A Soothing Spring Facial

 

Spring brings changing weather, changing wardrobes, and changing routines.  It’s a perfect time to update your skincare habits to reveal your best skin.

I know, this isn’t my usual food/dirt/baby poop kind of post, but I bet you didn’t know I was a skin therapist in a former life.  I actually keep my license up to date, even though I don’t work in the field any more. What can I say?  I am a woman of many faces, and I’d like each of them to be as fresh and supple as possible.

After facing dry indoor air, cold winds, and perhaps reduced activity levels all winter, your skin may be feeling dry, itchy or just plain dull.

The first thing you need to do, in addition to your regular cleansing, is get rid of the layer of dead skin which is likely  dulling your complexion, making you feel itchy, and preventing your skin care products getting where they can be the most effective.  My favorite exfoliant is fine rice flour.  Mixed into a thin paste with water and massaged lightly over skin for a minute or two, it feels wonderful and rinses away to reveal fresh bright skin.  Just remember to let the paste do the work.  You’re exfoliating your face here, not scrubbing the floor.  Keep a light touch.

After you’ve revealed that soft new skin, you’ll want to balance it with a spritz of witch hazel, and nourish it with a soothing mask.  I recommend a paste of fine ground oatmeal and plain yogurt, left on for about five minutes before rinsing.  This will reduce any itching or redness left over from the long winter.

Finally you’ll protect your skin from  further dryness with a light moisturizer.  My favorite is plain virgin coconut oil.  It feels a more oily than a commercial moisturizer at first, but it quickly soaks in leaving your skin dewy and glowing.

I know most of you don’t have time to give yourself this kind of treat very often, but if you can find a few minutes at the changing of the seasons your skin will thank you.  Even better, why not try to find a few minutes once a week?

 

Roast Beast

We are so fortunate to live in a place where there is abundant game. No joke, this is something I thank God for every day, and twice or three times when I go to the grocery store and look at the price of the crummy beef, let alone the higher quality stuff.

It also helps to have a dedicated hunter in the family.

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When I first saw this photo I thought he was goofing around, but it turns out he was hunting overlapping seasons.  I won’t lie.  He’s quite studly and I have a huge crush on him.

So do some of the neighborhood girls.  ;-)

Enough about the man though, this post is about a different beast.

When I tell people we eat bear,  I get a range of responses.

I could never eat bear, you can tell they have a soul by looking in their eyes.   Although I don’t think she ever actually looked a bear in the eye.

Ewww, do you like it?  It’s so (insert adjective, greasy, pungent, stinky, …)

Wow, I’d love to get your recipe!

First I’ll give you some background on our local bear population.  We live in a very bear friendly country.  Apple Country.  Actually these days its really more pear or cherry or wine country as more and more farmers are pulling out their apples in favor of more lucrative crops.  But you get my drift.  Lots of low hanging fruit.  We also have plenty of wild fruit such as elderberries, service berries, and choke cherries.  In the summer it is very easy to pick out a berry bush that has had a bear foraging in it.

In fact there is no shortage of bear sign, from tracks, to scat, to mauled branches, it’s obvious we have a healthy bear population.

Despite all the sign, it’s very easy to forget we live in bear country. Unlike some of our neighboring communities, we have never had our garbage raided, never had one in our camp, never seen a bear when we weren’t specifically looking for one.  The raccoons give us more trouble than the bears ever do.  They just don’t need to venture into our neighborhood because there is plenty for them to eat in the hills and orchards.  I suppose they also eat small critters and fish sometimes too, but with such abundant fruit, they can pretty well rely on easier meals.

Fruit eating bears are mild-flavored bears.  I have no experience cooking or eating bears from areas where they mostly eat fish.  From everything I’ve heard, if you’ve had bear that tasted “pungent” it was probably a fish eater.

We usually have our bears processed into jerky, German sausage and summer sausage, but we also have a bunch cut into roasts.  My absolute favorite way to eat bear is as a pot roast.

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I cook it the same way I would a beef or pork roast.

Pop it in the crock pot and give it a generous coat of minced garlic or garlic powder, and black pepper.

Toss in some coarsely chopped onion and one or two bay leaves.  You don’t need to add any liquid.

