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Friday, November 20, 2009

Astragalus, New Moon, Witchcraft, and Other Herbal Miscellany

I ordered a box of herbs this week (the completely legal kind). My friend had learned all about herbs to support your immune system in a recent herb class she took, and had given me an herbal tincture to use a few weeks ago when my family came down with a cold. Baby T and I were only sick for a few days, but Big T was sick for at least a week. Baby T and I took the tincture, and Big T did not. My friend had told me all about how elderberries were so good for your immune system, and I decided I had to get me some of them. So we placed a big order, and got some elderberries, astragalus, echinacea, lemon balm, and elder flower from Mountain Rose Herbs.

The box arrived yesterday. I dug through it and was surprised at the amount of stuff we got for about $40. Big T dug through it and pronounced it "weird." I think the astragalus freaked him out. He asked me what I was going to do with it, and I started to tell him about the tincture we were going to make:

"You put it all in a glass jar, and cover it with alcohol, and let it sit for a few weeks---shoot, we have to start it this weekend! See, you're supposed to start it on the new moon---"

And Big T cut me off:

"Ok, that's it!! I don't want to hear anymore! Lalalalalalalala."

I tried explaining that it wasn't all just voodoo magic. It made sense. If the moon has such an effect on tides and liquids, then it makes sense that it may help with the extraction of the herb into a liquid. But all I got was "Nope. Nope. Nope. Lalalalala."


He said if science told him this, he would believe it, but since I read it on various blogs, he wasn't buying it. I don't know who this Science is, or why he is so persuasive.

He said he was with me until I had mentioned the moon (which apparently brought the whole idea into the realm of witchcraft, at which time he called me a devil worshipper and tuned out). Now, I don't believe in the devil, so I can't really be a devil worshipper, can I? I also don't really believe in science. I think that a lot of people are right, and a lot of people are wrong, and I like to learn what different people believe and decide for myself what I think sounds the most convincing. The Wiccan religion makes a lot of sense to me. I believe that Nature has more power over us than we realize. This freaks Big T out a little bit. I also explained to him that there is a lot of proof that herbal remedies work, and that is quite scientific. Any credibility I had earned by that last statement was quickly wiped out when I was searching for an elderberry syrup recipe and Big T looked over my shoulder and saw a blog with a gothic-looking web banner.

In any case, we are traveling by plane for Thanksgiving, and with all the H1N1 germs flying around, I don't want to take any chances. So this morning, since Baby T woke me up at 5AM, at which time I was wide awake for the day and he went back to sleep until 8AM (which rarely happens), I decided to make myself some immune boosting potions. While my elderberries were simmering in a pot of water, I made myself some tea with elderflower, lemon balm, and astralagus. I clipped some mint from my garden (which, incidentally, was supposedly pulled up when Big T stripped our garden a few weeks ago so we could start fresh... now we have a wonderful new crop growing along side the morning glories and sunflowers that just won't go away). When the elderberry syrup was done, I added a few tablespoons of it to my tea. I brought it to work so I can sip some iced herbal tea today. Yum!

I realize that reading a blog is no fun without pictures. Since I'm always doing 5 things at once (and trying to get it all done before work), I keep forgetting to take pictures. So I will add another post soon with my tea and syrup recipes, as well as some pics.

Oh, and this morning Big T told me that if I become a witch, my witch name should be Herbal Miscellany. And that he "will totally try [the tea I made] once the moon settles into its sixth sign and delphi becomes visible in the western sky."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Uses for Nursing Pads

Now that I'm making my own nursing pads, I don't really have a use for the flat Gerber nursing pads I had been using. So I've come up with some other uses for them.

*I have actually tried the ones starred with an asterisk.

