Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lacto-fermented salsa

Before I post my recipe, I'm sure you're probably wondering what lacto-fermentation is.

To quote Nourishing Traditions,

“Lacto-fermentation is a process whereby special bacteria transform sugars and starches into beneficial acids. These … are valued for medicinal qualities including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms product numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid… promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

So to simplify it, lacto-fermentation produces probiotics from vegetables, which makes the nutrients in the vegetables easier to digest and more beneficial to your body.

I first came across lacto-fermented salsa in the blog Under 1000 Per Month. I made the salsa and it was really good, but too oniony for me. For some reason, after my miscarriage in January, I can't handle raw onions the way I used to. So I'm going to half the amount of onions in this recipe and see if I like the salsa better with less onions.

I was trying to find the recipe again to recreate the salsa (with less onions), but it seems the Under 1000 Per Month blog is no longer in existance, which is sad because I really liked that blog. It had a bunch of thrifty and healthy tips. Plus I hadn't read the whole blog. I was going to read it "later" and "later" just hadn't come yet. One more lesson in not leaving things for later if you really want to do it. After all, none of us are guaranteed "later."

Since I couldn't find the recipe I used last time, I searched the internet and found a couple of other recipes. This time, I'm going to post the recipe I used to my blog so I can't lose it again.

2.5 lbs tomatoes (10 on the vine tomatoes) which is 2 lbs after they are peeled
1 small onion
4 chopped jalapenos
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bunch cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
2 lemons squeezed (this produces about 1/4 cup of lemon juice)
2 tbsp sea salt
8 tbsp whey (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup filtered water

1. Chop tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro. I used the Black and Decker chopper I bought for $10 at Walmart. I had to chop these in several steps as they couldn't all fit in the chopper at once. So I chopped one bunch and poured it into the 2 quart glass jar I use to store the salsa, then chopped the next bunch and on and on until it was all chopped.
2. Add dried oregano, salt, whey, water and lemon juice.
3. Shake well to mix all ingredients well.
4. Leave in kitchen (or warmest room in the house) on the counter for 48 hours, then move to the fridge.

It takes me a while to make it, as I peel my tomatoes and I don't like the stems on the cilantro, but its worth it. I can't wait to try this batch!!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lessons in goodbye

My grandfather was my favorite male role model as a child. As I grew older, that position alternated between him and my 2 uncles on my mother's side.

Uncle Bobby and I would spend hours playing chess. I think he taught me how. Initially, he won every game, but then I started winning a few here and there and more and more often. It seemed like every time we went to the bayou, Uncle Bobby would come right over and hang out with us or we would go to his house and he would always make time for us. I always felt special to him, probably because I was the only one of us 4 girls who was old enough or interested in playing chess. When I was in high school, he got lukemia and I put off going to see him because I was in school and I never got to really say goodbye. I didn't see him when he was sick and it was a closed casket viewing/funeral, so I didn't see him and occasionally I have times when I forget he is dead and then I remember and it hurts all over again. I feel guilty I didn't make time to go see him. Lesson learned -- don't put off until tomorrow anything you would regret not doing or anyone you would regret not seeing.

Or so I thought.

Uncle Phillip and I are 2 peas in a pod. We just connect. We are both the oldest in disfunctional families and we both have the same dry sense of humor and we just enjoy being together. I enjoyed seeing him Tuesday and Wednesday, despite the circumstances. I hope we have many years ahead of us to spend time together, love each other and learn from each other's experiences.

Papa accepted me no matter what. He was always there to hug me, walk with me, talk to me. I used to say when I got married, I was going to ask him to give me away because I had a bad relationship with my dad. I can't explain it, I just loved him, loved spending time with him. He was one of those people you could be in the room with and you could both be quiet together and not feel awkward or like you had to fill the empty air with emptier words. You could just be there. It sounds like nothing, but I think its important to be able to just "be" and recharge and to be able to do that without being alone. . . Like I said, I can't explain it.

I miss him. It felt a little hollow going to his home without him being there, like there was an echo you just couldn't hear. And I wanted to hear it.

