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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year


This is what I will be eating tomorrow. As a transplanted midwesterner, I have a weird relationship with southern food culture. On my first day of elementary school I did not recognize any of the food on my lunch tray. There were grits, greens, and ham (all freshly made in the cafeteria kitchen). When I worked at my first corporate job, several women threw me a party with the intent of introducing me to all the southern delicacies I was ignorant of.

Many years later, I am coming around. I am now in bona fide love with collards and all other greens- albeit with out the hamhock. I can make a mean red velvet cake and might even be able to tell you the difference between Georgia and South Carolina BBQ. So, I look forward to ringing in the new year with black eyes peas (hoppin john), rice and collards. There might even be some sweet tea and a peach cobbler. 

The New York Times just published a great piece on the cultural roots of this meal that will make it even more special as I remember the people who brought these foods to America from Africa. Read it here.

As I look forward to the new year, I am glad to have something so special that ties me to the past. I wish the same for you! Happy 2001!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pickle Jar Exchange

I have an amazing group of friends that I meet with each month for a night of creativity, conversation and laughter. Each month a different woman hosts and leads in teaching a creative skill. Usually there is some creative writing project too. 

We have candle dipped, sewn, paper mached, wove, made books, made vision boards and more. I love this night more than any other during the month and leave feeling energized and nourished. 

One recent project had everyone bringing many slips of paper with quotes, affirmations and inspiring words.

The idea came from an aunt who had a paper slip filled pickle jar sitting on her counter and used it as a go to for pick me ups. 

Feeling dejected? Go to the pickle jar! Wondering what to do? Go to the pickle jar!...... It will you give you the guidance and perspective you need.  

I love the idea and was lucky enough to find a great shaped pickle jar with a green top. I look forward to sharing it with my kids and husband as it becomes a fixture on our counter too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Catherine

My in-laws were visiting us when our daughter was about a year old. I got home from the office one day to be told "Vivian loves blackberries soooo much! She ate an entire carton of them for lunch!"

Hmmm. Sure enough, that night as I gave her a bath, she stood up in the water, locked eyes with me, and let loose a great loose stream of blackberry-scented baby poop, filled with seeds. It was everywhere in the bathtub, all over her 20 million bath toys, the bath mat, dissolving through the water -- everywhere. She had a very pleased expression on her face; it must have felt good!

My husband said the incident gave new meaning to the sentence "Vivian eats like a bird."

Merit Badge Tales - Erin

When my first child was about 2 months old, we went to baptism class at our church. I remember sitting in the room with the other moms, dads and babies - and I remember that many of the other babies were nestled into their carrier seats - quiet, calm and seemingly perfectly content. Not my baby. He squirmed, he (of course) could not be put down, he cried, he popped on and off my boob so many times I felt like I was performing in a peep show. Finally he settled in to nurse - nice long sucks - you know, the kind that really get the milk flowing... then he popped off. Before I could react, I had sprayed milk all over the back of the poor mama in front of me (you know, one of the ones with the perfectly quiet baby...) Hmmm... baptism by milk?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Mary

The night our son was born (homebirth) he slept in our bed and now at 14 months old he's never spent a night anywhere else. I wouldn't trade the sleepy smiles, giggles, yawns, kicks, marathon nursing, and snuggles for the anything. However I will admit that the mornings are a bit hectic. I have a bladder that demands to be emptied the moment I wake up but I also have son who's stomach demands to be fed about 30 seconds before I wake up - always. So our morning goes as so:

6:59 a.m. while I am still asleep and my son is still asleep he rolls over and latches onto my breast for breakfast. 7:00a.m. I wake up and realize that I need to urinate NOW! But alas if I interrupt my son's meal he will start to scream and wake up the whole house.So I hold it in which is very very uncomfortable. 7:15a.m. My son is finally done so I slowly scoot off the bed so as not to wake him and run to the bathroom. Ahhhhhh

One morning though, I soon realized that my bladder was not going to wait any longer, not wanting everyone to have to wake up to his screams I did the only thing a mother can do in this situation - I picked up my son and took him with me! He didn't wake up or stop nursing while I emptied my bladder or when I laid him back in the bed. He never even realized that he had been to the bathroom with me and I was just glad that I had not wet the bed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Amanda

