Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pintesting in the Kitchen - Deconstructed Guacamole Salad

I love avocados, tomatoes, onions, and guacamole. So when I saw this pin for a deconstructed guacamole salad I was too excited. It seemed as if I just couldn't make it fast enough. Soon enough I had.
How was it? Kind of terrible :( I'm going to operate under the assumption this was my bad and that I made it incorrectly somehow. I guess I'll have to try it again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Life With Less

Anyone who has ever helped me move, and I've moved a lot - can tell you that I have a lot of stuff. When I say a lot I'm really not exaggerating. When I moved from my beloved, native state of Virginia to Ohio I was able to fill a 26' UHaul with no issue and still ended up filling my Ford Escape. Does a single person need that much stuff? Does anyone!?

Both my father and my husband "like" to complain about all of my junk. My husband even tries to throw things away when I'm not looking. In my defense, there have been times when he's tried to throw out items still in boxes that we needed or items Ive been searching for. And my father would have me throw out all of my food when I moved if he had it his way - but this seemed insanely wasteful and I've always refused to throw away perfectly good food.

I even move my junk drawer. No joke. I'd get out a box and dump the drawer into it and "helpfully" label it, "junk drawer."

Filled with a desire to have more space, less things to have to pick up, and a house full of items that are actively in use rather than in storage I've set about drastically cutting down.

The bar chairs I bought for my first apartment have really only useful to me back then. In fact, recently my daughter pulled another girl off one and the chair came down on top of both of the. While this was a learning experience for all involved - the chairs mostly just took up space.
Four, three-legged, side tables that look like elephants bought for an apartment I lived in over seven years ago.
The list of things like this went on and on so I've been doing my best to utilize Craigslist to clear out the house.

For any of you who may also be interested in doing something similar in your own home I suggest you only get rid of items you're ready to get rid of. First, decide if this is what you want to do. Second, think about what areas you may want less clutter in. Third, pick out items you know you haven't been using and may never use again. Then once you're ready take action towards getting them out of your house.

Remember, books and household items can be sold in a variety of ways. I suggest Craigslist, second-chance shops, and consignment stores - I don't really have the time or patience right now to deal with eBay or Etsy to get rid of certain items.

You're best off not expecting to make tons of money from any of these options. I had a four and a half foot, wooden, corner cabinet with glass doors I put up on Craigslist for $35, and after having people ask me to take multiple measurements of the item I was told the price was too high and the item was smaller than they wanted. That's just the way Craigslist is.

There's also the option of just giving things away on either sites like Freecycle or to people you know. If you live in a city you're probably aware of how often people pick up things they find sitting near the trash that they want.

I'm sure anyone who helps us move again will in the very least be thrilled I've gotten rid of approximately *eight metric tons of books.

*slight exaggeration

Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting Out Gorilla Glue

Yesterday I posted about using Gorilla Glue on a project whose details I have no yet revealed. If you read the post you should already be aware that my mind was partially elsewhere since I didn't notice the part where I needed to heat my homemade glue to finish making it *facepalm.*

If you've never used Gorilla Glue I should warn you - it's some serious stuff. It's super strong and it also puffs up when it's drying.

True to the days fashion of my mind being someplace else I began crafting away with this super strong adhesive while not wearing anything to protect my hands. What you may be thinking at this point is correct. When I finished I found I had a problem. My fingers were covered in a glue I had zero desire to have to go toe-to-toe with.

I began frantically washing my hands, you know, because freaking out always helps. I started by using some soap I had by the sink. It didn't help. I grabbed some nail polish remover that is somehow still in my home and was even in the kitchen right then and used that on my fingers. Still no go. Panic was setting it.

I hollered to my husband who was in the living room and told him that I'd glued my fingers. Once he finally stopped laughing I was able to get him to help. Eventually I directed him towards the internet to look for the solution that was eluding us.

Hot water or olive oil were what he came back with. I opted to use both. I had him sparingly pour some olive oil onto my hands which I then proceeded to thoroughly rub in and then rinse in water that I had as hot as I could stand. I did this a few times.

My fingers managed to eventually come away not coated in glue but I still had quite a bit on my fingertips, under my nails, and in the case of two of my fingers - all along my cuticles.

The next day I went back to work on my project. I let it sit in the kitchen drying while my husband vacuumed and I fed our son.

To cut to the chase - my daughter let herself into the kitchen and started playing with my project. When I went into the kitchen I saw the project had been a little messed up but thought it was just items sliding around in the glue and not staying put.

This was not the case. My little lamb told me that she was in there looking for her broom and that she wanted to sweep. I began to look for it but needed to use the restroom (moms of young children often find themselves needing to pee and unable to use the restroom for hours at a time) so I asked my husband to get her broom for her. Then I heard him ask her what was all over her face and hands.

