Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day

I honestly expected this "holiday" to come and go without much thought in our house. We live in a community fairly saturated with military families so I think I have already become a little insensitive to the lifestyle. It takes seeing someone's face and knowing their situation, whether it be a mom at home with multiple kids and a deployed husband or a friend who lost a loved one overseas, to shake off the numbness. I have come to know some extremely tough moms who maintain their sanity better than I do despite a deployed husband! Just getting through a week as a stay-at-home mom is tough for a lot of us, but living daily without the support of your husband has got to be intense. *I know there are women deployed too, but I haven't met any dads (yet).

I am extremely thankful that my husband's position isn't deployable, at this time. If that were to change in the near future I am not sure what I would do with myself. It is hard enough making friends in a new place as it is but to create a support system would be insane. My short experience of being a stay-at-home mom with two girls, alone, didn't go so well and I was in a community where I knew plenty of other moms. My stomach still churns when I think back to last winter and the months the girls and I struggled together. But, it could have been worse. We could have been sending Stephen off to war instead of North Carolina! There are so many families with deployed loved many kids missing their parent(s)...they deserve so much love and appreciation.

My little brother has been stationed overseas for the past 4 years and is about to embark on another 2 year tour on a Naval ship. The first two years I was stressed and worried about him so much! He got into a few nasty situations and came out just fine so I have learned to trust that he really is a soldier. I will always worry about him, of course, but I am so proud of him for becoming a Seaman and sticking with it (I think he finally beat his longevity record of working at Pizza Hut for several years). It does break my heart that he has met Avery only twice...the last time being right before her first birthday. He has yet to meet Ainsley- who just turned one. I am thankful that he has been stationed in "mild" places (Greece and Italy) and not Iraq or far. I pray he never gets his wish and enters a more hazardous zone. It is fortunate that deployments to war zones are typically 6-12 months long. I can't imagine what it would be like for the family or the solider to spend several years in a dangerous place. Separation is hard...regardless of the time and the location. There are so many families dealing with it every day. I really can't complain when I look at the families in our community. I am humbled by my experiences thus far and pray I don't get the opportunity to spend any more time without my husband than I already did this last winter. If you are like me and have become a bit numb to the military families around you- I hope you take today to think about life in their shoes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Healing from Birth

I've spent just 4 days shy of a year contemplating the concept of "healing from birth". My first daughter was born via c-section. At the time I fully trusted my midwife when she said I needed a c-section. It took the duration of my second pregnancy to understand how wrong she was and how wrong I was for not educating myself more. Directly after my cesarean I was miserable from the physical pain of the surgery. A year later I was over the physical pain but struggling with the emotional agony of wanting more children but wanting to avoid another cesarean. I am stubborn and argumentative and these two traits helped me tremendously in researching, preparing and successfully having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) with my second daughter.

I truly thought that succeeding in having the birth that I wanted would help me heal from the emotional pain of my first birth. Sadly, I still have regret, anger, grief and flat out disgust hanging on about my surgical birth. I am disgusted by medical professionals who treat birth as an illness. I'm disappointed in myself for "studying" all the wrong things during my pregnancy. I skipped over sections in books on c-sections because I just *knew* that would never happen to me. Ugh! How could I have been so ignorant!?!!?

Even more tragic, I am not the only intelligent mother to approach pregnancy and birth with blinders on! We assume the medical professionals who care for us during our pregnancy want what is best for us. We can just show up and they will tell us what to do, right? So wrong. They aren't caring for us...they are treating us.

While I have no regrets about my VBAC with my second child, I still want a "do over". I want the birth that heals me from my previous births. Does that really exist? I read 2-3 birth stories each week. I can feel the bliss and joy in so many birth stories...usually homebirths. I want that for myself. Yes, I want one more child too, but I do want to experience birth that is...happy? Is that the word? Neither of my births were terrible, like life-threatening terrible. But they were very emotional and traumatic in their own way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions

I have been a BzzAgent for a looong time! I have had the chance to receive free products in exchange for Bzz (Buzz). Sounds cool, huh? It is. This month I received a free, full-sized Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions cleanser and moisturizer. This is the second Burt's Bees product I have tested with BzzAgent and the third product I have actually used in my home. I have to say, I'm done with Burt's Bees. I kind of feel like their product line is "health-washed". That nifty new word floating on the internet just means a product contains words or descriptions that make it sound "healthy". Similarly, the product can be "green-washed" to sound eco-friendly when it isn't.

Burt's Bees is owned by Clorox. Their products are not certified organic and they contain a lot of natural-sounding ingredients. But they also contain all the other junk we don't want in our items...YET they still charge a ridiculously high price. Not a fan. Here's a link to the EWG's review of many of the Burt's Bees products.

