Off to the Potty!!

Everyone told me potty training can be hard.  Everyone told me boys are harder than girls.  Well, of course it’s going to be hard to teach my tiny humans to suddenly stop peeing while playing and- stop, tell mommy they have to go, get to the potty, and complete the process in the proper place.  And as to the “boys are harder than girls”- I say every kid is different, period.

So a few weeks ago (maybe a little longer), we decided that we were going to begin potty training D2.  He showed us that he was most certainly ready in more ways than one.  Since then, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs.  We haven’t really pushed him to go, and some days have been marginally better than others.  We’ve made trips to the grocery store and home in dry pants, and barely made it to lunch without getting back into a diaper.  But today, I think he’s finally turned the corner to success!!

This morning once we got breakfast started, off with the diaper we went.  I don’t really monitor him the first hour or even two in the morning, since he’s gone roughly 12 hours with no fluids.  But around that 2 hour mark, he told me he had to pee.  So I put him in the bathroom, on the potty (he refuses to use the baby potty, so ok..) and he went!!  Yay!  No prompting from mommy!  He got his candy (yes, I like the reward system) and back to playing.  About 45 minutes later, he did it again, and about a half hour after that!  I am so excited for him!!

This will probably be my last potty training post since I feel like it’s a bit of an overshare.  But I wanted to say that I really thought for awhile that D1 had “spoiled” us with being so easy.  It turns out that D2 really is as well, we just hadn’t hit the right time for him (even though he had every readiness sign in the book and more).  So if you’re currently struggling a little with potty training, I recommend taking a step back and stressing a little less.  Make it more of an “if they want to go they can” rather than an “ok we are doing this today” attitude.  If they have the idea, they’ll tell you exactly when they’re ready to GO!

Canning Supplies

I’ve been writing a lot recently about summer preserving (Post 1 and Post 2).  I have had a blast, and knowing that we will be able to enjoy all of these great fruits and veggies after their long gone from the farms, is a great thought!

When I was looking over all of my canning supplies, I realized that it would be helpful to put together a list of the things you need to begin canning!  It took me quite a few trips to various stores and a few months of canning to come up with everything I needed (and maybe down the road there will be something else I decide to add to my collection).  So far, here is what I have:

  • The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (find it here on Amazon!)
  • Jars, lids and bands.  Jars can be used from year to year; bands will be able to be used for several years unless they’re damaged.  Jars all come with lids and bands; after your first year, you’ll need more lids- they are to be disposed of once you open and empty a jar of canned goods.
  • Canner.  I opted for a pressure canner, that I also use to can items that are not “pressure” canned.  I have a Presto and I love it!  It came with a rack and the pressure gauges; it holds 7 quarts or 10 pints.  The particular one I have works well on my electric flat top stove, which is something to consider when you’re purchasing.  If you have an electric stove- you should have a canner that sits flatly on the burner, and does not sit on the area around the burner.  I have not had any issues canning or pressure canning on electric.  Eventually, I think I’ll convert to a gas stove, and my canner can most certainly be used with gas as well.
  • Sterilization pans- I use a large frying pan with water and turn my jars upside down to sterilize the jars, and a small saucepan to sterilize/heat my lids.  Most books recommend submerging your jars in your canner to sterilize, but as I’ve mentioned before, I use a combination of the older tried and true methods, and the new ones ;)
  • Spices.  Check the recipe of what you’ll be canning- from the veggie or fruit down to the spices (and usually vinegar).  And make sure to make a note of how much!  Vinegars could be white or apple cider and they’re usually one of your biggest components, along with sugar and canning/pickling salt.  Personally, there were at 10-15 or maybe more spices that I accumulated in my first weeks of canning that I didn’t typically have on hand!
  • A few specialty canning supplies that I highly recommend having are a jar lifter, a magnetic grabber for your lids, a funnel, cheesecloth, a chinois (if you’re making jelly), and a jar tightener/opener.
  • Other common household items to have on hand include a kitchen towel (or two), timer, pot holders, a large bowl for holding sliced/peeled items, a food processor if you’re making anything that requires you to slice, and damp paper towels (for wiping the rim of the jar after filling, before placing the lid/band).

