Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quack Like a Platypus

I've struggled for a little while now of how to put this into words, but here goes...

I was privileged enough to be able to receive a great education. I am truly blessed to have studied under some amazing and wonderful minds, forerunners in their fields, and scholars respected worldwide.

I also received a much more covert education in the process. In the process of learning Biblical text and Koine Greek, Family Systems and therapeutic theories, I learned that I needed to be a certain type of person in order to be successful.

Successful ministers, especially successful female ministers, are quiet and reserved. They're modest and conventional in their appearance. Their interests and hobbies should be related to the church, home or family. They are well versed in scripture, but they aren't preachers. They have excellent organizational skills, but are not to be in leadership.

Successful therapists also dress conservatively, but should also be in fashion. They aren't loud or boisterous. They are always presentable and never appear to lose control. They are always available and compassionate, but they are asexual and slightly aloof at the same time.

No one spoke these lessons. They weren't on any syllabus, and I even had some professors actively fight these messages, but they were received any way.

When I became a mother, particularly a mother in a politically and religiously conservative area, I got a whole new set of messages: Everything should be about my children. I should feel completely fulfilled in every way when I change a diaper. I should sacrifice my body, mind, and spirit for the purpose of making my children happy. My value as a woman in this society is based upon how presentable my home is and well behaved my children are.

Again, no one person told me these things, but still these messages took root in me, and like Devil's Snare they tangled me up and gripped me in their thorns. This weed grew slowly and it took a long time to realize how much I had let it strangle me.

I love my God and the Church, but I am neither quiet not reserved. I love with great passion and my soul delights in boisterous worship. I am truly honored to be in a place where I can serve those with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, but I could never be a therapist in 50 minute blocks. I care too deeply for people to detach in such a way. I absolutely love and adore my children and they mean the world to me, but there is a whole big world beyond these two little souls.

I have recently begun to notice how I let the expectations and messages of my particular religious and geographic culture shape me into someone I am not. I have stuffed my own passions and loves down in order to fit some ideal with which I don't even agree.

I say, "No more!"

From now on, I am exactly who God created me to be, and that is more than enough. God made me to be a loud, crazy, hyper, lover of people and art, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. My husband told me today that no matter how hard you try as a duck, you'll never be a fish. A friend followed up and said screw the duck, be a bad ass platypus.

So here I am, quaking like a platypus and proud of it!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Interview with Haille, Birth Boot Camp Instructor

I've had the great privilege to get to know Haille Wolfe through our local group of naturally-minded mommas. She is a wonderful lady with a beautiful family including her husband and five children! Haile teaches a unique type of birth preparation course called Birth Boot Camp. I got to ask her some questions and I'm so glad to share them with you now.

Here's Haille with her latest little one!

"If you don't know your options, you don't have any." - Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

Amie: Haille, tell me a little about Birth Boot Camp and what made you want to teach these classes.

Haille: 
One of the biggest barriers today’s childbearing women face is not knowing their options when it comes to how they will birth their baby. Sure, there are lots of blogs, books, and articles out there that can give you some ideas for how you’d like things to go. But where can moms go to get the complete, comprehensive information they’ll need to make informed birth decisions?


