Sunday, March 28, 2010

ER trip

After an uneventful dinner last night, we tucked the girls in bed at their usual 8-8:30ish bedtime. Eric and I settled in on the couch to watch New Moon. When it ended I was reading in bed for a few minutes and Anika came in crying and upset and scratching all over. She said her neck hurt. I started looking at her neck and then unzipped her pajamas and found an awful looking rash all over her belly and neck and spots on her leg. Because it had come up so fast and she was so miserable Eric covered her in Benadryl cream while I dressed and then I rushed her to the ER. Eric had had a beer so he got to stay home with sleeping Emily. I had to use the GPS since we've never been before. She started having a coughing fit while I was driving so I was afraid she was having trouble breathing.

I ran her into the ER and told the receptionist all her symptoms. She was still coughing and scratching. We were given forms and told to sit. And we sat for 30 minutes. Then they took a quick look at her and took her temp and put us in another waiting room. This one had comfortable chairs and The Negotiator was on tv. I got to watch the whole movie... Around 2am we were led to a curtained cubicle and left without a word. He didn't ask if she was ok, if we needed anything, or tell us anything. After listening to machines beeping and a drunk guy causing trouble for another 2 hours I finally told the nurse we wanted to leave. I signed a piece of paper, drove home, and took Ani to bed with me. When Emily woke at 6 she joined us and Eric took the kids out when they were both fully awake at 7:30 so I could try to sleep another hour.

My best guess is that she is allergic to cilantro. She'd had a couple spots by her mouth once or twice and I had suspected the cilantro. I guess I should rub a little on her skin sometime to find out for sure. I'll follow up with a doctor on base tomorrow to see what they think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

cloth diapers

Cloth diapers were featured on Good Morning America this morning and I was very happy to see them getting some attention. The segment was short, but I think they made their point well. Here is the link if anyone wants to check it out. After watching that this morning and getting new diaper covers yesterday I am feeling inspired to write on the topic.

Why cloth?
It's softer, chemical free, money saving, and cute!

Environmental impact.

"The Real Diaper Association, an advocacy group founded in 2004, estimates that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the U.S. (according to the EPA, that translates into more than 3.4 million tons of waste dumped into landfills) and that producing those diapers also consumes huge amounts of petroleum, chlorine, wood pulp and water." Time article. 

A disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose. 

Fecal matter is not supposed to go into landfills. On the diaper packages it says to put the poop in the toilet. Nobody does this though.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2 weeks of "no poo"

My head has been shampoo free for two weeks now. I have used baking soda and apple cider vinegar on it about 4 times and the other days I just wash with water. I think it feels a little greasy, but it doesn't look too bad. I washed it with water only last night and here is how it looks this morning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

tip of the day

Do you ever buy a bunch or parsley to use in a recipe, use a handful of it, forget about the rest, and find a bag of slimy green stuff in the fridge a few weeks later? It happens to me with cilantro. I just need a little for the guacamole, but you can't just buy a little bit. I'm trying something new today and freezing the leftovers. I have some parsley and some cilantro that I don't want to go to waste. I simply washed the herbs, chopped them, put them in ice cube trays, and covered with water. They are almost frozen now so I'll move them to a bag or container and label it for later. They won't look good as garnish, but for salsa, guacamole, or garlic parsley butter they should work just fine. I think I'll try this with mint to add to lemonade or ice tea this summer as well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 4

I have not washed my hair with shampoo in 4 days now. I know some of you may be thinking, "being frugal is all well and good, but you're taking this too far". Don't get me wrong, I love shampoo. I like how it feels and how it smells and I get the cheap stuff so it's not that much of an impact on our budget. So, here is why I am giving this a try.

1. Shampoo is full of chemicals.

Our family tries to avoid as many chemicals as we can. We don't eat anything we can't pronounce so why are we putting it on our bodies? Our skin absorbs about 60% of what we put on it. Sodium lauryl sulfate is used to degrease engines, do I want that soaking into my skin? How about Phthalates  or maybe Triclosan? It's far too overwhelming for me to stand in the shampoo aisle and try to read all the labels and find one that is "safer" so I am going to try just going without.

