Friday, November 9, 2012

Officially Moved

Friends and Readers -
It's been quite a process, and involved the Thanksgiving Baby showing up for Halloween instead! - but I have moved my home on the Internet.

You can find me, my family, and some excellent baby photos, at

Another Day - Another Mom's new blog site.

Don't forget to update your bookmarks!

Thank you for moving with me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Link to Halloween Decorations

I'm still around and still writing, but I'm pretty much moved over to my new blog address at WordPress.

You, faithful blogspot reader, can see the wonderful Halloween Decorations we made here:

Halloween Spookies!

And take this link and opportunity to update your bookmarks...


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mitt's Binders

Just at the moment I am dual-posting while I complete my blog migration. You can also read this post here (and change your bookmarks for the future!).
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I don't write about politics often. I want this blog to be a politically neutral place. Sometimes, though, the political touches my life in a way that I do want to share. After all, you know we must be a political family, what with our debate jelly beans and all.

 A couple months ago I wrote about Mitt Romney's quote regarding the "dignity of work", which I found deeply offensive. Today the Internet is on fire with binders full of women. But if we dig beyond the hilarity of women, three-hole punchers, and binders, the content of Romney's answers regarding women were deeply disturbing.

 First let's consider the simple fact that a longtime CEO and elected official didn't seem to have any idea where he might find a qualified woman so he had to "ask" special interest groups; women's special interest groups. Even though women are disproportionately under represented in the upper echelons of business and government, I find it hard to believe that Romney hadn't found one or two qualified women in or near his circle in 25 years. I'm a stay-at-home parent and I know that men are disproportionately under represented in my field and I certainly spend more time chatting with moms than dads, but after a mere six years I have run across a handful of stay-at-home dads... Thank goodness Romney had those binders full of women.

  But...it seems like he didn't ask for the binders. They were offered to him.

 More subtly, I found Romney's tone with Candy Crowly (the moderator), was less respectful than his tone with President Obama or Jim Lehrer. He was more likely to interrupt her and to continue interrupting her. He was more dismissive of the things she said. Also, when i scanned the transcript, it seemed to me that he gave less direct answers to the women's questions. He was more likely to ignore what they said, slide around it, and do the classic debate pivot to what he wanted to talk about when being questioned by a woman.

  Amanda Marcotte has a wonderful short piece about Mitt and women here.

 But let's look at the section on pay-equity. Mitt Romney said:
My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
That looks good right? Nice and supportive. Except... Between the lines. Of course she should go home early and cook for her husband and kids because that is what women do. It's where they truly belong and everything should be done to help them be there. I believe in flexible schedules and I certainly think that the American workplace puts too much stress on getting the job done and ever increasing hours and not enough focus on balanced work and family time. I just wonder how Romney would have responded to a male chief of staff with the same request... So that's not so great, in my eyes. It looks okay, but if you contemplate both his binders of women and his slippery non-answer on pay equity you can see easily extrapolate that Romney doesn't see women as qualified as men in the work place. Better to get them home so they can cook dinner...and if they have those flexible benefits they don't deserve to make as much as a male counterpart, right? There's one more here that I think deserves attention:
...in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women.
Why women specifically? Because the magical Mitt economy will be just so darn good that all the men will be employed and employers will be so desperate for more employees that they will be willing to settle on women? Even though we are, apparently, only 72% as qualified as men? I missed this statement on my first run through the debate. It was last night, re-watching it with the kids, that this part of the answer leapt out at me. Watching I noticed that even the way Romney's body language seems to show how little he regards women as truly valid members of his society. What about his answer on gun violence and banning assault weapons? Romney said:
We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the -- the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that's not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that's a great idea.
And again, this looks good at the initial overview. I do think we need better supports in place to get parents good, quality time with their kids, and we know that kids with involved parents tend to do better in the long run. But to lay the burden of gun violence at the feet of single parents is insane - especially since several notable shooters (Aurora for a recent example) are from homes with married parents. Where all these disgruntled children of single parents slinging their assault weapons through the mall?

  You can read a great piece about Romney and gun violence here.

 We know that single parents tend to be (again) disproportionally moms. I'm not negating the single dads out there, but I bet Romney was actually trying to evoke the image of single, teenage, "welfare" moms. Let's get those girls married! Let's slip around this issue of banning assault rifles and focus on getting those pesky, drive-by causing, single moms under control. Never mind that he wants to evisscerate Planned Parenthood and our rights to abortion - programs that prevent single parenthood - as well as the social programs that keep single moms able to give loving care to their families.

    Romney's position on birth control and abortion is scary.

 And every woman should make sure she knows what is really going on, not what he says. 

Mitt Romney has binders full of women, or so he claims. And I think that if we tweak that silly comment just a little bit, we arrive at the real truth. Mitt Romney has binders for women. He wants to limit my access to health care for my reproductive system. He wants me to find a magical balance between being a productive member of employed society (provided I can find someone anxious to hire me) and keeping that husband fed and children appropriately cared for.

 Romeny's positions on issues that directly affect women are hard to pin down. Should we have the dignity of work? Or aren't we qualified? Should we be staying home with our kids so they don't go shooting up the public or should we get our butts to the office (as long as we are home to cook dinner, of course)? I'm confused. What I'm not confused about is who will be the better President for the women who live, work, and love in this great country of ours. It's not Mitt Romney.

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  Fact checking fun at Forbes Facts

  I used this transcript to make sure I was hearing Romney and quoting him correctly.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In The Stock Pot

Just at the moment I am dual-posting while I complete my blog migration. You can also read this post here (and change your bookmarks for the future!).

In the autumn we make broth. And I don't mean we enjoy some brothy chicken soup. Nope. We have been saving bones for the past year and we make a lot of canned broth to compliment our soups in the coming year. We eat about one soup each week, so that means I need around 50 quarts of broth. That is 12 1/2 gallons of broth. And we are up to the challenge.

One of my favorite aspects of making broth is that it is almost free, made out of scrap and what would otherwise be trash or compost. This gives me an especially warm and thrifty feeling when I see the cans and boxes of broth in the store for dollars. I have to pay for jars...but less and less every year as I acquire more and more jars. I have to pay for the heat to can them and the water to make the broth, but these are negligible expenses. When we buy meat by the side, we often get soup bones or "dog bones not intended for consumption". Those cost a little.

These instructions are based on filling a 5 gallons stock pot. You can make adjustments for your own family if 5 gallons seems like a lot. From a 5 gallons pot, you will end up with between 2-3 1/2 gallons of actual broth.

Meat (Bone!) Broth:
Simple. Save all your bones. Beef in one bag, chicken in another, pork in a third (I usually add lamb or goat bones to the beef). Label your bags! If I have the slow cooker out I will cook my bones with a quart or two of water over night to pull out the really deep nutrition and make an almost jelly-like bone broth. Then I throw this broth and bones in a labeled bag for the next broth day. If the slow cooker is not easily available or I am in a rush, I just toss the bones in the current bag. I use about 3-4 bags of bones per 5 gallons stock pot.

