That’s Craftastic!

Let’s talk about something crafty.  Let’s talk about freezer paper stenciling.  Freezer paper stenciling is my new favorite obsession – it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s fun.  Even for kids.  If you don’t know what freezer paper stenciling is, it’s basically just using freezer paper (who would have guessed!?) to (wait for it) stencil items.  Fabric items.  We generally do t-shirts but I have also done dish towels and tote bags.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

An item to be stenciled

A design

Freezer paper

A cutting instrument (I use an Xacto knife)

Fabric paint

Some sort of brush (I use the foam craft kind)

An iron

1. Lay your freezer paper over the design you’ve picked for your project and follow the line to cut out your design.  Be careful – blood on your stencil isn’t a good thing.  You can do a regular stencil or a negative image one.  Either is cute.  If you’re using little helpers, I suggest leaving a lot of extra paper around the edges of the stencil to make the painting part less messy.

2. Iron your item you are going to stencil.  This is about the only time I iron.  Place a piece of the freezer paper inside of the item you’re going to stencil, or on the backside (depending on what you’re stenciling), so the paint doesn’t bleed to other layers or your surface.  Place the stencil waxy side down where you’d like it to be & iron it on.  It should seal to the fabric.

3.  Once the fabric is cool, paint inside your stencil.  This is the part Sabine generally does.

4. Let your paint dry for 24hrs.  Once dry, run the iron over your item again to seal the paint.  Then peel the freezer paper off.  Do you have a super cool painted stencil?  Because you should!

It’s really that easy.  Like I said, we do a lot of shirts … I typically get cheap shirts from JiffyShirts.com or Garanamals.  Enjoy your crafting!

Taste-test Tuesday – Banana Oatmeal Muffins, er cups. Bars. Something.

Oatmeal is a nursing mother’s BFF.  ‘Tis true.  But, I’ve been doing crockpot oatmeal for WEEKS and, honestly, I’m a little sick of it.  I spent some time this weekend researching some breakfast recipes involving oatmeal and found one for a banana oatmeal loaf … which I’ve not lost the link to.  Awesome.  Anyway, it had a lot of sugar.  And it was in loaf form, which kinda weirds me out.  So, I decided to substitute some Agave Nectar for the sugar and try it in muffin form.  It doesn’t actually RISE like muffins, so I’m not sure whether these are bars or what, but they’re pretty damn good & easy.

Ingredients:

3cups of oats (not steel cut, not quick cook, not Hall &, just regular ol’ oats)

1/2 cup Agave Nectar

1 egg

2 bananas (smooshed)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325deg.  Smoosh bananas in a bowl.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Add Agave Nectar.  Keep mixin’.  Add oats.  Mix some more.  Spoon into a muffin pan and bake for 25min.  Ta-da!

That’s really it.  The consistency is moist but not chewy and they’re certainly bananalicious.  This recipe made exactly a dozen so I had two to test out Sunday night and 2 for breakfast each day this week.  Woot woot!

Taste-test Tuesday

Today wasn’t one of those crap days where I let my kid eat cartoon character soup from a can, but it was a little trying.  A simple & easy dinner was a must.  My meal plan dictated a broccoli quiche … but I really wasn’t feeling it.  After a dig through the cupboards I had a new plan.  And a good plan it turned out to be.  I don’t have a clever name for this so we’ll just call it Bean & Tomato Polenta.  Ooooh snazzy!

I started with this very basic polenta recipe.  Beyond that I used – a can of Northern Beans (Kroger brand organic 10/$10 – hey!) and a can of basil oregano diced tomatoes (so not organic, but don’t hate on my canned tomatoes).  Polenta was made as described above.  While making, I preheated the oven to 350.  Once the polenta was done I poured it into a casserole dish and baked for 10min.  Took it out of the oven and topped with tomatoes and beans, put it back in and cooked another 5min, then turned to broil and cooked another 5min.  That’s it.

I know I’m the worst recipe writer ever y’all but this was delicious.  And very filling.  2 out of 3 members currently in the TBFKAOP household gave RAVE reviews … and the 3rd doesn’t eat table food, so her opinion doesn’t count (stop skewing the stats, Lilith!)  I also really should have done pics before we polished off half the meal but, you know what?  I was hungry.