2. Shampoo is a detergent.

People used to just use soap, but as water became more alkaline it was discovered that detergent worked better. It does clean your hair, but it also strips it of it's natural oils and the natural oils protect the hair. All of the detergents are effecting the environment in negative ways as well. Phosphates, for example, cause the algae and weeds to grow very well and this uses up oxygen and kills fish. Shampoo, as we know it, has only been around since the '30s and people had "clean" hair before that.

3. Shampoo is an unnecessary expense.

The shampoo itself isn't so bad, but after it strips your hair of oils you need conditioner to protect the hair and make it shine. Now that it is coated in silicone you need products like gels and sprays to get it to hold a style. Then to get that all off you need to shampoo it again the next day. It's such a waste of time and expense and when you live in New Mexico you can't even recycle all the plastic bottles.

My husband and children are trying this with me. Eric willingly and the kids unknowingly. So far you can't see any difference with the girls or Eric. I don't think you can see a difference in mine, but I can feel it. It's a little greasy at the roots and feels thicker. It's a lot less frizzy though. The last 3 days I have just washed with water. Today I will use a little baking soda and do a vinegar rinse.

If this works out our next step is finding an all natural moisturizer. The generic stuff I got at Walmart makes my hands sting. Not what I was looking for in a lotion. I've heard good things about coconut or almond oil or just plain aloe vera. It's taking us all some time to adjust to the new climate.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

random goodness

Today I was a little ambitious at lunch time. I wanted falafel and tomato cucumber relish. Easy enough, right? Well, not if you are making pita bread to go with it and you don't have a food processor to speed up all the chopping. Shortly after getting started on the bread Eric showed up with chocolate chunks to make more cookies for the guys at work so I started on those too. An hour and a half later Eric ran off to work with 3 pitas, 6 falafel patties, some relish, and about 45 cookies. I'm worn out and my belly is very full so I thought I'd sit and blog :) Here is the recipe if anyone wants it.


2 cans garbanzo beans (chick peas) rinsed and drained
1/2 bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
1/2 fresh parsley
1t salt
2T cumin
1/2t cayenne
2 large eggs

Process ingredients in food processor until smooth. Shape into 1/2 inch patties or small balls. They will be sticky. Pour 1/2 in of vegetable oil in frying pan and heat over medium heat. Fry patties (or balls) 3-5 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. Good in pita bread or plain

Cucumber relish

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped (I never seed mine)
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste (maybe 1/4 t each)

combine, cover, and chill 

The pita bread recipe is from the Food Network and you can find it here

Here are the girls enjoying their lunch. I think. That funny face was the best picture I could get from Anika.

The cookie recipe is the one on the back of the Baker's chocolate chunk bag and I baked most of them on a pizza stone because it doesn't brown the bottoms.

 And finally, playroom progress. The curtains are hung so it is nice and dark in there for Emily's nap. Eric made the rod out of a dowel and I painted it with leftover paint from the shelves. $7 for a curtain rod is a much better deal than the $25 to buy it ready made.

Half of the playroom closet shelves are done. The last couple just need a little trim and should be installed soon. then the chalkboard just needs a frame and we are done!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

a couple new recipes

Last night I tried making curry. I don't have access to interesting ingredients like kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass so I picked and chose ingredients from a few online recipes and here is what I came up with.

Green Curry with Chicken

1 14 oz can coconut milk
1T green curry paste
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2T fish sauce
2T brown sugar
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c frozen peas
1/3 c chicken broth

In a large saucepan combine coconut milk with a tablespoon of green curry paste. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add chicken, fish sauce, brown sugar, bamboo shoots, red bell pepper, peas, and chicken broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked, about 10-15 minutes. You can change the amounts of curry, sugar, and fish sauce to suit your taste. I garnished it with a bit of cilantro and served it over plain white rice.

Last week I made breakfast burritos. They were very easy to put together and I froze several for later. When Eric starts working days again I'll make sure to keep the freezer stocked with these so he can just grab one or two in the morning and I won't have to get up at 5am :) The next step will be trying to make my own tortillas. The amounts are estimates because I didn't measure.