Oh no. . .

I told him about how my project had been messed with and that I'd found her near it and that it could very well be Gorilla Glue.

It was.

My husband used a washcloth to wipe some of the glue off and then let her be.

Worried about toxins seeping in through her skin and just how generally uncomfortable this was going to be for her I revisited the olive oil solution.

She whined as I wiped the olive oil all over the places I knew the glue to be. When I had finished I had my husband go back over the spots for good measure and then rinse her face with warm water.

The glue was now gone.

And that, dear readers, is how you get out Gorilla Glue.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Home-made Non-Toxic Chemical-Free Unhyphenated-Glue

So sorry about that title - I think I'm funny.

Anyhow I had a craft in mind that was going to call for glue and shocker of shockers I preferred to keep my project as natural and child-safe as I felt I could.

I found this recipe for home-made glue using a simple Google search.

I got all my materials together.

Put the flour into the jar first.

Then water.
Then the sugar and vinegar.

I gave it a good shake but saw there was still a noticable amount of flour at the bottom so I used an iced tea spoon to reach in and stir the rest of the mix.
I tried the glue out and it was a bit watery and didn't seem to be bonding my items at all.

I ended up just using Gorilla Glue to make sure my choking hazard wouldn't be coming off any time soon.

After letting the glue sit for a while the glue would separate so I would just  shake the jar a bit.

After all that work when I began to write my post I realized I spaced out on a pretty important step. I needed to heat the glue. No wonder it wasn't working for me!!!

Homemade Playdough

Play-dough, so many of us played with it as children and it provides an excellent outlet for sensorial and imaginative play. It seemed like time to introduce my little lamb to the magic of play dough. So I made some.

Using Google instead of Pinterest for once I found a recipe I was happy with.

This recipe comes together really quickly.

It's just a matter of gathering your ingredients,

mixing them together,

heating them on medium heat over the stove

while whisking away until the mix thickens,

and then kneading your play-dough smooth.
If you wear rings you're going to want to take them off before you begin kneading the dough.
Where things began to take more time for me was colouring the play-dough. Knowing that my little lamb was going to put this into her mouth whether I wanted her to or not I wanted this to be as non-toxic as I could manage. And the standard store-bought, food colouring dyes really aren't as non-toxic as you may assume.

Seperate the dough as evenly as you can into as many balls as you think you will be able to have colours for.
For yellow I used Tumeric (you're going to end up needing quite a bit of this) and for orange I used Paprika.
Blue was one of my more difficult colours. I took some frozen blueberries and heated them in the microwave. After squeezing out the juice I added baking soda until I had something resembling blue. I used more blueberries than shown here. This is the amount I started with before I realized just how much I was going to need.
For red I used a frozen mix of wild berries.
Just add the colour slowly to the ball of dough you wish to colour and knead it in as thoroughly as you can. Continue doing this until you have the colour you were hoping for or close enough to it that you no longer care ;p.
Seal in an airtight container to insure your play-dough doesn't dry out quickly.

When I finally gave my little one the play-dough to enjoy the first thing she did was try to eat it, the second, was sniff it. Non-toxic win.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Hands on Adventure A Children's Museum - (Pt. 3 The Final Countdown)

The next morning I woke up and checked my email. There was a response:

First, let me say that I take your comments very seriously. At AHA! we strive very hard to provide excellent customer service and when a situation occurs where a customer is dissatisfied, we want to do everything we can to amend the situation.

When you were invited to move to the nest to feed your child, it was only with concern for your comfort, not to cause distress as it obviously did. You were alerted to the nest because many new visitors don't realize that we offer this area for their convenience. Many, many of our guests appreciate the comfy chair and out of the way location where they can feed their babies without so many distractions. Most of the time when mothers use the nest, their other children play nearby in the market, at the bank, or at the art tables. We have learned that every mother is different and some mothers want more privacy while nursing their babies (some even go to their cars) while others are comfortable and discrete feeding their babies in more open spaces. Our goal is to make sure we offer alternatives so that mothers can choose.

While the presentation of the information could have been more tactful, and obviously more responsive to your replies, I assure you that was not the intention. Our staff is trained to offer accommodations such as the nest, lockers, and lunch tables to make customers more comfortable. Unfortunately, our efforts on this day made you uncomfortable, the exact opposite effect we were hoping to achieve.

I offer to you my sincerest apologies for the discomfort and upset this situation has caused. Your comments will be taken to heart in the manner in which we make other mothers aware of their options in the future. All mothers have a choice as to where they feed their babies while at AHA! and our staff must use caution to not imply that one place is better than any other.

