Posted by: Morgan | November 29, 2011

One Month ‘Eating Real Food’ Challenge – Day One

“Do you want to start being gluten-free tomorrow?”

“Sure, we have to go shopping soon anyway. Sounds good.”

That is literally the conversation my husband and I had two nights ago, the day before we started our ‘Eating Real Food’ challenge.  It wasn’t truly as random as that sounds, as we’ve been talking about trying gluten-free and/or dairy free for month-long trial periods, just to see if any of us are allergic or sensitive to those foods.  But we hadn’t planned on starting yesterday, and we hadn’t really researched anything yet.

I have a lot of friends who are living “alternative” diet lifestyles;  gluten-free, paleo, primal, GAPS, vegan, vegetarian.  I’m fairly aware of the differences in all of them, some of the reasons to try the various food lifestyles, and the results my friends are seeing after making changes in their diet.  I did not, however, have any idea how to apply any of that information practically when it came to buying food for our family.  So I turned to my very favorite source of information, my friends on Facebook.

I got information about paleo and primal eating, websites and food blogs written specifically for these lifestyles, foods to avoid and foods to look for, pros and cons of several different “competing” diets, and even phone calls with two friends who have switched to paleo in the past year with amazing success stories.  My brain starting trying to sort through everything while Caleb was at work, so we could go shopping when he got home.

Because this journal is almost more for me than for anyone else, I want to mention the advice that stood out the most yesterday: “Make a list of what you can eat, not what you can’t”. I didn’t realize how profound that was until we got to the store later, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

Our first day gluten-free became a failure by lunchtime.  We realized we still had a whole pack of flour tortillas, so we decided to finish them off without any guilt and go from there.  I also started getting so much information about going completely grain-free and dairy-free, that I realized we may already be making changes to our initial plan.

In the end, we decided on our own variation of paleo.  We’re going completely grain-free, dairy-free, and mostly sugar-free for one month.  We’re not limiting our meat choices or intake, and striving to get free range, grass fed, and pastured as often as possible.  We’re going to focus on good fats, good veggies and fruits, and making pretty much everything from scratch.  We’re going to take pictures throughout the month, as well as take measurements of Caleb & I before and after.  Throughout the month we’re going to document what we eat, how we react, how we feel, what changes we notice.  After the month is over we’re going to slowly add the different things back in, one at a time.  If we see adverse reactions in any of us, we’ll adjust our long-term diet accordingly. Thus why our challenge is calling simply the ‘Eating Real Food’ challenge.

So we went to the store. Everything was great at first; we started off in the produce area and slowly wound our way through, choosing items we typically already like, with a substitution of sweet potatoes for regular potatoes as something different than our norm. We passed through the meat section quickly, and then got to the ‘processed foods’ area. I remained upbeat and peppy for a minute, brightly saying “I guess we just walk past all of this!”…and then we had to walk into one aisle for olive oil.  I saw some gluten-free cookies and thought that’d be nice for Emma during the transition. They weren’t grain free, so I started reading all the labels nearby. I got overwhelmed and wiped out. I started to despair of being able to do this. I felt that the world was one big kernel of grain.

I was able to pull myself away from the gluten-free “disaster area” and move onto the bulk section. I relieved my anxiety by focusing very hard on each of the ingredients lists for the various nuts and dried fruits. I was careful to only pick things not marked “May contain trace wheat”.  I got a small selection of nuts and dried fruits for us to try. Then I needed to leave. I was tired and hungry and couldn’t handle thinking “alternative” any more.

I ate an apple on my way home. Then I went to bed and had dreams of Biggest Loser contestants running through areas full of grains, with the words “gluten-free” and “paleo” being shouted over and over.

 

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Posted by: Morgan | November 19, 2011

Floor Lamp Renovation – Part One

I decided this past week to identify the one thing in the living room that bothered me the most, and then renovate it to make me happy. It didn’t take me long to choose. I give you the ‘Cheapo Walmart Lamp’:

  I keep thinking that one day I’ll get a nicer lamp. You know, one that’s not made of multiple pieces screwed together and actually has a glass shade, instead of the flimsy opaque plastic.  But that day hasn’t come yet and the lamp made me feel poor and ugly, so it had to change.  I skimmed through Pinterest for some ideas, deciding that it would get a new glossy color and some sort of renovated shade.  This is part one, the story of the lamp itself.

