Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Detergent Update and Elimination Communication Update

Two quick updates!

I am enjoying the homemade laundry detergent I made. It cleans equally well, if not better, than the cheapo detergent from Walmart that I was using (and now have little motivation to use up.) I like it that it is unscented, except for the slight scent from the Zote soap. It takes poop stains out of the diapers pretty well.

Also, at 11.5 months Jedidiah's elimination communication (which is mostly about pooping in the potty, not so worried about pee) is going ok but not great. He does not come to me or signal when he is about to poop in his diaper. If I notice him pooping and take him to the potty quickly enough, sometimes he poops there but sometimes the interruption stops his urge and he doesn't go. He doesn't mind pooping in his diaper, though after he does so he does want to be changed. I have been intending to call an EC mentor about this. I think I need to be more alert based on timings, as I was when he was small, especially after waking up and after eating a meal.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I love sleeping with my baby

Jedidiah whimpers in his sleep. We are already lying on our sides, facing each other, so I barely rouse myself and reach for him, un-clipping my nursing tank. I pull him toward me and he swivels his head slightly, homing in on the right spot to put his mouth. We nestle together, my left arm above his head, my right arm holding him close, his legs fitting into my lap, with one leg resting on my thigh.

I feel the gentle pulling of his sucking and my milk starts to flow. The peace of the night and the white noise of the air conditioner are enlivened with his tiny swallowing noises. Without waking up, without crying, he is comforted.

My right hand touches his silky hair, the solid curve of his skull. His delicate, intricate ears, his soft, padded cheeks. Down his back my hand goes to his full, chubby thighs and his toes, pushed up against the joint of my thigh and pelvis.

I am comforted too, and sleep comes to us both.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sweet Potato Hummus

I adapted this recipe of Sweet Potato Hummus from  this recipe I found online. My recipe makes quite a lot, but somehow between the two of us and through sharing it with friends, it always seems to disappear! It is a good dish to take to parties. You could halve the recipe if you don't want a large quantity on your hands. Another note about the recipe is that homemade hummus requires a food processor. I have tried making hummus in an ordinary blender in the past, and blenders don't seem to handle it well. Perhaps one of the fancy blender brands such as Vitamix could handle it. The measurements in the recipe are not exact. I usually eyeball them, so adjust to taste!

  •  1 lb. dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 medium), in large cubes
  • 4 medium lemons, juiced
  • 6 tablespoon tahini
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos, tops cut off and de-seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chile powder
Suggested accompaniments
  • pita
  • crackers or chips
  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • jicama
  • red bell pepper
  • tomato 
  • celery
  • cilantro
  • lettuce or spinach
  • avocado or guacamole
  • use your imagination
  1.  Soak the chickpeas for several hours in water. (This can be sped up by soaking them in hot water for less time.) Add the sweet potatoes, making sure water just covers the sweet potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Boil until the chickpeas are done, approximately 30-40 minutes. Let cool. (Do not throw out the cooking water.)
  2. As the chickpeas cool, prepare the other ingredients. With a slotted spoon, ladle half of the chickpea mixture into the food processor.  Add roughly half of the other ingredients. Process, adding the cooking liquid until desired consistency and smoothness is reached. Err on the side of slightly more liquid, since the hummus will thicken with time. Adjust flavors by adding more salt, more lemon juice, salt or chile powder etc. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.
  3. Serve warm or chilled with cut up vegetables and pita.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have You Tried Homemade Laundry Detergent?

Today I made homemade laundry detergent for the first time. This post has nothing that the blogosphere does not already contain. It is simply my record of what I've figured out from reading multiple sites. If you google "homemade laundry detergent" you'll come up with oodles of recipes.

By all accounts, the concoction works well, even for cloth diapers. It is more eco-friendly than regular detergent with its various chemicals and big plastic containers, and more cost-friendly than the fancy eco-friendly detergent you find in stores.

The tricky part was wading through all the different recipes. They all have borax, washing soda (by the same Arm and Hammer company that makes baking soda) and laundry soap such as Fels-Naptha, Zote, or Dr. Bronner's soap in them. The simplest recipe had two parts of the borax, two parts washing soda, and one part grated soap.

Fanicer recipes add Oxi-clean, baking soda, Purex crystals, or essential oils. I ended up following this one from askannamoseley.com. I liked how she reviewed the different cleaning powers of the ingredients.