Vegetable (Compost!) Broth:
This is so thrifty it almost hurts. Save your old veggie ends. Nothing moldy, manky, or rotten of course, but anything old (wilty carrots and celery, just past gone potatoes, etc...). Store them in a labeled gallon ziplock bag in the freezer. When you are cooking, throw your vegetable ends in the bag (mushroom stems, celery tops and bottoms, onion and garlic ends and peels, kale stems, whatever...). When you steam or boil veggies, cool the water and add that to the bag. To fill the 5 gallon stock pot, I use 3 bags of frozen veggie ends.

Broth Day!!
Make one batch in a day. It's a low, slow process for most of the day. At the end of the day your house will smell warmly of your broth of choice, which I find very comforting.

Put the contents of your broth bags into the stock pot. Add water to about 3 inches from the top. For veggie broth, do a quick check of the fridge for anything that could go in the broth instead of being wasted. For meat broth, add 4-6 firm potatoes (I prefer smallish red ones and I will explain why) to increase the potassium content. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave it simmering for 2 or more hours. It really can't cook for too long; in the case of bone broth, the longer it cooks the more nutrients you get out of the bones.

I don't add any herbs or salt. I can always add those at a future time. What I want is plain broth that I can fix up later, depending on what I am cooking.

Once it's cooked, I pressure can my broth in quarts. My freezer is usually packed, and I don't want to wait for broth to defrost anyway. I want to pour it into the soup pot and get it going right away. I use the reliable instructions from Ball Canning. You must use a pressure canner when canning meat or vegetable products. If you don't have a pressure canner, freeze your broth in freezer bags.

With bone broth, I cool the bones and pick them over for meat scraps. I always fill at least a quart freezer bag with "pulled meat" for later. I also pull out the potatoes that have been cooked full of brothy-goodness for frying up with dinner or breakfast...or just eating right there as I pick the bones over. This is an entirely optional procedure, but I hate to waste any part of our meat. Sister-Bug's favorite part is sorting the bones and she's getting pretty good at it for a 2-year old.

This all takes time, but it's mostly down time while I wait for the broth to cook down or the canner to vibrate at pressure, and having ready-to-pour broth of all kinds at hand is more than worth taking a couple of days to make our broth.

And it tastes SO much better than the broth from the store.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Migration: Early Notice

I've been debating and contemplating moving my blog from here to a WordPress blog. The writing app for iPad and iPhone is really...not very good, and the writing in my new (!thanks Mom!) iPad on a browser doesn't work either. There are a host of minor, very first-world-problems, that cause draft posts to pile up on my phone or iPad until I can get time on our laptop to do all the laptop/browser only details which make each post flow, have pictures, etc.

I don't have a new web address yet, and I will be migrating my content as well as dual posting for a while after the Big Move. But I know I have some loyal readers out there and I wanted to you know, first thing, to keep your eye out for the new address. I promise I will try to keep this move as simple for everyone as possible.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Encounters


It's hard to tell from this angle, but that's my boy.
I knew it would happen, and I've even assumed it would happen soon. Brother-Bug wears his skirts and dresses when and where he wants to, so of course it was only a matter of time before some other, more conforming kids, decided to give him a hard time.

Happy National Bullying Prevention Month, by the way.

Brother-Bug was playing on the near by elementary school playground and got a drink of water. Papa-Bug was watching Sister-Bug. Some older boys near the water fountain took issue with Brother-Bug's polka-dot skirt, telling him that boys don't wear skirts, and so on. Bless my son's beautiful heart - he first tried to educate these other kids, explaining that boys can wear whatever they want to. Naturally these kids ignored his attempts at explanation and reconciliation. They teased and shamed him. He fled to his Papa-Bug who confirmed that the boys were mean and wrong.

What does a parent do in this situation? Papa-Bug was not in hearing range, so was not able to help in the immediate. How to address this, without adding to the shame for Brother-Bug; without shaming the bullies? And in this culture of gender oppression, a little boy who wears skirts is going to need to learn how to handle all sorts of remarks, regardless of who is around to support him.

But my heart breaks for my wonderful Princess-Boy, with his long legs that are so beautiful in a skirt. His world has been so free of this kind of treatment and oppression up until now. He's not sure he wants to wear skirts to that playground anymore. We've explained that as a fine choice, but to think about if he wants to let these narrow minded kids change what he is comfortable wearing. We explained that we have to live in our way, and speak our truth courageously, and decide when and how we best can do that. That there is nothing we can do or say to those kids that will change their minds. That they are scared of someone being different; maybe they want to wear skirts but someone else shamed them.

Brother-Bug is a logical guy and I think he understood the message. Luckily we live in a pretty safe community where the majority of people Brother-Bug encounters love him for his unique self; a community where men in skirts is not outside the ordinary. After some inner contemplations he came up with the idea that Papa-Bug could wear his pink pants or a skirt with him to the playground. Papa-Bug is totally game. I volunteered to wear a tie.

But no matter how much we support and love the heck out of him, he's going to find other narrow-minded gender conformists who will do their best to shame him into his appropriate gender box. I believe that he will rise to the challenges presented to him with grace and resourcefulness, like he did yesterday. I hope he understands that it's not him; it's the rest of the damn world. But all the understanding is not going to fully heal the hurt and the small fissures those boys left in his innocence and self-confidence yesterday.

My boys - looking so fabulous. Who can resist loving this awesome fashion plate?


===

In the spirit of preventing bullying, how can we help kids like Brother-Bug?

Sport gender bending clothing for fun and with pride. Dress up is fun!

Don't let anyone force a gender stereotype onto another person in your hearing.

Support groups that are working for equality - for all orientations, lifestyles, and gender expressions.

Speak up lovingly and respectfully about your support of equality, the people you know who genderbend, and other lifestyle differences.

Talk gently and complimentarily to kids who are expressing their clothing choices in a non-conforming way.

Talk to kids with rigid gender ideas (Sister-Bug is one - she won't ever play pirates unless she can be a Princess-Pirate!) about how other expressions are just fine.

Don't take color (pink vs. blue) so seriously or literally. Likewise with princesses, cars, horses, unicorns, trucks, superheroes, or whatever else. 

There are lots more ideas out there I am sure. This was just what I came up with on a brainstorm list. people. What can I add to it?


"I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.” ~ Iggy Pop



After I posted this, I got a reminder on my Facebook wall that this weekend is the anniversary of Mathew Shepard's horrific murder. As a parent facing the challenges inherent in having a non-conforming child, this chills me to my very soul. For Matthew and for Brother-Bug, lets all be a little (or even a lot) more loving and tolerant of all people's differences. And let's stop tolerating bullying and intolerance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Second Birth - Sister-Bug Joins the Family

On Brother-Bug's birthday last month I shared his birth story. I'm sharing Sister-Bug's story now, far before her March birthday. This is part of my preparation for sharing a third birth story sometime next month (or later...when I get around to it). Enjoy!

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I was less impatient with the waiting time for Sister-Bug. I knew from experience that I would miss the fluttery baby kicks, even as I loved holding my newborn. My due date came and went and I barely noticed. We were looking for a house to buy, a nicely diverting task but one we were not having much luck with. Finally we found a house we could envision our kids growing up in. We decided to put in an offer and that evening some contractions kicked in. My sister and Brothers came over for a game of Apples-to-Apples. We played and laughed, but the contractions never changed to the real thing. We kept waiting.

Brother-Bug trying to convince the baby to come out and meet him.

