mate selection process way back in the beginning. Now some may say "Well why is a woman on birth control before she even meets somebody?" And the answer to that is "I don't know, but it seems to happen a lot." While on birth control a woman is more likely to be attracted to someone who is genetically similar (and this isn't about looks, but it's more of a pheromone thing) and that isn't ideal for future offspring. A woman who is not on any hormones or drugs is more likely to choose a man whose genetics are dissimilar and their children have a higher likelihood of being healthy.

2. Eat real food, whether pregnant or not. I find that some people when asked "do you have a good diet?" say yes but when asked more about it say that they drink Naked Juice smoothies and eat protein bars and veggie chips. This is not real nutrition, this is someone trying to "buy" nutrition. Buying these foods with an overall diet of processed junk food isn't going to fill the nutritional gaps. A woman who eats good food, tends to cook good food for her husband, tends to eat well in pregnancy, and tends to feed her children well. All of this leads to good health for the entire family. When I'm feeding my children I always have in mind what they've eaten for the day. So if they have something junky, I also know that it will get balanced out by real food. For example, my son had cereal and milk this morning (which I don't consider much of a breakfast), string cheese for snack, Pasta-Roni with some hot dog cut in for lunch, a cookie, and if he asks me to eat again I'll offer him an apple. I keep the whole day in my head and make sure they don't have one junky thing after another after another.

3. Protect their immune system- avoid antibiotics!! Antibiotics are so bad for a child's developing immune system and if a child is suffering from conditions that seem to require their use, I would absolutely encourage a mother to become their child's personal detective to figure out what is the cause. Also, many conditions can be cured via natural remedies. We want to help the body heal itself, not kill the entire bacterial system of the gut. A body that heals itself is so much stronger! We want our children's immune systems to be strong. I have never had to give my two older children antibiotics for anything, not even an an ear infection. If they complain of a hurting ear, I have them lay down with that ear up, and put warm mineral oil and garlic juice down in the ear and have them chew gum. They lay that way watching a movie and chewing gum and this has always worked to help the ear drain. I do the drops while they take a nap too. It works! Now, the little one has had to have antibiotics twice for bronchitis. The second time she got bronchitis, I started thinking "What is causing this to happen?" I know that milk causes mucous to form and I realized that my allowing her to have a sippy cup of milk before bed and naptimes was likely contributing to the build up of mucous in her chest. So I stopped that right away. Most doctors don't have the time to really delve into a child's nutrition and so it's up to caring parents to think and research and not always just rely on prescription meds. Furthermore, most illnesses heal themselves. A few days of TLC and there is really no need to visit a doctor at all. (Apparently this mom agrees! Just saw this article today.)

4. Nutrition is far more important than what height/weight percentile your child is in. I personally believe that the AAP is partially responsible for childhood obesity. Why? Because parents get really freaked out by their child's height/weight percentile and will over-feed their children to get this number higher. The fact is that it has been drummed into many people that 90% is an A and 50% is an F. Not really understanding the nature of percentiles (and many less educated people really don't understand this), I have personally seen children in the 50th percentile have freaked out moms who complain that their child doesn't eat. And so what do they do? Buy Jimmy Dean sausage sandwiches because "That's all she'll eat for breakfast!" I'm not making this up. It is no surprise to me that now at 10 years old that particular child is very heavy. I wish pediatricians would just smile and say "Everything looks good!" and not even share the percentiles as a routine part of the visit. Too many parents just don't get it. I also wish that when the child is in a low percentile that the doctor would look holistically at the child and ask about nutrition etc... My oldest daughter was in the 5th percentile for weight when she was 12 months. But she was very active, had good skin color, bright eyes, slept well, pooped and peed well, and was developmentally right on target. And still this doctor hyper-focused on her weight. The truth is that she was just a tiny kid and at 7 years old is STILL a tiny kid! My cousin (who is now 22 and at the Berkley School of Music in Boston) wasn't even on the growth chart until he was 6 years old. I also have a friend whose daughter is above the weight percentiles and the family eats super-healthy. Her daughter is just a bigger person and many women on her husband's side of the family are quite tall and big-boned. Holistic evaluation is so important.

