Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bug Screen, otherwise known as: My husbandy is awesome

Summer has arrived in full force - meaning lots of sunshine and lots of outdoor time.  In years past I have made the transition from "lots of clothes on in winter" to "lots of bare skin in summer" (which, let's face it, basically means sweater and socks to t-shirt and sandals) without paying too much attention to it.  I was genetically endowed with naturally dark skin - sun burns really were never a concern for me and I soaked up as much vitamin D as I possibly could.  This year however, I had a little someone to think of, and this little someone did not win the genetic lottery when it came to the amount of melanin in his skin - he is as white as white can be.
As important as vitamin D is, I did not want Bean getting burnt.  But I also didn't want to slather him in the chemicals found traditional sunscreen.  So I took to the internets hunting down a recipe that would work for us.  I found this one (link opens in a new window) and whipped up a batch.

We were all set for fun in the sun when the mosquitoes began to take over the world.  Time to whip up some mosquito repellent.  I scoured the internets again, hunting for the perfect recipe that I would be comfortable with using on Bean.  My searches led me here (link opens in a new window).  I decided I would rather have it in a cream base instead of a liquid (less likely to make a mess), so I told Husbandy that I was going to use the same base that I used for the sunscreen, leave out the zinc oxide and put the mosquito repelling oils in instead.  This is where Husbandy's brilliance shone through.  He proposed that I not leave out the zinc oxide and instead mix the mosquito repelling oils in with the sunscreen!  In my mind it was a revolution - sunscreen that was also mosquito repellent!  Or mosquito repellent that was also sunscreen!   I set to work and our new invention, based off of the two recipes linked above was born - Bug Screen!

Here is the recipe I ultimately ended up using (ever so slightly altered from the first two):
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup beeswax
1/4 Cup coconut oil
2 TBSP zinc oxide powder
60 drops lemongrass essential oil
40 drops eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops peppermint essential oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil
4 (ish) drops lavender essential oil

Since I made the sunscreen first and then later turned it in to bug screen I melted the first three ingredients together in a double boiler (glass jar in a pan of boiling water) and then mixed the zinc oxide powder in, stirring super well to make sure the zinc oxide didn't clump.  While it cooled I stirred it periodically to make sure it didn't settle out.   When I was ready to turn it into bug screen, I remelted the sunscreen and added the essential oils in, stirring well to incorporate.  
If I were doing it again, I'd melt the first three oils together, add the essential oils and then add the zinc oxide at the end.

It appears to work well and is non-toxic - Husbandy tricked Littlest Brother into tasting some of it, and he lived - however he says it doesn't taste real great ;)

Bean enjoying some splash pad fun

Friday, June 06, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hands

It's been a while since I joined in the party, but it's that time of the week again -  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Hands.

Hands shape the world and hands change the world.  Two appendages, each with five digits and they can hold the whole world.  My hands can (and do) tell stories - I use them to make the words when I can't hear what's going on around me, I wave them wildly when I'm excited and slowly and heavily when I'm not.  I use them to sing.
My hands also bring the world.  They bring the world to my son as I take him form place to place, as  I gently carry him and gently care for him.
My hands show my day.  Today they are dry and clean - evidence of an afternoon spent in the pool.  Yesterday they were dusty and dirty - evidence of a morning spent skirting alpaca fleeces. They've been cut and blistered and burnt and roughened.  They tell where I have been.
My hands also bring these words into being.  Without my hands I could not type these words, I could not express myself here, in this format.  My hands do that.
My hands.  They are the part of me that so many people see.  Hands are what I watch.  They tell so many stories.  Stories of where people have been and where people are going.  Stories of wonder.  Stories of sadness.   Tiny hands, big hands.

I love watching these little hands grow!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


For the majority of my life thus far I have been a formal student - that is, enrolled in some type of formal academic program.  I lived and breathed and slept and sweated and cried academia.  My life had a rhythm that was dictated from outside of itself - the rhythm of the school year. It ebbed and flowed like the tide, cresting at midterms and finals, and entering a trough during the hot summer months, only to start up again in the fall. There were smaller troughs throughout the year when we had short breaks for Christmas, Easter, March, Thanksgiving and other such occasions.  Th rhythm was as predictable as it was familiar.   Busy times and less busy times.  Stressful times and less stressful times.