Brother-Bug was impatient - with the house hunting, with waiting for the baby, with the increasingly snappish Mama... Our midwife assured us that everything was fine and the baby would come in its own time. However, somewhere in the back of my mind I could feel something holding me up. I was ready. The baby was ready. Something was in the way. I was up in the middle of the night, journaling. The offer we had put on the house had stalled - it was a reserve offer, second in line, and looked unlikely - so I was writing about that process. Finally it hit me

I am an introvert and a very home-oriented person. I love to simply be at home. The stress of looking for a new home was confusing my body. Here I was in the house we had lived in for 5 years, where I had given birth to Brother-Bug, but every other day I was looking for a new home. This key component of what makes me feel happy and safe was is flux. My brain didn't know where home was, so my body didn't want to give birth not know where we might end up. I woke Pap-Bug up, sobbing. We talked it out, I cried it out, and we emailed our realtor. Looking for a house was too much right now and we would be in touch when we felt it was a better time. We went back to bed and I slept the first night of truly deep sleep I had experienced in weeks. I slept the next night too.

At my last prenatal we found the baby face-out - a hard way to have a baby, so the midwife and I tried to move it into a face-in position. Nope. That baby flipped right back to sunny-side-up. We sighed and prepared for a posterior labor.

On the Spring Equinox, my sister came over to give me a massage. She hit the labor stimulating points on my legs. It was a gorgeous and warm day and I got my massage in the backyard under the apple tree. But no resultant labor. Baby stayed, happily kicking and hanging out face-out. We put ourselves to bed. I sat up reading. Twenty pages, or so, from the end of my book the first real contraction washed through me. I noted the time (10:45) and kept reading. As I finished and closed my book, another contraction. I gritted my teeth through it, not quite ready to wake Brother-Bug. I woke up Papa-Bug, we talked a little, another contraction. On the fourth contraction I couldn't grit my teeth any longer. Even though I tried to be a little quiet, my roar woke up Brother-Bug. He was confused at first, then wary, finally excited. The baby was finally coming!! He called his God-Mommies, who lived right across the street at the time, and they came over. We called my sister and our midwife. Papa-Bug got the birth sheets on the bed and people began to assemble.

Papa-Bug was singing "You Turn Me Right Round" to convince the baby to shift from face up to face down. He ended up getting that song stuck in my head for most of the labor. I hated it at the time, but now it has made that song strangely special to me.

When the midwife checked the baby between contractions, we were relieved to find that it had turned itself face down and was ready to go. I'm pretty sure the turn happened long before Papa-Bug annoyed me with '80s dance music. Like my labor with Brother-Bug I roared through each contraction and tried to rest in the brief spells between.

The difference I noticed between my first labor and this second labor was that I wasn't scared. I knew what was coming and I knew that my body could do it. With Brother-Bug I had to work hard to trust that my body knew what it was doing and that I would be okay. This time I had that experience and could let go much deeper into each contraction, because I had come through this already. I knew it was hard.

Brother-Bug was unsure. He stayed close to his God-Mommies, even going across the street to play in a quieter space for much of the labor. Our midwife explained what was going on and everyone (apparently including me) was loving and supportive of his feelings and the space he needed to take. At one point he fulfilled his personal labor mission and brought me some juice with a bendy straw. He helped. He felt proud.

As with Brother-Bug's birth, I rocked on my hands and knees, roaring through contraction after contraction. It had been a hot night for the end of March and we had our window open. We woke the neighbors. And between each contaction I could hear the spring frogs singing out back. It was a very magical sound, and now every time we hear those frogs we know that Sister-Bug's birthday is near and we remember the night she was born. (I wrote a Cowbird Story about it...)

Finally things began to intensify - as though they weren't intense enough already. I stopped listening to the frogs, or paying attention to much of anything. The breaks between contractions were no longer lengthy enough to pull my focus away from the work I was doing. I could feel the baby coming, and coming fast. It was faster than I was comfortable with. My sister remembers seeing the baby moving downward, sending a slow wave down my spine. As that baby moved faster than my body could go, before I was ready to push, my sister saw me stretch during contractions from my hands and knees into a full and straight plank, holding the baby back just a little longer. I don't remember doing that action, but I do remember the feeling of "Not Yet BABY!" and doing what I could to slow down just a little bit.

Papa-Bug called across the street and asked Brother-Bug to come back, since we knew he wanted to be there right away when the baby came. His Godmommies hustled him home and they sat just outside our bedroom, watching.

My midwife watched me and leaned over me after a contraction. She said "I'm watching your body and it looks to me like you are being called to catch this baby yourself." I looked at her, probably with confusion. "I want to hold you up on your next contractions so you can deliver your baby." I nodded, and she and Papa-Bug helped me up into a squat, supporting me under my arms and around my back. Another contraction crashed through me and I just about knocked both of them over getting back to my hands and knees. They decided to leave me be and watch me do it my way.

Another contraction; maybe two or three more... I couldn't say. And the baby was crowning. I lurched up onto my knees and used my hands to help the head through my birth canal, creating muscle support where I needed it. In one mighty push this baby was born, into my own hands, from head to toe.

This was the most amazing, Godly, awe inspring moment of my life.

At that moment it was just me and this baby. Everyone else felt so distant. I said, "You are my baby and I caught you my own self." I was shaking with Exhaustion and Grace.

Focus returned around me, people slid back into view. We looked and found we had a girl. We brought Brother-Bug onto the bed to meet his sister. As with his birth, we were wrapped in blankets and left in candlelight for a while. We marveled at our new baby, her perfect fingers and tiny nose. As always, I was confused by the little fingernails - they are so tiny and perfect and complete on a newborn and they seems...out of place...somehow.

So perfect.

Eventually the midwife and my sister came back in. We delivered the placenta, and I nursed our new one. As I wrote in my post about tandem nursing, Brother-Bug curled up on my other side, nursing the right while his new sister nursed the left, and wrapped his arm around her tiny body. It was a perfect moment. After nursing, I handed the baby to Papa-Bug and my sister took me to the bathroom where she helped me into the shower and washed the birth mess off me. Looking back on two births and forward to another one, I think this is my favorite ritual I have with my sister. There is something deeply sacred about this, and I don't know if I would want anyone else's help. After my shower we tucked into bed with clean sheets and a fresh baby.

Sister-Bug arrived at 3:15 in the morning. Somewhere around 5:00, my sister took Brother-Bug off to cuddle with her and have a special "sleepover", while Papa-Bug and I settled down with Sister-Bug for a few hours of sleep.

Blissful, birthed, and so content.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recipe: Chick-Chickpea Stew

I was trying to follow a recipe, I swear. But it turned out that I was out of a couple of the items required and had to change it up at the last minute. I think the changes I made created a more interesting and tasty soup than the one I was trying to make. My partner in dinner swapping thought so too and requested the recipe...so before I forget what I did, here it is.

Chick-Chickpea Stew

2 cups dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
4 chicken thighs
Water
1 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
3-6 cloves of minced garlic
4 tbl. tomato paste
4-8 oz. pesto
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
S&P

Soak the chickpeas for 3-4 hours (or plan for an extra hour or so of simmering time). Put the chickpeas in your large soup pot with the chicken thighs on top and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is done through. Remove the thighs and set aside to cool.

