Tuesday, December 24, 2013

{51}: making lists, wrapping gifts


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 17 - 23, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

  • Hustling and bustling to get ready for Christmas! We paused to watch The Sound of Music in two parts of the last few mornings. I wonder if that will become a new tradition for us. At one point, Charlie said wistfully, "I wish I was a child of Maria's." Oh well, gee, thanks a lot kiddo. But really, who doesn't wish that?

Monday, December 23, 2013

...in which Pooh goes hunting for trolls and finds some

Yesterday I suddenly remembered I had never gone on Facebook to read the comments about my article on Natural Parents Network. The new thing seems to be to comment on Facebook instead of directly on a blog, presumably because there are no comment moderators to delete whatever nutty thing they feel like saying. Indeed, moderation is not a word one would routinely ascribe to the Facebook medium.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

shiny happy people

Jack Sprat & Wife

"Shiny happy people!" was my aunt's comment on this picture I posted after Nate's work holiday party. And we were! On a night of three mixed drinks, I will always be shiny and happy. Plus, the conversation and hors d'oeuvres were plentiful, making the trifecta of a perfect evening complete. I would love to tell you more details about the conversations, but like I said, three drinks.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

{50}: risky business


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 10 - 16, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

  • We went sledding after the first snow, which surprised some friends given the inch of ice we got on top of the six inches of snow. It made for interesting sledding....or you could replace "interesting" with "incredibly fast, probably dangerous, and definitely messy." At one point Vivi and I were standing at the bottom of the first of two slopes watching Nate go down with Charlie, waving as they passed. We barely had time to turn around again when an out-of-control sled manned only by a young boy hit Vivi at full-speed, sweeping her off her feet and flipping her fully over him and onto her stomach. She cried for a brief minute and then was ready to go. I'll tell ya', these New England winters make for tough kids; they aren't for the faint of heart.

Monday, December 16, 2013

capturing health information in a changing world


Ever since I started graduate school in 2006, I have tracked the development of health information (HI) technology. At that time, the top story in the field of HI was about the rapid and effective response of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to Hurricane Katrina. Unlike other citizens, veterans were able to maintain their health records, prescriptions, and test results, despite having to evacuate the Gulf Coast for surrounding areas, often even to other states.

Seven years later, health informatics is a changing field, and most of us are now familiar with the concept of pharmacy and laboratory computerization for our prescriptions and test results to sync with our charts at doctors' offices. Now there are many stories of advancement, from local health departments around the country attempting to sync data with hospitals and the CDC to help epidemiologists track disease development, to advancements in the rest of the country's electronic medical records (EMR) such as those in the Hurricane Katrina story.

With the many improvements in health care technology comes a responsibility for updated education if you aim to work in the field, as I do. I took a health informatics course in graduate school and was fascinated with the field and all that is required to be knowledgeable in the subject. While I maintained general knowledge on the subject during my time in the field of public health, I am interested in increasing that knowledge upon my return to the field from my time as a mother and birth doula.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

{49}: I already have one


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 3 - 9, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...
  • The photo above is blurry, but it perfectly captures the "Christmas Story" mood that was my experience of getting Charlie dressed to walk to town in the snow.
  • I'm late submitting this weekly post because I forgot about it. It's amazing that I've gotten to this point (49 weeks!) and only just forgotten one. I plan to finish the year out strong so I can count this project done. :)
  • I'm calling this post "I already have one" because it's my new short mantra that keeps me from spending too much this month. Even if it's not true, it's working. Boot tray? Already got one (we don't, but we have a mudroom). Earrings that go fabulously well with my new holiday party dress? Already have 'em (I don't, but I hope to borrow some).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

in spaces between

Me (center) and my cousins, July 1997

In the summer of 1997, I was in between my junior and senior years of high school, and I was invincible. Like most privileged kids at that time in the suburbs of Atlanta, I drove a beat-up Volvo station wagon, my bulletproof tank. The car represented my freedom from oppression, whatever that can mean to a girl who doesn’t even have to supply her own gas money. That my muffler was held intact with a coat hanger didn’t matter; I was part of the crowd. Like Billy Joe Armstrong was hoping when he penned the song that is now a part of every highlight reel, I was having the time of my life. Graduation was barreling forward in just a year, and I was experiencing each moment with instant nostalgia and intense feeling.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

marital shorthand

That thing where you can have an entire conversation with your spouse using mostly monosyllabic sounds...