Breakfast Burritos

12 tortillas
1 pound sausage (I made turkey sausage, recipe below)
10 eggs
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
extra chile peppers for Eric's

Cook sausage until browned. Add eggs and stir until cooked. Stir in salsa. Place mixture on warm tortilla, top with cheese, and roll. If you freeze them a minute in the microwave is about all it needs to reheat or you can put several on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

 Turkey Sausage

1 pound ground turkey
1/2t nutmeg
1/2t sage
1/2t thyme
1t salt
1/8t cayenne

Combine and cook. Can be crumbled or formed into patties.


As my beautiful 13 month old was nursing this afternoon, I realized that I probably will not get to enjoy this too much longer. If she is like her big sister she will start asking for the breast less and less often now that she is an active toddler. I'm going to miss this.

A couple nights ago Anika joined us in bed and by morning had her Papa almost falling off. Yes, the sheets don't match. I'm still waiting for Kmart to get the ones I want in stock.

Here is Emily showing off one of her cute diapers and checking out the book selection. She grabs a book and then crawls into big sister's bed with it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

my "quick" daily cleaning

Today, as I started my cleaning routine, I thought I would snap a few pictures as I went and share how I do my daily house cleaning. This whole thing would probably be better to do in the morning, but with Eric working swing shift we have a leisurely breakfast, play with the kids, and work on our home improvement projects in the morning. It's also the only time I have the car if I need to run errands or go to playgroup or storytime. Today I was a bit lazy and didn't get started on the cleaning until 3ish.

I start by grabbing a laundry basket, a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water, and a few microfiber cloths. We stopped using paper towels a couple years ago and I haven't missed them yet. I use holey socks and t-shirts as rags and have some microfiber cloths for cleaning glass and for dusting. As I enter each room I open the window. It helps the vinegar spell dissipate faster and gets some fresh air into the house.

I like to start with the bathrooms. They are relatively easy as they are usually not filled with toys and papers like the rest of my rooms. To begin, I toss anything that doesn't belong in that bathroom into the laundry basket. If I start walking the items directly to where they belong I will get sidetracked and never make it back to the original project. Next I spray the mirror, counters, sink, doorknobs, and toilet with the vinegar spray. I have one cloth for mirrors and I start there. Then I switch to the other cloth and wipe the doorknobs first, then the counter and sink. A quick scrub with the toilet brush and then I use the cloth from the counters to wipe down the outside and the seat of the potty. That cloth then goes into the laundry. I then check to make sure we have toilet paper and clean towels hanging and I am done with that room. In theory that should take about 5 minutes, but Emily needed a diaper change and the phone rang so it was more like 15 minutes.

 The girls "helping" in their bathroom

Then it's off to the master bath. I only have one toilet brush at the moment so along it comes with the rags, basket, and spray bottle. I follow the same steps in there only I found when I got in there that I needed to plunge the toilet before cleaning it. We are still working with Anika on her excessive use of paper.

On my way through the master bedroom I pick up a few toys and a pillow that belongs on the couch. I always make the bed when we get out of it so that is already done. That room only took about 30 seconds today.

Then it's on to the girls' bedroom. I make the beds, fold the pajamas, put a couple books back on the shelf, and toss a couple toys in the laundry basket that I am still moving from room to room. It takes about a minute.

Next is the playroom. Half the items I have tossed into the laundry basket so far belong in this room. I call the girls in to help me and we put the toys back into their baskets and on their shelves. This room is allowed to be a bit messy, but only one big item can be scattered on the floor at one time. They have to choose between the blocks, the train set, or the kitchen and clean up one before getting the other out. It takes longer to clean with the girls helping me, but in the long run it is worth it. Anika is usually very good about picking up and Emily is starting early. I didn't get a picture because Emily is sleeping in the pack in play in there now. Here is the laundry basket instead.

yes, there was a beer stein in the master bathroom and don't worry, that diaper is clean

The living room is next and it just has a few pieces of clothing and a couple toys scattered about. I give the toys to Ani and add the clothes to my laundry basket. I put the pillow I found in the master bedroom back onto the couch and straighten the rug and it's done.

