Red Wine & Glue Sticks

Kid Lit: A Book I Don't Mind Reading Again

Kids, BooksBeth PacykComment

Whew!  It's been awhile since I last posted and LOTS has been calling for my attention.  We're in the midst of preparing for a long-distance move so Tom and I are trading places on airplanes to house hunt. On his last trip to Portland, he stopped at the city's famous bookstore, Powell's, to grab a gift for the kiddos.

Sleeping Cinderella by Stephanie Clarkson

Sleeping Cinderella by Stephanie Clarkson

He saw this book as a staff recommendation, but hesitated.  Did we really want to add another princess book to our collection?  The fine folks at Disney have been boring us with the abbreviated version of fairytales (Elsa and Anna were friends.  Elsa hurt Anna. Elsa stayed away.  Anna fell in love.  Anna's act of love saved their lives.  Elsa and Anna were best friends at last.) so we've been burned in the princess department to say the least.

Thankfully, Sleeping Cinderella is nothing like the princess books currently on our shelf.  It is sweet and clever with adorable illustrations.  Stephanie Clarkson tells a rhyming story of when the princesses all traded places.  It's one of the books I truly don't mind reading over and over again.  Lucky for us, Maddie agrees! 

Play Dough Activities

Beth PacykComment

It was a stormy Chicago day and I just didn't feel like packing the kids up and braving the rain today. So I busted out the play dough bin and we worked indoors on a few favorite projects: play dough porcupines and a fine-motor activity with spaghetti noodles and cheerios.  

Play Dough Porcupines 

My awesome neighbor came over one day during the winter and brought the supplies for these cute porcupines. All it takes is play dough, googly eyes, and either toothpicks or uncooked spaghetti noodles. Madeline's first versions included just as many eyes as spikes, so the porcupines quickly became monsters.  

Madeline working hard on her play dough porcupine.  We traded the toothpicks for spaghetti noodles today so that Baby Jack could get in on the fun.  

Madeline working hard on her play dough porcupine.  We traded the toothpicks for spaghetti noodles today so that Baby Jack could get in on the fun.  

Play Dough and Cheerios Fine Motor Activity 

We learned about this awesome activity on a playdate, and we love it because we almost always have the materials on hand.  Just stick uncooked spaghetti noodles (I buy the pot-sized noodles from Target, but you could snap regular sized noodles in half) in the play dough. Add a pile of cheerios for your toddler to thread on the noodles.  

Baby Jack enjoyed eating the Cheerios more than stacking them on the noodles.  

Baby Jack enjoyed eating the Cheerios more than stacking them on the noodles.  

Miss Tracy's Play Dough Recipe

We're still working through the boxes of play dough we received as Christmas gifts, but usually I make my own. I've tried a handful of play dough recipes that I found on Pinterest, but I never seem to find one that is just right - they are either too slimy or harden too quickly.  When Madeline's preschool teacher provided her recipe, I knew it was the perfect balance.  Here is her recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1/3 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or unrefined coconut oil)
Food coloring (or unsweetened Kool Aid or Jello for scent and color)

  1. Mix together all ingredients, except the food coloring, in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over low/medium heat, stirring often.  Once it begins to thicken, add the food coloring.  
  3. Continue stirring until the mixture is much thicker and begins to gather around the spoon.
  4. Once the dough is not wet, remove and put onto wax paper or a plate to cool.
  5. After cooling (30 minutes) knead play dough for a few seconds.
  6. PLAY!


Velcro Popsicle Sticks Busy Bag Activity

Kids, CraftsBeth PacykComment

As my second pregnancy neared the end, I started to panic a bit about how I would entertain a toddler during the marathon breastfeeding sessions that a newborn needs.  I searched Pinterest for busy bag ideas, and got to work on any that were easy and inexpensive.  Many of the activities have since been forgotten, but this one seems to have stood the test of time. 

Even those lacking in DIY skills can pull off these Velcro popsicle sticks!

Even those lacking in DIY skills can pull off these Velcro popsicle sticks!

It's so simple!  I picked up a bag of colored craft sticks from the dollar store, and a pack of sticky round velcro dots from Michael's craft store.  Just stick a hook velcro dot to one end of the stick and a loop velcro dot to the other side.  I was done in less than 10 minutes, and the activity has definitely provided hours worth of entertainment over the past year. 


Yummy Egg Salad Recipe

RecipesBeth PacykComment
Our pirate themed eggs.... mostly made by my husband with some help from the kiddos.

Our pirate themed eggs.... mostly made by my husband with some help from the kiddos.

If you're anything like me, you have a fridge full of unused eggs from the Easter holiday. And even though I love hard boiled eggs for breakfast and on a bed of greens, sometimes I just need to change it up a bit.  I've been making this yummy egg salad recipe for a few years now.  It's great because it's simple and I always have the ingredients on hand - then I can build off it when I want to (or have the foresight to go grocery shopping).  I wish I could find the original post for the recipe I adapted it from, but my google skills seem to be lacking.  Here is my version:

Egg Salad with a Kick

10 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together and yep - that's it!  It couldn't be simpler and it's so delicious.  If you prefer a creamier egg salad, add some more mayo... more complex, add green onion and bacon.  The possibilities are endless, but I so rarely see an egg salad recipe with dijon and cayenne so I had to share. Enjoy!


