Jan 31, 2010

Loli's baptism

More Do's and Hair Routine

More Do's. These have been in for about 5 days. They're staying nicely. I feel like I'm getting more fluent at the cornrowing.

I thought I'd post a little bit about our hair routine this time as it seems to be working pretty well. The kids' hair is growing fast (so, no breakage,) and seems well hydrated. Our scalp issues are gone, as well.

when we first brought them home we were given an oral med to clear up ringworm, which showed up on MayMay's head in round, white patches where less/no hair was growing. IN addition to the med, I shampooed about once a week for a bit with Selsun Blue shampoo.
After it cleared up I just did a routine where I would shampoo with the selsun blue on both girls, making sure to rinse it out really, really well. Then I would take two palms-full of a conditioner recommended by this woman (right now we're using herbal essences, totally twisted) and use it as if it were a shampoo, scrubbing the scalp and doing my best to rinse it all out.

Then I either apply more of the same conditioner, or some of Taliah Waajid's herbal conditioner, again, two palms full, working it out to the tips especially. I rinse *lightly* (meaning, just run some water along the scalp for a few seconds) and leave that conditioner IN.

I do my styling (comb out, parting, braiding or twists or yarn extensions or whatever) as soon as I can after the bath, so the hair is wet. If, during my styling, it starts to dry out, I spray on some protective mist bodifier(also by Taliah waajid). For gel, I also use a taliah waajid product called lock it up. It's got a great consistency and it's got none of the troubling ingredients like mineral oil or petrolatum.

After a style is in, I spray the braids on the scalp all over with more protective mist bodifier before nap and before bedtime, on a daily basis. We put sleeping caps on our kids made of bathing suit material. The moisture and oils right before naptime, and the protection of the cap, keeps styles protected pretty well. You can order the caps from a lady who makes them herself and sells them. She charges 12 for a pair of caps (incl shipping from Canada.) Email her (nadiassleepcaps@yahoo.ca), if you're interested.

Using these methods, I can usually keep a style nice for several weeks (our longest run has been about 5).

When I take down, I spray more of the protective mist bodifier and some water, saturating the braids. I take the sharp end of the comb and unravel the braids that way. Then I do the wash routine.

I use a lot of the Taliah Waajid products because they are much less expensive than any other products I've found on the market that have only all-natural ingredients, and are made specially for black hair care. Black hair needs a different sort of product than other hair types, and these have worked really well for me. So if it seems like a big TW commercial I apologize :)

Jan 27, 2010

My Dehydrator is Dead to Me

So after that rant about being economical, I have run into a bit of a problem, frugality-wise.

I want a new dehydrator.

So, background: Skywalker and I made some big goals when we came home from Christmas break this year. I have realized that my husband cannot live a healthy lifestyle on the kind of cooking I do, even the vegetarian, *mostly* healthy *not a whole lot of wheat, dairy, cheese and refined carbs* that I struggle so much to achieve and still have my kids eat their food instead of surreptitiously throwing it in the trash when my back is turned.

Well, he's still having trouble. We found out last year that his metabolism is very, very low for a man of his age and size. He had his resting metabolism measured as part of a nutrition study for the university we live by, and it clocked in at around 1750, but dipped at times down to 1350-1400.

Just for comparison, that lower number is about the average resting metabolism that we recorded for the very skinny, tiny, bulimic girls that came into the residential treatment center I used to work for. And the upper number is still about your average 21-year-old woman's metabolism.

For Skywalker's weight and height, age, and gender, his metabolism by all rights ought to be around the 2500 range.

What this means is he gains weight very, very easily. Before we were married, he ate mostly raw vegetables. And I do mean "mostly." He made a huge salad in the morning every day (with stuff in it like beets, beans, onions, cabbage, broccoli in addition to several kinds of greens) and that would be his grazing-food for the entire day until he came home from school/work, whereupon he'd finish off whatever salad was left with maybe a small serving of pasta or a stir fry or some such. So, very nutrient dense food, not a whole heckuva lot of calories.

He ate like this for years and maintained a trim figure and good numbers in the cholesterol and blood-pressure categories. He had good bone density, because the greens gave him calcium, because he was eating enough of them for the trace amounts to make a difference.

It may be because he ate like this for so long that his metabolism is now so low, I don't know.

At any rate, after watching his weight fluctuate but mostly increase over the last 5 years (he now weighs about 40 lbs more than when we married), after the tests that revealed his cholesterol was approaching the danger zone and the bone density in his hips is approaching osteopenia-diagnosable numbers, I've realized that's how Skywalker needs to eat in order to be healthy. And it's a huge blow to me, because I can NOT eat that way and be healthy. I need fats, I need Iron, I need protein, I need calories. I have a freaky metabolism, too (though it is now slowing as I approach thirty). In high school I was a tiny, whiry grasshopper of a girl who likely downed aroudn 3,000 calories a day and did not put on an ounce (to my own chagrin, there were a couple of areas where I wouldn't have minded an extra ounce or two) and I remain fairly slender, eating about I'd say 2,500 ish calories a day. My body NEEDS that, it needs fats. I'm not necessarily talking big macs and ice cream, I mean mostly healthy fats: avacadoes, yogurts, cottage cheeses, nuts, whole grain breads etc.