I regret that I didn't make time to visit sooner and introduce Izzy to him. I had 13 months and I didn't take advantage of it. I know I'll see him again and she will meet him one day in Heaven, and even though I know she'd never remember meeting him, I wish I had those memories of him, like I have the memories of him with Addy and Evie and me.

Recently, I have struggled with some allegations that were made against him. I didn't know how to reconcile the man I know and love with things he may have done long before I was born. I wish it hadn't taken his death to make me really think about it and realise that its irrelevant. I can't judge anyone based on what they might have done to others. I can only make decisions and judgements based on what I experience myself. I can only hope this lesson sticks with me better than the last one did. And I hope the last one sticks better, too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going to be offline for a few days

I just found out this morning that my grandfather died last night, so road trip to Mobile to say my goodbyes will most likely be on the books for tomorrow. I probably won't have internet access while I am there, but I should be back Thursday. I'm really numb right now, but I'm sure I'll have more to say then.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures in Shopping -- avoiding GMOs and GMFs

Since we've already discussed the dangers of GMOs and GMFs, I would like to pass on some tips on how to avoid them.

Since the United States does not require GMOs and GMFs to be labeled, labeling for non GMO foods is strictly voluntary at the moment; however, 100% organic foods are not permitted to be GM or have any GM byproducts in them. The standards specifically prevent the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, sewage sludge, artificial fertilizers, GMOs and irradiation in any products marked "100% organic".

There is a great shopping guide here including a printable shopping guide in a PDF file that is only 2 pages long that is great for taking with you to the grocery store. I printed it out and took it with me last week.

Here are a couple other general tips:

1. If it is not marked as GMO free or organic, avoid corn, canola, cottonseed, and soy products as these are likely to be GM. This means avoiding most vegetable oils. Pure olive, coconut, sesame, sunflower, safflower, almond, grapeseed, and peanut oils are GM free, but make sure its pure, not a combination of a gmo free oil with "vegetable oil" or any of the GM oils.

2. Avoid sugar if it is not listed as 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane joice or organic sugar. Sugar beets genetically modified to produce the BT toxin are now being used to produced sugar. Aspertame, aka Nutrasweet and Equal, is also derived from GM microorganisms. And not only is high fructose corn syrup made from GM corn, studies show that it can also contain mercury. Fructose, dextrose and glucose are made from corn and should also be avoided. I mostly stick with honey these days. Though I do realise that pollen from GM crops can be used to produce honey, I prefer raw wildflower honey to sugar. There are also several new products with stevia on the market. I can't recommend these, myself, as I haven't done enough research on them yet to decide to try it and honestly I'm a little intimidated by a sweetener that's up to 300 times as sweet as sugar, but one of these days I'll try it and let you guys know what I think.

3. Avoid salt with iodine. Cornstarch is used to bind the iodine to the salt crystals, so unless you are able to by organic iodized salt, find another source for iodine in your diet, such as seafood, kelp, dairy, and plants grown in iodine-rich soil.

4. Check out the labels of the foods you buy and make sure there aren't any of these invisible ingredients listed in your foods.

5. Know what is in your foods and where your foods come from. If you can grow your own fruits and veggies, grow them from heirloom seeds. If you can't, try buying from local farmers whenever possible and make sure they are not grown from GM seeds. Know what's in your foods. Avoid prepackage and premade foods. Make your own foods wherever possible and get the best ingredients you can. Its often much cheaper to make your own food than to buy premade food and when you make your own food, you know what is in it and what is not.

Being on a budget, I realise that organic foods are not always affordable and even though the organic market is expanding and offering more organic options, there isn't always an organic alternative. This is in no way meant to push organic foods. It is intended to be a tool you can use to make informed decisions about what products to buy, eat, and feed your family. Happy shopping, everyone!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adventures in thriftiness -- cleaning solutions

For the past 6 months, I've been using Bare Naked Cleaners products to clean my house and I love them. I use them every time I clean. I use (and love) the miraclean, citrus toilet spray, minty window wash, hardwood floor cleaner, and disinfectant. I love the fact that they are made from all natural products, are non toxic and I get to pick their scent. Since I love all natural products, I choose to get mine scented with essential oils instead of fragrance oils, but she offers both. So not only do I not have to deal with nasty chemical smells, but I get to pick what I do smell. I might be too excited about this, but since I do most of the cleaning and can't stand the smell of AJAX or bleach, even when I'm not pregnant, its a big deal to me. Plus, she does co-ops on Diaper Swappers twice a year, so I'm able to get the custom scented cleaners that I love at a discount. You can't get much better than that in my book!

