Friday, June 29, 2012

A Busy Time and A Good Read

I'm not writing a lot for the next month or so. Besides the usual onslaught of life, chores, homeschooling, and pregnancy, we have family in town (parked in an RV behind my house), we just spend almost a week working up at Breitenbush, and now we are getting ready for our week out at the Oregon Country Fair.

I posted some pictures from Fair last year - it's always a mad thing to prepare for. Six days of camping, wandering, partying, parenting, and other mayhem. It's the week that most of our plans and goals revolve around every year. I can't wait to get out there, get my wings on, and have a blast.

In other news, the blogging conversation continues. A while ago, MommyMan wrote about his son's desire to wear a dress and I responded. I was completely thrilled to read a recent post from the MommyMan, in which his son dons a dress and feels fabulous - as all kids should, regardless of the clothing they wear. It's a great post and I will certainly admit to getting all choaked up while reading it.

I guess it ties into our trip to Country Fair...if only because I have to remember to get Brother-Bug's new green taffeta dancing & cocktail dress clean for the weekend...

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Day Lillies Are Blooming!

Summer is here, with Strawberries to eat and the bank of Day Lillies blooming out front. Last summer I was delighted to find out that

Day Lillies are edible!

They are so tasty added to salads.

Doesn't Sister-Bug look that post? She's grown so much in a year!

Find some Day Lillies. Eat them. Enjoy.

What is your favorite edible flower?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Strawberries to Start the Summer

Yesterday we loaded kids, carseats, snacks, and buckets into a friend's minivan - 2 moms and our 4 kids - and went questing after the fierce, but not particualrly elusive, Strawberry.

We were successful. We went picking at a friend's farm where the berries were thick and sweet.

Brother-Bug hard at work and snack.
There was great excitement from all the kids, and enough space in the open fields for them to run and scream and "help" pick berries for pies and jams and frozen treats.

I love getting kids out of the house and out of the constraints if the city. I always notice how much happier they seem, how less drastic their meltdowns become. I especially love when we can connect the experiences of outside and away to the food that we eat. It seems so empowering and health-building, not to mention FUN!

What all kids really need - space to run and play without restraint.
The strawberries taste the best when they are fresh in the field, all the better for being just a little dusty. When we bring the berries home and wash them, they still taste better than purchased berries because our work is a part of them, and our memories of toddlers free-ranging through rows of bright berries lingers around each bite.

Oh Yum!!

Berry picking should be a mandatory activity, and not only for children. Take a morning, or the whole day. Play hooky and flee to the berry patch. In most areas strawberries absurd just starting. Soon you can find blueberries or blackberries. The summer is full of sweetness.


We went picking at Riverbend Farm, near Pleasant Hill. I love this farm and buy all my canning fruits from them. If you aren't in our area, try a Google search for u-pick berries. Find your own favorite local farms to support.

Keep your eye out for a post about all the many things I will do with these berries!

I guess my work is cut out for me...

Siblings At Birth

In my recent pregnancy post I mentioned that the Little-Bugs will be here with us, around the house, while I labor and deliver our new baby. A comment was left about how to prepare children to attend birth, and it's worth a better thought-out response than another comment.

The Why:
I attended my brothers' two homebirths. I was 5 1/2 and rubbing my mom's feet when I watched, totally fascinated, as he crowned. At 9, I was not in the room for my second brother's delivery - he was a surprise breech and the midwife didn't want any additional distractions. Dad called us in as soon as Mom and Baby were stable. Both of the experiences taught me that birth is a healthy and normal process that takes place in the context of family. These lessons I brought with me when I decided to have a homebirth, and they are one of the greatest gifts I have received from my Mom. By being involved in the process, by watching my Mom trusting her body to create this miracle, I never questioned my body's ability to pull off the same miracle (well...not until I was in the thick of contractions with Brother-Bug...but that's a different story).

I want that for my kids. I want them to know and to see that our bodies are amazing, that birth is safe and joyful, if hard. I want Sister-Bug in particular, to learn from me as I learned from my mom that her body can do this if she chooses to be a mother. I want to do my little part to dispell the myths that labor and delivery are inherantly dangerous and medical. I want my children to be empowered in whatever choices they make for their bodies, and I think that watching me birth a baby is a step toward that.

Tandem nursing right after birth.

The other large component to having the kids present is the addition of another person to their pack. The concept of Mama leaving the house pregnant and laboring (which is likely scary to a little person with maybe a vague understanding of what is happening), and then appearing in a hospital room later with a baby... Many kids meeting new siblings are not old enough to make that huge mental jump. "Meeting the Baby" is an important ritual, but I prefer that my kids are involved in the process of supporting me while I bring the Baby out and into the circle of our family.