Yeah... I Ate My Placenta!

Pregnancy & ChildbirthBeth PacykComment

Wait, What?

Well I suppose the title gave it all away.... so maybe I should back up a bit!  I love kids.  I wanted kids my entire life!  I babysat as much as I could, I taught summer school programs at my local church, I even studied education so I could be around kids as a career.  When I look back on old school worksheets, I said I wanted to be a mom when I grew up.  So when I got pregnant, I expected few surprises after the baby came.  Except that it was nothing how I imagined. 

I remember watching a TED talk during my pregnancy that talked about some parenting myths.  I distinctly remember the speaker saying something to the tune of, "I was told I would be hit with this Mack truck of love.  And that just didn't happen for me.  I had great affection for the baby, but it was nothing compared to the love I feel for her now, several years later."  It was a good thing I heard that speech.  Because I wasn't hit with a Mack truck of love, either.  I certainly cared for my daughter, and I wanted her to be safe and well-taken care of.... but as the days wore on, I wasn't so sure I wanted to be the one taking care of her.

I got very little sleep in the hospital and our second day home I developed mastitis, a nasty breast infection.  I didn't realize I had an infection, though.  I just assumed everyone felt as terrible as I did after having a baby and not sleeping for several days.  I was having terrible pain every time I fed my daughter, so a couple days later, I scheduled an appointment with a lactation consultant.

The Diagnosis

That lactation consultant could probably have a side-job as a therapist with all the crying I did in her office that day, but I left with the mastitis diagnosed and tips to get my daughter latching correctly. I guess you could say that I left hopeful. 

The revolving door of visitors started right about then.  We lived out of state from the majority of our family and we were as excited to show off our new baby as they were to meet her.  Company meant there was an extra hand to help out... but it also meant little privacy in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment.  I knew the visitors were temporary, so I put on a brave face.  The last day of visitors was also the day my husband flew out of town.  It meant a few days alone with this tiny little creature that I still hadn't figured out.  I was terrified!

Although I can't remember the specifics of that weekend, I do remember a lot of tears!  I remember feeling so exhausted and I remember my brother coming over to hold the baby so I could take a shower (where I lingered, sobbing).  I remember relief that my husband was coming home, only to have the next few days fade into one another until his next trip a couple weeks later. 

When I got mastitis again while he was on a work trip, I just completely broke.  I held my sleeping daughter looking at her as if she didn't belong to me.  I didn't want to hurt her, I just want to take care of her.  I wanted to drive really far away, back to our simple little lives we shared before baby.  I wanted to sleep, I wanted to shower, and I wanted to be alone.  I called my doctor right away and she suggested I speak to a therapist, who officially diagnosed me with postpartum depression at 7 weeks postpartum. 

I started a low dose of zoloft and it was just the kick in the pants I needed. As my husband described it, "it was like the light switch turned on."  I felt more confident caring for my daughter. Simple disruptions didn't send me into a crying heap, and I slowly started to appreciate nursing (more on that another time).  I was finally able to begin the bonding process with my daughter and every month was better than the last.  When she was around 7 months old, I stopped taking the medication with no problem.  I even started thinking about another baby!

The Other Side

Shortly after my daughter's first birthday, I was pregnant again.  We now lived in a different state, closer to a bevvy of relatives clamoring to help and my husband had no travel plans.... but I was still terrified.  After my first born, my postpartum depression only seemed to affect me and my marriage.  This time around, I had a toddler to take care of.  I couldn't spend my days zoned out to Ellen hoping for a laugh or crying in the shower.  I started researching natural ways to combat postpartum depression and I continued to come across placenta encapsulation.

Ew! That was all I could respond. Ew! I would never be able to stomach that.  But the more I read, the more convinced I became that this could be the inexpensive, natural alternative to depression medication I was searching for.  So what is it?  Placenta encapsulation is when you have your placenta made into pills that you take orally after your baby is born.  It can be prepared two ways, but I opted for the traditional Chinese method in which the placenta is boiled with Chinese herbs, dried, and ground before being added to capsules. 

I read that it helped balance your postpartum hormones, increased energy level, and helped with milk production.  If you have the proper tools (and aren't too faint of heart), you could prepare the capsule yourself, or you can hire a doula to prepare the pills for you. The doula I hired was actually able to pick the placenta up at the hospital which was a huge convenience for us!  She dropped the pills of the day after I came home from the hospital and I crossed my fingers that it would work.

And it did!  The placenta pills really did everything they claimed they could do and MORE... because I was able to bond with my son quickly instead of being in a fog, because my marriage wasn't strained like after my first born, because I felt present for my responsibilities, because even though I was on little sleep, I had energy to devote to my toddler.  A couple weeks postpartum, I got mastitis (really unlucky in the mastitis department!) which meant I couldn't take the pills (they have a natural warming effect on your body which doesn't help when you already have a fever). I was straight back to a crying heap on the couch!  It reminded me of how I felt after my daughter was born and I was so grateful to have a natural alternative. 

