Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Story Time

I want to make a short post about a great podcast that your kids will love! My brother-in-law introduced us to Miss Natasha over at Story Nory. You can download their children's story podcasts for free! The wonderful thing about Story Nory is that some of the stories are short and some are long, so you can download the one's that fit your little listeners attention span and intrests.


When we are driving somewhere and Marin seems to be getting a bit antsy or just plain mad about being in her car seat we like to play a game called "Marin what does a_____ say?" We started it back when we taught her animal noises, so the "blank" is usually some sort of an animal. This is a great game to keep her busy and happy for a while and gets her mind off of being in the car seat.

The other day she and I were driving somewhere and I started the game.

Me: Marin what does a cow say?
Marin: mmmmm (she never does the "ooo" part)

Me: Marin what does a horse say?
Marin: Nay Nay

On and on through all the animals she knows, its a lot. We have added a few non-animals too--the conversation continues:

Me: What does Marin say?
Marin: bo-maing! (its her own made up word that we think comes from a book where the real words are "boom bang")

Me: What does mommy say?
I just threw it out there to see what she might say, we had not taught her any specific thing.
Marin: No sick babies!

I guess my fears of entering cold and flu season have rubbed off on her. Those are the words I had been telling her the week leading up to our Atlanta trip. But no matter how much ranting and raving and healthy-anti-sick foods I gave her, she still got sick. So we are on lock down right now not leaving the house, making teas, reading about natural cough remedies online, keeping track of when the next dose of Tylenol can be dispensed, charting her fevers, calling friends for advise--but really just to hear them say "she's going to be alright", and making chicken noodle soup from scratch.

This is her first time to go through cold and flu season without the amazing power of nursing. I weaned her before her second birthday back in October and can no longer use that source of nutrition and hydration to keep her healthy. And I'll be honest it makes me nervous because when she was sick and nursing I knew she was going to be alright because she was nursing, but now... I have doubts that chicken noodle soup (even if it was made from scratch) will provide her with the proper nutrients she needs to fight off an illness. I know there are a billion kids out there each year who make it through flu and cold season just fine without nursing, and deep down inside of me I know that my child is going to be OK without nursing, but nursing just gave me that comfort of knowing she was getting the most perfect food to get her through sickness. Or at least it gave me the comfort of knowing I was actually physically doing something to help her get over her illness.

Well here goes the first round of Winter-time illness. My thoughts are with all of you who are tending to sick children right now.

Yes, that flaky white stuff on her face is dried snot!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saving a Bit of Cash

I know there are tons of ways to save a little or a lot of money. I am not going to try and cover every area of our lives where we can save money, but I am going to pass out some information on one specific area; natural and organic products. These items can often be the most expensive, but they don't always have to be that way. If you are committed to using natural products or eating organic foods than this post might be for you. As a side note, I'm not going to make this post about why you should be using natural products because that's another post topic (I did natural cleaning products here). But this is about ways you can save money on the products you might already be using, or would like to use.

Natural Cleaning Products
7th Generation-- This is a wonderful company! If you go to their website you can sign up to get their weekly coupons. These coupons vary from dish soap to diapers to tampons. Not only do you get your coupons but they come as part of a great newsletter with all kinds of wonderful tips on purposeful living.

Shacklee--This company sells many of their green cleaning products in concentrated amounts so they last longer.

Check around at your local stores who might have their own natural brand that mimics a name brand product for a cheaper price.

Make your own-- here are a few sites I found on making your own cleaning products that are not only natural but very inexpensive: Pantry Cleaners, Earth Notes, and many others.

Or you can do what I do... just don't clean then you don't have to buy new products, hahahaha, just joking sadly the toilet must be cleaned! But I do use 100% natural cleaning products in my home, it has been a high priority with a kiddo in the house.

FOOD items
If there is a name brand organic company you like check their website for coupons. You can get weekly coupons from: Horizon Milk, Brown Cow Yogurt, Earthbound Farm (take the quiz for a $1 coupon), Earth's Best baby foods. Also if your local grocery store has its own organic brand they might put out coupons in their weekly adds. We have Greenwise organic line at our grocery store, Publix, and weekly get new coupons in their Greenwise advertisement.

Now if you are a lucky human and have a Trader Joe's near you than you don't need any of this information because TJ's is just the best grocery store in the world and you have many natural products, from shampoos to cleaning products to mac and cheese that is not only affordable but has great ingredients. We stocked up last week in Atlanta with all kinds of yummy foods, my favorite cleaning solution (Cleanliness is Godliness all purpose for $2.99), and lots of chocolate!

If you have found other ways to save money on these types of items let me know I am always looking for new ways to save and still buy natural products.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Traveling With Toddlers

We took a road trip to Atlanta last weekend to visit my husband's family. We had a great time hanging out with everyone. My daughter has a cousin one year older than her and they might have become best friends over the weekend, they just loved playing together.

My nephew is a miracle, I know all children are, but he was born 13 weeks early. Not only did he survive, but he is doing really well. I totally love this little guy, he's just a great kid who I wish lived next door so we could play every day.

Anyways what does all of this have to do with traveling and toddlers. Well this trip to Atlanta got me thinking that a great post would be to write about what I have learned about traveling... and all the tips I have gotten from my sister-in-law who lives in Atlanta and spends lots of time in traffic when she goes places, which has made her a pro at packing a bag full of "quiet toys".

Before I start let me say most of these ideas are airport/airplane-friendly, sitting-for-a-long-time-in-church-friendly, and fairly small which is nice for packing.

TOYS for travel:
Stickers--as soon as stickers are no longer a choking hazard for your child these are quite possibly the best option on the market. You do not need to spend a lot, many dollar stores sell good stickers. Also I recommend stickers that come on sheets, the one's with individual backing can make a huge mess of left over paper... I bought a packet of 200 Dora stickers with individual paper backing, while the stickers were worth it, the mess was not fun.
Aqua Doodle--there are nice ones out there but the one's Target carries are just fine

Books on CD--your local library may have many books on CD, but its also common that they have many more options on tape... sometimes it takes a while to get up to date.
Glow Sticks--night time dance parties, these do not need to be costly. I found 15 for $1.
Cookie Sheet and Magnets--you can even find toaster oven cookie sheet that are smaller. MAKE SURE THEY ARE METAL!!! A lot of new ones are made out of materials that do not attract magnets.
Books--My daughter likes books that have flaps, and other interactive parts to them.

Crayola Color Wonder
--no mess

Crayola Color Explosion
--similar to color wonder, no mess just another option

Magnadoodle--also comes in handy when you need to write down directions... just don't erase it!

A good book everyone can read together
Colorforms--nice and quiet

Mini no-spill bubbles--I have only seen the mini one at Target in the $1 section. This was one of the best toys we took on a flight. The bubbles are very small and the container would fit in your coat pocket and not leak.

Chalk Board--you can use a black Styrofoam meat tray and white chalk
One Special New Toy--this does not need to cost a lot, for example on this trip to Atlanta I restocked on stickers and then bought the glow sticks. I think the whole bill came to $3! This adds something exciting to the trip. I also always get a juice box, there is something really special to Marin about juice that comes in a box. I'm not sure what considering I get the Tot Motts apple juice which is probably about 90% water. But hey the goal is keeping her entertained.

I also bring a lot of snacks, things like cheese cubes, animal crackers, raisins, etc, and water in her Nalgene sippy cup.

I know most of these tips are already out there and most of them are for young children, but I know a lot of traveling is around the corner for many families so I hope they bring out just a few fresh ideas that help your travel time go a bit smoother.
Two cousins making their way around Atlanta!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Art and Stitches

The weekend before my birthday this arrived in the mail. Even the artist did not know it was my birthday it still arrived right on time. It added a lot of birthday joy around here. Let me tell you the story of this wonderful mosaic.