 

I also added a pic of the toilet conversion in the post below.  From polenta to toilets.  Man, I’m appetizing.

Modes

Being a mom is tough.  This probably isn’t news to anyone here.  Being a mom to two is exponentially harder.  You’d think having that first would give you enough experience, some sort of wisdom … and then you have the second who is, naturally, the polar opposite to the first.  And then the first’s needs/likes/schedule/etc. don’t jive with the second’s needs/likes/schedule.  And either the first is happy, or the second is happy, but either way mama is frustrated and second guessing herself (and her sanity).  And no one really knows what the hell they’re doing anymore.  God bless you if you have more than two.  You have my utmost admiration.  There is probably a reason why (high maintenance, spazzy, and determined) me is an only child.

Don’t get me wrong – being a mom to more than one is phenomenal.  I am blessed beyond belief to have both of my girls and my days are more smile filled than not.   Yet, I’m often left standing in the middle of my child-led chaos and wondering, “WTF is going on here?”

You see, toddlers and infants are very different breeds (duh, right?).  With Sabine, I went through this natural progression of newborn hood to infant hood to toddler hood.  I knew what to expect.  With each phase, I felt myself become a little more savvy and I KNEW what she needed.  What she wanted.  What she liked and what made her utterly insane.  Then … WHAM.  There’s a baby in the mix.  And Sabine was a baby so long ago (3 years is a REALLY long time.  Trust me.) that I don’t remember what to expect and what to expect with Lilith is so different from what I expected with Sabine (then and now).  Which may make you feel even more lost than being a first time mom because you start to think, “A-HA!  I remember this!” but you really don’t.  You think you have all the answers but you have none.  In short – you are stoopid.  Having children makes you stupid.  I’m sure there’s a study on that somewhere.

The source of my confusions stems from operating constantly in two modes – I can be in “doting mama to baby” mode or “fun time mama to toddler” mode … but I’ve yet to figure out how to successfully operate in both modes simultaneously.  How can it be possible?  How can I both soothe the baby to sleep and play a game of Candyland with the toddler at the same time?  How can I navigate through 3 year old drama queen meltdowns without scaring the poor infant so much she yearns to learn to crawl early in order to escape our madness?  How do I even remember which child is which and keep from calling them the wrong flippin’ names (Sometimes even my husband’s name.   Or the dogs’.  Are ALL of us moms doomed to this?)!?

My preliminary answer is – you can’t.  Or at least I can’t.  If you, yourself, have figured out how to please, by all means, tell me.  Let me in on this secret.  Or do yourself a favor and package it in a book which you can sell to all the frazzled moms like me and then you’ll be able to retire early on your fortune.

In all honestly, the chaos that ensues from not having the answers isn’t that bad … it’s the admitting to myself that I can’t be the perfect mother than affects me the most.  I’m a good mom.  A damn good mom.  But somewhere along the line I got it into my head that I could be the perfect mom.  And I can’t.

The flip side of this is that sometimes admitting the “I had a crap day and let my kid eat cartoon character themed soup from a can for dinner!” is sort of freeing.  90% of the time I’m a rockstar.  10% of the time I’m just scraping by.  Those odds aren’t bad, right?  90% means I still get an A on my mom report card (or an A-, and on some grading scales it’s a B, but still, it’s toward the top end of the bell curve) and I’m probably the only one counting anyway.  As my 3 year old told me before bed last night, “Mommy.  You’re my best friend.  My very favorite” and that has to count for some bonus points somewhere.

I should have been a plumber.

Since Brandon has been gone I’ve been tackling home projects a bit at a time.  He’s generally the home guru … but he does that man thing.  You know, plans a big project, heads to Lowe’s, buys things for 531905180 other projects but not the one we’re currently working on, and then nothing gets accomplished.  I, on the other hand, am a list maker and list crosser offer.  This works well for both of us because A) stuff gets done and B) Brandon doesn’t have to spend his weekends starting projects that won’t be finished.