Nate: Gah.
Me: What?
Him: Nothing.
Me: Oh, that?
Him: Yeah.
Me: Mmmm.
Him: Ugh.
Me: I know, yikes.

*****************

This morning the kids were driving me nuts while I was trying to make their breakfast, and I ended up accidentally grabbing the wrong bottle to sprinkle on their oatmeal. I was running late as it was and didn't have time to make new oatmeal. Spousal levity is a great method of diffusing these moments.


Monday, December 09, 2013

my pursuit of nursing: back to the books



I used to believe my life needed to be balanced. But for as long as I can recall, this goal has been difficult if not impossible to achieve. I remember days in graduate school where I would leave the house at 6am and not return until 10pm, and in that time I would have studied while I rode the train to the city, crammed down a quick breakfast at my pre-dawn desk, worked a full time job, raced to crew practice to coach nine lively 14-year-old girls, and attended night school. I laugh when I consider the load I had to tote with me--books, a change of clothes, and three meals!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

the shadows of things that may be


This little light o' mine. My latest thrift shop find. Ain't it grand?

This morning my eyes popped open at 7:00am on the nose. My brain keeps orderly internal time, though I dunno why, given that I haven't had a job to wake up for as long as little sister has been with us. I have no one to impress with that little anecdote except you, Reader.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

{48}: trimming and retrimming the tree


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
November 26 - December 2, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.


My week...
  • Thanksgiving was a great break! I am still stuffed.
  • We got a tree on Saturday and trimmed it right away (see pic above), and now it appears it was already on its way out of this world, so we'll be detrimming its ugly brown needle-raining self this afternoon to take back to the garden center. I can only imagine that my spell check doesn't consider "detrimming" a word because this is not how nature is supposed to work--or, not yet anyway. But lo, here we are.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

#givingtuesday

giving tuesday
Giving Tuesday was created as a way to balance all of the spending happening on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a list of their four favorite places to give donations. Consider using social media to spread the word (@GivingTues and #GivingTuesday for those on Twitter).

We plan to give our annual contributions to WBUR, Mass Audubon, and our annual rotating donation to promote girls' education (this year we chose the Malala Fund). What's your favorite charity? Leave it as a link in the comments to give everyone as many choices today as possible.

Image credit: Huff Po.

Monday, December 02, 2013

joie de Vivi

"Oh how I love cake!"

I just went back and read this post about Vivi. If there's one thing I'd tell that version of myself from six months ago, it'd be not to worry so much about kindergarten. Vivi seems to be enjoying herself and staying out of trouble. On the day I visited, she excelled at the tasks given to her, from leading a small group to writing sentences (she balked at the teacher's request that she complete two sentences, but she did it). I say "leading a small group," but it primarily involved her bossing around other kids while reenacting a scene from a book they had just read, and she ate up every moment, bless her.

She has many friends and loves life, so thus far I am able to report that school has not yet squashed her spirit. It's all good. Oh, and don't get me started on school lunch, which she ADORES. If I would let her buy lunch every day, she'd be happy as a pig in a poke, but we'd be $60 broker per month. For now I let her buy once a week, and she typically chooses either pizza, hot dog, or soft pretzel/yogurt. Her cafeteria routinely serves veggies like green salads and mashed sweet potatoes too, so I have mostly praise to give them on that front.