5. Have a pet if possible and don't be a Lysol freak. Numerous studies have shown that when a child's environment is too sterile their body does not come into contact with enough bacteria to help their immune systems develop well. And so they get sick. A lot. Pets help by keeping kids around a certain amount of funk which is good. Dirt is good too. So if your kid needs a bath and your floor needs to be mopped and you prefer a sponge with water to antibacterial wipes then that's probably a really good thing.

6. Consider vaccinating the way you were vaccinated. Check out this 1983 vax schedule and compare to 2012. Dr. Lauren Feder believes we are trading acute self-limiting diseases for chronic disease. I believe the current vax schedule definitely contributes to the increase in severe food allergies. At what point does something that is a health benefit become a liability? What will the vax schedule look like when our grandchildren are born? I'm not comfortable with this and basically want my children to have a similar combination of vaccinations that my generation had.

7. Fast food means oatmeal or eggs. Back in the days I figure kids ate the same ol' stew or sludge day after day. Oatmeal is nutritious and filling and fast and cheap. Eggs are nutritious and filling and fast and cheap. If I don't have time to make dinner then that's what the little people get! (And usually what I get too. With bananas and walnuts, oatmeal is super delicious. And made into a spinach and cheese omelette, eggs are yummers.)

8. Avoid all-day day care. The kids just get really sick there is no doubt about it. Germs are good and all, but lots of tiny kids all together is like germ-city. And it is hard for kids to get regular naps.  A chronically sleep-deprived kiddo is very grouchy and prone to illness. Which means more trips to the doc where they will likely be prescribed all kinds of antibiotics. Little ones need home the most.

I think the above behaviors have contributed to my kids being healthy. Some of it is just genetics and good fortune, but beyond that, we do have some decisions that can contribute to a foundation of health for our kids.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PHFR- Family Photos and Hair Dos


I'm always impressed by the photos Jason takes of the kiddos. I think he does a darn-near professional job!

The adorableness! Christmas card, #2 or #3 what do you think?


These kids do not lack for happiness. Holy Moly they play play play play laugh laugh laugh scream shout laugh run skid "you're it!" laugh run "last one's a rotten egg" and on and and on and on and on and on. 

I'm not kidding. Constant laughter and playing. Now why in the heck do I need to sign them up for after school "activities" that's what I want to know?

I love that they're buddies. 


I'm trying something new with my hair. You know how you're not really supposed to wash it every single day? Yes. Well, I'm not very good about actually doing something interesting with my hair, so many times I either have a flat ponytail or I put it up in a clip. {No I am not putting my hair in alien buns for daytime!}
So I've tried putting my hair in these buns before bed to hopefully have a bit of wave in the morning so my hair can look a bit fuller even if I do end up putting it in a ponytail. 

I'm still a little undecided. 


I'm back to doing puzzles. It must be a winter thing for me. I seriously feel like I invented sliced bread by realizing that putting the puzzle together on a foam board means that it can be moved around wherever and whenever you want. When I mentioned this to some other moms at preschool it turns out this is COMMON KNOWLEDGE. Oh. 

Have a wonderful day!

round button chicken

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Make a Bed

You know how every once in awhile you figure out how to do something that once seemed like a pain in the booty, but then a simple technique makes the task a no-biggie? That's a big deal! That's the kind of thing that makes me feel like I've earned a badge on my Mom-Scout vest. This post isn't about arranging the pillows a certain way or smoothing the comforter, it's about how I make the bed so that the bed linens get changed every week.

I never used to pay much attention to changing bed linens and only did so every few months or so, but it always felt like a BIG chore. But since my husband now exercises every single day, I noticed that even with showering directly after exercise, his side of the bed would smell very HIM after a week. And I don't mean yucky smell, but definitely his specific manly scent would be super strong. Basically, exercise releases the pores and the sheets become like pajamas. I realized that if I wouldn't wear the same pair of pajamas for over a week (and I don't) then really those sheets and pillowcases do need to be changed to keep the bed fresh.

