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Not to be Cheesy, but…

While I have not been notified officially, it looks like I am moving on to the next round in my quest to win the Sam-e Good Mood Gig!

Here is a big THANK YOU for everyone that voted for me, begged friends to vote for me, or bribed strangers on the street to vote for me.  Thank you for posting my link on your Facebook pages, sending tweets, shooting emails, posting on message boards, and enlisting coworkers in my cause.   And let’s be honest, thank you for not saying mean things to me and deleting me from your friends lists for obsessively reminding you to vote for me every day.

The final tally was 5151 votes, which put me in 17th place… out of over 800 applicants.  Not bad for a small-town girl who’s just getting started in this whole blogging thing.  I’m kind of in shock.  I keep waiting for someone to pinch me.  (If I end up actually getting the position, I may have to be revived.)  

I am so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing support system. 

Thank you, everyone, for giving this girl a chance.

ETA: I just received my official notification!


I Love Babywearing

The Magic Sling

The Magic Sling

 While I was at the store today, a lady stopped me to ask me about “that hammock thing” I was carrying Jayden in.  We wound up talking for at least ten minutes while I explained what I was wearing (a KarmaBaby sling), how to use it, why I love it, why I don’t love Baby Bjorns, the benefits of babywearing, and where she could find one just like it.  It reminded me just how much I love babywearing, and I wanted to share some of that love with you:

  • I can get chores done without fighting a crying baby.
  • Trips to the grocery store are so much easier with J strapped comfortably to me.  There’s no fight about sitting in the cart, and I don’t have to worry about him chewing on the handle.  Win-win.
  • I can easily stuff my carrier of choice for the day in my diaper bag, meaning less stuff to haul around on trips.
  • Three words: hands-free breastfeeding.
  • My carrier also makes an excellent blanket, changing mat, sun cover, and burp cloth.
  • It’s a great way to get in extra snuggles, which we both love. 
  • I don’t have to wrestle with him while waiting in line at the bank.  Added bonus: my arms aren’t dead by the time I leave.  My baby is many things, but light isn’t one of them.
  • Say goodbye to baby weight–babywearing is a great way to add a little exercise to my day.
  • It’s good for him: babywearing provides him with mental stimulation, helps him feel secure, and he rarely cries.  (Studies show that babies who are worn cry 53% less than those who are never worn.)
  • If he is refusing to nap, putting him in the wrap almost always calms him down and puts him to sleep.
  • Slings, wraps, and soft-structured carriers (like an Ergo) hold him in a position that is better for his hip development.
  • I have been wearing J in a sling since he was new, and can still comfortably carry all 24 pounds of him.  With my wrap, I will be able to wear him well into toddlerhood.  You can’t say that about a Baby Bjorn (or other similar carriers).

Cast Your Vote!

vote_for_me_badgeSam-e is having a talent search for the perfect person to blog about ways to maintain a good mood, naturally, and I think I’m just the person they are looking for!  After all, when I took their mood quiz, it told me

You are like the Sun – Like the sun above, people who fall into the Sun category generally feel uplifted and full of energy. It’s completely normal for you to have the occasional “overcast” day, but you deal with your emotions in a positive way by staying active, eating right, and keeping in touch with friends, letting your rays shine on those around you.

Clearly, I’m a ball of sunshine, and should share that with others!

Here’s how you can help me spread the joy: click on the magic button and vote for me to be the next good mood blogger.  Then tell everyone you know to visit the site and vote for me.  Votes can be cast once per day from each address until November 6th, so feel free to vote often!  If you want, you can also grab the button from my profile and add it to your site.

Thanks for your help!

Let ’em Eat Cake


Okay, so it was a little messy. 

For J’s big oh-1, I decided to be a super crafty mama and make him a cake. Not just any cake, but a gluten free cake in the shape of a horse. (I actually wanted to make a train cake, but I decided that not only was it waaay too complicated, but it needed a lot more candy items, most of which were totally not gluten free.)

