Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seven Random Things

Not feeling inspired tonight, just a little bored after laying around all day after oral surgery. So, you get to listen to my ramblings.

1) I need to start a blog idea notebook. Today on the way to the oral surgeon, I had a post idea I was really excited about. Apparently the anesthesia knocked it out of my head because now I can't remember it! Annoying, especially because I haven't been very inspired the last few days. Maybe I'll think of it again.

2) My oral surgeon was drug-happy. In addition to the pain meds and antibiotic, he gave me valium (which I didn't take), he gave me laughing gas, an IV anesthetic, and enough local that it didn't completely wear off until 12 hrs later.

3) I've been a little bent of out shape the last few days waiting for this oral surgery. My concern wasn't the actual procedure--I couldn't wait for that to be over with. My fear was the recovery. I had a bad recovery from a wisdom tooth extraction about 10 yrs ago. And with a little nursling to care for, I really didn't want that to happen again. Especially since he's been especially needy because...

4) Malachi is having a growth spurt. Yay! His weight gain has been a little slow, though the pros aren't concerned about it. Funny--the day after I decided to try feeding him more frequently, he decided he wanted to eat more frequently anyway. So he's been eating every 1.5 hrs or so, even at night. Normally the frequent feedings can be somewhat frustrating, but I have been nothing but happy about it this time around. I'd be glad to see him gain a couple of pounds, but I'm not going to worry about it.

6. As it turns out, my recovery thus far has been so easy! It must be because of my friends who have prayed, knowing my concerns and how important it was for me to heal quickly. Thanks, everybody! The pain isn't that bad, and I even ate (soft) solids for dinner tonight. I've had enough energy to run an errand (Joshua drove), fold some laundry, and...

7. I have a crockpot of oatmeal on so it will be ready in the morning. Looking forward to having a hot breakfast waiting for me when I wake up in a few hours. I've mixed in craisins, pecans, apples, and cinnamon. I'll let you know if the recipe is good.

It's long past my bedtime, so I will say goodnight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Bead Giveaway Winner

It's time to announce the winner of my red bead giveaway: my childhood friend Jessica, also known as Dumpysunshine in the comments section. Jessica, I'll be in touch!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway to make it a great success. I am looking forward to doing more giveaways in the future.

What Makes Me Laugh About My Husband

My friend E does a weekly blog carnival called Midweek Laughs. This week I decided to participate.
The topic is: What makes me laugh about my husband.

Lots of things make me laugh about my husband, but the thing that always makes me laugh, even though he does it all. the. time. is the Sleeping Joshua. It goes like this: I enter a room, and Joshua plays like he's sleeping, letting hid head droop to the side and his tongue loll out of his mouth. He may be sitting at the computer. He may be standing at the sink. It doesn't matter if it makes no sense at all for him to be sleeping in that situation, he does the Sleeping Joshua. And it cracks me up. Wish I had a picture of this. [Edit: I took a picture of this (though its not a great one) so you could really see what I'm talking about]

Another thing that cracks me up about my husband is a little thing I like to call Rico Suave. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:

Ignore me in this photo. I was 37 weeks pregnant and felt like Shamu. Joshua however, is putting on his fake sexy face. Which I find hilarious.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unbelievable Peanut Butter Topping

I just made some peanut butter topping that was so good, I wanted to lick the pan. It's incredibly easy.

1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Peanut Butter

Melt sugar into water over high heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Allow to boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until melted and smooth. I used crunchy peanut butter, but creamy would be good too.

We served this over brownies and ice cream. Cutting the water in half makes it thicker, and I would like to try swirling it into brownies. I have a feeling I'm going to be sorry I discovered this. It's too delicious and easy. Bad combination. Or good. Depends on your perspective.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Windy Poplars

I can't tell you how many comments people have made to us that they are amazed at how social we are despite having a newborn. We have actually become more social now that we have Malachi. Seems weird I know, but it works for us. I am a very social person, but as an introvert, I need down time. When I worked full time, I had a greater need for down time on the evenings and weekends. Now, I get down time during the day. So evenings and weekends are fair game. We know the way we spend time with people will change as our family grows, but we are doing what works for us right now.

