Monday, October 25, 2010

Cherokee in Spirit

I'm not sure if I have any Cherokee in me.  I am from the Southeast US so it is possible.  However, my fair complexion, light brown hair, round blue eyes, and freckles make me look Western European.


Regardless of my genetic origin, I've decided I like this part of the Cherokee perspective, "harmony with nature, sustainability, personal freedom, and balance between work, play, and praise." http://www.cherokee-nc.com/index.php?page=56  Sounds nice doesn't it?


I also like many other Native American Perspectives, which I find very insightful and true.  They include:
When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us. - Arapaho Proverb
Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator.  - Mohawk Proverb http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-proverbs.html








A Report from the President's Cancer Panel on Environmental Risks


I'm so excited about a report that was published this year titled, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now".   A direct quote from the report that hits home for me is, "Children are at special risk for cancer due to environmental contaminants and should be protected."

I feel that this report legitimizes many of our concerns about environmental toxins.  It was published earlier this year (2010) by the President's Cancer Panel.  Both members of the panel, one medical doctor and one epidemiologist, were appointed by our former president George W. Bush.   Their progressive recommendations, which include to eat organic and be mindful of the use of plastics, will hopefully be better accepted by conservatives who are often less eco-conscious (please forgive me if you are conservative and eco-conscious, I know the combo does exist!)

The report incorporates at all the most up-to-date research on cancer and analyzes it all to make specific recommendations related to prevention.  I'm super excited about what this report may to do push everyone to be more concerned about what toxins in our environment are doing to our health.

Sometimes I get so frustrated that people are in the dark-ages when it comes to chemicals in our lives!  This report relieves some of that frustration for me :)

You can see the report in it's entirety at http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf

A wonderful op-ed (much better than mine!) on this report was published in the NY Times back in May -- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06kristof.html?_r=1

FYI:

The President’s Cancer Panel 
LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., Chair 
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery 
Howard University College of Medicine 
Washington, DC  20059 

Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D. 
Vivian L. Smith Chair and Professor Emerita 
The University of Texas  
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 
Houston, TX  77030 


Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Review - Permission to Mother by Denise Punger


This is a beautiful and entertaining book for anyone who is interested in attachment parenting, natural birthing, and breastfeeding.  Although, some of the author's parenting choices vary from mine, the book really struck a chord in my soul.  Both the author and I share the desire to live a wholesome and balanced life for our children.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a medical perspective (the author is a medical doctor) on the benefits of natural living, attachment parenting, babywearing, and especially breastfeeding.  Dr. Punger is a Lactation Consultant.

This book reads like a story, not a textbook. It is a terrific addition to any natural parenting library.  The cover alone made me want to buy it :)

See the author's blog here:
http://www.permissiontomother.com/

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Easy Natural Muffins

Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Muffin Mix

This muffin mix is all natural.  I made it this morning.  It was delicious and super easy.  I added oil, milk, and an egg as the recipe called for.  I also added drained and towel dried organic frozen blueberries.  The muffins took 15 minutes to bake.  My 22 month old toddler and husband loved them.  The muffins don't have too much sugar.  They tasted similar to a lightly sweetened bran cereal.

I purchased the muffin mix from Harris Teeter.  I recommend it for your grocery list.  If you haven't made the transition to all whole grains (or mostly whole grains) in your diet, you may not like these muffins much.  I have found that the more whole grains I eat, the yummier they get and I don't really like the refined and bleached ingredients as much anymore.  Whole grains are super healthy and bleached/refined foods are just junk food in my opinion.  I still eat the bad stuff but we are trying to get away from it as much as possible.  I don't want my daughter to dislike wheat bread like I did growing up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Naptime at 21 months

These days my daughter takes nice consistent 1-2 hour naps.  This has not always been the case but the bedtime/naptime routine has payed off.  She finally is at one nap a day.  She has been taking one nap at noon for about 6 weeks now.  It's so nice to be past the "transition stage" where she couldn't make up her mind to take one or two naps.  Our naptime routine is lunch, pajamas, book reading, brush teeth, sing song and snuggle, fluff pillow, cover with blanket, then "night, night, sleep tight."  Lights are off, fan is on for noise, and shades are pulled tight to make her room dark.  It is rare that she cries.  If she does cry it is usually for less than a minute.  We also follow this same routine for bedtime.