If you’re thinking you will learn everything you need to know at your OB appointments, then this may come as a huge wake-up call. Obstetricians are not birth educators – they have lots of patients and little time. This means when you go in for an appointment, it is not likely there will much conversation beyond checking on your general wellness. If the hospital offers a birth class, they will likely refer you there.
While a hospital class may be great to get a feel for the location where your baby will be born, they aren’t usually fully comprehensive. Often, a hospital class will give you a tour, an overview of the birth process, and explain hospital protocols. These protocols are not presented as “optional” – they are stated so that you know ahead of time what will be done. Mothers typically do not question the protocols. After all, they must be in place for a reason, right? The truth is that many routine practices at hospitals are simply that – routine. You need to know that you DO have the option to individualize your care based on your specific desires and needs.
So, where in the world can an expecting mother learn ALL her options? I’m so glad you asked!
I became a Birth Boot Camp instructor in July of 2013 so that I could help women in the Big Country prepare for birth. I chose to teach this curriculum because it is not only a thorough presentation of options, but it also provides couples with a whole tool-kit of techniques that can be used to achieve a natural birth. Here is what you can expect to learn in the 10 week series: http://birthbootcamp.com/about-birth-booth-camp/natural-childbirth-curriculum-class-description/
Even (or ESPECIALLY) women planning a medicated birth can benefit greatly from classes. Here’s why: http://birthbootcamp.com/are-birth-classes-for-women-planning-an-epidural/.
When you take a live class you also have peace of mind knowing that you are learning from a highly trained instructor who has actually birthed naturally herself. Because of my own experiences with natural birth, I can instill couples with authentic confidence that their body is capable of birthing a baby and that they are also strong enough to do it without the use of numbing medications. Mothers need someone to believe in them when society does not!
Another great thing about Birth Boot Camp is that it is easily accessible! I will always recommend taking live classes. However, if you are in an area that does not have an instructor (YET!), you can register for online classes. If you happen to be in my area, but are still too far away to come for class, or if you have a circumstance that prevents you from attending live classes, the online option is a great choice. I encourage anyone in my area who is interested in the online class to get in touch with me. I am passionate about birth education, so even if we aren’t seeing each other for classes, I still want to be available to answer questions and offer support and encouragement through your journey!


“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” Laura Stavoe Harm

Amie: What do you think is the biggest challenge a mother faces in having a positive birthing experience?

Haille: 
I think the biggest challenge a mother will face during her birth is being rolled through a system of routines in protocols without ever getting the benefit of making her own choices through informed consent. Many procedures are done without a full explanation of the pros and cons of said procedure. Care providers are busy and often have a limited amount of time to sit down and talk about all the different effects a certain procedure may have on labor and the birthing experience. 

Most moms go into birth thinking they'll go to the hospital, go through labor and give birth vaginally. They don't anticipate the possibility of cesarean section. I think that if more moms knew that the cesarean rate in Abilene is more than double the rate recommended by the World Health Organization, they'd be inclined to educate themselves ahead of time in order to avoid an unnecessary c-section.

Amie: Do you think that there is a stigma against natural birth? If so, how do you think that will change?

Haille: 
The other day I read an article with a quote that I felt explains my thoughts on this perfectly:
 "Today's average childbearing woman thinks the notion of an unmedicated birth is the equivalent of suggesting that women should eagerly embrace torture."

So yes, I do believe there is a stigma against natural birth. Instead of our culture viewing birth as a normal and natural process, we view it as always perilous. My hope is that as women begin educating themselves and sharing their birth experiences (both positive and negative), it will encourage women to take back responsibility and ownership of their birth process. 

Amie: How should an expecting father prepare for his child's birth? 

Haille: 
As a birth educator, I FIRMLY believe that husbands benefit tremendously from a comprehensive birth class. If birth seems scary to most women, think about how our partners must feel? Education is the key to eliminating fear. Knowing how to help and when and why an intervention may or may not be needed makes the birth experience better for dad too.

Also, I think it's important for fathers to really listen their wife's wants and needs before the big day. Birth experiences impact our relationships - if your wife has a traumatic birth it directly impacts you, Dad. Hear out your wife's desires. If she feels that hiring a doula will help her have a better outcome, she is probably right. Let's not forget she will be the one birthing your baby. Give her the tools she needs to have a positive birth. 

Amie: What can he expect if his wife births naturally?

Haille: 
First off, he should expect for it to be work. Obviously more work for mama, but many fathers are surprised by how much work there is for him to do too. He should plan on preparing ahead of time so that he will be of use on delivery day. Expect to be there for her physically and emotionally and know ahead of time what that looks like. Most men do not ever attend a birth before the birth of their own child. 

Once she births naturally, and if he has been helpful in the process, he can typically expect for his wife to fall more in love with him than he or she ever thought possible. When left un-tampered, birth produces the highest amount of oxytocin (the love hormone) that a woman will ever experience. This initiates the mother/baby bond and strengthens the husband/wife bond. 

Amie: What has giving birth, five times now, taught you about yourself?

