Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alaska local grains

I got a few 50 pound sacks of barley and wheat through the local food challenge. Since we are trying to get our place on the market most of it is at Mike's work at the moment. We just got a container for the barley and one for the wheat so I tried it out for the first time. It comes in berries that need to be ground if you want flour. I used the blend tech and it did a good job grinding it into a flour and didn't take much time.

I made a barley cornbread recipe from the cooperative extension and a pot pie with the whole wheat flour. The barley cornbread needs some tweaking. It was supposed to cook in 30 minutes and was no where near being done at 30 minutes. I used  ground up corn instead of corn meal and that might of been the reason although cornmeal is just ground up corn kernels. You can grow corn in Alaska if you have a greenhouse so I want to experiment with that. I found a recipe online for the whole wheat pot pie crust. It was more dough like this time but it cooked a little softer than I was hoping so I still need to experiment. I may just use some gluten if I can't find good recipes using all whole wheat. When we finish the rice I am going to use the barley in place of rice. The kids at least liked the food and I thought the pot pie was decent even though it wasn't perfect. Teddy at least liked the corn bread. Once we get the new place I have big plans for making bread, tortillas, pot pies, english muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, pasta, pizza and bagels with the grain. I am looking for recipes now and will experiment until I have something workable. I am not the best cook but luckily my friend google can provide some help.

In kid news Teddy has been extra fussy lately but he is doing great language wise and is adding some sounds he was having difficulty with. He is doing much better on outings and is doing great around other kids even ones younger than him. Cora is doing good but I wish listened to my worries and got her into therapy sooner. She is a little behind in her rolling and sitting skills and she has a curve in her spine that is common with torticollis. She is favoring sides with rolling too. I been so busy that I don't get to work with her as much as I like. I been trying a little bit of food with her and she is so funny about it. She dives after it with her mouth and starts chomping away but isn't using her hands to much with it yet. I don't think she eaten much yet but she enjoys sucking and chewing and gets mad when she loses what she was working on.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alaska Oil Tax Bill, HB110

Since having kids I haven't been as up on political issues as I have in the past. Today I got an email from my representative asking for support for the Governor's Oil Tax Bill HB 110. This bill would give 2 billion per year back to oil companies. That is 2 billion dollars of tax revenue that Alaska needs going to oil companies who make record profits.

 I don't support tax breaks for oil companies. They already pay less taxes than other companies and get money for exploration and development. We also pay for roads but do not support public transportation. Alaska is one of 3 states that does not provide any money for public transportation. Oil is a non renewable resource. We need to reduce our use of it and we will not do that by giving tax breaks to oil companies that make record profits. If we focused the money that we spend on tax breaks to oil companies on building sustainable smart growth cities and public transportation we wouldn't be so dependent on oil. Instead we built sprawlzilla communities that are heavily dependent on automobile travel and we are not prepared for the future like many other industrialized nations are doing. We need to build communities not roads.

Here is the letter I am sending to the representatives, the senators and the Governor

I do not support the oil tax bill HB 110. We do no need to lose 2 billion in state revenue for a program that "might" pay off down the road with more oil production. Trickle-down economics is a failed theory that does not work. It is not supported by the majority of economists. 

The oil industry already receives tax incentives that other companies do not get. We pay less money for oil in this country than most other industrialized nations. Oil companies do not need more tax breaks. The oil depletion allowance lets certain companies deduct 15% of the gross income they derive from oil and gas wells from their taxable incomes, and continue to do that for as long as those wells are still producing. An examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process. According to the most recent study by the congressional budget released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry. An economist for the Treasury Department said in 2009 that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than half of one percent.

There is no need to give tax breaks to a highly profitable business that would do what they do anyway. We are one of 3 states that do not provide any money for public transportation. We need to focus on supporting public transportation for our future not on giving a company that already receives tax incentives money.

The link to send them emails are below

WWMAS@muni.org Assembly members

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Backyard pets in Anchorage

One of the things I am looking forward the most about getting a new place is raising backyard animals for a local food source. I know a lot of people have backyard pets such as chickens in Anchorage but right now there is no code making them legal at the moment even though we do not restrict dog kennels and dogs in backyards.