Add the cumin, bay leaves, garlic, and tomato paste. Mix throughly and cover to continue cooking the chickpeas. Mine simmered for about 30 minutes before the chickpeas we close to ready.

Shortly before serving, pull the meat off the chicken thighs and add to the soup. Stir in the pesto (I used Nettle Pesto I made this spring, but I think any pesto flavor would be good...if you are using something highly flavored like basil or cilantro, add it slowly to adjust the flavor as you go) and the roasted red peppers. Simmer for a few more minutes to mingle the flavors.

Serve with crusty bread and salad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Birthing

There are plenty of people in this world who wonder at my deep commitment to having my babies at home. They question the safety and comfort, and sometimes my sanity.

As I wrote in this post, I was privileged to attend my mom's two home births; the hospital as a 'normal' place to birth didn't really occur to me. Additionally, in my late teens I developed a close relationship with a woman who was, and is, an outstanding midwife. She has been my midwife through this pregnancy, both my other pregnancies and home births (you can read Brother-Bug's story here), a couple of early term miscarriages, and continues to be a force of love and support as my kids grow. But besides this early education, I have my own reasons I have my babies at home, and I thought I would share.

While birth can become a medical event, I believe that a healthy birth is pretty much non-medical and should be treated as a family event instead of a medical situation. I trust my body and my midwife to be aware of the situations that would lead us to seek hospital assistance, and much like my position on ultrasound, I would transport to the hospital if my midwife, my body, or the baby, told me that transport was the best plan.

I want to decide who is with me during each passage and who helps me welcome the baby to our family. This includes siblings (not allowed in hospital delivery rooms usually), my husband, my sister, and a close friend or two to help the kids - and our midwife. It does not include strange nurses, a doctor I've potentially never met, or any other hospital staff. This is the most amazing and intimate thing I am ever going to do with my body; this is the most vulnerable I will ever be. I don't want to share it with just anyone. And that's just during the birth! After the birth there are nurses that have to bathe my baby, test it, photograph it, and poke and prod me and my knitting body.

At home, the midwife and all other non-immediate family members leave the room once the baby is out and obviously well. We just sit in bliss with our baby from somewhere between a half-hour and eternity - time is irrelevant. Eventually the birth team returns to clean things up, help me deliver my placenta, see that the baby nurses well, and check its vitals. We don't bathe the babe for several days, letting its skin gradually sluff off vernix while loving that fresh-baby smell. Papa-Bug holds our baby skin-to-skin while my sister washes my aching and exhausted body in the shower. We sleep naked with baby on my chest, still a part of each others' breathing and heartbeats. Siblings cuddle parents and support people, we all marvel at the details of a newborn, everyone takes candid pictures. Soon after the birth - 2-3 hours maybe - everyone goes home and a magical post-birth stillness descends on our home. We have time and deep peace to get to know our new person; to watch our family structure stretch and change.

I believe that babies need the minimal amount of stimulation and interaction during their first days. Except for our midwife doing important baby-wellness checks, no one touches or holds our baby except for Mama, Papa, and Siblings for the first several days. We never pass a baby from stranger to stranger (because even if you are a grandparent or bestest friend, you are still a completely strange situation to a newborn), respecting a time of adjustment for both Baby and Mama.  We have no visitors besides the people who attended the birth for several days. It's just US, extending that post-birth time until we are ready to open up. We can't know a newborn's perspective on things, but I try to think about what each new experience might be like for this being, and we adjust our behaviors to encourage comfort for this new person. Slowly family begins to hold baby for short times, with us watching for its communications that it is looking for Mama/Papa/Boob.

Besides that, I know that home birth is safer for me. I'm an introvert. I dislike strange situations and interacting with strange people. I tend to shut down in these situations, going on a polite auto-pilot until I feel safe or return to my place. This is not a good thing to do if you are giving birth - nor a good thing to have to override during the intensity of helping a person into this world. I want to feel safe - physically, emotionally, spiritually - and I do that best at home. The very idea of getting in a car when contractions are rocking my body seems insane. There are lots of statistics and studies done on the safety of home birth, and you can look those up. It is statistically safer provided that you've made the decision to stay home, gotten good support from a knowledgeable person, and are prepared for the adventure.

Women birth in all positions, making all kinds of noises. Myself, I seem to like hands and knees and lots of lion-esque roars. I prefer my bedroom, but have found that I like to be in different areas early on in labor. I don't like people to touch me much, I don't want to be forced to eat or drink or rest (unless things are going on and on and its for my & baby's well-being), I don't want to be confined to a single room or position - especially one based on a monitor's best position. At home, I am free to find the most comfortable postions, make as much noise as I want, use whatever space I want, and generally go deeply into my experience with the level of interaction from other people that is right for me. The people with me know me very well, have known me for many years, and can be flexible with my needs in each moment.

These are my reasons for home birthing, and what works for me might not work for everyone or anyone else. I think the most essential aspect of home birth - or any other birth - is that it comes from a place of informed choice. I don't think everyone should default to hospital/doctor assisted birth OR home/midwife assisted birth. I fundamentally believe that babies will come best when the mama feels good about her situation and is able to labor and birth with support, as opposed to falling into a decision based on assumptions or pressure.

Birth is radical and wonderful. I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to the deep, aching pull of contractions that are coming in a couple months... But at the same time, I kind of am. It's an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have had that experience twice, in my own time, way, and space.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Political Awareness & Jellybeans

Watching Obama, listening for jelly beans.
Papa-Bug majored in political science and has a special Stars & Stripes tie for election day, as well as a John Philip Sousa playlist. Naturally our family isn't going to let something like a National Election, with all it's educational possibilities pass through the edges if our awareness just because we are only in first-grade. Nope. Brother-Bug is learning all about The Election.

As I wrote here, he enjoys looking at the electoral maps over at 538. We are helping him understand a few of the simpler issues. His Godmommies live is Washington so a lot of our issue focus is on Marriage Equality, which has the benefit of being not scary (like global warming or gun control) and not very complicated (like taxes or social security).

So we have watched a couple of speeches...but...well, he is only six. They aren't very compelling speeches for a kid. How to engage a six-year old in the DNC?

Jelly Beans.

We took the concept of the drinking game, but decided that doing shots with our children was probably not the thing.

Papa-Bug made a list of words and phrases President Obama was likely to say during his acceptance speech. Each person got a copy, we got out some jelly beans, and settled down to watch. We didn't watch it live; we waited until it was on the Internet so we could pause for questions and clarification.

The list included words like:
*My Opponent
*Marriage or Married
*Economy
*Business
*Military
*Nation
*Jobs
*Governement
*Families
*Democrat or Republican
*God Bless America
 and so on.

If Brother-Bug heard a word in his list he got one (or more jelly beans). Papa-Bug scored the words - "my opponent" was worth one bean "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act" was worth five. We had to help him hear the actual words and occasionally prompt him to bring his attention back to the speech. I popped extra jelly beans in Sister-Bug's mouth to keep her quiet.

All in all, he watched the whole speech and earned about twenty jelly beans. A lot of the rhetoric went right over his head, but we expected it to. We weren't wanting him to understand every little thing, but for him to engage with the idea of a major speech. And he did.

The debates are coming up. Brother-Bug was already looking forward to them, but now that he knows there are jelly beans involved, he's really excited.