It seems like a lot writing it all down, but the items that are canning specific are usually the only items that you don’t already have lying around!  And some things are more just nice to have (food processor) versus and actual necessity.

I hope you find this list useful if you’re just starting out.. and if you’re a seasoned pro (which I wouldn’t call myself just yet), is there anything I missed?!

Adventures in Summer Preserving (2)

As I mentioned last week, the summer fruit and veggie season are in full swing here in my area of Pennsylvania. In the last day and a half, I have canned and frozen everything from my garden and our local Amish farms that I could imagine doing for the next two weeks. I am absolutely exhausted (but this will save me stress next week when I am anxiously preparing for my best friends bridal shower)! So in the last day and a half, here is what I have done.. 3 batches (6-7 quarts each) of pickles- quick process sweet pickles, quick process dill pickles, and from scratch garlic dill pickles. I have one more batch brining at the moment, which will me made into bread and butter pickles tonight. Sauerkraut. This is a process and started by shredded 9 heads of cabbage and layering it with picking salt in a large (5+ gallon) container; it will sit for 2-6 weeks before it can be canned! This is my first sauerkraut experience so I will be excited to see how it turns out. Green beans. These I canned and blanched; in total I canned 7 quarts and 10 pints, and blanched roughly 15 quarts. And finally, sweet corn. We started with a little under 4 dozen, cut it off the cob, heated in a roaster until it was just hot, then dumped it into a bowl in the sink surrounded by ice water. Then it was bagged and frozen. The idea behind this particular process is that it locks in the juices and flavor without losing anything because it never actually touches water! Of course, I froze 2 more quarts of blueberries for D2 as well, because they are one of his favorites! I think I will have a break for the next 10+ days until peaches are in, and around that time the green beans will need picked again and hopefully the tomatoes will start to ripen and I can start my sauce. Am I forgetting anything? Probably.. Like I said, I am one sleepy lady!

Planes, Trains, Automobiles.. and Kids!

I saw something (for probably the hundredth or more time) on social media a few days ago that got my mommy self thinking.  Someone had commented that children shouldn’t be “allowed” on airplanes, which was followed by another comment that they should not be “allowed” in restaurants.

The first thing that bothered me about these proclamations was the wording (hence the quotation marks).  Children are not pets that are “allowed” in certain areas.  They’re always usually wearing a shirt and shoes, so it should be- no problem.

The second was the implication that since I am a parent, I should stay in my house at all times- no taking a night off from cooking dinner with anything but a pizza, and certainly no travelling.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love pizza as much as the next person, but sometimes we take our children with us for a nice dinner at a restaurant.  And as much as I enjoyed our 17 hour car trip to Florida 2 years ago, last year we decided to fly.  (Personally, next time it’ll be a car ride again but not because of my children, more because of being cramped in the airplane!)  Anyway, there’s a whole slew of reasons why this bothers me.  Yes, of course I will share!

Just because I have birthed two (and in a few months will birth a third) tiny humans, does not for one second mean that my husband and I should be banned from activities that we deem family appropriate.  That includes going out to eat, shopping (at the grocery store or other places), going to dinner, and (GASP) taking vacations.  We do not always have the best luck when it comes to our children behaving in all of these situations, but we absolutely do our best.  We try not to attend outings without food unless the munchkins are fed, and we talk with them or otherwise help to entertain them when necessary.  We have their food served first at restaurants and remove the children if they are simply having a meltdown, as toddlers often do.  Our first (and so far only) trip on an airplane included two borrowed iPads and a carry-on bag full of snacks and hand held toys.  Of course, when taking off both kids were a little bothered by the sensation, but there was no screaming.  D2 did have a slight meltdown on our return flight because it was naptime; we did the courteous thing and told those around us in advance and apologized, and every one of those passengers was warm and not even slightly rude for the roughly 8 minutes he fussed before falling asleep.  So, no sir, I will not restrict my family from experiencing life outside of their home because you are a grump!

