May 18, 2011

A Peek at a Welcome Home Party

There really are no words to describe what these soldiers, wives, children, and families are feeling in the pictures. If you've never been part of a military family where part of that family is deployed, you'll just never really understand - that's OK, we don't expect you to. But we'd like to help give you a glance at one of the best days to be a military spouse: the day your soldier returns from war.

Please remember to keep the troops and military families in your prayers. They are Americans with a dream just like you, and while they are willing to fight the wars our country decides to take on, being away from their family in a combat zone is not really their American Dream. Support them, so they can come home safely and pursue their dream just like you are able to do every day (and thanks to those serving, without the worry of being drafted).

May 16, 2011

Prune Puree: my baby constipation cure

Here it is again - sadly not in all its glory and slightly less witty. This baby food recipe takes only 10 minutes. You end up with prune puree and prune juice (if you're lucky a happy baby and a dirty diaper too).

Prune Puree

8 pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups water

Cooking Instructions:
- in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring prunes and water to a boil.
- reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 8-10 minutes.
- remove from heat, reserve cooking liquid.

- puree prunes in food processor until smooth.
- add cooking liquid to thin the puree to the consistency your baby can handle.

- strain and dilute the remainder of cooking liquid to use as juice.

Our little guy was a little iffy about the puree at first, but he loved the juice right away! Plus the prunes delivered in the diaper department like promised. We all loved that part. :)

Whether you use the cooking liquid as juice or just to thin the puree, do not throw it out; lots of the Iron and Vitamin C that prunes are known for are in the juice. Also, make sure you buy dried fruits that are naturally sun-dried; you don't want anything that was treated with sulfur dioxide or paraffin. Happy pureeing!

Let us know how your baby ends up liking prunes. Or maybe you have another constipation cure; share it here!

May 15, 2011

Find a Local Farmers' Market

Oh yes! Summer is quickly on its way! While you can definitely check out your local produce year around, those delightful Farmers' Markets are in full swing this time of year. Depending on where you live, you might be able to find one any day of the week, but I'd bet money there is at least one open on Saturdays in your area that the whole family would enjoy visiting.

Everything is green in our backyard, and its a welcome site after a gray, snow-filled winter.

Take those kiddos outside, let them see the bounty that is being grown right in their own backyard, and then let them each pick something they've never tried to take home and eat as a family. Its a great summer activity and might even save you from fighting the traffic in the grocery store produce section for a mediocre squash grown who-knows-where.

On Saturday the Schoellhorns loaded up, and we visited C-Street Market in Springfield, MO. A chilly spring wind blew in that morning, and we weren't quite dressed to stay the whole day at the market. We did do a quick loop through all the local produce and homemade goods as C-Street Market celebrated the opening weekend of their growing season.

The market is located on quaint, historic W. Commercial Street, and I am so glad we discovered this jewel of a spot. I can't wait to go back and snoop in all the adorable boutiques and art galleries on a sunnier day. Seth can't wait to show Henry the historic foot bridge that takes you right over the railroad tracks. (pretty sure they'll be watching trains while I'll search the shops)

We did however have time to pick up a pair of Jalapeno Cheddar Rolls from Black Owl Bread Company's stand. Delicious! Plus I'm pretty much in love with anything having to do with those adorable, squaty owls. I can't wait to try their Spinach feta rolls and maybe an oatmeal raisin cookie next time.

Here are a few web sites to help you locate those local farms, markets, and even restaurants in your area:
Local Harvest
Eat Well Guide

Like what you tasted? Consider always buying your produce locally or joining a Coop. Some even deliver your veggies straight to your door.

My favorite summer treat? Berries! Any berry will do, but I'm a sucker for blackberries and raspberries. What about you?

May 13, 2011

My Lost Post

Bear with me, America. I added a yummy little post about everyone's favorite fruit - the prune (ha!) - on Thursday morning. Blogger, however, has been experiencing a lot of technical difficulties this week. They are said to be back up and running and that all posts should have been returned. Alas, my prune puree is lost somewhere in cyberland. I've got an email out to their help staff, and hopefully my post will be found sooner than later.

I usually only post a couple times during the work week, but with all the confusion I'll write an America Dreams special about our fun family weekend soon. Maybe you can enjoy a glass of sweet tea and a blog read after mowing that lawn on Saturday.

Say a little prayer for my prune recipe; maybe it will find its way home.

May 8, 2011

The Top 15 Things I Learned from my First Army Deployment

As y'all know Seth is serving in the Army, and we are a military family.  While stationed at Schofield Barracks, Seth deployed for a year to Iraq with the 3-4 Cav in the fall of 2008. Even though we hated being apart and there were plenty of really horrible days that year, we were both proud to serve our country in this way. I learned a lot about the army, the strength of our marriage, and also about myself that year:

1. Every day is hard, but after you get through the first 30 days, things become just a little easier.

2. Never underestimate the good a good cry will do for you.

3. Find small milestones to count down to instead of marking off 365 days. You will be amazed how many months have gone by after you get past a few of your smaller count downs.