I didn't follow her recipe exactly, since from seeing all the blogosphere variations I concluded that is not too important. I used less baking soda and Oxi-clean. I would prefer using less Oxi-clean anyway, since it is not a natural ingredient, though it is much nicer than bleach.

  • 1 box borax
  • 1 box washing soda
  • 1 14.5 oz bar of Zote laundry soap
  • 1 lb. baking soda
  • 1 lb. Oxi-clean (or actually Clorox' Oxy-Magic). 
By mistake I thought I needed two big bars of Zote soap. Actually, I would have needed two small bars of it. One big bar was enough, so now I have one left over for next time.

I plan on using 1-2 Tablespoons per load, depending on the size of the load and since my apartment doesn't have a High Efficiency washer.

I'm excited to do the laundry and see how it turns out, especially for the diapers!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken


I used to live under the illusion that I was shielded from brokenness. Sure, I was a sinner and had acknowledged that and believed in Jesus and been forgiven, but --thank God-- I was not from a "broken family."

I lived under that illusion until my family broke.

It was not divorce between my parents, thankfully, but conflict and acrimony and confusion and bitterness appeared and I had no idea what to do with them. And it happened because of me. I fell in love with and came to admire and trust a man. And my father did not. Conflict is a sure sign of brokenness.

And brokenness began to trail after me like a tail. It appeared in my inability to fall asleep at night, worrying and wondering what I had done wrong and what I could do to fix the brokenness between Baba and me. It appeared in my ready tears, whenever a friend asked seriously what was going on. It appeared in the deep confusion of my heart. The story is too complicated for five minutes to tell.

I despaired of fixing the situation, and instead I broke out of it and married my husband. Condemnation sometimes says I did the wrong thing, that the holy thing would have been to commit myself to obeying and fixing no matter the cost to myself and my sweetheart, even though that might have broken our relationship.

I taste the confusion again, just by thinking about it. So easily the wounds reappear.

The mornings in the days before my wedding I would sit at my hotel window, with a view of the Organ mountains and the hospital where I was born, and pray. And I felt the assurance of my heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love. That amidst my sin and the perplexing confusing mess of brokenness, he loved me. My marriage would not be cursed because of the brokenness it emerged out of. My marriage might have its own forms of brokenness. There is no guarantee against it. But God was surrounding me and my husband with his own Father's blessing.

My Father's love is the raft on that can carry me through the valley of the shadow of death and sin. It is the blanket that hugged me when I writhed on my bed in tears. It is the only thing in life that can never break.

Not the most lovely photo of the Organs,
but that tall building is the hospital where I was born
so that's why I chose it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday (on Monday): Belong

I have been seeing the Five Minute Friday challenge recently, from one of my favorite bloggers Ali, who lives on a Mercy Ship of the coast of Africa, and from Jen, who is in the Peace Corps in South Africa.

So however un-eloquent this may be, here it is:


When I first saw this writing prompt, I thought something vague, true, and probably cliched about how I belong to a family, and belong to God.

It took me a couple days to getting around to write. Yesterday at church, I had a new visual aid about belonging. I was helping in the nursery and Jedidiah (now 9.5 mo old) was with me. A friend brought in her 8 month old son, who was a bit fussy. When I tried to hold Canaan, Jedidiah got such a look of jealousy and worry on his face. How dare I hold Canaan! I belong to him, to Jedidiah!

It is a sweet thing to have a baby, but one problem is that I don't belong to myself anymore, as far as he is concerned! I know it is not really true that I belong to him. And I have every right to hold a different baby once in a while! But on the other hand my impression, that he belongs to me, is my baby, isn't so true either. He belongs to God, and is a gift from God to me, to care for as I must steward all God's blessings to me.

I started to think about other misconceptions that I have about belonging. Is it possible that I think, in an illogical, babyish instinct that is far away from my grown-up mind, and yet truer to what I really believe, that God belongs to me? There is a bit of panic inside me when I think that God might do something I don't like - like allow me or my loved ones to suffer or potentially take away someone dear to me. Or what if I feel God "favors" someone else above me, just as Jedidiah thought I was favoring Canaan? God might give a blessing to a friend, that he does not give to me. Uh oh, I can't control God! And do I hold on to God's blessings in a way that would lead to acute "separation anxiety" if they are taken away?

I pray that I can grow up. That I can get more and more mature in my mind and spirit to trust my heavenly Papa.  He will work all things for good to me because I love him. Even though twinges of fear easily strike my heart when I wonder if he might take away earthly blessings from me, I want to know deeply that he will never leave me or forsake me. Because of Jesus' love for me, I belong to him. My husband and Jedidiah belong to him. And nothing can snatch us out of his hand.

