Category Archives: Natural Living

Charlotte’s return

Eight years ago, we had very different lives. We spent a lot of money on somewhat ridiculous things because we both had good jobs and no kids. Splurges and impulse buys were quite normal.

I was a journalist working as an assignment editor at the local NBC affiliate. The job title sounds important, exciting and loftier than it really was, I was kind of at the bottom of the newsroom food chain. I was supposed to work out the photog shooting schedule making sure we had photogs to cover every story we needed to cover for the day. I also needed to keep tabs on court cases and new developments in past stories we had covered. It required a lot of organization. Sometimes I had to coordinate getting film footage from national and regional affiliates for really big stories. I got yelled at a lot. I made a lot of mistakes.

Sometimes I had to record raw footage that was beamed to our newsroom to be edited for a story later that day. One time there was a really bad car crash involving some nursing students on a bad road between here and a smaller town. It was very gruesome. I lost it. I wrote about workaholics, trauma and getting yelled at in the newsroom on my blog and I got fired. Some people still talk about me there and miss me and think I was really great. They also asked me back a couple years later, but I was pregnant and very sick and had pretty much already determined to do this job full time instead.

I know people like to harpoon the media and say how awful they are especially during tragedies like the most recent one our country faced. Just remember that reporter is a person too. That reporter, like the rescue workers, was likely one of the first people on the scene and likely witnessed some really awful stuff that didn’t make it onto public television. Unlike the rescue workers and victims, however, that reporter has likely not received any trauma counseling.

Anyway that was a bit of a tangent and not really where I meant to go with this post that I’ve been writing up in my head for three weeks now!

Every Friday during the noon news hour, our station featured a pet that was available for adoption at the SPCA. The head of the SPCA would come in with the pets and us newsroom people got to play with the pets before they got on camera.

My mom was an animal lover and she passed that down to me. So every week this segment just got me. My best friend had beagles and the new crossbreed “puggle” (pug beagle) had been all the talk of the newsroom. Then Chuck brought one in and I fell in love. I somehow convinced Stephen that we needed this dog and that Saturday when we went down to the SPCA he outbid everyone else for her to make me happy. The amount we paid was just kind of ridiculous for an SPCA mutt (we could have purchased a papered pure bred puppy), but the SPCA is really great and we still feel it was for a good cause (the wide eyes of the clerk as she looked over the bids!).

Charlotte was our first baby. These pictures I still have up in our home say it all:

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So when we made the decision to move to Thousand Oaks and we had to give up our dogs (by then we had two, the second one a beagle acquired in the exact same circumstances which prompted Stephen to ban me from watching “Pet of the Week” hahaha), I was kind of heartbroken. They were part of our family, but we were also in that new baby phase where the pets are just annoying.

I tried a few avenues to find them homes including posting on the yahoo homeschool group I was a part of. One of the moms on there had some relatives that could take them separately. I asked for updates from time to time and the first year we even received a Christmas card and pictures of our beagle, Baxter, in his new life of luxury including his own spot in the couple’s RV on trips to the coast.

Just before Christmas, the mom that had helped me place them in new homes contacted me. Charlotte’s family was moving to the coast and could not take her with them. She wanted to let me know and see if I could help find her a new home. I tried asking around, but no one responded. I was afraid about asking our landlord even though she’s really great because our lease says no pets and we feel like we are getting a good deal on this place and don’t want to push our luck.

I just couldn’t stop thinking about Charlotte though and so one day after we returned from holiday travels, I got brave and decided to ask and it was no problem! We didn’t even have to do a pet deposit. Then I had to convince Stephen again and by that evening we decided to do it. The next morning on their way over to their new home on the coast, her owners brought her by.

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At first she was a little worried and whined at the door after they left, but then Stephen remembered she had a thing for tennis balls, got one out, and after that something seemed to click and she was fine.

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Jillian really loves her. Charlotte listens to and likes her the most. The boys are more unpredictable and Charlotte is much more wary of them. We’ve had a couple growling incidents when they’ve cornered her or chase her. For the most part it seems to be working out. Stephen has been having some allergy issues though so we’re trying to figure that out.

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She came back to us a little more pudgy. We’ve been working on it. I switched her to a raw diet, also feeding much less, we’ve gone on walks nearly every day and and in three weeks she’s already lost 2lbs!