I'm not a stoic birther - I'm loud. I scream and cuss and thrash and cry. I do what my body needs to do, and Brother-Bug got kind of freaked out for the first couple of contractions I had with Sister-Bug. But he was supported through that and now has only fond memories. I have heard him explaining this process to Sister-Bug.

"Mama will scream and be really loud. If it's too much we leave the room, but she's just working really hard and having a baby hurts her. But it's okay and the midwife is there to help her and then we have our new baby. I'll take care of you..."

See what I mean about empowering my kids through their presence?

Brother-Bug was cuddled up with me and his newborn Sister within 5 minutes of her arrival. He "met" her, but it was just a part of that entire experience for him, and when he woke up the next morning he wasn't surprised that a baby was in my arms because he had witnessed her arrival there.

The How:

In every part of this process that leads to the birth, I try to find a place that the Little-Bugs can be involved.

We read books together, take their advice on names, make plans, talk through the coming months and what will happen as we wait for the baby. We talk about the birth almost daily with Sister-Bug especially. Nothing serious, just passing conversation to keep it fresh in her mind, even though we have a while to wait. As soon as they can feel it move we will play games like "get the baby to kick you in the head". When we pull out the newborn stuff they will help sort, wash, and fold. Even though we don't need any newborn clothes (we have so many that we could clothe twins and still have extras), we will make a trip to the thrift store and they can pick out a couple of things for their baby to wear.  But all of that is easy, and most people do those things. Having kids at an actual birth is something that needs extra thought and resources.

A loving person: Regardless of the age of your child, make sure that some one is available to be their support person. Mama has the Papa and the midwife, maybe there is a doula or a close friend to support the midwife and Papa. Kiddo needs a person to help, explain, cuddle, take out of the room, play with, or anything else that child needs. Select a person who Mama is comfortable with (afterall, labor and birth is about is intimate as it gets) and your kid really enjoys spending time with. Make sure that the two of them get plenty of time before the birth to hang out and establish a strong relationship.

The person you ask needs to undertand and be comfortable that they are not really there to attend the new baby's birth. They are there to lavish attention on the older sibling, whatever that means to that kid. In my mind, the people coming to care for Brother & Sister-Bug are more essential than our midwife. I can be in labor for a while before the midwife shows up, and I think I could even feel okay if I had to deliver a baby without her help, but I don't want to try to lovingly parent and support my kids while doing any of that...and I want Papa-Bug to be able to take care of me knowing the kids have what they need. 

I think this applies even for an older child. Maybe you have a 10 or 12 year old who needs an adult who is willing to come play favorite games while Mama labors. If something goes awry, it's important for the Mama and Papa to know that the older sibling has loving support and care. If Mama and Papa aren't at home, or the sibling is not able to be present in the birth room, it's important for someone with adult communication skills and less emotional attachment to be there and help communicate if necessary. 

Holding Sister-Bug on her first morning with us.

Participation from the First: the Little-Bugs go to all the prenatals. Our excellent midwife teaches them how her tools work and carefully helps them learn to use those tools with her. The kids wander in and out, see my rare internal exam, and hold the various sized fetus models our midwife keeps around for just this purpose. We answer the kids questions and engage them, and in a low pressure way we keep the focus on me. They slowly grow used to their midwife being present mostly for Mama. They see me trust her with my body. She helped me bring both kids into the world and they are familiar with her role in their stories. When she shows up at the labor, she's familiar and already very safe. She's part of their family, and we've all been working together to be ready for our labor day.

A to-do list: Find a list of age-appropriate tasks that your child can do during the birth. I was rubbing my Mom's feet at my brother's birth. I felt so helpful. Brother-Bug brought be a cup of juice with a straw while I was in labor with Sister-Bug. He's looking forward to doing that again. Your list of things to do should be:
*things that are not necessary, in case the prevailing feelings of the older sibling prevent participation.
*some tasks in the birth area and some in other rooms, should the older sibling want space from a very intense situation. 
*within your child's skill level, something they can be successful at (with help from their support person).

Our list of to-do's includes hanging up our family birthday banner, bringing me juice when I need it, drawing a birthday card for the baby, and similar tasks. 

Watch movies: This is currently Sister-Bug's favorite thing to do. I previewed a lot of homebirth movies on YouTube and came up with a couple that she watches over and over. As she watches we talk about what we see happening. Because I know my birth habits (not quiet) I made sure to choose movies that feature some good Mama-screaming. I also looked out for movies with older siblings attending. Do be sure that you pre-watch them - birth can get pretty intense pretty fast!