My brother got married this summer. Of course we went to the wedding, all three of us were in the it, I was the best-woman, my daughter was the flower girl and my husband was a reader. My brother and his wife, then fiance, put a lot of thought and energy into making it one of the most beautiful and fun weddings I have ever been to, and I'm not lying just because it was my brother. It really was a lot of fun. One of the things that made this wedding so fun was meeting all of their friends, mostly from college. One of the friends we met and spent a lot of time with was an artist. Now she is not just any kind of artist, she does mosaics (among other things) which Todd loves. I mean doesn't everyone love them, but seriously he really really loves them. I'm not sure how it happened but somehow between June and October a conversation happened in which our new friend made us one! WE LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! We have spent a lot of time talking about it, touching each piece of glass and thinking about how she put them all together.

Anyways what does this have to do with stitches? Well I had to have a little surgical procedure done this week (yes October was an exciting month for me, my tooth removal and now this which left me with 10 stitches and turning 30) and got to spend a little bit of time laying on the couch healing. Well as I lay there I found myself just looking at our new mosaic thinking how much joy a single piece of art can bring someone. I mean it really makes me happy because of how beautiful it is. I am always amazed at how incredibly creative God made humans. Knowing the artist has made our mosaic even more wonderful to us because we know the story behind it, what parts of it were more difficult than others to cut and put together, what she likes about it and other interesting things. All of this really does bring joy to me when I look at it. It makes me really grateful that humans were made so creative because that creativity just makes life so wonderful and beautiful.

Thanks for our wonderful mosaic. We love it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Featuring Fuzzi Bunz

OK OK OK so if you read my cloth diapering post you might get the picture that I LOVE Bum Genius pocket diapers. And I do, but I have been getting a few email questions asking me if they are good for the long haul. Meaning, "if I have four kids will the velcro last?". Being an honest person I must tell you, no, the velcro will not last. In fact if you are starting diapers with your first child and plan on having more than one, get Fuzzi Bunz. I say this because I have several friends who's number three of four is now wearing the same diapers they put on number one. I'm not joking that these diapers can last through four kids, maybe more. But its the longevity of the snaps verses the velcro.

Now if you are trying to save money or space BG's are still a great choice because the velcro can be replaced with each kid without distroying the integrity of the diaper. Ahhhh that's good news. The reason I love these is because they are good diapers but also because you only need one set of them. However if you are having a diaper baby shower, and you plan on having more kids invest in the best. Get the Bunz. BUT ONLY GET THE SMALL AND MEDIUM. Do not buy the large until you actually need them. Why? Well I have known several people who's kids still fit into the medium size at the age of mastering potty training. Then you would be stuck with a whole set of brand new unused large diapers. You can resell them on ebay or craigs list, but not for the same price, people want a deal.

I hope this helps people in making decisions and does not add more confusion in the process.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Enter a Contest--Post a Picture

The site 5 Minutes for Mom is running a contest that involves giving away an entire bedroom furniture set. So I'm going to go ahead and post a picture of my sleeping babe. I know many of you know that our little one has been a "high needs sleeper" (HNS) according to Dr. Sears thus our recent bed time achievements have been welcomed with open arms. We are also excited because we were able to accomplish this without a CIO (cry it out) moment. Thanks to my wonderful husband who has worked so hard over this summer to help our toddler become a wonderful sleeper. There are a ton of really adorable kids and pictures so I do not expect to win, but I just thought that I would make this post to encourage all of you out there who understand and appreciate what it is like to get a nights sleep once your HNS has made the leap into dream land.

Here are the rules for entering the contest. We love the style of the Summer Breeze Set.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Business of Being Born

I wanted to add this film as a bonus post of the day. It feels as though I have been recommending it a lot these days so I just wanted to get it out there.

Way to go Ricki Lake! There is a trailer that will open automatically when you click below.

The Business of Being Born

Getting a tooth removed--memories of postpartum

Yesterday I had a wisdom tooth removed, it had come in a few years ago and several dentist's had told me it was growing in crooked and harming the tooth in front of it. Which at my last cleaning the dentist said this little pest was going to cause that good tooth a possible root canal, which is supposed to be an awful procedure, so it had to come out. Now I know most of you probably got your wisdom teeth out in your teens or college years. I was not so lucky, mostly because this means I had to pay for it (no one in town takes any type of insurance for this procedure CASH ONLY), and that I also was taking care of my toddler in the afternoon. My husband took the greater half of the morning off to take care of us but had a few obligations in the afternoon.

Here was my experience and why I'm writing about it. After the consultation with the Dr he wanted to take my 3 wisdom teeth out for $1500---which we don't have that kind of cash just laying around so buddy just take the one. I also had this idea that as someone who chose natural water birth I would also be able to get the tooth removed with local drugs and no laughing gas...wrong. He convinced me to get the gas in about 3 words, maybe more, but the words "... crack that tooth into about 4 parts.. drill it out" was enough for me to sign up for the $100 fee to get the gas.

They put me in the operating room, and hooked me up to all sorts of heart monitoring clips and started the gas. Now whoever said it was supposed to make me laugh was wrong. "Take a few deep breaths Holli" next think I knew I started crying. Not like sobbing but huge hot tears just flowing out my closed eyes. It was so weird, as soon as I got "high" I could not stop crying. The nurse kept asking me if I was OK and I just said, "yeah I guess". So I have been trying to remember what I was thinking about and why I would have reacted that way. All I can come up with is that I think I got scared that I would be dopey all day and not be able to take care of my baby. I think it was sort of like a postpartum feeling I had experienced the day after giving birth. I could hardly move my body and yet knew I was going to be needed as a mom.

Anyways the tooth came right out in about 5 minutes and before I knew it I was home with some drugs and Marin doing her 2 year old stunts like dancing and singing all day for me.

I think as a mother the thought of being "out of it" must really scare me. I know the feelings I had under the gas were very similar to being in a state of postpartum exhaustion. There were some days my mind was so fuzzy that I had to be intentional about every step I took, every time I carried my baby from one room to another. This lead me to realize that one of the reasons I think the first three months of postpartum were so scary for me was that my mind was not 100% and yet I was responsible for this tiny creature who demanded me to care for all of her needs. Before we have babies our minds are sharp, we are aware of our actions and then the combination of hormones and sleeplessness causes us to doubt our abilities as new mothers. I had a lot of night anxiety for about 4 weeks after Marin's birth, I truly believe this was my mind telling me "you have one hell of a job laid out for you" that burden laying under my hormone/exhaustion cocktail became frightening. All this to be said, I'm sure if I had gotten my wisdom teeth out when everyone else does then I would probably laughed during the gas, not cried.

Oh the joys of parenting can have its funny affects on a woman. While it might cause me to cry under laughing gas, it also causes me to laugh so hard at times I am also crying.

So in my state of numbness and narcotics I made my avatar self. Here is what I'm supposed to look like.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Klean Kanteen ON SALE

Hey I wanted to let you all know that REI a recreational store is having a Fall sale and one of the many items that is on the list is the stainless steel Klean Kanteen drinking bottle!!! These types of things usually never go on sale as they are not seasonal. Anyways they are usually $18.95 for a 27 oz bottle and on sale they are $13.99. Whoohoo I know what I'm going to get with my birthday money.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feminists for Life

I wanted to feature the organization Feminists for Life. I just spent some time reading though their site and find it very helpful and full of resources. Their slogan is "Women deserve better than abortion" I think that will give you an idea as to what they are all about. I have been really struggling with the mainstream pro-life voters because it appears (while I know most of them do not believe this) that they get so obsessed with "pro-life or bust" that they forget or ignore the living people (like fighting for health care). I mentioned all of this in my previous post. Either way it was refreshing to come across a group of women who are against abortion but for women. And believing that no woman should have to go through the pain and grief of choosing an abortion. To put it another way I am also frustrated with the pro-choice-ers who sometimes seem to want abortion more than caring what actually happends to the woman going through the abortion. I commend McCain for saying that life begins at conception in his interview with pastor Rick Warren, and am dissapointed with Obama for not having an answer. If you are going to run for president you need to develop some type of an answer as to what you believe about human life. This does not change my belief that Obama is still a good choice for president but I would like him to get some balls on this issue.