The Anchorage Center for the Environemnt has this on their site about it http://akcenter.org/legalize-backyard-chickens-in-anchorage

Two and a half years ago, the Anchorage Assembly unanimously agreed to a new backyard pet code which would make backyard pets, such as chickens, legal in Anchorage.  This code has not yet been passed into law under the city's revised zoning code, which is finally being updated after 42 years. 

If you are a chicken owner, or care about building local, healthy food systems that connect you to your neighbors, then consider contacting your representatives on the Anchorage Assembly in favor of making backyard pets legal inAnchorage.  If you're really excited and want to make your voice heard, be sure to attend the Anchorage Assembly Meeting to testify on behalf of backyard pets on March 29, 2011, during the 6:00 p.m. portion of the meeting.  The meeting is held at the Assembly Chambers, Z.J. Loussac Library, 3600 Denali, Room 108.

WWMAS@muni.org contact for all Anchorage assembly members

Please contact the assembly to speak on behalf of backyard pets in Anchorage

Here is my letter

Anchorage Assembly members,

Two years ago you  unanimously agreed to a new backyard pet code that made backyard pets legal. Please pass a backyard pets code in the cities revised zoning code. Backyard pets such as chickens create a healthy local food systems right here in Anchorage. Backyard chickens control pests in the yard, create a great compost and lay eggs without creating a disturbance. If people can keep a kennel of sled dogs in their yard we should allow other backyard pets within reason.

Not allowing backyard pets does a great disservice to the people of Anchorage and restricts our rights. Please allow the houses and stables for backyard pets to be in backyard without huge setbacks from lot lines that make them illegal for most residents in Anchorage. There are no setbacks required for dog houses and there should not be any for other backyard pets. In cities across the US they allow backyard pets. There is no need to restrict them in Anchorage. They can be a great community builder and a great local food source in a location that needs more local food for our security. 

Thanks for your attention


Monday, March 21, 2011

Car seat safety

I am admittedly a bit of a car seat freak. I think that a lot of deaths can be prevented if kids are buckled securely in their seats. The AAP is finally recommended that toddlers stay in rear facing car seats until 2. I think a lot of parents think that you need to turn your babies at age 1. I think most are unaware how much safer rear facing is especially for  a 1 year old who spine still has a lot of developing to do and who heads are very big in proportion to their bodies. I put together a bunch of information on car safety since most people are not aware of how tight the harness should be, use bulky coats in the car and get rid of the booster before their kids actually fit the adult seat belt. 

Motor Vehicle Crashes are the #1 cause of death for children and adults, age groups 1 to 34.  Selecting a safe vehicle and properly using child restraints and seat belts may be the most important things you can do to protect your family. More than 80% of car seats are installed or used incorrectly. Here are some things you can do to keep your precious cargo as safe as possible in the car.
Rear face your child until the limits of their convertible seat

Most convertible seats allow you to switch your child forward facing at 1 year and 20 pounds. It is 500% safer to leave your child rear facing at age 1. To put it bluntly, the longer your child is rear-facing (meaning, faces the back of the car), the better. The reasons for this are quite simple, yet also very profound, and are based on an understanding of basic physics as well as an understanding of how the skeletal structure of a child develops. 

When your child is rear facing, he or she receives the maximum amount of protection available. In a crash, rather than your child's spinal column taking the crash forces, the child's seat absorbs them. The younger a child is, the larger the skull is in proportion to the rest of the child's body. This means that in a crash, the very large head can cause the spinal column to separate. Children under age two are five times (that's 500%!) more likely to be killed in a side impact crash when forward facing. The vertebrae of a young child is still in three pieces until 3-6 years of age; it simply cannot withstand the extreme force exerted when forward facing, even at a low speed crash.

You may think your child’s legs looks uncomfortable when rear facing. Most kids will sit criss cross when they are on the floor. Children can bend their legs, put them on the seat or sit criss cross. In Sweden they make rear facing seats that can hold a child until 5-6. Not surprisingly they have a low death rate for children in cars. My 3.5 year old sits very comfortably rear facing. It is kind of like having an ottoman available when you are sitting on a couch. Most convertible car seats now allow you to rear face until at least 35 pounds. There are a handful of convertible car seats that allow rear facing until 40-45 pounds. You can rear face your child until they hit the weight limits of their seat or until their head is within 1 inch from the top of the hard shell of the seat.