Vivi still asks more questions than I thought humanly possible. I'm considering getting her this book for Christmas as much for my assistance as for her edification. Nate gets into the answering of the questions with patience and good humor, and I try to use his example as my guide. Oh my goodness, the girl just wants to know. Here she is watching football with her daddy. In this clip, she's asking him about a football player whose name is Ball:

video

Saturday, November 30, 2013

our incredible hulk


Charlie has always been fiercely independent. As soon as she could walk, she's been attempting to carry gigantic loads way heavier than her own body weight without our help. A few days ago, Vivi complained that she couldn't lift the lid to our storage footstool, and Charlie cheerily replied, "Sure we can! Just grab that handle, and I'll get this one." She prefers to push the stroller to being put in it, such that you can often find our family of four walking down the sidewalk with Vivi in the stroller and Charlie pushing it. Hence our nickname for her: Hulk.

The Princess & The Ladybug


Christmas in Florida, c. 2011. Charlie is 16 months old here. My original caption read, "Charlie, our work-dog."

Three year olds are full of contradictions. They want to be snuggled but treated like big kids. Charlie's picking up on the cues of older girls and so has begun the princessification process, but she's also still into frogs and mud.



Charlotte's desire for independence has never been as evident as since she turned three. She is quite the interesting mix of easy-going and opinionated, and you never really know which version you're going to get until the action begins. I love our daily strolls to get Vivi from school. We skip, dawdle, and mosey, the two of us in quiet pursuit of Thoreau's great art of the saunter. At times this activity is more fun...

video


...Than at others...


Me: We need to walk. Charlie: No thanks.
Her primary party trick is the ability to entertain herself for nearly hours on end. It is a talent that is universally commented upon by guests when we are able to sit and chat for long periods (n.b.: this is while Vivi is at school. When she's home, all bets are off). Oh, and for her next party trick, she'll sing you a medley of show tunes:

video


Friday, November 29, 2013

projecting

We had a pleasant day of not doing much but feeling like we were always doing something. Nate and I had many conversations, often while holding or munching a piece of food. Some were about household matters we should address at some point; the painting of the bathroom cabinetry, the printing and hanging of pictures, the purchase and assembly of bunk beds. We're already thinking ahead to the new year and all those nagging projects we wanted to complete this year but didn't.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

doing as we please


We had planned to attend dinner at a friends' house today, but the girls ended up with a croupy cough that sounds like the plague, so we scrounged together our own dinner at the last minute. It was delightful! I think it's because we hadn't planned ahead that we were able to enjoy it so much. Well, that and the fact that I have so much frozen and canned food that we could serve up, and that Nate offered to be my cooking buddy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a price below rubies

Yesterday I had one of those mornings of shopping planned that required a lot of pre-game thinking, scheming, and generally mumbling to myself like a crazy person. Someday my kids will have lots of material about me over which to bond with each other.

This trip was special enough to plan ahead for because Nate was tagging along with me to BUY ALL THE THINGS! He's the type of no nonsense, strategically driven shopper who wants to get from Point A to C via B with no zig-zagging or redoubling our path, so I deemed it important to get the logistics right. I'm not a logistically minded person by nature. Add to this scenario that I had enthusiastically signed up Charlie for the after-preschool program for the first time--so we could get in some extra shopping and a lunch date--and you may be able to guess what I did next after waking them for school and discovering they both had a cough..........

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

{47}: reflecting on another week


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
November 19 - 25, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.


This is a double duty post to give you our weekly update and check on on Day 14 of pre-holiday boot camp. How was your second week, Mom?

Monday, November 25, 2013

{day 13}: give yourself 15 minutes


Day 13: Give yourself 15 minutes

This is the last official task of the second week, and then tomorrow we can review the whole experience together. It should be relatively easy if you made your self-care list yesterday. Fifteen minutes a day, one day for each activity, is not a lot of time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

{day 12}: make a self-care list


Day 12: Identify ways to care for yourself

There are many I could have chosen, but on this day these are the five things I like to do at home to nourish, nurture, and relax:


1. Taking a long bath

A long HOT bath. Probably involving one of these delightful French smell-goods.


2. Journaling

You would think that after blogging every day I wouldn't have anything left to say, but you'd be wrong! I love to write down tidbits from my day, and when I remember to go to bed 15 minutes early so I can jot these notes, I never regret that time spent recording life's little moments.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

{day 11}: develop & stick with a budget


Author's note: Check out the start of my minimalist holiday series if you haven't yet so you can follow along with us! The authors of Minimalist Parenting are hosting a holiday email series that starts on November 25th, so you can sign up to read what they have to say too.

