Homemade Summer Time Lemonade

This past week my lovely home state saw temps in the 90s.  While the hubs was at work the kids and I made a day of it.  We started with a fun play time at the local splash pad, a (despite our ice packs in the insulated lunch bags) warmish lunch – melted pbjs, yogurt covered raisins, and larabars.  Then made a stop at the local frozen yogurt shop before heading to see daddy at work.  Somewhere in there I decided our 90+ degree summer day needed to be topped of with the perfect lemonade.  Letting my 3 year old help left me with a tasty drink but really sticky kitchen.

While I was pregnant with baby number 2 I had some issues staying hydrated.  One day it lead to come contractions after being advised to put my feet up and drink plenty of fluids, I decided that lemonade was the perfect drink to help me do so.  This must have been about July last year so the Summer heat was also a factor in my compulsive craving.  It was so delicious I drank the entire 4 quarts in about 45 minutes.  Probably would have been better to drink plain water and avoid the sugar but it worked.

Lemonade is great and all but who doesn’t love to mix things up a little and who doesn’t love fresh fruit in their beverage on a hot Summer day.  So we came home with a bag of lemons, 2 lbs of strawberries and blueberries, and 24 oz of raspberries.  My little lady and I got to work quickly on cutting and juicing the lemons, adding the sugar and fruit, and filling up with water.  We even got some fancy little ‘fruit cubes‘ going.  While they were all delicious, the strawberry was the clear winner.  The berry is just so sweet and tasty, how could you go wrong?

Homemade Lemonade Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • fruit of your choice
  • water
Instructions:
  • Wash the lemons.  Cut in half and juice them being carful to avoid getting seeds into the pitcher.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar (I like to do 1/4 cup per lemon) and stir.  If you are making raspberry lemonade, you may want to consider adding more sugar.
  • Wash and prepare fruit.  I like to cut the strawberries and cut or crush the blueberries before adding them to the lemonade in order to get the juices to really come out.  I used about 1-2 handfuls of fruit.
  • Fill with water.  I used a 2 quart pitcher.  Just fill it up and stir.  
  • Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so or serve over ice – you could always use these adorable cubes to add a cute flare and cool your drink without watering down your beverage.
  • Discard after a few days.
What are your favorite stay cool drinks and tips for the warm summer months ahead?

5 Lessons I Plan to Teach my Children About Rape Culture

Image from Facebook

Honestly, I should leave this topic alone.  

I shouldn’t even considering touching it with a ten foot pole.

As I type I will be steeling myself in anticipation of the ‘backlash’.

We are all abuzz on social media about the Stanford swimming star (yes, I know he has a name.  Frankly, I don’t believe we should be using it as a household name) who raped an unconscious woman.  Let me start by saying he was wrong and his actions were criminal.  He should have been held accountable and frankly his dad’s letter claiming punishment for ’20 minute of action’ speaks volumes about the upbringing in that family.  But I digress.

This verdict along with the recent UCLA shooting has given me reason to look 15 years into the future and imagine the conversation I will have with my daughter when I send her off into the world.  And 3 short years behind her the same conversation needs to be had with her brother.  According to the internet and the outcry of putting an end to rape culture, it seems like I would be wrong to teach my children about situational risks and personal presentation.

Did I mention the Stanford swimmer was WRONG??? I did?  Good, just wanted to be sure I put that into the world.

What I am about to say has absolutely nothing to do with saying the victim was wrong, that she was asking for it, that she in anyway suggested this was okay, or that she shares any of the blame.  She is in fact the victim of a crime.  She was violated and my following comments are in no way intended to minimize that reality.

 As a mom, I worry about the day I no longer have my children at home, that I can no longer protect them as much as I am able to now.  I can’t stop them from making choices that put them at risk of any number of things and as of right now I have yet to figure out how I am going to give them the tools to stay safe in the event that they are on a campus with any sort of campus shooting.  So I have focused on the things I can educate them on.