The cleanser was drying anyway. I do have sensitive skin and this product line did nothing to calm it down. It just didn't irritate I guess it is good for sensitive skin. The moisturizer did not replenish my skin enough after the drying cleanser. I found the mild "non-scent" to be pleasant. Overall, I just wouldn't spend that much money on a non-organic product that doesn't perform.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Picky Toddler Chronicles: Beet Pancakes

Before she closed in on the one-and-a-half mark, Avery was easy to feed. She liked veggies in muffin form or raw and she would try meat if it was dry (like plain grilled chicken breast). She wasn't picky by definition but that soon changed. She went from picky to fickle...which, in my opinion, is the worst form of picky eating. Moms read about how toddlers may eat a bunch one day and go without the next, or they may eat one thing for weeks on end and then quit, or some other fun variation. Avy does a fun variation- she will eat one thing for a long time and then NEVER touch it again. By never- I mean that since she has said "no" to some food items she has not touched them again to date. She is also absolutely particular about textures- nothing wet that wasn't born that way, no chunks, no multiple colors unless it is a muffin/cake and absolutely no dipping or sauces of any kind.

Well this just keeps me awake at night. Even after a visit to the pediatrician who described her and others like her as "air ferns" I did not find comfort. I realize the pediatrician meant that toddlers thrive on basically nothing-- but that doesn't make it an easier pill to swallow. So I have tried every "trick" I can find. From Muffin Tin Mom to Jessica Seinfeld I have tried it.

A little of this and a little of that seems to work....for a moment.

Thus, I have a notebook going called "The Picky Toddler Chronicles". In it I mark down the things I have tried and Avy's response. By the time I figure out a good formula she will probably be on her way to college. But it has helped me with the guilt and worry I feel over her lack of eating.

Today we tried Beet pancakes from Weelicious...the recipe is found here. They were a big hit. As you can see in these photos!

You can taste the beet but Avy has no idea what that is. They aren't very sweet, which is great. She ate 3 without any topping. They are a little thicker than I like pancakes to be but Avy didn't complain. We followed the recipe as written the first time around. I'll make a few changes next time- like Agave instead of brown sugar and maybe olive oil instead of butter. I did not use white and wheat flour- I just used wheat. They seemed to be just fine- nice and soft.

Definitely worth the hassle of roasting beets and peeling. By the way, I didn't use gloves to peel the beets and I have no staining. And when you roast the beets- if the skin doesn't peel off super easy- then cook the beet longer. The instructions for roasting beets are found here...but they are kind of vague.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paper Covered Cardboard Boxes=Organization!

I saw this done several different ways with various materials: paper, canvas, fabric etc. None really gave me the steps I needed so I just jumped in and tried it myself.

This is the first box I completed using some old scrapbook paper and Craft Glue (tacky glue or whatever). I DO NOT recommend using tacky glue. I'm sure you veteran crafters are saying, "well, duh!" But this is the first bottle I have ever owned, so I had no idea that tacky meant tacky-almost-dry-before-you-get-done-spreading. So my little paint brush and I made the best of it.

I did the rest with good old Elmer's and my paint brush. I didn't measure anything. (You can kind of tell in spots). I just took the paper and made creases over the box before putting glue on. This seemed to make the process really easy (and easier for making cuts too). I did not cover the inside or the bottoms. These boxes are for our craft shelf. I have plans to make prettier boxes for other areas in our home. I'm half done with the craft shelf. I have no plans to match the paper either! I imagine these boxes will get destroyed in a short period of time so they will serve their purpose perfectly.

Yay for leftover scrap paper that was too ugly for photos!

Here's the top half of the shelf so far. Total time spent: 45 min.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun and Easy Homemade Laundry Soap

My husband has green shirts that he is to wear under his uniform (AKA Camis). Apparently he has held onto the ones he purchased back when he first became a Marine (eww, right?). We've picked up 2-3 new packages of t-shirts but they don't fit right...his words, not mine. It is a freakin' under shirt! Oh well. He is pretty lean so most men's shirts just don't fit right and bunch. So whatever. I've been given the task of finding a way to get the smell out of them. They really don't stink after washing but I guess something happens when he wears them-- something that doesn't happen to any other clothes.

I tried vinegar, baking soda and even my dear Rockin' Green soap. So far no luck. We were about to try some bleach...something I try not to keep in the house because then we find reasons to use it. But a friend suggested Borax and some recipes for making our own laundry detergent.

When I read Peppermint laundry soap from Soulemama, I was sold. So today the girls and I drove around town getting the ingredients for the recipe. I had to go to 4 stores just to get them all. Next time, I know exactly where to go so it will be cost effective. I'm going to see how far this homemade batch goes and figure out if it truly is more cost effective than other eco options.

