Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of the biggest charity sale events here happens twice a year - May and November.  The Kwon sale has been going on for about 30 years now and sends money  to help a hospital in Uganda.  A lady at my church is one of the leaders, so we were given the option of going to help at the sale.  The bonus:  we got to shop a day early after we set up everything.  The second bonus: hanging out with a bunch of ladies and some child-free time.  (I wonder how accommodating my husband will be in November with 2 little kids to watch!!)

I had been holding off on buying things not knowing what I would be able to find at the sale for a good price.  It was fantastic.  I think I spent a little over $50 and walked away with an amazing amount of stuff.  I made a list, but it would bore you... you can click on the picture instead.  One of the big money-savers was all the cloth diaper items I bought.  Besides what is in the picture, I also bought 4 books and a puzzle hiding away for my son.

Wait!  Did you see it?!!!  I couldn't believe it when I walked into the baby equipment room and there in front of me was a Tummy Tub for ₤5 ($7.50).  I know I said I would buy one if it were $5, but I think $7.50 is manageable. ;-)  Now I will be able to give you a much more accurate review of this product in a few short weeks.

I asked the next Sunday and was told that we raised close to $3000 to send to Uganda!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I feel a bit bad posting so many baby-related topics here lately, but I know of at least three people who read them that are currently pregnant, and several of the others have either just been there or hope to be there soon. It's where my life is at right now, so here we go:

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea - the "Pregnancy Tea"

Here are its claims:
  1. Rich in iron
  2. Tones the uterus
  3. Increases milk production
  4. Decreases nausea
  5. May help prevent delivering early or late
  6. May reduce the need for interventions
  7. Eases labor
Basically it strengthens the uterus and pelvic muscles - which then will help labor to go more smoothly (and some say, faster) as well as benefit the recovery afterwards. Some people swear by it; others couldn't tell a difference.

When and How:

There is a disagreement as to when you should start drinking red raspberry leaf tea. The concern is that it could lead to miscarriage in the first trimester and many recommend that you not start until the second or third. I have a cousin who drank it her entire pregnancy. My midwife told me to wait until my 36th week, so I have only started recently. Follow your heart doctor's advice.

Drink either 2-3 cups a day or an infusion (an extra-strong tea).

Other herbal helps:

Nausea - Ginger Root; Peppermint Leaf
Insomnia - Camomile; Lemon Balm

There are other teas out there that may help with the weird things our bodies do when pregnant, but please research first because some could have negative effects on your pregnancy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here are some links that I enjoyed reading. Maybe there are things that will benefit you as well.

There is no society as cleanliness-focused as the US. (I state it as a fact. That is my opinion, but I do know that it is a common impression of Americans.) Don't get me wrong... other countries are very clean as well, but they don't have, or want, the hosts of cleaning products that we have. I have an uneasiness about the hygienic standards we hold ourselves to in the states. Germs aren't all that bad. They help to strengthen our bodies and build immunities. Chemicals, on the other hand, ARE quite bad for us. I wonder if we have over-sterilized our lives with unsafe products and if that is not the cause of increase in allergies, intolerances and other ailments affecting children today? (But, then again, I should admit that I am the type of mother who would take my kids to play with other kids who have chicken pox just so that they would catch it at a young age. Is that bad?)

Excellent ideas! Kids these days have way too many toys. I would far prefer giving my children experiences than endless amounts of plastic. (Grandparents, please read!!)

I need these tips.

I will mourn the day, but it is bound to come that my son will start dropping his afternoon naps. I plan, however, to train him into having a quiet time even if he doesn't sleep. We all need down time; it refreshes us. These bins are great ideas for giving children quiet play time alone.

A History on Nursery Rhymes24 Terrifying, Thoughtful and Absurd Nursery Rhymes for Children
Educational and amusing.  I've often wondered where our rather violent nursery rhymes come from.  I've known that many of them have historical backgrounds, but it was interesting to get more details about it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is a tentative meal plan for the 5 weeks that my family will be here after the baby is born.  It won't be followed (for one, I believe my church will provide about a week's worth of meals at some point), but it helps to have something in place so that I don't have to scramble at the last minute.  It will also help as I prepare my grocery list.  I especially like being able to link to the recipe sites when I'm trying to remember what I was planning on making for dinner. 