I have always enjoyed plumbing projects, which is probably a little weird, but whatever.  The first home project I tackled was to replace the sink sprayer in our kitchen.  It had been broken since, well, not long after we moved in.  $5 and 10min gave me a functional sprayer and we both were thrilled.

Next up was replacing the stopper in the bathroom tub.  It was one of those where you pull the handle on the wall of the tub to trigger the tub to stop … but it was stuck somewhere between open and closed so the water wouldn’t stay filled for a bath but also drained slowly in the shower.  Changed it out.  Showers & baths are now groovy again.

Then I replaced a toilet donut.  This sucked.  I’m not even going to get into it, but it’s done now.

My most recent project was to convert our old, run of the mill, water wasting toilet into a dual flush eco-friendly one.  After reading some reviews and consulting my beloved EFFers, I settled on the HydroRight.  I couldn’t find it locally, so I ordered from Amazon, and two days later I had my kit.  I found it perched on my doorstep when I went home for my lunch break.  I was SO excited to tackle this project that I immediately tore through the box, read the directions, decided it was tackleable in <1hr and went to work … except I couldn’t find the flipping channel locks.  So it had to wait.

Hours later, armed with a set of channel locks on loan from my FIL (and the reassurance that, if I did indeed destroy my toilet, he would come fix it for me) I went to work.  The project took me about 20 minutes.  15 of that was taking the old flush lever off because it was so corroded and stuck.  Honestly – five minutes was all it took to drop the converter in and hook up the flush button.  I tested both buttons – they worked!  I made Sabine test both buttons – they still worked!  We had success.  And four wasted flushes, but who’s counting.

Three days later I’m still slightly obsessed with my toilet.  So obsessed that I’m blogging about it.  I really should have gone into plumbing.  It’s fun, I don’t suck at it, and damn they charge a lot so that could be good for me, financially.  I guess I’ll stick that somewhere on my dream job list … make-up editor for the now defunct Jane Magazine, record store owner, pirate, golf caddy and plumber.

I’ll follow-up with pics of the retrofit.  It’s gorgeous.  Or as gorgeous as a toilet gets, anyway.

**whoooooooooh toilet pic!!!**

Taste-test Tuesday

I’m going to intro a new spot to the blog – Taste-test Tuesday – in hopes of keeping me on track.  Let’s hope I remember to post other stuff too so that this doesn’t just turn into a recipe blog.  Not that recipe blogs are bad, but I want to cover a larger variety of topics.  Anyway …

Brandon is currently on week 3 of a 16 week stay at the police academy for their Fellowship Officer training program.  He’s gone Sunday nights through (laaaaate) Friday nights.  I’m not going to lie – it sucks a lot.  BUT, the positive side is that I can cook really ANYTHING I want.  Brandon is a way picky eater so there are a lot of recipes I see that I’d love to try, but know they’d be a flop at our house.  So, Sabine & I have been doing a lot of culinary experimenting.

Last night we made this Get Me To the Greek dip posted over on Tasty Kitchen.  It was seriously phenomenal, and took me all of five minutes to make in the Mini-Prep.  Since we needed pepperoncinis and olives anyway, we hit up Kroger’s olive bar and also picked up some dolmas and marinated artichoke hearts.  We got pitas for spreading, cukes & tomatoes for dipping, and had ourselves a blast.  It might be listed as an appetizer, but it made a perfectly quick, easy & delicious meal with our extras.  We had so much fun with it that I think we might incorporate a dip into dinner much more frequently!

Dear Diary:

Every New Year I am reminded of starting my first diary – 1989 – and how my first entry was about how eeeeevil my mom was for not letting me make brownies.  I vividly remember sitting in my kitchen and pondering how much 1990 would mean CHANGE.  It wouldn’t be the ’80’s anymore!  What if the ’90’s like, transformed the Earth overnight into some sort of Jetson-type space age!?  What would we doooooooooo?  And how would we do it without BROWNIES!?

I know, I know.  Ridiculous.  But, cut me some slack.  I was 7.  Jenn – you’ve come along way, baby.

