The first day of kindergarten – Wordless Wednesday

Dress and shoes courtesy of Tar-jay (Target)

A blueberry pancake for breakfast

Landscaping Balancing rocks in backyard courtesy of my friend Julie’s neighborhood (i.e. they were free!)

A beautiful smile

Love courtesy of daddy

Kids Konserve lunch bag courtesy of Kids Konserve, SIGG bottle (the BPA-free version) courtesy of SIGG (and daddy’s paycheck) and cucumber and strawberries courtesy of our garden

BPA-free, phthalate-free, eco-friendly backpack courtesy of Eco-Gear (and mommy’s paycheck)

Another great smile

My tree-hugger in training (with her eco-friendly backpack & lunch bag) following daddy and Julian to line up for class

One last smile – You can tell she’s thinking, “That’s enough pictures, Mom!”

Ready to head in for her first day!

Want to read more about my thoughts on sending Ava to kindergarten?

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Lookout BlogHer, here I…tiptoe (an intro to me)

BlogHer '09 In Real Life

Tomorrow afternoon I will embark on an adventure unlike any I’ve had before. I will kiss my kids and husband goodbye and travel alone (for the first time in more than five years) to the windy city of Chicago. I will arrive at the Sheraton hotel and likely not know what hit me as I join 1,500 other women bloggers for the sold-out Fifth Annual BlogHer Conference. There will be general sessions and break-out sessions, the community keynote, hugging, swag, friendships forming, more swag, networking, and more parties than you can shake a stick at.

I had been feeling really overwhelmed and anxious about it all, but honestly right now I am mostly just excited. This definitely isn’t something I do everyday and I’m excited to be a part of it all – to learn and grow as a blogger and to meet sooooo many women who, up until this point, I’ve known only virtually.

Yes, I will still be nervous and will be keeping my bottle of Xanax on hand just in case, but I am hoping I can push through the anxiety and turn it into an unforgettable experience.

Over at BlogHer, Denise recently suggested folks write a blogging primer on themselves as a pre-BlogHer get-to-know-you kind of post and here’s my go at it:

My name is Amy. I live in Colorado with my husband Jody (yes, he’s a guy) and our two kids Ava (5) and Julian (2.5). I’m currently a stay-at-home mom (hence the “Domestic” part of my blog name) and I also write as a contributing editor for BlogHer. I love finding new ways to “green” the way we live (hence the “Crunchy” party of my blog name) – from organic gardening to composting to cloth diapering to biking to using environmentally-safe non-toxic cleaners to making my own yogurt and granola (the best!) and much, much more. I like to post the occasional Green Challenge to motivate others (as well as myself) to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I try to raise my kids using the Attachment Parenting philosophy, though I admit most of what I do is just parenting by instinct. I sometimes make mistakes though and am thankful that tomorrow is another day.

In addition to writing about parenting and eco-friendly living, I also enjoy writing about maternal health. I am a big believer in the power of a woman’s body (both to give birth and to nourish her baby) and I had my son at home with the help of my midwives.

I also consider myself an activist and most recently was involved in campaigning for Barack Obama and trying to get my city to allow backyard chickens. (I finally got the OK to get a permit!)

I grew up in an alcoholic family which is something that, after years of repressing, I am tackling head-on now. I kind of felt like I had no choice after I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at the beginning of 2009. There are a lot of things in my life I am tackling head-on now (thanks to therapy) to help myself be a mentally and emotionally healthier person.

I sometimes struggle with how much information to share on my blog. There is a lot that I want to share that I don’t feel that I can out of respect for others who are involved. However, I often find myself sharing quite a bit anyway (things about myself and my anxiety disorder) and feel comfortable doing so as long as it’s not going to harm anyone.

Anyway, I bring up the alcoholism in my family’s past because growing up in those kind of conditions definitely shaped who I am today – which is a mostly quiet, reserved person, at least until you get to know me (or I have a glass of wine *wink*). Sometimes people thing I am just being snobby or stuck-up because I don’t talk much (especially in larger groups), but I’m just shy like that. I prefer one-on-one or small group conversations to those with several people. I feel more comfortable that way.