Breakfast Ideas
∗ Toast and Eggs - scrambled, boiled, fried, omelet
∗ Pancakes
∗ Banana Bread
∗ Cereal/Oatmeal/Muesli
∗ French Toast
∗ Bagels

Lunch Ideas
∗ Sandwiches/Wraps
∗ Fried Rice
Quinoa Tabbouleh
∗ Hot Dogs
∗ Left-overs

June 15 – 21 (Mom and Shawn Arrive – 19th)
Italian – Spaghetti
Mexican – Mexican Lasagna
Asian – Egg & Tomato and Stir-fried Chicken andVegetables over Rice
American – Chicken Tetrazzini
Crock pot – Pollo (Chicken) Fricassee
Other – Spanish Rice Bake with Beans
Easy – Potato Bar
June 22 – 28 (Mom leaves – 25th, Dad Arrives – 26th)
Italian – Lemon Cream Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables
Mexican – Tacos
Asian – Baked Fish with Dabu-dabu and Stir-fry Veg over Rice
American – Broccoli Chicken Delight
Crock pot – North Carolina-style Pork BBQ (vinegar-based)
Other – Black Beans and Rice
Easy – Beef Stroganoff
June 29 – July 5 (Dad and Shawn)
Italian – Spaghetti Pie
Mexican – Fajitas
Asian – Ground Beef/Pepper/Tomato Stir-fry over Rice
American – Heavenly Potatoes and Ham with Vegetables
Crock pot – Crock Pot 20 – 40 Clove Garlic Chicken with Veg and Rice
Other – Quinoa and Black Beans
Easy – Hamburgers
July 6 – 12 (Mom arrives – 6th)
Italian – Pizza
Mexican – Enchiladas
Asian – Babi Kecap, Egg & Tomato and Stir-fried Vegetables over Rice
American – Tamale Pie
Crock pot – Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Other – Stuffed Zucchini
Easy – Omelets, hash browns and bread
July 13 – 19 (Dad, Mom, Shawn leave – 14th)
Italian – Baked Ziti and Vegetables
Mexican – Taco Salad
Asian – Lemon/Basil Chicken and Peppers over Couscous
American – Tuna Loaf and Vegetables
Crock-pot – Chili and cornbread
Other – Barley Casserole
Easy – Creamed Eggs on Toast

Picture from

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Only four more weeks to go!  I'm trying not to hit panic mode as we are in the final count-down now.  Things have definitely been progressing on my checklist, but unfortunately, every time I check one thing off, I feel like I have to add two more.  Oh, well.  Some things are priorities and others are not.  This is where we are at:

Pre-Baby "To Do" List
  1. Sort through baby clothes for things a girl could wear
  2. Try to get newborn spit-up stains off clothes and wash everything
  3. Clean stroller from thrift store
  4. Clean car seat from Freecycle
  5. Decide on a middle name
  6. Buy some kind of organizer/hanging shelves for baby's clothing
  7. Make a list of things to try to buy at big, summer Kwon sale
    1. Cloth diapers (wraps)
    2. Diaper pail
    3. Spit-up rags
    4. Girl accessories – shoes, bibs, hair bows
    5. Warmer layers for colder months
    6. Highchair/booster seat
    7. Car seat - maybe being given one??
    8. Buggy board for the stroller
    9. Receiving blankets (or make them?)
  8. Send wish list to parents for things from Indonesia (cinnamon, Hagelslags, tumeric)
  9. Make wish list of things for mom to pick up while she's in America (if she has time)
  10. Make a 1-month menu plan (with diabetic-friendly meals for dad)
  11. Make a grocery list to cover the menu plan - in process
  12. Order groceries online for delivery - in process
  13. Set up guest room
    1. Buy a bed - it's nice!
    2. Buy sheets, pillows, comforters, etc… - might have to make my own for an odd-sized bed
    3. Buy, hang and iron curtains in guest room
    4. Hang black-out blinds
    5. Get closet cleared out
  14. Fill out residency paperwork - just need one more piece of paper
  15. Apply for Pregnancy Grant
  16. Find dentist and make an appointment
  17. Make couch cover – okay, maybe I’ll get mom to work on this while she’s here.
  18. Finish baby blanket

    Notice the little Duplo people that were put to sleep under the blanket with much "Shh-ing."