I'm still a student, though at a much slower pace, but primarily I am a mother.  My life has a different rhythm now, although it is still dictated outside of itself - this time by a squirmy little Bean rather than a calendar.  Our days settle into a rhythm of eating, sleeping, toileting, playing...however the rhythm is not nearly as predictable or familiar as the academic rhythm was.  If the academic rhythm was a steady march the rhythm of being a mom is a swing dance inspired by a group who is making up the music as they go along.

Along with the daily rhythm of being a mom comes the rhythm of living on the farm.  This rhythm not only goes from day to day but also cycles through the year.  While we don't plant seed (except for a few small container gardens) and will not (likely) be harvesting any hay this year, the rhythm of farm life is still dictated by the weather and cycles through the year, with only minor variations from year to year.  Spring brings the Alpaca Ontario show, followed by shearing, birthing, breeding, fencing and all manner of other summer activities - with swim team thrown in there for good measure.  The fall brings the Rockton Fair and the Alpaca Ontario sponsored fall show (this year it will be the all new Cavalcade of Champions), followed by Christmas craft shows.  The rhythm of farm life could be compared to a square dance - dances between couples (the day to day rhythm) taking place within the larger dance of the square (the yearly rhythm).

Dancing to the rhythm allows us to find order in our lives.  The rhythm give us all something in common, a common link, a common beat.  However, no matter the dance there is a something that all dances have in common: the need for rest.

When I got sick in 2008 I learned that my dance, my own personal rhythm would require more rests than the average dance.  My rhythm was slower.  There were are times when I forget that my rhythm is slower, that my dance requires great rests, and I pay dearly for those times.  It would be an untruth to say that I have completely embraced this slower pace of life - there are still times it frustrates me to no end that I have to slow down.  But it has taught me to savor the slow times.  It has taught me that without the rests, the dance becomes a dance marathon where you dance feverishly until you drop and a rest becomes forced.  Forced rests are not nearly enjoyable as rests that you choose - take it from someone who has been forced to rest many times.

You can't stop the dance altogether and you can't completely change the rhythm - especially when it is a rhythm from without - but you can choose to sit out part of the dance.  You can choose to take a pause, sit a spell, rest, and then join back into the dance.  I think that all dances would be better, and all dancers would do better, if our rhythms had more breaks, more rests, built in.  Life is not a dance marathon (unless dance marathons are your thing), but a dance party.  Take time to sip some punch, eat some chips, and catch up with friends.

The beat goes on!
Some rhythms are just plain special in and of themselves....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Surprises in Parenting: It doesn't have to be just one way

Before Bean was born I did some reading on parenting philosophies. I'd listened to some friends talk, read some blogs, and done a lot of thinking.  I had my mind pretty set on a particular style of parenting and planned on reading more about it and following it.  I figured that a solid base of one particular parenting style would be what I needed to get started on this journey of being a parent.
I was wrong.
I still don't have it all figured out, but I have learned that it is okay, and perhaps even good, to draw from multiple parenting philosophies to create the base upon which Husbandy and I want to draw as we figure out this parenting thing.
I've learned that it is okay to read through the tenets of a particular philosophy, choose the ones that work in our context and let go of the rest.  I've learned to be okay with modifying tenets of various philosophies in order to make them work better in our setting.  One example that comes to mind readily is how we looked at the Montessori guidelines for allowing an infant to start exploring self feeding - giving the child real dishes (plate, cup, pitcher, etc) that are their size, yet identical to the corresponding adult dishes, which means glass.  The Montessori guidelines emphasize that even very young children can be taught to use appropriate care when handling breakable objects.
The Montessori guidelines, in combination with the new Health Canada infant feeding guidelines affirmed our decision to skip the sippy cup and go with an open cup (child sized) right from the time we introduce a cup.  However, we could not get around the idea of giving a 6-8 month old child a glass cup (often a shot glass or votive candle holder is used to get a child-sized glass cup).  So we put our heads together and came up with another option - a slightly weighted, translucent plastic cup.   For us that was a way of modifying existing philosophies to make them work in our context.  We kept the idea of a clear, realistic, open top, child-sized cup, but decided to make it much harder to break.
Naturally we'll see how well it works when we try to introduce a cup in the next couple of months - We could be in for another surprise!
Overall, coming to the realization that parenting Bean doesn't have to be based on just one style or philosophy of parenting has been very freeing.  It has allowed me to relax more about what I choose to do (or not do) and not worry about breaking the "rules" of a particular style/philosophy.  In a sense, it's given me freedom to make my own rules and develop my own style - which, if I am to believe what other mamas have told me, will be completely different with Bean than it is with any future children!
And now, to finish off this post, a picture of Bean, Husbandy, and Wifey at Husbandy's graduation.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I'm back....maybe