I started this blog entry on New Year’s Eve, from my phone, but I was too full of champagne (and by “too full” I mean I’d had two glasses cause I’m now a light weight *ahem*) to properly finish my thoughts.  Three days later I may be ready.  Maybe.

The one thing I know is how much of a release writing is for me.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  My dad was a writer … well, a writer turned editor turned publisher.  I remember telling my dad in high school that I wanted to go into journalism.  He suggested the business side.  I countered that I wanted to write.  A column.  I wanted a syndicated column.  My dad signed heavily and removed his glasses (This was my tip off that what he was about to say was VERY important), “When I lived in Charleston, as a sports writer, my apartment was furnished with cardboard boxes.  I had a box for a table and I ate on the floor.  Don’t go into writing.  Do something that will allow you to support your family.”

I took his words to heart because, well, he was my dad and dad’s are smart and stuff.  I didn’t want to go into the business side of the newspaper industy because I hate businessy stuff honestly so I went in an entirely different direction.  And here I sit, 13 years later, with a job behind a desk that allows me to support my family.  And I like it.  I do, really. But the urge to write bites at me daily and is something I can’t shut down.  I’m a better person when I write.  I’m a happier person when I write.  I don’t have that whole mess of disconnected thoughts hopping about in my head.  Instead I have a mess of disconnected thoughts floating around the internet which is better for some reason (though I haven’t really figured that one out yet).

So, as I started ’89 with a goal to chronicle my world via Diary, I start ’11 with a vow to chronicle my world via blog (instead of just chronicling it via inner monologue, a la Angela Chase).  I think I can do that.  Staying true to this resolution really means staying true to myself.

Wearing your baby is the new black.

Since it’s been around for eons, I guess it’s probably the old black, too.  But babywearing has become somewhat of a trendy thing, no?  Websites and forums designated to it, photos of celebs popping up everywhere with slings and soft-structured carriers.  And why shouldn’t it be trendy?  Carriers, wraps & slings are pretty.  I should know.  I have um, morethanten.  They’re functional.  They’re comfy.  And they make your life SO much easier.

Sabine was a colicky baby.  5pm-11pm screaming non-stop kinda colicky.  What do you do when your kid screams for six hours a night and you have stuff to do?  You wear her, that’s what.  And the added bonus is it makes her at least somewhat happy when nothing else does and *sometimes* it even makes her quiet.  And happy.  And sleepy.  And that is a magnificent feeling when you’re in the middle of colic hell.

My babywearing obsession started with colic and moved into everyday life.  Sabine hated the stroller, so I wore her.  I flew with her solo cross country, so I wore her.  I needed a way to nurse on the go, so I wore her.  Lilith was born and a toddler aged Sabine demanded my attention (and hands), so I wore Lilith.  Lilith is a hard baby to get to sleep at night, so I wear her (while playing a CD of shower sounds, but I digress) … and so on and so forth.

I could go on for days about the myriad of instances in which babywearing saves my sanity.  Literally.  Last week was International Babywearing Week and I’d really hoped to have this blog post completed before the end of it but that somehow didn’t happen.  (Cut me some slack – I have a 2 year old, a 7 week old, and I’m transitioning into a new position at work (where I’ve also worn both Lilith and Sabine, though not simultaneously).)  I do, however, feel this blog post needs to be done in a timely manner (International Babywearing Week or not) because babywearing on the whole is coming under fire.

You may be aware of the sling recalls earlier this year by the CPSC.  The situations that prompted these recalls are truly saddening but they are NOT the fault of slings or baby carriers in general.  As much as we don’t like to think about it, bad things can happen to babies.  Bad things can happen to babies in a car seat, or a high chair, or in your arms, or on the floor.  That doesn’t mean those things are bad, or unsafe, or need government intervention.  They’re just truly unfortunate situations.

Babywearing is SAFE.  Babywearing is BENEFICIAL.  To both mother and baby.  Babywearing is an aspect of my life, and my children’s lives, where I do not need the government involved.  I don’t think you need the government involved in that aspect of your life either, do you?  Maybe if we were more vocal about the positive aspects of babywearing the noise from such would be louder than that of the few horrible situations blasted all over the media.  Maybe we need to keep talking until the CPSC listens.