1. *Coaster
2. *To stop your door from banging in the doorjamb
3. Clean the grime on the inside of your windshield
4. Shoe insert (for the ball of your foot in high heeled shoes that are too big for you.)
5. Hot mitt for a hot cup of coffee
6. *Wipe mildew out of your shower when you run out of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
7. *Pincushion
8. Eye patch for your Halloween pirate costume
9. *Trace it when you need to draw a perfect circle
10. Seed starter

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Perfecting the Nursing Pad

I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier to make cloth nursing pads. Probably because I had gotten a few bagloads from my sister, and bought some more boxes of nursing pads with an awesome coupon I had early on, so I had plenty to go around. I didn't love any of them... the Lansinoh and Medela ones were great in terms of absorbency. They soaked up liquid like a sponge. They are contoured so they fit well, but they have an adhesive tab that you peel off so they stick to the inside of your bra. When is the last time you tried to stick something fairly non-sticky to fabric? Then, add the fact that there is moisture in there, plus, you're flapping your bra cups down every time you feed your baby. They didn't stay put, and they would get so contorted and misshapen every time I pulled my bra down to nurse, that it would take minutes with my hand down the neck of my shirt, gumby-style, trying to get everything back in place. Or possibly worse, forgetting to reposition the pad, so there would be an odd growth-like lump on my chest for the rest of the day.

The Gerber pads were much cheaper, and I went through a few boxes of those, but they are flat discs. If you put a flat disc on your breast and try to wear a t-shirt or any kind of fitted shirt with smooth fabric, it is going to look like you have 2 small saucers for breasts. This was no exception.

So now that I am:
A). running out of my nursing pad stash
B). am no longer edging out the super soaker as a favorite summer toy
C). am drowning in ideas for things I can sell in my Etsy store

I decided to make nursing pads. Well, it wasn't my idea, actually. A friend challenged me to make some. She is my rat. My monkey. My guinea pig. I spent 2 days putting together different combinations of fabrics, in different shapes, and stuffing them in my shirt. I wanted the pads to be absorbent, but I also hated having to always wear 2 or 3 layers (a camisole, tank top, and t-shirt) every time I left the house because otherwise my nursing pads would show.

I thought I had it down, and sent a few to my guinea pig, when she proceeded to tell me that they soaked up about as much moisture as a tissue. So it was back to the drawing board, and adding some more padding actually helped smooth the pads out and make them less noticeable under shirts. My favorite have a lush velvet exterior. The plush velvet helps the pad not to touch your clothing, so even if the outer layer gets wet, it will keep the moisture away from your shirt. And they are so sexy, I might just have to tape them on and wear them to some holiday parties.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quandaries? Oh, you mean boobs?

How long do you breastfeed? (This one's for you, Ash)

Ah, the age old breastfeeding quandary. Actually, it's not really age old at all--the quandary, that is. For how long do you breastfeed, and for how long do you breastfeed in public? I've been having this conversation recently with a few different friends, and it's always interesting to hear people's opionions on the subject. Most of my friends' opionions are along the same lines: when your baby is old enough to lift up your shirt himself and ask for a drink, it's time to stop. It's just weird.

I used to think breastfeeding until a baby was 4 or 5 was a little weird too. Until I had a baby of my own. And realized, "Oh--THAT's what those things were put on my chest for." I am obsessed with breastfeeding. I love everything about it. It was never painful, even at the very beginning, and Baby T took to it immediately. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed (even when I thought I didn't want kids. I still wanted to be pregnant and breastfeed. Go figure). I love how I can provide Baby T exactly what he needs, whenever he needs it. I love how cozy it is to be able to relax in a quiet room at the end of a long day, enjoying a bond with Baby T that no one else can replicate or interrupt (unless you make a loud, strange sound, dangle a colorful object in front of his face, or bark). I love how in the middle of a long, content drink, Baby T will look up at me and smile, as if to say, "Oh hi, mommy! I didn't know you were up there!"

I always said that I planned on breastfeeding until Baby T was at least 2 years old. If it was up to me right now, I would do it until he goes away to college. I'm weird. I know. I guess I will let him wean himself when the time is right for him. The question is, when he is running around hitting baseballs with his little friends, will I still breastfeed in public? The majority (as in, all but maybe one or two) of my friends think that is strange. Even my liberal sister, who still breastfeeds her 19 month old, only does it in private and offers him a sippy cup in public. She had the most reasonable comments in regards to breastfeeding: she understands the way society works, and to socialize her kids in a way that fits into society's ideals, she offers the sippy cup in public, and breastfeeding is her cozy, special activity that's done in private now. Whether she agrees with society's ideals or not isn't the issue. She just wants her kids to be perceived as normal and not be made to feel uncomfortable or ridiculed for breastfeeding in public.