Also guess who has been a member of FFL for almost 3 years... Sarah Palin. Yep, its on the site.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Babies, sex-ed, abortion and life

I'll be honest I don't really like Miss Palin. There are several reasons, aside from her lack of experience, and that she sounds like a high schooler running for student government when giving speeches... sorry was that a personal attack? :) I do love her hair, a lot. Like, I want it.

Honestly I am having some problems with the abortion issues in this election. Here are my thoughts and how this involves me not thinking Sarah is all that educated on this issue (although lately her TV interviews make her sound uneducated on many issues).

For starters I hate abortion as a method to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Science has long proved that life begins as conception. Last week the Discovery Channel did a series on the human body, it started with conception and showed 8 week old fetuses having the ability to feel heat, touch and move away from lights and others invasive feelings (most states allow abortion up to 18-24 weeks). So we know that the way a baby is extracted from the uterus for an abortion is incredibly painful to this little human. The other problem I have with abortion is that the baby only has rights if it is wanted. Here is what I'm trying to get at, if a woman is carrying a wanted pregnancy and is murdered than the killer is charged with 2 homicides, however a baby unwanted and aborted is not considered to have the same rights as the baby murdered. Hmmm not sure how that is fair?

Here is my struggle, I want women to have choice when it comes to their bodies. I have never been in the position to make the choice of keeping an unwanted pregnancy, I have no idea what that is like to walk in the shoes of a woman finding out she is pregnant and does not want to be. I cannot grapple with the idea of forcing anyone to have a baby, to become a parent. Of course some would say "well no one forced them to have unprotected sex and get pregnant." Yes that is true, but life is not that black and white. When it comes to this area there is so much gray its not even funny.

Here is what bothers me about Sarah Palin and others who agree with her. She is not only against abortion but she is also against comprehensive sex education and she is completely against any form of birth control. She believes in abstinence only school educational programs. Here is the problem with abstinence only programs, they don't work. The states who have chosen to go this route have the some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy's, STI's (sexually transmitted infections) and teen abortion. So here is the problem, not only is she against giving teens the resources to prevent pregnancy (over 50% of high school teens report having sex before graduating) but she is also ignorant to the fact that they are going to have sex, and if you don't offer education about how to protect from unwanted pregnancies than they will get pregnant! I'm just being practical, kids in love with raging hormones make dumb decisions, and people we are not just talking about kids here, we are talking about college age people and adults. Teens are not the only people having unprotected sex. This issue is so much bigger than that, I realize, but I just want people to understand that our mentality must change. We cannot believe that every family sits down with their kids and tells them how babies are made and how to prevent it, and we cannot believe that everyone is out there teaching their children how to respect each other and protect women from unwanted pregnancies. Not every little boy is going to be raised with the understanding that they can prevent STI's and pregnancy by respecting a woman enough to use protection or abstaining. I recently heard that over 40% of teens wished they had abstained until later in life, hind-sight is always 20/20 (See Family Album recource below). We cannot sit around in our little middle-class homes with our protected children believing that every child they encounter is going to be given everything ours have. This is a really scarry world for some (many actually) children, they are abused, abandoned, neglected, and exposed to way too much inhumanity than any little human should ever have to endure.

Here is what I want: the Republican (pro-lifers) and the Democrats (pro-choicers) to sit down and come up with a practical plan to just prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Its not about giving women more choices, and its not about just teaching abstinence, its about comprehensive education that teaches how things work, how things happen, how to keep things from happening and how to respect one another. I'm not bashing the Republican party only, it totally pisses me off to hear a pro-choice advocate talking about the need for partial-birth abortion (or infant euthanasia--I'm glad Europe had the guts to call it what it is). I will say that there has been a Republican dominance in government leadership for a while and nothing has been done to over turn Roe vs. Wade. Not only are the Republicans in office not fighting against it but they are not even trying to reduce the amount of abortions. (Please read this article on Jim Wallis' blog about someone actually doing something to reduce abortion rates: here)

Here's my issue in a nutshell, the pro-lifers fight for the life of the unborn baby... but once its born the buck stops there, they have no plan as to help these women support their babies (and Palin has no plan to help them prevent further pregnancies!). Its like the Republican party says, "we really care about unborn babies, but screw the rest of humanity" like what about health care, who is going to pay for the birth of the baby, a single person can only be in welfare for 2 years so once that baby is two if the mother has no other income what then? What about women who have no support system. This is often not thought of because those of us making decisions/laws have support systems. Sarah Palin's daughter (who is 5 months pregnant) has a mother who will care for her when she gives birth, not just financially but also emotionally and physically. But there are about 800,000 teens (just teens not counting adults) out there who will or have already become pregnant this year. Not all of them will have support. In fact being pregnant might cause them to become even less supported than they already are. On the other side I want the pro-choicers to come up with plans to help prevent the pregnancies all together so that a woman does not have to go through the pain of even having an abortion, or making the decision of what she is going to do with an unwanted pregnancy. How about instead of pushing for more and more rights for the mother, we push for more and more programs to support women and education that will prevent unwanted pregnancy all together.

I truly believe that we cannot begin to expect teens to stay abstanate across the board if we simply tell them "sex is hands off, that's all you need to know for now" and expect them to be content. Also we cannot expect women to choose birthing a child when many of them will have no resources after the child is born. I personally know what it is like to go through a pregnancy without maternity insurance and the fear of what will happen if I birth a sick baby. It is completly terrifying. I still clearly remember the day (at 34 weeks) we were approved for insurance coverage of my pregnancy and how hard I cried because I was so thankful. How do we expect to reduce the rates of abortion if we cannot give these women the care and support they will need, and I'm not talking about "here's ten bucks and a sack of used baby cloths". Life is not as tidy as we would like to think it is, or ought to be.

Family Album number 98, 110
Discovery:From Conception to Birth
Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music for Kids again!!!

NPR always has something up their sleeves. I just wrote a few weeks ago about kids music and then this evening NPR did a great story on some bands doing a good job at making some fun and good kids music. Here is the link

Grown-Up Bands Craft Kids Songs

they have done other stories on kids music, there are links to each story at this current story.

Kids music just gets better and better.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

God's Love, Mother's Milk

My husband found this article in Christian Century; God's Love, Mother's Milk: An Image of Salvation. It addresses why the image of the nursing Virgin disappeared in Western art. How most Christians today see "the primary symbol of God's love and care for humanity is a cross" which the author, Margaret Miles, brings up the interesting point that our focus is on the violence brought upon the Redeemer, yet for the "first five centuries of the Christian movement the crucifixion was not depicted visually..." However there is another image that presents God's love for humanity; paintings, drawings, and sculptures of the Virgin Mary, breast exposed, nursing the infant Christ. "In communities under siege from plague, wars and malnutrition, the Virgin's breast was a symbol of God's loving provision of life, the nourishment and care that sustain life, and the salvation that promises eternal life."

I did a Google search for "Madonna Nursing Christ Child" and found so many beautiful images I was almost brought to tears thinking of what this single act of nourishing our children has meant through out all of history to so many children and mothers and ultimately all of humanity. How it is such a beautiful act of comfort and love.

I loved this article and wanted to share it with you all.