Put the lid on and cook it on low for around 4- 6 hours.   More won’t hurt, but you’ll want to baste it if you go much past 6.

Chop a couple potatos and carrot, or whatever veggies you like, and add those for the last hour of cooking.

Really that’s it!  It’s tender and juicy, and as good as any roast beef I’ve ever had.

Leftovers (which we rarely have) make awesome sandwiches, or stews.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Cloth Diaper Poop

I know there are some of you (LISA!) who will never buy into the whole cloth diaper thing, and that is totally ok. I’ve said it before and I still totally understand why anyone would choose disposable over cloth. Cloth ARE more work, and yes, there are really gross moments occasionally. That said, I am LOVING my cloth diapers and not minding the extra wash.  And they are SO stinking adorable.

Fuzzi Bunz perfect size xs on Hazel who is under 7lbs here.
Fuzzi Bunz perfect size xs on Hazel who is under 7lbs here.

My cloth diaper stash is composed mostly of prefolds and covers. I’m currently using two types of covers; Bummi’s Super Whisper Wraps and wool soakers upcycled from old sweaters. I also have some pocket diapers from ebay and craigslist.

I have some Bummis indian cotton prefolds left over from when my second daughter was a baby, but we haven’t been using those much, because they are still too big for Hazel. I’ve mostly been using some birdseye prefolds that a friend gave me. I don’t know the brand, but they are quite a bit thinner than the Bummis. I love them because they fold up nice and trim to fit my petite baby. I also have a handful of the newborn sized indian cotton ones that are nice for over night because they are quite a bit thicker than the birdseye ones.

The pocket diapers I have are Bum Genius 4.0 one-size, and Fuzzi Bunz perfect size.

The Fuzzi Bunz perfect size are xs and have fit my baby since she was born, even when she lost more than a pound before she started regaining. I didn’t start using them until the cord stump fell off, but they fit well even when she was under seven pounds, and are still a good fit at nine pounds. I don’t use these for overnight, because the fuzzy lining does wick moisture to the outer edge when the diaper is saturated. Instead I use the thick prefolds with a wool cover or the larger Bum Genius pocket diaper.

Happy as can be in a birdseye prefold
Happy as can be in a birdseye prefold

My Bummis Super Whisper wraps are a really nice PUL and aplix (velcro) cover.  When used correctly, which I’ve discovered I wasn’t doing with my first two kids, they are leak proof and lightweight, but not terribly breathable.  They require frequent washing lest they start stinking up the joint.  If they aren’t poo soiled they can be reused all day, but I wouldn’t go more than one day, which brings me to wool covers.

Hazel at 9 lbs in a wool interlock cover

Wool covers are brilliant.  Brilliant, I say.  I have five of them, all upcycled from old sweaters, and I love them.  Two are from a 70/30 wool/rayon blend interlock.  Those are nice and lightweight, and not even a little scratchy but not quite as absorbent as I would like, and I wouldn’t trust them for overnight.  Sometimes they feel a little damp, similar to how a sweaty baby’s jammies feel when you get them out of bed.  Not wet, but not completely dry either. I still use them quite often, but I’m extra mindful of changes when she’s wearing them because they do wick more than I’d like.  I think they’ll be wonderful for summer, because without a layer of clothes over them, they’ll be lightweight enough and allow for some air flow and evaporation.  Another pair are 80/20 wool/rayon, which I attempted to felt, but only accomplished a little shrinkage.  They are a little thicker, and a little more absorbent than the lightweight interlock ones, but not as absorbent as the final cover which is 100 percent wool, which I felted in my washing machine and is absolutely bullet proof.  It is still just a little too big, so I have only really used it with thick indian prefolds for overnight.  It doesn’t feel damp or leak/wick at all.  The one downfall of this one is that it feels a little scratchy to me, but Hazel doesn’t seem to mind.

The most amazing thing I can say about my wool covers is that they don’t need washed very often and they don’t smell bad at all when they are dry.  There is something about my American upbringing that tells me this is wrong.  Surely something that is getting peed on must need to be washed between each use right?  Nope.  Apparently lanolin saponifies when it comes into contact with urine, making it essentially self-cleaning.  I’m currently hand washing mine about once per month, which is probably more than necessary, and I haven’t had to re-lanolize them yet. Some people boast going two to three months between washes and four to six months between re-lanolizing.

