Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby kicks



This baby moves inside me now

Sending messages at night-

Morse code

About life on the inside:

It is dark

But warm and quiet

With only muffled echoes softly pleading,

Wake up, little one.

I want to know you're in there,

Happy and safe.

Answers come again-

A sudden flutter-

Secret lyrics of song with no rhythm.

Played with hands and feet.

Someday I will hear the song again-

A high-pitched, quick and breathy humming.

I will teach her that she's been singing that old song forever,

And reach out for little splayed hands

That have long since held my heart.

By Yvette Benavides 

For quite awhile now, I've been trying, in vain, to write an appropriate baby post. But nothing I can come up with accurately conveys my experience being pregnant. And this post isn't going to do it, either, but I'll keep working on it.

I'm actually having a lot of trouble with the idea that this is my last pregnancy. I've loved being pregnant each and every time, though this has by far been the most relaxing, least stressful pregnancy. 

With Danny's: I had only graduated three months before I found out I was pregnant; Chris and I hadn't been dating long; Chris was still in school and my job was paying me $25,000 a year (ie- we were broke); the pregnancy was a complete surprise; we planned and executed a wedding; for 3/4 of the pregnancy Chris lived in Spokane and I lived in Pullman; when I finally moved to Spokane, I then had to commute to Pullman; I switched from an OB-GYN to a midwife at 30 weeks pregnant. Yet I still did enjoy the pregnancy itself!

With Isaac's: Chris has just graduated when I got pregnant (we did this on purpose, this time); we moved across the state with a 15-month-old; and Chris was starting the ER internship--when the internship was over, he worked A TON in order to be saving up to buy our house. Luckily, we were living with Mom, Brenda and Tom (and soon Bean!); they helped immensely. Even though Chris was working a lot, I was definitely not lonely. And when Isaac was born, I had it good. There were always people to help me with Danny when I needed it. Looking back, I don't know how people introduce a second child under different circumstances! But this pregnancy was quite a bit more relaxed, and easier to enjoy.

This pregnancy...we're financially stable. Our relationship is the best it's been, and continually getting better. We have a house that is ours, with no impending move on the horizon. I have a wonderful midwife who has been with me for some time now. I'm physically in better shape. I feel like I am well supported in my family and friends (though I wish my family were closer...)

My only problem this pregnancy is that I just can't escape the feeling that this is it. Like, this is what my body was put here to do--when you look at it in a Darwinian sense--and it is all going to be over in this short time. Granted, I will still be nursing a baby for some time...but when that is over, my time of sharing my body with a child is completely done. In a sense, it will be a relief, but I know I will be extremely sad. I already am, just in anticipation of it.

Every time "Nicky" (what Danny, and now I, have dubbed the baby, though this is by no means what we are going to name him!) starts moving--and this is very frequently--I always stop whatever I am doing and try to revel in it. I'm trying to memorize that sensation of what it's like to feel a life growing inside me. Part of me thinks it's silly; because really, won't every woman who's given birth remember what it was like, the sensation of a hand dragging across the inside; the sudden flurry of kicks that come randomly. It's been very good for me, the idea of slowing down and soaking it in, as I've taken it and more broadly applied it to Danny and Isaac, too--this time with them is so fleeting.


I get upset with myself, because it really has taken me this long to begin to appreciate it all, and try on a daily basis to slow down and enjoy my children the way I should, the way they deserve. I would hate to look back and think I should have played and cuddled more, and cooked and cleaned less. 

So Nicky...thank you. If this is why I was meant to have a third child, that revelation alone was worth it. I hope to be the most present Mama possible, looking to neither past nor future, but just enjoying you and your brothers and soaking it all in. Keep kicking, it's a good reminder :) 


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Lost City of Z

I've been meaning for awhile to start posting about the books I read. I forget books I read all the time, and I hate it. It's not necessarily because they're forgettable books, either, I just have a horrible memory. So I figured keeping track of them here would be handy, for myself.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (by David Grann) was the first book I read on my Kindle! And it cemented my love of the silly thing.

This book was mainly about the exploratory career of Sir Percy Fawcett, a British soldier, and his obsession with the Amazon rain forest and the idea that there was a whole lost civilization waiting to be discovered (El Dorado, as it has been termed throughout history). It also detailed a lot of the history of Amazon exploration. And quite a few nasty, scary jungle diseases.

Fawcett, and others, make many trips into the Amazon, continually mapping new area and searching for the fabled city. Many of the explorers fail to return, and are never heard from again, which prompts even more to head into the jungle to find out what happened to their comrades. 