I am an impostor when it comes to the subject of budgeting. I struggle with maintaining a budget; what I am good at is making excuses for my purchases. But I try! There are others with great ideas for holiday budgeting, and I will share a few of those resources here today.

Friday, November 22, 2013

{day 10}: kids & mealtime, chowdah, review & giveaway


Author's note: This post includes the Day 10 encouragement for those following the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays series, as well as a review and giveaway of The Family Flavor: 125 Practical Recipes for the Simple and Delicious, and a recipe for creamy chicken soup from the book. Enter the giveaway below and then scroll to the bottom to find out what it's about.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, November 21, 2013

{day 9}: meal planning, sprouts, giveaway


Author's note: This post includes the Day 9 instructions for those following the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays series, as well as a recipe for Firecracker Sprouts, and a review and giveaway of a Craftsy cooking class. Enter the giveaway below and then scroll to the bottom to find out what it's about.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{day 8}: declutter email


Day 8: Declutter email

It’s not only impossible to respond to every query, it’s perfectly okay to not respond to everything, particularly when lack of response is due to lack of interest. – MINIMALIST PARENTING, Chapter 5

Minimalist Parenting camp described a three-touch rule for email. The first pass is for deleting messages that aren't addressed to you and responding to time-sensitive matters. The second pass is for emails that require more time. The third pass is for the messages that bug or don't interest you. If you haven't responded yet after seeing it three times, you won't! Get rid of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

yummy little pigeons (aka stuffed cabbage rolls)

Author's Note: I originally posted this recipe on August 26, 2011. It is the one I make most often in the winter that reminds me of my family. These cabbage rolls are a delicious labor of love.

Relax, it's not really a pigeon. My mom's father was Polish, and we grew up eating my grandmother's "gwumpki," spelled golabki in Polish, which means "little pigeon." Gwumpki, galumpki, etc. are cabbage rolls stuffed with pork/beef and rice and topped with tomato sauce. Sounds gross, right? I think they are delicious, but members of my family disagree on the subject. We're as divided in how to eat them as we are in their taste. I'll eat them any way at all, plain, salted, ketchuped, whatever. One of my uncles is known to unroll them and drench them in ketchup, claiming this is the only way they are edible. What can you expect from the baby in the family? Nate loves them as much if not more than I do, and I'm convinced it was my mom's gwumpki that sealed the deal on our marriage.

{46}: reflecting on the week

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."
No lie, this is one of the best pics from our holiday photo shoot. Why is it so hard to get them both to look and smile?

On the Range
November 12 - 18, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

This is a double duty post to give you our weekly update and check on on Day 7 of the first week of pre-holiday boot camp. How was your week? Be honest, you did only half or less of the things, right? That's okay. Being that each will only take you 15 minutes, these items can really be combined into a few days, so don't be discouraged. #LeanIn and soldier on! And if you haven't started yet, you can do it any time. There's no rush.

Monday, November 18, 2013

{day 6}: donate a bag of stuff


Day 6: Donate a bag of stuff

Author's Note: If you haven't yet, read more details about the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays. You can also read what we've accomplished so far in the Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, and Day 5 posts.

This task should be easy. If you've finished yesterday's task, then you already have a bag to donate! You can give to your local rummage sale (at a church, elementary school, or library), utilize one of many charitable organizations that do curb-side pick-up (e.g. VVA or Epilepsy Foundation), or drop the items of at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army donation center.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

{day 5}: declutter


Day 5: Declutter for 15 minutes

Author's Note: If you haven't yet, read more details about the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays. You can also read what we've accomplished so far in the Day 1Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 posts.