I love to write and am also a photography nut (and did portrait photography professionally for a while), though I haven’t picked up my SLR in months. I imagine that I will get back into again someday soon. I consider myself kind of crafty, but just don’t have the time to do much. However, after Jody recently suggested I make my own business card holder for BlogHer because “it would be the ultimate crunchy thing to do,” I had to take him up on the challenge. I sewed that by hand last night with some fabric I had and I cut a button off an old shirt. 😉 It’s not perfect, but, provided it doesn’t fall apart, should work just fine.

My favorite quotes are, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi (I had that printed on some stickers I will be passing out at BlogHer) and “Knowledge is power.” I try to live by both of those mottos.

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at BlogHer (tomorrow, eeep!!!). Please remember that if I don’t immediately jump into a conversation or run up and introduce myself to you, it’s not because I’m stuck-up, I just move at my own pace (though would welcome you running up to me to introduce *yourself*). 😉 If you have time, write up a “getting to know you” post of your own and then link to it over on BlogHer and leave me a comment here with the link too so I can read about you before I meet you. 🙂

And if you aren’t going to BlogHer (I will miss you!), but want to know what I’m up to (hiding in a corner? sneaking away for a nap? eating some Chicago-style pizza? partying with my roomie PhDinParenting?), I plan on tweeting while there so be sure to Follow me on Twitter. You can also search flickr for photos tagged “Blogher09” – maybe I’ll turn up in some. 🙂

Lastly, a big THANK YOU to my sponsor Stonyfield Farm for helping me with my trip expenses. If you are interested in trying some of Stonyfield Farm’s new organic Oikos Greek Yogurt, track me down at BlogHer and I’ll give you a coupon for a free container of it. 🙂

A naturally beautiful rainbow of colors

For the second year in a row, I made our Easter egg dyes out of foods and spices. This year’s dyes were made from the following ingredients:

Pink – canned beets
Orange – chili powder
Yellow – tumeric
Green – spinach with tumeric and purple cabbage mixed in
Blue – purple cabbage

I have to say I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. 🙂 Yes, it was another year of mommy having more fun dyeing the eggs than the kids. But the kids had a great time finding the eggs (over and over again) in our Easter egg hunt, so it all evened out. 😉

Here’s my best shot for this week – a rainbow of eggs:
2009's batch of naturally-dyed Easter eggs

Want to know how I did it? Check out my tutorial on dyeing Easter eggs naturally.

I’m also fond of this picture, which isn’t my usual style, but I liked the motion blur of the kids off to find more Easter eggs while daddy paused to recall exactly where he hid them all. This so perfectly represents life in our home on most days.

The kids look for more eggs, while daddy ponders where he hid them all.

For more Best Shot Monday pics, visit Mother May I.

And suddenly I’m a soccer mom

It seems like just yesterday Ava was small enough to fit into my arms, but this weekend my baby girl had her first soccer game. And just like that – I’m a soccer mom (and wife to a soccer coach to boot!). 😉

I don’t know if I look like a soccer mom. What do soccer moms look like anyway? I’d take a pic of myself and let you make the call, but since we’ve all been sick with some nasty colds the past several days and I haven’t had a haircut in months and may now be sporting a mullet (gah!) and thus am hardly feeling photogenic at the moment, I think I’ll pass. ;oP

Anyway, Ava and daddy had their first soccer game this weekend. The kids were up against a much more experienced team and while they weren’t able to pull off even one goal (bummer), they had fun and I had a good time watching them and snapping pics (I even dusted off my SLR for the occasion) until a certain little someone pulled me away to the playground. 😉

This is how we’ll be spending our Saturdays for the next eight weeks and that brings a smile to my face.

Here are some pics of my little soccer player (in the purple pants) and coach hubby (with the shaved head and the green shirt). Mouse over the pics for captions or click to enlarge.

I know I haven’t participated in a while (photography just hasn’t been in the cards for me lately), but I’m counting this as my Best Shot Monday post and choosing the last pic as my BSM for this week. For more Best Shot Monday pics, visit Mother May I.

