Thursday, March 31, 2011

yoga baby

Liam held this pose for a few minutes. I just sat there laughing at him. He wasn't rocking back and forth or anything. Just sitting perfectly still like this. Does this look comfortable to anyone? Looks like my little boy isn't afraid of some manly yoga.



And, yes, he is rolling over and propping himself up on his own. I'm still in shock. Seems like he's growing up 10 times fast than Graham did.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

i want this (and your opinion)

I want this. No, let me rephrase that. I want to be able to use this. It is an infant seat for a bike trailer.


Over the summer we bought a bike trailer. This bike trailer, to be exact. Trek GoBug (no longer made).


I had grand plans of biking all over the place with the kids in the trailer. Yes, I want to be one of those moms. However, I soon realized that you aren't supposed to put kids into a bike trailer until they are 1 year old. So much for biking around town anytime soon, right?

So here's my beef. How in the world are people with kids supposed to live around here without cars?? I swear our country is designed (and we are socialized) to only drive cars.

Before I get into this, please consider the fact that I like public transportation. I love the idea of only using a car for significant distances, but I don't profess to actually follow that lifestyle. Try looking at this from that point of view instead of just saying, "Drive your car, idiot."

Problem #1: My double stroller is too big to take on buses. Even if I broke down the stroller and took up the entire aisle of the bus with it, I can't even imagine trying to get everything onto the bus and then trying to wrangle both kids during the bus ride without them being strapped into the stroller. That was hard enough when I only had Graham.

Problem #2: Sure, I could put Graham in an umbrella stroller and strap Liam onto my chest. That way I could actually physically get on a bus. Only I wouldn't be able to get anything back home with me, so things like grocery shopping would be out of the question.

Problem #3: I work during the week, and Christian works evenings and Saturdays. So if I want to go run errands when I'm home, the kids have to come with me. That means I have no choice but to drive a car, because of Problem #4...

Problem #4: I can't put my 3-month-old in a bike trailer.

Interestingly, the Weber Baby Seat pictured at the top of this post is for kids under 1 year of age. From about 1 month until 9 or 10 months, to be precise.

This Chariot sling below (similar to the seat above, but flimsy) is sold in the US and says it should only be used when using the Chariot as a stroller, not as a bike trailer.


The Weber seat says no such thing and is only sold in Europe.

Do you know what that tells me? People in Europe put their babies in bike trailers way younger than a year, and it's okay.

Are their kids going to grow up with neurological problems?

Are we paranoid here in the US?

I completely understand the safety concerns associated with the constant jostling of a small infant's developing brain. Honestly, I think the ONLY thing that should be debated with infants in bike trailers is the potential effect of jostling on neurological development. They say a baby's neck can't support a helmet, and they can't ride without a helmet, but I think the helmet argument isn't as important. A baby strapped into a bike trailer with a roll bar (without a helmet) sounds safer than a young child on a tag-along bike (which is completely acceptable). So the only problem in my mind is the jostling.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I have found in all my research is this site, where a man is using a 7-pound doll to test the G-force of various "safe" and "controversial" activities on newborns (everything from bouncing on a knee to riding in a baby bjorn to riding in a bike trailer on a gravel path). Fascinating.

Or maybe the debate has nothing to do with the babies at all. Maybe it's all due to the fact that we are not a bike-friendly country and that cars rule the road, making any biking situation unsafe. Is my 3-month-old any safer in my car going 75 on the freeway? I'm not so sure.

What do you think?

Monday, March 28, 2011

weekend 13:52 - Hollister

My cousin and his family were passing through town, so we all had dinner in Hollister. I love getting together with everyone in Hollister, especially in the springtime. My parents' house sits on an acre of land backed by open fields and a backdrop of country hills. It is beautiful.




We also celebrated Ian's birthday with a big huge chocolate cake. (That's a lot of little Carter girls at one table...)


Graham got his eat on.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

bulk products

So I used my new produce bags for the first time today. I don't have nearly enough! I took 8 bags with me, but I easily could have used twice that. I ended up not bagging most of my produce so I'd have more bags left over for bulk products. (Do bananas, melons, lemons, and yams really need bags? I think not.)

I was asked in my previous post if the checkers gave me a hard time about using my own (non-see-through) produce/bulk bags. Not at all. I could have had the bags weighed when I first went in and had the checker be sure to use the bag's tare weight instead of the standard plastic bag tare weight, but I didn't bother. The difference in weight is so insignificantly small. Besides, they gave me a 5-cent credit for every bag of my own that I used. Not just my reusable shopping bags, but all 8 of my produce bags as well.