So Soulemama's recipe calls for
1 cup of baking soda (0.59 cents)
1 cup of Borax ($2.99)
1 cup of washing soda/soda ash ($3.49)
2 cups of finely grated soap (Peppermint Dr. Bronners--1.5 bars at $4.49 each, $8.98)

Total spent $16.05, my usual Rockin Green Soap is $14.95 for 90 loads. However, to make an additional batch I will only need to spend $4.49 for a new bar of soap (I have half of one leftover). This would bring my per batch cost down to $10.27.

Grating was really easy but I am worried I didn't get it fine enough.

Little Avery loved grating the soap. Actually- she wanted to hold and smell the bar all the way home. She unwrapped them both and was SO proud of the detergent we made that it was the first thing she wanted to show daddy when he got home. The stuff does smell great- the whole Creative Space smelled like it until I put it in a sealed container.

I'm running my first load of diapers with the detergent now. As soon as the door locked I had a bit of remorse. I sure hope the soap rinses out easily...yikes...we used the finest holes on the grater but I have read about people using food processors. I'm running an extra rinse just to be sure.

We shall see!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meatless Monday (on Wednesday): Un-Sloppy Joes

On Monday I adjusted another Relish! recipe to be a meatless meal option for my family. The original recipe was called "Not So Sloppy Joes". It was basically a homemade sloppy joe recipe.

We substituted quinoa. In the future I would adjust the cumin in the recipe to make it taste a little better. However, this one did not make the favorites list. Neither my husband nor I like "real" sloppy joes so making it from scratch and making it meatless didn't make the sandwich any more appealing to us. I will say that the homemade flavor was much better so if you already like your canned sloppy joe sauce, you will probably love this.

My adjusted recipe is as follows:

1 cup of quinoa(soaked and rinsed)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
10 ounces of home-canned tomatoes and chiles (or Ro-tel)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 avocado , pitted, peeled and sliced
1/2 white onion , chopped

Prepare the quinoa as instructed. Mix garlic, cumin, brown sugar, cider vinegar, tomato paste and tomato/chiles in a small bowl then add to the quinoa. Towards the end of the simmering--add the chopped onions. Or if you prefer them raw, just top your sandwich with them and slices of the avocado.

We used basic Pepperidge Farm wheat buns this time. (I'd recommend toasting them because the quinoa/sloppy joe mix makes the bun pretty soggy.

The side is a variation of coleslaw.

1/2 10-ounce bag broccoli slaw
2 carrots , finely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Friday, July 1, 2011

Review: Relish! Meal plan service.

I am almost certain that every household with children (and even some without!) would LOVE a personal chef/grocery shopper/meal planner! Two weeks ago MamaSource offered a voucher for 6-months of service at Relish! for $17, a $36 value. I happily signed up!

We have stuck with the program nearly perfectly. The basic idea is that every Thursday Relish! prepares about 15 recipes for you to choose from. You can add these to your Weekly Menu. You can search for other recipes (like vegetarian, kid-friendly, brunch, budget-friendly etc). And add those too. There does not appear to be a limit to how many you can add...but you can mindlessly wait for them to change the menu for you each week and choose from that (which is what I have been doing). They also give you a list of about 10 recipes every month to make ahead and put in the freezer. The first week I made all of my selected freezer recipes in about 2 hours time. So in addition to those 10 recipes we have been making 5-8 recipes from the main menu every week.

The description of the service states that they don't use prepackaged items. For the most part, this is true. I mean, there has been a call for Ro-Tel and frozen pound cake just this week. I can't say this is a major complaint of mine but I do think I will be checking out a few other similar sites to see if they offer more healthy options. I can choose to *search* for all vegetarian, lower calorie etc but really-- if I had the time to search I wouldn't be perusing such services anyway. SO, that is a bit of a downfall for Relish! However, it has been so much fun and such a reduction of my stress that I can't say that I don't recommend this site for just about everyone.

One thing the site does point out is that they hope to inspire us in our meal preparation. I think this is a great thing for them to mention. I have tweaked their recipes several times by substituting quinoa for ground beef, omitting sugar and of course, always purchasing organic when possible. The recipes are simple enough that you really can change them up to make them healthier. However, I still find this to be a bit of a problem because the key feature (for me) is that once you create your menu you get a FULL shopping list adjusted to the amount of servings you designated. So...if I am continually swapping healthier ingredients then my grocery list becomes more complicated. Just yesterday I did not buy "whole milk" and instead, picked up our regular ingredients to make homemade almond milk. The bad part...the whole milk was for a quiche and I'm pretty sure it wont be fluffy without it.