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About a week after we got her back, my sister was leaving our house on her way to work and both our boys fell and got hurt at the same time. The front door was left open and a little while after everything calmed down I realized she was gone. My heart sank. I panicked. I ran up and down our street calling for her, nearly in tears. Jillian was a wreck. We live near a very fast and busy intersection and I was so very worried. I started loading the kids into the car and then she came running into our garage. Such relief.

Ethan loves to nap and snuggle with her and it just melts my heart even though it happens almost every single day. We were especially grateful for Charlotte snuggles and nap time that particular day.

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Henry’s last breastmilk coma

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A chapter of my life closed, nearly 4 years of my life. Please forgive me for not being the least bit sad. I am so ready to move on thankyouverymuch. Time to bust out the push-up bras. Ha!

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In the garden

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My little garden has become sad and neglected the last few months. It seems slightly silly to maintain it, not knowing how much longer it is to be ours and when it isn’t even really ours to begin with.

But out to the garden we went anyway. The kids needed the out of doors and the dandelions were almost as tall as me.

I found beauty still existed and even a few welcome plants that had seeded themselves (cilantro, Marigolds).

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Gardening with little ones is equal parts joy and frustration. Joy in watching them have fun, explore and learn. Frustration when they rip out plants they shouldn’t, dig holes where they shouldn’t, fight with each other over gardening tools, blow dandelion seeds over the freshly cleared beds, pour dirt and rocks all over the cement patio and steps, whack you with a stick they insist on carrying around to do everything with, etc. (I may have gotten a little carried away with the frustration listing).

Funny vignettes from our couple hours in the garden:

Me: Can you get Sparrow a toy to play with?
Bean: I think Sparrow wants some dirt too.
Me: I think not.
Bean: I think he does. Sparrow would like dirt.
Me: I said no.
Bean: Here is some dirt, Sparrow.

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“Holy holy bugs are nice. They like to crawl on people and they don’t bite.”

They can both say “Rolly-poley” just fine, but for some reason they call them “holy holy bugs”. Cracked me up.

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Sprout: “Hi bug! Come here bug!”
Bean (shouts): “No! You can’t hug the bugs!”
Sprout (in tears, he has a flair for the dramatic): “Whaaah! Sister says no hug bugs! Whaaah!!”
Me: “Well, she could have said it much more nicely to you, but she’s right. That is a honey bee and it will try to sting you if you try to hug it. I’m sorry little guy.”

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Bean: “Can I help you water?”
Me: “No. You’ve already made enough of a mess today and you always just try to make mud when I let you water.”
Bean: “But I just want some water!”
Me: “I said no.”
Bean: “I don’t want it to make mud.”
Me: “Yes you do. I know you.”
Bean: “Ok, well I really need some water because my hands are a little bit dirty.”
Me: “If your hands are dirty, go wash them at the sink.”
Bean: “I think you should give me some water so I can make a puddle for our holy holy bugs.”
Me: “See, I knew it. You want to make a muddy mess.”
Bean: “Well, I just need some water!”
Me: “Today the water is for watering the plants only.”

“Don’t step in my puddle.”
“Wait how did you get water? I thought I said no.”
“No! Sprout don’t stand in my puddle.”
“Wait? Your puddle? Bean! Did you pee on the ground right there?”
“It’s only a little bit. It’s outside. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Bean! Gross! You know to use the potty! You are supposed to go inside and go.”
“It’s OK. It’s just a little bit outside.”
“No. It’s not OK to just pee wherever you want!”
“Why?”
“Because pee belongs in the potty.”
“But why does it belong in the potty?”

(Never thought I’d have to have a conversation like this with my daughter. Boys, yes, but not my little girl!)

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Sparrow, my little foodie baby

The longer I parent, I find myself adapting and reworking various parenting practices depending on the situation or kid and what it/they requires.

When I was pregnant with Bean, I was so dogmatic about attachment parenting and co-sleeping. I thought every practice was the holy grail of right parenting. And then several things did not work for our family at all.

And then Sprout came along and I found a whole different kid requiring a whole different way of parenting in some ways.

So slowly over the last 3 1/2 years the dogma has been chipped away at.