I get that. I don't want Baby T to ever go through the torture that other kids can put you through. Even though it is inevitably going to happen at some point. But I want him to be unique. I want him to realize that what other people think doesn't really matter. During my middle school years, I was tortured. I know what it is like to try to fit in when you don't always have the right clothes, the right cars, or the right friends. You play the violin and speak a different language. Your parents have accents. "Cool" is not a word your parents use around you, and you don't care about it. Until everyone else does. I went through that phase. Where, to avoid having your locker decorated with maxi pads for your birthday, you went along with what everyone else thought and said.

And then as I got older I realized that no one really cares. And I did get weirder as I got older. But at the risk of sounding cliche, I found the people who liked me for who I was. It bugs me when people try to be just like everyone else, and it also bugs me when people try to be different just for the sake of being different. I just became who I was. That's who I want Baby T to become. That's who my sister is. Everything she believes, and everything she does, she believes and does because that's the way she wants to do it. She understands the idea that people think it's weird to breastfeed a toddler. She doesn't want to make people (or her son) feel uncomfortable. So she doesn't breastfeed in public.

When Baby T was first born I didn't want to make people uncomfortable either. Now, I'm not very shy about my body, and I personally didn't care about whipping my boob out in public. But I didn't want other people, like Big T's brothers, or random men in the park, feel uncomfortable. So I was always careful to cover up with a blanket. That lasted about a week. I'm just as coordinated as I am shy--not very. So trying to lift up my shirt discreetly, undo my nursing bra with one hand while trying to tame a writing infant with the other, get a glimpse of Baby T so I could latch him on properly while trying not to suffocate him, and avoid tiring my arms out by this whole process was quite difficult with a blanket tucked into my bra strap. And the Hooter Hider? Forget it. A strange looking, brightly colored apron hanging around your neck doesn't really blend into the background and give you privacy. Everybody wonders whether that strange new piece of clothing is part of the 80s trend or the bohemian look. And Baby T hated having his head covered anyway. So I finally gave up and just whipped em out. In public. Around Big T's brothers and dad. It was just easier. I was just feeding my baby.

Breasts are designed to feed a baby. That's what they are there for. They aren't sexy. Mine sure aren't. It's only society that makes them out to be. And if Baby T is still breastfeeding at age 4, I certainly hope he's not thinking about the sexiness of his drinking vessel. (Although he WAS enjoying flipping through Victoria's Secret catalogs at 3 months).

I don't feel weird about whipping them out in public now to feed my baby, and I don't think I will feel weird about it in two years, either. Part of me understands the socialization aspect of it, and I agree that our society in general perceives it as odd, but I don't agree that they should. So shouldn't I do my part in trying to change society's perception? When my baby is 3 and pumps his little fist in the sign for milk while we're at the mall, am I going to hand him a sippy cup or am I going to disrobe? I guess we'll find out in a couple of years.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goo Goo Ga Ga Oo Boo Booky Shmooky Shmoo

Baby Talk
Since I had Baby T, I am constantly making up words that don't exist. Monkey became Monk, and suddenly it was "Hi little monk-bunk! I missed you today!" When Baby T would cry bloody murder in his car seat, I found that the faster and louder I talked, the more likely he was to stop and listen to me. "MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO! MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO!"

This actually became a little rap (a la Jenni Pulos from Flipping Out):
MonkeymonkeymonkeymonkeyMOO monkeyMOO
Monkey MOO said "Who are you?"
Tieren said "I'm Tieren, who are YOU, Monkey Moo?"
Monkey Moo said "I'm a monkey that moos."
Tieren said "Monkeys don't moo"
Monkey Moo said "Well, I do. So whachoo gonna do?"

Honestly. It makes him stop crying. He probably thinks it's ridiculous.

