Friday, August 30, 2013


Benjamin recently finished an "after potty chart."  He has been potty-trained for a long time, but the whole flush-underpants-pants-wash thing does not happen.  He usually runs to the toilet, and when my back is turned, tip-toes outside bare-bunned before I can do anything.  He's going to pre-school on Tuesday, so I thought (before he really frightens the little girls in his class) it was a good time to get this thing under control!  
His reward for finishing his chart was going to be a pair of cowboy boots, but when I saw the prices, I thought a hobby horse would be more economical.  And it was!  I only ended up spending about $3 (for the stick).  The rest was made from odds and ends I already had.  
Wilbert, the DIY Hobby Horse
Meet Wilbert (Benjamin thought of his brilliant name).  He was pretty fun to make.  I couldn't find a tutorial for one I liked, so I just looked at a bunch of pictures and used what I had here to make him.  Along the way, I thought "I should be making a tutorial for this."  However, I'm just not good at taking pictures while doing projects.  In fact, my children are lucky if they get fed and put to bed when I'm working on a project.
My work station looks like this right now.
So, because there's no picture tutorial, I'll tell how I did a few things that took me a little while to figure out.

  • The eyes are fabric, pasted on with my glue-gun
  • The ears are kakhi pant fabric and burlap. I made a pattern that looked like this (look, I even took a picture of it for you). 
  • I sewed them together insideout, flipped them right-side out, then sewed along the bottom. They took the right shape on their own.
  • To attach them to the sock, I cut a line on each side of the heel, stuck the bottom of the ears in, and sewed them in inside out.  
  • For the hair, I wound some yarn around and around something that gave me the right side of loop, then I sewed it on a long skinny piece of fabric in batches (does that make sense at all?).  Then I cut a long line on the top of the sock, and sewed the whole thing in (again, with the sock inside out, and all the "hair" inside the sock, being careful that the other piece of fabric didn't show.  It also would have worked fine to glue the yarn to the fabric, but sewing seemed easier.
Well, that was probably completely un-helpful without pictures explaining what I meant.  It was a half-day project that was cheap, and turned out fun.  And if Benjamin learned the lessons his chart was supposed to teach him, then it was well worth it!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Nice Sunday App

I try not to let Peter have much time on my tablet (he only really got interested about 2-3 weeks ago).  But I found an app that I really love for quiet Sunday time: a sing-along of LDS Primary hymns.

The music is tastefully arranged and sung, and is accompanied by photos of happy faces and pretty nature scenes that a child can flip through while singing along.  Words are displayed for those who can read, but Peter likes to listen and watch, while I sing.  Older children can sing along, either because they already know the words or can read them.  I've learned a few new primary songs myself this week, by singing along!

Once a song is over it automatically moves on to the next song, so it could be used as background music for a Sunday afternoon as well.

There is a free version with twenty or so songs, and then a (rather expensive) version you can buy.  I splurged.
I love so many of the primary hymns!  They can bring peace, simplicity, and clarity to a child's life.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade Salad Dressings

I love salad.  I love sauce.  I love salad with a good sauce.  Good salad dressings cannot be purchased from the store.  Best news: they're all so easy to make!  Just blend up the ingredients and enjoy!  Here are a few I like.

Avocado Dressing

1 large avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or cayenne pepper to taste)
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh basil to taste

Avocado Dressing (even healthier)

This comes from the May 2010 RealSimple Magazine.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 English cucumber
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 c baby spinach
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
2 spring onions or regular green onions
Fresh juice of 1 lemon
2 T olive oil
1/2 t freshly ground white pepper (a white pepper grinder? I used pre-ground)
1 t sea salt
3/4 c water (or to desired consistency)

Ginger-Sesame Dressing

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or Braggs
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

And finally,

Mom's Lemon Dressing

1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lemon juice (fresh only please)
2 cloves of garlic
whatever fresh herbs you have--basil and parsley work great
water to taste if you want to tone it down a little

 What are your favorite homemade dressing recipes?  I had a great ranch replacement, but I can't find it (Rachel, did I send it to you?).  Happy salad eating!