Still, I'm always ISO a way to be more self-sufficient or to save a few bucks. She doesn't offer dishwashing detergent, so I use 1/2 borax and 1/2 washing soda as dishwashing detergent and I use white vinegar in place of jet-dry. And I'm always running out. I try to estimate how much of each cleaner I will need for the next 6 months, but I forget how much I used the past 6 months or I use more just because it smells so darn good and I always run out at the most inopportune times. The last time I ran out, it was a week before I was to have a joint birthday party for Addy and Evie (they were born a week less than 3 years apart). Talk about bad timing!

So the other day, I was reading a thread on Diaper Swappers about recipes for homemade cleaners that other people have made themselves and liked and I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. Rather than just pick one all purpose cleaning recipe solution to try, I decided to take all the ingredients for all of the all purpose cleaning solution recipes that I had on hand and mix them together. BIG MISTAKE.

My solution was 1 tbsp borax, 1 tbsp washing soda, 1 tbsp baking soda all dissolved into hot water, poured into a 32 ounce spray bottle that was then filled with white vinegar. Those of you who made volcanos for your elementary school science fairs know what happened next. That's right, massive spewage. Not only massive initial spewage, but secondary spewage whenever I jostled the bottle at all, and I forgot to close the sprayer nozzel all the way that night, so while I was sleeping most of the solution fizzled out of the bottle on to the floor. It was a big mess. Needless to say, I will not mix baking soda and vinegar in a squirt bottle again. . .

Next time, I am going to try 1 tbsp borax and 1 tbsp washing soda dissolved into hot water, poured into the spray bottle then filled with vinegar. As vinegar is naturally antibacterial and baking soda is a great stain remover, I think its more important to include vinegar in an all purpose cleaner than to include baking soda. I can always use baking soda as a scour powder if I happen to get a stain on the counter.

I am by no means a pro and until I am able to make my own all natural cleaners that smell like roses, I will still be buying cleaners from BNC whenever they have a coop. This is just something I've been playing with lately as a backup. I don't want to have to buy cleaners at the store when I run out. I'd rather figure out a functional cleaner recipe just in case I need it than have to fall back on whatever I can find at Walmart. . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adventures in Healthy Living -- Losing 20 pounds in a month

My husband has decided he wants to enlist in the Army. When he decided this, he weighed himself. According to the Army's website, he is within their weight limits for his age, but overweight according to his height. So he wants to lose 20 lbs in a month.

I have already told him this isn't healthy. According to my research, 1-2 lbs a week is healthy weight loss. If you lose more than that, you are losing muscle and water which come back as soon as your diet is over. But I did find an article that should give him sufficient hope to lose 20 lbs in a month, while teaching him lifestyle changes that will make him healthier and help him to lose weight in a healthy way. Whether that is 8 lbs or 20 lbs, I hope he's happy with himself at the end of the month. Although, I suspect the weight limits posted on the Army website are what you must maintain after basic, rather than what you have to attain before going to basic.

I can't blame him for being excited and trying to prepare himself ahead of time, though. In fact, I'm very proud of him. He's showing much wiser and healthier preparation than my cousin/ aunt/ whoever it was in my family that got her stomach stapled and ate an entire cake the night before to "prepare" for not being able to eat that much afterwards. . .

And he started preparing for it when he decided to enlist, so he's been more active, eating smaller portions and drinking mostly water for a couple days now.

So, I am doing tae boe with my hubby and helping him practice for PT and trying to guide him in modifying his eating habits so that he will be healthier and let me tell you, I am thrilled! No, I'm not worried about his weight. I think he looks magically delicious. But I'm excited that he and I can get healthier together. I know I need to lose weight. I still have 10-15 pounds of baby weight hanging on for dear life, but its hard to make the time. Well, that's not quite true. The truth is, its easier to make the time to do this for me when I tell myself I'm doing this for him, so this will help us both. I want my hubby to be around forever and I want him to be healthy while he's growing old with me and I want to be healthy as I grow old with him, too.