Jedidiah and "his" mommy!
Photo by Stan Kwan at Captivate Images

[now that took a lot longer than 5 minutes. You can't just leave a thought unfinished! but it was fun!]

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Elimination Communication Update - 9.5 months old

Jedidiah is now nine and a half months old. I thought I'd give a brief update on his EC progress. At this point, he is reliably pooping in the potty. It helps that, due to his intake of solid foods, his stool is more solid and takes more effort to expel. Sometimes he goes in the morning after waking up. Sometimes he goes right after eating some food. When he starts making his pooping face, I grab him and take him to the potty fast! With the stinkier stools, I'm glad that I don't have to clean them off his bottom and off his cloth diaper.

We took his potty with us on a recent out-of-town visit, and he went in it every morning we were there. That gave us a lot of relief about not having to worry about him pooping while we were out and about.

We are still not worrying about pee. That time will come when he's a bit older. Also for when he's older, I'm starting to use the baby-sign-language sign for "potty." I hope he will learn it.

This article I read recently was very encouraging. It gives five easy tips for those who are interested in helping their child become aware of their moments of elimination, without the heavy-duty commitment of always trying to help the child go on the potty. The author, Elizabeth, says

While elimination communication may not be for everybody, I discovered a lot of practices that very easily can be for everybody, and in fact I believe should be.
The article is titled 5 things you can do with your BABY to make it easier to potty train later .

If you read Elizabeth's article, let me know which of her ideas you think you might give a try.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lasagne with Bean Sauce

I've been embarking on a personal exploration of the world of beans. I want to educate myself on this yummy, diverse, and cheap source of protein. My mother cooked beans as I grew up, mostly pinto or black beans in soups or refried, occasionally white beans in a baked bean recipe, split pea soup, or green lentil soup. That's already a pretty good repertoire. But I have realized there are so many more kinds of beans and pulses beyond that. As it happens, since my husband is Indian I have a connection to a whole world of beans and pulses of which I had previously no idea. I'll be posting some Indian recipes, but for now here is a Lasagne with Bean Sauce recipe that I have adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, a wonderful healthy cook book that has been around for 27 years and is a good staple in a crunchy kitchen. I need to start using it rather than Pinterest all the time! I served this recipe to some other crunchy friends and they enjoyed it.
This is actually the leftovers-- I forgot to take a pic when it was fresh. You can see a garbanzo on the top.
Some notes about the sauce. You can use a combination of fresh tomato puree or canned tomato sauce. You can also choose to add mushrooms, eggplant, or zucchini in place of or in addition to the beans. I added zucchini, stir-frying it with the onions first. If you plan ahead it is easy enough to soak 1 cup of dried beans in the morning, boil them in the afternoon, and use them in the sauce rather than using canned beans.

Bean Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • optional mushrooms, zucchini,or eggplant
  • 2 cups cooked beans (red, brown, or chickpeas, home-cooked or canned), drained and coarsely chopped (or given short pulses in a food processor)
  • 4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree. You can use canned tomato sauce. Fresh gives the sauce a lighter and fresher flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • black pepper and salt to taste
Prepare the sauce by heating the oil in a medium saucepan and sauteeing the garlic and onions and any other optional vegetables you may have added. Add the chopped beans and cook and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the tomato puree or sauce with the herbs and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes (make sure it thickens especially if you used tomato puree, which is more watery.) Salt to taste.

Remaining ingredients:
  • 3/4 pound lasagne noodles. Brody recommends quick noodles if you don't want to cook them. I used 16 regular noodles and just soaked them in hot water rather than boiling them.
  • 2 cups ricotta or small-curd cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. mozarella, grated
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan

To assemble the lasagne, spread a thin layer of the bean sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Arrange a layer of noodles along the bottom of the pan to cover the sauce. (I squeezed in three lengthwise and one horizontally at the bottom.) Cover the noodles with half the ricotta, one-third of the mozzarella, and one third of the remaining sauce. Repeat this layering with the noodles, ricotta, mozarella and sauce. Finish off the third layer with the remaining noodles, sauce, mozarella, and Parmesan on top.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. (On the shorter end if you pre-soaked the noodles.) If there is too much liquid remaining in the pan, remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Our Elimination Communication Experience: Part Two

 Right after writing my last post about EC, I had a bunch of "misses" with Jedidiah. God has a way of keeping me humble, haha! Sometimes we intentionally let him poop in his diaper, such as when we are out of the house traveling. When we went to my parents' house over Christmas, this disrupted our schedule and communication somewhat and we had to re-adjust upon coming home. Misses are a part of EC, obviously, but even now when we have misses, much of the time it is because I didn't follow a cue, neglected a timing, or ignored my intuition that he is going to "go."