When she is at her grandparents she takes naps okay.  However, her naps are usually a little shorter when she is away from home - probably due to routine changes.

I'm so glad she takes naps.  I need them.

A Realistic Approach to the Attachment Parenting Ideal

Watch a beautiful video about attachment parenting here



Attachment parenting is quite popular these days although it is often portrayed as an alternative or hippie way to parent.  It's called attachment parenting because it is all about keeping your baby close.  Strollers are less than ideal to the attachment parent.  Breastfeeding and cosleeping are important.  Gentle bedtimes with no "crying it out" is preferred.  Attachment parenting, made famous by Dr. Sears, is a beautiful idea.

So, what do I think about all this?  Well, it is an ideal.  Ideals are not reality.  I think many people have trouble applying all aspects of attachment parenting to real-life.  In my house, we do what is most practical and healthy for my child.  We also try to keep life relatively simple and structured.

We babywear.  We also use strollers when it is more practical to do so.  This time of year, babywearing can get pretty toasty.  Now that my daughter is a toddler, she frequently prefers the stroller or grocery cart and has for quite some time.  She also prefers to walk when she is allowed (I don't let her walk around at the store because that leads to trouble.)  She is 21 months now.  The older she gets, the less she wants to be worn.

I still breastfeed.  I've thought about weaning my daughter completely but then she looks at me and says "nursie."   I breastfeed my toddler one to two times a day - always just after she wakes up.  She refuses to breastfeed before bedtime and has for months now.  She is not the type of kid that just wants a milk snack from me at any time of the day.  On days I work, I don't breastfeed (I work three days a week from morning to night.)  Our lactation consultant said it is okay to go a two days in a row without breastfeeding and my milk supply will be fine - as is the case once a woman breastfeeds for over a year.  If I was in the early stages of breastfeeding, going a day or two without nursing would cause my milk supply to dwindle fast.

I began to wean at 4 months due to the introduction of rice cereal to my baby's diet.  Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months did not happen for us.  Not on purpose, but when I went back to school, my breastfed baby refused a bottle.  To fill in meals when we were apart, her caregivers gave her rice cereal with breastmilk by spoon.  This was awful because she didn't gain much weight her fourth month, however, at the time it seemed necessary.  She is healthy and thriving now.  She has hardly every been sick.  My daughter has only had three ear infections, ever.  My husband and I both had frequent ear infections as babies.  I was breastfed until about 9 months and my husband was never breastfed.

I loved cosleeping with my daughter until she was nearly a year old.  Unfortunately, the older my daughter got, the less she was able to sleep with me - she was too squirmy and wanted to be awake.  At 6 months old, we also sleep trained her (aka - "cry it out" Ferber style) to fall asleep in her own bed.  In the middle of the night, if she woke, I'd bring her to bed with me (a more gentle approach than Ferber's - let her cry again.)  I didn't have the heart to let her cry in the middle of the night after she cried herself to sleep.  Sleeping on her own happened gradually.  My little sugarplum would nurse and sleep beside me frequently at five months - this has gradually decreased and by 14 months she only would come to bed with me to nurse when she woke in the morning between 6 and 8 am.  When my little one was 5 months old, I would doze off in bed with her nursing.  When I woke back up an hour or two later, I'd usually put her back in her own bed.  Our goal from quite early on was for her to start the night in her own bed.  We thought this would be a good way to get her used to her bed without forcing her to sleep in it by herself all night.  This also gave me and my husband much needed time to ourselves.  I still haven't figured out how people manage to cosleep when their 6 month old needs to be in bed by 7 pm.  What do they do between their baby's bedtime and their own?  Do their babies wait until the parents bedtime to go to sleep?  You can't exactly leave a baby unnattended in an adult bed, that just seems like an accident waiting to happen.  To me it seemed smarter to put my exhausted baby to bed, in her bed, at 7 and let her cry a little rather than keep her awake until 9 or 10 just so we could cosleep.  Furthermore, my daughter only had to "cry it out" for two to three nights in a row.  After that it got much better and only got tough again if routines were altered from vacation or illness.

