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Posts Tagged ‘Natural Parenting’

There’s something so tranquil about large bodies of water. I am not sure if it is the thought of them extending on for miles, wondering what is on the other side, or the simplicity of the sound. Its mystique drew me to the writings of  Thoreau, Emerson, and other Transcendentilists.  On really nice days, or days that we need some serenity, I take Liam and Dylan there and the three of us just relax. There’s no place quite like Seattle in the summer. 

On our way…..

On Our Way

gotta hold his hand….Hold My Hand

we finally arrive…at the pond

These toes were just too cute not to captureDSC_0054

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Summer solstice is here and I couldn’t be happier. Those baby ducklings are getting bigger, clover is in full bloom, and days to spend in the park seem endless. While I will surely miss the lovely spring we had here in Seattle, I am looking forward to many sunny days at Greenlake and refreshing ICED beverages like the rhubarb soda my friend M brought over a few weeks ago. The summer will also give me numerous opportunities to play with my new Nikon D2oo. Hope you enjoy the pictures.  

Liam

And aren’t those purple bottlebrush flowers just beautiful? Liam thinks so!

Purple Flowers

Although they are getting bigger, those ducklings are still clinging to their mama! Ducklings

Taking a break under the redwoods as we look for some goodies for L’s nature box.

DSC_1156

And boy does he love playing outstide with him mama.DSC_1146

 And after a long afternoon in the park, this is the face that sends us home and in the tub. Ahhh, a solstice well spent 🙂 DSC_1186

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The past two years of my life have been a whirlwind of new experiences. I married, moved across the country, and gave birth to my first child. Along the way, I have not only learned a great deal about myself, but have picked up some useful tips on friendship, parenting, and well… life.

1. When you find yourself pureeing peaches for your six month old…make Bellinis!

mmm....bellini

mmm....bellini

2. You CAN survive on four- hour blocks of sleep.

3. When you threaten to start stalking your friends, they will usually call you back. (I say “usually” because there is always one that I actually have to stalk!)

4. One hour to myself can seem like an eternity now that I have a child. It is something I look forward to more now than I ever did. I am not sure if it is the alone time or the eventual reunion with my child that makes it all worth it.

5. When you travel, the best places are often found when you stop looking for them.

6. Time out’s are for adults, not children.

7. The root of parenting is learning how to live in harmony with your child. It is not about “doing to” as much as it is about “doing with”.

8. The best food is not found in a box, a wrapper, or a bag; it is grown in your backyard, bought from local farmers, or sometimes even found on your daily walk.

9. Libraries are one of the greatest public resources we have. Use them!

10. Live life in the slow lane. Enjoy each moment, no matter how hard that moment may be.

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Cosmetics. They are everywhere. They keep our face clear, our skin soft, our eyelashes fuller, and our teeth sparkle. Every year, the American people spend over 27 billion dollars keeping themselves pretty. Now I know that may not sound like a lot with all of this billion dollar bail-out-business that has been going on, but 27 billion dollars is A LOT of money. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average person uses 12 beauty product a day. One in four use 15. The average man even uses at least 6. The true cost however, may not be coming out of our pocketbooks. Recent research shows that many of us are paying with our health.

Ok, so I’ll admit, I am also part of the problem here. Until a few years ago, I was a beauty product junkie. I don’t know about you, but every time I walked into a CVS or a Walgreens, chances were pretty high that I was coming out with a new product. All those eye-catching packages, all the health claims; they got me every time. It might be something as simple as chap-stick (gosh, where do they all go??), but a product left the store with me nonetheless. Five years of trying to clear out my product stash, and I still have a host of unused products staring at me every time I open my linen closet.

So why the change? Well, it originally started with my attempt to eat healthier and more nutritious foods. I figured with all of the added emphasis to what was going IN my body, what was going ON my body should be just as important. After all, your skin is your biggest organ right? So I then fell into the marketing trap. I started purchasing more “natural”, more expensive products. While I bought less of them because they were so pricey, I still bought them. I was convinced that products containing organic sap moss from Iceland must be better for me…right? I read over each label making sure I could at least pronounce all the the ingredients listed and was sure to stay away from things like benzyl alcohol, animal parts, and petroleum bi-products.  