Bean is a very sensitive kid in many ways. On everything from her food allergies early on to disciplining her (with her, a certain tone or pitch can put her in tears) to having everything just right to certain textures of foods and spices.

Sprout is very independent and physical and mischievous. Disciplining him requires physical intervention. We have to go to him, make him stop, put him in time out, etc. and a simple “no” or “stop” never seems to have much of an effect.

Their differences also have come out in their eating. Bean has always been very picky and particular about her food. We did the traditional method of baby feeding with her. Around five months when she started watching our every bite at meal times and reaching for our food, I started her on rice cereal and went on to the various puréed foods, then puffs and yogurt melts, etc. Then there was a month where the only food I could get her to eat were yogurt melts, puffs, freeze dried fruit and the chicken and star pasta toddler soup from Earth’s Best. And she’s been just as picky ever since. Getting her to eat and try new foods is still almost always a challenge.

With Sprout I had read a little about baby led weaning where you just feed the baby what you are having once they show an interest in your food without puréed foods or rice cereal. It seemed like the best fit for Mr. Independent. Even though he had teeth, he had a very strong gag reflex and, I now believe, some pretty serious reflux problems. I even tried puréed foods a few times and he would have trouble with those. So it was probably not until around about 10 months old that he actually started eating solid foods.

And Sparrow is just as different from his siblings. Physically, he doesn’t seem as coordinated as I remember his siblings being at this age, especially compared to Sprout. He doesn’t quite sit up very well, he still has very jerky, flailing arm movements like a newborn, he just barely started rolling over, etc. He has started to seem more observant and interested in us and what is going on around him the last few weeks. I honestly didn’t really think he was at all interested in food and wouldn’t be for quite awhile based on these observations, and then he chomped down on one of my sweet potato fries and started sucking food off my fingers.

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So with Sparrow I’m doing a bit of traditional meets baby led weaning. He clearly wants and likes our food, but his lack of coordination is not conducive to just throwing chunks of avocado or banana on a tray and letting him pick them up to gnaw on. I mash a lot of soft stuff like that with my fingers and he will grab my hand, open his mouth and put it in.

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I am also doing some puréed foods. But not really in the traditional way of just one food at a time or rice cereal. He eats pretty much the same stuff as what we are eating. Of all our kids, Sparrow certainly seems to be the most enthusiastic about food and eating. He gets so excited and giggling during meals sometimes.

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One morning we had oatmeal and smoothies. So for Sparrow I took a little cooked oats, raisins and pears and blended that with a little spinach to hide some greens in easily. He loved it.

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I made lentil soup the other night with root vegetables and grilled sausage. So I just took a portion out for Sparrow and blended it up in the VitaMix. Another win for our little foodie.

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This weekend we went down to Disneyland again. So since I knew I would not have my blender or be able to transport my perishable baby food delicacies, we wound up picking up a few jars at the Whole Foods in Tustin. What other baby gets this excited and happy to eat mashed peas?

His attitude is so great. It makes me look forward to feeding him. Trying new things and eating is so fun for him!

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Bean on factory farm feed lots

“If the fence is too small, then the animals don’t have enough room to move around. Then they can’t get the grass they’re supposed to eat because they stomp on it. Their pee-pee and poo-poo goes into the ground and makes it yucky and muddy. So you have to make the fences bigger and give the animals grass, it’s what they’re supposed to eat.”

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Backyard chickens and basketball

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Yesterday I took the kids to the park for a bit and overheard the following while passing by the basketball courts where two very basketball looking dudes were playing a game…

P1: Oh yeah, we got more chickens, six little ones.
P2: What’s the deal with that anyway, do you guys eat eggs every morning or what?
P1: Yep. Every morning. Sometimes for lunch. Plus, we treat ours better than the hens that lay eggs for the stores. They get to run around in our backyard and eat what they’re supposed to.

I mean, if two basketball dudes are talking about this sort of thing, I hope we’re on the cusp of major change.

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Food journey and values update

A little over a year ago, I did a three part series here on the blog about the role food played in my life growing up and the changes I had made over the years to the way we ate based on books and research I had read.