One of the other main reasons I will not lock my children in their house or yard all day (besides the fact that it’s just weird), is that we were all tiny humans once.  Did you know that!?  Well, my point is that we all had to learn how to behave in social situations.  Had our parents kept us from experiencing the world, we would never have learned how to behave, and the same goes for our children.

Don’t get me wrong, there are restrictions on where and when I will take my kids, and this mama sure enjoys a dinner or shopping trip without them on occasion.  But for the most part, I want them with me as much as possible.  And the rude stranger who doesn’t approve is just going to have to get over it ;)

Birthing Your Baby- Induction

For those of you who don’t already know my stories, I was induced with D1 and went into labor spontaneously with D2.  Outside of D1′s labor being induced, I had a fairly natural experience as I had hoped.  I did receive a small amount of narcotic pain medication, which didn’t do anything but make me horribly sick, and the experience was as I had hoped.  However, when I went into labor with D2, it was an entirely different experience for me.

Throughout the ending weeks of my first pregnancy, I experienced 2-3 hours of early labor pains at a time, which were overall actually pretty painless.  They were consistent but never lasted long enough to deem “active” labor, and I was sent home 4 times after making my way into the hospital.  However, these contractions were enough to begin dilation.  My induction was scheduled on a Monday (or Tuesday?), and when the doctor had done a labor check during that appointment, I was dilated 4cm.  She (we) were concerned that if this continued as a virtually painless and slow process, that I would end up barely making it to the hospital (or possibly not making it to the hospital) when the time came for D1′s arrival.  The morning of my induction, the monitors showed contractions that I was not feeling, and I was dilated to 5cm.  Looking back, it’s likely that I would have gone into labor spontaneously later that day; and knowing what I do now, I truly believe I would have had him before I made it to the hospital.  As this does happen and usually is not as traumatic as it sounds, the cord was wrapped around D1′s neck twice, and fairly tightly.  I thank God every day that I had the nurses and doctor that I did, who helped him come into this world safely.

I wanted to share this story because I want it to be known to all of my readers that I am not “no business about it” against induction.  There are many MANY medical reasons that doctors and patients agree on induction (preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc).  I am NOT a medical professional and cannot tell you what is right for you and your unborn child.

This post is simply to tell you why, personally, after having that induction (which I would do again for medical reasons such as my circumstance and for many other medical reasons listed and not listed above) and having a 100% natural labor (no pitocin and absolutely no drugs), why I would hold off on an induction if it is simply a matter of choice.

When those first labor pains come, it can hit you pretty hard.  For me, it was more of the shock.  It was very discernable from the BH contractions.  And as the rhythm of them becomes apparent, you become acutely aware of the fact that you’re about to bring a life into this world.  In terms of a spontaneous labor, those contractions are usually mild and spaced out.  It’s your body’s way of preparing for what’s about to come, but it doesn’t hit you with some blinding pain right up front.  You have some time to get your stuff together, maybe relax (or have dinner if you’re me), and make your way into the hospital as they get closer together and more intense.  Throughout your labor it becomes more painful, but at the point you think I’m not sure if I can do this anymore, it’s time to meet that little baby- because it’s time to push!

When you’re induced there is some of that build up, it absolutely gets harder as the time goes on, but those very first pains you feel from an induction are much more intense, much stronger, and much more painful that what you feel during a spontaneous labor.  I compared my first contractions with D1′s labor to ones I felt during the last 2 hours of my labor with D2.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it since I had never experienced it before.  But now, I know that “it hurts more” is absolutely NO joke.

If you’re a mama like me who wanted to avoid interventions, especially in the pain medication department, an induction is something you want to avoid unless it’s medically necessary.  I would like to give my peace on that medication intervention as well while I have you, but we’ll save that for another day!

Adventures in Summer Preserving (1)

I have been pretty absent on the blog lately, and it’s due to a few things. The first being my pregnancy. Even though I almost 19 weeks (let’s be optimistic and say almost halfway through), I am still completely exhausted. And I truly love summer time, but I have never been pregnant when the weather is 80-90+ degrees, and it is brutal to say the least. Add to the pregnancy that we have been visiting with our family as much as possible, and you can see where my writing time has taken a hit.