I agree whole-heartedly that rape culture needs to go.  We need to find a deep dark whole and burry it, allow it to become part of history.  I also agree that this rapists plan to educate on the risks of drinking is a backhanded way of acknowledging that he did something wrong without actually owning up to the criminal behavior he in which he partook.

But this is all just outrage.

What we need is a solution to keep our children safe.  I can tell my children no matter what a woman is wearing or how she is behaving, if she doesn’t say ‘yes’ it is wrong for someone to continue to engage with her in a sexual manner.  I can tell my daughter she has the right to dress however she so chooses and that no matter how skimpy that may or may not be no man has the right to put his hands on her.  And that is all well and true – but that doesn’t protect her any further and what is that telling my son?  I have basically just told my son he is an aggressor and my daughter she is a victim by virtue of the gender assigned to them.  God forbid either of my children is ever the victim of rape but should my son be victimized in such a way by a woman or another man, by ‘dispelling’ rape culture I have not only not protected my daughter, but I have also shamed my son.

So what will I tell my children?

1.)  Risk assessment is key.  This is where someone is going to get all up in arms and basically say that I am victim shaming or blaming.  I don’t mean to – I had a night out where I was so drunk I almost got into the vehicle of a stranger because I thought it was my ride picking me up.  Lucky for me there were people with me watching out for me.  I have been there and made less than ideal decisions and my kids will do it to, but I think they also need to be given the tools to assess a situation.  I would liken this to choosing to go for a walk after dark.  Night time walking has risks daytime walking doesn’t.  Maybe you will be willing to take the risk for the benefits, maybe you won’t.  Which leads to point number 2

2.)  Contingency plans.  Contingency plans matter.  A lot.  We will continue with the night time walk since it is less loaded than the scenario at hand.  I want my kids to know they need to think about possible scenarios that could result from the choice they made.  How will they get help if they twist an ankle?  Does someone know they are going for said walk and did they give them a route/likely return time?  What about motorists, will they encounter them?  And how will they be visible to motorists?  Can they walk in a group or with a dog?

3.)  Sometimes the best laid plans fail.  You can’t possibly account for every likely scenario.  You could follow every single safety procedure, recommendation, and precaution and still wind up in a situation that you don’t want to be in.  You could be victimized in your own home or by someone you know, love and trust.  Should you find yourself in that situation, don’t beat yourself up.  Life carries risk as well as reward and we each have our own demands to fight.  I hope if my children ever find themselves in this situation, that they have spent enough time filling their bank with positive self-worth, strong relationships, and a confidence that can only shaken, not torn down.  I hope that he or she comes out of the situation as articulate and strong as this young woman has.

4.)  The way you dress.  I have given this one a lot of thought over the past 10 or so years.  In high school we had a dress code, and I didn’t realize it at the time but it really did unfairly restrict how the girls dressed more than the boys.  I was raised to respect authority and dress modestly so it really never bothered me then but now it seems wrong somehow.  Women’s bodies have become so sexualized that even public nursing is considered indecent.  The popular response to this is to ‘take back our bodies’.  I have even jumped on the bandwagon somewhat with nursing in public sans cover.  But I want my children to understand 2 things about the way people dress.  First and foremost, the way you dress is an expression of who you are.  You are presenting your first impression to the world and it is powerful.  First impressions are made fast and don’t usually have much opportunity for change in the short term.  So dress for how you want other to react to you.  Do you want someone to think you are smart and classy?  Dress the part.  But equally important, dress is a basic necessity.  Some people are more comfortable in less, 90+ degree summer days have a tendency to melt the layers off of every body.  Clothing isn’t who someone is in full, just 1 part of the equation.  Clothing has it’s limits for self expression.  It never welcomes sexual advances from strangers and it certainly never overrides the wearers refusal of any advances.