Part 1: Childhood

Part 2: Teens and Young-Adulthood

Part 3: Up to the then present

I think I felt kind of confident at the time that where we were at was a good place and I didn’t foresee any more major changes in the future. I felt pretty educated about the subject. I was also just kind of “done” on the subject of food research. It can be exhausting looking into all of the information and following rabbit trails. I knew what I knew and I was good with what I knew. I trusted some places and brands over others. I felt I was doing my best with the knowledge, budget, family support, etc. that I had.

Well, a year makes a difference. News stories are written. New books are recommended and written. Things get more complicated. Husbands read books of their own. And blissful ignorance isn’t good enough anymore at some point.

So I sort of feel like now this will be an ever changing and expanding storyline in my life. As I find out more things my values are going to change. There is a Maya Angelou quote, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

So, enough changes have taken place recently in our diet and lives that I have more to share.

The biggest impact on our lives was that Stephen read The Omnivore’s Dilema by Michael Pollan and I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffron Foer.

There have also been numerous articles in various publications over the last year about the FDA, USDA, our country’s food system, farming, pesticides, conglomerates like Monsanto, etc. that have caught our attention and made us think.

In some ways, writing about this seems especially hard because we still don’t have it all figured out. I also don’t want to offend people or make them think that what they are doing isn’t good enough because it is a subject I can get pretty fired up about. Nor do I want to offend those we eat with in our circle of friends and family that may not either share our same values or for whatever reason can’t make the changes that we have made due to their budget or dietary needs, etc. So forgive me if I ramble or don’t seem to have it all together quite yet.

So a year ago we got our dairy, meat and eggs from Trader Joe’s. We joined back up with the CSA Abundant Harvest for our produce. We still ate out at places that were above McDonald’s, but didn’t claim to source their ingredients from organic farms or even any place different than where ever it is that McDonald’s sources their ingredients from. We ate processed food from time to time (snacks mostly), but I did try/have to make a lot of things from scratch due to the kids’ food allergies. We avoided soy (except occasionally in the fermented form of soy sauce) due to things I’d read about phytoestrogens in soy products. We avoided non-traditional fats/oils and instead used mostly real butter and olive oil. We sometimes splurged for grass fed beef, but I had a hard time learning how to cook it and it was expensive so we mostly just got whatever was on sale and marked “organic” at Trader Joe’s. We trusted Trader Joe’s. We trusted labels like “organic” and “free range.” We made little effort beyond the more “superior” grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to find out where our food came from.

And that last line is where all the change comes into our lives. After reading the books we did, neither of us could be comfortable ever again just walking into a grocery store and blindly trusting. We wanted to know.

Google searches led to reports and news articles and farm websites that told us (or went to great efforts to keep secret) where our food was coming from and we didn’t like everything that we found out.

Labels like organic now mean nothing to us if the cows/chickens/hogs are fed the same “organic” non-traditional diet (in other words “organic” corn and soy) as their non-organic counterparts. Or if they are kept in identical claustrophobic factory conditions with a small door where they are allowed to access outdoors, but don’t because they are too sick/obese/etc to be able to do so.

We started eating way less meat/eggs/dairy. We only get meat/eggs/dairy from places that we can find more about and trust that the animals are treated decently, given food they are traditionally supposed to eat and space/lifestyle/habitat/etc. that they are traditionally supposed to be in. Mostly that means we source these things either through our CSA via add-ons to our weekly box (I just discovered they have a whole series of videos about each of the farms), our local farmer’s markets and sometimes Whole Foods carries “local” stuff (an example is that I discovered the chicken our CSA sells from a family farm in Sanger, CA is available at Whole Foods and about $2-3 cheaper).

We have like three places we feel OK about eating out at. We are trying to figure how to eat when we are in social situations with people that don’t eat like us and for whom this is of no concern. It’s daunting sometimes. But I think it’s worth it. I think the changes we are making send a message and have an impact even if it is a fairly small one.

If you want to know more, feel free to comment and ask questions.

And one more thing… Chicken, people… Just Google “chicken fecal soup” and tell me you can be comfortable walking into any grocery store and buying a package of “organic” chicken again (hint, make sure your chicken package says 0% additional moisture, you are welcome).

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Blueberry picking 2011

Yesterday a moms group from our church met up at Underwood Farms in Somis for blueberry picking.

I was a little unsure about this activity by myself with both kids, but decided I would try anyway. We were the only ones out there because it was so drizzly so all our kids palled around getting muddy, hunting gophers, and eating more blueberries than they put in their buckets.