Bottom line- the service is definitely worth the money. It has made our shopping quick and easy (and we have actually spent $40 less each week). The recipes are very good! This isn't the absolute perfect option for a super healthy eating family or a vegetarian family unless they have the time (and desire) to put a little more effort into their meal planning. I'm not lazy but I totally need this to be a service that I can just trust without double-checking things for healthier ingredients.

Give it a try! You definitely wont be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Oyin Handmade Funk Butter

I'm almost out of my first tin of Funk Butter from Oyin Handmade. In March a friend told me she used their Funk Butter (deodorant). I ordered three tins, one in each scent: Coco-Mango, Black Cedar Fig and Unscented. The unscented is for my husband and I started the Coco-Mango for summer. They run $5 a piece. While ordering I also picked up their Stick O'Joe, lip balm.

This product does a way better job with body odor than what I was using previously (Just a regular product from the store). The ingredients in Funk Butter are all natural and the product is handmade, as the company name states!

At first I was apprehensive about the scents. I like a little scent so I know I'm wearing a busy mom it is not unusual for me to forget to put some on! Both scents are very nice. I smell it when I first put the cream on but it isn't a scent that sticks with me all day. Now, if I smell near my underarm I can smell the scent...but that is how I like it. Surprisingly, I can go 24+ hours without reapplying and still not worry about odor. Even after a day at the beach I did not have any complaints with Funk Butter.

It is very important to tighten the lid every time you open it! It will dry out if you don't. I added a little olive oil to re-moisten mine the other day. It still works fine but it doesn't go on as easily as it once did.

Some people with sensitive skin may find the Funk Butter a little abrasive. I tend to shave at night and put the Funk Butter on in the morning. I really haven't had any issues but I am a sensitive skin person so I wanted to be cautious.

Now the Stick O'Joe was awesome! This is obviously a natural product so you can't keep it in your pocket (bummer). I truly love this lip balm. It has become my #1 lip moisturizer. Oyin says it has natural UV protection due to the ingredients...and I trust that BUT I still use a different lip product that has a marked SPF on it for my kids when we go out in the sun. This is just me being super protective though. :)

Oyin Handmade has several other products that look like fun! They also offer sample sizes to try before you buy. The Fizzy Milk bath is the next thing I'm looking forward to trying!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Monday: Faux Shrimp Tacos

A few months ago I found the lovely super food quinoa. Yes, I realize it is a very old super food but I am just starting to learn of its magical powers--such as replacing nearly any meat in any recipe and still tasting fabulous. Tonight I made a batch of shrimp tacos and faux shrimp tacos. I really only made the shrimp as a backup in case the jerk-seasoned quinoa didn't turn out. I must say that even my husband was extremely impressed with the flavors. I can't take credit for the foundation of the recipe but I do take full credit for being adventurous and making an awesome meatless version of this meal!

Here is my version of the Shrimp Tacos:

6 small corn tortillas
1 cup quinoa (soaked the night before)
1 TB jerk seasoning
1 TB olive oil
1 cup broccoli slaw
1/2 mango, peeled and cubed (smaller the cube the better)
1/8 red onion, chopped (small)
1 TB homemade vegan mayonnaise*
1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
1 TB rice vinegar

1) Prepare quinoa as directed (typically boil for 20 minutes or so, longer if it wasn't soaked)

2) Meanwhile, prep and measure the broccoli slaw, mango, red onion, cilantro, vinegar and mayonnaise. Stir together in a bowl and set aside.

3) Toast the corn tortillas in a pan with a little olive oil, set aside wrapped with foil or something else to keep them warm

4) When quinoa is done, pour in the jerk and olive oil. I am not sure how much olive oil I used- I just dashed a bit in and stirred and added a bit more to blend everything together. I may have used more than a TB of jerk too...taste it as you mix it.

5) Assemble by putting a spoon of the slaw mix on a tortilla and then a spoon of the quinoa.

*Chef Charlie Wilson's recipe:
1 cup homemade Almond milk
1 TB yellow mustard
1 tsp agave
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup olive oil
3/4 raw sesame oil
3/4 Irish moss gel

Blend milk, mustard, salt and agave. Slowly add oils to this mix until it thickens. Finally, add Irish moss and blend on high until it turns white and thick.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Sprout Organic/Natural Skincare products

I stumbled onto a fabulous website, Jasmere, about two months ago. In that time I have saved lots of money trying out new "green" products. My first purchase was Sprout Wellness skincare products. I think their new name is just Sprout and their website is found here: "Sprout a Revolution". So for $36 I was able to purchase the "Family" kit on Sprout. This included all items pictured here PLUS a small pocket-size can of the All Over cream and their Coco lip balm.

