Best Shot Monday – 3/24/08 – Egg-citing!

That’s egg-citing, not to be confused with egg sighting, though I guess either would work in this case. ;)

On Saturday we dyed a crapton of 26 eggs using natural dyes made from things like tumeric, chili powder, beets, blueberries, and red cabbage. We did 14 during the day with the kids and my sister (Aunt Carrie), and then because I wanted to experiment some more, Jody and I did another dozen after the kids went to bed. We now have enough boiled eggs to feed a small village.

I will do a post with the details of the natural egg dyeing, including what worked well and what didn’t work so well and pictures of the process, later in the week. For today, however, I’m just sharing some pictures of the egg-dyeing egg-stravaganza, our indoor egg hunt (due to snow) and then my best shot of all of our eggs in one basket (I know, I know, they say not to do that) is at the end. ;)

Most of the pics were taken with the point and shoot, and a few with my SLR. Mouse over the pics for a description.

Our natural egg-dyeing egg-stravaganza was on Saturday. Julian enjoyed eating leftover blueberries (from the dyeing process) while the rest of us dyed the eggs.

Mommy with Julian, the blueberry eater - 3/22/08Mommy dyes eggs while Julian signs for more blueberries - 3/22/08The egg dyeing commences - 3/22/08Julian, the blueberry-eating boy - 3/22/08Family egg dyeing - 3/22/08Mommy with her silly girl Ava - 3/22/08Julian laughs at Aunt Carrie - 3/22/08Ava shows off a green egg (with spinach still on it) - 3/22/08Aunt Carrie cleans up blueberry boy - 3/22/08

Our Easter egg hunt on Sunday was inside (since our snow from the night before hadn’t melted yet). Ava had a blast finding all of the eggs, while Julian enjoyed smacking eggs together and throwing them around the house.

The egg hunt gets underway - 3/23/08Daddy makes sure all hidden eggs are accounted for - 3/23/08Ava, the bunny - 3/23/08Ava and daddy make deviled eggs - 3/23/08The kids hang out with daddy - 3/23/08

And lastly, here’s my best shot. All 26 of our naturally dyed eggs (in one basket). :)

Our naturally dyed Easter eggs - 3/23/08

Head on over to May Papers to see what everyone else has in store for their Best Shot Monday posts.

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Dyeing Easter eggs naturally

Easter is Sunday and, of course, this weekend we have plans to dye eggs for our annual Easter egg hunt. Ava enjoyed it last year, in the snow I might add, but is even more excited about it this year. And I think Julian will enjoy getting in on the action this year too. We might have to dye more than a dozen eggs.

Easter eggs dyed naturallyThis year I’m excited to try dyeing the eggs without artificial colors. I found a couple great web site with tips on “Natural Dyes for Elegant Easter Eggs” and Natural Dye from The natural dyes come from spices like paprika, tumeric and cumin; vegetables like spinach and red cabbage; fruit juices and even coffee. All of your dye ingredients can (and should) be composted after you are done.

The pages have dyeing instructions for a boil method (which produces darker results) and a cold-dip method, which is suggested for children or if you plan to eat the eggs and is the method we will be trying out.

Why dye with natural colors instead of artificial? According to, “Many food colorings contain color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5, which, according to a 1983 study by the FDA, were found to cause tumors (Red No. 3) and hives (Yellow No. 5).” I wrote about the drawbacks of artificial colors a while back if you’d like to read more on the topic.

It is more time-consuming than using a store-bought conventional egg dye kit, but it is healthier for your kids and the environment. “Dyeing eggs the natural way gives you the opportunity to spend more time with your family, teaching kids to use alternative project methods that are healthier for them and the environment.” I think it will be a lot of fun and a great family project.

I will report back on Monday (perhaps with my Best Shot Monday post) on how the natural dyeing process went. :) And I’d love to hear from any of you who give it a shot (or have done so in the past) as well.

3/22/08: There’s an UPDATE in the comments with some of our results of what worked well and what didn’t (as well as what other people’s results have been). More to follow with pics of the egg-stravaganza fun on Monday. :)

*Photo credit: Natural Dyes

U.S. mothers are dying. Why don’t we know that?