When my two sons were 3-years-old and 4-WEEKS-old, my oldest son was jumping on the couch, after I had repeatedly told him, "Stop jumping on the couch!" (I was single parenting this particular evening because my husband was out of town, and I had invited my father over for dinner and for some extra hands to help with the 2 kids. I wasn't yet used to having 2 children.) My oldest son continues jumping on the couch, I am running around trying to warm up spaghetti sauce for dinner, feeding the baby, etc, etc. Next thing I know, the 3-year-old has (just like I predicted he would) fallen off the couch and onto a wrought-iron floor lamp with big curlicues at the bottom, ON HIS FACE! He's screaming bloody murder, and I race over to pick him up. Sure enough, he has a deep half-inch gash on his face, that nearly missed his eye by about another half inch. It's bleeding all over the place and he's screaming. To make a long story short, my Dad stays home with the baby while I take older son to the emergency room. He ends up with 4 stitches right next to his, after we had to wait for 3 hours in the ER.

Well, that wasn't the end. Oh no! About 2 weeks later, the baby has a REALLY high fever. It's 5:30 on a Friday, of course, so the on- call nurse says, "We recommend any baby younger than 6 weeks old should see a doctor if they have a fever higher than...blah blah blah. You need to take him to Children's ER." So, we head to the ER. They run a huge array of tests on him, including a chest x-ray (have you ever seen a 6-week old get a chest x-ray? It's like medieval torture.) They poke him with needles, stick in a catheter to get a urine sample, etc. etc. They almost decided to do a spinal tap to check for meningitis, but luckily the doctor has a level-head and doesn't go that far. Another very long story short, they say, "He probably has a virus. Give him some fever medicine, and call us back in a few days to get his test results." The fever went away on its own, and he was fine.

But, don't these things always happen in 3's? So, two more weeks have passed. Baby is fine (we made a follow-up visit to our pediatrician on Monday, just to make sure all was well. It was.) Older son's stitches have been removed by his pediatrician a few weeks ago. I'm at work one day, and I get the dreaded call from day care: Your oldest son has fallen and has a cut over his eye. We think it needs stitches. You need to come get him." I race to pick him up and go YET AGAIN to Children's ER. After a long wait, and having one of the nurses actually recognize me ("Hey, weren't you just here not too long ago?"), he gets the skin on his eyelid (not the same eye that got the other stitches) put back together with skin glue. As we were checking in, I asked the triage nurse if we could get a frequent flyer card, only half-joking. The best part was when my son said, "This is FUN, Mommy! Can we come back here again?"

So, in the course of a few months, I made THREE visits to Children's ER, THREE follow-up visits to the pediatrician's office, and lived to tell the tale.

I can laugh about it now because it was two years ago, but let me tell you, I was NOT happy at the time. For about six months after this, I made my husband do all the doctor visits.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Lois

Being a young mom the first time I went to the grocery store by myself with my newborn daughter was event I still remember. Loading up the diaper bag with enough supplies to last a week ,off we went. After shopping for a while going up and down the aisles she started crying...LOUDLY.. So I did what came natural ... I picked up my crying babe and left a cart full of groceries in the aisle and drove home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Susie

When my oldest son was born 19 years ago, I didn't know a single woman who had breastfed. My mother warned me not to or I might "ruin my boobs". At the time, women were given a shot after delivery to dry up the milk. The same medication has now been discontinued due to the side effects of cause strokes!!! Rory was a few weeks old when I decided I wanted to breastfeed but I was terrified that the medication I'd been given would cause him harm, so I didn't dare put him on the breast. And I was too embarrassed to ask a doctor or nurse if it might harm him.

Fast forward thirteen years and now Rory has a baby sister named Reese. I'm much more educated and enlightened, thank goodness. I now know that the only thing I want my new baby to have is breastmilk but I'm still trying to get the mechanics down. Reese was born premature and very tiny. I'm very large busted. There is a picture of us nursing when she was a day or so old and my breast was twice the size of her head. I just could not find a comfortable position to nurse, even at home.