So Monday is my day to change the sheets and here's how I do it!

Start off by making the bed with 2 fitted sheets and 3 top sheets. (Or really however many you have.)
Here you can see three top sheets and one fitted sheet. Underneath the white fitted sheet is another blue one. 

We don't crawl under the top sheets, we have a heavier blanket and comforter that we're under. So the top sheet we just sleep on top of.

Each Monday, peel off a layer and remake the bed. 

Once you get down to that bottom fitted sheet, that's the week to take your comforter to the laundromat to use the big machine and launder it!

The following week, that fitted sheet will come off and it's time to remake your layers with whatever clean sheets you have in your linen closet. Use them all!! All the fitted sheets! All the top sheets! Throw down as many layers as you have available. (And if you don't have many layers, go to Ikea and buy some cheap sheets!) There really isn't any point for super nice sheets.

Then your bed will be super easy to change each week for the next several weeks.

And of course, change the top pillowcases every week too. And if you don't have many, yet another reason to go to Ikea to get some more.

We each have two pillows, and I just rotate the top pillow to the back and change the new top pillow. Then the following week I rotate. Basically, I'm changing one set of pillowcases each week. Does that make sense? But it is just as important (if not more) to change pillowcases than sheets. If I had to pick one, I'd pick pillowcases.

But changing pillowcases has never been hard. The hardest thing about changing pillowcases is when you don't have enough pillowcases and your pillows have to sit there naked for 2 hours while their clothes are washing. That's the type of thing that makes an easy chore an annoying/hard one. So solve that problem by having enough.

By having your sheets in many layers and having enough pillowcases, your bed is never sitting there naked! And getting fresh linens is just a once a week exercise in Peel and Change.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fear of Failure

I have a fairly stifling fear of failure. I wish I wasn't this way and that I could just charge ahead! But this fear definitely impacts my function especially in my work.

I've been teaching childbirth education for 6 years and even though couples tell me all the time that they really enjoyed the class and learned a lot and are so thankful etc, etc., I still doubt myself terribly. I have couples ask me fairly frequently to attend births and I usually decline even though for the births I have attended I always receive the sweetest notes and thankfulness.

I stall on creating/promoting my website.
I shrink at the thought of Facebook self-promotion.
I don't market my business as I should. And in seeing what others do with their marketing it makes me do even less.

Why am I this way? Why do I fear? Why do I doubt so much?

Am I a perfectionist? When I look at the awesomeness of what other teachers are doing with their marketing I just shrink shrink shrink. I lack awesomeness, and I'm not sure if I'm capable of internet marketing awesomeness.

I sometimes feel that I need to be ok with being the "not favorite" teacher. You know those teachers you had in school who weren't the favorites, but they were nonetheless there every single day and did their jobs with competence? And lo' and behold you did learn something! If the "not favorite" teachers didn't show up only because they weren't the favorite then there would be a lot of empty classrooms.

Anyways, it's a struggle I've had for awhile.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving hits and misses

First of all I am thankful for the internet. Only by internet powers was I able to pull together a super-awesome "big girl tea party" (that's how I thought of this event in my head) and enjoy it. Overall it was a great day and I know Jason really appreciated all of my efforts. However, the day was not without a few misses, so here's the rundown:

Hit- Setting the table with the nice dishes. My 9 year old nephew was very impressed. Yes even boys appreciate the occasional fancy schmancy. And the kids liked that they were able to use the nice stuff, instead of getting paper plates.
Miss- Putting out the wine glasses. They weren't used and just cluttered up the table.