Install your seat and your child tightly

There is no safety difference between installing with a seat belt or installing with latch. You must use one or the other not both. When installed a car seat cannot move more than 1 inch side to side at the belt path. When installed forward facing you should use a tether using top anchors behind the seat. You must lock the vehicle seat. Most newer cars have locking seat belts but you can use a locking clip if your car does not having belts that can be locked. You should not be able to pinch more your child’s straps at their shoulders. Your child cannot wear bulky winter coats in the car seat. If you must loosen the harness to fit the child their coat is too bulky. You can use thin fleece, use blankets or put their coat on backwards over the harness. The chest clip must be at armpit level and no lower. Having it lower puts your child internal organs at risk in a crash.

Car seat ponchos can be used in place of bulky coats

Do not put your child in a booster before they are ready

The absolute minimum for booster use is 4 years of age and 40 pounds, but many kids aren't truly ready to switch until they are five or six! Dangers to younger booster riders include being out of position at the time of a crash, head injuries, and submarining -- that is to say, sliding under the belt, allowing it to crush internal organs, perforate bowels, and potentially even sever the spinal cord. A child must be able to remain in position for the duration of the car ride and not lean out of position to play with siblings or pick up toys. They must also be able to stay in position when sleeping. Most kids do not have the maturity to ride in a booster until around 5. When you do opt for a booster start your child out in a high back booster that offers side impact protection and proper belt positioning for a younger child. The belt must ride low on your child’s hips and not on their belly and the shoulder belt should fit across their shoulders and not be by their neck.



Is your child ready to be out of the booster?
 Most states allow children to be out of a booster sometime before 8. Most kids are not big enough to fit in an adult belt at this time. To know if your child is ready for an adult seat belt they must pass the 5 step test which they will probably pass around 4’9” or around 10-12
Taking the 5-Step Test is quick and simple. Have the child buckle up in the vehicle and then answer these 5 questions:
1. Does the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat?
2. Are knees bent comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
3. Does seatbelt cross the shoulder properly? (it should be centered over the collar bone)
4. Is the lap portion of the seatbelt low – touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated this way for the entire ride, every ride (awake and asleep)?
Bonus step – feet planted firmly on floor  so they don’t lean forward to try to do so.

Car seats have expiration dates and buying used seats
 Most car seats have expiration dates within 6-8 years of when they are manufactured. Check the manufacture date of your seat and how long they are good for. Plastic degrades over time and the harness might not perform the same after years of use. You should never buy a used seat from an unknown source. You don’t know if it has been in a accident even minor or if the straps where washed or submerged in water which is not allowed. If you do use a used seat you must be able to trust the source and know the seats history.

Put your child in the back seat when possible
 Most car accidents especially bad ones have impact or intrusion to the front passengers. Children’s bones are not as mature as adults so whenever there are back seats available have your children sit in the back seat.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cora's first food

Today I tried Cora on food for the first time since she is now 6 months old.

I did baby lead weaning (blw) with Delia and Teddy. Basically it is a fancy British term for introducing solids. I don't usually like labels and I don't think everyone has to do it this way but I am glad I heard about blw with Delia. It has been a great way to introduce them to the joys of food. Instead of starting with purees or solids that are tiny and mushy you give them food that is easy to pick up and let them take the lead. If they are ready for food they will pick it up and take bites and start chewing. You aren't supposed to help them and you don't cut things in tiny pieces or make it so mushy they can't pick it up. I soften up vegetables but not enough to make them fall apart in their hands. In younger babies the gag reflex is higher in the mouth than when they get older. So they might gag a little at first but it protects them from actually choking on the food. You obviously avoid chokables and watch them closely. 