If you're anything like our family, you're about to get a huge influx of new toys, decorations, and general stuff this Christmas. You can get ready by decluttering the current supply of stuff. Go to a clutter spot in your house, and with a trash bag, spend 15 minutes decluttering. Pick up everything that you are thinking even might be something you'd get rid of, then once it's out of the room, you can examine the items in more detail. Donate or throw away toys that don't get played with, are missing parts, or are broken and awaiting fixing.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

{day 4}: delegate


Day 4: Delegate

Welcome to Day Four. It's time to delegate! You can read what we've accomplished so far in the Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 posts. In the Day 4 description of the 12 Days of Minimalist Holidays, I mentioned you could identify holiday-related chores (untangling lights, taking down Halloween decorations, etc.) your kids can do and delegate them.



There are many more household tasks to delegate during the holidays. But if you are like me, you have some letting go to do before others can assist in holiday project completion. I learned a bit of this lesson yesterday after Charlie and I raked up all the leaves in the yard. Nate said he was disappointed because he actually likes doing yard work!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

{day 2}: hardest thing first


Day 2: Tackle Your Hardest Thing First

I agree with Minimalist Parenting's assertion that procrastinating brings us down and drains our energy. (n.b.: there is a fantastic chapter in Allie's new Hyperbole & a Half book about procrastination; if you haven't gotten your copy yet, get one! The colorful pictures make for a fantastic bedside reading experience. She was also on Fresh Air a few days ago, so give that a listen.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{pre-holiday bootcamp, day 1}: the more and less list


DAY 1: The More & Less List

If you haven't read it yet, see yesterday's post about this two-week pre-holiday minimalist parenting bootcamp. It's time to create our holiday road map. I'm taking 15 minutes to jot down my more and less list, and I'll refer back to the list over the holidays when events and opportunities pop up to see if they're in line with my plan. I got some of my ideas for the more/less list from this great list of 18 things we should be doing more of (thanks, Amanda!).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the 12 days of {minimalist parenting} Christmas

Following Minimalist Parenting's lead of rebooting the holidays, I am taking the notes I made during their two-week camp and turning their ideas into a list of activities you can do to prepare your home, mind, and family to take a minimalist approach to the holidays.

You can take as much or little time to do these activities, but they are designed to be done over two weeks. Each numbered task below represents one day for two weeks, and each item should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Although I titled the list "The 12 Days of Minimalist Christmas," you could insert any holiday. In fact, beginning tomorrow there are two weeks before Thanksgivukkah, so I suggest starting tomorrow with the DAY 1 activity! You can follow along on the blog, where I'll chart my own progress.



The 12 Days of {Minimalist Parenting} Holidays:


  1. More and Less List: As with every plan of action, draw a road map first. Write down what you want to do/see/create more and less of over the holidays. Like with my minimalist manifesto, I refer to my list often when something--an event, or overwhelm of stuff--threatens to steer me off course.
  2. Tackle your hardest thing first: Spend 15 minutes (use an egg-timer if you want) and do the most difficult thing on your holiday to-do list first. Procrastination drains your energy.
  3. Say Yes and No: This task goes back to what I wrote about last week, regarding saying no. Say yes to events that make you happy or excite you and say no to events that drain you.
  4. Delegate!: Identify holiday-related chores (untangling lights, taking down Halloween decorations, etc.) your kids can do and delegate them. 
  5. Declutter for 15 minutes: Go to a clutter spot in your house, and with a trash bag, spend 15 minutes decluttering by donating or throwing away toys that don't get played with, are missing parts, or are broken and awaiting fixing.
  6. Donate a bag of stuff: This task should be easy. If you've finished Day 5, then you already have a bag to donate! You can give to your local rummage sale or seek one of many charitable organizations that do curb-side pick-up (e.g. VVA or Epilepsy Foundation).
  7. Rest & reflect on Week #1: Go back to the list you made on Day 1. Has anything raised or lowered in priority? Add or remove what is needed. Be mindful of how you feel and offer yourself and others your love, hope, forgiveness, and grace.
  8. Declutter e-mail: Touch each email only three times. First pass is for deleting messages that aren't addressed to you and responding to time-sensitive matters. Second pass is for emails that require more time. Third pass is for the messages that bug or don't interest you. 
  9. Make a holiday menu plan: Figure out 3-5 dishes that can be made and frozen in advance. Good possibilities are mashed squash, cranberry sauce, pie fillings, pie dough, and stuffing. 
  10. Involve your kids in mealtime: Kids can help with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Ideas for how they can help are on the Family Dinner Project website
  11. Develop and stick with a budget: Celebrate the holidays within your means by considering and communicating how much you plan to spend on gifts, food, travel, and entertainment. 
  12. Identify five favorite ways to care for yourself: Make a self-care short list of what nourishes, nurtures, and relaxes you.
  13. Give yourself 15 minutes: Make time in your calendar today and once each week for these 15 minutes to devote to one of the five items on your self-care list.
  14. Rest & reflect on Week #2: Go back to the list you made on Day 1. Was the second week easier or more difficult? What will you plan to continue more permanently in your routine? Add or remove what is needed. Be mindful of how you feel and offer yourself and others your love, hope, forgiveness, and grace.
If you try any of these holiday rebooting tasks, consider leaving a comment here on the blog or over on the Lone Home Ranger Facebook page. I'd love to hear what works and what doesn't!