  19. Arrange babysitters to watch De Sheng when giving birth
  20. Make schedule and explanations of De Sheng's routines for carer - in process
  21. Fill out paperwork for helping in the nursery 
  22. Buy birthday gift for De Sheng
  23. Send out update email
  24. Prepare baby announcement email
  25. Get a joint Gmail account and let people know about it
  26. Hem up living room curtains
  27. Write a few blog posts to save and publish after the baby is born
  28. Research missing items on Ebay or best deal - pre-fold diapers and clips; rain cover for stroller, buggy board - on "watch list" and waiting till last minute to bid
  29. Read through all the information from my midwife
  30. Make sure I have everything on hand for a homebirth - flashlight, towels, plastic, etc...
  31. Pack bag in case of hospital transfer for myself and baby
  32. Pack bag of De Sheng's toys and special treats for carer
  33. Research what needs to be done for baby's US citizenship paperwork - hubby can do the German side of things
  34. Send email to US embassy to confirm what is necessary for me to show physical presence in US for 5 years.
  35. Start filling out baby's paperwork and try to get proof of 5 years physical presence in US if necessary
  36. ....

Monday, May 18, 2009

I hope to have company over for pizza this week. I'm not sure which day will work for them, so the plan might get switched around accordingly.


Same old; same old


Monday - Lemon Chicken with Peppers Stir-fry over Couscous

Tuesday - Heavenly Potatoes and Ham with Vegetables

Wednesday - Crockpot 20 - 40 Clove Garlic Chicken over Rice with Veg. (We love garlic!)

Thursday - Ham and Broccoli Braid

Friday - Homemade Pizza, Lebanese Salad, Raw Vegetables and Dip, Dessert

Saturday - Gnocchi Bake with Vegetables

Sunday - Omelets with some kind of homemade quick bread.

Any suggestions on a dessert for my company? I thought about homemade Malts (i.e. Frosties), but chocolate syrup is quite pricey here and it's been so cold and rainy lately...  Maybe something fruity??

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I can tell that I have been smaller this pregnancy than my first one.  I have no problem with this since my son was pushing 9 pounds - half of it in his head, I think. =)  For both pregnancies, I've taken belly pictures every two weeks to document the growth.  It was time for a comparison:

Weeks 33
                                 2007                                                               2009

I laughed out loud at the difference.  Maybe the myth is true that you can tell it's a boy if you carry the baby "high" and forward and it's a girl if "low" and rounded.  (Granted, the black shirt might make the comparison a little unfair.)

Here's something fun for my pregnant friends out there - Boy or Girl: Ancient Chinese Birth Chart.  After answering their three questions, I was told that I am most likely having a girl (Not bad!); the likelihood of this - 50% chance (Ah....).  Not every result will end up in 50/50 on their charts.  Mine just happened to.  Maybe I shouldn't have bought all that pink yet?!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've been reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  It has been so timely for me as I had been struggling with some of the requirements of motherhood.  I am someone who is task-orientated.  I love schedules, checklists, order and cleanliness - I'm pretty sure each of those is an antonym to "toddler".  (Not that toddlers don't need these things too.  I have seen the importance of each aspect in giving our lives stability and helping us to enjoy each other).  But, I have needed to refresh my priorities.  In some areas I've needed to confess my discontent or frustration to God and regain His perspective.  As long as the years ahead of me seem, in reality, I only have a short time to invest in my children's lives.  Heaven forbid I put my checklists and the desire to get something "accomplished" during the day before meeting my children's needs.  I read this quote today and it was such a good reminder to me of what it is that my children (and husband) need:

My children didn't need me to be on top of all my chores or even to be perfect in taking care of all their needs.  What they needed was for me to be content and patient with life. 