Because the debates have a different format and are somewhat less predictable than the DNC speech, we are going to change the game a little bit. We are creating just a few word groups - foreign, economy, or?? - and every time he catches something from one of those groups he will get a jelly bean.

To get ready for the debates we will watch President Bartlett in The West Wing (early season four is all about re-election) and discuss what is going on and why a debate?

And, as we have always done, we will have pizza, beer/root beer, declare November 6th a holiday, and watch the returns come in.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Allowance At Six

As we contemplated Brother-Bug turning six and the Privilege & Responsibilities he could receive, we decided it was time for an allowance. He's wanting to buy things, he's really enthusiastic about Math, and it feels like it is time.

Learning money management is tricky, and seems like a skill that just doesn't stick very well for many people. It is certainly something that we struggle with, and I know other adults around me also find very challenging. Papa-Bug and I talked seriously about how to help Brother-Bug enjoy the freedom of spending money, while also learning some of the things money is for.

Papa-Bug explains the concept of allowance. 

Years ago I read Living Simply With Children. There were some excellent ideas in there about helping with money management and I'm sure I drew on some of them as we crafted our allowance plan.

We want our kids to learn about saving, spending, and sharing. And we want to start out small. So...

Brother-Bug gets $6 each week, but there are some rules. $1 goes in his savings account (college, travel, or ???), $1 he saves in a jar for something special he wants to buy or do, and $1 he donates to something important to him, to make the world a better place. The last $3 are his to spend or save at his discretion.

Savings jars. So proud of this boy. 

We decided not to link his allowance to his chores, because we feel like our family works together to have a comfortable home and none of us get "paid" for that. But, at the same time, we wanted some personal responsibility to come with the acquisition of wealth (at six, having your own $3 is wealth!). We talked about how in the real world we can get fined for breaking the rules/laws and decided to try our some simple fines for behavioral issues. There is a ten-cent fine against the coming week's allowance (from the $3 spending money only) for shrieking, rudeness, or responding with defiance.

We got him a wallet (he chose the pinkest, most glittery one in the store of course) and yesterday he had the infinite satisfaction of a visit to Smith Family Books. He had saved $8.50 and was able to find his book for only $6.00. Having $2.50 left over makes him feel like a millionaire; paying for his own book made him feel like a grown-up. He proudly pulled his crumpled dollars from his glittery wallet, creating a chaotic pile of ones, while the store clerk looked on in delight.

First purchase. He saved up not only his saving, but also his spending money. He hugged his new book in the car, and read it in bed until he couldn't keep his eyes open any more. 


We have no idea if this is going to flow the way we imagine, but we are hopeful that Brother-Bug learns a little something about money and how it touches so many aspects of our lives. I'm sure our plan will shift and change as we explore and learn together, but for now it feels like a good place to start.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recipe: Summer Fritatta with Beef-Bacon

It is the end of the summer produce at the Farmer's Market and at the Deck Family Farm booth there was a package of beef bacon that was calling my name. The day seemed perfect for a frittata, especially since our chickens are finally laying and beginning to increase their production a little.

Summer Fritatta with Beef-Bacon

2-4 potatoes, par cooked and sliced

5-6 slices beef bacon (the only place I have ever found this, or lamb bacon which would be equally good, is the Deck Family Farm.)

2 cloves of minced garlic
1 yellow onion
2 bell peppers
1 zucchini
10-14 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1-2 cups grated cheese
Salt, pepper, herbs
1 tomato

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the bacon strips into bite-sized pieces. Fry till cooked through and remove from the pan. Sauté the garlic and onion until transparent and add the remaining veggies (except tomato) and cook till done.

While the vegetables cook, grease an 11x14 baking pan and cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over them. Distribute the cooked bacon over that, spreading it out evenly. When the veggies are done, spread them out I et the bacon.

Whip up the eggs, milk, herbs, and salt & pepper. The frothier your eggs are, the more the frittata will rise as it bakes. I used chives and dill, but use whatever herbs are handy and tasty to you.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the veggies in the baking dish. Pour the eggs over the layers. The egg mixture should come about 2/3 up the side of the dish.

Thinly slice the tomato and spread the slices over the top. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the egg doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan.

Frittata is one of those wonderful recipes that has infinite possibilities and is really hard to mess up. For myself, I've found that par cooking the potatoes is important. What do you like in your frittata?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homeschool Happens

Today is Sunday. It is not a "school day" and we don't have our usual "school time". No math, or science, or literature studies.

But really?

Brother-Bug is helping Papa-Bug brew a beer - a nice, dark stout for the colder days of fall and winter. Sister-Bug is helping too of course, but she is more of a spectator.

In the past hour or two we have covered volume measurements: how many quarts in a gallon? How can we measure that? How many gallons in a carboy? (5-7, depending on the carboy.) We watched a thermometer carefully until our heating water reached 167 degrees. Also, along with this math is a fair bit of cooking process - pouring carefully, awareness of hot stoves, etc.

As it turns out, there are 4 quarts in a gallon, and an accurate measuring device is a better choice than a bottle that looks close.

What about learning a little science on a Sunday? Right now Papa-Bug is explaining how the barley in the beer will convert its starch into sugar to make the sugars to feed yeast. We have also covered energy and thermodynamics in heating water, what is specific gravity and how to test for it using our brewing/scientific equipment, and now we are covering the conversion of yeast to alcohol in more depth.

We aren't sitting and "learning", but that doesn't prevent plenty of on the fly lessons that present themselves. I was just interrupted to hear the "first law of "propane dye-hammocks" - which he got right (thermodynamics- you can't create energy and you can't destroy energy).

I paused writing to get a batch of bread going, and now we have moved on to the intriguing question: "If we had 100,000 jelly beans and had to eat them in one year, how many jelly beans would we have to eat every day?" This was followed by the more philosophical question: "Can you have too many jelly beans?"

We have (almost) daily school time and I think that half-hour or so is important. We learn routine, sitting and focusing even if we don't always want to, and other valuable skills. The beauty of being out and about in the world with homeschooling is just that - seeing the entire world as a learning opportunity. You never know what lesson is coming your way or what question is about to be asked. So I don't worry at all when our structured school plans go askew, because often a bigger and better lesson is just about to fall in our laps and we can learn all about propane dye-hammocks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Recipe: Savory Spaghetti Squash

I stuffed up a spaghetti squash the other night, needing something easy for dinner. It turned out really well - but needed more salt than I had thought. Perhaps the nature of the squash just needs an extra pinch.

Savory Spaghetti Squash

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 lb. ground pork (this would also be excellent with ground goat...)
1 bag frozen, chopped spinach
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (optional - without the parmesan it's paleo!)
1 tbl. smoked paprika
1 tbl. oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Halve the squash and roast upside down in a baking dish until you can pierce the skin with a fork. I don't scrape seeds before I roast squash - much easier to get them out when the flesh is soft!

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the seeds out, and then scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large frying pan, cook the onion, garlic, and pork. Toss in the spinach at the last moment to soften it. Add the frying pan contents to the squash. Mix throughly, adding the spices and remaining ingredients as you go. Top with extra parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and/or paprika.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

===

I used Deck Family Farm pork, as always. I organized my deep freezer the other day and realized that I am running low on meat - it must be time to think about ordering sides!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Responsibility & A Privilage: Birthday Traditions

Brother-Bug at his "friends" party. We were pirates. 
Every family is full of birthday traditions. A special plate, a certain song, a pinch to grow an inch, specific cake recipe, a silly hat... These are how we know it is our birthday in our family. With the honors of six fresh in our consciousness, I thought you might be interested in some of our family traditions.