Day 1 of taebo, I made it through almost all of the basic taebo video. If I had known just how close I was to finishing it, I would have pushed through it, but I wimped out. Joey finished it. We'll do it again tomorrow and I'm going to do it all then. And I'm also going to wear a bra. That jumping up and down part really hurt. . .

So far, Joey's been trying to lose weight for about a week and he says he's lost about 8 pounds. I guess its possible since he used to drink mostly soda and now he's drinking all water. He's also been a lot more active and has reduced his portion sizes and is eating smaller meals more frequently. He's cut out most of the sugar he used to eat and is eating much more healthily. I guess he might be able to lose 20 pounds in a month and as long as he is doing it healthily, that's ok with me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Adventures in Cooking -- Making Crock Pot Yogurt

For a while now, I've seen those quart sized canning jars at Walmart and kept meaning to pick them up. Last week, I got Joey to pick me up an extra gallon of milk and some organic Stoneyfield Farms lowfat plain yogurt so I could make yogurt. Then I remembered I don't have any canning jars. So yesterday I went to Walmart to pick up some canning jars and of course they had sold out. Its not one of those things that they keep in stock, so they didn't have any in the back, but the lady who worked there told me they might have some at Kroger or Home Depot. So I called Joey and got him to call around. No one had any. So I went back to the housewares section and found some glass jars that were 2 quart sized that I decided to get. I got 3 because yogurt is just the begenning. I've decided to try lacto-fermented salsa and pickles, too, but they both call for whey, which is a by-product of making yogurt, so yogurt came first.

I got the recipe for yogurt from the blog Under 1000 per Month. If you haven't read it, you should. It has something for every mom. Or at least, I think it does. Anyways, I got the basic recipe from there, but true to my nature, I didn't follow it exactly. I researched it a lot and must have looked at 20 different sites, but this is the recipe I started with and the one that made me want to make yogurt in the first place. Since I bought the yogurt last week and there is NO WAY anyone in my family is going to eat plain yogurt, I used the 4 cups of yogurt with 1 gallon of milk. And I fell asleep when it was cooking, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Anyways, here's the recipe I used.

1 gallon Walmart brand milk (Not GMO free -- rbGH free, but may have been fed GM grain; however, Walmart brand milk is $1.88 whereas the only organic milk at walmart was $5.88 so I bought Walmart brand)
1 32 ounce container of plain stoneyfield farms lowfat yogurt (I don't remember how much this was)