I know that although I don't see the fruits now, I am teaching my child by my example - especially with my attitudes when faced with life's difficulties.  I hope I learn this lesson young so that I can give my children many joy-filled years of sacrifice.  I have seen, too, how my discouragement and discontent can drag down my husband, whereas when I am joyful (though tired or disheveled or running late on dinner), a sense of harmony reigns in our house.  Truly we need God's strength to serve others as we learn to "lay down our lives" as He did for us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is it Wednesday already!??  Because I've been writing and saving blog drafts for the future, I feel like I have posted more often than I have.  Sorry.  

This is another Wednesday that might not get much done.  On Wednesdays I have a ladies' Bible study at church in the morning and today I had to make a cake to take for an activity that is happening there tonight (I'm not going, they just needed desserts for it).   This afternoon I have to swing by the clinic to pick up a prescription for iron tablets.  Sigh... apparently my iron ended up too low after all.  Hopefully we can get it boosted to the right levels else I will have to have a hospital birth.  Shouldn't be a problem, says my midwife.  

SO with all those excuses and a few more.... in the time remaining, dinner to get on and a little boy to keep busy, I hope to:

1. Take my 35th-week belly picture
2. Clear out the things that are dying (or worse, growing!) in my fridge
3. Hem up my second living room curtain
4. Work some more on the baby blanket (It's almost done.  Yay!)

The only one that might not happen is #3.

Alright... "hi-ho, hi-ho... it's off to work we go..."

Monday, May 11, 2009

My husband is coming back on Tuesday. Whoo-hoo! Back to proper meals and more dishes. =)


Same old; same old - maybe trying to incorporate some of the many mangos I bought for $1.5o at the market.


Monday - Egg Fried Rice

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushroom Wine Sauce over Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon-Poppy Seed Bread for dessert - just because I love that man.

Wednesday - Barley Casserole

Thursday - Stuffed Zucchini

Friday - Spanish Rice Bake (I'll be gone setting up a huge charity sale of children's items for Saturday - this is not a noble deed; helpers get to pre-shop. I'll be leaving my men with food they will enjoy.)

Saturday - Beef Stroganoff over Pasta with Vegetables.

Sunday - Potato Bar

Friday, May 8, 2009

One of my friends introduced me to this bathing concept that has been around Europe for a while, but is just reaching America. According to the Tummy Tub web site:

The Tummy Tub is designed to replicate the comfort of the mother’s womb and once in the Tummy Tub, babies naturally adopt the foetal position and instantly feel reassured and relaxed.

It is supposed to be much more economical with water, keep it warmer longer and to help calm tummy-aches and colicky babies. It is made with an anti-skid base and a low center of gravity. Below is their demo video. I watched a couple other videos of young babies quieting when they got in the water and older babies splashing around.

These bath tubs have many positive and negative reviews, but generally from what I was reading, the negative reviews came from people who were mocking the product as a gimmick. Others, who had actually used these tubs, seemed to like them quite a bit, particularly after their baby was a few weeks old. I love the economy of them, but my biggest problem would be the price tag. I have seen three versions offered in the US:

From my limited research, this seemed to be the priciest option ($50+) and didn't have as good of reviews as TummyTub did.

Tummy Tub - This one also runs around $45 dollars (new), but probably can be found for a bit less with researching. For an additional price, it has a stand that the bucket can fit on to make it higher if desired.

You can get these Tummy Tubs for 20 Euros on the German Amazon. I don't know the cost of shipping, and you would probably need some help putting in your order. I couldn't find an "English" option anywhere on their website.

Wash Pod (Prince Lionheart) - This is definitely the cheapest option ($25ish). The reviews were not bad either. A few mothers mentioned that it was hard to bath their baby's lower regions, but other mothers addressed this issue by saying they just lift their babies up a bit or prop them on the edge to do that part of washing. Some also mentioned that they felt like it was more stable in design.

