Friday, May 10, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Energy Bars

These energy bars are quick and easy to make, have no sugar, and are healthy and delicious!  The dates are naturally sweet and a good source of iron, calcium and magnesium. I keep a batch on hand to grab as a snack when hunger strikes.  Enjoy!

Chewy Oatmeal Energy Bars:

2 C. dates, soaked and seeds removed
1.5 to 2 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp honey

In a food processor, blend the dates until they become mashed and sticky. Add oats, coconut, chia seeds and honey and continue blending. Start with 1.5 cups of oats. If the mixture seems too sticky, slowly add more oats. You want it to be chewy, but not too sticky.  Transfer mixture to an 8x8 pan and press firmly and evenly into pan.  Refrigerate before cutting into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Other ingredients may be blended or folded in - Raisins, mini chocolate chips, nuts - whatever you like!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Birth Story

Baby Milo, born at home Sunday, March 10, 9:30 pm
7 lbs. 4 oz.
 On Saturday, March 9th, I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I was still working full time and the long days of sitting at a computer were exhausting and miserable. I had an easy and healthy pregnancy and enjoyed it even at the very end, but I did NOT want to go back to work on Monday.
My son's 3rd birthday party was that day. We had planned to have his party at a nearby park. We didn't want to worry with entertaining at the house since we were getting ready for a home birth. It was a beautiful, sunny day and Ollie had a great time with his friends. I took a nap that afternoon, then Drew had to go into work for a little while.  Before he left, I asked him to have a talk with Milo and tell him it was okay to come whenever he was ready, and he was welcome to come this weekend so Mamma wouldn’t have to go back to work.

That night after Ollie was in bed, Drew and I watched a movie. I sat on my birth ball and noticed I was having cramps every ten minutes.  These cramps felt different than the BH I had been having. They were definitely uncomfortable, so I was suspicious something might be up.  I texted Norma, my midwife, at midnight to let her know what was happening.  I knew false labor could go on for days before the baby came, so I went to bed without getting my hopes up.  The cramps continued all night, 6 to 10 minutes apart, but they spaced out the next morning.

We went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and by the time we got home, the contractions had stopped.  Around noon, we decided to take Ollie to the park and walk for a bit to see if they would start up again. We walked about a mile and I had 3 or 4 contractions.  Got home, took a shower and laid down for a nap, still contracting, but they were spaced out too far to time.
The cramps continued after my nap and were getting closer together. Drew cooked dinner while I piddled around the house.  The cramps were starting to get more painful.  I told Drew I was worried because they were really hurting and my Hypnobabies techniques didn’t seem to help.  I thought about calling Norma before dinner, but wasn’t sure I was really in labor.  I kept reading some handouts she had given me describing how actual labor contractions would feel.  It said real labor pains would start in your back and wrap around to the front. I never felt any pain in my back, just intense crampiness in my lower belly.
After dinner, the cramps were consistently about 5 minutes apart, so I called Norma and she said she would get her things together and be on her way. She lives an hour and a half away and there was a big thunderstorm coming. At this point, we were pretty sure this was it.  Drew started filling the birth pool and I called my mom to come over and watch Ollie.  I walked around the house and would stop to lean on the counter and sway my hips when a contraction would hit.  I spent some time laboring on the toilet, just needing to be alone and quiet.
Things were starting to happen fast.  At 6 pm I stopped timing contractions. They were 3 minutes apart and there was no point in timing them now.  It had started to rain and I was excited that we going to meet our baby that night in the midst of a thunder storm.  I was also starting to worry that Norma was not there yet.  I was quickly entering Laborland now.  I was lying on my side on the bed and breathing through contractions.  I was in between the bed and the toilet to keep my bladder empty.  I just took each wave one at a time and breathed slowly and deeply through each one.
I had imagined that I would have an easy and somewhat pain free labor and birth. I studied Hypnobabies and watched a lot of birth videos. I loved the ones where the moms were happy and chatty and would quietly go in and out of contractions. I thought that would be me. But that’s not how it went down. I really needed to fully concentrate on relaxing in between contractions.  My eyes were closed most of the time and it was like I was in my own little bubble. Drew kept telling how great I was doing and made sure I drank water in between the cramps.  During a contraction I needed his hands to squeeze and at some point I started to “Ooohh” as I breathed.