This was a pretty good non-fiction read. I love that non-fiction writing has gotten so entertaining; nothing dry and boring like you were forced to read in high school. The author of this book actually ends up becoming slightly obsessed himself (apparently it happens with the Amazon, though I'll admit I'm content to read about it and watch shows on National Geographic), and going into the forest on the path to find out what happened to Fawcett.

Apparently it's also being turned into a movie, starring Brad Pitt. Too bad they picked Brad Pitt for it; the man has completely lost any appeal to me since shacking up with Angelina Jolie.

But back to the book: a good, entertaining read.

Moulton Falls

It's taken me awhile to finally post this!

A week and a half ago, Chris drug me and the kids out of the house on a little walk at Moulton Falls.  This was kind of rare, normally I'm the one rarin' to go on the hikes, dragging Chris out. I'll admit I was a little cranky with it all, too, but it turned out to be a great little walk and we found Yacolt Falls, which surprised us. Thanks babe!

Moulton Falls is just past Lucia Falls, another few miles. There's actually a trail connecting the two; we really want to do that one, and now that we've been there and seen the trail, I think it'll be possible, with the jogging stroller.

The actual waterfall itself is right next to the parking lot. You just go down a little flight of steps, and boom! there you are. 

I had trouble getting a good picture of the falls, b/c of the angle of the rocks. It was pretty, though nothing mind blowing.

The actual trail starts on the opposite side of the parking lot; you walk across a little bridge running parallel to the road. This bridge crosses where the Yacolt River is dumping into the East Fork of the Lewis River.

Isaac was afraid to ride his bike across the bridge! Chris had been here before, on a mountain bike ride with a friend, so he knew the trail was going to be bike-friendly. Right across the bridge there were the cleanest restrooms I have ever seen in a county park--maybe b/c peak season hasn't picked up too much, but I was impressed!

The trail was very wide, made of compacted gravel, definitely no crazy hiking or anything. It slopes up and around, to a high bridge. The hill wasn't steep at all though, both boys made it up on their bikes without a problem.

And then it was pretty much a flat walk along the river.
I think I need to quit letting them pee in the backyard so much. I also love how when one does it, the other has to immediately follow suit: monkey see, monkey do. Luckily the trail was empty at this point.

This little wet hillside...
...was swarming with these crazy centipede-y things:
Disgusting, yet fascinating. There must have been a huge hatch or something that had just happened. We kept seeing them periodically on the trail, along with some HUGE black beetles. I think Danny had to stop and examine every. single. beetle. But it's cute, and it's why we take them on hikes!

Danny loves waterfalls, of any shape or size :)

And then the crazy boy insisted on wearing this stick in his helmet, for the entire last half of the hike. I love his face here.

We made it back to the car, slowly. There are tons of other trails linking to this one, some just small little jaunts down to the river and picnic spots, some connecting into extensive trail networks (Bells Mountain and then tons of hikes on Silver Star Mountain--there are sooooo many of these that Chris and I want to do. It will be fun as the kids get older exploring this area and becoming more familiar with it. I totally take for granted that I have all of this practically right out of my door).

When we got back to the little bridge right by the parking lot, we noticed a trailhead immediately across the road. I asked Chris if he knew what it was; he didn't, and suggested we check it out. I hesitated, mainly b/c I'd carried Isaac for about half a mile, but we decided to go for it.

This trail was much more narrow, the kind of trail I grew up on, backpacking with my parents. However...Danny and Isaac absolutely loved it! They tore down this trail at a speed that I had to walk fast to keep up! They'd both been dawdling along the other nice trail, Isaac ended up being carried--but no sir, not on this side. And we were rewarded with beautiful little Yacolt Falls. We had been about to turn around, Chris went just a bit further and heard the roar of of course we kept going.

There was a fun little steel bridge to cross (well, Isaac didn't think it was fun, though Chris did coax him across on the way out). Apparently it's a drawbridge, I have no idea why.

There's actually two falls, split by the rocks--the one on the right is a little obscured by the maple tree, but it's the best I could do. You can hardly see Chris in this picture, he blends in nicely to the rocks!
Um, I promise even though some of these picture look a little dangerous, the boys were safe the entire time!

Everything Chris and I found online totally downplayed Yacolt Falls. We had no idea what it was when we found it: the only sign was one with Clark County park rules, nothing telling the name of the river or falls. However, we were all far more impressed with Yacolt Falls than with Moulton Falls! It is peak waterfall season right now, especially with all the rain we've had, so I guess it could be flowing a lot heavier than normal. We dug it though :)

Cabbage Pizza

Sounds disgusting, right?