Now, for some of you, you’re thinking, big deal. I could do that in my sleep. Well, you are probably always a crafty mama, whereas I would like to be a crafty mama, but in actuality everything I do comes out crooked. You probably cook things on a regular basis, and they probably come out okay. Now, I can cook, kind of, but I’m not what you’d call good at it, and I have never made a cake, and certainly not one that resembled anything besides a brick.

So… I hunted down this recipe for a gluten free cake, crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t taste like poo (which so many of them do), and set off in search of the ingredients. (I’d like to pause here and formally thank my friend Adam for recipe hunting for me. I wound up not using the delicious looking recipe that he sent me simply because I couldn’t find some of the things I needed.) You’d think this would be a fairly simple task. Rachel, you’d say, just go to the store.

Except that I live in a tiny little town (quite charming, really) in Montana. There are two grocery stores, but only one of them carries any sort of gluten free items, namely, Gluten Free Mama Almond Flour. Which is awesome, but very expensive, and totally not helpful in this particular instance. Forgetting this, I went to one store, then the other, and then to Walmart (which is what we do here when we’re desperate, because there’s nowhere else to go), where someone finally informed me that there’s actually a little health food store here (we’ve grown up!), but it was of course closed. Try again tomorrow. Saturday morning my mom agrees to watch the birthday boy so I can go on my hunt for xanthum gum. I was there for over an hour and a half (not sure what happened to me there, I think I entered some sort of time warp) when Mom called to inform me that J was crawling around looking for me signing “nurse” (see, that signing thing is handy), so home I went to care for the boy with xanthum gum in hand.

Hour later, back to the health food store for the flours (yes, that’s plural, go look at the recipe), then back to Super One hunting for the other things like eggs and mayo (which I hadn’t gotten the night before, in case I never found xanthum gum). I get everything in the basket, only to discover that they didn’t have chocolate twizzlers. This was crucial to the make it look like a horse directions. I decided since I now needed to go to Safeway for the twizzlers, I should get everything there. Well… no twizzlers there. Back to Walmart. Nope. I finally found chocolate twizzlers at the gas station, awesome. Headed back home… and realized that I had never gotten the rest of the ingredients at the grocery store, so now all I have is xanthum gum, tapioca flour, white rice flour, and twizzlers (and some other delicous gluten free goodies I found at the health food place, but that’s besides the point). Back to Super One. (Now maybe my mom will understand why it took me two days and several hours to go shopping for his cake. It’s really not that big of a town.) 

Home, put the boy down for nap, and finally, time to start baking the cake! I carefully lay out all the ingredients, get everything ready, measure the flour… and J wakes up. Now I’m holding the boy and pouring the flour, patting myself on the back for not making a huge mess, and then my mom comes in and comments on what a wreck I’ve made of the kitchen.  Apparently, I really am that awkward, especially when there’s flour involved. 


What is it, Mama? 

What is it, Mama?


 They turned out pretty.

They turned out pretty.

After the cakes cooled, the real work began.  First, I had to cut up cardboard boxes and craft a tray big enough to hold the thing.  Then there was the issue of construction.  See, the only square pan that I had was 8×8 instead of 9×9, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until it’s time to cut out shapes to make it look like the little diagram.  I wound up doing some weird cake jigsaw puzzle to try to make it work.   Luckily, chocolate frosting makes a *wonderful* glue.  Horse successfully painted (the ears were kind of tricky), eyeball added (Junior Mint with a touch of vanilla frosting for twinkle, which my mom tried to wipe off), nose attached, halter carefully draped, it was time to add the mane.  Two hours of cutting twizzers into strands and carefully arranging them to look like hair, and I was finally done.

It actually looks like a horse!

It actually looks like a horse!

We managed to cart the cake to my sister’s house for the party without any mishap, quite an amazing feat considering the windstorm and yet another stop at the store. I am pleased to announce that not only did it look pretty good, it tasted delicious, even to my gluten-eating companions.  Jayden certainly enjoyed it.

 It's a hit!

It's a hit!

All that remains...

All that remains...


Next year, I’m thinking cupcakes…

Happy Birthday, Baby!