Author's note: I did not get paid anything to write about Minimalist Parenting, but I like the authors and think you'll enjoy some concepts from their book. This post is part of The Homestead Barn HopWorks for Me Wednesday, and LHITS DIY Friday.

{Minimalist Parenting} book review


minimalist parenting
Back in March, I participated in MinCamp, a free two-week lifestyle program run by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, authors of Minimalist Parenting and their great blogs to which I linked. Inspired by Red Shutters, I briefly considered writing my thoughts on the book and camp. Then life happened, and now it's seven months later. But, daily blogging is on, so let's do this.

Last week I mentioned one of the ideas I liked best in the book, that moms are curators of the stuff and activities of family life. I appreciated their real-life anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. For example, some prudent wisdom I have taken to heart is that giving up your baby stuff doesn't necessarily mean you're taking a stand on future reproduction. Christine's idea to ask for used items at a baby shower is right up my alley, so I happily gave my cousin the bulk of our baby stuff cluttering up the basement.

Honestly, I didn't read Minimalist Parenting cover to cover, but that could be because I've been a student of minimalism for a while now and have read copious resources on this topic already. I borrowed it from the library, brought it to the gym with me for a few days and flipped through while on the bike. Much of what it says validates what I am already doing of what I've learned by chatting with girlfriends. Having said that, I do think it's a good and quick read, and it would make a great baby shower gift for a new parent.

While I might not have thought the book itself essential, the authors have made some valuable contributions to the field that I want to point out. First, they maintain a fabulous Facebook page that is continually updated with great articles on topics related to minimalist parenting.

Author's note: They are devoting a section of their Minimalist Parenting website to the holidays! They have some great ideas for rebooting the holidays to enjoy them more by doing less. In the next post, I shared my version of their camp, which is tailored toward the holidays.

Monday, November 11, 2013

{45}: notes from The Mikado


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."
We took our friends' 3 kids for a day this weekend. Wild!

On the Range
November 5 - 11, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

what does the guinea hen say?

Sorry for the poor image quality.

Nate has recently upped his thoughtfulness in the gift department. After last month's anniversary gift (Garner's Modern American Usage) and this week's birthday gift (the above guinea hen that I have been pining over in the town trade shop window for the past six months), it is GAME ON at Christmas.

When the kids saw the guinea hen at separate moments on my birthday--it was hanging out on the mantel--they both said independently of hearing the other, "QUACK!" It cracked me up because it doesn't remotely resemble a duck to me. When I told them such, they of course wanted to know what a guinea hen says.

...And then I finally showed them this video, which left them no less confused, but they were at least able to come up with creative sounds for the guinea hen. My vote is "wow pow pow pow pow pa pow!"

Saturday, November 09, 2013

natural birth stories: review, giveaway, and discount!

Author's Note: You can read more about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood on my site here. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how you can get your own copy of Natural Birth Stories.

When I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy, I picked up a book one day that my mom recommended called Spiritual Midwifery. It was the first time I'd read any book that Ina May Gaskin published, and I was hooked from the start. Reading the stories of those women's natural births was empowering; it quelled my anxiety while also raising my belief that I could give birth without medical pain relief.