I saved the kitchen/dining room for last. It's right by the laundry room so now I can put the water glasses and sippy cups I found around the house into the sink and the dirty laundry from the bathrooms and bedrooms into the washing machine. I get the dishwasher loaded and running, the rest of the dishes washed and dried, the stove, counters, table, and chairs wiped down with my kitchen washcloth and my vinegar spray, and take out the garbage. On my way back in from the garage I get a load of laundry started.

The laundry basket that I have brought from room to room now has a few random things like papers, pencils, a puzzle piece, a paint stirring stick, and a couple pairs of Eric's shoes. I need to have a talk with him about why he needs shoes in 4 different rooms of the house. Those items all get put in their proper place and if they don't have a proper place I either make them one or they get thrown away. I am determined not to let clutter get the best of me.

At the very end I run the vacuum around the entire house. As I vacuum each room I close the window that I opened an hour or so ago. I hate sweeping and it is so dusty here so I just change the setting on my vacuum and do the bare floors as well as the carpets. We only have 1600 square feet so it doesn't take long.

Our entire house should probably take less than an hour. Even though I changed Emily's diaper, answered a phone call, turned on a Mickey Mouse dvd, nursed Emily to sleep while drinking a cup of coffee, and took a few photos it was only about 2 hours of my day. That leaves plenty of time for those once a week chores like windows, dusting, mopping, or washing sheets. If anyone has any tips on how to shave a few minutes off my routine I'd love to hear them :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

not my brightest idea

The new playroom is in desperate need of something on the walls. Eventually I want an alphabet border on one or two walls. I like both the ideas in this blog. For now I thought I would have the girls paint a little something for the other wall. I had to toss all my liquids when we left Germany so I don't have any finger paint. That didn't stop me though. I gave them some leftover wall paint and stripped them to their underwear outside. Good thing it was 74 today :)

Anika used her hands. One for each color.

Emily used her hands and her feet and got rushed to the bathtub very quickly when she attempted to taste the paint.


See the lovely blue water :)


Finished product on the wall.


Sorry the lighting isn't great. We don't have the blinds up again and it is so sunny here!

my darling ballerinas

Yesterday I found Anika all dressed up to dance.


Today it was Emily's turn.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

fresh eggs

Four dozen fresh brown eggs delivered to my door for $8 makes me happy :)

See all the beautiful colors and shapes and speckles?

I love when they have little feather bits still clinging to the shell.

Just look at that color!

Yeah, I know you are all laughing at me ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

anyone want a 3 year old?

Just kidding, sort of. Today is taking it's toll on me. This morning I painted the ceiling in the playroom. I had to stop every couple minutes to referee the kids. Then Eric woke up and took over while I took the girls to Home Depot and picked out their playroom wall colors. They were a little impatient in the shopping cart, but that went pretty well. When we got home I made some grilled cheese and green beans for lunch and then painted the inside of the playroom closet. I realized I needed more orange paint so Emily and I ran back to Home Depot before Eric took the car for the day. I come back to find Anika had wet her pants.

Eric left for work and I got started on the walls. The girls were playing nicely in the kitchen and I was on a roll.

I heard a suspicious noise and went to see what they were up to. Cereal everywhere... I grab the vacuum and go to it. After a couple minutes I realize Anika is out of sight.

She was helping me paint and got some on her pants and hand, which she wiped on her shirt. I cleaned up the paint and the cereal, got the girls settled, with a scoop of ice cream each, in the back yard.

I rush the rest of the painting and come out to find that Anika was watering the rocks and they were both very wet.

I left the paint stuff soaking in the sink and got the girls clean and dry and we played with chalk for awhile.

I go back to the sink and start rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing the paint out of the roller and brush. Behind me, Anika decides she wants milk and between her and Emily somehow half a gallon of milk spills all over the kitchen floor.

Between all of the contents of the playroom being in my living room, all the extra laundry from the kids adventures, and all the painting supplies my house is trashed and I am exhausted. Now it's time to feed them dinner and (with any luck) get them in bed early so I can get the second coat on those walls.