For my produce, I just left the top of the bag open so they could see what was in it. For the bulk products, I attached the tag with the written price code onto the drawstring. It didn't take the checker any longer than it would have with the plastic bags.

Remember when I tried to rush from my teaching job to Ikea, and made it there 15 minutes before it closed, only to find the doors locked? Well my friend, Lindsay, was in Ikea the next day, remembered my post, called me, and volunteered to pick up whatever it was I had needed. She is the best!

I needed these beauties.


I love these SLOM glass jars from Ikea. They are probably 15 inches tall and only $3.99 each. I had 2 but wanted more. Thanks to Lindsay, I now have 8. Tonight I realized I could easily use another 5 or 6.

Since I've been trying to use bulk products as much as possible, here is how I organized everything.

I weighed a jar to get its tare weight (using my trusty kitchen scale). Then I filled the jars with flour/beans/oats/pancake mix/dried fruit/powdered sugar/etc. and wrote on the jar with a permanent marker. I love writing on glass with permanent marker (in case you didn't know...)


Yeah, I probably don't need to label write rice in a clear jar. It's pretty obvious that's what it is. But I did it for consistency since I had to label other things like pancake mix and flour.

After adding the food, I weighed each jar again. This told me how much of each product would fit in the jar, which I wrote on the bottom of each jar. This way I can know exactly how much to get at the store when it runs out.


I also put all the code tags into a plastic baggie and threw it in with our shopping bags. This way I can just reuse the tags whenever I go, since having to write the price code down every time is annoying.


Don't they look great on the piano? Don't worry. They went in the cupboard after I was finished weighing and labeling them.


I now get all the following products from the bulk bins:

white flour
wheat flour
white sugar
brown sugar
powdered sugar
cocoa powder
white rice
quinoa
couscous
oats
pancake mix
dried mangos*
black beans
kidney beans
cashews
raisins
corn meal
kernel corn for popping
twisted honey pretzels

*I had Graham at Sprouts, and Christian had Liam at Costco. Without realizing it, we both bought dried mangos. They were actually cheaper in the bulk bins at Sprouts.

Before you ask how in the world I had time to do all of that, just know that there are 3 loads of laundry sitting next to me waiting to be folded and tons of dishes in the sink. I make time by ignoring things I really have to do...

domino effect

I need to get my bike and trainer out of the garage so I can go on a ride in the living room. (Go away, rain!) I wanted to wait until Graham was asleep so he wouldn't try to get near the wheel spokes while I rode. That would be a disaster.

He is now asleep.

However, I don't feel like I can "go" on a ride until the groceries are put away.

I had to clean out the fridge in order to fit the groceries.

In the process I filled the sink with dirty tupperware.

I can't put all the groceries away until I rinse out my new glass jars for my bulk products.

I can't rinse the jars until I clean the dirty tupperware filling the sink.

I figured I would crash and burn if I attempted all this work without eating anything, since it's noon and I never ate breakfast.

So I made a sandwich.

Although now that I think about it, the bulk products can wait to be put away until I'm done with my bike ride.

The only problem now is that I'm not someone who can exercise on a full stomach. Curse you, turkey sandwich!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liam's blessing

On Sunday Christian blessed Liam at church. It was very nice to have our family and some friends at church with us and see the men form the tight little circle around Liam for the blessing. As they came together I had this wonderful sense that little Liam was so protected and safe in that little huddle of people so special to us.

Liam wore a little outfit that was Christian's when he was a baby (different outfit than Graham wore for his blessing), hand-me-down argyle socks from Amy, and the little blue shoes my friend Sally gave me when Graham was born.

After the blessing, everyone came over to our house to eat and chat. Little kids ran around like crazy--8 little boys here and 1 little girl.

It was a special day. We love our little Liam and are so grateful to have him in our life.












starting vegetable seeds

This is my first year with a yard, which means it's my first year with a real vegetable garden! Last year I grew a tiny vegetable garden on my porch, but I failed miserably at starting seeds. I think I didn't water them enough, because anything that actually sprouted ended up dying. After that I vowed to only buy vegetable plants from the nursery.

But then a year went by and my confidence recovered. So I went out and bought lots of seeds!