Haille: Having experienced birth both medicated and unmedicated, birth has taught me just how strong and intelligent I really am. That probably comes across as high and mighty, but I'm okay with that. I've been "delivered" by an OB and an epidural and had "okay" birth experiences. On the flip side, nothing left me feeling more powerful than the days I delivered babies through my own strength. And I'm intelligent not only because I researched and gained understanding of researched based care for myself, but I also trusted the knowledge of my own body to know what it needed to do in order to get a baby out.

Amie: If you could give one piece of advice to expecting moms, what would it be?

Haille:
1. Get educated. Make decisions based on real data. Eliminate fears through knowing what to expect.
2. Find a supportive care provider. This includes knowing the right kinds of questions to ask your provider in order to know if they truly support your birth wishes. And don't be afraid to break up with them, no matter how much you think you love them. This is your birth, not theirs. No one has this baby's best interest at heart more than you. 
2. Get support. Make sure your husband has the tools and knowledge to support you during birth. Get a DOULA! A trained labor support person who stays with you for your whole labor can make the experience so much more enjoyable for both mom and dad. 

Amie: And to expecting dads?

Haille: Basically, the same advice I give the mamas. But also, when your wife asks about budgeting for birth preparations such as hiring a doula or taking birth classes, don't tell her it's a waste of money. I've heard this so much lately and it makes my blood boil. Even if that's what you believe, don't say it. It's hurtful and says to the mother of your child that you don't value her. Sit down and talk about possible ways to make it happen. I have never met a husband who regretting taking the steps to help his wife achieve a positive birth experience. 

Interesting in learning more? Visit Haille's website or visit her on Facebook. She is incredibly open and has such a desire to be of help to moms and families.

You can also find my birth stories here: Alex, Locke
And my own take on the importance of birth plans here, and a commentary on reasons for natural birth here.

Leave me a comment below and let me know: Did you take any formal birthing class? What was most helpful for you in preparing for your baby's birth(s)?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Simple Citrus Spinach Smoothie

If you want a super immune-boosting smoothie, look no further! Packed with vitamin C, this green smoothie is a great start to your day!


Ingredients:
Baby Spinach
Pineapple chunks in 100% juice
Banana
Orange Juice

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Little Gardeners

For the fall we planted peas and spinach in the boys' little garden plot. Alex took quite a bit of interest in it, and really enjoys watering the plants. I think he might be ready for some more hands-on work come Spring.

Getting the bucket to go water the plants.

We're working on which direction is best to dump the bucket. :)


Putting on Mommy's gloves to get to work.
He even got the kneeler on his own.
Locke isn't much of a green thumb just yet,
but he likes the sunshine either way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Alex!


Our little guy turns two today! It's been a wonderful journey watching him learn and explore. He's a giant ball of energy, sweet, caring, and incredibly inquisitive. Happy Birthday, Alex!





Monday, November 3, 2014

Alex's Montessori Room

We've had Alex in a Montessori room since just before his first birthday. He's almost two now, and I still love it! The room is simple and clean and allows him to have access and control in his own environment.

You see here the floor bed and some of his stuffed animals.
You can read more about the floor bed here.

Again, the floor bed, and Alex's little chair and toy basket.

I love the little storage basket for small toys.
Alex will even pick-up his toys and put them in the basket when
cleaning up. (They might get promptly tossed out again, but we're learning.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Henna!

This was a long time ago but... Way back at the Great Cloth Diaper Change in April, I won a gift certificate for some Henna work by a local lady who not only does henna but is also a doula (and preggo ladies, she does henna bellies too)!

Sabrina Elliot does amazing work and is reasonably priced. She does the occasionally party as well. Henna is an all natural skin staining process. It has roots in Indian and Hindu cultures, but can also be a great way to treat yourself to something extra special.

Here you see the design immediately after it was done.
The paste stays on for several hours and can
have glitter added if you've got a special event to attend.

Here is the design immediately after the paste was
removed. It starts as an orange color and fades with time.

Here's the design a day or two later as it turns a
dark brown. It stays for a week or two depending upon
how you care for the stain and how much you wash your hands.