Add to that an even more difficult problem: Loli. She's really struggled with food in the past. She gains weight at a very painfully slow rate, to the point where her growth spurts leave her looking skeletal sometimes for a month or two while her body catches up. Last month she caught pneumonia and lost about 5 lbs and we'll just say loli CANNOT afford to lose even 1 lb.

Then there's MEaza and Winna, who did not eat a whole lotta raw veggies in EThiopia. They're doing pretty good, considering, but the days I have to take full plates and dump them in the compost are more often than I like to to think too hard about. Also I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old.

So my quest has been to find yummy recipes that are vegan (no dairy no eggs) to reduce the cholesterol problem, add in plant fats instead (but keep them, for the most part, out of what Skywalker gets) and try to up our raw food intake to meet my own needs for iron and protein while also meeting skywalker's need for dense, nutrient-packed food.

One thing I quickly realized: you need some tools if you really want to go raw. Namely, a good, large-capacity food processor with a good motor and nice sharp blades. A sprouting system of some kind. A good, high-power blender and a good dehydrator.

We've done OK. the first time I tried to make raw macaroons (perhaps the most delicious raw recipe I've ever had) in our tiny, weak food processor, I came the closest to swearing that I have come in a long while. So I scoured craigslist and DI and found a medium-sized cuisinart for 10 dollars (yes you read that right) and made due with that, processing my food in several batches. Then last week I got a large, off-brand model at DI for... yes, 10 dollars. I've been very happy with it. I ground up some soaked almonds, wheat, and oat groats just fine in it... no pause or problem with the motor, and I got to do it ALL AT ONCE (happy dance!!!)

Today, I took this dough and began pressing it into the old, stained, abused trays of the round dehydrator we currently use (I think Skyalker inherrited it from a relative) and promptly cracked first one tray, then the other.

This dehydrator really has me going. It's often the last step in a 2-day process to make a raw recipe. By the time I've hit dehydrator stage, I'm done. I"m not patient. I'm ready to throw the whole thing up in the air and go get papa murphy's.

Today, after the second tray cracked, I backed up, gave the poor, battered dehydrator what I assume was one of my famous evil glares, and said, out loud, "you're dead to me."

I'm done.

Seriously, I'm done.

I want an excalibur. But guess what? They cost in the neighborhood of two hundred bucks. At least. They ain't gonna be at DI. They ain't gonna be on craigslist. They might be at KSL but they'll cost at least a hundred fifty.

Is it worth it?

My current, hormonally-screamy nerves say yes.

my budget says no.

But this is a health issue! Right?

I'm starting to understand, just a little bit, what I call the "Elaine" phenomenon. Elaine is my mother in law. She's a wonderful woman with a tiny kitchen, tiny house,and an extremely frugal lifestyle aside from the crazy fancy expensive appliances she owns. She doesn't have a dishwasher but she DOES have a 300 dollar cuisinart food processor. They drive 10-year-old-cars but she's lobbying for a 2,000 dollar vaccuum cleaner. (Her reason involves dust allergies.)

The "Elaine" phenomenon always baffled me before, but I'm starting to understand, now. And I wonder if it's really a righteous thing or not... I can make due with this little round dehydrator, can't I? I can look around for new trays for it... most of them are the same size and doubtless THOSE could be found on both craigslist and at DI.

But I just don't wanna. Sanity is also a consideration, right? Right?

Jan 25, 2010

LDS humor!!

For those of you who don't really traverse the bloggernacle much, you probably haven't really hit all the big blogs. I traverse it frequently and often miss some really fun stuff. Today I went to vote on the niblets for this year (awards for Mormon blogs and bloggers) and founds some really, really funny stuff after clicking on the links in the humor category. I've known about Bishop Gerald Higgins for a long time, but these other three have somehow escaped my attention. The first, especially... oh my poor sides. :)

Another suggestion: Perhaps the most hilarious blog post and slew of comments of all time goes to this, at Mormon Mommy Wars (another simply wonderful Mormon blog.)

Anyway, just wanted to add a few more endorphins to your day.

Jan 23, 2010

The 9 plagues of The Nosurf Household

Since we came home from Ethiopia:

1) ringworm
2) lice
3) MayMay's strange joint-swelling-fever episode right after we got home
4) giardia
5) throat plague of death in Sept
6) Swine flu in October
7) throwuppy flu in November
8) Mice in late-nov, Dec, and January (and we still have 1 or two)
9) Asthma?? (Loli had an attack, and I'm almost positive MayMay either has chronic asthma or another more scary illness, but her tb and everything else came back negative).