I decided to make my own seed starting cups out of newspaper. I saw the idea for little newspaper seed pots on the Backyard Farming blog. I liked this idea better than going out and buying plastic seed-starter trays. So I got to work.

First I had to find newspaper... Borrowed some from my neighbor. Christian brought some home from work.

I forgot to take a picture of the beginning of the process, so here are two pictures from Backyard Farming. You cut the newspaper into strips, wrap them around a small jar (I used a medium size spice jar--one with about a 2-inch top).


Tuck the extra newspaper into the opening of the jar, pull it off the jar, turn it over, and smash down the tucked-in newspaper to create the base.


Then fill the cups with dirt! I saved various plastic trays to put them in (the bottoms of milk jugs, cookie trays, cupcake containers from the cupcakes I took to my ESL class...). I also cut some of the leftover plastic into tabs to label the plants.



I'm not going to lie--rolling the newspaper and filling the little pots with dirt was time consuming. It wouldn't have been nearly as time consuming if I had counted my seeds correctly. Somehow I calculated that I needed 50 little pots. So I made 50 little pots. When it came time to plant the seeds, I planted 20 pots and was done. I sure felt dumb that I had been so off in my calculations! Turns out I included all the seeds I planned to plant directly in the ground. Oops! So I gave the rest to my sister.

I planted more seeds than I would need, expecting some of them not to grow. Want to see how well my seeds are doing?

The chives are not doing so well. I failed with these last year, too. I guess I'm not meant to grow chives from seed.


The peppers are making an appearance! Some bell peppers, some habanero peppers, some piquillo peppers, and some sweet yellow peppers. I read a tip to cover them in a plastic bag to keep them warm. When everything else started growing except my peppers, I ditched the bag, and now they are starting to grow.


The tomatoes are like a forest! (Note the orange int he picture for scale.) Almost all the seeds grew! Cherry tomatoes, big purple heirloom tomatoes, and tomato seeds I harvested from my CSA last year. We are going to have lots of tomatoes.


Last, but very much not least, are the watermelon and zucchini! 3 decent-size watermelon plants and 3 HUGE zucchini plants! I need to get these bad boys in the ground stat, but the never-ending rain is making that difficult. So I guess they will just keep growing!


Now if the rain would just stop, I could plant everything...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

reusable produce bags

We've been buying our grains, beans, flour, etc. in bulk, and we've been using a lot of produce. I came home from my last trip to the grocery store with at least 15 plastic bags filled with our produce and/or bulk stuff. And I didn't even bag all the produce I bought. It was ridiculous.

I've also been reading a Zero Waste Home blog (thanks to my mom who likes to pass on interesting findings to us kids). This family only buys products in bulk in order to not bring home any packaging that results in waste, and in order to do that, they use fabric produce/bulk bags and glass jars for meat/dairy products. Fun to read about.

So this week I finally got around to making my own produce bags.

I took a mismatched sheet (we seem to have a flat sheet but no matching fitted) and cut it up.

I folded it in half and traced a plastic produce bag as a pattern. (Note: After sewing the bags, I think this is too large. I recommend making them about 3 inches shorter than the plastic bags from the store.)


I realized that the edges of the sheet had been finished in such a way that I could put a drawstring through the hem, so I was sure to line it up so that two of the original sheet hems lined up as the top of the bags.


I then folded the fabric over itself accordion style and cut, cut, cut until I had 8 large bags, 4 medium bags, and 3 small spice bags (Sprouts sells spices in bulk, so I can use these any time I need to refill a spice bottle.)


I sewed the sides, inserted some clothesline cord, and voila!


One of these days I'l like to carve a linoleum print just for these bags to give them some character, but for now I'm just happy to have resuable produce bags.

{Note: While these bags weigh next to nothing, they do weigh more than the plastic grocery bags. I can have them weighed and mark the tare weight on them so the grocer can subtract the tare weight from the produce I buy. However, they are so lightweight that I doubt the miniscule bit of extra weight will really affect the cost of the produce much.}

update on the prolapse: 13 weeks postpartum

For anyone out there on the web who finds my posts about my bladder prolapse, I am writing this for you!

It's like it never happened. 13 weeks after I gave birth, 11 weeks after I noticed the prolapse, I don't even feel it. The only time I even remotely notice it is when I carry my baby around in a baby wrap/sling/carrier for any period of time. And even then it's just a slight discomfort.