I cannot express how magical it is to help and support children learn about and become comfortable with the beauty, mess and reality of birth. Afterall, we all were born once...shouldn't we all know what that process is like?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: How To Park An RV Behind Your House

My dad squeezes his RV behind our house for his annual summer visit. It's tight, but we love to have him. It's even worth giving him our backyard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Love To Listen To The News

Really, NPR Morning Edition to start the day is wonderful.

Except... I can't listen to it anymore. I have small kids, with big understanding, and listening ears. I stopped listening to NPR the day that Brother-Bug (almost four at the time) overheard a news segment that elaborated on brutal gang-rapes being conducted by soliders somwhere in the world. I rushed to turn off the radio, and I think (I hope) that he wasn't really listening. Before that, I had rushed to the mute button during many a segment - child soldiers, battlefield scenes, and more - that I am not ready to deconstruct for my small children.

Above and beyond what I am comfortable with as a parent, I wonder how these segments impact veterans recently returned, on an emotional hair trigger, negotiating the tricky terrian of PTSD? Or other people who are victims of violence, or just sensitive? Shouldn't we have a choice to turn off the radio if we determine it's not something we want echoing in our heads?

Last week on Fresh Air, Terry Gross warned that some of the details in an interview about the meat industry might be unappetizing. Ira Glass has a disclaimer on This American Life that acknowledges the existance of sex, put there at the request of his producers. Surely if Terry Gross has to tell us that meat farming might be gross, and Ira Glass has to aknowledge the existance of sex before airing a radio episode (which is almost always child-safe), those who produce the news should take a similar initiative and acknowledge the existance of horriffic violence. Not everyone wants to, or should, listen to those segments. NPR should not censor their news coverage. But I should have the option to stop listening if something is too violent or too sexy or too gross for my children or myself.

I would love to re-incorporate the news into my day. I would love to have Brother- and Sister-Bug exposed to some of the events happening in the wide world. But until I feel like I can keep my children's ears safe, I won't have NPR on if they are awake. Some people may think that I am being over-protective, but I think the world is scary enough without learning about child soldiers and gang rape before elementary school.

I have written comments and letters to NPR about this issue, and received no response. More than anything else, it is that lack of response that inspired me to create the attached petiton on If anything I have written here makes sense to you, please consdier signing it - if only so that I can start my day with the new coverage that I truly miss listening to.

CLICK HERE to sign my petition and help make NPR's news coverage safe for all listeners. 

Recipe: Palee-ish Corn Muffins

As I mentioned in my Dinner Swap post, the family I swap with eats a mostly paleo diet, which I love because it makes me cook different things and approach standby recipes from an experimental perspective. Gluten really doesn't work for the Mama in the family, so regualr bread products are out. But I love to bake, and last night the menu called for cornbread. But cornbread without some wheat flour?

I did a Google search and came up with lots of recipes, bless the internet! I adapted what I found to what I wanted and what I had. I came up with these delightful muffins. I call them "Palee-ish" because the cornmeal isn't strictly part of a paleo diet. Adapt for yourself as you see fit.

Palee-ish Corn Muffins with Bacon & Applesauce
Preheat oven to 350.

1/2 cup (one stick) softened butter (if you don't use butter mix coconut oil, olive oil, and/or bacon grease)
6 eggs
2/3 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
1/2 cup bacon bits - I chopped up leftover bacon ends. So good.
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

In a stand mixer, or with a strong arm, whip the butter, eggs, and applesauce. Add the bacon bits and combine. Mix in the flours and baking powder until well blended. Scoop into muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

We served this with salmon and collards and more applesauce. It was a very satisfying meal.


A quick word on bacon ends: These are the bits that are taken off of the more uniformly shaped bacons strips. They are odd shapped and inconsistent - though just as tasty as their asthetic counterparts. Usually they are priced cheaper than bacon strips. The bacon I used was from Deck Family Farm, of course, from the pig I purchased last fall. Bacon ends are perfect for any time or place you need chopped bacon. If you are trying to eat local, organic, pastured meat they can help strech that budget a little bit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little Pregnancy Post

I'm 17-ish weeks pregnant with my little new one. Things are going well, growing as they should, and evolving nicely. Baby-Bug can hear a little, and seems to be something of a kick-boxer. We have had two prenatals with our midwife - the same midwife who was present for the delivery of the Little-Bugs - and have heard a strong heartbeat both times. It's nice to know that Baby has a circulatory system!

I thought an peek into my style of pregnancy might be fun...

*We do no internal investigations. No ultrasounds, no tests, nothing that invades the baby's special space. We would do these things if the midwife or my intuition suggested that it might be important for my and the baby's safety. But as things are progressing normally, we see no reason to fuss this very busy little individual. Baby knows what it's doing and we're trusting the process.