5.)  Rape is rape – and it is criminal and immoral.  Finally, I want both my son and daughter to know that they could be the victim or the aggressor of rape.  It matters little if they are male or female, if they dress modestly or skimpily, if they are in a serious committed relationship or if they are sexually promiscuous, if they are risk adverse or risk takers, if they like to party or if they are homebodies.  If they are ever in a situation where they have not said yes or have not been active participants, it is rape bottom line.  And there is nothing shameful in being the victim.  I want them to know clearly and unequivocally that no mater their actions prior to rape, it is never excusable and it is never okay.

This is wrong – personally I think the judge should have been asked to remove himself based on a clear connection with Stanford being his alma mater – this criminal should be getting treated like he committed a serious crime.  I also think the judge made a serious error in judgement in this case since he just stoked the fires of public opinion.  This ‘remorseful young man’ as the judge seems to believe him to be, is not being raked over the coals in a way I don’t believe would have happened had the sentence he’d been given seemed fair.

Downsizing? Tiny House, Big Life Movement

I have been obsessed lately with home improvement shows.  As I have been home the past year and a half and we have gone down to a one income family, I have started to shift my thinking from ‘what will make me happy’ to ‘how can I be happy with what I have’.  This largely applies to the house my husband and I purchased 5 years and 2 kids ago – hence the home improvement shows obsession.  I am working out some thoughts on how to take my less than ideal home and make it into a home I love.  In the future I will be sharing my current project, which is our bedroom.

Part of being a single income family has also led me down a path of reevaluating what is actually necessary for our family of 4 to possess for efficient functioning.  Of course we have made ‘sacrifices’ like going from a 2 car family to a 1 car family and getting familiar with all sorts of money saving apps and grocery store coupons and rebates (more on that later).  Among all of these home improvement shows, what keeps jumping out at me is this tiny house business.

I am not about to jump on the band wagon and sell off most of my possessions, put my 3 bedroom house on the market, and move my family of 4 into a house roughly the size of my bedroom but the idea is rather alluring … At least until they get to the composting toilet … then I just feel a little bad about myself for being so spoiled by modern amenities.

But here is the thing, a life where I don’t have a mortgage, my home can have a minimal impact on the environment, my entire house can be cleaned (I am talking deep cleaned) every day in the matter of an hour or less, a life in which I have what I need but I most certainly don’t collect and attach meaning to those things that are not necessities sounds like a dream come true … and like a nearly impossible dream that is just too darn good to be true.

This weekend happens to be our annual garage sale.  It never ceases to amaze me that we have enough stuff to get out of our house every year to have yet another sale.  I always think ‘well next year we can’t possibly have enough stuff for yet another sale’ and every summer I can’t wait until our sale to get things out of the house.  This year I have the advantage of going though my stuff with this tiny house lens but it still seems almost impossible to part with things that I probably should let go.  I have gone through my fabric stash and craft supplies at least 5 or 6 times.  I still have 4 totes of fabric and yarn and a 5th tote of fabric that is actually piled up and spilling over … that tiny 144 square foot house would be a tight fit for my sewing supplies alone!

The point …

The point is this, I am completely and totally an all or nothing kind of person.  And somehow or another I believe I can do absolutely anything – until I talk myself down and begin to tell myself the ‘I can’t’ story in such a convincing manner I do nothing.

As I approach my 5th year of marriage and my 30’s, I become more and more self aware of these tendencies that are truly self destructive.  How, exactly, does one go about creating a world view in which being an informed and responsible consumer is not an overwhelming undertaking?  In the busy world we live in today, how is it that people are able to balance health and wellness with finances and economic decision making … without going to the extreme of becoming a complete minimalist or ditching modern living and going completely off grid?

The noise and clutter of this life is constant.  The demand for more is incessant.  The messaging of not being good enough is deafening.  And the stories of all of the dangers lurking in the world are pervasive, risk is the name of the game after all.

While I am not about to become a minimalist and my family won’t be moving to a tiny house in this life time – I can barrow some thoughts from the movement.  My current dream is to expand my garden and learn to build my own little structure of reclaimed windows.  A green house of recycled materials to grow my own seedlings for next years garden or maybe to extend the growing season to have fresh fruits and veggies from my own backyard sounds like a great use of 144 square feet.