These last two weeks though, I finally had the chance to start some of my summer canning and preserving! I am so incredibly excited when the fresh fruits and veggies start, and canning is such a great way to enjoy some of that summer freshness all year round!

The first thing on my to do list was strawberry jelly. It’s one of my husband’s favorites, but this was the first year that I have made it myself. Strawberries were in season for about a month here this year, ending abruptly with scorching hot weather alternating with downpours and hail. So I made 3 batches close together, and just in time for the season to end. Anyway, this is such an easy way to enjoy one of summer’s best fruits all year round! I use the process found here, with the exception that I pureed my berries.  A few things to note:

  • I puree my berries instead of chopping; for the strawberries I used my food processor because my husband does not like chunks
  • Sterile jars and lids are hot jars- I flip my jars upside down in a frying pan with water and allow them to steam; lids I put in water and allow to steam as well
  • I do not process my jelly after canning
  • For detailed information on canning, I recommend visiting the Ball canning website and the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning (found here on Amazon)- most of what I learned, I learned from my very experienced grandmothers :)

Next on the agenda were some veggies- broccoli and peas.  I decided to blanch and freeze these items, and I found the Pick Your Own website extremely helpful for cooking/cooling times for these veggies and others that I will be blanching in the coming weeks!

I have been also freezing blueberries, since they are one of D2′s favorites- that will continue while they are in season.  Berries are so simple- I place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and freeze them overnight.  In the morning I pop them into freezer bags and back into the freezer.

Finally, just this morning I finished up two batches of black raspberry jelly- my absolute favorite!!  This jelly is, by far, one of the longest processes in my canning season.  To create the juice for the berries, the berries are placed in a food processor, followed by a chinois, and then that same juice is pushed through a strainer to eliminate seeds.  I then cook the leftover pulp with some water on the stovetop, and repeat the chinois/strainer part of the process.  I made the juice last night and then the actual jelly this morning, because it is just too much work for a pregnant lady in this heat to do in one day!

So the real question is what is next on my list for summer preserving?  Well, corn has just started coming into season, so that is at the top of my list!  This week we are starting sauerkraut, which will be a first for me and can take up to 6 weeks!!  We’re planning to freeze some shredded zucchini for use in cooking (brownies, cakes, etc), because we have them coming out of our ears right now.  The green beans will be split between canning and blanching.  Cucumbers are coming on and growing quickly, which means pickles will be in our near future.  Peppers will be towards the end of the summer- some pickling and some freezing.  And my absolute favorite home canned item- SPAGHETTI SAUCE!  There are some other fruits to be canned, including pears and peaches (I am skipping the applesauce this year, since we still have some left over from last year).  It looks like I should have more than enough to keep me busy these next 2-3 months!

What are you favorite items to preserve while the summer months are here?

Breastfeeding “Class”

The quotation marks are simply because I wasn’t sure how else to describe it.. seminar, instructional meeting, perhaps?  Class seemed to fit best…

A few weeks ago, I attended a breastfeeding class with a friend who is expecting her second child later this summer.  She had attempted breastfeeding when she had her first, and felt that she could use some more information going into her second attempt.  As I’ve shared with my readers in the past, I formula fed my first two, but am interested in giving breast feeding a shot this last time around.

So off to this class we go.  It’s held at our hospital and instructed by one of the lactation consultants that we will meet again while in the hospital after having our babies.  The class was basically full, which was nice to see that there are other expecting mothers there who had questions.  And the LC who was in charge of the class was extremely nice, knowledgeable, and friendly.

During the course of the class we covered many, many different subjects in relation to breastfeeding, the most obvious being what to expect and feeding positions.  But we also covered a little bit about things some first time moms may have not been as experienced in- hunger cues, feeding schedules.  I learned a lot about how to hold a baby to get the baby to latch, and we also talked about support systems.

Overall, I would say that I found the class helpful.  Being a third time expecting mother, there was a great deal that I felt I knew going into the class, especially being that I had done the research about breastfeeding, and have close friends who have shared their experiences with me.  But I also learned from the experience.

There will be a learning curve when the time comes and I can confidently say that I will feel comfortable asking this and the other LC’s at the hospital anything and everything!