Muchkin became Munch. "How's my little Munch doing?" Or when I talk to the dog: "Hi my big Munch!" Big T said to me the other day, "Everything isn't a munch, you know." Um, I know. I just can't help it anymore. And the songs. Put any tune to "My little poopie monkey, how are you? Get em out, get em out, farteroo!!" Again from Big T: "Why does everything have to be a song?" It entertains Baby T... Geeez. Actually, it just slips out. The words and songs leave my mouth before I can stop them. I can't wait until I see my boss in the kitchen: "Hey, time for lunch, munch?" [Sings] "Get the soup out of the microwave doop doo doo. Before it explodes and makes a mess badoo, badoo."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Discovering Yard Sales

Baby T in his Superman Hat
On Saturday morning, I joined the hordes of bargain hunters, collectors, and just plain crazies. I went to a yard sale. Actually, I went to 5 of them. When I emailed a friend and told her I had never been to a yard sale, she emailed me back and said, "Surely that must have been a typo."

Apparently I was slightly unAmerican. Well, pledge allegiance, because I'm not anymore.

I live in a small suburban/rural town. Normally, I would have ventured into the bigger city I live outside of to delve into the world of yard sailing but I had to work at 9AM and there was a triathlon going on in town, tying up traffic.

I carefully mapped out my route. Mom-Mom (my mother in law and Baby T's grandmother) was to meet us at our house at 6:45AM sharp. From there, we were hitting 3 yard sales that started at 7AM, and then another that started at 8. I was on the hunt for wool, fabrics, and a playard, since Mom-Mom just realized that she has nowhere for Baby T to sleep now that he's a giant rolling maniac. We packed Baby T into his warmest clothes and strapped on a hat since we had a frost advisory the night before, and headed out.

At the first yard sale, we meandered through the trailers until we found the sale. This was supposed to be the most promising one. Crafting, crochet supplies, books, etc. I couldn't wait. We walked into the backyard to find three tables teeming with containers, all dulled on the bottom with ash. An elderly couple, both smoking cigarettes (at 6:55AM!!) welcomed us. We looked around. Not much between the VHS tapes and ashtrays. Baby T spit up. We left. False advertising, to say the very least.

Next, we stopped by the free yard sale at the local church. The pastor had just been arrested this past week for indecent liberties with minors, and the sign in front still said "Youth Meeting Monday, 7PM". Who was going to go to THAT? We debated leaving Baby T in the car. But we brought him out anyway. This yard sale was free. We debated what this meant: Is it free to set up a table and sell your junk there? You don't have to pay a cover charge to shop? Nope. It was free. As in, come in, fill your bags, fill your bags some more, fill your trunk, and skidaddle. Yup, we didn't have to pay for a thing. I found a few 100% cotton and wool items that I could use for my sewing. It felt kind of weird to just walk away with it all in my arms. But what a great way for people to get rid of clothes they didn't want anymore, and for local families to replenish their closets.

Next, we drove into a neighborhood we had never visited before. This yard sailing is a great way to get to know your town! Nice things, raising money to send the high school girls in the family to Washington, but nothing I was looking for. I was tempted to buy a few pairs of JCrew and Nine West jeans (the owner of the house was quite the sales lady) but I declined and we continued.

At the last yard sale, we found our playard, and some toys, clothes and shoes for Baby T. Mom-Mom practically had to drop kick a man with a truck and trailer who showed up looking specifically for playards, but we got it! Complete with bassinet and changing table. And it might even vibrate. All for $10! (Now if only Baby T will nap when he's at her house.) I was tempted to haggle for the baby clothes I was buying, but forgot all about it and ended up paying $7 for 4 pairs of pants, a vest, a pair of shoes, a Superman hat and gloves (my favorite purchase of the day) and a Lamaze soft stackable ring toy.

Baby T in his new hat and pants (how are these supposed to be 12M size? They are practically cutting off the circulation of his 5M waist!):

Baby T's Yard Sale Outfit

Driving home, I felt pretty satisfied. In an hour and a half, I had managed to learn more about my town and find some much-needed gear. Next weekend, I'm sure the "much-needed" will fall away from that statement. And we'll probably be looking for more shelves for the garage within 3 weeks. Oh wait, there's a sign--YARD SALE TODAY! Gotta stop here, sorry...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oreo Bon Bon Halloween Eyeballs

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
I already told you that I was going to be a week late in terms of relevant posts to this blog. So I don't feel bad. For the Halloween party I went to on Saturday, I made Oreo Bon Bon Eyeballs. I stumbled across the recipe in a magazine for the bon bons at the midwife's office a few months ago. I got creative with the eyeball aspect. They are chocolatey and amazing. Some say they looked like nipples, but I don't care.