I'm all for modified attachment parenting.  I refuse to be a strict attachment parent because it is too exhausting for me.  If I'm exhausted, I'm not a good mommy.  I love sleeping with my daughter but I cherish my alone time with my husband as well.  It is nice to have baby-free time together.  Strollers AND my baby carriers have come in quite handy over the past 22 months.  The small amount of formula we gave my daughter when I went back to school, allowed me to not have to pump as much (and pumping was always tough for me.)  Despite giving my daughter supplemental formula at times, I'm still breastfeeding her at 22 months - that's pretty good right?  I'm all for doing things the way they work best for my family.  I'm all for watching my child's cues and meeting her needs.  I think I'm doing a pretty decent job.  I think I have a lot to learn.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Environmental Working Group and the "Dirty Dozen"

According to Environmental Working Group, a fabulous nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental safety issues, the public should be aware of and avoid the "dirty dozen" foods.  The Dirty Dozen are 12 conventionally grown (AKA - not organic) foods that have the most pesticide residues.  Pesticides on foods have been linked to neurological problems in humans.  Unfortunately, the organic versions of these pesticide laden foods are more expensive and often unavailable.  One simple solution to this problem - avoid the "Dirty Dozen" if you can't buy the organic versions and stick to the "Clean 15" because they have the least amount of pesticides or none at all!  You can find the shopping guide that lists "The Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" by clicking this link: http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/ or glance below.
EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides Bag Tag

Babywearing 101


My life as a mommy changed dramatically for the better the minute I placed my baby in a wrap style carrier (one brand that makes this style is Moby.)  My little one was about 1 or 2 months old when I tried this carrier.  She was still too small for something like the Ergo, Baby Bjorn, or Jeep carrier.  The wrap worked perfectly.  It snuggled her too me.  If she was crying, I'd wedge the pacifier between me and her mouth and she'd just suck and calm right down.  This allowed me to hold her upright and close and freed my hands to do anything that needed to be done!  
Wrap Style Carrier ------------------------------------------------------------------>

As my little pumpkin grew, we used the Jeep frontpack carrier.  The Jeep frontpack carrier swallowed her whole as a newborn so we waited until she was about two months old.  At this point, I had not yet discovered the joys of the Ergo and the Jeep was quicker to use than the wrap-style carrier.  For quick trips to the grocery the Jeep was great.  But for longer walks around the mall and the park, I  preferred the comfort of the wrap for me and sweet little girl.


The Ergo carrier is uniquely different from the standard baby carrier pack because the baby's weight rests on your hips, not your neck and shoulders.  This becomes especially important after your baby passes that 12 lb mark.  Plus, my daughter slept like a champ at 9 months when we would go for a walk using the Ergo.  That NEVER happened using the Jeep carrier.  She just wasn't as comfortable in it.  And the wrap could be a little to restricting and hot for her as she got bigger

I never tried the Baby Bjorn but it has the cross back just like the Jeep carrier so I'm assuming it feels similar when wearing - the weight is situated on your neck, shoulders, and upper back which is not good for your posture or comfort!

<---------------------------------------------Adjustable Ring Sling
I just purchased a Maya adjustable ring sling.  I used it the other day with my 21 lb toddler and must say she's a bit too heavy for my comfort in it.  However, when I have baby number two, I'm looking forward to using it.  Since it is adjustable, I think it will fit better than the Hotslings that I purchased when my pumpkin was about 4 months old.  I also think it will be more comfortable, but we'll see.  I like the idea of the ring sling because I can wear a newborn in the upright chest-to-chest position in it just like the wrap-style.  And, in the sling I can accomplish this carry more quickly with a quick tug at it's adjustable tail tail.  Also, the sling's tail can act as a cover for discreet nursing - big added bonus!
Out of all of these wraps and slings, I recommend the Ergo as the best.  It is the most comfortable and easiest to use.  It is quickly snapped into place and very safe to use.  Its only drawbacks, that I've noticed, are that you can't wear your baby facing out (which I've read isn't as good for baby's hips) and you can't wear a newborn in it without the newborn insert.  However Ergo did just upgrade their newborn insert and it seems to be much improved.