I started purees with Delia but she was grabbing the spoon from me so I switched over to blw. With Teddy I started right away. Delia and Teddy took to food right away. Teddy gagged a little at first but soon was a pro at eating. I liked how it allowed my kids to control their own food and how they learned really fast how to handle food so they were less likely to choke. They knew early on what they could manage and got to practice when their gag reflex was sensitive. Both of them picked up their pincher grasps shortly after starting because they got motivated to use it. Today I finally started with Cora since she is 6 months and most likely has a fully mature gut so her chances of allergies are less. She isn't sitting yet but I figure that is partially from her torticollis. 

We started with avocado that I rolled in flax to make it easier to pick up so it wouldn't mush in her hands. I was thinking of doing all local foods for Cora but it is a long way until summer and I don't want to only give her carrots, potatoes and grains until then. Delia and Teddy didn't like avocado but it is good for you and full of healthy fats. Cora mostly sat there and looked at it. Eventually she started trying to go after it with only her mouth. lol. I cheated and gave her a little which she sucked on furiously but spit out. I don't think she ended up eating anything. Oh well it was fun and she will be eating with us soon enough. It is funny how they all took different approaches to food. Delia started off like a pro and was begging for it. She was my earliest sitter so maybe that does have something to do with it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cora's chiro appointment

Cora had a chiropractor appointment the other day. Seeing the chiropractor once a month is definitely not enough for her torticollis. After her adjustment she almost sat  in the tripod position and she lifted higher off her arms than I have seen and she even tried to lift her butt a little. So it definitely helps a little. She recommended coming twice a week for a month, probiotics and showed me two other exercises I could do with her to encourage sitting and crawling. She missed her physical therapy this week so hopefully with a month of physical therapy and chiro appointments she will be doing better.

We are still looking at places and trying to get the condo ready. Mike is working today so we can't do anything today. Mike mentioned maybe getting a place in  Palmer and having an office so he can work from home. I don't know if I could live in Palmer but having a big yard for raising turkeys, goats and chickens and really having a big garden is somewhat appealing. You get more house and yard for your money there. I don't know if I would like it or if there was enough to do in Palmer. I wouldn't do it if we needed to go to Anchorage often.

I need a small house around 1350 sq feet with at least a 1 car garage, 3 bedrooms, a mudroom at the entrance, a walk in pantry, a nice sized kitchen, mini walk in closets, lots of storage, that is south facing and energy efficient with a .25 acre yard in Anchorage in my price range please. Can someone buy my lovely condo so we don't have to stress pretty please. It is a great starter place and held our growing family for 6 years.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well baby and house progress

Cora had her 6 month well baby appointment today. I was hoping for a chiropractor referral but no go on that. Cora is now 15 pounds 1 ounce and 24.75 inches which puts her in the 25% for height and weight. She is still my littlest at this age but at least she is growing. Her head percentile was in the 80 %. Unfortunately she has a double ear infection for the third time. I opted to not get antibiotics and wait and see again. Delia hasn't even had 3 ear infections yet and she is 4.5. I wondering if it is the antibiotics she had at 3 weeks.

Teddy woke up Monday morning with puke all over him. I wasn't sure if it was a stomach virus or a isolated thing but I cancelled our appointments for the day as a precaution. He was fine the rest of the day and kept his food down so I figured it wasn't a stomach virus until I got sick late Monday night ans spent the whole night puking.

Since we were sick the house has gotten messy. I was hoping to find someone to watch the kids last weekend and didn't so we are really behind in getting the house ready. It is so stressful with the kids. I wish I could send them off for a few days and have someone watch the baby for short periods so I can actually get stuff done. Right now I keep trying to get things done and Cora keeps crying so nothing gets accomplished. Teddy has made lots of messes. Sammy peed on the bed since she got out of the kennel. I could kill her for that one. I have tons of laundry to catch up on. It hard enough to take care of the kids never mind getting the place ready to sell.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cora is 6 months

Cora is 6 months today. The past half year has flown by! Hard to believe that it been 6 months since I was surprised by how fast Cora busted in. The time flies even faster when it is your third. It has been quite an adjustment and things are usually crazy and busy.