I really like this company. Their drive and customer service is excellent. Overall, the products weren't for me. I think they would be great for someone who has been using natural skincare products for a while. I say this because they were just too...simple...for me. That sounds crazy, I know but I have used the same skincare line for 11 years. I have gotten very comfortable with the way my old products work. I'm about out of the products from my trial so I can't say I don't like them. They just aren't my cup of tea.

The company redid their website and product labels/bottles shortly after I received my order. I think the new updates will be fantastic. Some of my complaints may no longer be valid due to this update so if you head over their to browse, keep that in mind!

Instructions were no included with my "Family" of products. I did read a blog post published a few weeks ago that helped me out. As I'm reviewing the products individually, I will explain why instructions (at least for me) were necessary.

Makeup Remover: This product is pretty neat. It is made with several natural oils. I don't really know its purpose...even after reading the instructions. I personally used it as eye make up remover because I'm used to having a separate product for that. Oh and I better not forget...if you use organic cotton balls (which you should!) this skincare line will eat a hole in your pocketbook! Try the Better for Grownups Organic Cotton Rounds instead (and look for my review on these products later). I went through this remover in about 3 weeks. I use Tarte mascara and a little eye liner. I used about 4-6 rounds to clean my eyes every night. So yeah, not the most efficient product I have used.

Facial Cleanser: Before reading the blog post about how to use this- I was using so much cleanser it was insane! It goes on like an astringent...or any other water-like cleanser. So I was dabbing my cotton round on the bottle and basically trying to gently scrub my makeup off. 15 rounds later- I had to "rinse well" with a wash cloth to make sure my makeup was off. Ugh. Not cool. The blog post explained that I should just saturate my face with the cleanser and then rinse with water 10+ times. Oh. Ok. That makes a whole lot more sense. Regardless, I'm down to 1, maybe 2 applications now. I definitely think this cleanser makes my face super clean! However, I miss foaming or something. And I really don't like rubbing my face with stuff and rinsing just to wash. So not a product for me.

Facial Scrub and Body Scrub: I love the scrubs! There are two separate products here- body and face. Both are awesome. I love getting into the shower and using coconut shreds and some coarse sugar to buff my face and body. These two products may be shipping to my house again when I run out. We shall see. The only downside- they are kind of messy and if you are in the shower- you can accidentally wet the whole jar of scrub if you stick a wet hand inside. I did mix the body scrub with my usual body wash to help it spread more easily.

Toner: This was my first experience with a toner since 2001 when I first tried a Mary Kay toner. I've never really understood the benefit. I did enjoy using this because my skin looked really clean. However, I feel like it gave my skin bipolar disorder. I would be really dry for a few nights and then really oily. My skin is usually pretty even tempered. I did skip moisturizer at night as Sprout suggested. On most occasions this was better than hydrating my skin with cream. I don't know if I can blame my pimples on Sprout or not. I'm still breastfeeding so it could be hormonal?? I didn't have break outs with my first baby so these are curious.

All Over Cream: On other reviews this product is hailed as awesome. It is a pretty neat little cream. I may not have been a greasy mess if I had been told to take some of the cream and warm it up by rubbing it in my hands. Instead- I tried to smear thick cream in small amounts on my face and body (think: Crisco facial). Once I started heating the cream up it went on better and I needed less. This is a great body cream for me but it is not good on my face. I need some moisture but not this much. It is weird but my body soaks it up and is silky smooth (but not sticky or even moist) but my face keeps it on the surface. I may like this a lot in the winter. It is heavenly on dry feet that is for sure! The smell (natural oils) is great. I like that the most.

Lip balm: Ehhh...I'm addicted to lip balms. This one was not my favorite. One, I totally didn't like the cocoa fragrance. Two, it melted in my pocket. I'm sure only I would need a warning that a natural lip balm would melt in the pocket...but still...a warning would have been nice. HA! It really didn't do much for my lips either. See...long ago I killed my natural ability to lubricate my lips by wearing lip balm 24/7 (and if that is an urban myth...don't tell me...I need something to blame my addiction on).

It may seem that my overall review is negative but really- I don't dislike the products...I just don't like them for me. I think mamas who wear no makeup and don't want to wear "anti-aging" or other full-service products, this would be an excellent line to try out. This would be a super line for a teen who needs minimal skincare and just a healthy, natural and safe way to cleanse her skin. Plus, the company itself is fantastic. I would not be surprised to find myself browsing their products on a regular basis.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Not Really A Cliche

I bet we can all list off 5+ cliches without hesitation. In the right moment those cliches probably offer strength and reassurance. Any other moment they are just...well...cliches!

