Monday, January 31, 2011

Java Mama

It's still pitch dark outside. I can't see my hand in front of my face. But I can hear the pitter-patter of little feet climbing the stairs to our bedroom. "MOOOOOOOM. Wake UUUUUUUUUUppppp!" I can make out two small figures, but their faces are just a blur. I am assuming they are my children, but they could be a couple of munchkins who've escaped from the Wizard of Oz for all I know. I am still not sure if I am awake or if this is a dream.

As I stumble down the stairs, I am feeling bitter about the fact that I am awake at such an ungodly hour. Then I round the corner into my kitchen and I see it....The Coffee Maker. Like a ray of light shining through the darkness, I feel my spirits lifting. As I measure the coffee grounds and the water, I start to sense a giddy feeling inside. As I watch the dark liquid drip into the pot and smell the sweet aroma of the coffee brewing, my whole body starts to tingle in anticipation. As I take the first sip, I can feel the dark, hot liquid pulsing through my veins. A feeling of euphoria sweeps over me. Ahhhhhh. My whole body relaxes and my spirit is immediately lifted.

It's not so much that the coffee helps me wake up, the munchkins have already taken care of that. It's that it improves the way that I perceive the world around me. Suddenly those blurry little faces have transformed into little cherubs with an angelic glow about them . My resentment towards my husband (who is still in bed) has turned into love and gratefulness for how hard he works in order to provide for us. (i.e. He provides the coffee. Does that make him my Java Daddy?). The birds outside now sound joyous, instead of annoying. Even my house seems a little less messy. Shall I break out in song...."Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day. I've got a beautiful feeling, everythings going my way."

A few more sips....and now I can face the day with a smile on my face and love in my heart. Pancakes anyone?

O.K., so I might have a problem.

My name is Karly and I am a Java Mama.

Any other Java Mamas out there? Should we form a support group? I'll bring the coffee!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's the beef with Beef?

There are so many places to start when talking about organics and food information. I decided to start with beef. My main reason is Barbara Kowalcyk.

Her story is highlighted in the movie Food Inc., and her story very much stuck with me. Barbara was just any ordinary mother of a two year old little boy. They were on a family vacation and they were traveling. Just like we have done so many times, they ate hamburgers at drive thru fast food restaurants. Her little boy, Kevin ate a hamburger contaminated with E.coli. He died a little over a week later due to complications from E.coli.

I know that this is a sad story, but the saddest part of her story is that the company that processed the hamburger knew about the E.coli before Kevin ate his hamburger and did not recall the meat. There were other deaths related to the same contaminated meat.

I have a very hot injustice button, and this story hit it dead on for me. And of course the company should get in trouble for not reporting! Its just common sense. Nope. "In 1998 the USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E.coli 0157h7 so that if a plant repeatedly failed these tests, the USDA could shut down the plant. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA no longer has that power" -

What?! I could not believe what I was hearing. So, even if they are testing the food, they are not recalling it as they should, and the USDA can't do anything about it. This is crazy! As you are watching it is overwhelming and maddening. But there are things that we can do. Basically know what you are choosing when you are at the grocery store.

The answer? Grass Fed Beef.

First of all, grass is what cows were designed to eat. The other beef that you buy is grain, or corn fed. Corn is not a natural food for a cow and it throws off the acid balance in their stomach which allows for the E.coli. (Companies treat the grain fed beef with a variety of things, including chlorine gas to help stop the E.coli) A grass fed cow has a balanced stomach acid, and therefore kills off the E.coli naturally, without the use of any treatments or chemicals.

The nutritional content of grass fed beef is superior to grain fed. It is higher in Vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids and Conjugated Linoeic Acid (CLA- has been linked to cancer fighting). Not only are there more nutrients, but there are less calories! Yes! Less calories. A grass fed steak can be up to 50% less calories than a grain fed steak.

Grass fed cows are healthier and healthier cows require less hormones and antibiotics.

I know. Informational overload. There are so many things to consider and this is just beef! I think that if we just take it one topic at a time and talk it over together, it won't be so overwhelming. I would love to hear your feedback on this, and other facts that you have found.

As a mom, I know that we are bombarded with info about everything from immunizations, to car seats, to what schools to send our kids to. I hope that by talking and sharing we make that an easier burden to carry.

If you want to learn more here are a couple sites that I found helpful.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"What do you think?" Wednesday- Books

I know that I am not alone when it comes to reading bedtime stories with my kids! 