  Caleb and I headed to Michael’s late last night. I had a 50% off-one-item coupon for JoAnn’s that I intended on using as a ‘competitor match coupon’ and one 40% off-one-item for Michael’s; I was planning on making this thing for under $5.  We located the spray paint case (which is padlocked, strangely. I suppose those who may readily need spraypaint for street art wouldn’t often be above shoplifting. If you’re about to vandalize and break the law, staying within the law is probably not very alluring directly beforehand) and located a sales associate to help us get to said spray paint.

As the Michael’s employee was opening the case, a loose can of primer fell off the top of the cabinet, almost hitting my head.  The employee apologized profusely, but I wasn’t too fazed.  We picked out Glossy Purple and the employee helped us find the other items we needed.  In the end, because of the ‘hazardous shopping experience’, he gave me 50% off my entire purchase, and I got to keep my other coupons. I’m a fan of that.

   Today was super windy, but I decided I just couldn’t wait any longer to paint.  After removing the bulbs and shades, I took out some trusty blue painter’s tape and covered the parts I didn’t want to turn purple.

  Then off to the back porch I went. The wind almost made it impossible to get the paint to hit the lamp, but after a couple minutes I figured out how to get it to work with me, and we were in business!  The wind helped dry it quickly, which was helpful for such a novice spray-painter. I got a few coats on it and then pulled it back inside.  After getting the shades and bulbs put back on, I can say that I’m quite happy with the results.

  Unfortunately in my excitement, I rubbed the paint off in one place, but it should be a quick fix at a later date.  I’d even go so far as to say that the plastic shade even looks better now.  I’m probably going to still work on Part Two – Lamp Shade Renovation, but until then I think this little lamp has a new life.

What do you think?  Have you recently given a little touch-up to something in your home? Tell me about it!

Posted by: Morgan | July 29, 2011

“Nursing Toddler Won’t Eat – Help!”

This is a post I wrote on a few message boards, looking for help with a nursing toddler who refused to eat.  Below are many of the responses I received.  I’m posting this so that it’s available in case another mama is in the same boat. Note: This was written last January. Please read Epilogue at the bottom for our current situation.

Message Board Post

Daughter is 2, has breastfed – exclusively until 8 months and then a LOT since then. – She was nursing 5-8 times a night up until she was 18 months old. When she was 10 months old she started eating some foods, and around a year was probably 60/40 BF/food. I got pregnant and she seemed to start self-weaning, and was nursing a lot in other people’s opinion, but we were fine.
When my colostrum came in, she took it up a lot again, but still continued to eat pretty well. Some days she was gobbling the food down.
When my son was born (September 2010) and my milk came in, her appetite COMPLETELY left. After a few weeks I started asking other extended BFing moms/LLL/etc what they thought and I got a lot of ‘don’t worry, you have lots of changes, she’ll settle out’…. It’s been FOUR MONTHS and she has not. She started eating again more a month ago, but about 1 1/2 weeks ago she stopped eating completely. Again everyone said ‘don’t worry, she’ll eat’… and I’m encouraged by my BFing/LLL friends etc to continue nursing her, as she still gets nutrition and lots of comfort from it.
I will say first off that there have been lots of external stresses in the past while. We moved 7 months ago, my son was born 3 months ago, and things have been REALLY financially tight (we’ve had to have others cover our rent 3 months in a row now), which doesn’t effect her except that my husband and I are fairly stressed and that translates onto the kids. I had to go back to work (very parttime, waiting tables) this past week, and I know it’s effecting the kids for sure.All that said, she will not eat. Occasionally in the past 2 weeks we can get her to eat a bite or TWO, but no more. She’s almost constantly asking to nurse, and goes into what someone would probably call a fit when I tell her no. When she does nurse, she drains me quickly, which has upped my milk supply so that I think I’m putting out about 3-4 pints a day right now. I’m eating between 3500-4000 calories a day, and most days could eat more. And I’m losing weight (not fast or anything, but on 4000 a day a 5’7″ girl should be putting on some pounds). I’m needing to watch it so that my 4mo actually has enough TO eat.

Although I’m a supporter (obviously, I think) of extended breastfeeding, tandem nursing, nursing by request, and we’re a bedsharing family, I literally CANNOT sustain a toddler, let alone a toddler and a newborn. There is no way physically I can keep this up anymore. Which is a major reason why I’ve told her no so much lately. I’m so drained. My body cannot keep up.