I believe a person could easily get by on five or six wool covers and two dozen prefolds for the majority of her diapering career.

I currently have three sweaters from Goodwill waiting to be turned into more diaper covers.  Sewing them is super quick, easy and addicting using the free Katrina’s pattern.  I love sewing them so much, that when I have more time, I may start making them to sell.

All in all, cloth diapering has been a win for us.  Daddy is even edging toward being okay with it.  :-)  What about you?  Cloth, disposable, somewhere in between?

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What I Suck At

Do you ever feel like bloggers only share the pretty or funny parts of their life? Yeah, we usually do.  I’m actually a little iffy about weather I really want to post this.  Usually I’m pretty open because most of my failures are kind of hilarious, but this one is extra dear to me.

Yesterday I shared how I have quick and easy labors, or at least that the part that’s hard is short and kind of funny. Today I’m going to tell you something that makes me really sad.

 

Photograph courtesy of Rebekah's Photography.
Photograph courtesy of Rebekah’s Photography.

 

I SUCK at nursing my babies.

 

I have a really hard time for the first couple months and all of my babies have been skinny and needed formula supplements because of it.

With each baby I hope it will be easier this time.  I’ve seen the pediatrician, my midwife and lactation consultants(one of which watched me try to nurse and handed me a bottle of formula), I’ve joined Kelly Mom. I’ve taken fenugreek, swilled Mother’s Milk tea, hot packed my boobs, pumped and pumped and pumped. I’ve tried, dang it, and I just can’t get it right soon enough to avoid giving formula. I will never be one of those women who can simply nurse her baby and watch her grow.

And that makes me cry. A lot.

Even long after the baby is fat, even years later, when the baby isn’t a baby any more, and I’m not pregnant, or sleep deprived I still feel sad and shed a tear when the topic comes up.

Why do we feel so bad, we moms who have a hard time nursing? I think it’s because somewhere deep inside we know that we can never be all our babies need, and that is just an awful, scary feeling.

It doesn’t help that we know on an intellectual level that formula is not the end of the world. It doesn’t help when the doctors (or our husbands…ahem) tell us it’s okay to give ourselves a break and feed the baby some formula.  Maybe I should only speak for myself.  It doesn’t make me feel better to try to think of it that way.

Giving my baby formula doesn’t feel like a break, it feels like a failure.

It goes against everything I’m trying to do here. I HATE it.

I don’t want to feed my child, who is already going to be predisposed to diabetes, a lab created concoction of which the first ingredient is corn syrup.  Why can’t I just do what millions of women have done since forever?  Why does this have to be the thing I suck at?

But I hold on, keep nursing, give a few ounces of formula and pumped milk here and there throughout the day, and try not to dwell on how sad it makes me.

Sometimes we have a great nursing day and I don’t have to give any bottles. Other times she just won’t latch on or won’t stay awake.  Yes, I’ve undressed her, played with her feet and pretended to drop her, sometimes it just ain’t happenin’.

The good days are finally outnumbering the bad, and I know that soon we’ll have it together and might be able to eliminate the formula. Until then I’m just trying to keep my chin (and milk supply) up, and love on my baby the best I can.

So there you have it. Not everything on the Half Acre is easy, or successful, or funny, but by golly we keep on trying.

Disclaimer, I hope I don’t sound judgmental when I say I hate formula. I’m too busy worrying about my baby to care what you choose for yours.  Thank goodness we live in a time when there are options.   

Hazel’s Birth Story: Not for the Squeamish

I’ve been putting off writing this post, mainly because I’m still a little groggy from lack of sleep, and I’m not sure how great my writing will be right now. However I’m realizing my life isn’t getting much quieter for a couple years, so I better relearn how to get things done with a baby in the house.

Lovely Baby Hazel joined us on November 24, at 10:29 am.