Check Sabrina out on Facebook if you're in the Abilene area and looking for something fun and beautiful to do!

I was not compensated in any way for this post or the links included in it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Trails Retirement Party

At my office, we like to throw parties, and my department takes a certain pride in going above and beyond. Here are some photos from a recent camping theme retirement party.




Always a hit at a retirement or farewell:
Have the guests write little notes to the honoree.
We used a cleaned out pickle jar for this one.

Our retiree loved to camp so we created a little camp scene for him.

The fire is made of toilet paper rolls and coffee filters.
For the logs, paint toilet paper/paper towel rolls with two shades of brown.
For the flames, wet coffee filters with a small amount of water
and color with orange and yellow highlighter.

A wild take on a money tree, we used a stuffed snake in this one.

S'mores cupcakes:
chocolate cake with marshmallow spread frosting
topped with graham cracker crumble
served in tinfoil cupcake liners


Let the guests self-serve the watermelon with an ice cream scoop.

Multiple colors of carrots made a healthy
but interesting snack for the more health conscious.

We were all sad to see Lee go, but he sure enjoyed his retirement party (and has since gone on to many a wild adventure)!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rocky!


I fell in love with The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I saw it on VH1 back when I was in high school. Little did I know that there were others out there who loved Rocky just as much as I did. Then, in college, my eventual roommate shared in my love of Rocky, as did my one-day-husband, and I went to my first live show in Ft. Worth. It was crazy and wild and awesome and I couldn't get enough. I went with different friend groups a few more times that year, but then I just kinda stopped going. No real reason why, it just didn't happen.

But then... I heard about a shadow cast here in little ol' Abilene! Finally, I could go see the show with other Rocky fans again! This time, I even dressed up, and won the costume contest!

Me dressed as Magenta!

It was so much fun! The local shadow cast, named Untamed Things, performed at Play Faire Park, a local putt-putt place that is  owned by one of the best old hippies out there. There just so happened to be a group from a theatre conference that was also there. It was great, even though there were some technical difficulties. The audience was wild and fun. The cast was interactive and exciting. It was a great night overall. Sadly, I had to miss their most recent show due to my surgery, but I can't wait for them to pick up again in the Spring!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

One Month of Selfie Love Reflection

So, I did it. If you follow my Instagram page, you saw it, one month of selfies. It was an interesting experience.

First, I did not realize what I had really stepped into with the whole selfie thing. I guess I'm getting older, but I did a little quick research and learned that the selfie fad was strangely loved and hated by the great vastness of the internet. I also, had not really taken many selfies and did not realize that there was apparently an art form to them.

More importantly though, I realized that I didn't have many pictures of myself and I generally didn't like having my picture taken. It was interesting to see how I became more comfortable with my own appearance but continued to notice areas that I would like to see improved. I became more comfortable with having my picture taken and also learned to be more comfortable with the fact that my everyday life isn't always photo-ready and that's okay. Overall, I think I accomplished the goal of learning to love myself just a little bit more.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hi Again

Oh, it's been a long time since I wrote for you, my lovelies. I hope you've been well. Things have been interesting over here to say the least.

One Month of Selfie Love went really well, I'll post more on that later. The hubby turned 30! Woot! We had a ton of turn over at work, but that seems to be over for now. Oh, and I had major surgery.

I've had tummy troubles for a little while now, but for the most part I was able to control it by watching my diet, until one Sunday morning early this month. My usually tummy troubles got started (nausea, terrible tasting burps, diarrhea, and just generally unpleasantness) but this time it was accompanied by severe pain. The pain was bad enough that I was comparing it to labor and we decided a trip to the ER was in order.

Turns out, I had gallstones, "a whole mess of them", according to the ultrasound, and I was advised to get my gallbladder out as quickly as I could. I met with my PCP and got in to a see a surgeon and began a vegan diet within just a few days. The vegan diet would keep me from having another attack until surgery day and I was told to expect a quick and easy laparoscopic procedure, a few days out of work with some soreness, then no more tummy troubles.