People have used the word hospitable a lot with us. I appreciate that, but it feels a little too virtuous for me, like we are doing it because we should. The truth is, we just like to hang out. We like people, and we want friends. And I'll be even more honest, it has more to do with Joshua than me.

Let me tell you a story about Joshua. When he was in high school, he felt left out. Much like a lot of us did, I imagine. And in his adult life he has felt left out at times, and so have I. There have been plenty of times we went to a new church and no one said hello, or went to a party and were given the cold shoulder. Whereas many people would withdraw at that point, Joshua has decided that as much as he can help it, he doesn't want other people to feel that way. So he goes out of his way to make people feel included. He invites people to stuff like it's his job. Seriously. If he sees someone new at church or in the group, I can guarantee he will try to talk to them, and likely, get their number and invite them to something that week, if not that very day.

That is a gift that I admire and respect about my husband. I won't say that I don't enjoy all of these gatherings, but to a great extent I am just along for the ride. I get to be the Hostess with the Mostest. It's a great gift, because if I was left to my own devices, I would be home by myself a lot more, often feeling sorry for myself because I don't have any friends. We have honestly both felt that way at times. Our solution was to do something about it.

I think if they are honest, most people will tell you they are lonely, wish they had more friends, or don't feel like they connect with people. It doesn't have to be that way. I want to share with you a few things we have learned as we have tried to be more intentional about making friends.

1. Take a risk. Tell someone you want to hang out with them, and schedule it then and there. We all know how easy it is to keep saying, over and over, "we'll get together soon!" And it never happens. So bite the bullet, and set a date.

2. Have people over. Especially when you have kids, going out can be a hassle, and expensive. So, have people over. A lot. Do it potluck style, so it doesn't rest on you to make the food. Or, if you are short on time, invite people over for coffee, or dessert. It doesn't have to cost a lot to hang out with people.

3. Invite people even if they never come. Have you ever felt left out because you weren't invited? We have. A lot. It has made us realize that people want to be invited.

4. Do what works for you. Joshua prefers large groups. He never wants to leave anyone out. I tend to feel lost in a big group, and prefer small groups. I can get to know people better that way. So we do both. Sunday afternoons are reserved for getting to know a couple or family from church. Everything else if fair game for Joshua to invite the world over.

5. Plan a regular event that makes it easy. We often do a fire in the backyard. Sometimes we have S'mores, sometimes not. But it is an easy thing because I don't have to clean up or plan for a certain number, and I can leave to care for Malachi if I need to. Someone else I know does "Front Porch Fridays" regularly, which is a similar concept that I love. Wish we had a comfy porch.

6. Invite people into your life. Our goal is not entertainment. It is community. We want people to enjoy themselves, but if they haven't connected with anyone, it's a waste of time. We invite people into our lives by having an open home. We love people stopping by, joining us for a quick dinner, or just hanging out while we do what we do. It's fun to have company while I'm doing the laundry or taking care of Malachi. Just hang out, or better yet, help me! Or you can bring along your bills, thank you notes or whatever you need to do and do it with company!

7. It's not just about having friends. You can hang out with people all day, but if you never let people see the real you, you will feel as lonely as ever when the party is over. I have found that when I am open with people, they are open with me. Don't wait for the other person to be vulnerable. Do it yourself. You will be glad you did. This is something I am constantly working on because it's hard for me.

8. Don't get bent out of shape if people say no. It used to make us feel bad when we planned an event and no one showed up. We saw it like a popularity contest and we were not the cool kids. Eventually we realized that wasn't true. All that mindset did was make us feel bad about ourselves and hold a grudge against our friends. People are busy. And it takes time to build relationships. If they can't come, oh well. Maybe it will work out next time.

