Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Duck, duck, what?

I'm not sure if contemplating getting ducks means I am just a little nutty or straight up certifiable. I am not really an animal person. I had a pet bunny when I was twelve for about two weeks . . . I got it for my birthday and sold it at a yard sale a couple weeks later. Not my thing. Got $15 for it, though!

So why ducks?

For one, duck eggs are SO much yummier than chicken eggs. And we drive 20 minutes away and pay 50 cents per egg right now. Which is far less work than taking care of ducks day in and day out, I'm sure. But doing all that driving made me start thinking . . .

Sophia and I have been planning to get chickens for a couple years now, but for one reason or another haven't gotten around to it. Sophia is my polar opposite in that she LOVES animals. And is allergic to most of them, so I can't see us owning any kind of indoor animal probably ever. Which I don't tell Sophia, because that would make her incredibly sad.

This winter Sophia caught a ladybug, or whatever those ladybug looking things are that cluster in your windows mid-winter. She placed it in a little Mason jar with holes poked in the lid and some leafy greens for it to munch on, and pronounced, "I have a pet!!!"


It was pretty cute, and pretty sad. And got me thinking about chickens again. But now that we have rediscovered the yumminess of duck eggs, I started wondering if we could get ducks instead. In the past couple weeks I've been researching the crap out of ducks, and it turns out that they are a lot easier than chickens! Their superior insulation means they can tolerate the cold better, they produce eggs during the winter more reliably, and they don't dig up your yard with their rubbery little feet. Plus, they go crazy for bugs, but not your garden.

So for those reasons and more I am thinking of getting ducks. Full disclosure, John is not overly enthused with my plan. So we'll see. But if you follow me on Pinterest you'll see all kinds of cute chicken/duck coop ideas in the works! And who knows, maybe with three ducks we'll end up with excess eggs to sell . . . Libby Farms!

Monday, March 9, 2015


Living in an old house is wonderful. Everywhere you look there are charming details, like amazingly tall baseboard trim, bay windows, little nooks and crannies perfect for hide and seek, and lovely old stairways.

My favorite spot in our old house is the leather chair tucked in the living room bay windows. In mid-afternoon, the sun streams in and warms me, no matter the temperature outside. If we had a cat (shudder!) that is where it would sit, basking in the sun. Then there's the fact that both Jude and Dawson were born in this house, which of course adds sentimental value.

But you know what does not add sentimental value? The creaky sixth stair.

Of course the stairs all creak, to some degree. They are original to the house, so almost 140 years old. If you were 140 years old you'd creak, too.

But that stupid stair has been responsible for waking all three of my children at some point or another, and so is the inanimate object of all my wrath when a nap is interrupted.

Sound travels in an old house. Right up the lovely old stairway into the bedroom next to it, sounding like a gunshot to the sleeping infant.

CREEEEAAAAK . . . wait for it . . . WAAAAAAA!!!!

Right about then I want to take an axe to those stairs.

There are a lot of infuriating things in life . . . the middle aged guy in a hurry who cuts you off because he doesn't realize that THE ROTARY BY WALMART HAS TWO LANES!, or discovering that your laundry has sat in the washer for four days and smells insanely musty, or a potty training child pooping in multiple locations in the house and not telling you so you have to go on a scavenger hunt (those were the days).

But nothing, NOTHING, is more infuriating than a baby being woken from their nap prematurely. When a sibling does it they know they may as well walk themselves to timeout, because they will be living there until they hit puberty. And if the postman does it, there better be a really great reason, like a giant box of chocolate just arrived in the mail. But what can you do about a stair?

You can't fix it. No amount of nailing or screwing down the board changes the level of creak.

So we tiptoe.


And strategically dance up the stairs, touching down in just the right spot on each one so as to avoid the particularly creaky parts. Taking a trip up the stairs looks like you are trying to avoid deathly lasers in a 007 movie.


Enter the white noise machine. Thank God for the white noise machine! Living in an old house without a white noise machine would decimate my sanity completely. Because while it's a nice idea to train kids to sleep thru anything, the reality is that our kids wake if a feather falls on the floor, and have since birth. Jude can sleep thru Sophia coughing all night, and Sophia can sleep thru Jude screaming bloody murder from a  nightmare, but they both wake up if you step on a floorboard wrong. Go figure.