Mom and Baby Jack

Frequently Asked Questions

I've told this story many, many times in the hopes that another mama can avoid the struggle I had. My husband has become an advocate, too - he thinks placenta pills should be sent home with every new mom as she leave the hospital!  In sharing my story, I tend to get the same frequently asked questions.  So here they are:

How much does it cost?
Typically about $250.  The going rate seems to be in the $200-$300 range.  It's a lot less than therapy and Zoloft!

Does it taste funny?
Kinda.  It definitely doesn't have the greatest taste, but it was masked pretty easily by taking it with cranberry juice.  My biggest complaint is when I would drink a carbonated beverage and burp up the taste again later (ew!). Funny taste aside, it was totally worth all the benefits.

How do you know it worked?
Look, the only thing that matters is that I felt better.  I felt more relaxed and easy-going, I felt happy and confident.  So many people have wondered if this is just a symptom of it being my second child... or that we were nearby helpful family. Certainly lots was different, but I still credit the placenta pills.  The days I couldn't take it I went right back to a crying, helpless, heap. My husband (who was supportive, but skeptical) even noticed a difference and began to call them my "happy pills." 

Happy pills, indeed!  As always, I'm an open book... so feel free to ask any more questions you may have!


Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day!

Beth PacykComment

Monday was not a good day. I started out feeling like Mary Poppins.... I had a massage and some time to myself on Sunday. I felt refreshed and excited to take on a new week. We woke up, and things just slowly started to pick away at my patience and my confidence until I was counting the minutes until naptime. "Tomorrow will be a better day," I told myself.   

And then when neither kid napped, I was counting the minutes until early bedtime. And when then bedtime routine dragged on forever and early bedtime tuned to very, very late bedtime.... I felt like crying. I was ready for a glass of red wine and a chance to catch up on the DVR. I just wanted a little bit of time to unwind from the long day, to restore my patience so that I could take on another day. "Tomorrow will be a better day," I told myself. 

That night, both kids were up at night. I logged only a few hours of sleep and woke up cranky with my patience wearing thin before the day began. "You guys just need to get out of the house," my husband advised. So we (slowly) pulled ourselves together to meet friends at the local children's museum. When Madeline (my not quite 3 year old) fell asleep in the car, I felt validated in my own fatigue - I can't recall the last time she slept in the morning!  "We're both exhausted," I told myself, "just run it off at the museum and catch a good afternoon nap." Feeling defeated at 10 am, I cried the whole way to the museum. "Tomorrow will be a better day," I told myself.  

We walked in to what felt like a mob scene. Spring mother f---ing break. How could I have forgotten? But we spotted our friends, which made me smile and I was determined to make the best of our day, madhouse and all. Madeline had other plans. I dodged strollers and stepped over kids to chase after her in the crowded museum. I held her brother Jack (who recently celebrated his first birthday) so she could engage in a few focused activities. This made him unhappy.... so I searched for something that would please them both, with little luck. I took deep breaths. I wanted to cry again. I wanted to go home. I wanted to sleep! "Tomorrow will be a better day," I told myself. 

That is face paint.  And one unhappy child!

That is face paint.  And one unhappy child!

We managed to make it through lunch and I raced home to put the kids down for a nap. Neither one took one. I tried to clean the kitchen. Jack had other plans. "Tomorrow will be a better day," I told myself. 

That is cereal.  And one proud baby!

That is cereal.  And one proud baby!

Somehow we made it to bedtime. Somehow I got a full-night's sleep. And you know what? Somehow tomorrow WAS a better day. So tired moms, overworked moms, underpaid moms, and moms just having a bad day - tomorrow will be a better day. And if it isn't.... just keep repeating the mantra until it is!

My friend snapped this of me as I tried to catch a minute of rest. Luckily, tomorrow WAS a better day!  

My friend snapped this of me as I tried to catch a minute of rest. Luckily, tomorrow WAS a better day!  


Hello World!

Beth PacykComment

Hey there! Let's give this another go....

I think I've started to blog too many times to count and it never seems to stick! I certainly always have a lot to say, but I never seem to get it out in a format for the masses (handful of you actually reading this). Here's why I think (hope) this time will be different:

  1. I still have a lot to say!
    These past few years I've often thought how a craft/recipe/story would make a great blog post. Now hopefully I can remember them all to share with you!
  2. I have time... kinda. 
    My kids are a little bit older. I'll level with you - they're still really really, needy! But at least they give me pockets of time here and there so I can sit and write.
  3. I'm ready for you to hear my voice, run-on-sentences and all.
    Truthfully, I've always been worried about my writing! I'm so chatty in real life, which translates to endless commas and run-on-sentences when I try to write. But it's my voice... so deal with it! :)

My vision is that this blog will be a place to practice writing, something I once enjoyed, but have long been removed from. I want to share my endless DIY projects, kids crafts, and parenting triumphs and fails with you. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!