Friday, August 16, 2013

ODL Competition Starts Today!

Hey ODL Gang,

It's Andrew. I'm not allowed to be here, technically. We'll count it as a guest post. I saw this last night and thought of you all, whoever you may be. There is always more we can do, nay, must do, to move our bodies beyond their fallen, telestial state. I suggest we (and by we I mean you) start a little competition, similar to the one initiated in the video below. Let the games begin!

(Here's the link to YouTube, for those unable to view on mobile devices.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Unplug Your Router

The possible hazards of electromagnetic fields (or EMFs) is a hot topic on the science and health scenes right now. Inescapable in urban areas, artificial EMFs are all around us: cell phones, power lines, and wi-fi routers, to name a few.

I've read a handful of articles on EMFs, and while there isn't a consensus on the level of danger, there is mutual concern, and lots of research being done. Alarmists claim that ill effects of EMFs can to range from concentration problems and muscle aches to migraines and insomnia to serious degenerative diseases like cancer. I recently read an article about some ninth-grade girls in Denmark who wanted to see if router proximity would make a difference in a seed's ability to grow. It did. Less of the router seeds sprouted than those in a room sans radiation. (It's obviously a preliminary study, and though some have criticized it, I still find it interesting. I'd like to try it at my house.)

I'm only beginning to learn about all this (maybe Cameron could do a guest post). The point of this post is not to convince you that you're in danger, but to nudge you to consider the issue if you aren't already. We're certainly not doing all we could to protect ourselves from possible harm, but we do a few things that hopefully help a little. We don't carry cell phones in our pockets (my husband used his for the clock, so I bought him a watch instead). We don't use bluetooth devices. I never let my kids put a cell phone to their ear (I don't either -- it gives me a mild headache, and according to this study, children absorb ten times more radiation). We don't sleep with cell phones in bedrooms. We don't have a microwave. We recently stopped using our baby monitor (quick google search: "baby monitor emf"). We've made one other change I feel has been positive, and I want to extend the same challenge to you (maybe I'll call it our Daily Dare, haha):

Turn off your wi-fi at night.

Most people use a wireless router for internet these days, but don't think to unplug it at night, which would protect from half a day's exposure to the all-permeating EMFs. My children sleep within ten feet of our router (on the other side of a wall) and I have plants growing within eight feet through another wall. I'd rather not risk a steady dose of radiation, however small, to all that precious life.

Another great benefit from this habit is that our mornings are much more productive. It has to be something pressing to get us to plug it back in, so it's often off for half of the next day as well. Having no internet can be so helpful (we don't have smart phones). Life exists without internet!

What do you say, are you with me?
What do you know about all this?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On Foot or On Floor

Recently I announced that my family would be selling our couches and living on the floor, eastern-style.  You can read about our reasons here.  Now that we are settled in our new home, I thought I would fill you in on floor life for the Nelsons.

It's so easy!

I don't know why I thought it would be such a huge adjustment.  But it wasn't.  There hasn't been a day in the last month that I wished I had a couch.  As a now experienced floor-liver (liver?) I can testify to the following benefits:

  • I get up and down off the floor probably thirty times on average during the day.  Maybe more.  I really should have counted before doing this post.  That alone makes me much more active throughout the day than I used to be.  Check out the 52 ways you can get up off the floor.
  • I squat a ton more!  Including to set the table and, yes sweep the floor.  I got rid of our long-handled broom so I have to scuttle around the room in a squat to clean.  No video clips, sorry.
  • Kids love it.  They spend most of their time on the floor anyway, and how great when mom and dad are down there with them!
  • When sitting (or kneeling or squatting), I change positions so much more often than I would on a chair or a couch.  Again, more active.  My pelvis is also almost never tucked under.  Yay for neutral pelvises (pelvi?).
  • SPACE!  I anticipated this might be a benefit, but wow it's so great not to have to navigate around couches.  And not to have to move them across the country.