I have a hard time wanting to discipline her for crying/having “fits” when I say no, because although I totally am done with her crying/screaming/etc at me all the time (SO tired of it), I know that she seriously is HUNGRY. Her little tummy probably hurts. She’s probably tired a lot because of it. She’s not sleeping well. Right now I’m up because she woke up (probably hungry), asked to nurse, I said no let’s sleep, and she cried at me for 45 minutes. I tried offering water, we were snuggling, she asked to hold me (which to her means completely smothering me, which is hard for me to sleep with, but I figured ok let’s try to get her to sleep…5 minutes later she’d start crying again)… I KNOW she’s hurting and hungry, but she will not eat anything we offer her. She asks to nurse or for chocolate (which we do not give her)…… Husband is upstairs right now snuggling her to sleep, but even then she cried for 20 minutes with him.

WHAT DO I DO?! She needs to eat. She’s obviously hurting. I’m feeling horrible, like I should just nurse her for this ‘phase’…but I cannot. It’s not that I’m against nursing a 2 year old, but I cannot completely sustain her, especially while having a newborn who DOES need me for 100% food and while having to work a night or two a week.

She’s a definite toucher, and I feel like I try to hold her often. What is hard is that every time (I’m not exagerating. without exception) she’s start pulling hard at my shirt and asking to nurse. Because she’s hungry. If I offer milk, water, foods (chicken, ham, turkey, cheese, crackers, avacado, banana, graham crackers, soup, sandwiches….lots of choices literally…) she says ‘no no no’ and then asks to nurse again.

I know that she can’t work through it in her 2 year old mind and that she really truly feels that she needs to nurse, but this can’t go on. She’s not eating. I’m at a loss. I have to teach her that food is ok and I’ll still love on her and hold her, that she doesn’t only need to nurse to have contact with me. The whole ‘she’ll eat when she’s hungry, nurse her just a few times a day’ deal isn’t working, it’s just making a really hungry babygirl and a really wiped out mommy and daddy.

please.help.

(ps. Not looking for ‘stop nursing cold turkey’ suggestions, as I don’t think that would be beneficial at all. I’m looking for ways to improve our situation, even if the solution is weaning, I’m looking for gradual (even if gradual means a couple weeks, that’s fine. I just won’t stop in a day)….

Thanks

Replies

Mississippi Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic, PLLC
You’re a wonderful mother for staying so in tune to your children’s needs throughout all the stress!!!!!!! How great that you are still nursing her- to soothe her transitions, and yours.It sounds as though your toddler is upset by all the sudden (to her) changes coming at once, and is wanting to “get back to normal” in the only way she knows how, i.e. wanting reassurance that she’s still your “baby” too. Children often mature in a 3 steps forward, 2 steps back pattern – amazingly fast one day, then needing to return to a familiar habit for reassurance and comfort when they realize how fast they’ve done something. Ironically, when we let kids know that it’s ok to still “be a baby” sometimes, they usually decide they don’t need to.Perhaps you could make some “nursing rules” that limit each nursing session, without limiting the number of times (at least at first) – still meeting her emotional needs and still meeting baby’s needs. Examples: Big girls only nurse after the baby. Big girls only nurse while we sit in a certain chair / couch / bed, etc. Big girls only get a certain number of sucks. (My favorite, because you can count quickly or slowly depending on the situation.) Also explain to her that her teeth need some exercise on foods she can use them for – her favorites. Keep offering all the options you have been – she’ll get back to them.
Other ways to make “big girls” feel special: Try a “big girl” day while baby stays home with dad, to let her know that big girls are special too – do something that babies can’t do – favorite activity at the park, fix each other’s hair, or offer going for ice cream? If appropriate, could you bring her some leftovers from your restaurant? (To give her a connection with you while you’re at work, and a tangible benefit for her of you you being gone 2 nights a week.) “Babies can’t eat yummy restaurant food.”
You might also try distraction, once she is eating again, at those times when she’s Not hungry, and using something other than another food choice – toy, game, video, etc.
Take care of yourself, too. Attention to diet – healthy calories and hydration, a good vitamin – generic StressTabs! – and a bubble bath work wonders.

Sierra K: So sorry you are struggling! My suggestion would be to offer nursing as a reward. Tell her she can nurse after she eats half of a sandwich. That way you’re not telling her flat-out no, and if she eats a little something first, she won’t be quite as hungry when she does nurse. Maybe start out small (nurse after 3 bites, or a few grapes) so she understands, but I think at 2 she will get it. Good luck!!