Picture by: Guido Reni

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Children's Music

Finding good children's music can be quite the challenge, as much of it is not GOOD music. It might have run rhymes and silly-ness that children love, but the actual sound of the music is often, well... bad. After you listen to some of the stuff out there you may become discouraged. BUT have no fear there IS good music out there for kids that parents might like too. Finding good music was a top priority in our house so here is what we have discovered thus far (our list is not extensive, as we still just make our kid listen to what we like seeing as we are the one's who turn on the ipod):

Elizabeth Mitchell: You Are My Little Bird (she has other but this is our fav.)
Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell: Catch the Moon
For the Kids
For the Kids too!
For the Kids three
The Innocence Mission: Now the day is over
Putumayo World Music for kids
Big Smith: Hillbilly Music for Kids

My daughter is also a fan of: Feist, Hem, Over the Rhine, Matisyahu and They Might Be Giants. These all seem to be fun to listen to also.

Foogo, plastic bottles and bamboo

I have been getting a lot of emails these days asking me what I know about plastics. Maybe because we use as little plastic as we can, or make sure the one's we do use are BPA free. Anyways I am no expert but here is what I can tell you about plastic:

Canada has banned the use and sale of plastic bottles that contain B.P.A. and polycarbonate in infant bottles. (here's an article) Due to the high toxicity and their ability to jack up (you can quote me on that) hormone's in animal testing.

Plastic cannot maintain its integrity... at all. It is never safe to put your plastics in the microwave (even if they say micro safe), or dish washer (even if they say top rack safe). The high heats break down their make-up and dumps (or you might see the word's "outgas" and "leach") the chemicals into the containers contents.

If you look at the bottom of your plastic container, number's 1-2-3-4-5 are "supposed" to be save, chuck the rest.

Health Observatory (download here) has a Pdf that can be read and is a great guide for what is safe and what is not.

Here's my deal, call me paranoid: we like to experiment here in the USA until we find out after the fact that our experimentation has backfired on us... or killed us. Lets take maternal health for example. You know like back when they used to take x-rays on pregnant women to check their pelvis and then... oh crap its giving babies cancer. So back to the plastics, yes there is not any conclusive evidence that we are getting enough toxicity though our plastic water bottle, or that our babies are going to be brain damaged by boiling that plastic evenflo, but if its making rats have infertility issues I'm not sticking around to let my baby grow up to find out she has issues with infertility as well. We are also seeing rates of cancers that were once very rare on the rise, especially in organs and systems that flush toxins out of our bodies.

We are exposed to more chemicals than ever before, they cannot be eliminated from our lives or diets, but why not at least give it a try. Besides all plastic is made out of some form of petroleum, we Americans love our oil... why not give the ol' fossil fuel god a break and try out some glass or metal for once.

So that leads me to say we just bought the Thermos Foogo which I'm totally excited about. We got the Straw Bottle because its toddler safe/proof and also bigger kids will still use it because its a straw not a sippy cup. They do have the sippy versions but because they are more costly than the cheap plastic sippy cups with Dora, Barbie, or name your character, I chose to go with the one that will outlast they toddler years... that's if it does not get lost.

Here is a list of wonderful non-plastic products that are easy to incorporate into your life

The Container Store
Bambu (I don't recommend hot things in this product, but the kid utensils are great)
Waxed Bags (see ya ziplock)
Happy Sacks
To Go Wear
Klean Kanteen
Born Free Baby Bottles
More Glass Baby Bottles (I don't know a lot about this site yet I just found it)

This post does not even begin to touch on the topic of non-plastic toys, that can be another post all in its own. I just finished a great book called Children At Play and will eventually write about the importance of play and why specific types of toys matter in a later post.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What's a doula?

I am a certified doula. I also have my degree in Family Studies and Human Development, which is what led me to become a doula. One of my favorite professors, in her early early grad school days, was a doula , which was the first time I ever heard the word (which I'm going to explain in this post). She used some of her birth videos during the "birth" secion of my Human Development 101 class. Her favorite video to share was the birth she attended in which a huge military first time dad passed out as his son entered the world. We, the students, laughed at the drama, but didn't really get it, seeing as most of us had never given birth. What I loved about family studies was the information we learned about family dynamics, first attachments and how all of this shapes who we are as people and our capacity to love, and have healthy adult relationships, and how all of this starts at birth.

Before I go any farther on the human development stuff let me explain what a doula is and then tie it back to the above. A doula is a labor and birth assistant, in literal terms she is a womans' servant. But to put it in a more understandable way, like what she actually does during labor and birth, a doula walks alongside a woman and her huaband/partner helping meet the woman's needs. A Doulas work has many different tasks, it can varry from showing dad how to do a hip squeeze to relieve back pain, making sure mom is drinking enough fluids, giving foot rubs to parking cars at the hospital so that a laboring woman is never alone and her husband never has to leave her at the ER door. They provide continuous emotional and physical support, encouragement and care, they also serve as an advocate for the mother by explaining hospital proceedures, and routines. One of my favorite parts of being a doula is helping the dad get invloved. Birth can be very overwhelming to a new father, your in a hospital, mom is uncomfortable and there are machines and doctors or nurses saying and doing things he may not understand, is mom OK? I have really enjoyed being able to help dad help his wife. There have been several times I have been at a teaching hospital and nurses or docotrs in training get so into the birth they crowd around the bed knocking the dad out of the way, and the father of the child about the enter the world is going to miss the whole thing! This is the point in which I stick up for the the dad and say, "hey would you mind if the dad could stand next to his wife?" This is just one little portion of my job, but its great to see a father get to take on more invloved roles when someone is encouraging him or just giving him ideas about ways to meet his partners needs. The doula never replaces the husband/partner's roll but can greatly enhance it.

When it comes to the mom, a doula plays many different roles. At my birth I asked a good friend to be my doula, my favorite part of having her there was to have another woman notice the little things that needed done, she washed all the dishes at our house, inbetween putting pressure on my back during contractions (it was nice to come home to a clean kitchen), she pulled my bangs out of my eyes with clips when I was pushing, she kept telling me I was doing such a good job (I remember at one point she said something like "You are are making this look easy, you're doing such a good job" just when I was getting to the point of wanting to give up). My doula sat with me through the delivery of the placenta and told me how amazing my birth was, and that she was excited I had a girl (we didn't find out earlier), this gave my husband the flexibility to sit holding our new child while my doula helped me get cleaned up and into bed... and then she prepared a meal and fed us all and installed the car seat before she went home. She came by and gave me encouraging words when I was trying to nurse ("she's latching on so well, you're doing so awesome!") and feeling like my nipples were about to just fall off. It was wonderful having my husband with me, and he was encouraging, but when my doula said "you can do it!" I knew I could because she had... three times (now four as of 2 weeks ago).

A doula also provides postpartum support, with breastfeeding support, infant care and many other things. I was once hired to sit and hold the newborn so that mom could rest and dad could run a few errands. A doula can also be a great lifeline when you need someone to listen.

I think what I love about being a doula is that by being present for someone's birth the mental drama can be focused on the actual arrival of a baby joining its family, the focus can be on a baby developing its first relationships. I love it that I can be the person who is asked to communicate with the nurse, or who runs to the car for some forgotten item, or stays to comfort the mom so her partner can go and make phone calls, go to the bathroom or talk with doctors. A laboring woman needs to feel safe, encouraged and loved so she can put her energy into welcoming her baby into the world with her partner standing by her side. This is what a doula can offer to birth.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Splat Mats

My dining room table sits on carpet and thus my child is eating over carpet... this is a recipe for a huge mess. There are a few solutions to this and so I wanted to post a way to save yourself a lot of cash.

You can buy one of these for around $25-35. They are cute... but don't really cover a very large surface. I'm not dissing this brand specifically. Here are a few others that are totally adorable (and the companies carry some really cute things:
Little Dudes
In this very room
My Retro Baby

But you can just buy the oil cloth for $7.50 per yard at Mendel's Far Out Fabrics
I recommend 1.5 yards for good coverage (which is actually much bigger than the one's above) and you can get any color or pattern you could imagine. At this price you can buy one for the dining room and put one under the paint table in the playroom!
I just wanted to share my little discovery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vaccinations at a depth

OK OK OK so this is a topic about which I regularly get questions. So I am just going to put a few thoughts out there (I feel like this entry is more like barfing out my discoveries).