9. Don't worry about a messy house. For years, I didn't want to have people over because the house was too messy. My husband, the ultimate social butterfly, really helps me with this. I remember the first time we hosted people together. It was a couple of months before we were married, and though it was Joshua's house, I was the significant other who kept things together. I will never forget the heated words we exchanged 5 minutes before people arrived when I tried to make Joshua iron the table cloth. I have learned to loosen up since then, mostly due to my husband's constant reminders that hospitality is important enough that if it can't be done with a clean house, it needs to be done with a messy house.

I would love to have a well-appointed home someday, with land and gardens, plenty of space to cram people who come to visit, a haven for the weary, a place to connect spiritually, enjoy and create beauty, to be loved on, laugh, cry and connect with friends new and old, to eat amazing food that we grew ourselves, or got from other local sources, and receive other good gifts that we have to share. In my dream, this house is always clean and decorated with the sights and smells of the season. It's a treat for people to come because the setting is ideal (think winding paths with willow trees and seasonal flowers, mountain streams and a pond for fishing and swimming) and the toys are awesome (think ATV's and big screens with surround sound). Yeah. It's never gonna happen.

I do have dreams, but what we have is probably better for now because it's forcing me to be real with people. It doesn't leave the impression that only people with spotless homes decorated just so, with special dishes and platters for company, can invite people into their lives. Those things are great, but people don't come to your home for the fresh bouquet on your shiny counter. They come because of you. So hopefully, if ever we do have the dream home, these things we are learning will transfer. I wouldn't mind having the best of both: real and ideal. That's what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Red Bead Tales: My Very First Giveaway!

As I mentioned earlier today, I am celebrating the change of seasons and some changes for this blog by hosting my first ever giveaway!

I will be honest. I have had that post written for a week now. But I am a very indecisive person, and I just couldn't figure out what to give away. I always overthink these things. And by some flash of inspiration, it came to me yesterday.

Red Beads.

"Red beads?" you say. "What's so special about red beads?" Well, my friend. These aren't just any red beads. These are red beads with a story. Two stories, really. Lets call them The Red Bead Tales.

Story One: The Tale of a Necklace Shared

It started on New Year's Eve, 2009. I was at Ingrid's house, affectionately called The Nunnery by friends. There was dancing and singing and every kind of merry-making. And Ingrid was wearing red beads. I complimented her on them, and she said, "Red beads go with everything, don't they?" Well that was an interesting though. Actually, I'd never considered it. Do they?

I gave that simple sentence an unwarranted amount of thought over the next couple of months. I determined that yes, red beads do go with everything, and I would like some very much.

Enter June. I was newly unpregnant. At the grocery store with my fresh-from-the-womb bundle. And who did I run into but Ingrid. And Rebecca, who was wearing red beads. "I love your beads!" I told her. "Red beads go with everything, don't they?" It came out before I realized I was quoting Ingrid from several months ago. I really believed it, though. I was still without my own red beads, and I decided then and there that I was going to fix that.

"Wait," Rebecca said. I'll take care of it."

The next day Rebecca came over to hang out with Malachi and I. She handed me a package that contained, of course, the Red Beads. The same beads that she and Ingrid wore. I was so excited! "Where did you get these?"

"Let me tell you about these beads," she said.

Story Two: The Tale of an African Treasure

This is a very special string of glass beads that was purchased from The Binaba Shop, a fair trade non-profit shop here in Roanoke. They are antique French beads that were made in Venice 300 years ago and used throughout Africa for trade and commerce.

I thought that was very cool, so when I had some gifts to buy a couple of weeks later, you know what I did. There are now two midwives and a doula that are wearing these beads as well.

Atieno Asiyo, the store's fascinating and beautiful buyer and manager, explained to me that many beads were created for this purpose between the 15th and 20th centuries. Evidently beads were an important part of many world cultures, and they are now collected and made into jewelry.