Kara B: …My kids are 22 months apart and my older son nurses a lot also, but not like what you are describing. He always eats at least one meal a day (dinner) and some snacks. But I’d say the majority of his diet is breastmilk. I night weaned him while I was pregnant because I had really sore nipples and was completely exhausted. It wasn’t easy, but it might help. I got my DH involved. Every time he woke up, I sent my DH in for like a week. There were tears, and we had some times I gave in, but it finally worked. Now he only nurses at night if he’s sick or we are visiting my parents. Another thing that I do is put a time limit on his nursing. He asks constantly, like every time I sit down. I’ll tell him, ok you can nurse until I count to ten. When I get to ten I tell him it’s time to let go. Occasionally he’ll ask for more and I’ll do another 10, sometimes 5. Even if I don’t put a time limit, I am always the one ending the nursing session.I haven’t done this, and am not sure how good of an idea it is, but have you told her she can nurse after she eats. I guess kind of like bribery??
Also, try explaining her hunger and thirst feelings to her. I’ve noticed my son will eat, say crackers, and then come to me for a drink. I’ll tell him “you must be thirsty, let’s have water”.

Rivi G: You as a mom know how you feel best. Gradually is always best and I think the reward milk is best. Sounds like changes and new baby are having a mega effect. You can also try peer help. If you have a play group, use them to get her to eat. “oh, look at Katy, what is she eating? Is that an apply? Do you want an apple too? Mommy will eat an apple, yum.” etc.

Jacqueline W:  My guess would be it is that she is feeling your stresses and she craves the comfort of your closeness and is probably “addicted” (for lack of a better word) to the high fat and sugar content in your newborn style breastmilk. The same way adults get caught in the cycle of eating high sugar/fat/carb foods and just crave it all the time. My 3 year old is the same way, complete melt downs with the “no” word if she is fixated on something. I would try having high protein and iron food on hand and when she asks to nurse have a heaping bite ready and pull the “ok, take a biiiig bite and then we will nurse!” it’s worth a shot. I have a great pediatrician who is VERY supportive of extended breastfeeding, minimal medical interventions etc but I can’t always count on her to tell me the truth if something I’m doing is not good for my kids in a big way. She said “unless there is some other medical issue, a picky child WILL not starve”. They are evolved little people and they will eat what they need or their bodies will make do. I know that’s not ideal at all, but if nothing else changes- you know she’s fine.

Isabel W:  I’ve got a bunch of points for you. It’s way too early in the morning, and I’m 38wks pg and generally incoherent, so my apologies if this sounds random…. 🙂
First I’m not a big fan of food rewards. The idea of you can only nurse if you’ve eaten real food is an excellent one, I just would be careful of how you word it, and not label it as a reward or as dessert. Especially with a nursing sibling around.
Second, and most importantly. Two is around the time when many kids (weaned or otherwise) stop being interested in food. Seriously, this is the number 1 complaint at doctor’s offices for this age group. Keep in mind that toddler portion sizes are tiny compared to what is expected (and less than what they may have been eating previously!). It is not uncommon for example for a toddler to eat nothing one day, then eat well the next. Or eat only apples on Tuesday, and want nothing but turkey the next day. Children this age, left to their own devices, will typically balance their own diet over a TWO WEEK period… not daily as us parents would like! 🙂 Many toddlers, when given the option of easy calories like breastmilk, cow’s milk or juice, will eat even less.
My suggestions….
– no breastmilk at least 1 1/2 hrs before mealtimes or snacktimes.
– reducing nursing to certain times of day (naptime, bedtime). At other times of day when requested, offer water, favorite fruits, healthy snacks, or story-time. You don’t have to say “no”, try terms like, “not right now” or “in a few minutes” (toddlers have no sense of time, if you can distract or delay long enough, she’ll likely move on to different things!)
– avoid the temptation to always make her favorite foods at meals, but for the first few days of this, it might be a good plan. Stick to water to drink.
– if she doesn’t eat, or doesn’t eat much, don’t nurse her. She’ll be okay skipping a couple meals. Really. Even if she’s already ‘small’ for her age, or whatever, she will be fine. This is the hardest one for parents!!!!!! Malnutrition and starvation take more than one meal, or even one day! Paying too much attention to what she’s eating (or not eating as the case may be) and constantly fretting over it in her presence, sets food and mealtimes up to be a battle and control time. This is a bad precedent for later years, and for the right-now, who needs another battle with a two year old. Food on plate, if she eats, great, if she doesn’t, oh well. (ie. don’t draw attention) Avoid coaxing, or making mealtimes all about what she’s eating. Just have your conversations, and when meals are over, she can clear her own plate.
– If she’s old enough to care about being a “big girl” use that term to your advantage. Give her a new job or responsibility around the house (dusting or cleaning windows is always popular, as long as you’re not picky about how it’s done!).
– Have her help you cook/prepare meals. She can, at two, dump ingredients, smell and touch certain foods, open the fridge to get stuff etc. It can be a pain having a toddler in the kitchen, but if she excited and interested in helping you cook, she’s not asking you to nurse before dinner, and she might (maybe!!!!) be more likely to eat food she’s helped prepare. Two year olds can even help set the table!!
—— The cooking and helping clean something things are about instilling pride and responsibility. Toddlers are at the age where they really want to feel important. You need to find ways to replace feeling important by nursing with more ‘big girl’ things.