FIRST let me just make a few disclaimers:
1.I do not live overseas or have not taken my child out of the country as of yet.
2. I nurse my baby.
3. I did not birth a premature child or a child with a compromised immune system.
4. I made all of my decisions while walking alongside the guidance of my pediatrician who firmly believes that I am my child's advocate, therefore she respects my questions and decisions, while letting me know her opinion at the same time (this is a good balance I think). And finally number 5. my child is not in day-care or school yet. The reason for all of these disclaimers is because they are all very legitimate factors to consider before you make the decision to do an alternative vaccination schedule, or no vaccines at all.

I also want to say that my child does have some vaccines. Let me start with the most common questions I find in my mail box and move from there.

"Hey I'm having a baby soon and heard you didn't vaccinate your daughter, why? I have been thinking about all the shots they give babies these days and it scares me. Also someone told me that they are linked to autism, is this true?" "What have you found out?"

Whew! OK so here we go. When I was about 4 months pregnant I started my research... and I'm still going. So this is not something I have taken very lightly. Why? Vaccinations and circumcision are the two irreversible medical decisions you make FOR your child (geeze and I though trying to decided if we were going to spank or not was a dig deal). Here were my two issues, 1. Vaccinations are full of heavy metals (aluminum, beryllium, mercury, and others) some in very high doses some in very small doses. 2. Some vaccinations also have live viruses in them. 3. How many of these diseases are more of an inconvenience to working parents and less of an actual threat to my child. So I consulted a few MD's I knew and asked them what they thought about not vaccinating my child. I got anything from; its completely safe to vaccinate to "I really don't like vaccinations". One friend said that the only reason I would be able to choose the non-vaccination rout is because everyone else does it and I would be ridding on the backs of healthy kids which she thought was totally wrong. Another friend who had been in family medicine for over 20 years thought that doing some sort of a delayed schedule and just one at a time was much better for children in her opinion, and that is what she does in her practice. As I continued my reading I decided to take my liberty as a mother who is my child's advocate and do what I thought was best for MY child (not yours this is a decision that needs to be taken very seriously for your individual family).

Here is the down-low on vaccinations as I have discovered. In the beginning...
If you deliver your child in a hospital (which I did not--she was born at a birth center) it is very likely as soon as your child is visited by a pediatrician (usually in about the first 12 hours) they will want to give your child the Hepatitis B vaccination ASAP. Let me just say that this illness is sexually transmitted, transmitted through dirty needles (in case your 12 hour old baby decides to become a drug addict) necessary if your child needs a blood transfusion, or if either parent has it, or is living a high risk life (like sleeping with prostitutes or sharing heroine needles with the homeless guy down the street). None of these were issues to qualify my child for the shot, thus her Dr said it was totally fine for her to skip it. MY DOCTOR said that. She said that when she gets ready for preschool it might be nice to have because if she gets bit by another child she would have that protection (little did she know mine was going to be the biter!).

Here is another factor you might want to consider: the FDA says that a 12 pound infant can safely receive 30 mcg's of aluminum each day, but the Hep B shot contains 250 mcg. (This comes from in one injection. My daughter was 7 pounds at birth so according to the FDA the Hep B shot would contain too much aluminum and possibly cause metal toxicity.

OK so I had jumped the first hurdle and was onto the next: rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, HiB (meningitis), prevnar (meningitis) and polio. Um hello did you say you are going to give my 2 month old child SIX vaccinations! So there it is folks that's the next hurdle to jump. After talking with my child's Dr we decided that I would wait until she was four months old to begin thinking about them again, making a decision like that was too overwhelming for my postpartum mind (an her Dr. agreed that it was fine to wait until then). Then I began my next project. Which of these vaccinations was really important to a stay-at-home-nursed-baby? And here is what I discovered: I live in a college town with over 50,000 students. Meningitis is very common on college campuses and thus this is the only illness that poses a real threat to my infant at that time. So at 4 months we returned to the Dr and got the prevnar or PCV because it is the most dangerous of the two bacterias (HiB is the other). Because we got this shot 2 months late my daughter only had to have 3 of the series of four as long as the final injection was given after her first birthday. We then discovered that if HiB is given at 15 months your child is protected with just one of the 3 part series. So at 15 months she received that injection.

OK side note. If child A starts the HiB vaccination at 2 months and child B starts at 15 months and they both receive the final injection at their 15 month visit, they are both protected equally, and child B has only one-third the amount of heavy metals as child A. When it comes to vaccinations that are part of a series the child is not fully protected until the WHOLE series is complete. This is another factor to take into consideration.

SO our schedule looked like this:
4 months PCV #1
6-8 months PCV #2
13 months PCV #3
(we were able to avoid number 4 because its just a booster because the one given at 2 months is too early really to do much)

15 months HiB (only one not 3)

20 months DTaP

24-28 months polio (IPV)

3 years MMR

Vaccinations I will probably never give her: chickenpox (varacella), rotavirus (for infants, too late now), gardasil (its bad news).

Some notes about the DTaP:
I have a friend who is a pharmacist and I assigned her the job of finding out if a child can get just the tetanus or does it have to be all three. Those big one's really scare me because they usually contain a lot of heavy metals and this one has a live virus as well, or at least I thought it did. My pharmacist friend found out that you can give your child a DT and not the DTaP but not the T only. The T must be formulated along with something else to make it absorbe into a little body (but alone its fine for adults). My concern for the Pertussis was that I had read said that it was a live virus and I wanted to avoid those at this stage (sometimes its the live virus that makes them sick). When I asked for a DT vaccination we found out it would have to be special ordered, but that Florida does not allow the use of live virus Pertussis. She Marin recieved the DTaP.

To address the autism issue. There is some theory that the thimerosal in certain vaccinations is linked to autism because thimerosal contains mercury. There is not a lot of medical support for this... some people believe that its because the $$ funding for this type of research would not be available due to drug companies. I did a lot of reading on the topic and found out that in the state of Florida where I live they have reformulated all vaccines without mercury. Thus they are supposed to be safer now. I do know several people who through hair analysis testing found their children's bodies did not process the heavy metals in vaccinations and through the help of a licensed nutritionist got the heavy metal levels lowered. Each of these people sought this help in the first place because their ped's had said their children were showing signs of autism, ADD or ADHD. Maybe these neurological problems are really an issue of heavy metal toxicity. ? (like I said these are theories or observations) What we do know is that the U.S. has the highest rate of autism than any other industrialized nation. Where we have around 1 in 125 (some studies say 1 in 150) children being diagnosed with autism, other countries are pushing 1 in 1000, or higher. I have looked at the vaccination schedules for all Euro. countries and theirs starts at a similar age as the ours, many of them only give one vaccination at a time and in the beginning only what is actually a threat (i.e. Germany starts with polio because its still an actual threat). But there is not big enough variation in schedules to give us a clue as to why they have significantly lower rates of autism compared to the US. There is another theory out there which is: could our high rate of autism be the massive amount of drugs infants get between birth (pitocin, pain meds etc.) and vaccinations combined. Babies born today in the US are exposed to more drugs than ever before. Maybe their little bodies cannot handle all of those chemicals so closely together. This is another blog entry all together, that will need to wait until I can find more information about it.

As for now, I wanted to write about my discoveries.