As for exercise, I ran twice about a month ago (so around 8 or 9 weeks postpartum) and the running did not cause any extra discomfort. I had to stop running, because I injured my back (completely unrelated to running or the prolapse). This week I will start running again, and I am confident that the prolapsed bladder will not affect me in the least.

I bought a pelvic floor exercise DVD from Hab-It.com and I highly recommend it. I knew I wouldn't use it daily like I should (because I'm a procrastinator and a slacker), but I used it a couple times a week, and I do think it helped. In fact, I really need to start using it again--and consistently. These exercises are helpful for any woman, not just people with prolapses.

I have also been doing yoga at home, which has not only helped my back but has strengthened me in general, and I believe that strengthening in general has a great effect on the prolapse.

Last, I have been very careful NOT to lift anything heavy. Doing so can have a negative effect on the prolapse until your pelvic floor has recovered and is strong. Lifting something extremely heavy is also how I hurt my back. After being pregnant and on bedrest, my back was about as wimpy as could be, and I wasn't careful. Now I'm trying to strengthen it through yoga.

In fact, I am so confident and optimistic about the state of my bladder and my ability to exercise that I signed up with my brothers to do an XTERRA Triathlon in Lake Tahoe in 12 weeks. (I will be doing the Sprint distance, of course.)

Wish me luck. I'm not sure what I just got myself into...

But for those of you out there with a cystocele, don't give up hope. Start strengthening your pelvic floor and kick that bladder in the butt. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

vote: upholstery fabric

I have a list of projects I have to finish before I even attempt to teach myself how to upholster furniture.

1. Finish building worm box.
2. Plant vegetable garden and re-pot redwood tree.
3. Hang canvas print.
4. Hang art in bedroom.
5. Organize bulk items in kitchen.
6. Organize garage.
7. Make a significant dent in acquiring our emergency preparedness food storage.
8. Finish sewing produce bags.

Considering how long it takes me to finish projects, it will be years before I dig into upholstery...

Regardless, I LOVE searching for fabric. I want the chair to be a pop of color in my living room, and the red/gold/tan just isn't cutting it for me.



So I'm going to have you all vote on which fabric you like best. Granted, almost all these Duralee prints all cost $20-40/yard, which is a bit steep for this broke mama. Granted, I'm not even sure any of these are upholstery weight, but this is just playful planning. Perhaps if I start saving now, I'll be able to afford the fabric when I get to this project in 5 years... :)

Give me your top 3 choices! (Some of the swatches don't show a ton. Use your imagination.)

Click the image to enlarge.



{My timing is impeccable. I wrote this and then searched through my old blog posts to find a picture of the chair. Turns out I wrote a post about the project a year ago tomorrow. I guess the end of March means I have upholstery on my mind. It must be Spring...}

Sunday, March 20, 2011

weekend 12:52 - Pinkberry

This weekend was also Liam's blessing, but we will save that for another post all its own.

On Saturday afternoon, Graham was as cranky as can be. Meltdown city. We decided he needed to get out, so we went to Babies R Us to get some supplies, and decided to go eat at Five Guys after (since we had never been there). Graham shoved hotdog pieces and fries into his mouth faster than I have ever seen him eat. He was a monster. Then he desperately wanted some of Christian's soda. Hey, if the kid is eating hotdogs and fries for dinner, a little soda isn't much worse. By that point Graham was about as hyper as could be and had us laughing our heads off. He was SO happy and having SO much fun.

We realized there was a Pinkberry just across the patio. Since we had never been there, we decided to go try it out.

Because it was pouring that night, we were practically the only people there. Graham ran around laughing, climbed on and off chairs to his heart's content, and was an absolute riot. The cutest thing ever. (Liam slept...)





We had such a fun little family night that we decided we would be back to Pinkberry many times in the future. And I decided I was obsessed with the chairs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

obsessed



We went to Pinkberry for the first time tonight. (Yummy!! But more on that later.) I am obsessed with the green chairs at the Sunnyvale franchise. Not the white chairs. Only the green chairs.



I am the (self-proclaimed) queen of online searches. If the information is out there, I can find it.

I cannot find who makes these chairs. They aren't the $350 Phillipe Starck Ghost chairs in many of the franchises. That info is all over the web.

I didn't think to ask while I was there, and I can't find anything online, so sent an email to Pinkberry. I am determined.