But first, maybe another sweep through that tumbling pile of fabric.

Share your thoughts.  How do you balance the demands of modern life with your own sanity and ‘green living’ desires?

Mommy, say you’re sorry.

This week!

I know it is only Wednesday but this week has been a big changer in our family.

This week I went back to work.

This week I went from being at home and accessible to my children, the needs of my family, and the demands of my home more or less 24 hours a day to having at least 4 hours dedicated to my employer.  Not to mention the time it takes to get ready and to drive to work.

This week is a crazy week at work due to some changes taking place – which in turn means what will be my normal every 3 week rotation is looking more like a daily shift.  That shift is mostly in the 4 hour range but the stress of the whole thing is a little more than I anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong, on one hand it is nice to work again.  On the other, I am suddenly a crabby raging something or other who seems to have no energy or time in the day to accomplish … well anything.

In my haste to get out the door – because of course I was running behind – I yelled at my 3 year old.  I basically told her to get a move on or she could just stay home by herself (simmer down, I would NEVER actually do that) but it seems to be effective in getting her moving.  On the way to drop her off with my brother, from the back seat I hear a little voice saying ‘mommy, say you’re sorry’.

You can tell what we are currently working on with her in our house can’t you?

I asked her what for and her response was ‘for hurt my feelings’.

And there went my heart, broken on the floor.  Shattered into a hundred pieces – I try to save the million pieces break for moments like getting stitches/staples, broken bones, broken hearts … big stuff.

Now I have often questioned the extreme kid gloves we use with our children these days.  I mean seriously, what is this ‘preschool graduation’, participation trophies, and banning the blowing of a whistle during recess because it is too aggressive sounding for some children?  Seriously, that’s a thing.  I mean what the actual hell are we teaching kids on the whole?

I’ve also read countless blogs about the beauty of letting kids go at their own pace and not rushing them.  About seeing the world through their eyes, blah, blah, blah.  In theory that is an amazing thing to be able to take the time to do – but let’s remember that as parents our job is to teach them to function in the world.  We are to help them develop a moral compass, an ethical standing, a work ethic, and a code of conduct.  No one wants to be friends or colleagues with the person who is constantly walking with their head in the clouds on their own time.  Dr. offices don’t hold your appointment forever, airplanes don’t wait to take off until you board, and frankly your boss isn’t going to be too thrilled with you coming in an hour or so late every. single. day.

Moral of the story?  Time management matters.

The hardest thing about parenting in my 3 years of experiences is trying to teach your mini me the skills or habits that don’t come easy for you.  We were in such a rush because time management is not my strong suit.  I was yelling because the only thing I struggle with more than time management is patients.

I am working on developing my own planner pages to accommodate all things I need to keep track of in a day – to endure that everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there.  Stay tuned.  As I get some pages underway I will share a little of what I have going in my ultimate planner.

Toddler Chore Chart – Free Printable

Toddler Daily Task Chore Chart - Free Printable
Toddler Daily Task Chore Chart

A few weeks ago I started a Daily Family Task Chart – and things have been running much more smoothly.  We still have a some work to do before we stop falling behind on house work and fitting everything in our days.  We still have an issue in our house with our three year old.  There are regular power struggles and frankly she doesn’t seem to want to listen any more.  
We have tried to do a little bit of yoga together (more on that later) and while we were seeing some results it doesn’t really last all day and it is a little hard to stay consistent especially when we have so much power struggle going on during the day.  We plan to keep working on keeping the yoga constant because of the laundry list of benefits but something has to change now – And mom and dad need to be on the same page!
The solution?  A check list on her bedroom door.  
Mornings can be crazy around here and now and then we don’t always have the opportunity to communicate about what has and hasn’t happened in the morning routine and by the time the evening rolls around, well who has the time, energy, or brain power to keep up on who has done what.  I am told structure and expectations will help keep a young one ‘in check’ and I am hoping if this makes our days just a little smoother, maybe we can also start an ‘expectations chart’ in order to limit screen time and positively reinforce some good behavior.
Here is the free printable if you choose to use it.
All you rock star mommas out there, what tips and tricks do you have to make your days run smoothly? 