NO! Make it, now! It has to be the cheapest, quickest, most delicious thing I have stumbled upon in a long time. Danny and Isaac loved it. I think Chris would have liked it, were he home to try it. Unfortunately, I'll probably eat it all tonight.

This recipe is found at 101 Cookbooks, one of my most favorite food blogs. She actually calls the recipe Japanese Pizza, but the kids were calling it cabbage pizza. It's nothing like pizza, really a sort of cabbage fritatta. Apparently it's big in Japan.

I re-found this recipe about a week ago, and have been obsessed with it since (this happens to me a lot--I can't decide if it's totally unhealthy that I get obsessed by food, or a good sign that I just love to cook...). I can't believe it took me this long to make it, but I've been lazy about cooking and tired at night, so it's gone by the wayside.

I didn't have a leek to use in the cabbage mix, so I chopped up half of a small onion and tossed it in. I also cooked it in mostly bacon grease, with a little olive oil thrown in. I was kind of freaked out about flipping it, but Heidi's directions are ingenious; mine looked just as pretty as hers. Gah, if only I wouldn't have been so starving and would have stopped for two seconds to take a picture :(

I also didn't have a green onion or slivered almonds, her suggestions for a garnish. I used toasted pine nuts and goat cheese on my first slice, which was delish. On my second slice, I slathered it in Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce; also yummy (though not as healthy). And now, every time I go back in to the kitchen, I just keep eating slivers of it plain. So, so good.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


For a couple years now, we have been using fluoride free toothpaste. Our drinking water here is fluoridated--which I wish it wasn't--and I don't feel confident enough in the research that has been done to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of fluoride. There's a lot of into on the internet, and even books have been written--I borrowed The Fluoride Deception from a friend and though I didn't finish reading it (I wish I would have now), the first 100 pages were more than enough to convince me!

The kids have been using Tom's of Maine fluoride free silly strawberry and I have been using various other fluoride free Tom's of Maine flavors. Chris has been using a toothpaste that we brought back from Germany (which I really like, too, but I feel bad using it; I have no clue as to the ingredients, but I think it's more "natural"). 

I had a recipe for a homemade tooth powder. I love making my own stuff: saves money (yay for my budget!); saves packaging (yay for the environment!); and I'm in control of all the ingredients (yay for QC!). was disgusting. I gagged a few time during the initial use. I toughed it out for a few days, in which it got slightly easier, but I normally look forward to brushing my teeth (thank you, Sonicare, my personal mouth massage), and I was dreading it every morning and night with this stuff. It's main components are baking soda and white clay powder, then it had myrrh, dried peppermint and raspberry leaves, yellowdock root, and essential tea tree and peppermint oils. It was really salty (I think maybe the white clay powder?); it looked disgusting when spitting out (like chewing tobacco--all yellow); and the herb leaves kept getting stuck in my teeth (I had given it a good spin in the blender, in the mason jar I mixed it in, but to no avail, apparently). The powder texture wasn't doing it for me either, but I think that has something to do with being pregnant, and I think I could overcome that problem. It did do a good job of cleaning: my mouth felt nice and fresh. I feel like my teeth were getting slightly dingy with it though (yes, coffee will do that to ya, but my other pastes were tackling the problem fine).

So yesterday at Fred Meyer's, I was back to purchasing my Tom's of Maine, and for some reason decided to look at the ingredients: imagine my surprise when sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) popped up on there! I started checking all their toothpastes, and every Tom's of Maine toothpaste at my Fred Meyer's contained SLS (their website does address SLS concerns, and apparently they have a line of SLS-free toothpastes, but probably not as widely available). Then I checked Burt's Bees new line of toothpastes, and yep, SLS in all of theirs I could find also.

I'm not sure if the SLS has been there all along or if the buyout of both of those companies (Colgate now owns Tom's of Maine, and Clorox owns Burt's Bees) brought about formula changes. I've become more discerning in my label reading and in what ingredients make my "natural" cuts, and I'm bummed that this one slipped through the cracks for so long. Skin Deep only lists SLS as a 3 on their scale of 1 to 10, making it a "moderate hazard", but I've been avoiding it in shampoo, conditioner, and body washes, so why in the world would I put it in my mouth?!

In the end, I chose Jason Powesmile all-natural whitening toothpaste.
Seems like a good choice after checking the SkinDeep review: it scored a 2 and the highest concern comes from contamination of the grapefruit seed extract; I suppose I'm not going to get rid of that unless I am mixing my own toothpaste and purchasing the ingredients from a highly reputable source. Plus, it tastes fine and my teeth look nice and bright and feel good when I'm done.