When Reese was about six weeks old, hubby scored baseball tickets to the Marlin's game. We lived in South Florida at the time and we are huge baseball fans. I spent the first few innings holding my precious new daughter. Then she woke up HUNGRY! This was the very first time we had been out in public for any extended period of time. I left the seat to find someplace private to nurse. To make a long story short, there is no place in Pro Player Stadium to nurse in privacy. When I asked some employees, I was told to go to the bathroom or try the Red Cross Office a half a stadium away. A few minutes later, I was back in my seat trying to extract one breast, leaking everywhere with a crying newborn and juggle a blanket and one 38 H cup bra. It wasn't pretty. Just as the blanket was slipping and I was getting her latched on, we were on the Trinitron in Pro Player Stadium, nipple and all. They were panning the crowd and we were in the "lucky seats". That was the absolute end of me being nervous or embarrassed about public nursing. And it was my first time nursing in public. Quite an "outing"! lol

Two years later, we were blessed with Camden (named after the baseball stadium in Baltimore) and I discovered slings. Now I always smile when I see a slinging momma because I know she's got nekkid boobs under there with a baby attached. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Erin

My daughter's name is Lucy - so we obviously had very little choice but to have a "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" party for her 1st birthday! Invitations were a DVD of photos from her first year set to the song (of course!) ... decorations included cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over our heads (from a rented party tent that took up most of our backyard - naturally) ... favors included kaleidoscopes, marshmallow pies and tangerines (what else??!) ... her brother, dad and I donned tshirts with Lucy's photo and the words "look for the girl with the sun in her eyes" (I could cry right now thinking of how beautiful she was!!) ... the cake was made from scratch and piled high with clear rock candy (diamonds!!) ... all in all a big, excessive, over the top, wonderful day! And now Lucy recognizes "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" from the first few notes and screams "My baby song!" then sings and sways along! But would I go to all that trouble again for a kids birthday party? Oh, of course I would ... I will ... I can't wait!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Angel

I took my son (16 months old) for his second haircut yesterday. The stylist was less than friendly (You think kids' stylists would be EXTRA friendly!) and the cut was taking waaay too long, partly because my son would not keep his head still. So I did the only thing I could think of to keep him from moving: whipped out a boob and starting nursing him while she continued with his hair. His head was perfectly still for the rest of the cut.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Karen

One morning while still in my nightgown I thought I would attempt to be one of those super mom's by trying to get a head start on dinner.

Our very friendly and happy dog and 18 month old were walking about the dining room out of eyesight but only about 10 feet away so I felt comfortable with getting down to some serious vegetable chopping in the kitchen. I popped my head in the door and my son was giggling and walking in circles around the circular table and the dog was following giving random kisses. I think I smiled at how darn cute it was and then....

I got a little caught up in my veggies and suddenly realized that the doggie kisses had morphed into something a lot more like doggy slurping and rushed into the dining room.

Oh yes, the diaper had exploded in a truly spectacular fashion and had run down his legs dripping onto the floor.

This left a circular trail of liquid poop around the table which both beasts were walking through causing it to become more of a slippery poop track. Both looked as though they had taken a tumble or two since the poop was not confined simply to their feet any longer.

The dog was taking advantage of the situation to have a little snack, which meant his nose, which he was using kiss my son was also covered in poop.

I was still wearing a long nightgown as it was still pretty early and I stumbled to a halt just short of entering the poop track myself.

I looked at them both and screamed, Sit! Stay! I then grabbed the dog, enclosed her in my nightgown without touching her and ran to the downstairs shower...took off the nightgown over my head with the dog still wrapped in it and dumped her there. Looked her in the eye and threatened her life if she moved.

I ran back up naked in front of the many large open windows 8 feet from the sidewalk and grabbed a beach towel which I wrapped my son in and sprinted to the tub. I washed him and rinsed out the tub in between 3 times. Still naked I put him down for a nap and went down and gave the dog (who was still frozen in terror) the same 3 bath treatment and then put her in the yard...where she promptly rolled in raccoon poop. She got her 4th bath.

