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Archive for the ‘Works For Me’ category

That title is a little ambiguous, isn’t it? I left it that way on purpose. Because sleeping with a newborn in the house can be a challenge all by itself. And then there is sleeping with said infant, also known as co-sleeping. This is about that too.

Earlier this year I had a guest post on the pros and cons of co-sleeping. Now my third child is here, and I haven’t changed my ideas on co-sleeping one bit. However, I am having some new challenges.

In my first pregnancy, I spent 6 weeks sleeping in a recliner, but within a week I was sleeping in bed again. With my second, I never left the bed. With my third, well, I started sleeping in a recliner in the last week of March, and I haven’t moved back yet. The only position that doesn’t hurt is on my tummy, and that has never been comfortable for very long. Besides which, I can’t very well nurse on my tummy. This time around, whether due to the time I slipped on the bathroom floor reaching for my towel and pulled a ligament or something in my groin, or whether it was just a different pregnancy (maybe a bit of both), I still cannot lay on my sides, especially the right side. And if I manage to get into position on my side, rolling over is almost too painful to be possible.

I’m not complaining. I have a precious new baby, and I know I will heal and be back to normal in a while. But for now I’m still in the recliner. And co-sleeping in a recliner has it’s own unique challenges.

For instance, I can’t very well lay the baby beside me. He has to be on top of me. That is nice and cozy, but on a warm night it can be a sweat-inducing experience for both of us. Thank goodness I’m in the northwest, which has been unseasonably cool this year (while the rest of the country swelters–*ducks and runs*). Also, I have to sit up, which disturbs my sleep more than simply rolling over would (though less than rolling over would at the moment, considering how painful it still is). Nonetheless, I have had my baby with me most nights.

A few nights ago, he slept about 5 hours straight. I thought, Great! Maybe I can just put him in the baby swing that we are using for a cradle and enjoy some positions that are not practical when I am holding a baby. But the next Day, he rode with me to the chiropractor and a couple of other quick stops. The ride lulled him to sleep faster than laying around with the family drooling over him would have, so he got more sleep and less milk during that time. And for some reason he also slept a good bit in the afternoon. So come night he was more hungry and less sleepy. Between 10 and 4 he woke pretty much every hour wanting to nurse. I would nurse him and put him back in the cradle, hoping this time he would sleep for a few hours. Finally at 4 I had had it. I asked Daddy to bring him to me (since I just couldn’t face lowering the foot rest yet again and then trying to get comfortable again with a baby in my arms) and kept him. He nursed briefly, and then slept until about 6:30. And so did I!

So the next night I did start him out in the cradle, but he had been awake for a good hour and a half or more before, and nursed thoroughly right before bedtime. He slept for about half an hour, and when he woke up hungry. I fed him, then had to pee, so I put him back in the cradle. He slept 3 or so hours, then woke to eat again. I got him and kept him with me the rest of the night.

And l slept much better!

So what is your take on co-sleeping? Do you like it? Do you fear rolling over on the baby and prefer to keep him nearby in a cradle? Or does his every peep keep you so alert that you find it better to put him in a nearby room? Tell me about it!

Some people like to use a sponge for washing dishes. For years I avoided them, because they always became smelly. But even the green scouring pad became smelly, and I never liked it. I knew the smell was caused by bacteria, which was nasty.

For several years, I used the non-cellulose sponges, because they were more airy and dried out before the smell-inducing bacteria could grow. But I didn’t like them very much.

Then back in April we moved into a rental house, where we wait for our home the tree fell on to be fixed. There I started using small, cheap cellulose sponges, planning on washing them whenever they got smelly (since I could buy 6 for a dollar at the dollar store). But I noticed something: they didn’t get smelly. They would get stained and torn and eventually wear out, but they never got smelly. Even when I switched to bigger, two-sided cellulose/green scrubber sponges, the lack of smell continued, even when the sponges didn’t have time to dry out between uses.

Well, this week I finally figured it out. It’s the dish soap I’m using! Back in March, I started using Melaleuca’s Lemon Brite handwashing dish detergent, and I haven’t had a problem with smelly sponges ever!

I believe it works because of the Melaleuca oil in it. Melaleuca oil is antiseptic, so it kills off all the bad bacteria before they have a chance to make the sponges smelly.

Melaleuca oil is a high-quality form of what is more commonly known as tea tree oil. I’m very happy with Melaleuca’s detergent, so I probably won’t ever try this, but I suppose someone could get some tea tree oil at the pharmacy and add it to whatever dish detergent they are currently using–but that just seems like a lot of work to me. That might give similar results, though tea tree oil is much lower quality than pure Melaleuca oil.

I especially like how this detergent doesn’t dry my hands out like some do, and it’s not made with harsh chemicals, so it’s safe for the environment too. Not that I’m all into saving the earth, but I figure doing my part is good stewardship, and if I can do something without a lot of effort, it makes me feel good.

What do you think? What do you use to wash dishes? A dish cloth? A sponge? Something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, what dish detergent do you like and why? Please share.