1. Pour milk into crock pot. I have a 6 quart crock pot and the milk pretty much filled it up, which is actually not what you're supposed to do. Ideally (as I discovered while continuing to research after I had already poured the whole gallon into the crockpot), you should only fill the crock pot 1/2 to 3/4 full. Plus, if the milk fills the crock pot, there really isn't room left for the yogurt to be added, is there? So next time, I will be using 1/2 gallon of milk to make yogurt and will see if I can find a smaller container of starter yogurt to buy (I did save 16 ounces of the yogurt I made to use as a starter; however its good for eating for up to 2 weeks, but to use as a starter it can only be 5-7 days old and I don't know how long it will take us to eat this batch so we may end up eating the starter yogurt if its too old to use as a starter)
2. Cook on low for 3 hours. The yogurt should reach at least 180 degrees farenheit to kill off any non-beneficial bacteria and if you don't have a thermometer, this is the temp where it should begin to froth. My first crock pot didn't have a "low" setting, just tempratures on a dial, so I got a new crock pot for yogurt. I spent $20 at Walmart and got a Hamilton Beach 6 quart crock pot that had "low", "high", "warm" and "off" settings. I think this will make my life lots easier since most of the crock pot recipes I have read and wanted to try tell you which settings to put the crock pot on but not the temps, so I see myself making a lot more crock pot meals and I see that helping me to save a lot of money. Now, I messed up this step, too. I started making yogurt and then got a migraine and thought I could take percogesic and not fall asleep, then I thought I could take a short nap and not miss the oven's beep. Yes, it only beeps once. Did I mention I had a migraine and that makes me less than logical at times?
3. Let cool for 3 hours. Now, I researched different cooling methods with different cooling times and one method said you could simply remove the crock from the base and let it sit and cool and it would take 1 hour to cool instead of 3. I did not find this to be true. I removed the crock and it still took 3 hours to cool. I wonder if it took longer to cool because I cooked it for too long and how long it would have taken to cool if I'd left it in the base. . . Yogurt is supposed to cool to 110 degrees farenheit. If there is a skin on the yogurt (as there was on mine, likely because I fell asleep and cooked it too long), just skim it off. While it is cooling, take starter yogurt out of the fridge and let it warm slowly so the warm milk doesn't shock the yogurt.
4. Remove some of the 110 degree milk and add the slightly warmed yogurt to it. Wisk it until smoothe and pour back into the crock pot. This is where it got fun for me as my crock pot was FULL. I had to take some out and put it in a 2 quart glass jar so I could continue.
5. Incubation. You are supposed to keep yogurt warm (as close to 100 degrees farenheit as possible) and still. So the yogurt in the crock went back in the pot and warmed the pot then turned it off and wrapped it with a thick wool blanket to insulate and left it overnight. The 2 quart jar was about 3/4 full and tightly sealed. This, I put in the oven. I turned the oven to 170 degrees (the lowest it will go) and stuck the jar in. I left the oven on until it got preheated, then turned the oven off, wrapped the jar in a towel and put it back in the oven overnight. Let incubate untouched for 8-12 hours. Since I started it incubating at 5 am, I was unable to touch it until at least 1 pm, but I wanted to let it incubate as long as possible. I almost made it to 12 hours, but I was nervous and ended up checking the yogurt at 4 pm, so it incubated for 11 hours. It was about the consistency of yogurt smoothies, just as I'd expected.
6. Put yogurt into containers to put in the fridge. The yogurt in the glass container stayed in the glass container, but the yogurt in the crock pot had to go in tupperware containers. They both look to be about the same consistency.
7. My research indicates you are supposed to let the yogurt chill for at least 8 hours for optimum taste. It also indicates you can strain it while its refridgerating to get it to thicken up. This also produces whey, a clear to yellowish to greenish liquid that contains lactose, vitamins, protein and traces of fat. Whey can be used in place of buttermilk, milk or water in recipes and can used in place of some of the salt in lacto-fermenting recipes. So I got a glass bowl to collect the weigh, put a pillowcase around my strainer and set it on top of the glass bowl (the bottom of the strainer fit perfectly on the top of the bowl) and left it to strain. I had to strain it in 3 batches. Batch 1 strained for 3 hours, batch 2 strained overnight (over 12 hours) and batch 3 strained 6 hours. Batch 1 was about the consistency of storebought yogurt (although not as smoothe as I think storebought yogurt says blended on the label and I believe that means they blend it after its made but before its packaged, which I could do if I wanted to, but it was fine the way it was). Batch 2 and 3 were about the same consitency, that of sour cream. All the yogurt I got from 1 gallon of milk fit into my 2 quart jar with room to spare with the exception of the starter yogurt that's in the Stoneyfield farms container in the fridge. It would all fit in the 2 quart jar if I chose not to reserve some starter yogurt. Saving a starter batch just makes sense, though. I mean, not buying starter yogurt cuts down on the cost of making yogurt a lot.

I do NOT like the taste of the plain yogurt. I tried it with 1 tbsp molasses mixed in, but I didn't like that and neither did my kids. Then I added 1 tbsp honey to 4 heaping tbsps of yogurt and it was fantastic. Then I added blueberries to the honey yogurt and it was even better. In fact, I am barely restraining myself from going back for seconds. . .

I am realising that eliminating GMOs from our household is going to involve more cooking on my part, so I anticipate many adventures in cooking. Today, I found a blueberry muffin recipe that includes liquid whey that I'm excited to try and I'm also looking foreward to making my own bagels from a recipe I found on Choosing Joy and trying a couple more recpies from the Under 1000 per Month. So look foreward to many more adventures in cooking. . . I know I am.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Truth About Genetically Modified Organisms

This is what really prompted me to start this blog. I am a member of Diaper Swappers, an online cloth diapering community with tons of forums. When I'm bored, I like to browse it and check the most recent post. One day, I saw a thread about someone who made over $1300 in one month with her blog. In this thread, there was a mention of GMOs. I asked what they were and read the blog that brought up the topic of GMOs and what I learned just made me want to research it more. Since then, I have researched it at least once a day and I keep wanting to learn more. Then I got to thinking, its a shame more people don't know about GMOs. It would be a shame if I did all this research and I was the only one who learned about them. So I started this blog.