I had awoken around four in the morning for what was my customary middle of the night bathroom trip. After I got back into bed I had a couple decent contractions, but they didn’t seem to be getting stronger or closer together. If you’ve had a baby though, you probably know that once you start thinking about the possibility that you are in labor there is no going back to sleep.

Around five o’clock, I decided to get out of bed, and then my water broke. Since my contractions still didn’t seem very serious I cleaned up, got dressed, and put on some makeup. Then I woke up my husband and called the midwife. Finally we woke up the kids and called the neighbor to let her know we were heading for the hospital and we’d be dropping Montana off. Araya was interested in watching the birth so we made arrangements for her to be there with us.

On the way to the hospital my contractions picked up and I continued to gush amniotic fluid. I thought this was hilarious since my previous two births my water broke at the hospital and it didn’t seem like there was as much fluid. I called my mom to meet us there, and sent texts to all of my girlfriends. I called my besties Sabrina and Lisa, and told Lisa who lives two hours away, not to bother rushing over, because I was sure she wouldn’t get there in time.

We arrived at the hospital just after six o’clock, and Nate dropped me off at the ER entrance, while he and Araya went to find a parking spot. When I got out of the car I couldn’t help giggling about the puddle I left in the passenger seat, despite the towel I had stuffed in my pants. As it turns out I’m not mature. I was still giggling when I walked into the ER lobby and as I checked in, all the while leaking amniotic fluid all over the floor. Of course, the ER nurses didn’t even bat an eye. While I was completing paperwork (why do we even bother pre-registering?) Nate and Araya came in, and then we all headed up to Labor and Delivery. I think we arrived around the same time as my midwife, Stacy.

Once I was in my room and all hooked up to the monitors, my labor almost completely stopped. While I was annoyed that it stopped, it actually worked out because my midwife was scheduled to assist a c-section that morning and my labor slowing down gave her plenty of time to pop down the hall and get that done.

When she got back, she took a look and asked if I’d like to do some walking. YES! Since both of my prior labors were about five and a half hours I figured this one would be too and we were at about four so I was itching to get things going.

Nate and Araya took turns walking with me, lap after lap, for about an hour. The contractions got stronger and closer together, until finally I felt like I needed to be in my room.  The contractions were getting painful enough that I had to lean over the counter and sway back and forth through them.  I even let out a few wails, which I never did in my prior labors.

After two or three “unbearable” contractions I had Nate grab my midwife who was just outside the room. I think she was surprised that I had gone from walking the halls to “Go time” so quickly.

Since I didn’t feel like I could move, my midwife had me lean over the bed so she could check my cervix, and while she was doing so another contraction barreled down on me and I started begging for an epidural, although I knew in the back of my mind that it was way too late for that. The midwife informed me that my baby had a lot of hair, she would be born in one or two more contractions, and I might want to get into bed now.

I very ungracefully tumbled into the bed, and had a contraction that made me screech like a banshee. Then a nurse poked her head in the door and asked if Lisa could come in.

Thank goodness, she ignored my advice to not rush over!  She walked in just as my final contraction started and she got to cheer me on and help us welcome Baby Hazel.

 

All in all I have to say it was a great labor and delivery. Yes, the pain was horrible for that last fifteen or twenty minutes, but if that’s the worst of it I feel like I could have a hundred more babies the same way!

For now though, I’m so thankful and perfectly content with the three perfect ones I already have!

We’re getting there. . .

Sorry, I forgot to do a progress report and new to-do list yesterday.

Being Veteran’s day, there was no school, so my husband and younger daughter had a Daddy-Daughter Date, while the older girl and I went shopping for some of the last minute baby stuff.

We finally bought an infant car seat. I’ve been putting that off, but since I’ve started having contractions that wake me up at night and make me stop moving during the day, I figured it was time to at least own a car seat.

It is also f-f-f-freeezing here. Not as cold as some places, thank goodness, but too cold to spend much time doing outdoor projects. We’re pretty much just doing the essential chores to keep animals happy. Hopefully we can get to some of the other outdoor stuff after the polar vortex lifts and it’s just normal-cold.