I think one of the most annoying things on earth is a screaming toddler when his will has been crossed. Kind of like a siren, only it’s right in your ear. People stop and stare at you. You just know they are thinking all kinds of judgmental thoughts about you, like, “Why can’t that mom get her kid under control.” (More than likely, they’re probably thinking, “I’m glad that’s not my kid!”–not that that is any better.) And all you can think is, “I just wish I could make my baby stop crying!!!”

But now there is hope! I have learned a method that, if used consistently, will help teach a child self-control so that you don’t have to make a spectacle of yourself every time you have deny him something he wants. It’s not an overnight fix, but it with consistency it can make your life much easier!

First, though, I want you to watch this video, where I describe the technique and give a few cautions. An outline is available below for those who prefer to have things written down–or in case you want to print it.

Here are the main points:

  • Don’t use on a tiny baby or on a child who is hurt or has a real need
    • Newborns cry for legitimate needs–meet their needs!
    • Use for older babies and toddlers who are crying because their will was crossed
    • Don’t use on children over 3 years old–time outs and reasoning are better for that age
  • Start using this method at home; don’t start in public
    • It will take longer initially, then shorter each time
    • Be consistent at home; that will make it easier to deal with away from home
    • Later, when child surrenders quickly, you could use this in public to avoid attracting so much attention
  • The method:
    • Hold them, restraining arms if necessary
    • Cover mouth with your hand as they cry out
    • Do NOT cover their nose
    • Remove hand when they breathe in
    • Repeat as needed
    • Remain calm throughout (frustration feeds the child’s negative emotions)
    • Talk soothingly to them
    • Continue until they surrender–never give up before they surrender!
  • This method teaches the child self control, laying the foundation of a very valuable character trait

Something I didn’t mention in the video is that if you asked the child to do something and he started screaming, you can use this method to calm him, but be sure to bring the first issue back around, repeating as needed until he submits.

With that introduction, here is the video demonstration of the method with my son. Please note that it is short because I had been using it frequently for 2 or 3 days prior to making the video. It will not be this short the first time you try it!

Works for me! Any questions?

I have recently started blogging more. But this doesn’t mean I have time to sit down and write up something every time I think of it. However, if I don’t, I might forget it, and not think of it again for a long time. So I do the logical thing: I write it down.

Now, carrying a pen and paper around isn’t very practical for me. For some it is. Or maybe some would keep a pen and notepad in every room of the house. But I have an iPod, so I have a note called “Things to blog about” where I record all my ideas, deleting them as I use them. That way at any given time, I might have half a dozen ideas available to blog about when I have time.

So when I sit down to blog, if nothing comes to mind, I can pull up my list of ideas and pick something to write about.

I have also found this useful for making outlines. Sometimes when an idea strikes, it is more involved than just putting down, “Writing ideas down so I have a list of things to blog about when I can’t think of anything.” That note in my iPod, along with “(WFMW)” to remind me that it would be a Works for Me Wednesday post, is all I need to remember exactly what I wanted to write about.

But what if I wanted to write a “Top 10 Reasons Why …” post? What are the odds I could remember all 10 reasons when I sit down to write? Pretty nil! So as I think of things, I will add them to the list as well. It only takes a few seconds, but when I do sit down to write, I can focus on writing and not waste time trying to remember what I thought of yesterday or last week.

Works for me!

A couple of years ago I found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I thought, What a great idea to save money! I bought the ingredients and made up my first batch, storing it in a large plastic trash can (for lack of a bucket). I made countless batches after that one, experimenting with different soaps (from the traditional Fels Naptha to Ivory soap), and using at least 3 different washers (one of them a front loader).

After all that experimenting, I have decided that it simply isn’t as good as the commercial stuff. I have piles of whites that are dingy and graying–not even hanging them on the clothes line or using bluing will make them whiter. Maybe if I used bleach on a regular basis, they would look better (I do use it occasionally), but with a septic tank, I don’t want to use it too often.

So right now I’m using some clear and free stuff my mom bought for me, and will probably switch back to Arm & Hammer powdered laundry detergent sooner or later. That’s what I used before my foray into making my own, and my whites looked much better then than they do now!

So click on the link at the top to find out what doesn’t work for other people. If you have every tried homemade laundry detergent and had good results, I would love for you to share your story. Post a comment and tell me about it or link to your blog post if you blogged about it.

I have a friend (Hi if you are reading this) who has a dream of learning to make good bread by hand. I admire her. But I do not share her dream. I love my bread machine! I mean, I have two little kids. That explains everything, right? To save time, I decided to make an audio post–a blogcast?–about it. I recorded it on my iPod, so you will need Quicktime to listen.

Here is the recipe I use:

1 c water (I use a scant cup)
2 1/2 c fleshly ground whole wheat flour*
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp soy flour
1 Tbsp gluten flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp light Smart Balance spread
2 Tbsp molasses (or honey, or mix of both)

I put these into the machine roughly in this order. Of course, now I mix it first, so that there is no water to leak out of the pan. I set it to the fast rise wheat setting, which I have tweaked to allow a little more kneading time and a little extra rise time. Then when it beats it down after the 1st rise, I take the paddle and dough out, shape the dough, and put it back in, minus the paddle. Voila! Delicious bread with very little effort! Works for me!