Cross-posted on BlogHer

This past week as I wandered, or you might say stumbled, around Stumble Upon familiarizing myself with the layout and realizing the potential to find a lot of great blogs, I came across an article that stopped me in my tracks. I wish I could say it was a fabulously uplifting story, but the reality is that it was the complete opposite.

I want to pause for a moment here and take this opportunity to note that I did not write this with the intent of scaring pregnant women. There is already enough fear surrounding childbirth in this country and I don’t wish to contribute to it. However, I feel strongly that the information below needs to be brought to light and so I wrote this with the intention of raising awareness and educating those who are interested.

A couple of years ago Orlando mother Claudia Mejia checked into Orlando Regional South Seminole hospital to have a baby. The birth went well, but then something went wrong, very very wrong. Ms. Mejia was told she contracted streptococcus, a flesh eating bacteria, and toxic shock syndrome and if she wanted to live, she would have to have both sets of limbs amputated. No further explanation was given. Twelve days after giving birth she was transferred to Orlando Regional Medical Center where she became a quadruple amputee, unable to hold or care for her new son. She has since filed suit against the hospital asking for answers as to how this could have happened. It appears that a judge ruled in favor of releasing her records in April 2007, but I was unable to find any more information to indicate if that ever happened.

This is no doubt a major tragedy, but what I find even more disturbing than the fact that this happened is that it did not seem to get much media attention. Why is that? Had Ms. Mejia been famous, more affluent, or Caucasian would it have made national headlines? Or would that even make a difference?

Unfortunately, this scenario of obscuring maternal complications and mortality appears to be the norm in the United States, rather than the exception.

Not two weeks before, I read an article by pioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin titled “Masking Maternal Mortality” in the March-April 2008 issue of Mothering magazine. Gaskin asserts that “the number of American women who die as a result of pregnancy and birth is almost four times higher than it should be” and says that begs the question, “Why is no one talking about it?”

The last time I recall hearing about a maternal death in the news was in the spring of 2007 when Valerie Scythes and Melissa Farah, two friends and teachers from the same school, both died following c-sections at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J. Had they not had the coincidences of knowing each other, both having been at the same hospital, and dying within weeks of each other, would either of their deaths have received media attention?

The maternal death rate in the United States is the highest it’s been in decades – 13 deaths* per 100,000 live births and, even more startling, for black women 34.7 deaths per 100,000, in 2004. Gaskin asserts it also may be seriously underreported. According to the Center for Disease Control in 1998, “there is so much misclassification in the US system of maternal death reporting that the actual number could be as much as three times greater than the number officially published each year.”

A significant part of the problem is that the 50 states are not required to use the same death certificate and only 21 states ask on their death certificate some version of this question, “Was the deceased pregnant in the week or months preceding her death?”

Another issue noted by the CDC is that physicians often do not fill out the cause-of-death section of the death certificate accurately enough. Additionally problematic is the US autopsy rate has dropped to less than 5 percent, there is usually no external review process when a maternal death takes place and hospital employees with knowledge about the death are generally warned to stay quiet about it.

How can we possibly expect to have accurate reporting under those conditions?

Contrast this with the United Kingdom where every three years the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists publishes a book titled “Why Mothers Die.” In addition to providing detailed, accurate numbers for each category of maternal death, “Why Mothers Die” also makes recommendations regarding what should be done to reduce the number of deaths over the next three years. The book is available to the public in bookstores, so anyone and everyone can have access to this information.

Also in sharp contrast to the US, when a maternal death occurs in a hospital in the UK, a team of people who do not work at the hospital is dispatched to review all of the woman’s records.

Where does that leave us here in the US? We have a mother who was forced to become a quadriplegic unable to get answers from the hospital as to why. We have an underreported rate of mothers dying from pregnancy and birth complications, often without any kind of outside review. And according to the CDC we have no improvement in the maternal death rate since 1982. Yet none of these stories are getting the kind of media attention they deserve.

To help draw attention to the underreported maternal death rate and lack of media interest, Gaskin started The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. Whenever she receives documentation that a US woman has died from pregnancy- or birth-related causes from 1982 to the present, she arranges to have a quilt square made to honor her. The quilt, which can be viewed virtually online and is up to 85 squares, “acts as the voice for women who can no longer speak for themselves.” It is quite sobering to view, even online. The last square was just added one month ago.