I don't think I have ever had an experience in my life that really made me rethink my every waking moment--until recently. Part of me is confused about why this particular event has had such an impact on me and part of me is thankful that it did. I'm extremely guilty of saying, "It will be better/different/easier later." I'm constantly putting off things in anticipation of a more ideal moment for doing them. Disorder in my home always puts me in a bad mood. I'm constantly trying to keep up with the mess so I can get rid of my headache. I always say that as soon as the house is clean we will go do this or that. What is the point really? There is only one day like today (and I have no idea if that is a cliche but it sure has potential, eh?).

I've been thinking about the things I do every day that I don't really care to do. I've been trying to make a list of the things that really matter to me. It is so difficult to cross off things like laundry and replace them with other events like exploration. Why? Is it all my personality or something else? Hmm. I'll probably never answer that but the one thing I can control is what I do with my time every day. Well, sort of. I can't control everything because my kids usually decide what I get to do most of the day.

My crazy mind can't just "wing it" on a daily basis so I have had to make a list of the things that I need to do every day. Some of the things are necessities (like cleaning) and others are interests (like going to the park). Normally I try to do the necessities first...which leaves me with no time to do anything else. I've decided to turn the list upside down... what was once at the bottom of the priority list is now at the top. I may never have a house clean enough to invite a friend over to visit... but at least I wont have (as many) regrets. I don't ever want "yesterday" to be my last day with someone and to have spent it doing things that weren't important. I'd rather squeeze in the cleaning over squeezing in spending quality time with the people I love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Its Not Entirely Their Fault...

My first pregnancy I was an uneducated mom-to-be who read books like, "Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" and "What to Expect When You're Expecting". I trusted my caregivers 100%. The only reason I switched, at 36 weeks, from a group of OBs to midwives was that the OBs never told me about childbirth classes or baby care stuff. We just felt that the OBs weren't educating me enough or answering my questions without rolling their eyes. See problem #1 is that pregnant women expect education from their prenatal care provider (PCP) but that is definitely not the place for it in modern medical settings. Even the midwife group I attended didn't have time to fully educate me. Looking back, I now see that it really is the mom-to-be's responsibility to educate herself.

I read a lot of blogs and articles pointing fingers at the health care system and how it "medicalizes" birth and treats it like an illness. While I totally agree that standard operating procedures (SOPs) within the healthcare system have lead to birth becoming less of the natural process it is meant to be, I think ignorance in women is perpetuating this problem. I watched the premiere episode of "One Born Every Minute" after reading The Feminist Breeder's review of the show. Within 10 minutes I was annoyed to the point that I shut the show off. A few minutes later I turned it back on because I just *had* to see what these uninformed people did. And yes, I'm sorry, but I'm calling people names here. The moms=to-be aren't entirely at fault but they didn't make the situation any better. While one mom was all about getting the epidural I don't have any serious issues with her. She is fully on board with medical birth. Fine. Have it your way. The nurse commentary during this particular labor was appalling. Stating that giving birth without an epidural is like getting a tooth pulled without novocaine. Um...really? I am pretty certain (and I suck at history) I recall reading about numbing tooth pain with alcohol (rubbed on or drank) before pulling a tooth. I don't recall any vaginal alcohol application or drinking during labor... it has ALWAYS been done naturally until modern medicine changed it. It was almost a rite of passage. one HAS to have a baby without drugs. BUT--they should be making an INFORMED decision to take the epidural. I'll be totally honest, when I was pregnant the first time...I set out to go drug-free just to experience it. I hadn't really been informed of the risks to both the baby and to my labor. I just wanted to do it...the way it was intended.

Other comments that I heard in the show-- one mother-to-be's own mother was totally critical! Ugh. The poor lady was trying to have a natural childbirth and no one was helping her at least not from what we saw on film. She just stayed on her back in that bed! WHY WHY WHY! No ball and no other options were shown. Perhaps she refused them but if a nurse didn't suggest it...and why the heck didn't her mom get over there and help her out? The c-section seemed like it may have been prematurely called but I am sure a lot of the details towards the end were edited out to protect the hospital. Finally, the natural birth mama was harassed by the nurse. I can't believe the nurse came out and reported that they were more in charge than she was. I WOULD HOPE SO!

The most amazing thing...after the show aired I read TONS of people saying that the natural birth mama was crazy and she was the only one certain groups of people "picked on". They thought she was belligerent and offensive... disrespectful for not letting the nurse do her job. Really? I'm pretty sure the nurse's job was to SERVE the client. The client wanted to do it her way...without harassment.