Here are a few websites you can check out for more information, and where I often check too.
Product Description
Dr Sears
FDA Thimerosal
The Travel Dr
CDC USA schedule

The Book at the top of this entry is also a great resource. Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents Guide by Romm (There are many, many, many books on this topic, please choose them wisely as many of them are very biased towards both directions. Choose one that is practical and not propaganda)

Well that's all for now, I want to be clear that what I have learned and decided for my child is not what I suggest everyone do for their children. Also I do believe in public health and am very grateful that due to vaccinations we do have some amount of safety. My other comment would be to not put too much trust in the vaccinations as some magic cure for childhood illnesses, some children, in very rare cases, still do get these illnesses. Spend time thinking, praying, and listening to yourself. Remember, you are your child's advocate, that's your job as they cannot advocate for themselves. If you do not want to give your child a particular vaccination for a particular reason, stick up for yourself and your child. I have found that by telling people and doctors, "we plan to vaccinate, just at a slower pace" they accept that answer. Also do your own research about your geographic area, there may be some vaccinations that are more important in your area than mine, thus changing your schedule to fit your area.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

All your dreams come true...

Maybe your family has more discipline than mine, but since the beginning of the Olympics, starting with the opening ceremonies, we have been glued to the TV every night. We even let our toddler eat in front of the tube during the open ceremonies! We never do that, we never let our child watch television... ever, she's only 22 months old she just does not need that in her life. BUT the Olympics is different, right. I mean next time the Summer games are on she will be 6 years old, so she needs to get the chance to see these sporting events. Well she loves the swimming and runs around our house like Frankenstein (arms stretched out in front of her) yelling "wimming, wimming!" Sometimes she does somersaults around the room explaining to us that she is diving. This is all really cute.

However one theme I keep hearing many winning athletes repeat over and over during their interviews with select reporters is the famous Disney mantra: "If you follow your dreams they will come true" or to put it another way "If you work hard at your dream it will happen". BUT this is not true... not to burst your bubbles or to be mean or harsh, but it's not. I mean I would love to become a famous writer, to sit at a desk looking out at my garden flourishing in the sunshine, like Barbara Kingsolver--that's how good I want to be, but the reality is that I am never going to be a Kingsolver writer, no matter how hard I work, I was not born with her creative writing skills. I know there are hundreds of children out there who dream of being good at sports, singing, art, acting, the list goes on but only a few of them will ever "make it" as an artist, and there is only one Michael Phelps in that pool. Oh there are others who are good, but there is only one Michael. This should not cause us to push our dreams aside, or to forget them. I think pursuing the activities we enjoy is usually a positive thing.

As a mother, how do I help my daughter follow her dreams, pursue her hopes and desires, give her support and love, without giving her false hope? How do I let her know that I believe in her 100 percent but at the same time not everyone is going to be a famous rock star or prima ballerina? I'm not saying that she is not going to become one of these because she might, but she might not. What am I going to say to her when she is 6 and watches the next Summer Olympics and hears some athlete say "this just goes to prove that anyone who follows their dreams can achieve anything". Do I tell her that is true? Or do I talk about the other swimmers in the pool who also dreamed of winning a gold medal but it just didn't happen for them.

I don't have any answers to this all I know is that only 3 swimmers, divers, runners, etc. were given a medal, the remaining athletes will leave China with a broken dream. A dream that does not end in winning. They all arrive with the same hope and desire, to win, to be the best, all their mothers believe in them, but only one gets the gold.

At six she will not understand this.

My little "Wimmer" who has won my heart!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reusable Bags

I wanted to put together a list of a few online company's that carry reusable bags. This is my Earth Friendly Back to School post :)

Why reusable bags? Well for starters, they save a lot of money. Those grocery bags are not free. The more of us who use reusable sacks, instead of the plastic or paper bags when shopping at your favorite store, the cheaper the cost of food will be. Obviously there are environmental concerns as well. Like the plastic does not really breakdown for a long time and it takes harmful chemicals to produce them. Finally another reason to use reusable bags is because they are cuter (this is my shallow yet totally reasonable answer)!

One of my favorite places to shop for these bags (I find just about everything on this site makes a great gift) is

If you are looking for a great selection of kids lunch bags here are a few places to look:

Reusable Bags-kids
Warm Biscuit
Green Feet

Also some of these bags are actual food covers so that you do not have to use Ziplock bags.

OK on a side note If you are looking to decrease the amount of plastic in your life the Klean Kanteen is a great drinking bottle. They also have a few sippy's that are great, durable and chemical free (meaning they do not leach chemicals into your liquids... and eventually your body).

OK I will do an entry at some point on plastics. But I know many people are getting ready to send kids back to school and wanted to put some of these resources out there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Vibrant Theology of Children

My husband discovered a wonderful site at Baylor University whose focus is children. Among the articles is a wonderful read called A Vibrant Theology of Children. It is written by Robert B. Kurschwitz and is used in Baylor University's Christian Reflection, a series in faith and ethics. Its a PDF and you can print it off to make it easier to read. I'm going to give you the first short paragraph so you can see what its about.

"Many distorted and simplistic views of children see them as commodities, consumers, and economic burdens, or only as sinful creatures that are 'not yet fully human.' In Scripture and Christian tradition we discover a richer picture of childhood that should inspire creative religious education and renewed commitment to serving all children."

You can read it here

Reflective Moments...

I spoke with a friend on the phone last night. It was nice to catch up, and have a few kid-free moments to talk about something that is difficult for both of us, and I'm sure every mother out there. I'm sure its hard for dad's too, but we don't represent their perspective, because we are two women talking. The topic was; how do you live a prayerful life, or to word it another way, how do we as mothers integrate prayer, thoughtfulness, reading, or being reflective in some way into our busy crazy lives? My friend said she was reading a book by a male author who spoke of his reflective, prayerful life, his commitment to community and all that stuff Christians are called to do... and she threw it across the room... why? Well for the same reason I would have. Its hard for us to imagine fulfilling all those callings when you have children. Its not that we use children as excuses to get out of being prayerful, believe me I would love a few minutes each day to be kid-free and sit and think. I would even love it if I could sit and think with kids. But seriously, I have a toddler, and I take care of a friends child who is also 2. My daily life is NUTS. Don't take me wrong, I love my baby, I think she is the coolest kid ever, I think she is the cutest little pixie baby too. But lately she has been biting her best buddy for no reason at all, and he's into jumping off of everything, which means climbing on top of everything. These two toddlers have one huge bag of tricks and never stop thinking of new ways to make me crazy (did I mention they also stuck their arms into the toilet today!).

Anyways back to the book conversation, here's the deal, a man wrote this book, nothing against men, but the guy who wrote this book is a university professor, his job is to THINK... all day. He gets paid to think, so what is his wife doing? Is she home with his kids being able to live this reflective life he writes about? Maybe I don't know, but what I do want to know is, are there women who have kids and get moments to be thoughtful? Of course there are, there are lots of you out there, you just don't have the time to write books about it because you are cleaning lunch off the walls, kissing scraped knees, stacking blocks, giving baths, scrubbing that mysterious stain out of the carpet and potty training that child who just peed under the bed.