I'll probably be keeping my eyes out for another toothpaste recipe; anybody have any to share?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chocolate syrup

I have been having some intense chocolate milk cravings lately.

I cannot use Hershey's syrup though. Not with an ingredient list as follows:
High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, water, cocoa, contains 2% or less of: potassium sorbate (preservative), salt, mono- and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, xanthan gum, and vanillin (artificial flavor).

Polysorbate 60 tastes so good; and why splurge on vanilla when you can just use vanillin, right?

Yuck. I'm not sure why we have a bottle in our fridge still. It actually expired in May 2009. Maybe it's time to throw that out. I'm sure potassium sorbate doesn't keep things good that long.

Of course, by now, there are multitudes of "organic" chocolate syrup out there. But when even Azure is selling a 22 oz bottle for $4.15...not really in my grocery budget. I don't care what people say, eating more natural, local and organic foods is waaaaayyyyyyyy more expensive. So I don't buy stuff like this in order to keep a somewhat reasonable grocery bill.

But when I have a craving, I get motivated, and hey, if Hershey's and Santa Cruz Organic can make it, why can't I?

I can, very easily, it turns out. I looked at a few recipes and combined a couple to make what I deemed appropriate. I really wanted to do Alton Brown's, just because I love him and his show, but I didn't want corn syrup in my chocolate syrup. If my agave nectar wasn't missing, I'm thinking I could have subbed that in (and yes, the agave nectar is missing. speechless about that. I know I opened a new bottle only a couple weeks ago. I'm blaming it on Chris, but guaranteed it turns up somewhere in the black hole of our pantry soon).

I used rapadura for half of the required sugar; I think next time I'll go with a full 1 c. of rapadura and 1/2 c. of sugar. I actually prefer the taste of rapadura by this point, and I think that the rest of the family is ok with that. 

Chocolate syrup

Makes approx. 2 cups

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. rapadura 
Bring the above ingredients to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer a few minutes to thicken up a little. Remove from heat and add:
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Let cool and store in fridge.

I thought ours tasted almost exactly like Hershey's syrup. I was hoping for something a little better, but I think it's because of the nasty cocoa powder I purchased from Azure. I was being cheap and bought their bulk, unnamed organic cocoa powder. Next time, I will splurge on the Rapunzel brand, or even just can the whole organic thing and stick with a more high quality cocoa (mmmmm...Scharffen Berger....). In the meantime, I have a 5-pound bag of cheapy stuff to plug through--well, it's at least half gone by now.

Hahaha, beware if I bring you only think I'm being nice :)

Coconut deodorant

For a good year now, I have been eyeballing this "recipe" for homemade deodorant. It consists of coconut oil, baking soda, and either cornstarch or arrowroot powder (these can be used interchangeably here, as well as in cooking).

Deodorant has been a hard one for me to go more natural on. I am not willing to be stinky. Mascara holds some sort of sway over me, too--I refuse to quit wearing it (I do wear a safer one on most days, but it's not waterproof, so I bust out the nasty stuff on rainy days...and uh, I live in SW Washington...)

So I've continued to wear my beloved, but most likely cancer causing, Dove deodorant (actually, that Skin Deep link was more promising than I'd thought it would be!). I tried a couple varieties of Tom's of Maine; a Jason deodorant; some other brand I forget that was neroli orange and patchouli scented; and a really cheap one I found at Fred Meyer's. I wasted a lot of money, because they all really, really sucked.

Finally, the day of the ultrasound, when I was antsy and tackling my list of things to make homemade (remember the mayo? There was dishwasher soap, as well), I made the deodorant. I chose to make it with arrowroot powder, and I used a little more of the dry ingredients.

This deodorant is amazing. It did take some adjusting to sweating again--most deodorants are antiperspirants as well, so most people don't sweat under their armpits anymore. Probably not a good thing, as part of sweating is getting rid of toxins--makes you wonder if it's not the deodorant chemicals that should be linked with breast cancer, but the fact that your body isn't able to excrete toxins it would normally be rid of, so they build up...just a thought.

I was concerned that the oil in it would cause staining in my clothes, but I've been using it for well over a month now and haven't noticed anything so far.

I haven't put this deodorant through a rigorous workout (those went out the window at about week 15 of pregnancy), but it did hold up nicely through a few yoga classes, a couple hikes, and the few 70-degree days we've had. And, I have to admit, I usually only shower every other day; this stuff holds me over without a problem. I am a fairly stinky person, too. Chris swears that he can go without deodorant with no problem; I am not so lucky.

As an added bonus, my armpits smell like coconut; reminds me of my days of tanning in college, except most likely now I am not giving myself skin cancer :)