Well, that didn't really happen. The surgeon here in Abilene began the procedure to remove my gallbladder and as part of that inserted dye to ensure that there were no gallstones in the common bile duct. The dye however did not pass through the entirety of the duct. The Abilene surgeon consulted with a surgeon in Dallas and it was decided that he would close and I would be sent to Methodist Dallas Hospital for the surgery.

I was taken to Dallas by helicopter for the emergency surgery that evening in Dallas. The surgeon was able to remove my gallbladder, but also had to remove most of my common bile duct and replace it with a loop of intestine. Bile duct injuries occur in less than 1% of gallbladder removals but can be potentially very dangerous. We were lucky that the Abilene surgeon noticed the problem and sought counsel before proceeding.
A graphic showing the loop of intestine that now serves as my bile duct.

I've recovered fairly well so far. I'm two weeks post-op now and I still have my staples and this glorious JP drain that helps drain out the excess bile. I've slowly been able to be more active and I'm almost getting the hang of what and how much I can eat (too much at once or too much of the wrong stuff and I get very sick very quickly). I see the surgeon again on Monday to get my staples and drain removed and see when I'll be able to go back to work.

One thing that has been incredibly clear through out this process has been the support of our friends and church community. The day I went to the ER, we had a friend come stay with the boys and she not only took excellent care of them, she also cleaned our house while here. Following the surgery, our church started a meal train and has been supplying the majority of our meals since the surgery. Further, they paid for a babysitter to watch the boys on the Saturday that I was in the hospital so that Philip could come visit me. Another friend who was local to the Dallas area brought me a hairbrush and puzzle books while I was there, and trust me, that hairbrush was much needed! It has been such a blessing to know that my family was being loved and cared for when I could not be there, and I know Philip appreciated that help as well.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Whole Month of Selfies?

If you're joining me on this journey of One Month of Self(ie) Love, you may be thinking you will run out of selfies to take. I mean, come on, there's only so many ways to take a selfie, right? Maybe... Here's a list for some inspiration. Many thanks to Marlo from Night Dreams & Daymares for helping me come up with this list. Feel free to comment below with more ideas.


  1. basic selfie
  2. with someone you love
  3.  doing something you love
  4.  doing something you're good at
  5.  learning/trying something new
  6.  doing something healthy
  7.  eating your favorite food
  8.  outside
  9.  favorite body part
  10.  making a silly face
  11.  happy selfie
  12.  be active
  13.  creating something
  14.  wearing your favorite shirt/outfit
  15.  fancy selfie
  16.  with friends
  17.  with family
  18.  your favorite place
  19.  first thing in the morning
  20.  at work
  21.  showing an accomplishment
  22.  about to go to bed
  23.  right out of the bath/shower
  24.  the emo selfie
  25.  the in the mirror selfie
  26.  in the car selfie (but not while driving)
  27.  bad hair day
  28. full body
  29. listening to favorite music/watching favorite show
  30. upside down selfie
  31. reading selfie
  32. messy selfie
  33. productive selfie
  34. lazy selfie
  35. hand drawn selfie
  36. over emotional selfie
  37. excited selfie
  38. angry selfie
  39. post workout selfie
  40. awesome selfie

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe: Acorn Squash Muffins

We cannot keep acorn squash in the house. The reason being that my husband and son will inhale acorn squash muffins. You'd think these muffins gave super powers with how quickly they get devoured!

This recipe is my pumpkin bread recipe but you use the acorn squash and cook it in muffin tins!


Halve the squash and scoop out the guts.
(Give the guts to some back yard chickens for a natural dewormer.)
Lay the cut side down and bake until the squash gives in easily when pressed.
Scoop the meat from the skin while warm and mash with a fork.


Ingredients:
2 cups flower (choose a gluten-free flour if serving guests who are gluten-sensitive)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup acorn squash mash (you don't need to puree the acorn squash, a good fork mashing will do)


Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

A great breakfast food and easy way to sneak some extra vitamins in to your baked goods!

One Month of Self(ie) Love

Tomorrow will start an important month for me. No, there's nothing particularly special about August, but next month will be a big one. Next month, some friends and I will be participating in a little experiment. For one month, we will take a selfie every day and post it with a caption stating something we like about ourselves.