5 signs you should break up with your breast pump and switch methods

5 reasons you may want to ditch your double electric pump for another option
5 reasons you may want to ditch your double electric pump for another option

Breast is best.

Chances are you have heard this no matter your current motherhood status.  The pressure to provide your child breast milk is intense but you still have other responsibilities like keeping a roof over their heads or I don’t know food on the table, clothes on their back, and medical insurance for all those well child checks (and the general cost of a medical professional attending your birth).  So now you have to express milk.

Enter the breast pump.

Chances are you are aware that your breastfed baby does have a few differences from his or her formula fed counter part, like weight and the point at which they start sleeping through the night.  But here are a few things I learned nursing baby number 2 that caused be to pack up the pump for good.

1.)  Your breastfed baby doesn’t need more breast milk as he or she ages or grows 

Chances are you know that as a formula fed baby grows, they drink more formula through the day.  But did you know that current research shows babies who are breastfed do not increase their milk take (except during growth spurts) from a few weeks old through 6 months?  After 6 months, if your baby is starting solids, he or she will drink less milk.

Turns out that whole idea of breast milk being an ideal nutrition for your child includes increasing the calories per unit to accommodate their increased size.  This would have been helpful when I was nursing my first and got discouraged because I couldn’t pump 8 oz in a whole day let alone one session to provide her with all those larger feedings.  The formula fed counter parts need to have a greater volume as they age because the formula nutritional content doesn’t change requiring more liquid to accommodate growing bodies.

Read more and find links to academic journals at kellymom.com.

2.)  1 – 3 oz of milk per pump session is typical

This may have been my biggest frustration during pumping for my daughter while working full time.  I would get so frustrated with myself because I had an unrealistic idea of what I should be able to pump per session.  I would feel discouraged after bringing home 4 – 5 oz of milk at the end of the day.  In conjunction with the above point, I would go home feeling like I would never have enough milk to feed my daughter during the day while I was at work.  Of course the stress didn’t help me get any more volume from my pumps.

Read more about what you can expect while pumping at mother-2-mother.com

3.)  Your baby is more efficient than your pump 

If you are a pumping mom or close to your baby’s due date, your provider has probably shared this with you.  This is something I was told at my appointments too.  And of course it makes sense but why baby is more efficient than the pump is probably a little more important.  Through my prenatal visits and my new baby class, I learned that your body responds to your little one’s cues, touch, smell … basically any sense you can use to interact with your baby encourages your let down response.  So when I was concerned and frustrated, I was told to bring an article of clothing, a picture and/or a recording of my baby’s hungry cry.  Unfortunately, no matter how you simulate being close to your baby, it doesn’t replace being close to your baby and it won’t make your pump move the way the baby’s mouth moves to express milk.  So I switched from my Medela to a Dr. Brown’s pump.  It was supposed to mimic baby’s suckling.  It didn’t work work any better.  And when combined with baby’s hungry cry recorded to produce a let down reflex … well I was left feeling like a broken emotional failure.

4.)  A double electric pump is the most efficient way to express milk

One luxury I experienced with baby number two that I didn’t get with the first is being at home almost exclusively.  He is now 9 months old and I have not had to be away from him for extended periods to date.  That will change soon but he eats a lot of table food now so I am not as worried about milk expression and it will be once or twice a month that I am away for 8 hours or more at a time.  I have been pretty lucky to be in that position as it has reduced my stress level dramatically.

I can remember when it was time to pick a pump with my daughter everyone told me that I need to just spring the cash for a double electric pump and a ‘hands free’ accessory.  While it was nice when I was working because I could bring my computer into the lactation room with me and still answer emails/work I quickly discovered with baby number two that there are other options.