Perhaps by raising awareness and demanding more information, we can turn the tide in this country.

She who has health has hope; and she who has hope has everything. — Arabic Proverb


Related links:
Refuse to be a Womb Pod: The Top Five Underreported Birth Stories for 2007
Banana Peel: I think I’m moving to Iceland…
The Lactivist: Go to Give Birth, Come Home with No Limbs
USA Today: Answers prove elusive as c-section rate rises
SouthCoast Today: At 67, hippie-midwife who changed childbirth in America still crusades for natural method

* Ina May informed me that since she wrote the Mothering article, the most recent figure for the maternal death rate has risen. It’s now at 15/100,000 births.

Freezin’ our buns off

A few weeks ago Ava inadvertently turned off our heat. As a result we had a very chilly night in our house. I woke up several times wondering why I was so cold, but in my freezing state I refused to get up and check the thermostat and instead tried to curl myself into a smaller ball to stay warm. Ava woke up several times too, crying out in her sleep, which I could only assume later was because she was too cold. I covered her up with her blanket each time, but she invariably kicked it back off again.

thermostatBy the time we woke up in the morning and Jody went downstairs to check the thermostat (I stayed in bed with the blankets pulled up to my ears), the temperature in the house was down to 58 degrees. Yes, it was downright cold, but it also got me thinking. If we wore socks or added some extra blankets, could we survive turning our thermostat down a bit at night?

For the last year or so (in the winter), we’d done 68 degrees during the day and 67 degrees at night. The reason I had balked at going lower than that (other than the fact that I don’t want to be the heat tyrant that my dad was, though I understand now why he was) was that the kids tend to sleep without blankets on. We cover them up, they kick it off. I didn’t want them to wake up as little icicles in the morning, so I hadn’t tried turning the heat down.

Crunchy Chicken has had a “Freeze Yer Buns” challenge going on this winter to see how low people can go with their thermostats in the name of saving energy. I haven’t signed up because I don’t feel like I can compete with the majority of people who are involved in it. “62 during the day, 55 at night,” and many go even lower than that! But our little Ava turning the heat off impromptu experiment proved that we can stand to go a bit lower at night – not 58 degrees, but lower.

I know it’s a little late in the season and spring is right around the corner (though we got a few inches of snow tonight), but I decided to reset the thermostat to 67 degrees during the day and 66 at night (update: Oops! I wasn’t giving myself enough credit, I just checked the thermostat and it was set for 65 at night. Just knocked it down to 64. Yeah, I’m living on the edge now. *wink*), and we’ve been doing fine with that ever since. It’s only a slight change, but I have to think that every little bit counts. The kids still stay warm enough at night this way and I feel like I’m contributing in a small way. In fact, per Crunchy Chicken‘s blog, “for each degree set below 68 degrees, energy consumption decreases by about 6 to 8 percent.” So our little change does make a difference! :)

What about you? What is your thermostat set at? Do you think you could lower it a degree or two? Will you? :) Not only do you save energy, you save money too!

More energy saving tips.

Green Tip(s) of the Week #16 – Gift wrap ideas (and a giveaway)

This week’s green tips come from my good friend Heather at A Mama’s Blog, who just got a bloggy makeover and a new domain and is celebrating with a giveaway (more on that below). Heather’s tips are great suggestions for making gift wrap more usable and less wasteful.

  • Wrap a bottle of wine in a dish towel, tied off with a ribbon at the top. Bonus: the recipient gets a dish towel that can be reused, instead of throwing a mylar bag away.
  • Use a jump rope for the ribbon on an older child’s present. Bonus: they get to use the jump rope.
  • Recycle birthday, Christmas cards, etc. as gift tags. Cut out the part you want to use (make sure there is no writing on the back), and then reuse these the next time you need a gift tag.


To celebrate the fact that she moved to her own domain, Heather is giving away one of her best-selling What Happens At Grandma’s, Stays At Grandma’s t-shirt from her store Little Pumpkin Sweet Pea Designs! Stop in for a chance to win and to check out A Mama’s Blog. She discusses everything from attachment parenting to the reality of c-sections, from household projects to life with her two sweet boys. :)

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. :)