4. The wives of the men fighting next to your husband really do become family; invest in those friendships.

5. Never watch a Romance or War movie while he is away. Period.

6. People will mostly mean well when they try to ask you about the deployment, but its going to make you sad or mad either way. Take their comments with grace and humility (they don't know what they are talking about); enduring these moments will shape you into a strong military spouse just as much as enduring the absence of your soldier.

7. A phone call from down range is more important than anything - including a Sunday sermon. Receiving one will make your week; missing one will break your heart.

8. Making coffee in the morning for one instead of two will make me feel like crying every single day until he returns.

9.  Its completely fine to let the 70lb. dog sleep in the bed for a year at least his pillow won't be cold when you roll over in the middle of the night.

10. Lean on your faith, lean on your family, lean on your friends that is what they are there for.

11. Red wine is your friend. So are chocolate chip cookies.

12. Be thankful for modern technology like cell phones, internet, and Skype even if they don't work in Iraq half the time. Half the time is better than nothing.

13. Find the lost art of hand writing love letters back and forth; it will make his day to receive one.

14. Get into an exercise routine - you will feel better after a workout, and your will look great for your soldier's return.

15. The high you feel from seeing his face and feeling his arms around you after 13 long months makes up for all the ups & downs your emotions have gone through in the past year.

After 13 months apart...

Any other military wives out there want to share a lesson learned or some good advice?

May 3, 2011

The Down & Dirty on Diapers

Here is the tutorial on washing cloth diapers like we promised. The good news? There are only three steps in the process: wash, dry, fold! The bad news? Well, there really isn't any from this household.

the wet/dry bag of dirty diapers from the last three days:
(prefolds, wipes, and covers all mixed together)

Update: Since this picture I have ordered a Planet Wise pail liner. I put it in a covered trash can, and this is easier to store the soiled diapers while at home. I still use my Planet Wise wet/dry bag when we travel. Both the bag and pail liner keep odor in and are machine washable.

Babies go through a lot of diapers, hence the bulging bag:

Next we just dump the entire thing into the wash - bag included:

Set the washer to Whites - Hot water, Heavy soiled, Presoak, Extra Rinse. Add an 1/8th a scoop of detergent and push START:

Throw the prefolds into the dryer (or line dry if you live in a warm, sunny place) 
and lay the covers out to dry:

cute, aren't they? :)

Fold into thirds and then in half and reuse:

the before and after:

Ta Da!

Our stack of wipes consists of baby wash cloths and flannel wipes, but I have to admit the actual flannel wipes are better. Instead of buying more, I am planning on re-purposing some of our flannel swaddling blankets that are just too small to hold our baby boy tight into more wipes.

Baby Cereal Recipe

This will be the first of many baby food recipes we'll share with y'all as we try different grains, fruits, veggies, and eventually meats. So get ready!

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to matters with baby, and many feel it is totally acceptable to laugh in your face and tell you your plan won't work if its not what they did. Seriously, what happened to respect and kindness between parents? I've had people flat out tell me I won't last long cloth diapering or cooking fresh food for our son. Why? I wonder.

Don't you change your baby's diaper when it gets dirty? Wouldn't you drive to the store in the middle of the night for your child if you were out of diapers? I do the same thing except I run the washing machine instead of warming up the car. Don't you take the time to make a healthy meal for your family? Don't you want them to eat fresh, vitamin rich foods? I want that for my family as well, no matter how young they are.

Its a matter of priorities. Everyone makes time for the things in life that matter most to them. Those may be different for you than me, but that does not make it acceptable for you to walk all over our priorities to make yours seem better. In America there is room for both our beliefs. Anyway, I'm off the soap box; who's next? :)

Back to adventures in making baby food:
Brown Rice Cereal
1/4 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup water
water, breast milk, or formula for thinning

Cooking Instructions:
- put rice in a blender and pulverize into a powder, 3-5 minutes
- bring 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat
- add brown rice powder and reduce heat to low
- cook, whisking constantly until water is absorbed, 4-5 minutes
- add water, breast milk, or formula to thin the cereal to a consistency your baby can handle

Storing Options:
3 days in the frig in an air tight container
3 months in the freezer (try splitting it up into single servings by freezing in ice cube trays. then place "ice cubes" in freezer safe plastic bag)

here is our "ice cube tray" for freezing baby food. 
pick one up here for $19.99. (or add it to your baby registry)

See how easy!? In ten minutes you can literally have rice cereal made for the entire summer! I don't think people realize how fast a lot of these natural parenting options are now days. My blender did the hard work in five minutes; all I did was keep that whisk going for a few minutes.

What foods have you successfully (or not so successfully) tried making for baby at home? What ended up being your child's favorite food?