Norma arrived at 7 and started to set up her birth supplies, while Drew made me a smoothie so I could keep my energy up.  Norma checked me and said I was at 4 cm; she could stretch me to a 5.  She could feel my bag of waters bulging and said I would have a few more contractions and it would break.  And that’s exactly what happened. I felt a pop, then water gushed out.  I was in the bedroom by myself at that moment and thought, “Crap, my water broke and there’s no one to take care of me! What do I do?”   Almost immediately, I felt a ton on pressure pushing down at my bottom.  This was the worst part of labor, that yucky, awful pressure.  Norma came back in.  I told her what happened and we decided I would get in the pool. 

my playlist 
I waddled to the pool and Drew helped me undress and get in.  I kneeled sort of froggy style over the side of the tub, gripping Drew’s hands when a wave would come. Things got really hazy at this point as I was nearing the pushing stage. At one point Drew left the room to get a cold towel for my head and my mom came in. I needed hands to squeeze so she filled in for Drew. (She told me later she was surprised how strong my grip was. Sorry Mom!)  I wasn’t in the pool long before I felt like pushing and I said so. Norma told me not to push, but my body was pushing anyway. She quickly checked me and said I was complete. More intense pressure now, like the universe was building up inside me and coming down at my bottom.  It wasn’t painful, just immense pressure. Wow.  Norma and Drew kept saying how good I was doing.  I just let my body take over and breathed and pushed, squeezing hands, eyes closed, pressure. 
The contractions were coming farther apart now, so I was able to rest in between.  Norma said the baby would be here soon, so I told Drew to get my mom (she was in bed with Ollie and didn’t want to leave him. She didn’t make it in time).  Drew was back now and soon the baby was crowning.  Norma kept telling me to reach down and feel his head.  I was in the middle of a contraction and couldn’t move. When it was over, I felt his head. It was soft and squishy and had lots of hair! I told Drew he had to feel it too.  Another contraction and Milo was born.  I turned around and Norma unwrapped the cord and put him on my chest. He was perfectly pink and wonderful and had lots of handsome, dark hair.  I don’t know how long I pushed, but Drew says it was only 4 pushes.  Milo was born at 9:30 and weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz.
I made my way back to the bed to nurse Milo and deliver the placenta.  This took awhile because Milo had trouble latching on.  Norma mixed up some herbs for me to drink to help my uterus contract.  I eventually had to sit on the toilet to get it to come out.  I had a small tear, so Norma put in 3 stitches.  My mom cleaned everything up and after Norma left, we all sat on the bed and admired our sweet boy.

All the reading and preparation paid off.  I knew it would be hard work.  I knew it would be intense and painful.  But I was mentally prepared.  I was not able to have a pain free labor, but I do think I benefited from Hypnobabies in practicing positive thinking and relaxation.  My home birth was wonderful and empowering, just as nature intended.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Cloth diapering: Learning the basics

We have decided to enter the world of cloth diapering! It was overwhelming at first, deciding which kind of diapers to buy, how many, what accessories are needed, how to wash the diapers...

I did most of my research at They have a lot of good info there. Now that I have a good idea of what I'm getting into, I wish we had done it with Ollie. It would've saved a ton of money!

I still have much to learn (not due till mid March) but I think I have most of what I need.

I plan on doing disposables at first and cloth part time till we get the hang of it. I decided to buy several different types so we can see which one works best for us, then order more of our favorite diaper if needed. I'm thinking pre-folds and covers (referred to as All in 2 or AI2) makes the most s

 Here is what I've purchased so far:
Got this lot from Craigslist for $80-
4 Flip covers
3 Thirsties covers size 1
A dozen pre folds
7 Flip Stay Dry inserts

From Diaper Junction for $50.15
1 Fuzzibunz pocket diaper (certified used)
1 bumGenius! pocket diaper (certified used)
1 Flip cover with 2 stay dry inserts (certified used)
1 pack of Flip disposable inserts

From Amazon

I have a friend who is sending me her used newborn sized pre-folds. If you don't mind getting used, you can get a good starter stash of diapers for a good price. I've spent $174.16 so far and I think I almost have enough to cloth diaper full time. I may need some more pre-folds though.

I will buy a diaper pail (aka trash can from Target) and eventually get a wet bag for my diaper bag.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Preparing for a home birth

My first birth with my son was a typical, medicated hospital birth, complete with pitocin and epidural. It wasn't terrible, but I felt so out of control and it was not what I had wanted at all. I knew there was a better way to birth, that our bodies are made to deliver babies without drugs or medical intervention.