*The first thing we do on the birthday morning is tell that child's Birth Story. We cuddle, connect, and remember the first time we met them.

*I write the child a letter, telling them what I have noticed in the past year of their growing and changing. Or I try to - sometimes it doesn't get quite done by their birthday.

*We have a Happy Birthday Banner which I made for Brother-Bug's first birthday. It has hung up for every birthday since, and one of the kids' jobs during my labor in November will be to hang it up for the new baby.

The fabrics all came from our scrap bin - every one is from something special to our family. 

*The birthday child gives a present to their sibling(s). We hope this lessens the drama from the sibling(s) jealous that it's not their birthday, and helps the birthday child think of others, even on their special day.

*We divide their birthday celebrations in two. There is one party with friends - cake, games, and general kid-chaos ensues. There is one outing to a desert place where we celebrate with family - grandparent, aunts, uncles... And of course we celebrate all the birthday-through in our home as well. This keeps the mayhem of party-over-stimulation to a manageable level. The two are never on the same day and the guest list rarely overlaps. We came up with this after several "too big" birthday parties and it works wonderfully. With a loving community, and lots of family close by, it was really easy to spend a week or two celebrating - which ultimately wore our family out, including the birthday kid. This works better. I make sure I schedule the family event early enough that everyone can make it.

And the increasingly Favorite Tradition in our family, and the focus of this post: The Responsibility and Privilege.

*Starting around 3 or 4, they get a new Privilege and a new Responsibility. This is a favorite for Brother-Bug. As his birthday approaches, I often hear him speculating about what his Privilege & Responsibility will be.
Found inside The Card, a sign of growing. 
In anticipation of the Big Day, Papa-Bug and I begin to pay close attention to what Brother-Bug is enjoying around the house and what he might be yearning for. We plan out a responsibility that will benefit Brother-Bug as he grows and learns.

The Responsibility is something he is now big enough to do to help out around the house. I've forgotten what his responsibility was when he turned four...I think it was something simple like clearing his dinner plate. At five he was given a cooking night - for one dinner each week he chooses the recipe and helps cook it. He's been at it almost every week for the past year and he loves it. It's a little extra work for the parent assisting, but he is contributing to our family and learning valuable skills. He takes this responsibility very seriously. This year we saw that, for whatever reason, he really enjoys dumping the laundry baskets. His new responsibility is to keep the household laundry baskets empty. He's excited.

For the Priviege, he is given something that helps him celebrate his growing independence. At four he got to cross not-busy streets without holding hands. Last year he could choose his own computer time (with in a few stipulations - after teeth were brushed in the morning, not after 8:00 pm, etc.). This year he got an allowance - money that he can be in charge of. I will be writing more about the structure of his allowance in a future post, so stay tuned.

As it has turned out, the two are more mixed than we originally plan. The cooking is a favorite task that he hates to miss, and he has to use personal responsibility (getting his teeth brushed, and so on) to exert his privilege on the computer. It's kind of like the real world that way.

Our hope is that the idea of earning both privilege and responsibility with age helps our kids understand these realities better - what else are driving, voting and drinking but the same general concept on a grander scale? As they grow, these ideas will grow with them. And right now it's just so fun to see what new things the birthday kid gets to take on!

That's a taste of some of our favorite birthday traditions. What does your family do?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Birth - Brother-Bug

Today is September 11th. It's a day that marks many things. Most importantly, in our world, it is Brother-Bug's Birthday. I thought that I would share the Little-Bugs' birth stories, starting today on his birthday; on the Birth Day that made me a Mama. Soon I will get Sister-Bug's story up. Someday Baby-Bug will arrive and have a story also. But this is Brother-Bug's story. 

Our Birthday-Bug last year. 


===

9 days past my due date and ready to have my baby. Papa-Bug fiddled on his computer. I took naps, read books, went on walks. My sister and her sweetie were in town, waiting...waiting...waiting...with us.

Finally, the night of September 10th my contractions ramped up. We cooked dinner. I danced and danced to Peter, Paul & Mary; my body didn't want to stop moving. We called the midwife to let her know how things were going. "Eat" she said. "Take it easy. These things can take a while." We ate and danced. Papa-Bug held me during some contractions. We called the midwife. "Rest. Watch a movie. Try to sleep. You're going to need your energy." we settled on the bed with my sister and watched the incomparable Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. My contractions slowed and stopped and I fell asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and heaved my body into the bathroom. As I stood up from the toilet, I noticed that something sticky and clear was leaking. It wasn't a gush of waters, but more of a trickle. We called the midwife and she came out to our house. She looked at me - hugely pregnant, exhausted, and scared of what might be coming next. "Well, this baby is coming soon, buy not yet. Would you feel better if I was here on the couch?" I nodded. She and Papa-Bug made up the couch while I went back to bed. The next thing I knew, it was 8:00 in the morning. The midwife poked her head in to say she was going home to check on her daughter, but would come back if we needed her.

Papa-Bug and I were so disappointed. We had been so sure we would be holding our baby - or at least well on our way there. But here was another morning and another day to fill with meaningless tasks while we

waited.

In the afternoon, my sister and I decided to henna our hair. We mixed the mud and applied it. We waited, now for the henna to be ready to rinse; a much less antsy waiting. She and her sweetie got in the shower to rinse off. I paced in the hall, now impatient to get this henna done and find the next thing to do. I just wanted the henna out of my hair. They finished and it was my turn.

Mid-hair washing, I was struck by a contraction that brought me to my knees in the shower. It passed, I finished and troweled off. I dressed and told Papa-Bug I had experienced this crazy-strong contraction. We should take a walk to try and keep things going. Papa-Bug agreed and went to find my shoes. My little brother handed me the phone - my dad wanted to say hello and how were things going? Another rib-twisting contraction caused me to toss the phone at my brother, crouching on the floor while it passed. I lay on the couch. Papa-Bug brought my shoes and I told him I wasn't walking anywhere.

We talked about the contractions, should we call the midwife, and another contraction rocked me to howling. Papa-Bug started timing. 13 minutes between each wave. I yelled and swore, not knowing how to anticipate or understand what my body was doing. Later, my sister's sweetie would remark that he didn't know the lyrics of the birth-song were "Jesus. F**K!!!"

We kept timing the contractions. The midwife had said that a good time to call her was when they were 4-5 minutes apart. My sister's sweetie and my brother left the house to give us space. My sister took herself out of our area, waiting in case we needed or wanted her. The contractions were coming closer together and each one seemed more ferocious than the last. Papa-Bug called the midwife and left a panicked message on her voicemail (she saved it and played it for us a couple dats later), then he called my best friend - a homebirth mother of two - who listened to my howls through a contraction. She gave me the best piece of advice I received in either birth - scream low. I changed my howls to roars and felt much better. The midwife called back, listened to the roars from me and the panic from Papa-Bug and said she would be right over.