And so we meet...
One year ago today, a miracle landed in my life.
Literally, landed.  After hours of back labor and doctor drama (a story in itself), Jayden Eli surprised everyone by arriving in a rush and landing on the hospital floor.  The nurse had just enough time to put her hand under his head, but the rest of him met the ground with an audible splat.  How was it the doctor put on the chart?  Oh yes, “arrived precipitously on the hospital floor.”  He was immediately nicknamed Crash.

He was a month early, tiny and blue and I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised to find him suddenly in the outside world.  There was a long moment when everything froze, and we just stared at each other.  I probably would have stayed frozen like that for the rest of the day, but nurses rushed in to lift me to the bed and move J to the baby warmer where they spent a good deal of time trying to get him to breathe.  I’d tell you how terrifying that was, but in all honesty it didn’t become scary to me until much later.  I think I was in shock, because I just stared in silence as the doctors and nurses fluttered around him. 

The next few hours were utter chaos.  We’re not even sure what time he was actually born, because no one managed to look at the clock.  Not that I cared much about that.  Nothing mattered beyond the tiny little being that had finally been placed in my arms.  It wasn’t until the dark, quiet hours of that following night that it suddenly connected in me that the bundle I had been clutching for hours was actually the same baby that had been inside of me for all those months.  It was a very strange, powerful moment.  I had not slept for over 48 hours.  I had been through the most intense, grueling, powerful experience of my life.  And yet… I have never been so incredibly exhilirated as I was in that moment.  I couldn’t have slept, even if I had wanted to.

We had a rough start, Jayden and I, but you wouldn’t know it looking at us now.  He has thrived and grown (perhaps a little too quickly for my taste), evolved from the tiny helpless stranger that fell into my life to the  happy, quirky, opinionated toddler who lights up my world. 

It’s been a good year.  Happy birthday, baby.

Invasion of the Bees

I opened the patio door to let the dog out this afternoon and, no exaggeration, at least ten bees rushed in. Next thing I know, the dog is chasing the bees, the baby is chasing the dog (quite delighted with this new game), and I am chasing the baby while doing that ducking thing that is somehow supposed to protect me from the bees.

Baby successfully caught, I retreat to our bedroom (still bee-free) and consider my options. Perhaps I can abandon the rest of the house to the bees? We don’t use it much anyway. Maybe the bees will appreciate such a grand gesture and we can live together in peace. Maybe if I wait long enough, the dog will have them all taken care of? Probably not.

I cautiously venture from our safety zone to find that the bees have not, in fact, disappeared. They are everywhere-swarming the high chair, the garbage, the windows. And the trusty dog has given up the fight and is simply enjoying the show. I debate getting the fly swatter, but my hand-eye coordination really leaves a lot to be desired and that’s a sure way to get stung.

I managed to encourage most of the bees out the door they came in (dog too, lot of help she was), but in the end there were two that were very content buzzing low on the kitchen floor. Once J discovered them, he was sure they were a neat new toy just for him. In a flash of mommy genius, I grabbed a big tuperware bowl that he had been playing with before the whole fiasco started and trapped the bees underneath.

Except now I have a little bee-tent in my kitchen (and for a baby, that’s even more fun than the bees themselves). I suppose I could just leave them there? If I get duct tape, J wouldn’t be able to set them free (we can’t do that. The number one rule of bee etiquette is Don’t Piss Off the Bee, and I’m pretty sure that trapping said bee under a bowl breaks that rule). At least they have each other, and won’t be lonely. No one wants to die alone.

Except now I’m thinking about how all the honey bees are dying and how that’s bad for pollenation and our planet and now I am Part of the Problem. What kind of example am I setting for my son? Feeling a little guilty, I immediately begin Operation Free Bee. I find an empty box and cut off a side to make a bee-tent lid. Ever so carefully, I slide the cardboard under the bee-tent. As I carry the whole thing to the door, I tell the bees, “This is all been a big misunderstanding. Please don’t be angry, and tell your friends to be nice to me.” I awkwardly balance the bee tent and push the door open with my elbow, blocking the baby with my legs as I step outside. Cringing and returning to the protective ducking stance of earlier, I lift the bowl and prepare to face the Wrath of the Bee.