The goal isn't to take really awesome selfies. The goal is to be intentional about changing how we view ourselves. Having a positive self-image might come easy to some people, but for me, it's hard. My self-talk can be incredibly negative and the way I view myself isn't always very kind.

I'm not going to point fingers or place blame. I'm not trying to figure out why I am the way I am, I just know that I need to change my self-image. So, for the month of August I will take a selfie every day and I will post said selfie every day with a caption that says something positive about me.

And if you feel like your self-image could use a boost, I invite you to join me. Be intentionally positive about yourself just once a day and see what happens.

A selfie I took after dying my hair earlier this month.
I LOVE the new color!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

6 Reasons Why I Love The Floor Bed

When we moved back in November, we transitioned Alex into a Montessori style room. It's not 100% Montessori, but we've incorporated a lot of the ideas and concepts into how his room is set up. The room is safe for him to be in without supervision and he has free access to his bed, books, and some toys. One of the aspects of Alex's room that gets the most raised eyebrows is his floor bed. Alex's bed is just a plain crib mattress on the floor in his room. He has a pillow and two blankets (he recently has decided he needs two) and can get in and out on his own.

Alex's bed when he got up one day last week.

As this picture shows, yes, he does get out of bed and play on his own; but that's not a problem, in fact, it's amazing! If Alex isn't tired when he goes to bed, we can hear him playing in his room for a little while (never more than an hour). When he wakes up in the morning, he will play by himself for about 30 minutes and then knock on his door when he's ready for us to come get him. (And yes, he really does knock. It's so freaking adorable!) Some mornings I've gone in to see Alex reclining on his bed reading a book. Now that's the way to start your day!

I absolutely love the floor bed and look forward to transitioning our youngest to one when he's a little bit older as well. Here are my main reasons to love the floor bed (in no particular order):

  1. You don't have to buy a toddler bed. Put plain and simple, it's just cheaper. We took the mattress Alex had used in his crib and just plopped it on the floor.
  2. Allows for the child to be independent at bed time and awaking. We have our bedtime routine, then Alex gets put on his mattress. Currently, he lets out a little fake cry while you leave the room, calms down within 15 seconds, and then plays until he goes to sleep.
  3. Encourages the child to self-soothe to sleep at night and during mid-night wakings. Alex does still wake up occasionally at night, but I've only had to go in his room once in the past month or so. He will put himself back to sleep just fine.
  4. Gives parent and child more peace in the morning. I often get Locke dressed while Alex is waking up on his own. This gives me a little more time to take care of some morning tasks, and Alex gets to wake up slowly and gently on his own.
  5. Makes Rest Time easier on parent and child. We don't have "naptime" any more, just "rest time". Alex often protests for the first little bit, then plays for a while and generally falls asleep, but we no longer require a nap.
  6. Gives the child their own space in a world that is adult-centered. Our whole world is built on an adult scale. Children cannot access a lot of their environment simply because they are not yet tall enough. A floor bed (and Montessori room in general) is suited to their smaller statures and fosters a sense of belonging and awareness of their bodies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trash Talk



HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

This is probably my favorite awareness day all year long. Two years ago I wrote about some simple steps towards more sustainable living that give you very quick and easy little tips to live a more sustainable, earth-friendly life. Today, I want to talk a little more deeply on one specific area that we've been focusing on in our home: trash.

Trash is an inevitable part of our lives, but what we do with it can make all the difference. You probably remember being raised with the Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but now it's commonly the Four R's with repair/repurpose added in. Using these four principles, you can greatly reduce what of your waste becomes trash to sit in our landfills.