The Ergo Carrier ----------------------------------------------------------------------->

I think we are gradually getting away from baby-carrying now that my pumkin is a very active 20 month old.  There are still times when I pull out the Ergo but usually she just sits in the grocery cart or rides in her stroller.  And, I let her walk whenever possible.  Although, the stroller seems to be great for keeping my toddler out of mischief.  I know some folks are anti-stroller but I feel like they have their place as long as one isn't over reliant on it.  For goodness sakes, I prefer to wear my toddler than put her in a stroller but if she protests the carrier, and we are in a situation where she cannot be allowed to run around and make a mess, the stroller is a lifesaver!



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nice Breasts


I absolutely love this advertisement.  Best for Babes has a wonderful website promoting breastfeeding.  What's better for your little ones?  I also love how Best for Babes doesn't judge for not breastfeeding - they recognize the barriers that women face which often leads to not breastfeeding.

Best for Babes has an article posted called "Booby Traps" at http://www.bestforbabes.org/breastfeeding-booby-traps/.  One of the cultural booby traps mentioned in this article is the negativism women experience when they "throw in the towel" after attempting to breastfeed, writing that women are "damned if you do and damned if you don't."  This article calls all women to "beat the booby traps."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

We joined a summer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

We just joined a summer CSA for $250.  I just purchased a half share this summer to see how it goes.  Plus we grow some of our own veggies in our backyard so I don't want too much food.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It is a great way to support local farming and reduce carbon emissions (AKA- from shipping food and driving all over the place.)  It is important to me that my family does our part to improve the health of our environment and ourselves.  This is one small step in that direction.  And, the food from the CSA we joined is organically grown -  even better!

Want to know more about CSAs?  Click below.  I posted links to two local CSAs (Concord/Charlotte area.)
http://www.coldwatercreekfarms.com/
http://www.poplarridgefarmnc.com/

Transitioning from two naps to one

My daughter, the worlds best napper, has just lost her "worlds best" title.  She will be 18 months old in two days.  I think she is transitioning from two naps to one nap a day.   As I type this, she is in her bedroom, fussing and refusing to nap.  Her traditional first nap is at 10:30 but for the last two days she has protested it.  So, today I am trying a different tactic - I waited until she started to get still and cuddly then I decided she was ready for her nap.  We went to her bedroom at 11:00.  I read to her (always do this before nap or bedtime) then I nursed her (I usually only do this before bedtime.)  I nursed her hoping it would help calm her.  When I laid her down she fussed less than she did the past two days.  But now it is 11:48 and she just cranked it up loud.  Oh no.  This is not fun.  The stress.  I hate this part of being a mommy.  But, I love just about everything else.

Update:  After 45 minutes of talking, fussing, then loud crying she got quiet.  Asleep at last!  Whew, that was rough for us both.

Life with a 18 month old and working full-time

I just started my new job and I am now balancing work and being a mommy to one sweet little girl.  Am I up for the challenge?  I sure hope so.  My head spins and my stomach knots up when I think about what I am taking on.  It won't be easy.  But, I do have a great support system and with only one child it should be manageable.  My parents and my husband's parents live very close (about 10 minutes away.)   They are our volunteer daycare providers.  (Lucky us!)  I am very thankful for their help.

I don't think anyone realizes how hard it is to be a parent until they become one.  Yesterday, I was home all day with my daughter yet my house is still what I consider "a mess."  How is this possible?  Well for starters, when my daughter is awake, I focus my attention on her.  And, if I'm not focusing on her, she will come over to me and demand my attention in her toddler way - with whining and clinging to my legs.  Then, when she is napping, I must be quiet.  She is a light napper.  No dishes or clanging or vacuuming during naptime for sure!

I will say this though, I think an 18 month old is a lot easier than a 3 month old.  Sure she runs around and I have to keep her from killing herself daily BUT she usually takes naps.  And she can play by herself.  And she sleeps at night!  So, am I ready for baby number two?  Not yet.  I gotta get the working mom thing down first.  Then, we can talk about it!