So I want to hear from you guys – how has babywearing impacted your life?  What things has babywearing made possible, or easier, for you?

I have a birth story.

I have a birth story … and I’m not entirely sure where to start with it, as I haven’t blogged much about my pregnancy (or anything really, cause I’m a slacker, but I digress).  I guess I’ll start with um, being pregnant.  Yes, I was pregnant.  Good to know, right?  Because of my stupid MTHFing, I mean MTHFR, clotting disorder, I was considered “high risk” for pre-e.  I had one of these fancy MIST tests that’s supposed to tell you early on if you’re likely to develop pre-e.  My MIST test shows I was not.  Fancy tests, however, are often wrong.

At my 38wk. appt. my blood pressure was registering high.  I generally steer toward the low passy-outy end of BP, so this was surprising.  Labs were ordered and I was told to come back for a re-check in the AM.  Labs were good, BP was still high in the AM.  I was convinced it was stress/nerves and was scheduled for a re-check the following Monday.

I had my BP recheck on Monday morning and was sent to the hospital from there.  Well, I was supposed to go straight over there but I decided to make a detour to visit Sabine for a few minutes because I knew I would be there until Lilith was born.  The plan was to do a 24hr. urine, 30min. BP checks, u/s, labs, etc.  If everything was OK, I was told I would hang there until she made her appearance.  If not, they would get her out.

I’d had an internal before they sent me over and I’d made 0 progress.  So, getting her out most likely meant a c-section unless something changed before the tests were over and they thought they could use a foley cath. to induce, since chemical inductions are out for VBAC patients.  I was pissed, but OK.  I was processing, at least.

That afternoon my MW & consulting OB decided they weren’t really thrilled with my labs & BP so far (Hey there, pre-e!).  After an internal re-check and a consult, they decided the foley cath. was at least worth a shot.  It was inserted at 6pm.  The plan was to inflate every 2hrs, recheck after 12hrs., and go from there.  I was given an Ambien to try to rest through the contractions and rest I did.

Recheck in the morning showed a little progress (5cm), so we decided on a second foley.  The second one had me contracting regularly, and strongly.  I was feeling pretty confident, though uncomfortable.  Lilith had been in a perfect position toward the end of my pregnancy but for some reason decided to flip posterior that day.  So I was having some serious back labor.  I was *convinced* the bed was making me uncomfortable until my MW basically pinned me down and confirmed her new sucky position.  I had to stay hooked to the monitors since I was using the foley, but I was able to get out of bed a bit and my MW & doula worked with me to get her flipped back into a good position.  Then I was much better able to deal with the contractions.

My second foley was removed at 9pm and I had made zero progress since the AM.  I was honestly shocked and knew at that point I was most likely out of the VBAC running.  No one was really comfortable with me doing a third foley with my BP still being up and the second round having made no progress.  We decided to push forward with a c/s in the AM.  If something changed overnight, that’s awesome and we’d go from there … but I was told to expect my contractions to taper off once the foley was out.  And they did.  I was pretty sure it was the cath. and not my body/baby doing the work.

Since I was no longer contracting, my MW & the OB agreed to take me off the fetal monitors and let me sleep, which was wonderful.  The last thing I said to my belly before bed was, “Alright – behave yourself, Lilith.  I want to get some rest!”  Well, she had other plans.

I woke up around 3am to pee and, as I was walking to the bathroom, something trickled down my leg.  I was like, “Oh, awesome, I peed myself.  I’m so cool.”  So I peed, cleaned myself up, and as I laid back down in bed I felt more come out.  I stood up and fluid went EVERYWHERE.  Yeah, I’m not only the “These aren’t contractions, this bed hurts” chick but also the “My amniotic fluid totally isn’t leaking, I’m peeing myself” chick.   I’m smart.  I called the nurse and she came and hooked me back up to the monitors.  She asked if I was having any contractions and I said no.  As soon as she left the room I felt the first one.