I was then left to scrub the dining room floor, three times of course (using toothpicks to clean the cracks in the hardwood floor) and then sporadically thereafter until I managed to put enough distance between myself and the poop to act like a normal person again.

I threw out the pajamas. You really can't make this stuff up...and they probably wouldn't allow it to be shown on TV.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Kimberly

I definitely earned the poop badge the other night when I had undressed my 10 month old for his bath and as we were making our way to the bathroom he started to poop. I had nothing on hand to catch it so I just casually stuck my hand under his butt and caught it, no big deal. My husband meanwhile was having kittens 'get a cloth, get a cloth, oh my god I can't believe you put your hand under there, oh yuck'. Meh. It's only poop! Anyway, I can wash my hands easier than washing a cloth.

Just shows how far I've come, from someone who'd never changed a diaper before having a child and thought that having to even look at someone else's poop would be the grossest thing in the word.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Rebecca

Our daughter was about 3 weeks old when I decided that she was old enough to be taken to her Daddy's work to be shown off. While there, I offered to let one of his co-workers to hold her. The minute she was nestled comfortably in his arms, she let out an explosive poop! I mean, this was heard through the whole office area and out into reception (their building is an old church, and this was in the sanctuary area). My husband told her, as she started crying, "That's ok, sweetie. Everyone does that to Bob." Luckily, the diaper didn't start to leak until after I had her on the floor in the ladies' room.

Merit Badge Tales - Holly

When my son was born his sugar was very low at birth so I was able to see him for all of about 3 hours before we left the hospital. I was a nervous wreck taking my baby home and I couldn't wait til his first pediatrician appointment two days later to see if his sugar had remained stable. At the end of the visit, the doctor asked if I had any questions. I asked if he could test my son's sugar. The doctor's response "well it's a blood test and I really don't like to do them on babies. I remained calm, biting my lip and wondering if this man was really a certified doctor.

The next day we switched pediatricians.

We visited this new office a few times for height and weight checks before the first set of shots that every mother dreads. I thought we had found our pediatrician until I took my son in for his shots. The doctor did the exam and then left to examine another patient while two nurses administered the shots. I was politely asked to move out of the way so the nurses could do their jobs. Of course, like any baby who had just been stuck with a sharp object, my son screamed. And screamed. And screamed. He held his breath until he turned blue in the face. Both nurses suddenly became frenzied. One started screaming "he's turning blue, set off the alarm" while the other stood there frozen and then started to cry, muttering that she shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning. It was at this point that I stormed in between both nurses, blew on my son's face, picked him up and gave him all the kisses and hugs I could. I grabbed his chart and his clothes and stormed out of the office. The next day I received a phone call from the doctor, who had viewed the whole incident on the closed-circuit television. She explained to me that it was because of incidents like these that the television system was installed. I explained to her that it was because of this incident I would not be returning to that office.

Monday, May 10, 2010

conduct a taste test

One of our favorite easy and interesting activities to do is to have a taste test. 

All you have to do is pick several versions of one type of food, make up a chart with the characteristics you will be judging and start tasting. 

This can be done as simple or complicated as you like, depending on your kids ages. 

We have done this with apples, cheese, nuts and seeds, olives, ice cream and even candy bars

Kids will try anything if it is in a taste test and are sometimes even able to broaden their palates.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Amy


For nearly six months, every poop from our son was an EXPLOSIVE poop. Out of his diaper, running down his leg and onto the floor in clumps. It was especially bad if he was in the Bjorn - something about pressure points.

The worst experience happened while we were at Target shopping and heard that familiar sound, "plop, splat!" My husband hurried out with Oliver to change him and I strolled around the store with the other kids. We finished, checked out and headed out to the car. When we got to the car it was as if some terrible struggle and abduction had occurred. There was bright yellow poop pooled by the passenger door, smeared on the car, on the dashboard and in the seat (this is the nature of breast milk poop, you know!) My son's clothes were in a pile and he and my husband were gone. A mom walked by the car as I was surveying the situation and warned her children, "watch out! Someone squirted mustard all over the ground!"