It has been 6 months since you busted into our lives in such a rush we couldn't make it to the hospital in time and you were delivered by my friend Sarah in the bathroom. Right from the start you had a unique personality. You were pretty mellow and sleepy at first but you had your feisty moments. You loved sticking out your tongue and sucking on it. At night you would be sucking on a pretend pacifier or boob. You slept good at night for the first 4.5 months but you were a noisy sleeper as a newborn and young infant.

You were very sleepy for the first 2 months but after that you took a lot of cat naps during the day but slept good at night. You had nights where you slept 11 hours! Of course that didn't last and you are now going through a more wakeful phase.

You smiled very early and laughed at 1 month old. You rolled from your front to back at 3 months old. You hated tummy time with a passion until you were older so you still haven't done your back to your tummy. You ended up with a neck condition called torticollis. Delia had the same thing so we thought it would go away on its own but you still have it so we are seeing a physical therapist.

You love going on hikes in the carrier. Your brother and sister adore you. Delia loves holding you and talking to you. Teddy likes you a lot too he just thinks he can climb on you and wrestle so we got to watch him closely. He makes you laugh when he is being goofy and will sometimes ask to hold her Coca which means he is asking to hold Cora.

We are so lucky to have you in our lives. I can't believe how fast you are growing and changing. I will miss these days but I look forward to what is ahead.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding a new place

We will be putting our condo on the market soon. Getting a condo ready with no one to watch the kids is very stressful but we are making progress and packing things to put down in storage. We still need to do deep cleaning and some fixes around the condo. Living in a small place with out a yard isn't a big deal to me. I strive to live simply and to not need a lot.  With 3 kids and a cat and a dog it is time to move on. The part that is the hardest to live with is the small kitchen. We also need an extra bedroom since we have a boy and girls so eventually they can't share a room.

I am excited about getting a place with a yard and filling my yard with raised beds, greenhouses and raising a few chickens for eggs. I am excited about having a bigger kitchen to have more room for storage, making recipes, grinding grains and canning. I hoping to get a south facing home and make it really energy efficient.

When we moved here I was hoping my next place after this condo would be a straw bale house off the grid in an eco village that we would build ourselves. We are not in a place to do that right now. Even though we won't have an eco village with a straw bale I will make my home as efficient as possible and slowly turn it into a urban homestead growing as much as we can on our land.

The Dervaes family from Pasedena who grow all their food on their land trademarked the term urban homestead and went after bloggers and facebook pages that used the term. As much as I admire what they did  on their land that is the ultimate form of green washing. You can't market sustainability. Luckily there are thousand of people banding together to stop the trademark. I can't wait to have my own urban homestead. I still will love an eco village right in a city one day and haven't given up on that but you don't need to have a strawbale on tons of land to to be sustainable. If people can eat local in Alaska you can certainly do it in the lower 48.

I am a little worried about the little extra we will be paying and the market but hopefully things will work out with that.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Cora leans to the right and has a preference for her left side. It is called torticollis. Delia had the same thing but with some exercises it was better by 4 months and she was sitting by 4.5 months. Cora went to the pediatrician at  3, 4 and 5 months and he said to keep an eye on it and do things to encourage her to use her other side. He didn't think it was a big deal and took a wait and see approach. I was worrying about it and how she still has it at 5.5 months. She  isn't sitting yet and she even falls when sitting with support so we got a referral for a physical therapist.

Today she had her appointment. It went well. She showed me things to do with her. She does have some muscle tightness but it isn't too bad and she doesn't have any head flattening which is great. She said to really work with her and to see her once a week for a month she should hopefully show improvement where we can come a lot less. Her sitting and rolling skills and the muscles she was using were a little off but still in the realm of normal development for her age. She is not concerned about her development or her ability to sit, and walk in the future.  She said the tightness was pretty mild.

It good to hear I wasn't over reacting and that her prognosis is really good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Babies and sleep

Both of my girls started out as decent sleepers. Delia came home sleeping decent stretches and worked her way up to 8 hours stretches. I was feeling pretty lucky with Delia then a week or so before she turned 4 months it all ended. She was waking every two hours and I wasn't sure what happened and how long it would last. For the next ten months sleep was hit or miss. Sometime she did nice long stretches and sometimes she was wakeful. She would always have a bad night right before I felt a tooth. She also slept bad from milestones and growth spurts and who knows what else. I was going to a hospital group for new parents at the time that starts with non mobile babies and transisitioned to a mobile baby group when your baby learns to crawl. I saw that for both groups for all different type of parents from the ultra crunchy to the more mainstream the focus was sleep. Some babies slept good in both categories but there were plenty of babies that didn't. Some parents tried CIO and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Usually the ones it worked for would eventually be talking about sleep again.