What are the cues like? Cues include grunting, doubling up a bit, looking focused or red in the face, fussing suddenly when he's not probably hungry, squirming, plucking at the nipple or suddenly losing interest while breastfeeding. This may sound like it includes a lot of normal baby activity, but that is where intuition comes in. Usually if I think or wonder "does he have to go?" It is a good time to take him. Of course, there are "pooportunities" where he doesn't go.  Those have grown somewhat less as we have gotten better at it.

Timing involves knowing when are likely times that he will poop. Most mothers will easily come to know her baby's natural schedule, including when he needs to eat and sleep. His needs to poop fit in with eating and sleeping, as he usually poops soon after eating or waking up. He usually poops at some point in the night between 4 and 6 am, and I know that is what he wants because he is not interested in the nipple and fusses and squirms. Sometimes at one of these opportunities where he goes a little but is not able to get everything out. When I set him on the changing table and let him stretch and move his legs, this sometimes loosens him up so that when I offer again he is able to go.

Sometimes Avinash and I wonder out loud "does he have to go?" and then we remind each other -- "follow your intuition!" Intuition is part of the whole art of EC. There is no formula for it, but sometimes we can just know when our baby has to go.


The potty that I use is called the the Pourty, which has a nice lip for pouring without dripping. It is too large for Jedidiah to sit on himself and he feels uncomfortable when I try sitting him on it. He is not yet sitting on his own anyway, so I still have to hold him. I hold his thighs with his back against me so he is facing out and rarely get anything on my clothes. The Pourty works pretty well for this except that I have to hold him above those prong-like things. It is not perfect for EC but it is working for us.

There are a couple books out there about EC or Infant Potty Training. I read an e-book from Parttimediaperfree.com. I liked the author Charnda's approach and attitude, though some of the material was repetitive. She shared various tips and perspectives that I found helpful. Diaperfreebaby.org also has help and ways to contact mentors in your area.


The author of Part Time Diaper-Free stresses that you can practice EC in whatever form you choose. Some people try to go all the way diaper-free. We have chosen to focus on poop rather than all his elimination. Of course, sometimes when we give him an opportunity he pees rather than poops, but we don't aim to catch all his pees. Being relaxed with how much you want to practice EC is important. This can become a way to put undue expectations on ourselves as parents and, at a very early age, upon our children. "Getting" the baby to behave and poop where we want him to is not our mentality. When there are misses, of course we wish we had caught them, but they are not his fault and we need to just relax and be ready for the next time.

In line with this, the reason to practice EC is not primarily to use less diapers. Of course I hope this happens, but I think we use a similar number of cloth diapers or even perhaps more. This is because we tend to change a wet diaper whenever we open his diaper and that happens more often when we give him opportunities. It should not be primarily to help Jedidiah be potty-trained early, even though I hope that happens once he can walk. The biggest disadvantage of EC is that takes more time than just changing dirty diapers, and though I hope that time will be repaid if he is trained early, it can't be my main motivation. My purpose and motivation has become the pleasure of communicating and bonding with Jedidiah and of keeping him clean. The satisfaction of helping him go in the potty is enough for now.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Elimination Communication Experience: Part One

Friends who came to visit Jedidiah and me a few weeks after his birth will know that one of my favorite topics of conversation has to do with his pooping skills. Yes, skills. We have been practicing elimination communication with Jedidiah since he was two weeks old. Elimination communication is defined by Wikipedia as "a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies' bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place." We have enjoyed learning EC with Jedidiah and I wanted to describe our experience for others.

I remember having heard of EC long ago and thinking it sounded weird. I had heard that some people potty trained their babies and let them go completely diaper-free, and that sounded really bizarre. Early in my pregnancy a friend sent me a link to an article on EC and I remember being curious about it. Perhaps it was worth a try. Avinash, my Indian husband, also remembers how his mother would take his younger brother to the bathroom and give him a cue sound like "shhhhhh" to encourage him to go, so the idea of an infant eliminating on cue was familiar to him. We decided on using cloth diapers when our baby came but thought we might experiment with EC. If it wasn't for us we could just revert to using diapers only.