What do I think? Well, for $5, I would buy one in a heart-beat, but at 5-10x that much - I need to be convinced that it is worth it. I wonder if using a bucket wouldn't work just as well. It might not be as stable or comfortable for the baby since that is not its purpose. Some people mentioned concerns about exposing their children to harmful chemicals in regular buckets (though one woman did say she has been washing her children in a trash can for years). I don't think I would worry about that too much since you only use warm, not hot, water for bathing babies (or does that reveal my ignorance about how chemicals leach into water?)

Okay... I had to do some research to answer my question and educate my ignorance. High-Density Polythylene (HDPE) plastic buckets would probably work and be safe for a baby. HDPE is the grade of plastic used for such things as food storage, milk jugs, water bottles, water pipes as well as numerous other products not related to consumption. They are considered environmentally friendly and are stronger, harder and able to withstand higher heat levels then the Low-Density Polythylenes.

I don't know... I'm going to think about it more. I have German in-laws that I could request one from as a baby gift, but I also have a pretty deep kitchen sink that would work too.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm not sure how well I will participate in the "No Procrastination Wednesday" today. We will be taking my husband to the airport (on the bus), so most of our morning will be out of the house. This week (and the ones to come) I will be focusing on my Pre-Baby "To Do" List, and already things are getting done. Unfortunately, I've thought of more things to add to the list than I have checked off. Oh, well. Checklists are very helpful for motivating me. Yes, I'm one of those who will add things to my list that I have already completed just so I can have the pleasure of checking it off. Such was the case with item #3 on my list.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

With June only a month away and approaching my 34th week of pregnancy, it is time to start checking things off the list. I was just updating it this morning and starting feeling over-whelmed at everything that needs to get done. With my husband gone for a week, I'll make it my goal to get what I can checked off the list. Unfortunately, quite a few items are contingent on people and circumstances, so we'll see what gets done and not worry about what doesn't, right? (Hmm.. easier said than done!)

Pre-Baby "To Do" List
  1. Sort through baby clothes for things a girl could wear
  2. Try to get newborn spit-up stains off clothes and wash everything
  3. Clean stroller from thrift store
  4. Clean car seat from Freecycle
  5. Decide on a middle name
  6. Buy some kind of organizer/hanging shelves for baby's clothing
  7. Make a list of things to try to buy at big, summer Kwon sale
    1. Cloth diapers
    2. Diaper pail
    3. Spit-up rags
    4. Girl accessories – shoes, bibs, hair bows
    5. Warmer layers for colder months
    6. Highchair/booster seat
    7. Car seat
    8. Buggy board for the stroller
    9. Receiving blankets (or make them?)
  8. Send wish list to parents for things from Indonesia (cinnamon, Hagelslags, tumeric)
  9. Make wish list of things for mom to pick up while she's in America (if she has time)
  10. Make a 1-month menu plan (with diabetic-friendly meals for dad)
  11. Make a grocery list to cover the menu plan and stock up the pantry
  12. Set up guest room

    It still looks like this with a few more baby things filling up the space.

    1. Buy a bed
    2. Buy sheets, pillows, comforters, etc…
    3. Buy/alter/line and hang curtains in guest room
    4. Get closet cleared out
  13. Fill out residency paperwork
  14. Apply for Pregnancy Grant
  15. Find dentist and make an appointment
  16. Make couch cover – okay, maybe I’ll get mom to work on this while she’s here.
  17. Finish baby blanket
  18. Arrange babysitters to watch De Sheng when giving birth
  19. Make schedule and explanations of De Sheng's routines for carer
  20. Fill out paperwork for helping in the nursery
  21. Buy birthday gift for De Sheng
  22. Send out update email
  23. Prepare baby announcement email
  24. Get a joint Gmail account and let people know about it
  25. Hem up living room curtains
  26. Write a few blog posts to save and publish after the baby is born
  27. ....

Monday, May 4, 2009

My husband is leaving on Wednesday for a week, so I will be super-flexible this week with meals.