Hit- Pre-making all of my awesome side dishes. I made the yams, stuffing, and mac n cheese the day before. I also peeled and boiled my potatoes for the next day's mashed potatoes. And boiled and sliced the brussel sprouts. (I was planning to sautee with slivered almonds the next day, but we ended up with so much food I just skipped it.)
Miss- I made my own rolls. I'm going to skip this next time and just buy brown n serve rolls. It added too much work on Thursday. Either that or I need to make the rolls in advance too and just heat them up.

Hit- brining the turkey
Omg, biggest Thanksgiving fail. Everyone was salivating ready to eat. Jason cuts into the bird and deep down by the legs it's totally raw. Crap. So the family had to wait an extra 45 mins while the bird was cut into manageable pieces and microwaved. I apparently have no clue where to properly insert the thermometer or I didn't push it in far enough. I thought the damn thing was done!

Hit- tomato, mozzarella, and basil appetizer
Miss- because when you mess up the turkey, it's good that the kids can still grab something to eat. Fortunately once the bird was cooked it was actually tasty.

Hit- the day. Overall it was a great Thanksgiving and I think it worked out well. I enjoyed having it at the house. I'm super thankful to my in-laws because NOBODY made me feel bad about my turkey mishap. I'm super grateful to my mother-in-law in particular because she swooped in and just started fixing the whole thing (maybe she's undercooked a turkey before too...). Then she made some extra-good gravy and taught me how. I wuv her.

Internet recipes-
Pear and Gorgonzolla salad
Yams- (with less added sugar and double the crunchy topping- no marshmallows)

A touch of advice-  It's ok to step out of one's comfort-zone in a formal way instead of always getting progressively more and more casual. Several years ago we started saying grace before meals in our own family and now we say grace even at larger family functions. This can feel hard! I am especially proud of my husband because he is the one who says the public grace before meals and this isn't something he was raised at all to do. So my advice is to push back a little and make it ok again to eat on pretty plates and say a prayer. It's a small thing, and I know it can be uncomfortable at first, but my hope is that it will all be normal for our children. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bustin' out the good stuff

I've been married for 10 years.

And for this, my first ever hosting of Thanksgiving, I'm finally bringing my wedding china into the light.

I'm table-proud can you tell?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Saved!

Oh I'm a happy girl right now. Happy indeed!

So I didn't update on my PHFR-On the home front post, but the family has decided to go ahead and have dinner at our house and I'm so thankful! See, to me this is what I live for. I live for family. I live for giving my children a nice home and raising them to understand and carry out family traditions. I never ever want Thanksgiving to be "old fashioned" or the image of family gathering around a big table ready to carve a turkey be something "that people used to do" kind of like how I view the jitterbug. 

So I'm in full getting-ready-for-the-party mode and today was our pie making day! Six pies! I went to my friend Lauren's house and we combined our efforts and produced 2 apple, 2 pecan, and 2 pumpkin pies. Homemade crust people. Homemade crust. 

Holidays are about so much more than just a simple dinner. It's the preparation and anticipation and all of the memories you make along the way. It's having children experience all of this too so that hopefully they'll go on and do this for their own families some day. That is my deepest wish. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brown-skinned dolls that are actually available in stores

Wow. I am really disappointed.
I went to Target this evening to buy 2 pie plates (all sold out btw), and while I was there I decided to look in the toy section to see what sort of brown-skinned dolls they had on the shelves. (See yesterday's post to understand why.)

And the answer is...

pretty much none.

Out of an entire aisle of Barbies they were all the standard blonde Barbie except for 1 brown skinned one way at the top. And there was one Barbie with white skin and black hair among a selection of others... All the wedding Barbies and Holiday Barbies were the standards.

The So In Style line wasn't there at all, so no cute brown little sister Barbies available. I was also sad to see that the My Generation line only carried the blonde and light brown hair dolls.

The truth is, the best doll on the shelves in terms of diversity (without the constant traditional dresses! not that those were even available) was Monster High. And second was Bratz.