Friday, November 08, 2013

on staying in touch

Every now and then I ponder the act of correspondence, about how much I love and dislike it at various times in my life, how simultaneously good and bad I can be at it and how it has connected me to friends and family in different ways as I get older. Today is my birthday, and birthdays in my thirties are full of a diverse means of communication. Yesterday I got cards from my mom and grandma, and today I got the usual phone calls, mixed with birthday texts and Facebook posts.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

rebuild your gut & immune system post-antibiotics: resources

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or nutrition expert, so please use your own judgment when making decisions about your health.


At the start of 2013, I shared our plan for rebuilding our daughters' good gut bacteria after they were put on antibiotics for upper respiratory infections. I had no idea how popular the article would become. If Dr. Google were the way we followed epidemiological trends in this country, I would say for sure that the overuse of antibiotics and their after effects are of primary concern among Googling parents.

If you haven't read that post yet, I recommend you start there. In that article, I delve into the how and why antibiotics can damage your or your child's gut and immune system, and I give some simple ideas for repairing it. Today I'm following up that post by focusing on more solutions, i.e. extensive ideas for rebuilding your digestive and immune systems. I'm sharing a list of e-book resources to provide ideas and strategies for detoxing, meals, skincare, natural health, and further rationale for your post-antibiotics healthy diet and lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

building a tinker tent: {carnival of natural mothering}


Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.


I recently wrote an article in the holiday edition of Rhythm of the Home about how we are trying to limit the amount of stuff we accumulate, both during the holidays and year-round. I have gotten such great positive feedback from y'all that I decided to share some of what we're doing gift-wise for the kids this year.

Monday, November 04, 2013

the ultimate healthy living sale!

Now that we own a Kindle, I have gotten into reading e-books. They are so inexpensive and don't require me to return them to the library! I especially love when these bundles of lots of books go on sale. You know how much I love a good bargain.

I've never signed on to promote a bundle before, but I love the idea of supporting the authors of healthy living ebooks because that's my own favorite writing topic. Plus this bundle really is a heck of a deal, and I don't put out that stamp of approval lightly.




Sunday, November 03, 2013

the motherhood curator


I was just making some cheesy popcorn tonight in preparation for tomorrow's choir rehearsal--it's my turn for mom snack duty. {It is an easy and delicious recipe; just follow my dad's basic popcorn recipe, then as you're drizzling butter, also sprinkle garlic salt and grated parmesan/romano cheese.} As I was stuffing the finished product into ten snack-sized baggies, I began pondering my week ahead.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

goop + sk = harvest salad

Gorgeous local beets. Charlie kept saying "Wow, BEAUtiful!"


I picked up Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook It's All Good a while back, and I am as happy with it as I was her first book of her father's recipes. Actually I am happier, considering these days--i.e. the "pre-holiday purge" days--I'm more inclined to make healthy salads than cheeseburgers. Nothing against cheeseburgers, which are completely and engrossingly delicious. In fact, I would stop writing right now to scarf a cheeseburger down if presented in front of me.

What was I saying? Oh right, salads. Haters gonna hate GP, but honey badger don't give a damn. Yes, I too snorted at some of the ridiculous lines in the book. And no, I would not agree that Vegenaise is "out of control" good (not that I've ever tasted it). But laughing at her is part of the fun in following her goings-on, right? I think she's a real person, and people don't like the pretty ones expressing who they really are if who they really are seems holier-than-thou. So she eats vegan food, so what? There are some delicious vegan recipes out there.

Smitten Kitchen, on the other hand, is a breath of humble air. I can't believe I've had her book for a year and haven't written about it yet! (Although, I remember I did mention a word about the wonderful Dutch baby that changed breakfast in our household possibly forever.) Her book is as fantastic, beautiful, and creative as you'd expect if you've followed her blog. Personally, I can't wait to make her apple cider caramels again this season (that is, when my no-sugar cleanse is over) and then unwrap and eat them one by one by myself in a dark, quiet corner of my house.