Same old; same old 


Monday - Scalloped Potatoes and Ham with Broccoli

Tuesday - Easy Garlic Broiled Chicken with Twice-baked Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

I know.. potatoes twice... Oh, well.

For the rest of the week, my son and I will "wing it" with these options:

* Left-overs
* Burritos
* California Rolls
* Fried rice
* Scrambled Eggs and Toast with Peaches and Yogurt

Friday, May 1, 2009

I have had a couple people ask me about my yogurt, so I thought I should post about it.  

When I responded to someone's offer of a crockpot on Freecycle, I also got a yogurt-maker in the bargain.  Whoo-hoo!  I've actually only made yogurt twice because I found it to be barely cheaper than the plain yogurt I can purchase here and I don't have a candy thermometer (yet!), so I always feel nervous about the outcome.  However, it's worked out great both times and I am starting to experiment with flavored yogurts - which would save more money.  I'll share both methods I've tried.

Here is the basic yogurt-making method that I have used:

Homemade Yogurt
                      1 quart of milk (I use whole because it will set better, but would like to try less 
                      1/3 c. milk powder; opt. (again, helps it to get thicker)
                      1 T - 1/2 c. plain yogurt (with active bacteria) or recommended amount of      
                                          powdered culture

Heat the milk to 180ºF (when the milk starts to froth) stirring frequently.  Add milk powder.  Remove from heat and allow to cool down to 110ºF (this step can be sped up by placing pan in a basin of cool water).  Add the cultured yogurt.  Incubate for 8 hours or overnight.  Place in fridge to cool.  Reserve enough in freezer for next yogurt making day. Enjoy!

Incubating methods:

The best way is to use a yogurt maker, but here are some other possible methods I found here:

Method A:Prewarm oven to 200 degrees F and turn off. Use an oven thermometer to monitor temperature — do not let it drop below 100 degrees F. Turn oven on for short periods during incubation to maintain a temperature of 108 degrees F to 112 degrees F.
Method B:Line an ice chest (picnic cooler) with aluminum foil. Place four, one-quart jars filled with hot water (about 140 degrees F) inside the ice chest with the yogurt container(s) and cover ice chest with a tight-fitting lid. Allow space between jars and container(s) of yogurt.
Method C:Nestle several cardboard boxes inside each other, placing crushed newspapers between each box. Continue as directed in Method B for ice chest.
Method D:A simple way to incubate a small amount of yogurt is to pour the yogurt mixture into a wide-mouth thermos and cover with a tight lid. When the yogurt is ready, loosen the thermos lid before storing it in the refrigerator so the yogurt can cool rapidly.
Method E:Set filled container(s) of yogurt on a towel-covered heating pad set on medium heat in a sheltered corner on a kitchen counter. Cover the jars with several towels.

One other method that I have never tried, but sounds extremely easy is to use the crockpot.

Goodness.. all this talk about yogurt made me crave some.  So, I was helping myself in the kitchen when my toddler discovered me.  I wanted to take a picture of the bliss we were experiencing as we exclaimed over each bite, so I got my camera and made it back in time to pull him off the counter where he was trying to get to more of that yummy yogurt.  Between the two of us, we finished off the container. 

Flavoring Yogurts
Note: You should not use a flavored yogurt as the starter for your next batch.  It is best to freeze plain yogurt in correct portions for that purpose or just make it each time with a store-bought starter.

After heating milk, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, honey, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, malt, molasses or sweetener. Add 1 TBSP of extract - vanilla, lemon, almond, peppermint or instant coffee.  Allow to cool to 110ºF, add culture, blah, blah.. carry on as usual.  (I used sugar and vanilla for my trial run and it was GOOD!)

Other options: add 1 tsp. of ground spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, ginger

For jam, preserve or peanut butter flavors, add 1 TBSP to the bottom of the cup containers before incubating. (Assuming you are using a yogurt maker, otherwise you will need about 6x the amount for the whole batch.)

Fresh fruit should always be added after the yogurt has set as it will inhibit the process.

I would love to hear about your yogurt-making experiences or flavors that you have enjoyed.