I'm really not one to "obsess" over things like this (clothing, shoes, decor), but I want these chairs. Think they'd notice if four disappeared? ;)

Friday, March 18, 2011

on patience

My patience ebbs and flows with the moon, it seems. As many of you know, Christian is looking for full-time work. And not just any full-time work. Sure, the plant nursery down the road is hiring. Nordstrom Rack is hiring. Door-to-door sales companies are hiring. He could find full-time work if he wanted to, but he isn't looking for just anything. He is looking for full-time work in his career path. Full-time work in his field that would also offset my Stanford job and allow me to stay home with our kids.

(Don't worry--I can post freely about this. My boss knows full well that I plan to stay home with my kids as soon as our employment situation allows for it. I work with great people.)

Searching for a job can be stressful, and in my case, I almost feel like it's even more stressful that I'm not the one doing the searching. As I've mentioned a gazillion times, I like to have a plan. It takes everything in me NOT to impose my planning obsession on Christian. If I didn't show a little restraint, I'd end up with a full report of job applications, follow-up calls, common interview questions and answers, and a detailed plan all laid out on a calendar in our kitchen...and a husband who would never talk to me again. Christian doesn't work the same way I do, and I'm sure my obsession with planning grates on him. So I show restraint and try to let him do his thing his way. That doesn't mean I don't interject and offer my help and advice (and I'm sure it has helped out in various areas of his job search). I just don't take over what's not mine. (Or at least I try my hardest not to...)

With that great big long preface, I will get to my point.

Amidst this stressful situation that was, for the most part, out of my hands, I was hit with a huge wave of peace. Of patience. Of acceptance. It was a week before I was supposed to go back to work.

When I went back to work after Graham, I was dreading it. I cried (more than once). It was hard for me to leave him at home. I got over it, of course, and I was just fine. But I still had this resentment for work.

Then I had Liam. About a month ago I was forced to think about what I was going to do with my teaching job. I couldn't possibly work full time and teach at night. I would never see my kids. Emotionally, I just couldn't do it. Once more, I felt resentment. I had to go back to my full time job and would therefore have to quit a my teaching. Leave a class I love. Take a step backward in my teaching career. Giving up my teaching position in this economy was a guarantee that I wouldn't get back in until the economy fully recovered. I was torn. I was sad.

Eventually I was able to work out an arrangement that allowed me to keep my class but only teach one night a week (another teacher would teach my lesson plans the other two nights).

And then it hit. I was calm.

I wasn't worried about going back to work.

I wasn't worried about Christian's job search.

I wasn't worried about anything.

I was calm and content and felt peace. No other way to describe it.

I have been back at work for a week, and I felt fine from the start. Absolutely fine. Things will work out when they are supposed to. Until then, I have patience, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

asleep at the table?

I've definitely heard of other people's kids doing this, but I thought it could never happen to mine. Graham WILL NOT fall asleep anywhere if other people are in the room, no matter how tired he is.

Turns out that is no longer the case.

This is the text I just got from Christian: "I was feeding and changing Liam and Graham was complaining then stopped suddenly. I got up and he was out."



Aw, Budkins--You are too cute.

Monday, March 14, 2011

weekend fun 11:52

Happy Birthday, Mom! For my mom's birthday we all went to Shoreline Park and flew kites. How have I never done this before??

The tall grass reminded me of Hollister. When's the last time you laid down in tall grass? It's wonderful.

(Photos stolen from my brother.)



Saturday, March 12, 2011

weekend fun 10 (and a half):52

This weekend we got together for a little rock clearing party at Ashley's house. She wanted to clear the rock driveway in her side yard in order to plant a vegetable garden, so our family got together and helped clear out all the rocks!

We ate food.

We found salamanders.


Tyler shoveled.

Dad moved rocks.


Graham threw dirt.

Mom watched kids.


Diego and Charlie "one-up-ed" each other all afternoon.

Ashley raked.

Amy even worked. This may be the most yard work she has ever done. ;)


Scout ate all of Amy's homemade cheese crackers off the counter.

While the others worked their butts off, I mostly sat in one area sorting the rocks out of the dirt. Because of my back pain, I can't use a shovel, hoe, rake, pick ax, etc. or I would have been crying by the end of the day (quite literally). This pretty much left me nothing to do but sit and comb through the dirt making it nice for gardening. So I did. I sure hope my back recovers soon, because I have my own garden to get ready, too!