The sad part is that I have conversations with women who think that birth MUST be medicalized. Natural birth is the oddity. Women truly believe that they MUST do something when a doctor says they must. I'm not saying we should argue like we know better than the professionals...but we should at least ask WHY and WHAT IF I DON'T?

I'd give anything to go back to the day of my induction. I know that I would have agreed to the induction. I was 1 week and 1 day overdue and at that time I had not read that going late is totally the norm. Even without any extra education I still could have asked to wait and see what happens. My baby was doing fine I just wasn't progressing...but I also wasn't given time to progress. See...I've heard dozens of doulas and midwives say that it is *not uncommon for a first time mom to have prodromal labor* in fact, it seem that it is a part of almost every first birth in some fashion. Did my midwife know this and is the 22nd of December....if I let her run this out like a normal first time mom...we will be getting out of here on Christmas Eve?? Huh? No seriously...why else did we call it a day and have a c-section? We had only done pitocin for 4 hours. I had only really been attempting labor for 10 hours by the time my baby was taken from my body.

I should have asked what would happen if I waited...what would happen if we just stayed put for a few more hours...another day? What if I had read about birth more and realized that 24 hours is ok..especially if my water hadn't broken (and PS...even if it has is still pretty OK to keep laboring as you are).

Ugh... my natural birth activists must realize that it isn't entirely their fault...the medical profession...right? Women are just blindly accepting it all. They just show up for prenatal visits and show up for birth. To change this cycle a PCP would have to give the mom a checklist...a book...a list of books...and tell her to educate herself. But why would he/she want her client educated...wouldn't that lead to a fight during labor? This is an awful cycle. How do we stop it?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't Say You Want Honesty...When You Don't!

People are ridiculous. We are idiosyncratic by nature. We claim to want honesty but when we hear it we are offended. The "does this make my butt look big" joke is an old cliche now but it is a key example of what I'm talking about. When we speak the truth we have to censor ourselves. Avoid being too abrasive. Be sure to be sensitive to various populations...but wait...that "various populations" group is infinite if you think about it. You can't be totally honest when you talk to anyone because you are likely to offend them. Ridiculous! Someone who is deeply insecure may be offended because he is too scared to make the same decisions you make. Instead of accepting that and being inspired by you-- he resents you and is offended by your honesty. Ridiculous! This situation probably comes up most often for mothers and politicians (and any other group considered to be radicals!). A mom or a politician can say what everyone is thinking but still be frowned upon. Why? Is it social conformity? Passive obedience? Ignorance?

Maybe its me. Maybe I just share too much. I think I'm helping pave the way for others to speak honestly but instead I'm just the town crier, the local hobo...the person everyone points and stares at? If only I had the luxury of a label then maybe I'd know when my honesty would be appreciated and when it would be offensive. Or maybe everyone needs to get thicker skin and be a little more honest themselves!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have no idea why but I swear I smelled spring today. I am super awesome at picking up on the first signs of fall (my favorite season) but spring is hard to spot...especially in Iowa. Maybe it was the sunshine that was deceptive or the slushiness outside. Heck, it is ONLY January so I better stop thinking spring. I just can't wait for it this year though because Avery was just starting to love running around outside over the summer and fall..and she loves animals and flowers. It will just be a great time of exploring with her. And I can't wait to ditch the heavy coats! Have you ever tried to wear one while carrying a toddler and a baby? They stink!

So far the weather here has made it pretty hard to be sad about moving. I've enjoyed throwing lots of things away and putting several boxes of items up for sale online. I don't look forward to leaving the house for the last time because this is my first real home...with pictures on the wall! But it just doesn't feel like the home it did when Stephen was feels temporary like all the other places I lived. This change will be good. We have hardly been a family of four. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stating the Obvious

You can really tell how you feel about something/someone/someplace when it is gone...or threatens to leave. Des Moines hasn't treated me super well in the past year or so but preparing to leave still makes me sad. I can't really tell if it is the fear of change or leaving some people behind that makes me so sad. I've moved all my life. Staying in this area for 10 years is an all-time record for me. I think the longest I stayed anywhere prior to this was 2 years. I already lack childhood friends from all those moves and now this. People try to comfort others by saying that true friends will stay friends no matter the distance. Yeah, I can say that in one instance this has been true for me. I just think that all my friends have kids and that makes nurturing friendships very low on the list of things to do every day.