For whatever reason kids like the brown-skinned (and green and purple) dolls in those lines and request them no problem. But I guess the brown-skinned My Generation doesn't sell well nor do the brown Barbies.  Either that or I need to visit a Target in a different part of town to see if there is any change in selection.

The whole thing was a real downer experience and it made me glad my daughter isn't even really into dolls and prefers to play with stuffed animals.

It also made me glad I can do internet shopping.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cute Dolls for Brown-Skinned Girls

This time of year I start seeing a few posts from moms on Facebook wondering about good dolls for brown-skinned girls or light-skinned black girls with curly hair.

It's tough! Let me tell you, I should know. I went on a big ol' search last year and researched this thing with the same thoroughness that I used when researching my first stroller purchase.

The thing with brown-skinned dolls is that
#1. The blonde doll in the manufacturer's line always gets the best dress. The pink dress. The chiffon dress. The red-haired doll or brown-haired doll with light skin gets the 2nd best dress. After that the dolls are usually in something "sporty" or "trendy". So it's really hard to find a brown-skinned doll that has on an awesome DRESS.

#2. I have found several beautiful brown-skinned dolls but they are too often in traditional-culture clothing. A Native American dress. A Mexican dress. A sari. You get the idea. When you have an American daughter, you'd like to find a doll dressed in the sort of dress she'd love to own herself.

#3. You just want the doll to look pretty. Why give a girl a doll that honestly just doesn't look pretty or have a sweet face? (In this area I will say Barbie does a great job of producing lots of beautiful brown-skinned dolls.)

So I want to share with you some of my finds in case you would like to give a girl in your life a lovely brown-skinned doll. It's important for light-skinned girls to have beautiful brown-skinned dolls too. I remember when my grandmother gave me a Hawaiian-looking Barbie in a swimsuit when I was 11. I loved her long black hair that went down to her feet. She was my favorite doll.

On with the show:
1. Corolle, Les Cheries- This manufacturer does an amazing job of creating beautiful dolls with the prettiest little faces and always adorable outfits. The dolls smell good too with a hint of vanilla.

 2. Maru and Friends- These are not the clothes that come on the dolls when you buy them. These seem to be a special line of clothes available for purchase. Typically all the dolls have on cute "school clothes". All of these dolls have lovely faces and hair. Maru (the one in the middle) is the main doll in the line-up and is marketed as a Latina girl. It is very rare to see doll marketing with the brown-haired "ethnic" dolls wearing the beautiful pink dresses.

3. Hearts4Hearts Girls- Ok, I am picking Hearts 4 Hearts Girls only because their dolls are gorgeous. All of them. However, they still annoy me because ALL of the brown skinned dolls hail from other countries and have on traditional clothing (Mexico, Ethiopia, Laos-well except her, India) and of course the only dolls that hail from the good ol' USofA are two light-skinned light-hair dolls. This is ANNOYING. There is this incredibly ignorant mentality that brown-skinned people aren't really "from here". Or if they are "from here" then "they just got here". Ugh. Whatev. Here are the beautiful dolls.
 From India. Super adorable with a little nose-ring and henna on her hand. 
 From Mexico
 From Laos
From Ethiopia
 Sorry for the sub-par picture quality. The copied image was pretty tiny.

5. Barbie- no matter what you can always find a super-pretty and affordable brown-skinned Barbie doll.

Barbie Dolls of the World India- Yes, it's hard to get away from traditional clothing with brown-skinned dolls, but wow such a gorgeous doll. (And, BTW if you would like your daughter to have a light-skinned doll that has on a traditional outfit, which can be hard to find, the Dolls of the World line has several cute options.)
Another lovely Dolls of the World- Mexico- oh dear she has a chiuaua ha!

I must say as I was looking at dolls I became even more impressed with Barbie's options. They have a Barbie So In Style (S.I.S) Little Sister line that has adorable dolls that look like little girls. (The first doll pictured in this post.)

Now, what about light-skinned black girls with curly hair?? How do you find a doll like that? Well friends, it's quite difficult. The only light-skinned doll I saw that had kinky-curly hair was this cloth doll of Fancy Nancy's best friend Bree. (You know the stories right?)