So my MW came back up to the hospital, re-checked me, and I was at 8cm and 90% effaced.  The contractions were coming about 3min. apart and painful, but bearable.  I had sent B home to get some rest since I didn’t think anything was going on and I called him to come back up.  With as much as I had progressed in such a short time span, we figured we’d be at the pushing stage soon.  By 9am my contractions were getting insane – my MW called them “impressive” and they were coming on top of each other – like 30sec. apart.  I couldn’t get any rest between them to gather myself and I was sorta freaking out.  That’s when my BP started going up.  The nurse kept trying to get me to lay on my left side and that made my entire body ache and my legs shake.  There was NO way I could labor in that position.  I literally felt like climbing the walls.  So, my MW told her to back off and let me get upright, bless her heart.

I was fully dilated and effaced, so we decided to go ahead and push and get it over with, but after 30min. of pushing things got sketchy.  Lilith was tolerating it fine with a stable heartbeat but my body wasn’t tolerating it at all, and she was not descending well/quickly.  My MW said something about convulsion risks and I said “Call my OB” (As fate would have it – the douchey OB who delivered Sabine was “on call” that night so, if my OB hadn’t already been at the hospital with a patient, he would have done my c/s.  Thank GOD my OB was lurking around.) and we headed to the OR.

I was contracting so quickly that they had a hell of a time getting my spinal in and, when they finally did, I guess it got a little off center because I could feel “pricks” on the right side of my body.  My OB asked what they felt like and I said, “It feels like you scraped me with a paper clip”.  He said, “Well I just pinched the shit out of you with forceps?” (And he had.  I have a nice forcep mark on my belly)  He’s funny.  Confident that what I was feeling was nothing, I said go and he started.  By the end of the c/s I could feel the stitches & staples on my right side, but it wasn’t unbearable so I dealt.  Lilith was out at 10:20am.  When the nurse went to lift my legs to get me off of the table she said, “Woah.  I felt resistance – can you move your leg?”  I could.  I knew I wasn’t crazy – I did still have some feeling!

Before Sabine’s c/s, they’d given me a painkiller and I was really out of it for the whole thing.  This time, part of my c/s birth plan (Yes folks – they DO actually listen to your birth plan!) included no narcotics before hand … so I just had the spinal and Zofran before we went down.  TOTALLY different experience.  I was aware of everything going on.  Brandon kept saying, “You’re doing so much better this time!” and I really was.  I got to have my hands free, as well, so I was able to touch Lilith as soon as Brandon had her.  We got to take her to recovery with us for an hour & I got to start nursing before they took her back for her bath & stuff, and we had her back in about an hour.  It was just awesome.  Really incredible how much of a difference a good provider makes in your overall birth experience.

Even though the whole laboring/pushing and then emergency c/s thing sounds sucky, it wasn’t.  It was actually really awesome.  I’m proud of what my body accomplished even if I didn’t VBAC.  I’m proud of how Brandon handled labor.  He was such a rockstar support person.  He knew when to shut up, when to encourage me, etc.  I thought he was going to pass out when Sabine was born and he was just a totally different person that day.

My BP was still up after delivery so I was started on meds.  My cath. was removed a few hours after delivery and I was able to immediately get up and move a bit.  Lilith did great!  Apgars of 9/8, none of the blood sugar/breathing/temp. regulation issues that Sabine had.  She’s a pig of a nurser.

My recovery has been surprisingly better, as well.  I was told to expect a harder recovery since it was emergency vs. planned like Sabine’s, but it has been MUCH easier.  I had my cath. removed and was up within a few hours, walking around the halls the next morning, came home 48hrs later on nothing but Motrin.  My belly button was herniated and they went ahead and fixed that while I was on the table – that actually hurts worse than my c/s incision.  Go figure.

I never wrote a birth story for Sabine because, well, I didn’t remember a lot of it, honestly.  And what I did remember was pretty sucky.  So I’m not sure how you end these things either.  I suppose I’ll just end it with some cute baby pics.  Everybody likes those, right!?

Introducing … Lilith Imogen.  6lbs 12oz., 19.5″.  August 25th 10:20am.

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With big sister …

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And with the man who both made it all possible and saved my sanity …

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