When Jedidiah was just a couple weeks old Avinash took him in his arms and held him over the sink for the first time. I was unsure. Wasn't it too early? Jedidiah's head and body were still so floppy. But then he peed and we were astonished and so happy! The first time he pooped in the sink a day or two later we were over the moon! In those first weeks it was kind of a game to take him to poop and pee in the sink. We started to learn his timings and signals. He might grunt a bit, lose interest in the breast if he was nursing, or go about ten minutes after nursing. Sometimes we would give him diaper-free time to kick his legs, feel the air, and pee on a cloth diaper or pad on the changing table as needed.

Now Jedidiah is nearing four months and we are still at it. I like to say that EC has shown me Jedidiah's intelligence more than any other thing we do with him. It is easy for people to think of babies as dumb, since we know they don't remember their early days, they can't talk to us, and their needs are so constant and yet simple (eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, poop, eat...). But babies are truly intelligent and learn constantly about the world around them. Practicing EC has shown us how quickly Jedidiah can learn. He definitely knows now that the potty is the appropriate place to poop. A couple days ago Jedidiah woke up and was lying happily on the bed. I heard a toot of gas and came running. When I opened the diaper, there was just a little spot of yellow poop. I quickly took him to the bathroom and he let out a very large squirt in his potty. It was clear that he had held the poop until the appropriate time to let it out. After doing so, he relaxed in my arms with a look of satisfaction. Pooping in the potty is a skill that he has truly learned and feels good about. And understanding his needs and cues is a skill that I continue to learn, with satisfaction as I grow closer to my baby and more instinctive about caring for his needs.

In part two I will give more tips and details about our EC journey.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Another blog when I don't write on my other one? Introducing myself.

This is my inaugural blog post for Christian, Crunchy, and Cooking! I'm a new mother with a baby born in October 2012. (The picture above was taken during my pregnancy.) I enjoy cooking and keeping home for my husband and baby, and I'm also a piano teacher. I also have a neglected blog, godmygrith.wordpress.com, on which I used to write spiritual ideas that would percolate in my head. I have not written on it lately, and have more interest in writing mom-blog things, so I'm afraid that is what it's going to be! One more mom-blog out of millions.  But I know I'll enjoy having a place to publish my thoughts and activities, and I hope it will be interesting to my friends.

To explain my title:

My belief in Jesus Christ is very important to me and will inform much of the content of what I write. If you have never read a summary of the core of Christian belief, what is called the Gospel, here's one of the best ones out there. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/quest-for-joy

This is influenced by the book Crunchy Cons (conservatives) which describes how here in America, people who have vastly different belief systems can end up having similarly environment-friendly, health-conscious, frugal lifestyles. On the one side are the "liberal hippie" types, and on the other side are the "conservative homeschooler" types. The author, Rod Dreher,

"introduces us to people who are pioneering a way back to the future by reclaiming what’s best in conservatism—people who believe that being a truly committed conservative today means protecting the environment, standing against the depredations of big business, returning to traditional religion, and living out conservative godfather Russell Kirk’s teaching that the family is the institution most necessary to preserve."
Some of the ways I might classify as a Crunchy Con: I wanted a natural home birth, use cloth diapers for frugality and to help the environment, have a home business, like cooking healthy food (though I am not a vegan or organic freak ... yet), and am interested in how lifestyle choices affect justice issues worldwide (though I do not buy only fair-trade chocolate ... yet.) As you can see, I consider myself to be on the moderate side of the Crunchy spectrum, but I continue to evaluate my lifestyle choices and may someday become more "extreme." :)

I grew up helping my mother cook healthy, from-scratch meals for our large family. I'm not an expert, but I enjoy cooking too. As I said above, I like the real-foods approach. I use Pinterest almost exclusively for food. I don't yet use much organic, due to our tight budget, but I'm interested in moving more that direction. I'm not vegan or even vegetarian and I like eating meat, mostly chicken, but am troubled when I read about slaughterhouses. Every six months or so my husband says he sometimes feels uncomfortable eating meat and would like to be a vegetarian someday. (I teased him last time that this is due to his Indian roots. Generations of his ancestors were probably mostly vegetarian.) But as a nursing mom, I find it hard to get enough protein and find it hard to get filled up enough generally. I'm not yet ready to leave meat, but I'm interested in making my meat usage more infrequent. In parallel, I find the number of varieties of roots, beans and legumes fascinating and want to expand my repertoire there.

I hope this gives you an idea of the inclination of my new blog!