Then as the years passed, I started reading about parabens. Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetic products.  And when I say cosmetic, I don’t just mean make-up. They are found in body lotions, shower gels, shampoos, over the counter topical creams, and  pretty much just about everything. The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Check any product in your house and chances are very high that one, if not all three, are listed on the ingredient list. Although they are used in very small amounts, if you are using 10-12 products a day, you are being exposed to them in everything you use. While the FDA claims that they are safe, parabens have found in breast tumors from women with cancer. They tested 20 tumors and found parabens in ALL of them.  The study did not make the claim that parabens actually cause breast cancer, but many other groups and companies have started taking precautionary measures and taking these parabens out of their products. ANd why not? Simply because that study didn’t prove parabens caused cancer, it also didn’t prove that they didn’t. The study was enough for me to make sure they are kept out of my products.

And as if reading reports on parabens wasn’t enough, I soon started reading about phthalates. Pronounced “thay-lates”, these chemicals are mainly used as plasticizers in order to increase flexibility in plastc. Think about all those rubber duckies, plastic teething rings, and shower curtain liners. Chances are, they are full of them. So whats so bad about that? Well, phthalates are also known endocrine disruptors. They mimic the body’s hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage. In one report, I read that the application of phthalates actually changed the sex of the frogs they were being tested on! According to the Environmental Working Group, phthalates have been linked to all sorts of problems in men including sperm damage, infertility, and reduced testosterone levels.  The unfortunate thing about them, is that unlike parabens, they are hard to find in products because they are not listed on the label. Due to patent laws, many companies can simply add the word “fragrance” to the list. It is under this, where many of these phthalates hide. They also hide them in acronyms such as DBP, DEHP, BzBp, and DMP.

Accoring to a PBS, Phthalates have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Nine other countries, including Japan, Mexico and Argentina, have also outlawed the chemicals. China, which makes 85 percent of the world’s toys, has developed two manufacturing lines, one for the European market and the other like-minded nations that ban phthalates, and another one for the United States and dozens mostly developing and third world countries that don’t restrict them. It took the US until the end of last year to pass a bill that would ban these and several other toxic chemicals from our children’s toys.  The next step should be to get them out of ALL of our products.

So what can you do? Well, you can start by checking out the toxicity of your products by going to the Environmental Working Group’s safe cosmetic database. One their site they also have a research section where you can look at a list of some of the toxic ingredients going into your products. Simply by refusing to purchase products with these things in them with say a lot to these companies. Remember purchasing power just that… power. With this knowledge, you can begin to make safer choices for yourself and your family.

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In a society where we are hard-wired to reach for the medicine cabinet the minute we feel sick, it’s not often first nature to reach for your backyard garden instead. In fact, it takes some getting used to… especially at 5 a.m. when your baby is screaming and feverish! I will admit that I was somewhat unprepared for Liam’s first cold. He had a really bad runny nose and a slight fever and boy was he miserable. As a mother, you feel helpless. You know that they are hurting, and the first thing you want to do is ease their pain. This is what makes reaching for the Motrin so incredibly tempting. Its a quick fix and it “works”. I say works in parentheses because cold medicines and pain relievers don’t ever cure the problem, they simply mask it. As adults in this busier than ever world, some of us need a quick fix.  However, I feel that a little baby with a slight fever needs to let his body fight the infection in order to work up a healthy immune system. Don’t get me wrong, pain relievers are sometimes necessary for certain situations, especially if his fever had reached dangerous levels, but they shouldn’t be something you simply give to your child the minute he coughs or sneezes. There are other, safer ways of dealing with a cold. With all of that said, fevers are scary. Being unprepared for what to do, and not knowing anything about fevers, even I ran to the store for a quick fix. However, by the time I got back, Liam was sleeping peacefully on his daddies tummy and my concerns diminished. SInce I had a little while to calm down (the whole ordeal was a little nervewracking), I turned to Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, a wonderful book about coventional, homeopathic, and alternative medicine, and read about my options. Even though I ended up making the decision to not rely on Motrin, here are a few things I wish I knew before I ran to the drug stroe at 2 a.m. :