Should you choose to share your address with me, I would be happy to send you some guest passes so that you and your daughter can come to play at AHA! again as our guests. I am sorry that the situation left your with unpleasant memories but want to make it up to you with this gift and with our promise to have better awareness in the future.

Sincerely and with my apologies,
[Name Redacted]
Executive Director 


Where do I begin?

1) I wasn't invited. I'd been given the distinct impression it was their way or the freeway.

2) Having an option for a woman to breastfeed in any way that makes leaves them feeling comfortable to do so while away from their home is great.
I called my husband to ask his opinion. I had no idea what I should do next. We opted to take the passes. I sent an email back with my information and said nothing to her further.

I attempted contacting The Columbus Underground but I suppose this story was of no interest because I was ignored.

It has not been my attempt over these last three posts to tell you to besmirch the name of A Hands on Adventure A Childrens Museum. My intention was to make you aware of how this sort of situation really is happening all over and can happen to any breastfeeding mother.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Hands On Adventure! A Children's Museum (Pt.2 - The Nest)

All was well inside the 4,000 square feet of AHA!

So far my biggest problem had been a woman who tried to shame my daughter for splashing in the water table and whose daughter then threw a toy at her face because she got splashed (the woman did nothing about her own daughters action.)

I was handed a copy of the rules when I arrived and rechecked. Splashing is actually encouraged.

Nap time ended for my son and expectedly, he woke up hungry.

I found myself a spot off to the side of the exhibits where I would still clearly be able to watch my daughter and sat down. I sat there preparing to breastfeed and I noticed an employee that was headed out a back door. She noticed me as well, only for her it seemed like less of an in passing glance at a person minding their own business in a busy room. The look of her face told me that I was in trouble.

Her expression changed when she saw me, she stopped heading out the door and made a bee-line for me and had stopped getting myself comfortable in  preparation to feed my son when I saw this very angry looking employee headed to me as fast as it seemed she could. I just stared as she headed right for me.

When she reached me she told me, "You can't do that here." In complete disbelief anyone would say that to me I just stared at her with a look that may have almost made her wonder if I understood English. I was really just that shocked. She repeated, "You can't do that here. We have a nest."

"A nest?", I asked. What on earth was this woman talking about. What does a nest have to do with breast-feeding? Doesn't she know that state law says that I am allowed to breast-feed any public place into which I'm permitted? What was going on!?

She got me to my feet and began telling me how if I needed to breast-feed my son I was going to have to do it in this nest . . . someplace else. I told her I was there with my little girl and that I needed to watch her. She told me to just leave her there to play. Apparently neither of us was doing very well speaking English at each other. I told her once more that I needed to be able to watch my child. She then told me that I was going to have to take her with me into this mysterious nest she wouldn't stop talking about.

"You'll be able to see your daughter from the nest," she said.

Somehow I'd now been brought to my feet and was being hurried in the opposite direction of my daughter and into another room. I passed a few women from my Meetup group standing together and quickly asked the group if they would keep an eye on my daughter saying that I was being told I had to go someplace else. There was really no time for any in depth explanation.

On this perp walk to the nest the woman kept telling me how cozy and how lovely the nest was.

She then directed me to sit down. Still in total shock I sat. I suppose feeling satisfied from keeping me from an act of percieved public indeceny she left me to nurse.

The nest was not cozy.
The nest was not lovely.

In fact the rocking chair didn't even look very clean when I saw it.

I felt like I had been treated like a child and placed in time out.

The longer I sat there the more upset I felt.

Because if nothing else I couldn't see my daughter AT ALL.

When I held my phone all the way up to my face this is what it looked like from inside the nest.
There was barely any room to rock and if you suffer from claustrophobia you would have found this even more nightmarish than I did.

I sat uncomfortably, nursing my son, and straining to see if there was any way I could see the daughter I had hurried left in another room.. This is the best you can hope to see when attempting to look through the "branches."

There really was no seeing over it either.

When the forced time-out ended I looked around making sure to take pictures of this deer blind I'd been placed into under duress and in violation of both Ohio state law and my civil rights.

I noticed that "the nest" is placed directly next to the administrative office.

And had my child been playing in the grocery area I would have had almost less chance of watching her from "the nest" than I had of watching her at the water table. There's a shelf right there which would have made viewing her impossible.
 I spent the rest of the day feeling upset, confused, and violated.

What on earth was I going to do?

I sent a letter. This letter:

Subject: Violation of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55 (2005)

Today in A Hands on Adventure, in Lancaster, Ohio my rights as a breast-feeding mother in this state were violated. I was stopped from publicly nursing my one month old son and ushered into "a nest." It caused a minor scene, I was unable to watch my other child from the location I was placed into under duress, and the entire event has left me upset and uncomfortable.
I was told I could watch my other child, a two year-old from inside the nest and I was not. It was also suggested that I take my child who was fully engrossed in play into "the nest" which would not have accommodated her as well. I could not have been able to get her to stop enjoying herself to wrestle with her in an enclosed space while attempting to breastfeed.