When nothing happens, I look down to find two crumpled bee bodies on the cardboard lid. My son watches with innocent eyes as I dispose of the evidence of the murdered bees. So much for good examples and saving the planet.

We are on the lookout for retaliation from the bee community.

Boo for the Boob Tube

Before you can ask, let me tell you:  No, the boy does not want to watch TV.

Yesterday, I took on a new housecleaning client.  I was pretty excited because not only was Mr. Man okay with me bringing the boy, but there would be a toddler friend for him to play with.  That means not only a new playmate for J, but also no baby proofing necessary.  Neat.

Within five minutes of me arriving, the roommate began to repeatedly ask me if I would like her to turn on some cartoons for J. She kept making comments  about it (in her fake french accent mixed with baby talk, which is a whole ‘nother rant) and offering to put in a movie for him.  I was like, “He’s not even one.  He doesn’t watch TV.”

It wasn’t until the two year old came home that I began to understand why the roommate was so determined that J would need to watch TV.  As soon as the girl walked in the house, the TVs came on.  That’s right, plural.  The TV in the livingroom was turned on to Dora, the kitchen TV was something Nickelodeon, and in her bedroom was a constant stream of Disney movies. 

Let me repeat.  The TV in her bedroom.  

Is it just me, or is it just a  little ridiculous that a two year old has a TV (and DVD player) in her room?  Even more ridiculous is the four hours she spent in there, laying on the floor with her bottle, watching that TV.  Her bookshelves in her room are stacked high with movies, not books.  During lunch, her high chair was moved to sit in front of the livingroom TV.  I don’t think there was a moment that little girl wasn’t plugged in.

Now, I admit, I am pretty anti-TV in general, and always have been.  I don’t even understand adults that have a TV in every room, so I guess the kid/TV thing is a little beyond me.  Growing up, I remember watching a couple of shows (Garfield and the Smurfs, namely), but overall I chose to play outside or in my room over watching television.  As an adult, I find myself irritated by most of what’s on TV–and don’t even get me started on commercials.  I do enjoy vegging out once in a while and I love watching movies, but overall, I would just rather it stay off.

But when it comes to kids–especially my kid–I’m more than just a little anti-TV, I’m downright adamant.  There’s too much information out there on the negative impact TV watching has on kids, especially for kids under three.  It has been linked not only to increased aggression and obesity, but also to problems with attention and memory.  According an article I read, a study done by the University of Washington showed that three year olds who watched two hours of television a day had a 20%  increase in attention problems later on, and that chance goes up 10% for every hour watched.  That’s a pretty big deal, especially when you think about the increase in the number of children being diagnosed with ADD, learning disabilities, and behavior problems.  There’s even some question as to whether watching television has a negative impact on toddler’s  language and speech development.  It’s no wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages any TV viewing for children under two.

“But it’s educational.”  While I have to agree that somehow, watching Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer has got to be better than a kid watching something like Power Rangers (is that even a show?  What is on these days?) or adult-themed shows, I think the basic point is that there’s so much more a toddler can be doing with their time.  What happened to playing blocks, going to the park, reading books?  They learn by interacting with their world (and the people in it), and I don’t think they can do that while glued to a TV show.  Even just having it on “for background noise” not only provides them with way too much of the wrong kind of stimulation, it also teaches them that they must some sort of noise going on all the time.  (And this bags the question of whether or not children under three are even capable of learning from what they watch on TV.  While educational programs have shown some benefit for preschool aged children, there seems to be a general consensus that children under three do not learn from TV.)

Before you get mad at me, I am not saying that if you let your kids watch TV, you’re a horrible parent.  I understand that sometimes, zoning out to a TV show is the perfect way to unwind.  Sometimes popping in a movie not only brings you a few minutes of much-needed peace, but it can be a family event that brings you closer  as well.  I am just saying that people need to be smart about their kid’s TV habits, and be  aware of the impact it can have on their development.  Balance TV time with other activities.

And for Pete’s sake, keep the TV out of their bedroom.

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