I'm hoping that as our move day gets closer the positive side of moving will overwhelm the negative side. Of course I want to be with my husband--especially for the sake of the girls--but part of me is worried that I'm boarding some ship that is going to set sail and never port for very long again. I felt the same way growing up. As soon as I felt like I had friends and wasn't being picked on for being the new kid anymore--we picked up and moved. I used to cry so hard I made myself sick. Every single time we moved...even if no one liked me yet...I still cried so hard. Ick. Maybe I wouldn't be so freaked out if this move wasn't premised as a temporary thing. Avy is old enough now that she remembers her friends and actually asks to see them. I feel bad that I'm moving her. I know she'll adapt and be fine but I can't help but worry that it will hurt her a bit. I also created a moms group with the intention of letting all of our children grow up together. I love that we have all started out together with our tiny babies as new moms and now we get to watch as one-by-one they go through the same phases (with mine going through it all first as the oldest of the bunch!). That is all something I can't create again no matter where we go. Kind of like wishing you could recreate a first just can't.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


My husband and I met on eHarmony three years ago tonight. It is really strange but I was surfing the internet trying to get tired and I felt strangely nostalgic. I know the matching process is entirely computerized but tonight I swear I felt some sort of alarm or something. I had completely forgotten our "match date" but something told me tonight that this was it. I pulled up the files of our saved messages from the site and sure enough, we were matched on this date!

It seems like it should be more than 3 years ago considering all the stuff we have accomplished-- like having two children! HA. It has been a very eventful life so far. I can't honestly say that I hope things continue the way they are...but I do feel fortunate in many ways. I just hope this next year is a little quieter and it would be great if we could all be together again.

Friday, January 7, 2011


For the past 9 weeks Ainsley has cried...the kind of cry that makes her face turn purple and she chokes on mucus that her throat produces to protect itself from all the friction. I'm sitting here in a quiet house and I just finished a HOT cup of tea. I'm reflecting on this 9 week journey and it is making me emotional...angry...sad...disappointed. First, let me just say that I am angry at having asked for help from so many "experts" and received shitty answers. My pediatrician said...wait until she's 12 weeks and she'll stop crying and in the meantime- don't have anyone but family watch her for you so they don't hurt her...and I should put that in quotes because that is exactly what she said! My midwife fed her formula and breastmilk in a bottle...and had decent results but they didn't last. My osteopath found that her rib was out of place and her back and neck were out of line. I made a trip to the ER and was given a colic packet that said to put the baby somewhere safe and let her cry and to go to the ER if I thought I would hurt her. The doctors there also told me to drink a Mt. Dew and prepare myself to have no sleep and to drink a glass of wine while she cried and not go to her until the glass was empty. Hmm. Yeah no wonder moms shake or hit their newborns. I know that most of you would read that and say, "oh no, not me, I would never get that upset." And my response: wouldn't...because most babies don't cry like this! I wouldn't do it either...but in the past 9 weeks I have thought things that I feel ashamed for thinking and I have yelled and punched things (like doors and pillows) and cried a desperate cry that I have never experienced before. I reached a point of exasperation where I was no longer frantic to make my baby feel better but instead...I just wanted her to stop crying...whatever the cost! Thankfully after dialing several numbers in my phone I was able to reach people who could help. This Sunday I really reached a point where I could no longer handle the crying...and it started at 6:45am and went until 4pm with a short break and then went on again until sometime between 9 and 10pm that night. And this wasn't UNUSUAL this was just a day following a week all of us having the flu.

The same amazing mom I've written about in the past came to stay over Sunday to pretty much make sure I didn't hurt my baby...(don't judge me until you've listened helplessly to your newborn cry for hours on end and have no family nearby to help out). That night we dug a little deeper into a breastfeeding issue that I kind of thought I had in the beginning and that this mom mentioned that she thought fit in line with what we were experiencing. We figured out how to compensate for it-- it is a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. It is characterized by green poo (sometimes mucousy), crying, pain, gas and general discomfort due to being less satisfied after eating. I also had a lot of symptoms that fit with this (painful letdown, excessive leaking and spraying, fullness etc). You know..the fix is rather simple so why the hell didn't any of the "professionals" I consulted ever mention it? All I did beginning Monday morning was nurse her on the same side for 2 feedings and then later that day I used a hand pump to pump past the let down phase before feeding Ainsley. It is now Friday..5 full days later and Ainsley hasn't cried for more than 30-45 seconds at a time (except in the car seat but that is normal).

Back to my emotional state-- I feel sad that I missed out on the first 9 weeks of my daughter's life because we were fighting this horrible battle together. I missed out on snuggling with a tiny little baby that just sleeps all day. She has NEVER slept all day. I set out to really enjoy the stages of Ainsley's life because I know that there is a really good chance that this is the last baby we will have. I know every mom always sets out to soak up every minute but I really wanted to just enjoy it because I knew what I was doing this second time around.

The past is the past..and I am so thankful that Ainsley seems to be "better" now. I am scared to really believe that the crying is over because I think I will be crushed if it starts again. In the house is so quiet and that means both my girls are doing just fine.