 The Living Room

  • We aren't completely done decorating yet.  But I've decided it's nice to fill the vertical space (normally covered by couches) with vertically-oriented things, like bookshelves, mirrors, long curtains, or a great big map (yet to be mounted on the wall).
  • Probably more pillows to come, though our rug is cushy enough we don't really need them!  But they are always there for those who want more padding. 
  • I definitely suggest a plush shag rug.  This one is 8x10 and a great Amazon find (much cheaper than anything we found locally of the same quality).
  • That desk (currently functioning as a table) we inherited from Cameron's grandma.  Isn't it pretty?
  • I think some tall houseplants would be nice in the corners.

Peter's Room

  • I snuck this as he was *trying* to go down for a nap today.  Sad little bug.
  • Ah, so we DO have a chair!  I've caught Cameron in it twice, after a long day at school.  But it really is never used.  We kept it so that Peter's grandmas would still want to visit us.  And because my parents gave it to us for my/Peter's birthday when he was born.
  • Cam and I have always sat on the yoga ball to hush him or "rock" him to sleep.  Be careful though, it's easy to tuck the pelvis on a yoga ball under the weight of a toddler.  I keep myself moving in circles and watch that tuck.
  • Smaller, beige version of the living room rug.  Also from Amazon.  Toy-time and book-time rug.

The Entry Way

  • Confession time.  Upstairs we have a couch.  Cameron likes to lie on it sometimes when he reads, but otherwise it isn't used.  We actually tried to sell it right up to the day we moved, but had no buyers.  I figure again, guests might be glad.  (We do also have folding chairs in storage for when friends come over who want to sit).
  • The bench is for putting on shoes, in absence of a clean rug.
  • The pull-up bar in the distance is used by all three of us for hanging and for pull-ups. We want to build Peter another play structure, because even though I'm right beneath him when he's hanging, it makes me nervous how high it is.  (He LOVES this activity.)
  • Exercise bonus from this house: our bedroom closet is only one foot wide.  Cam and I therefore keep all our clothes in the walk-in closet upstairs.  We have to go up and down the stairs a lot more than we otherwise would, just to retrieve and return our clothing.

The Dining Room

  • We cut the legs off our kitchen table using a skill saw borrowed from our neighbor.  We gave our chairs away.
  • Cheap rug from Costco.  Perfect for eating on, because it is easy to sweep/vacuum/scrub.
  • "Outdoor" throw cushions that are easy to wipe down.
  • Peter for now eats in his "high chair," set on the floor at our level.  This system is working great, except that I don't like how it forces him into a slumpy tucked-pelvis position.  I figure he's not in there long every day, and I have no idea how we would get him to stay at the table otherwise!
  • There's a very cluttered desk in the corner you can't see.

That's it!  Lovin' life on the floor.

** Postscript: My 7 year old neighbor is over right now, reading on the living room carpet while his mom runs an errand.  I have observed him change position 40 times in the last 20 minutes.  What an active reader he is!**

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Body Love

I know you've all been waiting for me do another self-illustrated post using "Paint."  But be warned, I gave myself a 2 minute limit for each illustration, lest I waste precious nap time.  

This post is about how much I love my body.  It's not a "please write a comment about how beautiful I am" post, but rather a post that I think could describe the evolution of any woman's self-image, and does describe how every woman should rejoice in her brilliant body.

A question for the comment box: What aspects of our daily legacy do you think might be affected by our perception of our bodies?

Dance lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the other girls are in black leotards and I’m in white. I think I’m fat and walk with my arms tightly crossed, but I’m still happy, and I’m kind, and I have fun.

That's me in the white tutu.  (Hold tight to the end and you can see a real photo of this dance class.  Very entertaining.)

I’m not obsessed with image, never am.

Not even in Junior High when I notice all the girls who are skinnier than I, but fail to notice the ones who aren’t.  (I have a photo from then, at the airport with the family, and my legs look almost spindly. But I’m in Junior High, and I always wear shorts over my swimsuit, thankful at least that for me modesty isn’t hard.)