  • Fevers scare moms more than they should. In most cases, a fever is the body’s reaction to an acute viral or bacterial infection. It is not necessarily a dangerous condition. Since viruses and bacteria do not survive well in elevated body temperatures, a fever is actually an ALLY in fighting infection. It is one of the ways in which the body defends and heals itself. In a child, the level of the fever does not necessarily reflect the severity of the illness. A child can be very sick with a low fever, or a slight cold and a very high fever. When assessing your child’s condition, it is better to observe how they are ACTING, not how high their fever is.  Unless a child’s temperature is well over 102, there is generally no need for medication. Gently and naturally bringing your childs temp down can not only help your child feel better, but also prevent further complications.
  • As soon as your child starts to feel or look sick, get him to drink some echinacea tea! If you are breastfeeding, you can start drinking it. Echinacea and goldenseal tea is even better. The immune-boosting effects of these herbs have been well documented and could help you avoid a nasty cold. If the fever is already noticable, you can give your child a fever reducing tea made of all or some of the following: sage, licorice root, lemon balm, chamomille, elder flower, and peppermint leaf. If you don’t have all of that stuff, try a simple ginger tea.
  • Wrapping the calves in socks soaked in lemon juice can also help bring down a fever. Heat a cup of water with the juice of one lemon, soak the socks in it, wring them out and put them on under a pair or dry socks. Bundle up and leave on for 20 minutes.
  • Garlic has antibacterial properties and helps detoxify the body. Not so easy to use with infants, but you can get an older child to swallow a clove or an odorless capsule.

As for the runny nose, since it wasnt so “scary”, I had a little bit of time to figure out what to do. Here are some things that seemed to work:

  • Shower Steams: Run really hot water in a shower and just sit in the bathroom with your baby for 15-20 minutes. This worked really well before bed time. Even better, I had some lavender and eucalyptus growing outside, so I cut some down, filled a sock and threw it in the hot water. The aromatherapy effects helped clear both his and my sinuses. If you dont have the fresh herbs, you can always use some essential oils in the tub.
  • Beta Carotene: Cartenoids are a group of substances that help mucous membranes to heal. The best known is beta carotene. SInce I couldn’t give it to Liam, I took a bunch of it hoping that he would get some!
  • Vitamin C: This helps all around for any kind of cold. Like the echinacea, as soon as you start feeling sick, pump up on some Vitamin C. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to ease the course of a cold. Choose ones without sugar if you pick the chewable ones!
  • Lavendar and Eucalyptus Oils: I diluted one drop of lavender in a TB of olive oil and rubbed it on his chest and back. For me, I used Eucalyptus. I am not sure if Euc. can be used on infants. Some sorces said no way and others said extremely diluted, so I just stayed away from using it on him.

Above all, make sure you rest!! Hope everyone stays healyth and doesn’t have to worry about any of this!

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Cloth diapers seem to be growing in popularity these days, and there are a lot of good reasons why. Even before I was pregnant, I knew that if I had a baby one day, I would be looking into a alternative for disposables. However, when I actually found out I was pregnant, thinking about the whole cloth diapering thing was a little gross. What do you do with all the poopy diapers??? It didn’t sound fun, not that changing any kind of diaper sounds fun, but you know what I mean. So when I initially went to buy my first set of cloth diapers, I didn’t go crazy. I bought a few fitted diapers and a few pocket diapers and decided to just try the whole thing out before I committed 100%. And, How did it turn out youask? Well, they ended up being so incredibly easy that I have continued to buy more and more of them, and am now soley cloth diapering (and wiping) my son. I figured, I am doing laundry anyways, why not throw in some wipes? 🙂

Six months later, looking back at the whole process, the most daunting task has not been washing diapers, but the initial research that when into “uncovering” all of the cloth diapering jargon (and believe me, its overwhelming). Not only are there a plethora of companies that make cloth diapers, there are many different kinds, colors, materials, etc. It’s enough to send those on the fence about cloth straight back to disposables. In these next few paragraphs, I will attempt to simplify some of the craziness that is cloth diapers.