So what's a mom to do? A mom who wants to find a beautiful doll that has those similar beautiful features that God so lovingly gave to her daughter?

In this case, the best thing is to get creative, because the only curly-kinky haired dolls I saw also had the deeper brown skin. Fortunately there are some smart moms out there who have already figured this out. 
In this tutorial you will learn how to give your straight-haired doll beautiful curly-textured hair!

Pretty cool huh? So obviously in this case you'd buy a light-skinned doll with black hair and curl the hair yourself. 

Some may wonder, what about American Girl?? How come they aren't on the list? Well, TBH, I just don't think they're all that cute! Any of them! But the stories are cute and they're wholesome dolls so that's a good thing.

I hope this helps those of you shopping for a special girl in your life!

Linked to WFMW

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Make a Moby Wrap for $6

Step 1- Buy 6 yards of cotton gauze fabric. (At the swap meet I got this for $1 per yard.) Cotton gauze will be slightly see-through.

Step 2- Tie a rubberband around the ends to prevent fraying. There you go! You now have a wrap!

Step 3- Hold the fabric out to find the center.

Step 4- wrap it around your waist and criss-cross in the back

Step 5- pull the pieces up and over your shoulders and tuck into the front "belt"


Step 6 criss-cross those pieces across the chest and now tie around your waist in back

You should now have a wrap that looks like this from the front.

Now, see where the fabric makes that v-neck? Hoist your kiddo up and stick their legs through that V so that each leg will go into the space that is under the armpit. 

Spread the fabric across the back and your child will be very secure! And she will be an easier load to carry.  

(I don't usually have to carry quite a load anymore! It was actually quite nice to use this wrap again today and have a quick "baby moment" memory. I doubt I'll have another baby to carry for a very long time. Thank you my little Thundercat for having a hurty tummy today so I could hold you this way once again.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PHFR- The home front

round button chicken

This flag. It's a simple thing, but every time I turn the corner to our street and see my little Autumn flag blowing around it makes me happy. Southern California townhouses are extremely boring architecturally (not like San Francisco townhouses which are just so so neat). The fact that the outside of my home is so completely BO-RING is probably what contributes more than anything else to my constant desire to look at what's on the real estate market. I look and look and look and see scads of super cute houses. But in the end they are pretty-much what we already have except they are a house-house (if that makes sense- ie no wall sharing) and are not fixed up at all and are more expensive. Or they are not in a location that I like.

So in the end, it's little things like putting up a flag and keeping my front entryway cute that make outside of this place feel a tad more individual and homey.

My front entryway! Isn't it cute for fall? I think so.

This chair is a new addition and it's perfect. I found myself coming outside to have a private conversation on the phone or wanting to just sit and drink some coffee in the morning air. My seating choices were either the concrete step (cold!) or a faded plastic yard chair. It's true that when you specifically have your eye out for something, it really doesn't take long to find what you need. About two weeks after I realized that I needed a proper chair outside on the porch I came across this one for $5. I'll get around to gluing the unwinding right leg, but given that it won't be moved much, I think it will hold up for quite awhile!

These girls of mine at bath time get super silly and start bumping around and dancing all giddy with nakedness. They start slapping their legs and everywhere else. I had to tell them "Girls, your yoni is not a bongo drum!"

Thanksgiving is stressing me out. Not because of meal prep or anything! It's because I have a traditional heart and I want to preserve traditional holiday meals and things. Yet this year certain outside-of-my-nuclear-family family members want to have Thanksgiving at a Mexican restaurant and that is pretty much like nails on a chalkboard to me. So I'm grouchy. I do try to be a go-along-to-get-along person. At least I think I do. But maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm just stubborn. Or maybe there are some things that are worth being stubborn about. Like Thanksgiving. And home-cooked meals. And home-cooked meals on Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving food.

Have a wonderful day everyone!