Sprout was actually really good at finding the bluest ones and eating them. He didn’t eat any green. He’d just wander down the row, find a bush and stand there picking and eating. Bean was much more interested in being a social butterfly, making new friends and following them everywhere. She did some picking for her bucket, but then would eat them all.

The drizzly day made it pretty nice. In the past it has been too hot and there were a lot of bees. It was nice and cool, no sunburns, not too wet and no bees.


A big salad featuring the fruits of our (my) labor seemed like a good idea last night…


…until somebody picked out and ate all “da boo-bries” (yes he uses some words now) and then didn’t want to have anything to do the rest.


Of course whole grain blueberry pancakes for breakfast this morning.


Yes, stacked three high for the pregnant lady.

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Episkey

10 points to the house that can correctly identify the reference of the title of this post.

If I’ve lost you, don’t worry, I am going to speak English and come back to this world pretty quickly.

Inspired by Davi’s post going over her adventures in homeopathy and by her urging, I decided I would delve into our journey into the same world.

It’s obviously no secret that I tend to do things a little differently, like having babies at home and making my own diaper rash spray. My journey into natural home remedies and homeopathy has been somewhat slow, but I am getting more and more confident lately with trying out different things for the various things that ail our family. As I said in the diaper rash spray post, the introduction to my new book on the subject really inspired me when it pointed out that up until fairly recently most ailments were treated at home with ingredients found in the garden or pantry and there was at least one person in every family with a fairly good knowledge of healing.

I guess the first toe dip into homeopathy for us was when I started using Hyland’s teething tabs as a first and majority of the time responder to teething difficulties with my kids (when is the recall going to be over, by the way? Waaah I miss those things!).

The next time was when our pediatrician at the time mentioned she had been doing a lot of research on the subject and started explaining some of the principles of it to me during our visit. She also gave us a handout that she made up for immune support before, during and after vaccinations. I was slightly skeptical, but I have seriously noticed such a difference in the way our kids respond to vaccines since implementing the stuff in the handout. There have been a few times when I forgot or didn’t realize the kids would be getting a vaccine at the appointment and noticed their reactions to be much more dramatic as well. So it isn’t just a matter of them getting older and handling things better.

So for vaccine immune support this is what we do (the handout sites Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book and Dr. Lauren Feder’s The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations as the source):

-Being really diligent about the kids taking their vitamins the week before and after getting shots. Sometimes I forget on a day-to-day basis, but if I know they have an appointment coming up I will set the alarm in my phone to remind me if I have to. The two pointed out as being most important on the handout are Vitamin A and C. I have our kids on a cornucopia of gummy vitamins though which pretty much covers both those. Our kids take: Omega 3 Sea (fish oil), a multi-vitamin, a calcium (though now that the kids are back to eating dairy I will probably eliminate this one next time we run out), a D3, an immunity one (Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea), and probiotic chewable tabs. I know, I know, that probably seems like overkill.
-Ledum palustre 30C (for puncture wounds): 1 hour before the shot and then two more doses every 12 hours
-Arnica montana 30C (for local swelling, bruising and soreness): Twice a day for two days following the shot
-Thuja occidentalis 30C (for vaccine side effects): Twice a day for three days following the shot
-Chamomilla 30C (for fussiness following the shot): As needed

So this is really what started to inspire me to start looking into other “cures” and remedies. Another thing was that a lot of the “drugs” for infants’ and toddlers’ colds, coughs, etc. have pretty much been taken off the market. Which leaves not a whole lot of options when you have a sick toddler or infant except to run to the pediatrician that will likely just prescribe an antibiotic. I really, really think antibiotics are way over-prescribed so I try to avoid them as much as possible unless I feel like we absolutely need it. But when you have a miserable babe on your hands you need some help.

The advent of modern medicine, together with its many miracles, also led to a much greater dependency on our physicians and to an increasingly stretched healthcare system. The growth of the pharmaceutical industry has meant that there are indeed “cures” for most symptoms, and we have become accustomed to putting our health in the hands of someone else, and to purchasing products that make us feel good. Somewhere along the line we began to believe that technology was in some way superior to what was natural, and so we willingly gave up control of even minor health problems.