The more I talked with my friend we did think of a few women who have moments of thoughtfulness, Anne Lammot wrote Operating Instructions during her sons first year of life, as a single mom. This book came about as a result of her taking the time to sit and write a few moments a day, or week, or whenever she got a "moment". My husband just introduced me to newsletter called Notes from Toad Hall. Margie Haack writes this thoughtful little jewel. I love reading it, over and over. I have only gotten two issues and I have read them several times because they are encouraging, honest, thoughtful, and prayerful too. My husband and I just ordered a book by Image's Gregory and Susanne Wolfe, Circle of Grace. This couple writes on ways to integrate prayer into the family life, I have not read it yet, we just got it in the mail yesterday. So I'll write a review on it later. :)

Anyways, I was thinking about this during nap time (during which my daughter only slept for 25 minutes... so it was a short nap time... I'm still bitter :) ) and I thought about my friend Stacy's blog, she writes with some regularity in her blog and its always good. Sometimes is a conversation with her 5 year old, sometimes its a crazy day she had with her three boys, either way, did I mention she writes in her blog regularly and has THREE boys! (she also takes time out of her one break in the day, nap time, to call me back, thanks Stacy)

Alright, I'm sure this will become a topic I write more about. If any of you out there have any tips on how to be a more reflective mother I could use any of your suggestions, for now, I'm off to fold cloth diapers, and rest on the couch with my husband who just made me dinner because I had a rough day with my two little toddlers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Potty Training...Parent Training

My daughter seems to be interested in going to the bathroom on the toilet. She has successfully gone potty (not just pee either), she regularly lets us know when she has already gone in her diaper. But I'm not getting my hopes up that she is potty training, she did this about 5 months ago. She actually started sitting on the potty every morning and went "number 2" for about two weeks then she just stopped. So I started doing some reading about potty training back then and now I am thinking about it even more. Here's what I wanted to know;

1. What is the overall goal of PT (this might seem obvious... to stop using diapers right, not so easy.)?

2. Is it my job to train her?

3. Is she developmentally ready?

4. What are the ways I could really mess this up?

Here is what I have found out: 1The overall goal is obviously that your child is not longer needing diapers and can go the the bathroom in the toilet... but its WAY more than that. Toilet training is NOT about the parents' accomplishment of getting their child to use the toilet. According to Dr. Sears ( if your kid is still in diapers when you had planned otherwise, it does not make you a bad mother or father. It just means your child is not ready, and all kids are ready at different ages (usually between 18 months and 2.5 years, but its not unusual for a child to be 3 or four before they are regularly keeping the princess panties dry). The actual accomplishment of using the toilet and being able to stay dry is all about your child. Its their accomplishment.

In the book Kids are Worth it! by Barbara Coloroso, she says "The backbone (authoritative, which is not to be confused with authoritarian) puts the child be in full control of her body functions and master her own toilet training at her own speed. The parent has a flexible routine, is positive and nonchalant about the routine, expects mistakes and sees them as opportunities to learn, has a relaxed attitude, and is available to help. She is not overly concerned about other adult's expectations and comments."

I think that also answers my second question, while my job is to provide guidance, support, encouragement and lots of toilet paper, its my daughters job to be physically and cognitively ready for potty training.

My third question, is she ready, how can I tell? Basically, when she goes in her diaper and is conscious of it, lets her parents know she has peed or pooped, asks to sit on the potty, is able to stay dry for a period of time, or in my personal opinion when she can hold it long enough to only have accidents behind the couch... OK so I didn't read that anywhere, its just what my child is doing. Oh yes she does not have accidents anywhere in the house, just behind the couch. Anyways, a child also needs to be able to communicate they need to go to the bathroom, and most importantly they need to be willing to use the toilet. Once again its not about me being a good cheerleader and getting her to go, its about her being willing to use the potty and then I can become her cheerleader.

OK my final question is about how I can possibly mess up potty training. Coloroso says that parents who take ownership of toilet training (starting before the child is ready), use punishments (spanking for accidents, "big boys don't pee their pants" humiliation, etc. ) or use a more laissez-faire attitude can accomplish several outcomes, these include:

-The child's understanding is that they do not have control over their body or its functions
-feelings of shame or failure
-prolonging the process

Dear lord! This is not as simple as it seems.

A few other comments. Dr Sears' says you need the following things before you start PT:
  • Sense of humor
  • Endless patience
  • Creative marketing
  • Potty-chair
  • Training pants
Barbara Coloroso says you need the following things before you start:

Patience: "the power or capacity to endure without complaint something difficult"
"Once you and your child embark on the toilet-training adventure, thanks to your willingness to establish a backbone structure of preparedness, practice, and patience, your child will be able to begin to see herself as a competent, resourceful, and responsible person who is learning to treat her own body with dignity and regard."
And finally, "Relax. Many mothers and fathers are concerned that teaching their children bowel and bladder control is a mysteriously powerful parent-child interaction fraught with all sorts of hidden pitfalls, any one of which can induce crippling neurosis. But in reality, toilet learning is not different from any other early childhood learning experience-learning how to handle a fork, or button a shirt-that requires a combination of mental and muscular coordination." Alison Mack, Toilet Learning

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I recently came across this parent network that I wanted to share... which is what this site is about. is a site where parents can post their children's outgrown things which will be shared with other zwaggle-ers looking for new things. Its a way to keep toys, cloths, and just about everything else in circulation. Here's how it works: lets say you have a few cloths, toys or books your kids are done using, you post them on and earn "zwaggle points" and then get to spend those points on other posted things your kids might need or enjoy. All the details are at:

check it out. its a great idea to keep all those kids things from going into the landfill.

Another great group trying to do a similar thing is
I joined it when I lived in Missouri and came across a lot of interesting items... such a a white rat that someone's snake would not eat, or a child's Elvis suit. But there are other useful things too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cloth Diapering Questions

I just had a friend email me a few questions about my cloth diaper entry so I wanted to post them so they might help anyone else. Her questions are in black and my answers are in red.

If I get the Bum Genius
1. is that all i have to get? just several of those? (yes, you do not need snappies, or pins or inserts those come with the diapers)
2. how many do you recommend getting? i have heard a newborn can go through 10 diapers a day! (I suggest about 16 but like you said infants go through a lot... hmmm you could always get started with 12-16 and if you need more get them later, or just have a few disposables on hand during that phase. Its the shortest phase of the cloth diaper wearing days)
3. how is it that they can fit a newborn and a one year old (one size fits all!?)!? (Yeah its kinda crazy, they start at 8 pounds and go to 32 I believe) (I had a 7 pound baby and had to use a few of the old fashion types in the beginning, meaning the type your mom probably used, a big prefold with the snappies and a cover that was for a small baby) I probably did not need to do that I could have just used disposables until she fit and saved my self a few leaks and some money.
4. do you have to buy accessories for these diapers? NO (not really, only the diaper sheets that make it possible to flush the poop. BG comes with a night insert, and that might be really nice to use when your babers is really tiny then the diaper will not be so bulky.) I'm going to send you a few pictures that might help too. OH and what ever system you decide to get for storing dirty diapers I guess you can call that an accessory. But you do not need anything for the diaper itself.
Gotta love cloth diapers!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eco Babies Wear Green

We just got this book for a friend having a baby. Its is a part of a great series of books that I think most people would find humorous.

Eco Babies Wear Green

This is my favorite part, eco babies wear green, and the picture of the cloth diapers!

Pregnancy and Accupuncture

I have been thinking a lot about acupuncture these days. I have a friend who started it to get healthy before getting pregnant, to get rid of stress and boost her fertility. I have another friend who is already pregnant and using it to minimize her morning sickness. I have two friends who have used it as a natural method to infertility (both got pregnant shortly after starting treatments). Everyone I know who has used it, likes it and says it works. I think it will be my next research project. I'll let you know what I find out. But for now let me tell you what I do know.

First: Fertility
I have known several women who have tried to get pregnant for anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Each of them tried methods such as, charting fertility cycles, medicines, and different medical procedures. After their attempts with doctors failed, they each turned to see what the alternative medicine could offer. Let me stop here to say that each of these women was never diagnosed with a specific infertility problem, they just were not getting pregnant. After starting acupuncture treatments both of my friends got pregnant within a few months. Is this a coincidence? I did a quick google search and found that there is a lot of information on this topic. I cannot wait to get going on my research!

Second: Morning Sickness
My friend who is pregnant has a lot of morning sickness. She is getting treatments for it through acupuncture and said that it is the only thing that actually helps her out. If she gets it regularly it keeps the vomiting at bay.

Alright if anyone knows anything about this topic let me know. I am curious as to what is going on with it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Everyday Environmentalist

My friend Stephanie wrote this short and helpful article on ways we can use less resources, and clean with green household products. Check out her article here at Everyday Environmentalist.