The midwife arrived. She and Papa-Bug put the plastic sheet and birth sheets on the bed. I rocked and roared and roared some more. The waves of contractions were unlike anything I had ever felt. Once the bed was made I ended up on my hands and knees, arching and twisting through each contraction. Between contractions Papa-Bug and the midwife would try to get me to lay back and rest, but by the time I arranged my shaking and awkward body on pillows the next contraction would pull me, roaring, back onto my hands and knees.

My first contraction in the shower was around 6:15. At first I had a sense of time, but as the contractions pushed and pulled at my body I lost all sense of everything except the process and rhythm of contraction-breathe-contraction-breathe. My only clear memory of this time is looking up and seeing my midwife, sitting on her toolbox, holding me in the most loving, glowing smile I have ever seen.

I really didn't think I could do it. As the baby moved down and the labor intensified, I cried and roared. It was as scared as I have ever been, sure that each contraction would rend me in two. I found out later that as I roared, full volume through each contraction, the neighbors dogs would howl and moan, another neighbors birds would chirp, and the alley cats would meow. I was, apparently, leading a chorus of creatures.

Finally I came to transition. I threw up, the amniotic sac finally broke, flooding down my legs, and I was (and still am) deeply grateful for the midwife who lovingly cleaned my body as it released everything un preparations for the baby's release. The midwife called my sister from the other room as she saw baby was getting close. She knew Papa-Bug needed to be behind me to catch the baby, but he had been supporting my shoulders, holding me up through the contractions. My sister came in and I gripped her shoulders as the baby's head moved lower and lower.

After several eternities, the baby was crowning. I know it hurt, but by then I was so deep into the process and do far out of my body that I am unable to describe the sensations. I do remember that the feeling was so intense bit my sister on the shoulder. It wasn't hard enough to draw blood, but I did leave a mark that lingered for eventual days, which she proudly showed to everyone including the clerk at the grocery store.

The baby's head came and somewhere I heard the midwife note the time (head delivered at 11:10 PM) and exclamations from Papa-Bug. Another contraction and the midwife adjusted the shoulders. Another contraction and the baby's body slid from mine into Papa-Bug's hands.

The midwife had coached us on what to do once the baby had been caught, but Papa-Bug faltered, somewhat shocked to find a whole, tiny person in his grasp. I heard "Let's pass that baby to the Mama." and Papa-Bug agreed. He tried first to pass the baby around my side, forgetting that we were still connected by the umbilical cord. "No, pass the baby through her legs, then help her lean back." But he tried to pass the baby sideways instead of head-first, bumping the wee head into my thigh. Finally the midwife helped him orient the baby just right, and I found myself looking at this tiny being. The first thing I said was, " Are you my baby?!"

Papa-Bug and the midwife helped me shift to lounging with pillows. We just looked at the baby for a minute or eternity, eventually realizing we wanted to know who this was. We looked and saw we had a little boy. The midwife lit candles, wrapped us in blankets, and left us for alone for the first getting to know our small son.

We traced his cheeks and the way his back curved. His tiny fingernails seemed so perfect and so ridiculous. His face was chubby and somewhat swollen from his birth, so he had a deep wrinkle between his eyes, making him look very serious. This was bliss.

Eventually the midwife and my sister came back into our bedroom. I delivered the placenta and helped our boy with his first nursing. My sister helped me to the shower while Papa-Bug held baby and the midwife put clean sheets on the bed. We weighed and checked out our baby: 8 lbs, 12 oz., 20 1/2 inches long, and (ouch!) a 14 1/2 inch head. He was perfect in every way.

I am still so in awe of how small he used to be, how he once fit inside my body. It seems un-real.

The midwife finished helping clean up, my brother and my sister's sweetheart came back and newborn gazed for a time. The baby, Papa-Bug, and I curled around each other. Everyone went off to bed, and our family let ourselves float in the bliss of our first night with each other.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Help Lonesome Whistle!

Over the past year I have written lots and lots about Lonesome Whistle Farm and the tasty things I do with their beans and grains. Local farmers work really hard, without Labor Day, benefits (like health insurance), and other safety nets that many of us have available. They farm because they believe in farming and love it. 

If you have read, enjoyed, or tried one of the Bean or Grain recipes I have posted here, please read this letter from Willamette Farm & Food, and consider helping these farmers out. Jeff had an accident with the combine and they need extra hands and money. Everyone does better when everyone does better. 

Thank you. 

Let's get those beans and grains in! It's harvest time. 


===

Dear friends of the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project,

Farmer Jeff Broadie (Lonesome Whistle) had a serious accident last month while working on his c
ombine.

The good news is: he’s going to be okay

The bad news is: Jeff and Kasey don’t have health insurance

The combine was jammed and Jeff was trying to free it when a bar released and hit him square in the face. A few inches closer and he’d likely be dead. A few inches further back and he might have gone unscathed. After 2 ½ hours of surgery they put his nose back together. Although his eye socket cracked, his eye is okay. He is recuperating now at home, but as you know, this is bean and grain harvest season … the antithesis to bed rest!

Here at Willamette Farm and Food, we are offering to help out by doing what we do best … NETWORK.

We are taking up a collection to help defray Jeff’s medical expenses. If you are moved to contribute, make your check payable to Lonesome Whistle Farm and mail to:
WFFC, PO Box 41672, Eugene, OR 97404

We are also organizing volunteers for a few harvest work parties in the next month. The first one will be this Sunday from 10am – 2pm [NOTE: This date has already passed]. Helpers will be hand pulling bean plants and laying them on tarps to dry.

Please bring sun hat, water bottle, and a pair of work gloves. (Directions: Take River Road north to Montmorence Drive - just beyond Lone Pine farm stand - turn left and park near red barn.)

RSVP to Isabelle@lanefood.org or call Isabelle at (541) 345-0265 (knowing how many folks are coming helps with planning)
If you can’t come this Sunday, but are interested in helping out on another day, respond to this email with your name and phone number and we will add you to the growing list of big hearted helpers.

One of the things that often motivates me to do what I do … educate people about the importance of buying locally grown food, is that I want to see farms thrive economically. Thriving … means being able to afford health insurance for your family and farm employees. I’m sure we can all rant about the state of affordable health care. In the meantime, I want to support the people who work so hard to feed us well. And I’m guessing you do too.

Thank you for your passion for good food, your interest in our local farms, and your support.

Sincerely,

Lynne Fessenden

Executive Director, Willamette Farm and Food Coalition


(Copied from Food For Thought on KLCC's Facebook Page)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Custom T-Shirts a La Freezer Paper

We painted up some wonderful t-shirts using the freezer paper stencil method. Brother-Bug had a friend over for the day, and knowing they would do better with a project to fill part of the day, I got some kid shirts and busted out my freezer paper.

Since we started making freezer paper t-shirts years ago, we have made or re-vamped many, many awesome shirts (and other articles of clothes). It is the rare item that does not turn out fabulous. There are sites upon sites dedicated to step-by-step DIYs for this craft, so I won't fill this page with those details.

You can Google "freezer paper shirt" and this page will come up. Of those possibilities, I like The Stay at Home Artist the best, but look around and see what you can find.

What I am writing about here is making these shirts with kids. With some preparation, it is a super easy project that even Sister-Bug could participate in, and yields a product that they feel really good about. Freezer paper shirts are great for giving new life to stained clothes. Brother-Bug's "new" elephant shirt was one we pulled out of his drawer; it was looking dingy and had a couple of unsightly bits. Carefully placing the elephant stencil over the stains made this old shirt new and exciting. I have saved plenty of clothes from the rag-bag with a little time and ingenuity and the appropriate application of a freezer paper stencil.