Fearing the worst, I threw my 2 kids back in the cart and began searching for the missing baby. While walking back to the store, I noticed there was a poop trail leading from the store and I began to get really nervous. I mean, good God, what had happened! Did Ollie explode and vanish into a poop realm and take my husband with him? I finally located my dazed husband wandering around the store with my naked baby and gently led him back to the car where we vowed to double up on pants or better yet, switch to a sling (preferably a water proof one).

Merit Badge Tales - Nicola



I almost wouldn't know where to begin in choosing a story for the new sex badge, but we have DEFINITELY earned this one! We've done it all -- everything from nursing the baby in order to have "just a few more moments, please don't cry now, I'm almost there" to soaking right through the sheets from a pressurized milk disaster.

A couple of my favourites would be the time that my son walked in on us to see his father's back end poking out the top of the bed and exclaimed, "I see Daddy's bobbum!". Or the time that he needed to have his doctor's stethoscope fixed and brought it to me right in the middle of intercourse. I took it from him, reattached the missing piece, and handed it back without missing a beat.

As for mood music, it has always been Dora in our house. If we hear the "We did it!" song start and we haven't actually done it ("Oh no! The song!"), we know that its time to put on some major speed. Keeping the romance alive...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spend some time this week really enjoying the spring weather. For the past few weeks we have been laying in the grass, watching clouds, blowing bubbles, eating our meals, and day dreaming. We know it will not last, as summer in Flordia is very similar to walking through hot pudding - but now it is amazing!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


* no picture - they were eaten up to quickly!

We have made the switch from breakfast cereal to hot breakfasts and one of our favorites is "handcakes." We call them that because we eat them with our hands. The sweetness is in the pancake so we do not need syrup and utensils. Here is my recipe adapted from an old Fanny Farmer cookbook. This is a big batch that feed our family of 5.


1 1/2 c milk
2 T canola or olive oil
2 eggs
2 c flour (I use all white whole wheat or a combo of hard whole wheat and white)
4 t baking power
4 T sugar (or honey, or brown sugar)
1 t salt

mix liquids, add dry and whisk up and cook. I love my electric griddle for cooking these. The fun part is adding in goodies. We like chocolate chips, bananas, pecans, pearl sugar, fruit powders, fresh or frozen berries, unsweetened coconut and so on. They fill the kids up for the morning like cereal never did (especially if eating with a smoothies or cup of yogurt).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Merit Badge Tales - Wendie Howland

Ever wonder what Seattle Poison Control will tell you when you call because your 15-month-old has eaten dry dog poop off the sidewalk? "Wipe out his mouth, give him some water to drink, and try not to think about it." True story.

Ever wonder what kind of diapers you get when your four-year-old feeds your 15-month-old a fifteen-pack of Juicy Fruit gum? Use your imagination. This same kid once consumed an entire tube of toothpaste, also with amazing diapers, with mint-flavored foam in them. Yes, the same kid who ate the dog poop. Twenty five years later and he's still eating everything, only more appropriately.

My firstborn was a wonderful nurser and she and I had no problems at all with it. And here we were, downtown on a cold rainy Sunday afternoon waiting for the bus home and those familiar "aaa-aaa-aaa" sounds started emanating insistently from the Snugli. She was just getting really worked up when the bus pulled up and I ran to the back to sit down in that big, empty seat across the back. Aaaah, baby to breast, release, quiet.
Suddenly, I'm surrounded by an entire team of teenage football players, shouting and joshing around, sitting all around us, next to us, in front and behind us. And since nobody ever notices a QUIET baby, they never noticed a thing. I never worried about nursing in public after that.
Although I did have to teach her the meaning of the word "Later" when at nine months she took it into her head to yank down my tube top while she sat in the grocery cart. Well, it was right in front of her.


Highly recommended if your children love:
pre 1970’s Disney films
cats dressed up in doll clothes and being pushed around in a pram
Egyptian cat heaven
tear-worthy emotional drama
pretty ladies who live in the woods nursing sick wildlife


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