Well, we're glad to be well. Honestly these last few months have given me a lot more understanding and sympathy to people who are sick all the time.

That having been said... any suggestions about the asthma? I've been told fish oil helps, humidifier helps (but only if it's carefully cleaned on a regular basis).

She mostly hacks and coughs at night when the kids are sleeping. She's coughed to the point of vomiting on a few occasions. She's got a (very cute) constantly hoarse voice and she'll cough once in a while during the day, and it sounds like she's got a lot of congestion when she does.

We're going through a period of bad air quality where I live, and I think that's exacerbating the syptoms right now.

Anyway, I have an inhaler from when Loli had her episode, and the Dr's have told me to try it on MayMay once and see what happens... if it clears her up pretty well then I'll know it *is* asthma. But I've been putting it off, trying it.

Any insights? Especially as to natural remedies that might help mitigate some of this.

Jan 18, 2010

MLK Day in the Nosurf Household

Every year since I became an adult, I have found myself celebrating this holiday by taking time out of my day to watch this speech. I try to get my family to watch it, too, but they still have pretty short attention spans.

Loli asked me what it was, yesterday. And I explained to her that we celebrate Martin Luther King day because he was a man who did a lot to further the Civil Rights movement. I then explained to her what the civil rights movement was, in a few simple sentences.

I know that this is something we'll talk more about, as our children grow older and more able to comprehend the world around them. Today, in the wake of this post on FMH (great post, by the way, go read it if you have a minute), I was thinking to myself, what do I do to help my children understand prejudice, racial differences, and what it means to be who they are?

We deal with this on an almost weekly basis, just on a 2-8 year old level. Two of my children are Ethiopian-American (and they really are…. they have passports from both countries) and three are caucasian (or as I like to say, Swedish-English-Scottish-Portugese-American, though none of them have swedish, english, scottish, or portugese passports.)

So far, what that has meant to us was discussing color.

Why am I brown? Because you’re Ethiopian, and most people in Ethiopia are brown. There are brown people born in America, too, and other countries.

When I grow up, will I be a pink mama like you or a brown mama? You’ll be a beautiful brown mama. Will Loli and Jaws be pink mamas? Yes.

Look, I have pink on my fingernails and on my lips. That’s right, you do!

(And from one of my bio kids) mom, look at this brown spot on my skin. Will I turn brown? Probably not, you’ll probably stay pretty much pink your whole life.

I know this will continue and become more in-depth and serious as they grow up… I’ll have to teach them about why people are sometimes treated differently and how to deal with those situations. As I figure out how to discuss and help my children understand these things, I realize that I am more than a little bit grateful to have a very good reason to do so. Having both black and white children will make it important to address this in my home. I'm not sure I would be addressing it at all (would I think of it? Would it be too akward and abrupt to bring up? Would I feel like it was introducing uneccessary "ugliness" into my childrens' world to be bringing up things like slavery, race-related discrimination and some of the other things that have happened all over the world) if it weren't for the fact that we already have an ongoing discussion... our discussion of this subject will never really stop.

According to the article cited in the above link to the post on FMH, the worst thing a parent can do is not discuss race. Children automatically form prejudices and ideas of "good" and "evil," "like me" and "not like me" based on obvious physical differences... whether those differences are related to gender, color, or even a group that some adult puts them into. And so to *not* be talking about these things leaves it up to our children to assume what they will. And often what they assume is not something we'd want them to assume.

The post above compares discusssions of race to discussions of sex... kids feel the akwardness of the "not talking about it" and assume it's a taboo subject. And so they don't ask questions, they get embarrassed the one or two times their parents bring it up, and they find out their information from peers and books they read and what they see on the TV screen.

I'm grateful that I've been given a situation where it isn't possible to ignore race, or to not discuss it... because I think, in a different situation, I might have avoided such discussions. It feels uncomfortable, unecessary, difficult... until you talk to kids themselves and realize that it's not that big a deal, if you just talk about it, tell them the truth... listen to them and respond to their real concerns.

Anyway, today's a great day to be thinking about these things, and I'm glad we have this holiday as a reminder and a way to start these important conversations.

Jan 12, 2010


I'm ashamed to admit I'm actually really excited to start this new season of american idol. For one reason alone: Ellen. I mean, what a brilliant move. Simon, vs Ellen? Good job, fox.

This will be some serious TV, folks.

Oh, and I guess I'm also interested to see if any utah musical theater kids make it into the lineup this year. that, too.

But back to Ellen: with her subtle humor, her strong sense of self, her ability to make fun of people in a way that they can't possibly get mad at... she'll totally undermine Simon when he deserves it. She is the best anti-simon that anybody could ever come up with. This will be interesting. Very interesting. ;)

This post was so dang shallow... I almost feel like I should be blogging here.

Jan 5, 2010

natural poser...

Is it that she's a natural poser, or just that it's simply impossible to take anything but a really cute picture of this face?

I'm Inclined to think it's the latter.