5.)  Pumping requires specialized equipment and extra time to ‘set up’ and ‘break down’

It would take me about 30 to 35 minutes to pump from start to end with my daughter and I was happy when I ended up with 3 oz.  Some sessions I ended up with nothing.  The time it took was too great for my liking.  Between putting the pump together, getting the phalanges properly placed on the breast, a 10 – 20 minute pump, and then clean up … well it was a major time suck and I wasn’t willing to keep up with that while I was at home in the evenings and on the weekends.  So I fell further and further behind on my stash of expressed milk.  This was really frustrating when I was drinking so much water I felt like my organs were swimming and I was choking down tea to boost supply.

With my second I finally discovered the secret for me was to hand express.  Sure it take a little getting used to but in about 15 minutes start to finish I could express about 2 – 3 oz.  It is extremely inexpensive as it doesn’t require any specialized equipment, can be done anywhere – seriously, there was a time or two I had to do it in the car when we needed to drop them off for a few hours and he needed a little milk to get by – and I didn’t have to sit in a room connected to a pump for 20 minutes.  I could literally keep an eye on my kids no matter where they were.

Possibly the biggest benefit for me was the lack of discomfort.  I found both pumps I have used to be pretty uncomfortable.  Of course there are the women with an oversupply or those who don’t terribly mind pumping and the answer is different for everyone.

What tips and tricks have you found suit you best in your attempts to express milk while you are away from the baby?

For tips on hand expression check out this wikihow.  While you are going to find your own method, I like this one because it also includes a few tips to get the most you can – like the warm wash cloth.

For tips on boosting supply check out this post.  Just beware that the photo is misleading in the sense that 8 + oz of milk is not the average expression per session and that this is one person’s experience.  If you have questions or concerns a lactation consultant or your ob is the way to go.

Identity – Organizing a household with printable

Driving the other day, my mind started to wander just a little bit.  I have been thinking about starting up this particular blog for some time and have been giving a lot of thought to how to organize and focus such a project.  I thought an introduction – a hello – would be the appropriate place to start.  And of course that requires the obligatory run down of who I am.
This is where the wandering comes in.  I started something like this – I am a mom to two amazing kids.  My husband and I met … but is that who I am?  Not really.  That tells you only a few things about me;
  1. I wipe noses and change diapers on a daily basis 
  2. That I have a legally binding contract to another human that says we are married
But that isn’t who I am.  So I started again, and didn’t arrive at anything much more successful.  It went something like this; I enjoy sewing, crafting, cooking and learning.  Okay, so maybe there was a little more success and we got just a little closer but those things, while true, paint a picture (at least in my mind) that just don’t really match who I am. 
How exactly does this translate into organizing my household?  
Well here is the thing – my life is messy and busy … and I like it that way.  But I also crave (sometimes intensely so) brining organization to the messy busy life.  I still believe (as I quickly leave my twenties and approach a new decade in my life) finding that balance, that secret formula that allows me to be all the things I am – a mom, a sewist, a writer, a lover of creativity and problem solving, a wife, a philosopher, an educator, a student (you get the picture) – without having to feel like I missed those mundane mom moments that are vital to young children and will eventually be what makes the memories we will cherish into old age.
There is always room for improvement and my biggest area of opportunity at the moment is household tasks.  I know what needs to be done, but not everyone else in the household knows what needs to happen and we don’t always see each other to communicate what has been done until it is time to get kids into jammies, teeth brushed, and bedtime stories read.  
So started my journey to organization.  I stayed up until an unreasonable hour one night putting together a printable to-do list.  We have a wall in our kitchen for keys, the menu board, and two frames for shopping lists.  The two frames used as white boards for grocery items was excessive – so I replaced them with our new ‘family to-do’s’.  The two pages includes daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks and a nice little space for needing shopping items.  While keeping up to date on house hold chores is an ongoing effort, we have definitely made some serious improvements.  Check out the list and feel free to print it here.

Printable House Hold Cleaning List
Up next – figuring out how to organize all of our calendaring needs.  With me going back to work – even part time – and being a single vehicle household, organization and communication of schedules is going to be vital!