Since they are beautiful artwork as well as former currency, many beads have been replicated for modern jewelry. I'm sure you would recognize some of the designs. By the way, if you are local to Roanoke, please stop into The Binaba Shop downtown across from Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea. It is an awesome store with beautiful art, jewelry, home furnishings, and natural bath & body products.

The best part: everything in the shop is fairly traded and the proceeds build hospitals and provide micro-loans in Africa. If you are interested in learning more about The Binaba Shop and Atieno Asiyo, you can read "The Education of a Kenyan Radical" (pg. 36-39) online in September's Valley Business Front. There is also an interview with Atieno here.

So those are the stories of the Red Beads. I wear mine all the time. Each time, I am reminded of the sweet women who gave me or received from me the same necklace. I have discovered, of course, that there are the occasional things you can't wear with red beds. But I can wear them more often than not, I tell you. One lucky person is going to have the same great pleasure.

So, on to the details...

You can enter up to five times. Please leave a separate comment on this blog post for each entry so you will be counted in the random number generator. Leave a way for me to get in touch with you for each entry. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, September 29, 9am. I will try to announce the winner later that day. Here are the ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post stating what you are looking forward to about Fall. (required)
2. Blog about this giveaway with a link to my blog, and post a link in your comment.
3. Post a Facebook status update about this giveaway with a link to this post.
4. Become a follower of this blog (see column on the right side), or let me know that you are already are.
5. "Like" Binaba shop on Facebook (Binaba Shop Facebook page).

Let the fun begin!

A Change is in the Air

I love Fall. With every change of the seasons I think that each one is my favorite, but with Fall, I really mean it. Really. And Autumn in the Blue Ridge is a sight to behold. The elevation of the mountains adds amazing depth to the foliage. The crisp air makes me feel alive after the sweltering heat of summer.

I love wearing sweaters, drinking hot beverages, making soup and apple sauce and pumpkin butter. This is also the season where I start getting ambitious. Something in my brain around the start of school tells me it's time to get serious about some things. Making Christmas gifts, dreaming about fruitcake that should be started soon (not that I've ever made it, but I dream about it), and resolutions of all sorts.

Along those lines, you may notice a change in my posts in the coming weeks. I've never talked about my intentions with this blog. Clearly, it was started with Malachi in mind. But there is a reason we didn't call this place, "Baby Grasty" or "Waiting for Baby". Though it has been thus far, I didn't want to just focus on our new arrival. There is a lot happening in our lives on many fronts. I want this to be a place to share those things, whether they are our children's milestones (or yardstones, as the case may be--Malachi found his feet today!) or working through parts of my own journey.

I love the name of our blog. There are so many facets to it, from the little Grasty that started growing inside me last September, to the deeper growth of the souls of each of us, babies and kids and mommy and daddy.

I want a place to document and celebrate our family life, but also to be a place where growth happens, through writing and figuring out life, through expressing opinions and exploring ideas. This is a place where we share life as we see it right now. We haven't always seen it that way. And we probably will see it differently in the future. That's why it's growth. Over time, I hope this blog will be a reference point for our lives as we become the Grasty's we are meant to be.

If you asked me today how to grow a Grasty, I would have some good ideas, but they are untried (by me, anyway). I like to think that in twenty years, if this blog were made into a real live paper and ink book, if I were to come across it on my shelf, I would find out how to grow a Grasty. And perhaps it could help others to know how to raise their little Smiths and Thomases and Browns. And how not to grow them too, I imagine.

That's a lot of mumb0 jumbo about a name. But I am excited. I feel like this is a Big Reveal in a sense. An unveiling of my true intentions of what I hope this place will be.

To celebrate the change of the blog, and the changing of seasons, I am having my very first giveaway! I am very excited about this, and I hope you will be too! The giveaway will be announced later today, and I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is Life

Joshua and I have this funny line we say to Malachi when we are sharing something with him that we like. We think it's funny, anyway. It goes like this: we are sitting around the campfire, eating S'mores, playing cards, talking, whatever we do around a campfire. And one of us will say, "This is Camping, Malachi!" This little joke seems to transfer easily to whatever we are doing at the moment, and it makes me laugh and warms me every time. It reminds me of ET or something, explaining modern life to someone from far far away. Except the creature we are explaining it to is a new little Earthling. As if at three months old, he could put another notch in his belt and say, "Camping. Got it."