Doesn't that look delicious?

* I actually use 2 cups of flour as finely ground as I can get it in my Champion Juicer grain grinder, and 1/2 cup of more coarsely ground flour–my husband likes it better that way. If you like lighter bread, use 1/2 cup white instead. When I make dinner rolls, I use 1 cup white and 1 1/2 cups wheat. I also find that I need to use a little extra because of the flour I use; maybe my wheat is more moist than store-bought flour would be.


Have you ever decided to make a recipe, only to discover that you don’t have any breadcrumbs on hand—or not enough bread available with which to make some? I have, more than once. Especially when the recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs. But now I almost always have extra bread for breadcrumbs, and I usually have some dried bread available too.

Growing up, my mom loved the heels of the bread best. My brother and I were glad to let her have them. Even now I don’t much care for the ends of the bread, but I also don’t want to waste them. If I let them sit around until I have enough to fill a cookie sheet to dry for breadcrumbs, they’ll get moldy. And I hate heating up the oven for only 2 or 4 slices—and heels and regular slices take different lengths of time to dry anyway. So whenever I finish a loaf of bread, I put the heels in a bag in the freezer.

It only takes a couple of minutes to thaw out the slice or two I will need to make my soufflé (which uses fresh breadcrumbs). And when the bag starts to get full, or when I get low on dry bread, I will fill a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 250, checking them every 30-40 minutes (less as they get closer to being done). Once dry, I can blend them in the blender for breadcrumbs and store them in a jar, or I can put them in a corner of the breadbox in a ziplock storage bag for use however whenever. If my son could eat wheat, I would let him gnaw on them for teething. Though I would probably use the middle of the bread for that, not the ends.

So if you don’t care for the ends of the bread, don’t throw them away. Save them for a rainy day!

Works for me!

Have you ever bought a package of mushrooms, only to have them go bad before you could use them—or use them all? I have, more than I care to remember. But not anymore!

At our local grocery store, I can buy mushrooms in bulk. They also sometimes have paper bags nearby. It took me a while to figure out why. Now I know.

You see, mushrooms are a kind of fungus, but they can spoil once picked, if conditions are too moist. Leaving them in the plastic containers they are often sold in does not allow them to breathe, so if they are not used within 3 or 4 days, they start to spoil.

However, putting them in paper solves that. They will stay fresh for nearly a week, at which point they will begin to dry out (provided you didn’t put them in the vegetable bin, which would keep them too moist). However, if they dried out quickly enough, they will still be edible. Have you ever had a recipe call for dry mushrooms? They also seem to have a more concentrated flavor. My husband likes them that way. I still prefer them fresh and succulent, but will eat them either way.

So if you bring your mushrooms home in plastic, put them into a paper bag—lunch bag size is ideal—and keep them on a shelf in the fridge. That way you will almost never have to deal with slimy, spoiled mushrooms!

Have you ever pulled something out of the fridge and gone, “I wonder how long this has been in here…”?

Yeah, me too. For some things, it doesn’t matter so much how long it’s been there, especially if you have plans to use it in a day or two. But in my house, sometimes my husband wants to know how long something has been there. So here is the solution I came up with:

It’s so easy. All I do is whip out my trusty dry-erase marker (which is on my fridge anyway, because that’s how I write out my daily to-do lists) and write the contents and the date it went in there. This works for anything from Rice Milk (which is what you see above–tutorial on how to make it is coming next week) to leftovers to, well, anything. It will write on metal or plastic (one of the lids is plastic and the other is metal). They will wash off with a damp cloth later. You can write it on smooth plastic storage container lids too. Textured lids will be harder to clean, but I have done it.

I used to try using masking tape, but then I could never find it. Or it was too old and hard to get off. Or it would stick to the lid and make a mess to clean up. This method works so easily and cleans up so nicely!

So that’s what works for me!

See if you can spot the problem with this photo:

It’s easy to miss from this angle. Maybe a toddler’s perspective will help:

Pretty obvious now, eh? Let me tell you my story.

It was last fall. My memory says it was the day after Thanksgiving. I had cooked millet overnight in the crock pot for a recipe, and after taking out what I needed, I moved it out of my way. But I didn’t think about the cord.

Manny came into the kitchen, and the cord was the first thing to catch his notice. Something new! So exciting. So he did what any normal toddler would do. He pulled.

A moment later, my heart nearly stopped as I whirled around to see Manny laying on the floor, surrounded by pieces of broken glass and bits of cooked millet. The crock was upside down on his left, the lid shattered. But he was unhurt! He was crying as if he had just had the fright of his life–and indeed he had–but he was okay.

If the crock had landed on his head, I imagine it could have killed him. I am convinced his angel pushed it out of the way. I’ll double check when I get to heaven. Daddy came running and snatched him out of the mess, while I tried to calm my shaking knees with the thought that he was okay, and proceeded to clean up the mess. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life!

So now, when I move the crock pot, I make sure it looks like this:

Just in case you’re wondering, I found a “new” lid a while later at the Goodwill.