So these are some of the homeopathic remedies we’ve tried for various colds and coughs:
-Hyland’s Sniffles ‘n Sneezes
-Pulsatilla 30C (for colds with thick yellow nasal discharge)
-Allium cepa 30C (allergic or viral runny nose)
-Kali sulphuricum 30C (colds with yellow nasal discharge)
-garlic oil drops (for ear infections)
-apple cider vinegar (helps thin out mucus): 2tbsp in 8oz warm water twice a day
-Boiron’s Chestal homeopathic cough syrup
-Elderberry syrup
-Sambucus homeopathic cough syrup

Like Davi pointed out in her post, I have noticed that sometimes you have to be a little more patient with the homeopathic remedies though. I do still use some of the things I used to for pain and sickness, but I also feel the homeopathic remedies help things out and we can avoid using the heavier “drugs” a lot of the time.

When we have something going on, I either head to the natural foods store that has the homeopathic vials and look at the chart for what goes with what or I look online. Now that I have my book I also will tend to find something online and then go get more “reliable” information from my book as well as see if there is anything else we can be doing.

Something else we use that was mentioned above is arnica montana for bruises. Having two toddlers, and clumsy ones at that, there are a lot of bumped heads, scraped knees etc. I usually just use Hyland’s Bumps ‘n Bruises with arnica in it.

Another area that homeopathy has helped out is with pregnancy. Being pregnant, I don’t really feel comfortable taking a bunch of stuff unless I have to. So the homeopathic remedies have been great for colds and things. I will admit that I still take an Advil here and there, I am still taking Unisom at night for morning sickness prevention (every time I try to wean myself off I feel so lousy, I still have not felt as sick as with the other two, but it is enough that I just can’t do anything really), and I also take Tums or Famotadine for really bad heartburn. So I am not anti-medicine. I just try natural or homeopathic remedies first if I can, especially since they have no side effects and are generally much safer.

During my first trimester when I did have some morning sickness I also used some homeopathic remedies to combat the yucks. I found a chart on the old site I frequented when I had the really bad (hyperemesis gravidarum) morning sickness with Bean. It was really helpful in narrowing down which ones to try based on my symptoms. The ones that I used were:

-ginger capsules
-nux vomica 30C
-sepia 30C
-pulsatilla 30C

But like I said, the chart breaks down various “types” of morning sickness and morning sickness symptoms. Every woman is different and the morning sickness can even be different day-to-day or throughout a day. So you should really look to the chart and see what fits you best, not just go off what worked for me.

Recent ailments in our household have included teething with Sprout which has produced acidic, runny bowel movements (BMs) that give him terrible diaper rash. You already know about my diaper rash spray, but I also have been giving him chamomile tea orally and that has helped things in the BM department. The book said it helps reduce the acidity of the BMs and firms them up and I have found that to definitely be the case in the last few days that I have been giving it to him. I also noticed that he is a bit less fussy and grumpy. We usually “cut” the kids’ juice in their sippy cups anyway, so instead of water I’ve been doing half juice, half chamomile tea that I brew a large batch of ahead of time and keep in a pitcher in the refrigerator.

The other ailment has to do with me. I had a bit of a scary episode yesterday, but part of it has been “normal” pregnancy stuff I’ve been experiencing for several weeks now and that I also experienced with my other two. I did some searching online to make sure I’m not weird and was glad to find out I’m not. When I get Braxton Hicks contractions I usually feel like I can’t breathe or that my breathing is constricted. I have to really, really concentrate on just my breathing and it takes a lot of effort. I have been getting more and more of these suckers lately. It’s super annoying when you feel like you really can’t do anything except lay around and breathe. Like this morning I was trying to mix up some oats and nuts for granola and I kept having to stop every few seconds, hunch over the counter with my belly hanging down and just breathe. I felt so pathetic and annoyed. I know I’m pregnant and everything, but I have a life to live and kids and a family to care for. I’m not just going to lay around my house all day. I have things to do. Not even super strenuous things, just the stuff of every day life.