So, what with all the different types?

Pocket diapers: These work like disposables except that the absorbent inner layer can be removed. This makes for easier drying time, and a custom amount of absorption. You can stuff the diaper with various different liners (also called doublers or soakers, depending on the thickness) depending on how much of a wetter your child is, or if you are using them for overnight. Most pocket diapers come with at least one liner, some with two. You can also buy liners individually if you find more absorbent ones than the ones that come with your pocket diaper. These are the type that I use the most. I like that the layer that touches my baby’s skin is made of fleece so the moisture is pulled away, or wicked, from my baby’s skin. They are also a lot slimmer compared to some of the other types of cloth diapers I have seen. The most popular brands of these are Happy Heinys, Bum Genius, and Fuzzi Bunz.  

Fitteds: These are a 2 part dipering system. The first part is the actual cloth diaper. The cloth can made out of hemp, bamboo, or cotton, depending on the brand.  I have even seen blends (cotton/hemp, hemp/bamboo, etc.) . Like the pocket diapers, they can be closed using either snaps or velcro. SO, you put it on your baby like you would a regular diaper, then you put a diaper cover over the fitted diaper to make it waterproof. I use a lot of these diapers as well. They are a little bulkier than the pockets, but super absorbent.  Personally, I love Kissaluvs. They work perfect with a Bummis Whisper Wrap (the cover I use). What’s great about these is that even if anything leaks out of the fitted diaper (which it rarely does) the cover catches it!. I even use it with some fleece liners that I made, so the wetness wicks away from his body. Some other brands I have heard great reviews about are Bamboozle and Motherease. These do take a little longer to dry.

Contours: These are also a 2-part system. YOu need an inside diaper and a cover. They are similiar to the fitteds except the inside part is contoured to your babies bottom, not fitted. So basically, there are no elastic legs, no snaps, no velcro. You just wrap it around your baby and put the cover over it so it stays in place. These are cheaper than the fitteds, but you probably have to go through more covers, since they don’t contain everything as well. Imsevimse and Kissaluvs are two brands I know of.

All-in-Ones: These are most like a disposable. The name says it all. No stuffing, no covering. You just put the diaper on, and throw it in the diaper hamper when you’re done. The one down side to these is that they take FOREVER to dry! Many of the companies I listed previously make these, but here’s a picture of one.

Prefolds: These are the diapers out great-grandparents used. You all have seen one at sme point in your life. They look like this. As you see in the picture, there are a few different sizes, and colors. They are also made with various thicknesses and various materials (cotton, hemp, etc). These are the cheapest option to cloth diapering. I have heard that some people use Snappis to keep them in place, some use good old-fashioned pins, and some just use a really good cover that keeps them in place. I don’t have any experience using these, but they are definitely the most economical option!

But what about the price?

All diapers are expensive, and whether you are buying disposables or cloth, it’s simply the last thing you want to spend your money on. I cringe when I think about all of the money we’ve spent on diapers, and it’s only been 6 months! Anywho, the bottom line is that cloth diapers are cheaper. A combo of pockets and fitteds will cost you anywhere from $400-$600 depending on the brands and types. If you choose the contour/ pre-fold route, you’re looking at anywhere from $200-$400. (200 being the bare-bones minumum). A friend of mine recently bought an entire lot of all-in-ones sized newborn to toddler for 100 bucks, so the range is definitely vast. In comparison, disposables will cost you $30-40 a month. When you multiply that by 36 months (the average kid is potty-trained around 3), that’s over $1000! Even if yor child is potty trained by 2, its still $750 at the least. A great way to save even more with the cloth diapers is to find a company that makes a one-size diaper. (Bum Genius, Mother ease, and Bella Bottoms are a few that I know).

How do you wash and care for these things?