Just know, if you are over during nap time and I shoot a death stare at you before I rein it in, it's probably because you stepped on THAT STAIR. And I still love you, but I just need a minute . . . deep breath . . . WHEW!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Here we go!

As a long-time ICU nurse, I am trained to believe in Western medicine. And I do believe. If someone told me six years ago that I would be persuing alternate medical solutions for my daughter's asthma, I would have laughed in their face. Or snickered behind their back, anyway.

Enter Sophia.

We should have known from the start that she would send us down some weird roads. When I was trying to avoid a C-section, we tried all kinds of strange remedies. Including chiropractic adjustments (admittedly not so strange, and it did fix the back pain I'd had for 30 weeks in one visit), acupuncture (a little strange), and moxibustion (straight up crazy).

You aren't familiar with moxibustion? Ah. Well, that is the one where your spouse holds a burning stick of flaming mugwort next to your pinkie toe for 20 minutes a day to convince the head up baby to turn head down.

One C-section and five and a half years later, here we go again with the weird remedies. This time it's food intolerance testing with an extreme change in diet for a few months.

When my sister suggested a couple months ago that doing some food elimination might help Sophia and I finally get healthy after illness after illness, I nodded with tolerance and said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I'll have to look into that!" Snicker.

Then winter continued, and Sophia had yet another asthma exacerbation, and John and I thought we might loose our minds if we didn't get some sleep EVER. And the doctor increased Sophia's medications AGAIN. To the degree that the new pharmacist refused to give us her prescription without speaking directly to her physician about the dosage until I convinced him that yes, she had intentionally prescribed that dose. And Sophia went for allergy testing again and they discovered a dust mite allergy, which essentially means that I need to keep the house actually clean, instead of just appearing clean. Which are two very different things with a 3 month old in the picture. Goodbye, cushy wool rug, and non-HEPA vacuum. So glad we don't have carpet, though if we did I would have immediately pulled it up and painted the subfloor something cool until we could afford hardwood.

And so John and I decided we need to do everything we can to maximize her health, even things that might be a little weird, because when your child is struggling for 6 months out of the year even on a slew of meds, that's what you do. Enter the naturapathic doctor. (Who I might add, we fully disclosed to Sophia's pediatrician and pulmonologist. The pulmonologist was particularly enthusiastic about involving the ND, to our surprise.)

One blood draw later, we've set out on this strange little journey. But the thing is, what I am discovering is that we are simply eating a healthier diet.  We already ate pretty healthy, with most meals cooked from scratch. But I'll be the first to admit that post-Dawson pancakes or scrambled eggs found their way onto the dinner plates a little too often. And lunch had gotten pretty boring. VERY boring. With peanut butter figuring into the equation pretty much daily.

Now lunch is a bit more exciting . . . Acorn Squash Risotto on Monday and tuna on cucumber slices with a piece of gluten free bread and apple slices yesterday. I was a little heavy handed with the cayenne pepper in the risotto, but have learned my lesson after having to push the kids to eat it. But the tuna and cucumber was a huge hit, which I didn't expect at all. I have never given them tuna outside of tuna casserole, just assuming they wouldn't like it. Serve it up on cucumbers and call it "Chicken of the Sea," then it's a hit!

Snacks are up a notch too . . . kale chips, roasted garbonzo beans, fresh fruit, and veggies with pinto bean dip.

Dinner? My favorite so far was the Kale Soup with Pork Sausage and Sweet Potatoes. I had firsts and seconds for dinner and the next day for lunch. Though the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Rice and Buttered Beans last night was pretty great too.  And the kids gobbled it up, which was the best part.

Of course, the other thing I have discovered is that eating this way is freaking time consuming. I am in the kitchen for most of the day. And also craving cheddar. And nachos. And ice cream. But if there is even a chance that this break from our normal diet will help Sophia get off even one daily medication, it is worth every minute spent making veggie broth and cooking five different vats of beans to put up in the freezer. I would do it forever if it meant a change in her health.

So we'll see. It might end up just being a kooky thing we tried. But I say it's worth the try.
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