I would appreciate being contacted back about this matter ASAP before I take any further actions about this upsetting violation of my civil rights.

And then I waited.

Part 3 concluding this story will be tomorrows post.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Hands On Adventure! A Children's Museum (Pt.1 - Before The Storm)

A few weeks ago some of you may have seen (either via my Twitter, my Instagram, or my Facebook fan page) that I went to A Hands On Adventure A Children's Museum in Lancaster, Ohio.

 "AHA!" boasts:

AHA! A Hands-on Adventure, A Children’s Museum is a 4000 sq. ft. facility in Lancaster, Ohio. The museum was designed and built for children ages 0-7 because of the limited number of educational activities available for this age group in this county.  Older children are welcome to visit, and often do, although we ask them and their parents to have realistic expectations.

The museum has been open to the public since March of 2008. Since then, over 86,000 children and adults have visited, surprising the founders and impressing the community! Visitors have come from as far away as Europe although most hail from within a 50-mile radius of Lancaster.

Twenty-four exhibits and activity areas are featured at the museum, including an 11” Fire Engine with a fire dousing laser, a Ball Mountain of tunnels and tubes, Question Boxes with their mysteries inside and a Healthy Choices bike which tells how much cycling you need to burn off food items. In addition to the new items, the museum also features a Water Table, the Honeycomb Climbing Structure, a Laser Harp, the Build-a-House and the Pretend Play area which includes a Market, Bank, Pizza shop, Veterinarian’s office and Theatre.  Each exhibit carries with it educational components which align with the Ohio Department of Education’s Academic Content Standards and guidelines for preschool learning and Kindergarten readiness. Surveys have indicated that the children’s favorite exhibits are the Theatre, Fire Engine, Water Table and Honeycomb Climber while the parents’ favorite is the Laser Harp.

AHA! receives no taxpayer funding and its existence is solely supported by admission fees, memberships, grants, sponsorships and donations. The “staff” of six includes five part-time employees. The contributions of numerous volunteers help fill in the gaps and everyone from the executive director to our own “Mr. Clean”, is a highly motivated multi-tasker!

Having somewhat recently switched our household over to a hybrid of Steiner and Montessori style learning, play, and environment I couldn't have been more excited to visit 4000 square feet of sensory play for my little lamb.

I'd learned about AHA! through one of my Meetup groups. In the past year my daughter seemed a bit too young to go but at two years-old this now seemed like a perfect and viable option for us. The Meetup listed the price of admission as $5 but did not clarify that unlike area play cafe's where you pay for your child that the adult also needs to pay admission.

Not being from Ohio, and knowing next to nothing about Lancaster I was worried about finding parking. My worry was needless because AHA! has it's own parking lot and if for any reason it were full I think you should have no problem finding parking in the immediate area.

As I stood there paying my $10 admission fee my daughter took off into the museum and began playing. I asked the person working the front if that was alright and they assured me it was.
It didn't take long for her to find a very serious water table.

She loved it, returning often to continue playing in it and sometimes washing her hands in it.

I knew but hope she wouldn't go from the water table to the sand table

and make an unwanted mess of herself for me to clean up - but she did go from one to the other. The mess really wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought she'd make.

The exhibits were amazing.
The play house that children can help build using faux bricks was really interesting. I'd never seen anything like it.
You can request face paints from the front and allow your little people to sit and paint their faces.
The fishing area was pretty darling to me. The poles were all set up similar to how pool cues are and most children seemed able to remove them with little to no problem
At the end of the strings would be a magnet which they would use to pick up fish that also had a magnet attached to them. However, my daughter felt that fake fishing, much like real fishing, should be done in real water; so she brought a pole over to the water table where she attempted to fish.

She sat down and drove for a moment but quickly lost interest.

I was a little bummed she showed no interest in gardening lol.

The shopping carts from the grocery area seemed to be pretty popular

but I had an expected issue with repeatedly trying to explain to my sweetheart that those fruits and veggies do NOT go into her mouth.
So she took them over to the water table and told me in her two year-old way that she was cleaning the pesticides off.
Soon she had other children following suit.
The excersize bikes were really darling.
Children could even punch in if they'd eaten certain common children's snacks

 and then sit down and burn them off it they wanted.
 Everything was going really well

and I was really impressed with the entire place

until there was an incident that left me seriously uncomfortable and fightin' mad.

Because today's post is already so long come back tomorrow to find out what on earth could upset mild-mannered me so much I considered media intervention.