*We are planning to have a homebirth. I will write a longer post about chosing homebirth sometime in the near future, as well as sharing Brother & Sister-Bug's birth stories. We will transport to a hospital if the midwife or my intuition recognizes that as the safest option, but with two wonderful and successful homebirths behind me, I am confident in my body's ability to do this thing.

*Brother-Bug and Sister-Bug will attend the birth, with loving support from a couple key members of friends and family to care for them. I deeply believe that the presence of siblings at births makes the birth a normal part of their lives and the expansion of their family. I loved having Brother-Bug present for Sister-Bug's birth, and now I am delighted as he shows his sister the ropes - explaining the prenatal process to her, telling her it might be loud while I'm having contractions, and generally supporting her. He is owning his knowledge and that is awesome.

*I am still nursing Sister-Bug and will continue to nurse her and the new baby. I am, in fact, nursing while I type this post. This is called Tandem Nursing. Brother-Bug nursed till Sister was almost one. It's a wonderful way to teach sharing, and the connections that they had early on (holding hands while nursing) were magical. There will be a longer post about Tandem Nursing coming soon.

Those are the essential points. Some of them are considered controversial by some people. I'm not writing this to cast judgements on those who make different choices than me, and I hope you keep any judgements you make to yourself. These are choices that work for our family.

And now that the interminable morning-noon-and-nighttime sickeness is done, I'm looking forward to growing bigger and loving the many adventures that each pregnancy brings with it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Candyland Day

A solitary game of Candyland is kind of a bummer when Mama is cleaning and Sissy is napping...'s so much better with two.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recipe: Goat Ribs with Greek Potatoes

Not everyone eats goat, which is a shame. Goat is darn tasty and good for you. It's also the most eaten meat on the planet. I've found that if I am doing any ethnic cooking, I can substitute goat for beef...and suddenly the spice blends synthesize with the meat flavors in really wonderful ways.

The other night, having failed to locate my lamb chops, I improvised with the goat ribs I did find. If you can't find pastured goat in your area, try this with pastured lamb instead.

Bonus: There were some leftovers. I cut the meat off the bones and mixed the warmed meat & potatoes with scrambled eggs for a wonderful breakfast!

Goat Ribs with Greek Potatoes

Goat Riblets (about 2 pounds)
4-6 firm potatoes (red or yellow are best)
Butter or olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbl. oregano
Salt & pepper
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half

Chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch slices, and toss with butter/oil, lemon juice, oregano, and salt & pepper. Spread in a large baking dish. Reserve a little if the herbs and juice.

Rub salt, pepper, lemon juice & oregano into the ribs.

Place the ribs on the potatoes and cover. Cook at 350 for about an hour, remove cover and continue to cook for anouther 15 minutes. Remove ribs, let stand.

Toss potatoes with halved kalamatas and feta. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with a spinach or Greek salad. Enjoy licking your fingers and gnawing the ribs.

Note: I got my riblet from the whole goat I bought from Deck Family Farm last fall. If you are looking for this cut, you should contact the farm (or your favorite purveyor of pastured goat if you aren't in the Willamette Valley) and see what they have. You could substitute chops or a roast, but cooking times would have to be adjusted.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rite of Passage

I grew up in our local performance art scene - ballet, children's theatre, choir... Whatever would get me up on a stage. I met my husband-to-be when we were in our early teens in community theatre. We re-met many years later on performance poetry stages. Performance and stagecraft has connected us from early days.

Tonight there was a rite of passage as we dropped Brother-Bug at the same stage door we raced through as know-it-all adolescents (and before that, as nervous children) on our way to backstage call. A parent volunteer took my baby boy to touch up his lipstick and help him into his costume, in dressing rooms that I frequented more times that I can count in days past.

Brother-Bug doesn't realize yet is that the first time you touch feet to stage you've joined a tribe, that you've met your right of passage and come through to the other side a performer. It's mostly Papa-Bug and I, watching him on the stage his first time, reminiscing of our early performance memories, who walk through the rite, teary-eyed with flowers in hand, who see the rite for ourselves.

I don't know if Brother-Bug will continue dancing or performing. If he's anything like either parent, it's not a thing easily resisted once you've been under those warm stage lights. What I know is that when I picked him up backstage he was calm and grounded, but also starry-eyed. And I know that he loved it and wants to go back on the stage and back to ballet class.

I couldn't believe he is old enough, competent enough, to be up there on the stage that featured in so many of my youthful aspirations. I hope that next time he's up there, I'm a little less teary-eyed so that I can see him a little better.

And away he goes...