Together at last – (not so) Wordless Wednesday

I’ve been wanting to get some new pictures of Ava and Julian together for a while. With Christmas right around the corner, I got my act together, cleared everything out of my dining room, transformed into a makeshift studio, and took these shots last week. When I sent them in to Costco to have them printed (not my usual printer, but an acceptable substitute especially when running short on time and cash), I didn’t expect a follow up phone call from a Costco employee asking if they were taken by a professional. I stumbled a bit before answering, “I took them.” She asked again, “You are the photographer?” And I said, “yes.” The employee said I’d have to sign a release when I came in to pick them up verifying that I took the pictures. Now I know I’m not the first person they’ve called like this and that they are only doing their job to protect copyrights, but I was flattered. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like a professional photographer and it was a nice reminder that maybe I could go back to photography again someday – if and when I’m ready. Thank you, Costco. 😉

This one has replaced a nearly 2-year-old picture of them on our living room wall.

Ava and Julian 12/15/08

And this one accompanied many of our Christmas cards because I just love their expressions. I won’t tell you what I had to do to get such belly laughs, but I will say I was acting pretty silly.

Ava and Julian 12/15/08

Sorry for the lack of content around here these past several weeks. I’m hoping that with the new year will come new motivation to blog and I will get back into the swing of things again.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Bowled over – BSM

This weekend, thanks to my sister’s suggestion, the whole family went bowling. It was the first time for Ava and Julian (if you don’t count the Wii). 😉

Ava was happy to do it all by herself and, with the help of the bumpers in the gutters, bowled a pretty good game. (And yes, I think the tutu helped her game. *wink*)

Julian had a little extra help with the bowling ball stand (they didn’t have those when I was a kid) and bumpers and, of course, the moral support of his whole family. hee, hee.

We all had a lot of fun, so much that Ava said “we should go bowling every day” and asked if she could live there. 🙂
The family bowlers The fancy bowler (AKA Ava) The fancy bowler strikes a pose

The whole family gets Julian set up The littlest bowler finally cracks a smile The kids with Grandpa and Grandma

Here’s my Best Shot (Ava and I cheering for Julian’s spare!) taken by my sister Carrie, though I’m also quite fond of the picture of the one above – of all of us getting Julian set up to bowl. 🙂
Mommy and Ava cheer for Julian’s spare!

What fun did you have this past week? Be sure and check out the other Best Shots.

Our Barack Obama Rally Experience (pictures & videos)

On Saturday, Jody, the kids and I drove 2 1/2 hours to Pueblo, CO, to experience our first political rally where both Michelle and Barack Obama were scheduled to speak. According to the LA Times, there were over 15,000 people in attendance.

We were seriously lucky and got amazingly close to the stage thanks to a phone call my sister Carrie made on Friday. Jody and I had been debating whether or not it’d be a good idea to take the kids for the 2 1/2 hour drive, then make them wait for the rally to begin and sit through the rally before having to drive 2 1/2 hours back home. It seemed like a lot to ask of them. I had several questions like if I could wear Julian in my Ergo (baby carrier), if we could bring a blanket to put on the ground, and if we could bring in a bag with diapers, snacks, toys, etc. to entertain the kids. Carrie called the Colorado Springs Obama office for me and said we’d be coming with two small kids and asked my questions (yes on Ergo, no on blanket, yes on backpack with snacks, diapers, etc.). She then told Carrie that since we’d have little kids with us we could use the disabled persons’ entrance.

So we decided we would give it a go, try not to have any expectations and just enjoy being a part of the event. We dressed the kids in their “Kids for Obama” t-shirts, I donned my “Obama Mama” pin and, because it was warm enough for short-sleeves, even displayed my Obama temporary tattoo on my arm and we headed out on a beautiful day to Pueblo.

When we finally got to Pueblo, about 30 minutes before the rally was set to start, we parked a block from the disabled persons’ entrance and made our way there. A police officer outside of the line told us that we’d have to go to the main entrance – FIVE blocks away. I explained that we were told to go to the disabled entrance because of the kids and he was skeptical. He said we could try to get in, but they might just turn us away and direct us to the main entrance anyway. Unsure what to do, we started to walk down the street to the main entrance when I said, “Ya know what? No. We are going to try to get in back there.” So we headed back, told him we’d take our chances and waited in line for about 10 minutes while I formulated my story, even verifying on the phone with my sister the name of the person she talked to. (Carrie and her friend had got to the rally before us and were out in the crowd, about 2 blocks away from the stage.) When we got to the front, the security guards didn’t bat an eye, they just had us go through the metal detector like everyone else and we were in! We walked around some Port-O-Johns and a building and discovered that we were in the media area and about 30 feet from the podium where Obama would be speaking!! SCORE! 🙂

I took both my SLR and P&S cameras and am so glad I did. I got a few videos, some snaps, as well as some good pictures of Barack and Michelle. The only thing I didn’t get that I wished I had, was a picture of Barack and Michelle with their daughters. They all came out on the stage for about 30 seconds at the end, but by that time I was holding a tired and very much ready to leave Ava (Jody had been walking around with a tired, cranky Julian for the entire rally) and was unable to get a shot off. Despite that, I was very happy with the pictures I got.