Easy. Since I use pockets and fitteds, I have two diaper hampers: one for the liners and fitteds, one for the covers. (You are not supposed to store them together). One of my diaper hampers is a bag that hangs on a doorhandle and can be thrown in with the diapers to clean. Very cool. So every 3 days, I dump all the diapers in the bag, bring it to the washer, and dump everything in (including the bag). I never have to clean or rinse out anything. I prewash with cold, wash with hot and a tablespoon of Charlies Soap (the best detergent ever!!), and rinse. Done. On sunny days, I sunbleach them to dry, but most of the time I just throw everything in the dryer for 40 minutes and fold. The pocket diapers actually dry a lot faster (like 15 min) but some of the liners and fitteds take longer.

How do I travel with them?

On day trips, I stuff a few in my diaper bag and go. You can either buy a wet bag to hold the dirty diapers, or you can use a plastic bag. On extended trips, you can do the same, with a much bigger wet bag and more diapers OR you can use the Aussie-invented G diapers, which is what I do. I will admit that the first few trips I went on, I just used disposables; a friend of mine had a super-fast grower and grew out of diapers before she could use them all, so I used those. G diapers are a cross between cloth and disposable. They have a cloth outside and a disposable inside that you can either flush or dispose of as you would a regular diaper. I choose to toss them because most places don’t have that great of plumbing. The great thing is though that they 100% biodegradable! The only thing you have to wash are the covers and you dont have to carry around dirty diapers!!!  I have 4 of them and that seems to get me through any extended trip I’ve taken. Those smart AUstralians!

Whew!!! I know that’s a lot of info to digest, but there’s more out there if you are interested. If you want to know more, check out cloth diapering 101 in my links. That resource really helped me out. If you live in the Seattle area, one of my favorite stores for babies, Birth and Beyond, hold classes about once a month.  They are super-helpful if you need help getting started. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond. Good luck and have fun 🙂

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While Liam and I were in Florida, he also got his first two teeth! Dad said that he better not get any more before we got home to Seattle, but I assured him that if there is any milestone to miss, it’s a teething infant. First steps, crawling, first words; none of those include screaming. I must say though, he has done very well with the whole teething thing. I was afraid that he would be in so much pain that I would be tempted to give him Tylenol, but it seems that as long as I carry him around, he’s been relieved with just taking Hyland’s Teething Tablets. ( A word of caution with Hyland’s teething products, while the homeopathic tablets are great, I did notice that their “teething gel” contains parabens, so be careful!).

I must confess that preparing for the whole teething process was a bit scary for me. I heard horror stories from friends, read horror stories in books; none of which I looked forward to experiencing first hand. I knew that I wanted to research and try as many natural remedies as I could find before giving him Orajel or Tylenol and so far, I have been pleasantly surprised with the results. Here are a few home remedies that I have found useful:

  1. A cold carrot. A friend of my mothers recommended a frozen carrot and I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. However, while frozen carrots are great, thawed carrots are a little mushy and a little cold to handle. Since he only has two little teeth, there is no worry about him biting off a piece that he could choke on.
  2. Clove oil. Put 1 drop of clove oil in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and massage it on their gums. Clove oil has a pleasant taste and natural antiseptic properties. CAUTION: I read that excessive use can cause blistering, so always make sure it is diluted in oil and do not use frequently. I use it once or twice a day.
  3. Licorice Root Powder. You can find it at your local health food store with the bulk spices. All you do is mix a little with water and make a paste to put on their gums. It helps reduce redness and swelling and you don’t have to worry about overusing it.
  4. A frozen washcloth. I don’t think I need to explain. If you don’t have time to freeze one, take a few ice cubes, wrap a washcloth around it and tie it somehow so the cubes don’t fall out. Liam’s gram put one together when we were in Florida and it worked great!
  5. A wooden teething ring. I was able to get one made for me by WoodenTreasures on Etsy. The man was super-nice and the teething ring is beautiful! You already know how I feel about plastics, so I feel way better letting him chew on that over a plastic ring (even if it is PVC free).

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