Here are some of our favorites:
Goodnight Gorilla- My son loves to find the balloon and the banana through the whole book.  His favorite page is the one the is completely black and it has just the eyes... he looks forward to it the whole time we are reading it.  I love that the wife is the one who really puts all the animals to bed... much like Mommy's do with their little ones!

The Red Thread- My kids are both adopted from Korea, so we have a lot of adopting books.  This one is my FAVORITE!   There is a Chinese proverb that says that you are connected to your loved ones with a red thread that attaches your hearts.  This is a story of a King and Queen who find themselves with a pain in their hearts and the only way to cure it is to find out what is pulling on their red threads.  

As a mom who had her kids grow up the first 8-9 months thousands of miles away from me, I do believe that we are attached at the heart... my heart ached until my kids came home!  I cry every time I read this book (but for good reasons)!     

Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies- This is my son's favorite adoption book. It is about a little boys journey to meet his adoptive parents.  It starts with him having pictures of his new mama and papa, follows him on the plane ride, and on to his new home and getting to know his mom and dad. My son's favorite part is when the dad rocks with the boy "back and forth, back and forth" in the rocking chair.  We copy this in our rocking chair.   I cry at this one too (especially when I catch my hubby reading it to our son!)!

I also like this one because it helps me talk about my son's journey home, although it was very different then this book, he can understand what I am talking about. 

The Runaway Bunny- I love this book because of the underlying message of - You cannot get away from your mama, even when you don't like her, she loves you {or is it... You can run, but you can't hide ;) }!  I like to have my son find the Mama bunny and the Baby bunny on each page.   I also like it because it is a Mom-Son book... most books are Mom-Daughter or Dad-Son books.

What are you reading to your kids right now?
I am always looking for a good book to read at bedtime!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toddler Tuesday - Painting with Water

One of my son's favorite things to do is paint with water.   Although, he calls it "Brushing"  Almost every day I hear "Mama, can I brush?"

I wish he was talking about his teeth or hair but he is not... he is talking about brushing water onto his chalkboard. 

I have him "paint" right on his chalkboard easel.  It is great because the chalkboard dries off and he can keep creating new pictures without me having to change out the paper. And lets not forget that water is MUCH cleaner than paint!!

All you need is a paint brush and a cup of water.  I put very little water in the cup, in case it gets tipped over (that way I only have a little water to clean up) 

As you can see, he gets pretty serious about it!
If you do not have a chalkboard you can also use construction paper.  You can let the papers dry off and reuse them again!
Brush away little man! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Used to Be Fun...

I was complaining to a friend the other day that I am just not fun any more.

I used to laugh. A lot. In fact, I would laugh until I cried. Once I even laughed so hard that I peed my pants. Nowadays, if I am crying it is not because I think something is funny. It probably means I am either totally sleep-deprived or pms-ing. And if I have peed my pants, it is because I sneezed (just not the same down there since popping out three bambinos. Too much information? So sorry! I also used to be modest.).

I used to like balloons. I mean, who doesn't like balloons? ME!! I hate them. Really. One always pops before we even get it home, causing massive amounts of tears and wailing. Then my children fight like cats and dogs over the ones that actually do make it home. Not to mention the fact that they shrivel up overnight and in the morning, voilĂ ... a choking hazard. Did I mention that I HATE balloons? See, I told fun!

I used to be spontaneous. Able to leave for the weekend on a whim. Now I need at least a week's notice for any kind of "trip" catch up on laundry, get everyone packed, leave detailed instructions, and think of everything that could possibly go wrong so that I can prepare for plan B, C, D, and E. And then instead of being excited, I end up so exhausted from all the preparations that I find myself thinking, "Maybe it would have been better to just stay home". Like I said, NO FUN!!

Every once in a while, my fun-side will make an appearance. Like this week when I was carving out snow tunnels with my kids. We made several snow tunnels in the mountain of snow at the end of our driveway. And we were totally into it. We made them interconnecting with escape hatches and secret passages. And while we were climbing through our creations, my son looked at me and said, "Mom, you are the most FUN mom ever!" Ahhh! A Hallmark moment!

And I thought to myself, "Why can't I always be like this? The MOST FUN MOM."

And then I remembered that someone has to make sure that they eat their vegetables, and that everyone has clean underwear, and that no one pokes their eye out. I mean, losing an eyeball would really not be fun.

Being "FUN" is nice and all, but let's face it with malnourishment, nakedness, and blindness on the line...Motherhood is actually very serious business!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Organic or Not to Organic? That is the question.

Welcome to Food Fridays! This is where all the food sharing and discussion begins. So much of our mothering has to do with food. What to buy? What to cook? What to feed and when?