Essential number one: Pre-cut the stencil! This is slow and detailed work with a sharp craft knife. Better to get these ready during a quiet moment when excitement to get the project going isn't bouncing all around you.


Shirts in process - here we are waiting for the first color of paint to dry.
Essential number two: Don't conserve the freezer paper. It comes in huge rolls and if you cut the stencil out of the center of a large piece, the whole child's shirt can be tucked under the paper. Less smears, accidents, and other potentially sad incidents.

A birthday present for a spy/detective obsessed friend of Brother-Bug. 


Essential number three: Stick with one or two colors of paint, especially if you are working with younger children. In our project we used black to make outstanding silhouettes, and highlighted with the silvery metallic. Everyone was happy. We could have used my whole rainbow of fabric paint, but it would have meant a constant rotation of brushes needing to be washed, new paint colors to distribute, and so on. The older the kids, the more paint colors I will get out for play.

Sistre-Bug's shirt - she got a very basic stencil, the easier for her to paint. Yes, she painted this with very little help!


Essential number four: Have a thing to do while you wait for the paint to dry - away from the work space. While we waited we played outside. As soon as the paint was dry enough I pulled the paper off and carefully hung the shirts on a high laundry line. It's so hard for little fingers to resist checking the paint to see if it's dry.

Brother-Bug's renewed elephant shirt. So very cool.

When cutting out relief - like the insides of letters or the tracing of fairy wings, I have my own method. I'll attempt to describe it here, but I don't have pictures, so bear with me. In the past I always meticulously saved each little relief piece (the inside of the "D" in detective or each white piece in the fairy wings) and did my best to place them accurately.

See those wings? Each white bit needs to be saved and applied as its own piece. Meticulous and antsy work...

This time, I cut the wing relief in one piece, connecting each piece with a, eighth inch of freezer paper - truly stencil like. With the tip of my iron I anchored each piece in just one small area. Then with my thread-snipping scissors I went through and cut out the eighth inch connectors, leaving the true relief pieces in place as individual pieces. Once all the connectors were removed I ironed the true relief pieces down fully.

A couple more things:
*Make sure you follow the directions for setting the fabric paint. Most needs to be heat set with a dryer or an iron. Once it is well set these shirts are as washable as any other shirt.
*Pick something simple to start - words and fairy wings are very time consuming and potentially frustrating. If you haven't done this before, go for something fairly basic.
*I find it easiest to pull the paper off when the paint is barely tacky. When I've pulled it off completely dry paint it is much more difficult. Have a good pair of tweezers to lift of small paper bits.
*You can layer colors and even stencils! Your creativity and ingenuity is the limit here.

Look at this. They are so proud of themselves! And they look so sharp...

Have fun. Create well. The holidays are coming up... Who do you know who needs an awesome custom t-shirt?



Friday, August 31, 2012

Skin On Skin

I love my children's bodies. They are so beautiful and authentic and whole. They are so at ease inside their skins. I am constantly reminded of this in the summer because, hippy children that they are, they spend most of their time at home sans clothing. Finally this year, at 5 3/4, we have convinced Brother-Bug to wear underwear outside most of the time.

My boy turns golden in the summer.


Sharing skin-on-skin contact with my family is something that I treasure. Baby skin is so soft. A child's graceful body is to be marveled at. The intimacy of skin is magical. When I remember all this, I feel deeply saddened that there are people in this world who don't share skin with their family. 

Family nakedness is a delicate, rarely talked about subject. We fear so much - judgement of others, endangering our family because someone misunderstands, repercussions of all kinds. I started thinking about this because I wanted to post a Facebook status about waking up on a summer morning after sleeping naked together on a hot night, and how very blissful that is. I didn't post that because I feared negative, judging, or even repulsive comments. But that doesn't make any sense.

Before I delve further, let's get a little clarity on what I mean; what we do and don't do with our kids.

*We allow our children to run naked most of the time they want to (weather and social situations permitting).
*We often bathe with them.
*We go to hot springs with them and soak naked with them and other adults present.
*We sleep naked on hot nights.
*We explain our adult naked anatomy if questions arise, as well as their youthful naked anatomy and talk about keeping our bodies healthy and safe. We do this in a matter-of-fact way with out shame or tension.
*We support genital play (if your kids run around with no pants they will discover these delights very early and it can get a little awkward) because everyone does it, but ask that they take that play away from other people - it's something we all do and we do it in private. Again, no shame here. It's a privacy thing.

-We do not engage in any sexual adult intimacy (beyond nice deep kissing and loving, but chaste, caresses) while they are around.
-We do not allow nakedness in unknown places or with unknown people. God-parents' house? Fine! Dropping in on the new neighbors? Pants!
- We do not publish any overtly naked pictures of them on the internet. Even "private" can be gotten into.


In this culture we are so touchy about touching that we tend to throw the baby out with the bath water, making sure we don't somehow mis-touch our baby. There are people out there who have dangerous and deeply wrong desires, and so we hide all nakedness from our children lest we are tarred with the same brush. There are men who are parents as well as perpetrators and therefore there are good and loving Fathers who aren't allowed to watch their daughters' friends without another person (preferably a woman) present.

But most of us love our children without these issues; we change their diapers, bathe their bodies, examine injuries and illnesses. We caress their soft baby butts and bury our noses in the folds of fat to smell their special baby or child smell. They trust us with their bodies and we do an excellent job with that trust.

But we hide our love, our tactile skin-on-skin love because we are scared and ashamed?

Well, I'm not ashamed. I love the feel of a sleepy toddler body snuggled next to mine, the way the baby skin reaches out to me. I love seeing my bathtub full of Papa-Bug and Little-Bugs as he gently helps them learn to care for and clean their bodies. I love the play of light on skin when my ever-lengthening son reads naked in a sunbeam.

Look at those lovelies. 

I refuse to teach my children to feel shame or fear around nudity. I will teach them awareness and to respect their intuition and the many ways they can keep their body safe and healthy. I will help them understand that their skin is their largest organ, as well as an extremely powerful sensory organ. I will explain discretion and appropriate behavior and why we have to keep our clothes on in public locations. I will show them that the human body is just a body and nothing to fear or blush at. When they feel a need or want to cover up I will support that need.

I want my children to live comfortably in their miraculous bodies, knowing that they are beautiful
and magical.

One recent morning, I woke up to birdsong. It was a hot night, so we all slept "in our nakeds". When I woke, our skins were all touching, sticking slightly from heat. I marveled at how much skin we have between us and how my skin seems to know the skin of my family, kissed sweet dimpled elbows on a two-year old, rubbed a long lanky back on my almost-six-year old, and snuggled into my husband's waking cuddle. He and I looked at our children's bodies, perfect in the relaxation of sleep, with adoration and disbelief. When Papa-Bug got up to get ready for work, Brother-Bug cuddled close to me, throwing one leg over my side and belly, as if to keep me there or include the new baby. Sister-Bug wrapped a chubby arm around my neck and sighed. Every cell of my skin reached out to them. I fell back asleep, wrapped up in their love and touch.