I have been using all natural cleaning products for about 4 years now. At first I thought it was going to be very costly and not really work. However as someone who had a job as a house cleaner for a time in my life, I knew that there were direct consequences of using traditional cleaners, mostly for my body. First was my lungs, anyone who has sprayed Windex or other ammonia based products onto windows, counters, and mirrors, knows that it is not the most pleasant smell, the same goes for anything with chlorine bleach. The problem is that not only is the smell offensive, but the actual particles you are breathing into your lungs are dangerous. Second was how quickly my skin would react to each product. Mostly by becoming dry and cracking. These are 2 very visible ways to see how harsh traditional cleaning products can be.

Natural cleaning products are not expensive, here is a list of what I use:
Baking Soda -- great for getting soap scum and water marks out of the bathroom, great to clean grout in tile, weird spots in sinks

Boiling water -- wooden cutting boards, things that have grown mold (which happens to everything in Florida)

Trader Joe's Cleanliness is Godliness all purpose cleaner ($2.99) -- windows, sinks, counter tops, floors

bartender's friend -- anything metal that has gunk on it

lemons -- can be used as disinfectant

there are a ton of books on the market on this topic and ways to clean all sorts of things. A few brands to look for: Shacklee get clean products, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers
these are just to name a few that I have used and think are just fine. I do love anything that Trader Joe's dishes out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cloth diapers can be done

Two babies lovin' their cloth diapers!

Yes cloth diapers are easy, clean, and cute too. I use cloth diapers, so do lots of other people. Let me just say, what I diaper my child with is not what your mama diapered you with. No pins, no folding, no rubber or plastic pants (now all of this does still exist but the people who choose it are the die-hards in the CD world). When people find out I use cloth diapers they assume that its difficult, and that I have to deal with lots of poop... or something like that. Let me also say that as word has gotten out that I use cloth, I have gotten dozens of emails asking questions about them (I even got one email from Prague!).

The Details--AKA why the heck would you do that?
1. The average family using cloth diapers saves around $2000 per child (shall I move on? Or is that enough reason?) during the diaper wearing years.

2. The average disposable diaper wearing child adds 4000 pounds of garbage to the landfill by age 2.

3. Diapers do not really decompose, well in about 500 years they do. Also once human waste is added to the absorbent materials inside the diapers and the diapers begin to decompose, they become toxic.

4. It is against the law to put human waste into the landfill, I'm not sure why we allow diapers to go there seeing as they are full of human waste. But if you tried to put a bucket of your waste in the trash you would get a fine for doing so.

5. Harmful chemicals: disposable diapers contain the following; dioxin, tributylin (TBT), sodium polyacrylate. Sodium polyacryalate has been linked to slowed wound healing (immune-system damage) and asthma. Also its the stuff that was banned from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome (caused by staphylococcus aureus).

So How Do I Get Started? -- I have written several email on this subject so I am going to do a little time saving, and cut and paste my old emails about diapers. Let me just say, getting started can be easy. What I have tried to do in the following email is make it as easy as possible. So people don't feel overwhelmed starting out with cloth.
Cloth Diaper Styles
1. POCKET DIAPERS -- the diaper is 2 parts, an outside covering with an absorbent insert, which makes it one piece that works just like conventional disposable diapers. Such as: Fuzzy Bunz (the most popular), Bum Genius (what I use and my favorite) or Haute Pockets

a few comments on these brands--FB's are the most well known Pocket's. They will seriously last through like 4 kids. They are very well made. However you will have to buy about 3 sets of them because they are sized (sm, med, lg). BG is my all time favorite because they are not only pocket style but also one-size fits all, so while they are about the same price as FB's you only have to buy them one time, not three! I also have several HP's they are fine and I like the snap option, HOWEVER they are really bulky, so bulky that Marin cannot wear shorts or jeans with them. Also they are not completely leak proof. They cannot be worn through the night ever, or for any long period of time.
*The only negative about pocket diapers is that you have to stuff them together after each wash. But the dry super fast because they are not made out of cotton, but something like micro fleece.

2. AIO (all in ones) --these I did not use because they didn't seem practical or very easy to clean, also when I held them they had plasticy outsides and I like the cloth feel. Here are a few examples. The one plus is that you do not need to stuff them after wash (which I will tell you all about in the next section) they are just one diaper... BUT they take forever to dry as a result.

3. DIAPER COVERS--waterproof cover with a variety of inserts. I used these for the first few months. The only plus of these is that they are the least expensive way to go, per diaper... but considering you have to buy three sets (sm, med, and lg) in the end you will still spend more than the Pocket diapers. Here is how these work: here is your cover , there are many different brands out there that vary in price. Its the insert that varies. You can have the insert that works like this: mother-ease, fitted, and finally (what we did--and I don't suggest this way AT ALL!!!) the Chinese prefold these are the onces that need either pins or snappies.

OK so there are the diapers. Now how do you store them?

Storing Dirty Diapers:

1. Wet Storage--this requires a bucket with a tight lid (so that someday toddler cannot open it and get in) you can get your wet storage bucket at Lowes in the paint section, they have the best snap on lid that no child would ever be able to remove. And its way cheaper than buying one that is specially made for cloth diapering. Now this system is not for the weak stomach... because you will have a bucket full of watery-poop... that you have to touch...

2. Dry Storage--this is best done if you buy this bag. Its called the wet bag, but its dry storage. There are other options out there but most of them are not zip so they are not smell proof. I suggest you have 2. QUESTION? so how does the poop come out of the diaper if you do dry storage. Well for the first 6 months of your baby's life you will be dealing with breast milk or formula poo, so you will just throw it all in the wash (or you can pre rinse them in the tub and then put them in your wet(dry)bag waiting to be put in the washer) most washers have a pre-wash cycle though so that will rinse them well then wash them. Its a nice easy deal. Then as you introduce food and baby starts to get really nasty poop you can buy these nice little sheets flushable liners. These lay on the diaper between the baby's rear and diaper and peal right off after a poop. The nice thing about this brand is that if baby is just wet you can actually just throw them in the washer with your diapers, and dryer too and they last about 3 times through that cycle. So if you get a really messy diaper you can always pre-rinse it in the toilet or tub first and then wring it out and just put it in your dry bag until you wash.

WASHING--this is an easy one, just about every 2.5 days. Or on day 3. So this leads to next question:
HOW MANY--you need about 16. You will use about 6-8 each day.

WHAT ABOUT NIGHT TIME---use disposable... OK I have tried to use cloth at night. Bum Genius comes with a night liner, and it works well (HP's does not make it through the night, neither does FB, even with the extra liner in it) Either way your baby will wake up smelling like pee, and the diaper gets really really smelly and its just really really bulky, I mean Marin could not even roll over in her night diapers when she was littler because they were so bulky. So I have always done disposable at night. Every now and then I revert to cloth because I ran out of the others but its just not the same at night. I know a lot of cloth diaper purists and they also use disposable at night. There ARE cloth night options, they are expensive and I don't really know anything about them.

WHEN DO I START-- I always always suggest to all new mommas that they do not start for the first month. Give yourself at least 4 weeks to heal after birth, learn to nurse, rest, get used to your new baby. Even after 4 weeks I only started using them part time for a few weeks. It takes a while to get used to them. But once you have it down its as easy as cake! I timed myself the other day and it took 3 minutes to get them in the wash, and about 10 to stuff and fold my pocket diapers.

SOAP--any of the baby or free and clear name brands will do. Do not use fabric softener because they will begin to repel moisture... not a good idea. And you are not supposed to use bleach it will tear up the elastic... however I use the Publix chlorine free greenwise brand just about every 10th wash to make sure there is no funky smell. *Sunshine can also take care of funky smells.

*side note* YOU CAN REGISTER AT MOST CLOTH DIAPER STORES. (my personal favorite is, but you might have one locally too!)

More to come on cloth diapers.