Delia sleeping

Teddy started waking very frequently right from the start. He was a newborn so I wasn't too worried. As time went on it became clear he wasn't going to be having good periods and I became sleep deprived. He got very fidgety and wakeful next to me and refused the co sleeper so I tried many different arrangements to start the night including a swing, a hammock in a pack in play, a hammock hanging from the ceiling and eventually the crib. He kept up the frequent waking and I tried all the tricks. I taught him to fall alseep by himself slowly one step at a time without leaving him to CIO. I did have my nights where I just begged him to go to sleep or where I gave him a moment to work it out himself but I never left him to cry. I was quick and to the point with his wake ups and only nursed him when he was hungry not at every wake up. I tried white noise and when he was younger swaddling. I taught him to take better naps by catching him just as he woke from his cat naps and getting back to sleep and soon he was napping good on his own. I used a version of the shh pat from the baby wisperer I modified. I had a good consistent routine.

 A little after he turned 1 I night weaned him by comforting him by patting and singing also to no avail. He mostly night weaned except for his early morning feed with no problem but it didn't stop the waking. By this time he was in the crib full time in Delia's room and I went to him for the wake ups. As often as he woke Delia slept through it all. I was beginning to feel dejected and like something else was going on. Teddy was always a fussy baby. He didn't have colic or scream for hours but he fussed a lot and wanted to nurse 24/7. When he woke he was all out screaming.

 I went to one of my birth group meetings that was leaded by a chiropractor and the talk was on how it helps babies who are fussy. I knew that people took their babies there but I didn't think they really did help much. After listening to the talk I decided to give it a try. I tried everything else and had nothing to lose. I took him to the appointment and she said he was really out of alignment and she buzzed him with a little buzzer. That night he only woke twice. A huge improvement on the 6+ he usually wakes. I brought him a few more times and his sleep continued to get better. The around 14 or 15 months he jumped out of the crib. I made sure to get to him faster after that but it happened again so I switched him to the full size bed with Delia. I was afraid he would wander and not go to sleep since he was a get into everything toddler but he did great with the transition. He had one last chiro adjustment that night and has been sleeping through the night ever since.

Teddy in the pack and play hammock

Fast foward to Cora. Cora started out as ok sleeper unlike her brother. She suprised me and got up to 9-11 hour stretches by 2 months. I knew from Delia it might not last so I enjoyed it while it did. She hit 4 months when Delia's sleep fell apart and was still sleeping .I was hopeful that she would be my good sleeper.  Eventually she did become more wakeful. At 5.5 months she has her good nights and her bad nights. Last night was a bad night. She slept to about 1. I couldn't get her back to sleep without nursing and then she was very wakeful. So it begins again. I don't enjoy the wakefulness and not getting a restful night sleep. It wears on me. I remembering though that this too shall pass and she will sleep again. It might not be consistently until a little after 1 but it will happen. In the meantime I will complain about it and take steps gently to work towards independently sleeping through the night. For now I use the no cry techniques and encourage her to put herself to sleep and to get to sleep without nursing but if she needs help or to nurse I do so.

Cora sleeping

Delia and Teddy now put themselves to sleep every night, don't fight going to sleep at bed time and sleep all night. When they do wake I get them to sleep with a firm it is bed time. I know Cora will eventually do the same. I know that she will not wake forever. I know I am not creating bad habits and things change so fast at this stage. I know in the long run responding to her needs and not letting her cry herself to sleep she will gain independence and confidence faster. I know you can do things to encourage it but you can't force it and despite what some books say it is normal for babies even older babies and toddlers to wake. In many cultures they don't worry about sleeping through the night early. It will happen and in the mean time I am pretty tired after a bad night from Cora.