Today we had a midwife appointment and the big news is I’m pregnant. Still. I know I’m only just shy of 36 weeks, so I probably just need to settle down and focus on staying on top of my blood sugar. When you’re in the habit of having your babies in the 37th week, however, 36 feels like it’s almost go-time! I’ll be honest, I might be a little put out if I go a full forty this time!

Tomorrow’s goals include…

More laundry–shocking right?

Still need to set up that crib.

Take some bags of leaves down to reduce the draft from under the top-bar hive.

Re-clean the house. Just yesterday the it was “Company Clean” and today it’s “Dear Lord, please don’t let me go into labor so fast that we need to call our EMT neighbor and his ER nurse wife, because I’d be mortified if anyone had to come in here and witness this mess right now.”  It happens so fast. Fortunately I’m learning that it cleans up nearly as fast, once I put down my cup of tea and laptop, and get busy.  I may do a preliminary walk-around-and-pick-up before bed tonight.

I’m starting to wonder if it really matters (and know it really doesn’t) if we get everything done before we bring the baby home.  All she really needs is me, right?

 

Holy Cow, There’s a Baby Coming Soon, We Gotta Get Busy!!

Just in case any of you were under the silly misconception that we “Have It All Together” around here, I’ll spend this week sharing the things I’d still like to accomplish before the baby comes, which I feel will be soon.

Some are things that are directly related to bringing home a baby, and others are regular housekeeping, and turning of the seasons projects which we’d like to take care of before we’re outnumbered.

Here’s what I’m up to today:

AM:

General tidying of the house

Start some laundry (work on this all day–try to get in a few loads)

Start making space for the crib in the girls room.

Monday PM:

Go around the yard with a wagon, picking up garbage (we had a party over the weekend, plus we have kids and it’s always windy here, so if anything is left out it gets blown all around)

Start a pile for a dump run.

Also there is Camp Fire tonight, and the usual meals, and getting ready for tomorrow to be done.  I usually babysit a neighborhood kid or two in the afternoons, which is why I try to do the outside stuff then.  They love to play outside, as they should, and I want to let them soak up the sun while we have sun to soak up.

See you tomorrow for a progress report and a new to-do list!

 

Packing The Hospital Bag!!

It’s hard to believe that it is week 35 already, but here we are! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m starting to get that “I don’t think I can get much bigger” feeling.

Unfortunately, we all know that’s not true.  I can, and probably will, get bigger. Baby Hazel with be making her appearance sooner or later though, and since her big sisters both came in the 37th week, it’s time to get the hospital bag ready to go.

We tend to be light packers, as if packing light will ensure us a short hospital stay.

So what’s in my bag, you ask?

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bath Towel
  • Flip Flops for the shower
  • Moisturizer
  • A fresh set of contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Eyeglasses/case
  • Hair brush
  • Hair elastics
  • Undies
  • Robe
  • Yoga pants
  • Nursing top
  • Nursing bra
  • Pads
  • Jammies for Baby Hazel
  • Going home outfit and hat for Baby Hazel
  • Camera

What are your Must Haves for a planned hospital stay?

Since one big sister has expressed an interest in coming with us to the hospital to welcome baby to the world, we’ll pack a bag for her too.  We want her to have some comfort items in case things drag on longer than we expect.

Both prior labors and deliveries were 5-ish hours, start to finish, so that’s what we’re praying for this time too.  If only these things could just be predictable!

Alas, they cannot so we’ll be packing a Big-sis bag too.

  • New coloring book
  • New crayons
  • A chapter book
  • ipad and charger
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Small blanket
  • Cash and change for cafeteria or vending machine purchases

She’ll also have her own support person (Daddy has to stay with me) in case it’s too much for her or she just gets restless and wants to leave.  Have you had your older children in the delivery room, and if so what do you recommend we bring or do for her?

I’m having lots of contractions whenever I’m on my feet, which is often.  I also feel tired, but very motivated, so I may just be pushing myself too hard to get loose ends tied up before baby comes.  Nothing major, mind you, just little trivial matters like, oh, say cleaning the entire house, setting up the crib, organizing baby clothes, shopping for last minute stuff, like a car seat.  No big deal.  I’m sure I can make it all happen as long as she isn’t any earlier than her sisters were.