I still like to wear swimsuit shorts, but for different reasons. 

And I wish my hair wasn’t snarled and I wish I looked good without bangs because I’m embarrassed by the height of my forehead and my blond blond eyebrows, and lashes that you can’t see except in sunlight. Oh how this little girl wishes for princess hair, even prays, but tries not to complain. (God hears our foolish, vain prayers too.)

This picture looks like it's nighttime, but you know the sun is shining because you can see my lashes.  I don't glow in the dark.

I’m never obsessed with image, but little thoughts do float away all the same.

I always love eating, think about breakfast first thing when I wake up and dream of dinner during orchestra. But I think about what I shouldn’t eat too, imagine cake-shaped slabs of fat on my sides and butter blobs inside my thighs, and food is a guilty thing, and I’m wrong to love it like that.

Me as a delicious slice of chocolate fudge cake.

Then after high school, it occurs to me: I’m not fat. And I’m not skinny. And I’m not meant to be.

But I am really strong.


I make strong my thing, and mostly forget about skinny. My hair is long now, thick to my waist. My bangs are gone now and I like my face and three isolated people tell me I look like a pre-Raphaelite princess. Weird. And I figure that’s one answered prayer (the one about hair).

Me as a pre-Raphaelite princess.

I love to hike and run and ski and bike because it makes me strong and strong is my thing. But I still think about food and what’s right and what’s wrong and wish I hadn’t eaten that bite I’m still really glad I ate and will eat again, even though I know it will show on my hips.

I love life as a free young woman and take trips and study and date and never obsess about image, but still feel flooded when a man I already sort of love tells me my white lashes are otherworldly and later that it’s like I was carved by the hand of God. And I feel like he really means what I can’t believe. So I decide just to believe.

That's Cameron.

I start believing other things too, like that positivity is powerful, physically powerful, and maybe my body believes what I think about it and becomes it.

I start loving food for real now because I almost only eat real food now, and I think about food as it really is.  I don’t avoid it because it makes me fat or eat it because it keeps me skinny.  I eat it because it makes me strong and smart and maybe even helps keep me kind. Because I believe food is powerful and my body is powerful now, and food and my body and my mind make a mighty team. And so I love real food because I’ve begun to love my body for real.

I’m relaxed now about the image I never obsessed over. My relaxed mind starts firing right and leads to relaxed muscles that fire right and my body gets stronger, and maybe even a little skinnier too.  But skinny isn’t my thing anyway.

And then I get fat but I’m glad about that because my son is going to look like Daddy, and I’m not at all disappointed when he also looks a whole lot like me.

That's Peter.

So I’m lying in bed, pressed between my nursing boy and my sleeping husband (his arm draped over like so),

And whoa.

My body is so important: It is the binding force of my family.
My body is so beautiful, Godly beautiful.
My body is so powerful.

And now I understand why I made strong my thing,
Because my body isn’t just about me.
It’s about them.
I've never seen Cameron wear a bowtie.

Now for some real pictures.

For real.


Friday, August 2, 2013

The Evidence

Take one step inside my house, and there's no question it's a house full of kids.  Most of the time it's really obvious, as the evidence looks something like this:
But if you look a little harder, you might find evidence that looks more like this: 

Some days all I do is clean up after my kids--or harder still--try to get them to clean up after themselves.  Those days, when perspective is dimmed by the din, a whale in the flowers is just another frustration.  Being a mom of young kids is a crazy job that's more than full-time. It's just more than one person can really handle and stay completely sane, clean and happy the whole time (Abraham just came in yelling, "Ben is stuck in the tree again!"). I try to remind myself that on the timeline of life, no matter how long you live, the season of having very young children is a short one.
And that a toy in the cupboard is a surprise friend.
And that soon enough I won't have little boys in rain boots and underwear running around outside.

If I can remember the present, and how fleeting this stage of sweet littleness is, I can laugh more often and love more easily.