Julian looking sleepy in the Ergo – Excited Ava and Jody waiting in the security line – Before the rally began, Julian was ready for a nap
A tired Julian in the Ergo on my back as we walked to the rally 11/1/08 Ava and Jody waiting in the security line before the rally 11/1/08 Excitement mounts before the rally, but Julian is ready for some Zzzzzs 11/1/08
Cute baby for Obama – Our view of the media (which we were standing right beside) – SWAT team on the roof
Baby for Obama 11/1/08 We were in the media section 11/1/08 Members of the SWAT team 11/1/08
Michelle Obama spoke briefly before introducing Barack – Love that Obama was speaking on Union Ave. (since he’s all about unity)
Michelle Obama speaks at the rally 11/1/08 Michelle Obama introducing Barack 11/1/08 Barack Obama speaks on Union Ave. (nice) in Pueblo 11/1/08
Obama speaks to the crowd
Barack Obama addresses the crowd in Pueblo 11/1/08 A very small part of the crowd 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08
More of Obama
Obama speaks on Union Ave. in Pueblo 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08
Obama – Ava and me with Obama speaking behind us
Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08 Me, Ava and Barack Obama 11/1/08 Pueblo, CO Another of Ava, me and Barack 11/1/08
The kids run off some energy after the rally ends
The kids running off some energy after the rally 11/1/08

The energy at the rally was incredible and it was amazing to be a part of it. Obama encouraged everyone to volunteer – make phone calls, go canvassing, etc. – in the last few days before the election. I’m hoping to do that again Monday evening. If you’ve already voted and are looking for something to do on Tuesday other than make last minute calls encouraging people to vote, please consider taking water or food to the people waiting in line to vote. Seriously, that’s what is needed (Edited to add: I learned today that you need to SIGN UP to be able to do this – don’t just show up at the polling place expecting to get to distribute food to voters. Call your local democratic office first. However, you CAN bring food to the people working at the polling place (according to someone who will be working) without signing up first.).

While the kids weren’t very excited to be at the rally (it was a long day for all of us, especially them), I am glad we went and that they got to see Barack Obama in person. Someday, I think they will be glad they were there too. (Oh, and Julian finally got that nap in – all the way home.)

If I’ve still got your attention and you want to see a couple of videos from the rally, here’s Michelle welcoming Barack onto the stage (they are so cute together) and a short one of Barack talking about unity.

Oh, and as for my choice for Best Shot Monday, this week I really can’t choose just one. I like the “Obama baby” and the one of Michelle smiling and then I’m also very partial to the ones of me and Ava with Barack behind us because they are priceless. 🙂 You can see more Best Shots over here.

I hope to post about my experience hearing Gloria Steinem talk (I saw her today at Borders) tomorrow. Stay tuned. 🙂

Pumpkin-y goodness

On Sunday we went to one of our favorite pumpkin patches from some pumpkin-hunting; corn maze walking; animal watching, feeding and petting, followed by pumpkin carving at home. A good time was had by all.

Julian checks a little pumpkin out 10/19/08 Ava takes a break from hauling her pumpkin around to smile for mommy 10/19/08 Finding their way out of the corn maze 10/19/08
Ava gets to work scooping out the pumpkin guts 10/19/08 So slimy 10/19/08 Julian gnaws on some raw pumpkin seeds 10/19/08
Jody and the kids during the pumpkin carving 10/19/08 Mommy sneaks in for a pic with her boy 10/19/08 And one more with both kiddos 10/19/08

And lastly, my choice – punkins holding pumpkins – for Best Shot Monday:
A couple of happy punkins 10/19/08

See what everyone else is up to for Best Shot Monday.