Maybe it's just me, but it makes me laugh every time. It warms me too, because really, we are showing him what life is all about. Every moment, he's absorbing so much more than we know. It is such a joy to share our life with him, even though he doesn't "get it" yet. It is already forming him and making him who he is. We love sharing with him the things we love about life.

Joshua and I both love the Fall. Every year we look forward to the leaves changing, anticipation of the holidays, warm drinks and hearty winter food. This year is no different, except that we have a new Love to share it with. We are bursting with anticipation at the thought of going to the Pumpkin Patch with Malachi dressed in his Fall-hued corduroys and knits; playing Halloween dress-up; giving specially chosen gifts to our beloved son who won't even know the difference. How much more fun will it be when when he really starts to get it?

Some of the loves we have shared with Malachi:

The Beach
A Road Trip
A Picnic
The Sunset
The Wind

And the list keeps growing...

Last night, as we shared Dancing with Malachi, tears sprung to my eyes at the thought that we are sharing Life with him. He is learning about the sweetness of life from us. And we are learning it from him. I snuggled him close, and he snuggled back.

This is Love, Malachi. This is Life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte (without the Pumpkin)

My husband loves Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but have you been to Starbucks lately?! So expensive. And not that good for you! I can make almost anything from scratch as long as I have a recipe to guide me. So I found a recipe, and made it. Sans pumpkin, though, since they don't seem to sell pumpkin in September. So it's really a vanilla latte. I modified it somewhat, and here's what I ended up with:

2 cups milk
1 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup Sucanat (or white sugar)
2 Tbsp vanilla (not a typo)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg
pinch of ginger

It's pretty yummy! It is actually an expensive drink to make at home because Each 10 oz serving has .60 cents worth of real vanilla. But, compared to Starbucks, that's nothing! Some people to to Starbucks for the convenience, but I do it for the taste. It tastes even better if I save money!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daddy and Malachi

It was awesome to spend three whole days with Joshua over Labor Day. He was able to have some great times with Malachi. I even think that Malachi grew a bit in his attachment to his dad. It seems like he is now more interested in Joshua, and more willing to be soothed by him, and really enjoys his time with Daddy. It's amazing to see their relationship developing.

Joshua already has lots of fun games that he plays with Malachi. Even though Malachi doesn't get them now, he will in the future. He will remember all the silly stuff he did with his dad. I am looking forward to seeing it all unfold.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cloth Diapering

I read about cloth diapering long before we had kids, and decided that I wanted to do it. It seems intimidating at first, but in retrospect, I'm not sure why. Really, it's easy. And I'm no supermom. I'm lucky if I get the laundry washed most weeks, let alone folded. The biggest thing for me was it seemed like such a learning curve to figure out what kind of diapers to buy. I put it off for months because it seemed so overwhelming with all the options out there these days! I was concerned that I would buy something that didn't work for us, and I didn't have the money to waste. But really, it's not that big of a deal.

We ended up finding an online merchant who lives locally here in Roanoke, and I was able to go and see what all the different diapers are like. I also have a cousin who is loaning me her stash because she is unable to use cloth right now. Both of those things helped me get a feel for what kind of diapers I finally wanted to settle on. I also made the decision to use cloth wipes. I figure if we are going to do it, we might as well really do it.