I started researching options for natural childbirth long before my husband and I even decided we were ready for another baby. I knew a home birth was right for me. Being in my own environment, walking, eating, letting things progress at their own pace, using water for relaxation, no purple pushing, delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin and breastfeeding with baby - these are all the things I want for me and my baby.

I trust my body and my midwife. I've been eating healthy foods to stay low risk and to help my body prepare for labor. With my estimated due date 2 weeks away, I am ready for my home birth and so excited to meet my baby!

Lots of towels you need for a home birth!

The Birth Tub

The hose

Birth kit

Wee baby clothes!

cloth and disposable diapers

more wee baby clothes!

Me - 38 weeks

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Project: Dresser Redo

FINALLY got around to finishing this project. I started several months ago, sometime last fall. I wish I had taken pics of all the steps involved, but I only have a before and after. It was quite an ordeal, but all the hard work paid off!

I started with this dresser a friend had given me in college. It had several coats of very stubborn paint on it that needed to be stripped. I started with CitriStrip, which did a decent job on the first few layers, but still left a lot of paint on some areas. I ended up buying an orbit sander and recruited my husband to sand the rest of the paint off.  He used 250 grit sandpaper, then I did some more sanding with 400 grit for a finer finish.

Once it was nice and smooth, I began to apply wood oil using a soft cloth (an old cut up t-shirt actually). First I applied several coats over an hour, making sure not to let it dry during that time. Then the wood got an additional coat of oil every day for about a week.

After all that coating, I brought the dresser back outside for additional wet sanding. The theory is that wet sanding creates a wood oil "sludge" that penetrates the pores of the wood, making it super smooth and slick. So I applied a thin coat of wood oil and sanded with a fine 500 grit paper. Once that was dry (after several days), it got another coat of wood oil. 

Really there's no way you can apply too much wood oil. The more you add, the more it penetrates the wood and the smoother your piece becomes. Just make sure it dries completely between each coat or it will get tacky.

Here's what it looks like now! I think it's quite handsome!

My husband had the idea to customize the dresser by adding some art on the top drawer. We asked the very talented Chrissy Valentine to do a wood burning of a hummingbird. Isn't it awesome?!? This was done before the wood oil was applied.

You can see more of Chrissy's work here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Project: Converting a coffee table into a bench

Here's one of my recent projects. I had an extra coffee table sitting around taking up space and needed seating for the kid's playroom. I only spent about $40 got a brand new piece of furniture!

I ordered a 2" piece of foam here and got my fabric from Jo Anns with a 50% off coupon. I bought an outdoor canvas fabric so it could be easily wiped off in case of spills.

Here's how it went down.

Tools needed:
Staple Gun
Electric carving knife

Fabric (1.75 yards ~ $14)
Foam ($26 with shipping)

I used some paint I had on hand and painted the base of the coffee table.

Then I stapled some extra fabric on the corners for padding.

I measured and cut my foam using an electric carving knife to fit the top of the coffee table. Then centered the fabric and stapled to the bottom of the bench, folding the fabric at the bottom so the staple would go through 2 layers to ensure durability.

A note about the carving knife: I read online that you can cut foam with any serrated bread knife. I tested a section of the foam and that was definitely not working! I borrowed an electric knife and it made a perfectly straight cut. You MUST use an electric knife when cutting foam.

Once I had stapled it all down and finished off the corners, I trimmed off the excess fabric for a clean finish.

And the finished product ready for action:
(I have 2 throw pillows I plan to recover to accent my bench, but have't gotten around to it yet)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Well... It's been awhile since I posted here. What the heck have I been up to? Nesting! I've been consumed with organizing the house and getting everything together for baby #2 coming in March. Here are just a few things I've been working on.

Decorating and organizing Ollie's room:

The bookshelves I saw here on the fabulous I Heart Organizing blog. Ikea sells these spice racks that also make super cute bookshelves. Unfortunately you can't order them online and the closest Ikea is in Atlanta, so I recruited my dad to build the shelves for me. I painted them red and love how they turned out!  The fabric map I found on Etsy. 

 Custom bunk built by my father in law. I have such a handy family!


Organizing the laundry/storage room:

I transferred all this into our outside storage room:

Laundry room before:

and after:

"Cubby Hole" Project:

It took me 4 years to figure out to do with this darn "cubby hole" in the breakfast room. It's been like a black hole of sorts, just accumulating clutter and not looking very attractive. Finally I decided to get this ClosetMaid organizer, which happened to be the perfect size for my cubby hole. Drew installed an under the cabinet light and now it's nice and organized!