It has been forever since I've posted anything here.  A baby kind of keeps me busy.  But now that school is done and David will be home soon, I should be able to post more regularly.  Key word being *should*.
In the meantime, some photos (all starring Bean) to tide you over (if anyone even reads this anymore).
Swimming with Mormor

Swimming with mommy
And if you want to see more swimming action, click here (video opens in another window)
Sitting on a giant catfish with daddy

Ball pit fun

Baby in a box!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Write

Last night Bean put himself to bed at 7 pm. Tonight, it's almost 10 and he's still going strong, despite feeding and rocking and bouncing. He's chilling in his swing right now, so maybe I'll get 5 minutes to join in the five-minute Friday party - they just might not be 5 consecutive minutes!

When it comes right down to it, I write a lot.  It's part of being a student.  I'm constantly writing discussion board posts (I'm an online masters degree student) or papers.  It's part of living in a different country than my husband.  I'm constantly writing e-mails and skype messages and facebook messages. (PAUSE)  It's part of being a Cub Scout leader.  I'm constantly writing newsletters and meeting plans and menu plans for camp.  It's part of being me.

I write because it's who I am.  Maybe no one will ever read it, maybe it will go viral and be read my millions (who am I kidding?).  I write because it's how I process life.  I write because it's neater than painting and because I'm better at writing than I am at painting.  I write because I like to believe that someone, somewhere will be interested in what I have to say and that maybe somehow, what I write will help someone out.  Perhaps I'm delusional - I'm just one person, one very ordinary person, living a very ordinary life, in a very ordinary corner of the world.  But that won't stop me from writing.  As long as I have breathe, and at least one finger to pick out keys on the keyboard, I will write.

See?  He does sleep sometimes...just no so much right now.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visit

Bean is sleeping so I'm going to steal five minutes and take part in  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Visit

Is it sad that when I hear the word "visit" the first things that come to mind are words that combine with visit?  Words such as "Doctor's" or "Dentist's" or "feeding specialist" or "audiologist" or "neurologist"?  Why in my head is the word "visit" associated most frequently with visits to medical professionals?  I guess it says something about how my last few week's have gone...visits to the midwife, the audiologist, the feeding specialist (for Bean), scheduling visits to the dentist and the doctor, being careful not to double book myself with upcoming visits to the neurologist and the lab, and hoping that certain visits won't have to be made - such as another visit to the audiologist for Bean or a follow-up dentist's visit.

I want to think of happier visits...of visits to see friends, of visits to see David at school, of visits from friends, but right now my visits are scheduled and carefully stored in my calendar.  Will there be a time for spontaneous visits again soon?  Visits that aren't scheduled weeks in advance in a myriad of different cities?  It would be nice.

Five minute Friday is one visit that I look forward to, it's a scheduled visit, but a wonderful one.


I always look at my work and then look at what others write and wonder how they write so much in five minutes...
Bean and I on the train heading to our second visit with the feeding specialist