I had people say to me, "Just be prepared that it might not work for you. It might be too much of a hassle." From the beginning, Joshua and I decided that cloth was our only option. We just don't want to spend the money on disposables. Environmental concerns are important to us as well. So perhaps it was our resolve from the very beginning that makes it work for us. It just isn't an option to quit. We aren't doing it for convenience. But even if we were, its easy. Really. If you are hesitant to try it because it seems a little daunting, let me encourage you. It is so simple. The only challenge is remembering to put a load in the washer. Even prepping the diapers to be worn is no big deal. About half the time I "fold" the diapers and put them in a basket ready to be used. The other half, they stay in the laundry basket and I stuff them one at a time as they are being used. Either way is easy, but if I can manage to get the basket folded, it's preferable.

Someone gave me some great advice when Malachi was just a couple of weeks old and still wearing disposables. She said to ease into it. Transition to cloth at home during the day, then add in nights, and finally, outings. I decided to do that because it sounded like a great way to ease into it. But I found that for me, it was easier to just jump in and do it. I am a creature of habit, so its much easier for me to just get into a routine and do the same thing every time than to constantly be switching between two systems. We started using cloth when Malachi was one month old, and other than the first few days, we've done cloth almost exclusively, even when we go out.

So we decided that for our big Labor Day trip, we were going to do cloth the whole time. And it was easy. (Are you starting to see a theme here?) We had to take all of our diapers, and then cart the dirty ones home, but since we have a truck, we had plenty of room.
Malachi camping in his BumGenius One Size

My favorite part of CD'ing is actually the cloth wipes. They are so thick that I never have to use more than one, even for the worst diapers. And I make a simple wipe solution that smells and feels great on the skin. I also love how cute he looks in them. The diapers are so cute and colorful that its sort of like he's wearing shorts.

Our system is a dry bucket with a liner and a lid that goes in the bathroom. All the diapers go in there when they are soiled. I pull out the inserts at that time, and the wipes go in the bucket too. Once it's full / most of the diapers are used I dump the whole thing in the wash. How easy is that? Most of our diapers are used Bumgenius 3.0. I love them. Love them. I got two brand new as a shower gift, and the remainder were bought on The rest are a random assortment from my cousins stash that include Fuzzibunz, Thirsties, and an assortment of prefolds and covers. In all we have twenty-four diapers, and that has always been enough for 2-3 days, even when Malachi was only a month old. After the wash they are stuffed and put in a basket to be used, or if I am short on time, they just stay in the laundry basket and are stuffed one at a time as they are used.

So if you are on the fence, I recommend that you go ahead and try it! Find a friend who uses cloth and have her give you a little lesson. Or find a local shop where you can see the options firsthand. Also, don't let your baby's age stop you. Whether they are a little baby or a big baby, it's never too late to start using cloth. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bend in the Road

Malachi was officially three months old on September 2nd! The time has gone by so quickly, and yet sometimes it felt like it would take forever to get past the newborn stage. And it has happened, just like you all said it would. It was such a noticeable change that I actually counted which day of life it was for him. Eighty-four. That was the first day he let me sit still with him for any amount of time while awake and not nursing. And it has continued every day since. Now he will hang out in the car seat, enjoy a ride in the stroller, and an occasional nap by himself. It has changed my life! It's not that the change is so dramatic, but it is enough to allow me to keep my sanity, helped my attitude, and given me energy and motivation to get a little more done around the house.

He is growing so fast. We've seen some other fun developmental changes the last couple of weeks as well. He loves to look at "the baby" in the mirror! So cute! He gets all smiley like he wants to make friends. Yesterday he rolled from back to tummy for the first time, and since then, he is rolling all over the place! He loves to be naked, and if I lay him on his play mat naked, he will be happy for a lot longer than if he has clothes on. He works and works to grab objects, and he is just starting to get it. He has such a cute look of concentration on his face when he is trying to coordinate himself to reach for something. Most of the time though, he just waves his arms around to hit the toys above his head.

The biggest news though, is that he laughs now! The first time we heard that precious giggle, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. It is just amazing to see his personality coming alive, day by day. He smiles all the time now, but I still am not used to that. The laughing just put me over the top. I can't take all his cuteness. I'm going to explode. He is such a little person.