Truth be told, my style of eating is much more in line with Deb's than GP's. I particularly love that in sk's butternut squash salad recipe, she makes a frank admission that she doesn't eat salads because they're healthy but because she likes them. Ditto, sister.


When I saw GP's arugula salad with roasted veggies, I immediately remembered sk's salad, which I've loved and made several times over the past year. I was intrigued about the idea of adding beets and shallots, but I also liked sk's use of sherry vinegar (tho apple cider vinegar is great in fall too) and farro. Thus, I combined the two recipes. And it was all good.


Friday, November 01, 2013

on costumes {including Sox} & NaBloPoMo

So okay, I'm going to do that NaBloPoMo thing again! I will probably regret my decision tomorrow when my ideas scatter and hide, but I'm trying to take Anne Lamott's advice to write every day for a while and see how that goes (Lamott fans: I even got myself a 1-inch blank picture frame for inspiration.) Hold on to your butts!...

Last night was so fun! The weather was wonderful. My mom summed it up perfectly by noting how great it is not to have everyone asking "So what are you dressed up as under that big puffy coat?" Indeed! Vivi went as her favorite story character, Lady Bug Girl, and Charlie went as a cowgirl (Vivi's costume from our 1st year in Boston).

This was the best one I got! Missed out on the hobby horse.

I didn't expect Charlie to get into the event as much as she did, but she periodically and indiscriminately shouted "YEEHAW!" throughout the evening, much to everyone's surprise and delight. Forgetting that she would have zero recollection as to how the whole trick-or-treat business works, I gave the kids a quick reminder tutorial about saying "Happy Halloween!" and "Thank you!" to every candy distributor, not going off with strangers, and watching their step on slippery stairs (earlier drizzle + fallen leaves = a big wet mess) but otherwise gave no instruction. After happening upon their first house on the block, Charlie ran back to me screaming "THEY GAVE ME CANDY!!!" and asked if she could eat it. She then proceeded to scream and eat for the next four houses until I told her that maybe it'd be a good idea if some of the candy made it into her bag.

Meanwhile, Vivi was off and running in a nearly completely unbridled manner. Sometimes I didn't even have a good handle on where she was for a brief moment, but fortunately we were among a bunch of friends at the ends of the group to help corral the stragglers and eager overachievers. You can also take my word for it that our neighborhood is beyond safe on Halloween. There are adults milling about and chatting out in the middle of our quiet street, and nearly every house is exceptionally well lit with porch lights, street lights, Halloween-themed lights (a new sight to me upon moving to Boston), and plenty of jack-o-lanterns. Last year the local school's marching band even made an appearance! It is almost apologetically adorable.

...If I haven't convinced you yet, allow me to report that we are that neighborhood people come from other towns to trick-or-treat in. Not that I am gloating. Or maybe yes...

We hit every house on the block and were rounding the corner when both kids asked me to hold their loot, which was my cue to rally the troops for the march back up the hill home. I heard lots of happy sighs and bold statements of "BEST DAY EVER!," so I know Halloween is a holiday that's here to stay. I'm glad about that, but I'm also happy to ease into a quiet, food-and-milestone-themed November. Sorry for not taking more pictures, but Charlie disrobed a part of her costume at nearly every house, so I was busy balancing a hobby horse, plastic belt, and a cowgirl hat that didn't fit my head, plus my own umbrella and camera that went unused.

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In other life news, this has been a tough week for me--despite the fun last night and the big Red Sox win that so many people anxiously awaited and then confusingly didn't seem to celebrate. Although I normally don't participate in cliche monikers for the days of the week, today I am shouting from a rooftop "TGGGGGGGGIFFFFFFF!!" All that's on the docket for the weekend is skating on Saturday and church/choir practice on Sunday. I can't wait to settle into my jammies and unwind.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

making a molehill out of a mountain {rhythm of the home}

Rhythm of the Home's Holiday edition is out today! Check out my article about simplifying our kids' toys. I'll be conducting our "pre-holiday purge" soon. Care to join me?


Author's note: You can read my past contributions to Rhythm of the Home here.

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