Oreo Bon Bon Halloween Eyeball Recipe

Ingredients for Bon Bons:

1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 package of cream cheese


Put the entire package of Oreos into your food processor. It's hard not to eat one now, but hold off. You can have a bon bon in a minute, and it's even better than the cookie itself.
Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Pulse the food processor until your oreos look like coffee grounds.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Add a package of softened cream cheese.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Pulse/process until it is all blended together and rolls around inside your machine like dough.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Freeze for an hour. After they have been frozen, they will be firm enough to dip in your melted chocolate. Melt a few bars of chocolate (I used Hershey bars)

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Dip the oreo bon bons in your melted chocolate. I used tongs to do this, and only dipped the top half. Put them back on the cookie sheet.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe
Put them back in the fridge or freezer to harden the chocolate. To decorate them, I melted a little white chocolate, put a drop of it on top of each bon bon, and stuck in a semisweet chocolate chip, face down.

Oreo Cream Cheese Ball Recipe

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Suck It

Making suck pads for a baby carrier

The product "suck pads" sounds weird. I'm trying to find a way around it, but that's what they are called. Ergo makes them for their baby carrier, and when I bought my Ergo Organic baby carrier a few weeks ago, I debated buying them at the same time, but I passed. But that's what they are called. That's what Ergo calls them.

When I got my Ergo, I immediately put it on, stuck Baby T in it, and he proceeded to--well, whine a little bit--and then suck on the straps. This is the baby who refuses any and all pacifiers. Believe me, I have tried. We have a canister next to our coffee and sugar full of pacifiers. All different brands. He won't have it. But he will suck on anything--and everything--else. His thumb (usually when covered by his shirt sleeve or another piece of fabric), clothing, blankets, toys, our dog's tail (yes, that actually happened. The other day, his Mom-Mom found him holding our yellow lab's tail between both hands and sucking away happily). So I don't know why I didn't buy the suck pads to begin with. Especially because on the instruction booklet that came with the Ergo, 2 of the 3 pictures show the babies sucking on the straps. Apparently it's all the rage in baby paraphanalia.

I had been frantically sewing diapers recently, and figured that suck pads are essentially just a diaper for the Ergo, so I decided to make them. And they are cute. Appropriately enough, Baby T started to get fussy when I was at Joann's Fabrics looking for supplies. And he totally calmed down when he started sucking away. You can find them in my Etsy store. They are made with 2 layers of absorbent cotton sandwiched between a cute and fashionable cotton flannel pattern on the outside, and a moisture-wicking fleece on the inside. One of each pair is hand embroidered with the Tmuffin insignia.

But back to the name. Because I tried to think of something different to call them. But couldn't come up with anything.

Halloween Costume Part II

A Milkmaid, a Farmer, and a Cow meet a Girl Scout

I fear that I'm going to be a week behind in all of my posts this week. A week past what is relevant. Oh, well. If only there were 50 hours in a day. Halloween was great. We were the cutest farming family around. So much so that I think we should just move to the country, buy several acres, goats, chickens, and cows, and live off the land.
Tmuffin family Handmade Halloween Costumes--A Farming Family

I also made a Girl Scout Uniform for a coworker. She asked me a week before Halloween, and I was swamped, but really wanted to help her out. I told her I couldn't make it from scratch, but if she found me something to work with, I could rework it into a uniform. She found the most hideous knit mock-turtleneck, long sleeved, calf length shift dress at the Salvation Army. It was absolutely perfect! I was able to transform it into a vest and skirt with the leftover green ruffle from the dust ruffle I used for my milkmaid costume. We printed the patches on the computer, laminated them, and sewed them on for an official look. I can't wait to get a picture of her wearing it! Now if only she could make me some cookies. Farming is hard work.
Halloween Costume - Girl Scout Uniform
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