So, lets get started with a hot topic: Organic or Non-Organic?

The movie that started it all for us was Food Inc. If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. I had had conversations with friends that were starting to eat organic, but it seemed so extreme. I had two young children that kept me at the end of my sanity rope, and I felt overwhelmed with everything else already on my plate. I was doing a good job of making sure they tried lots of new foods, had balanced meals and ate their veggies. We also had our son on a gluten-free diet already. So, now on top of all of that I had to start worrying about where the food came from, how it is treated chemically and what that does to us in the long run?! I avoided the topic for a while. But then I watched the movie.


The movie showed me all of the reasons that I no longer could ignore what we ate. My ignorance was not bliss. So what now? Where to start? How to afford it? And what the heck was the "dirty dozen"?

Every Friday, I will be posting a new topic or piece of information in relation to these topics. I know that many of them are hot topics for discussion, and I hope that we will receive lots of opinions and comments. I am new to the world of organics and its overwhelming entourage of information. So, this will be a journey for me also. I'm looking forward to it!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"What Do You Think" Wednesday!!

Question of the Week:

We have had several "Snow Days" already this January, and there seem to be more on the way. I am running out of ideas for keeping my children happily entertained while we are all stuck at home together. Does anyone have any creative "Snow Day" ideas to share?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Sensory Tub

I got a bunch of packing peanuts in on of the items that I ordered from Amazon.  I decided to make a winter sensory tub for my 2 1/2 year old! 

He had a ball playing with it.  

Here is what I did:
I put my packing peanuts into a large tub.
I also collected some small items that i could bury in the "snow" for him to find. 
(We still had the Christmas tree up so I used ornaments for a few of my items) 
I had him dig in the snow to find all of the items.
It was not long before he was burying his own toys. 
He also brought his bulldozer over to shovel the snow.  
It was the perfect indoor activity for us during the cold!  It is a little messy when he gets crazy with the snow, but totally worth it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fish Out of Water

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Albert Einstein

On the eve of my eldest son's seventh birthday, I am reflecting on how much my life has changed in the past seven years. How many dirty bottoms I have wiped. How many hours of sleep I have lost. How many boo-boos I have kissed. How many times I have read Goodnight Moon or sang "If Your Happy and You Know It". I am also reflecting on how as a mother I have come so far and learned so much, and yet at times I still feel so utterly clueless.

Ahhhh, motherhood. The more you know, the more you know you don't know diddly-squat!

I used to be quite successful at whatever I set out to do. School. Work. Projects. Renovations. Yeah, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. Before I starting popping these babies out. Now I am more like...does anyone know which end is up. Seriously. Can someone point me in the right direction. Just tell me if I am getting warmer...warmer...cooler...very cold...Ok, forget it!

I really do not think that I have ever worked so hard at anything in my entire life and yet I still feel like I knew a lot more about parenting before my children were born!

This parenting gig really is a crap shoot...a guessing game. Like should I make a big deal about a certain misbehavior or just ignore it. Should I give the kids what they want (they might end up spoiled) or should I say no (they might end up feeling neglected)? Should I make them share or let them have some control over their own toys? When they get hurt, do I hug them and say "poor baby" or pat them on the back and say "You're OK, just shake it off"? At what age should they be able to effectively wipe their own bums? At what age should I let my children watch Star Wars? I could go on and on...

One of the problems with parenting is that the answers to some of these questions do not necessarily become more clear as more kids are added to the equation. For instance, when our son was 2, we were very vigilant about each and every minute of television or movies he watched. We pondered whether Blue's Clues or Dora were "developmentally appropriate" for his age. Now that we have three children we are like "Let's all watch Return of the Jedi for movie night!" And only after the monster-that-eats-people appears on the screen do we look over at our wide-eyed two year old daughter and think, "Is this too scary?" I mean, our former selves would be completely horrified!!

Albert Einstein once said the "Everyone is a Genius", but I have to admit that I don't feel like one. Being a genius and being a mother seem to be paradoxical states of being. It seems that motherhood is like a giant spotlight on my shortcomings, the parts of my character that need improvement, and the fact that I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. At times I do feel like a fish trying to climb a tree.

That might explain why one of my favorite things to do is soak in a bubble bath after the kids are asleep! Calgone take my away!! Far away. Like Hawaii or Australia.

Of course, there are still no-good-very-bad days....even in Australia. And sharks and crocodiles.

On second thought, I think I will stay right here and take me chances with my children. At least they don't bite...most of the time!