A big part of my journey to supermomdom is going to be eliminating GMOs from my kitchen. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I mean, I'm sure you'd like to know what a GMO is before you get tips on how to avoid them.

GMOs are organisms that have been genetically modified by inserting or deleting genes to change the original organism. For the purpose of this post, when I talk about GMOs, I am referring to genetically modified plants, specifically edible plants that are used to make food, or GMFs (genetically modified foods), as there are other genetically modified organisms out there that are not plants. Some plants are modified by inserting a gene present in other species of the same type of plant such as when a tomato is modified by adding a different type of tomato gene so that it can ripen early but won't bruise easily. Other plants are modified by inserting genes not naturally present in other species of the same plant, such as plants that are "roundup ready", which are genetically modified so that they are unaffected by pesticides. Which makes growing them easier as you can just douse the entire field with roundup and it will only kill the weeds, not the plants. Another example would be BT corn which modified the corn so that the plant itself produces a toxin that kills insects. There are also plants that are modified with fish genes to produce omega3s and plants that are modified with genes from other plants such as rice plants that are modified with daffodil genes.

Now, I'm sure many of you are thinking "wow, that's weird and all, but scientists playing with plants in a lab can't possibly affect me, so what's the big deal?" Well, to me the big deal is that the US does not require labeling for GM foods. And GM foods have been in the US since 1990. We have been eating them for 20 years and I don't know about you, but I had no idea when my mom said high fructose corn syrup was bad that that was due to the fact that the corn was genetically modified. And neither did she.

In the US, by 2006 89% of the planted area of soybeans, 83% of cotton, and 61% corn were genetically modified. Today, the top 4 genetically modified plants are soybeans, corn, rapeseed/canola, and cotton/cottonseed. Other genetically modified plants include sugar beets, rice, zucchini, squash, and potatoes. These are used to create many ingredients in prepackaged foods, oils, canned foods and drinks, most notably being high fructose corn syrup. You still may think this isn't a big deal and it is certainly your right to decide what is a big deal to you, but it is a big deal to me. I do not want to feed my children plants or plant products engineered to produce toxins or engineered to be able to withstand being doused with pesticides and I don't want to eat it myself. I don't know if its unhealthy for humans, but there have been studies that indicate that GM foods cause intestinal issues and cancer, among other issues, in animals. And I can't imagine anything that has been doused in pesticides or engineered to produce toxins that are lethal to bug larvae to be healthy for humans. Some GM foods have antibiotic resistent "markers". To verify that the GM was successful, all a scientist would have to do is douse the organism with antibiotics and if it survives, the GM was successful. But will that make those antibiotics less effective to someone that consumes GM foods with antibiotic resistant markers? Unfortunately, big name companies who find it cheaper and easier to use GMOs and the FDA don't think its important to conduct more in depth testing because it would be expensive and I think they are worried about the results. So, in effect, everyone who buys GMFs is participating in a huge, uncontrolled test.

For me, its all about risk assessment. I don't see the benefits of GM outweighing the risks. And frankly, the idea of fish genes or bacteria genes in my fruits and veggies is just weird and gross to me. And definately not worth the risk.

I expect the topic of genetic modification and how to avoid genetically modified foods to be a frequent topic in this blog. I will address the best ways to avoid GMFs in my next post about GMOs.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

To adequately describe the truth, as I see it, about cats and dogs, I must first give you some background about me. Despite the fact that I only have 3 children at present, I consider myself to be a quiverfull mama. I believe that God, in his infinite wisdom, created me -- all of me, including my womb -- and has a plan for me and for my womb. I believe He knows me and loves me and is fully aware of my capabilities. I believe that He will never give me more than I can handle and is fully capable of closing my womb when He has filled my quivver -- that He created -- to its capacity and only He knows what that capacity is. I believe that children are a blessing from God and I want God to bless me. Acting upon this set of beliefs, I choose not to use birth control or condoms or in any way attempt to prevent pregnancy. I am committed to accepting, loving and caring for all children the Lord blesses me with. I believe that God has a plan for every child I conceive.