Reduce
This is the first, biggest, most important step in reducing waste. The concept is to reduce the potential trash that makes it into your home. Here are some tips to reduce your waste:
  • Borrow instead of buy. Ask a friend to borrow a dress for a formal occasion. Borrow that tool that you only need once a year from a neighbor. Borrow books from the library. Rent movies from a local video store. By buying less, you'll have less waste coming into your home from packaging, receipts, tags, etc.
  • Buy used. Check out pawn shops, consignment shops/sales, garage and yard sales, church rummage sales, etc. for things you need and will use often. Kids clothes are a great item to buy used as they out grow each size so fast that there's usually a plethora of used kid's clothes that are hardly worn. Check out garage sales for appliances that need replacing or for unique housewares.
  • Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk can help reduce the packaging that comes into your house. Just don't get fooled by bulk packages that are really just multiples of the normal package with extra packaging holding them together.
  • Don't buy single use items. Paper plates, napkins, and towels, plastic cups, flatware, and bags- these convenience items are a terrible drain on our resources. Whenever possible, use reusable alternatives and if you have to buy one-time use items, try to recycle or compost them afterwards. (Go the extra step and eliminate single-use diapers, toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products.)
  • Bring your own packaging. Bringing your own shopping bags is becoming more and more popular, but you can also bring your own reusable produce bags or mason jars for loose items.
Reuse
Reusable items can make any home more sustainable with minimal extra effort. Most items will simple need to be washed in between uses. Here are some reusable items to consider: cloth diapers, un-paper towels, cloth snack and sandwich bags for kids' lunches, glass food storage instead of plastic bags, cloth rags instead of paper towels for cleaning, cloth menstrual pads, menstrual cups instead of tampons, cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.

Also, reuse items that are designed to be single use. 
  • Save gift bags you receive to use again when you have a gift to give.
  • Rinse and reuse plastic food containers.
  • Save bread and tortilla bags and reuse to hold snacks or as trash bags for road trips.
Repair or Repurpose
How many times has something around the house broken and you immediately thought to go buy a new one rather than repair the one you have? It's an easy thing to do and we've been told for over a generation that we shouldn't have to repair old things. Whenever possible, repair broken items or buy a replacement part rather than replacing the whole thing. Learn how to fix a busted seam and sew a button back on. Ask friends to lend their skills to help you fix appliances or tech as it breaks. See if there's a trade school in your area that would like to have the item to teach students.

When something is truly past repair, repurpose the item. Find it something new to be. Many household items can be changed into interesting planters or lawn art. Cut up worn out clothing for cleaning rags. Shred magazines for packing material. There are craft projects on Pinterest to cover just about anything from bottle caps to burnt out light bulbs. Before tossing something in the trash, make sure you can't find some sort of use for it.


Recycle
Most of us think of taking bags of plastic bottles and soda cans to big green dumpsters when we think of recycling, and while that is an awesome way to reduce your trash output, there are other ways to recycle things around the house as well. If you're just getting started, check out these tips on recycling.

Composting is the ultimate green recycling. Home composting can take your kitchen and yard scraps and turn them into glorious dirt, perfect for growing your own organic veggies. There are plenty of ways to compost and I'm sure you can find a system that works for your household. (Foods that can't be composted can usually be sent through the garbage disposal instead of doing in the trash bag.)

Return food packaging to the producer when appropriate. Local egg farms usually love for you to return your egg cartons as they can be pretty pricey to buy new. Some companies will take back their glass bottles to refill them (many companies stopped this program some time ago, but there are still some accepting bottles, check with any local bottling plants).

You can do it!
We just took our trash can to the curb to be picked up for the first time in over a month (maybe about six weeks). It took us that long to fill the can up. It may seem cumbersome at first and it can be trying, but if you just take it one step at a time, you can significantly reduce the amount of trash your household produces.

Here are some Pinterest boards to help you find tips and tricks to reduce your trash output:

  • Tips to Reduce Waste: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/waste-less-reduce/
  • Reusable items: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/reuse-no-more-disposable/
  • Composting: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/compost-creation/
  • General "green" tips: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/greener-life/
  • Canning Info (great way to keep food from being waste!): http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/canning/
  • Cloth Diapering: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/cloth-diapering-crazies/
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/reduce-reuse-recycle/
  • Earth Day Activities for Kids: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/earth-day-activities/

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our Garden!

I'm so excited to finally have a yard to garden in! I have big plans for our yard. This year we won't be able to have quite as big of a garden as I would like, but we've got a few little plants in the ground and plans to get ready for next spring!


Here is where I plan to build our raised beds.
I'm leaning towards using cinder blocks for the bed. 