Hubby has been home with me for the past week, which has been a tremendous help.   I’ve had him running things up and down stairs, as well as getting the girls on the bus in the mornings.  It’s nice to be able to settle down for a cup of tea as soon as the “Get Out The Door Rush” is over.

Between lots of rain, and lots of contractions I’m woefully behind on getting the garden cleaned up and put to bed for fall.  That may be one for the Honey-Do list.

All in all, I have to admit I’m getting pretty antsy over here!

New To Doing Things The “Old Fashioned” Way?

One of my favorite people recently started taking an interest in a more self-reliant lifestyle and has gotten her toes wet in the world of canning and seed saving, which I can only imagine will be addictive and lead her into even deeper waters.  What’s next? I’d imagine there will be at least a small garden in the works next spring, and perhaps eventually some bartering for fresh eggs or meat.

I’m so excited for her!  Naturally I want to share everything I’ve read, re-read, watched and learned so I sent a few favorite links via facebook.  Then I thought of another and another I ought to send.  Then I realized I’d better not send them at all, or she’d have nothing but links in her news feed, and she’d get annoyed and “hide” me!

That’s why I started blogging in the first place, after all.  I caught myself writing novels for status updates on facebook and realized it wasn’t the best way to share my ideas.

So, Kristin, rather than flood your news feed with a million links, I gathered them here and organized them by topic for you.  I hope it helps!

First up are a couple of magazines I read, which are LOADED with useful information and good ideas.  They both have archives and search boxes where you can access past articles to read online :

Backwoods Home Magazine.  This is the one that got us started down the crunchy/farmish path.  This magazine has it all.  From great recipes, to gardening, to earning a living without punching a time-clock, pretty much anything you want to know can be found in the archives.

Mother Earth News  A bit more commercialized and Hippie-Dippie (how they accomplish that paradox, I’m unsure), but also chock-full of useful ideas for gardening, alternative fuels, and farm life.

Gardening:

Starting a Self Sufficiency Garden, Even In A Small Apartment  Great ideas for small spaces and container gardens and what grows well in them.

Grow Open Pollinated Seeds for Self-Reliant Gardening  How to save seeds and ditch the seed packets.

The $1 Garden  I’d say one dollar is pushing it, but this article has some good advice for gardening without spending a lot.  FYI now is a good time to get seeds for cheap if your stores still have them.  Many will still be viable next year if you put the pouches in the freezer until spring.  I almost always have some seeds left over and use them the next year.

Plant Once, Harvest For Years  This one is all about planting things that produce year after year with minimal tending.  I really need to get around to developing an asparagus patch.

Amending Garden Soil in Early Spring  This is something I’ll be putting more time into this fall and spring.   Good thing we have plenty of chicken and rabbit poop!

Back To Eden  A film about how deep mulch gardening helps save on water.  Especially useful if you don’t happen to have irrigation.

Saving Seeds  The ins and outs of which seeds are worth saving.

Canning/Preservation:

National Center For Home Food Preservation  This PDF will be a good starting point for any beginning canner.  I’d recommend either printing it, or getting a copy of a good up-to-date home canning guide such as the Ball Blue Book.

Canning 101  A great read by one of my heros, Jackie Clay-Atkinson.  Actually we have several of her books and I read anything of hers that I can get my hands on.  This woman can do anything.

Make Your Own Dried Fruit And Vegetables  Not only practical but, much healthier than store bought snack foods.

The Survival Mom Radio Network  Here you’ll find information on such topics as gardening, food preservation, frugal living, health and wellness, and disaster preparedness.  Best of all you can listen while you work, so you’re not stuck in front of the computer!

And for tons of great ideas on everything from trimming the grocery budget to gardening to cleaning tips, mostly from other moms, be sure to check out the blog hops I’ve linked at the end of this post.

One small word of advice:  Don’t get so caught up reading about all the cool things you can do that you never actually have time to do them.  Actually, it’s probably good that gardening season is nearly over for most of us.  You can spend the winter making a list of things to try when spring rolls around!

Good luck, and have fun!

 

This post may be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, The Home Acre Hop, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

Join me as I learn to raise good kids, good food and good fun on our teeny-tiny little farm