So anyway, back to yesterday, I planned a playdate with a couple of friends that morning. I had been having my usual annoying Braxton Hicks that make me stop and breathe. I was resting a lot. Drinking a lot of water. But then Sprout needing a diaper change could not be put off any longer and I needed to get us ready for our playdate. I got upstairs and the Braxton Hicks turned into super monster contractions. It hurt soooo bad. All I could do is lay on my bed. Finally I was able to get back up in between and grab the house phone. I called Stephen’s cell (the only number I have memorized and my cell with all the numbers was back downstairs) over and over and over again until he finally picked up (he was on another call with a client and not near his cell, but someone else in the office noticed that it kept ringing). I told him what was happening and he came right home.

I started timing things and they were 1:30 long and 3 minutes apart and oh-so-painful. I could feel tugging at my cervix too which was really making me nervous. I called one of my midwives and she had me try taking some calcium and magnesium, a warm bath and more water and relaxing. Nothing changed. So she had me call into the backup OB’s office here in town and they wanted me to come in to have things checked out. An ultrasound showed no changes to my cervix and the fetal fibronectin test which tests to see if labor is imminent came back negative. He also prescribed something to stop the contractions. Everything calmed down and I just ended out the day pretty sore and tired.

Anyway, this morning the Braxton Hicks and the shortness of breath were back. I knew to take it easy, but I decided to see if there were any homeopathic or natural remedies that could help things out. I also felt like what I was experiencing this morning didn’t really warrant taking another of the pills. It definitely wasn’t of the caliber of yesterday’s bout in the slightest.

So I looked up homeopathic remedies for Braxton Hicks online, read a bunch of stuff there and then confirmed and got more information from my book. I made a tea of red raspberry leaf, ginger, and chamomile and then put in drops of a tincture called cramp bark. All of these things help to tone, calm and relax muscles with the red raspberry leaf and cramp bark having specific implications in the uterine muscles. It’s also supposed to help with menstrual cramping. I’ve definitely noticed less activity in the few hours since I drank it so I am a fan. One thing I did read said not to take the cramp bark for more than three days consecutively because it could cause nausea after that point. So hopefully I can just take it here and there as needed and not get the nausea.

Sorry there are no fun pictures to accompany this post. Anyway, I hope this is informative and helpful and maybe inspires you to try out some natural remedies with your family next time some minor illness or injury comes up.

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Soap. It explains everything.

So after our initial post-use wash with the new diapers, I was a little disappointed when we dried them and they smelled better, but still not completely like fresh, clean laundry.

It was definitely better though and when they were dry they didn’t stink.

So anyway I was looking around again for answers and someone recommended this cloth diapering detergent called Rockin’ Green. She said she uses the Hard Rock as well as the Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer for combating ammonia in her diapers.

The website doesn’t really have an about section or a huge amount of information. It is mostly just a store front with some reviews, but there are a couple youTube videos that they put up about soap buildup in diapers and how they compare to other brands.

After watching the videos I decided to pay attention to the rinse and agitation part of our wash cycle and see if we had soap bubbles.

Well, I have been running back-to-back soap-free wash cycles since 7:30am. I have listened dutifully to the machine and checked in on every rinse/agitation portion of the cycle.

Sooo much soap!

This picture was taken two hours ago. And these are the new diapers, mind you.

It is now 1:30pm and I just checked in again and saw the same thing. Lots of soap bubbles on the surface of the water.

It completely explains everything. No wonder the old diapers stunk. They probably had so much soap in them after two and a half years of washing like I used to wash.

Then I got to thinking about our clothes and how much soap is probably on them too. No wonder Stephen and the kids battle with eczema even though we use a free and clear detergent!

I never really trusted the diaper sites before when they would say that most detergent manufacturers recommend that you use 2-3 times the amount of soap that you really need. I had tried to use less a couple times, but felt like things didn’t get as clean. So I have to figure out a balance now between too much and too little soap.

Edited to add: As of 4:30pm we are still seeing soap bubbles! Ahhh! When will this end?

Second edit and update: I stopped around 10:30pm that first night and picked up again sometime the next morning. I did more washes as I could, but had a lot going on that day with the crazy injured child and grocery shopping that needed to get done. I did my last wash around 5:30pm. I was still getting bubbles on the surface when I checked in, but they were dissipating pretty quickly so I decided to give it up and put them in the dryer. Good news is they did not stink in the dryer and the fabric felt super clean when I pulled it out. Think squeeky clean, but with fabric.

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