Here is our persimmons tree. It had fruit on it pretty
well into the winter. I'm hoping it'll liven up again soon.



Eventually I will clear this out and use this bed as well.
I'd like to try some hardy herbs in this spot.

This bed was cleared out and is home to our
little garden for this year. Next year I'd like to make this the
boys' plot and let them pick what they'd like to grow.


Here's Alex with our little garden!
We've got two tomato plants and four pots of leaf lettuce.
We got the plants from a local nursery: Deep Roots Nursery
which uses heirloom seeds and natural growing methods.

What's going into your garden this year?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Compost!

As part of our gardening plans and attempts at a more sustainable lifestyle, we've started a compost! Now, at first, I really liked the idea of a simple, open air compost, but then Alex hit the toddler stage and I realized I wouldn't be able to let him in the backyard without worrying he'd come running up with some rotting banana peels.

So I started looking at composters and oh my goodness were they expensive! I can't believe people pay over $100 for a box to put trash in. It just blows my frugal little mind! Obviously, the commercial composters weren't for us. Luckily I come across several others who seemed to have the same problem as we did and had found a solution!

After reading multiple articles and blogs, I had a plan, and my husband had a job to do! :) We (and by "we" I mean "he") made a compost bin out of an old storage tub. Bonus: the tub has locking handles!

It really is simple, though maybe a bit time consuming.
Take a dark colored plastic storage bin and drill holes in all
sides, bottom included. This allows for proper airflow and drainage.

I can't wait until we have usable compost! Does your family compost? What kind of container do you use, or do you?

Bacon Pancakes!

When a post about bacon pancakes came across my husband's Facebook feed, it was determined that I must make this coupling of his two favorite breakfast foods. I'm pleased to say that it was rather easy and tasty. We decided it could use something a bit sweet to match the bacon's saltiness (we don't generally use syrup) so next time we're going to add chocolate chips to the pancake mix first.

Cook the bacon as you would normally, try to keep it flat.
Mix up your pancakes using whatever recipe/mix you like.
After the bacon is fully cooked, lay it out on the griddle
(you could use a skillet but that would take much longer).
Then pour your pancake mix over each slice.

Flip the bacon pancakes and keep cooking until the pancake is done.
Whole foods- use a homemade pancake mix with whole flours
Vegetarian- use a meat-less bacon
Vegan- meat-less bacon and a vegan pancake mix
(non-dairy milk and egg substitute)

Enjoy! 

It really was that simple! These would be great for potluck brunches, breakfast after a little kid sleep over, Father's Day treats, really any time you'd like to serve bacon and pancakes and make it just a little fancier.

Friday, March 7, 2014

International Women's Day

Check out today's Google Doodle for an awesome tribute to women! I love that the doodle includes women of all different backgrounds! The theme of this year's International Women's Day is "Inspiring Change" focused on encouraging positive moves towards equality.  I'd like to encourage you to embrace International Women's Day and celebrate the women in your life and their contributions to our collective life. Consider ways that you might help to make your home, workplace, or church more equitable between the sexes and then take action!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Alex's First Haircut!

We had a big milestone today. It was Alex's first haircut! We hadn't cut Alex's hair at all and it had gotten really long. I had put off the haircut for as long as I could, but I couldn't style Alex's hair out of his face any longer so it was time to bit the bullet and let the hair fly!

Here's Alex a few weeks ago with his long blonde hair.
Many of these hairs have been there since birth.
Some were even seen on his ultrasound!

My grandparents were in town to meet Locke and were glad to accompany us to Alex's first haircut. We went to the local Cool Cuts. Alex did great! He got a little antsy but he never cried or got upset. The stylist did a great job and was really quick. I was quite impressed with how she handled him and the facility was very neat and clean. (Abilene folk- it may be expensive, but it's worth it for a hassle-free and low-stress event, which with little ones, can be worth a lot more than a haircut!)


We also got a little lock of hair in a special certificate/photo page keepsake thing. It's kinda sad to think that my first boy is growing up so fast. He's not a baby anymore, but he's growing into a very fine young lad.