That having been said, I could conceive at any time. There is a chance that a pregnant woman can contract toxoplasmosis from feline feces and the best way to avoid this is to avoid any possible contact with the litter box. My husband is wonderful and I love him and I love cats, but I know that if we had a cat the responsibility of cleaning the litter box would fall to me and I am not willing to accept that type of risk at present. So the truth about cats in our household at this time is we just can't have them.

We have a dog. His name is Rico. We adopted him August 2009 from the local animal shelter. It was going to be great. He was housetrained, great with kids and my husband and kids really wanted him. How bad could it be?

Well, first of all, he was trained to go potty outside, but took a liking to pooping on my stairs regardless. Like he would poop on my stairs after he had just gone potty outside. Fortunately, we have been able to break him of this habit.

And he is good with kids, but would be better for older kids as he loves to play, but likes to jump, which isn't great when you have a 5 year old, a 2 year old and a baby.

And, truthfully, we just weren't ready for him or for any dog, for that matter. He is a shepherd mix and we don't have a fence, so he was going to be an inside dog, but I was going to get up early in the morning and take him for a walk and I was going to take him for a walk when my husband got home and it was going to be great for my health. Which worked for about a week. Then my husband started taking Rico outside in the morning so I could help Addy get ready for PreK. Then, Addy started bringing home colds and I started catching them. In November, I caught one just couldn't shake and I just stopped getting up in the morning. In January, I found out I was pregnant and then I stopped even trying to get up before Evie and Izzy woke up at 8-9AM. Now, Joey takes Rico potty in the morning, if I have time to check the mail I take him out when I check the mail, and Joey takes Rico out when he gets home and a couple more times throughout the night.

He's still with us, but so far, its not the best fit for our family. We're trying to stick with it as he is still a puppy, but frankly, he's driving me crazy. He likes to eat the kids' toys even if he has a bone and one of his toys right beside them. He likes to eat underwear and socks, clean or dirty. And he likes to lay on clean clothes. He's still with us for now, but my husband's about to enlist so I'm not sure how long he'll be here. . . We're planning on getting a fence before Joey goes to basic, so hopefully that will give him an outlet for his energy and give me a place to put him where he can get rid of excess energy without destroying anything in the house. I'm just taking it one day at a time for now.

So to recap, the truth about cats and dogs are as follows: cats aren't an option and dogs are a PITA to have in my house. . .

I would like to clarify that, while I do feel like my dog is a PITA, I definately do not think all dogs are a PITA. In fact, my cousin Abi has diabetes and she has a fantastic diabetes hunting dog named Mr. Darcy who is able to smell when her blood sugar is getting to high or too low, thus preventing her from having diabetic siezures. While I haven't met him yet, I am very happy to say I do not find him a PITA. I really don't feel like any dog that isn't my own is a PITA. Well, him and the neighbor's weenie dogs that think they are a fair match for Rico in a fight. The neighbors just let him run wild and my dog barks whenever he sees/hears them outside. So far, he's destroyed 5 blinds and idk how many times he's woken up Izzy. I'm sure I will feel much differently if/when he grows out of eating the kids' toys and his other destructive behaviours, but for now. . .


I believe a good blog, like a good book should start off with acknowledgements.

My thanks to all the usual suspects who will, patiently or impatiently -- depending on the day -- provide me with learning opportunities and tiny nuggets of wisdom that I can use to make myself a better mom and wife. I love my husband and kids unconditionally and regardless of the way my day is going or my mood, I know that God has given me the right family for me and I am forever thankful.

Furthermore, in said learning process, I am and will be doing plenty of research. I will be acknowledging the sources of the information I post as I post it.

I would also like to thank my baby, born into Jesus' arms January 21, 2010 for forcing me to look past the norm, analyze why the norm is the way it is, and see that , despite how comfortable the norm is, there can be better paths to take.

So, welcome to my exciting journey to supermomdom, that mythical place where we will always know what our kids are thinking and how to best guide, feed, correct, love and raise them. Its going to be a great adventure!