Rachelle B:  Minus the tandum nursing I went through what you did when my son was little, that combined with him being sick all the time and frequent hospital visits, I was a wreck but I found something that worked.

I saw that he liked food with no effort, so I fed him warm oatmeal as often as I could for the first little while, and I either gave him the flavored kind or added things that would be good for him, its amazing what you can sneak into other foods! and for AGES, it seemed like forever that he just ate bites here at there of things but I used to tell him, “If you finish half of this oatmeal you can have boob” then it progressed to “if you can eat this bowl of oatmeal you can have boob” and sure there was crying at times but it worked. We still have eating issues at 5yrs old (he was 2 at the time) but its not so much a struggle anymore. He lost weight during the episode and now he’s gaining it back in strides, same with me, I was 98Lbs and 5’5″ for ages because of it all and now that it’s settled down I’m hitting 130Lbs. He went from losing 10% of his body mass and was 22Lbs FOREVER! Now he’s catching up and is 40Lbs and 48″. I know it’s hard and you’re stressing out big time but having a support system of family,friends, LC’s, and doctors help’s big time! Hope things look up soon! 🙂 ♥

Terra D:  As well as letting her help you cook also let her help you pick food out at the grocery store. Talk to her about it and ask her if there is something SHE wants you to get.At home get out a muffin tin and fill each cup with something different. Crackers, cereal, cheese, grapes, etc. and just leave it out in the open in a place she can reach. Let her help you fill the cups and pick out what goes into them. Then just let her graze and don’t watch her or she’ll likely not touch it. Just ignore it and see which (if any) of the food disappear and make sure you keep those bins filled up!

Don’t offer food at only meal times. Give her access to it all day long. The pressure of having to sit and eat may be bothering her. If the food is just as easy and available as the breast it may entice her back to it.
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Take her to places to play and bring quick easy snacks with you. When she asks to nurse offer the other food instead and tell her that it’ll be quicker to just eat this instead so she can get back to playing more quickly. If you have an carrier wear the baby so that your daughter doesn’t have access to the boobs at all. Out of sight out of mind. You may need to find something to do out of the house every, single, day for a little while to help her break the habits she’s formed at home. You’re goal is to change her routine and make access to the breast really inconvenient for her.
When you do have to be at home, wear the baby then as well. Keeping access to breast for her really inconvenient while her tray of food (that she picked out herself) is just so easy and available when ever she wants it.
Make all this all about her. Her decision on what she eats, when and where. If a tiny piece of chocolate is enough to distract her from the breast occasionally it won’t hurt her one bit! As long as she’s not eating it constantly then there isn’t a problem. Don’t offer it as a reward just an occasional option.
Oh, and one more thing have you tried offering her pumped breastmilk in a cup? If you let her know that it’s your milk she may be willing to take as her drink while she’s eating other foods.

Epilogue

It’s now been 7 months since I wrote that cry for help.  I used a LOT of the suggestions: we went shopping together that night and we had the first 2 hour segment of no whining in two months,  we created a snack tray in the fridge for her,  she started helping cook meals,  we used counting (which didn’t work at the time),  and I tried to worry less.

My daughter is currently 2 1/2…and is still nursing. 🙂  We’ve started a solid push for weaning in the past month, and she’s currently down to once a day 98% of the time.  For a long while we were doing alright on the eating and no screaming front, although lately it’s seeming to crop back up again.  Maybe I’m more settled or maybe it’s really not as much as it was before, but it definitely doesn’t wear me out as much as it used to.

It’s all about a changing relationship that benefits both of us.  For me, that means the nursing aspect of our relationship needs to be nearing an end, and for her that means the ‘nearing an end’ needs to be gradual.  It also means that I have to remember to replace that time we would have spent nursing with other activities and times that are just us, and it means she has to learn about consequences for whining.

Some day I’m going to write a post (or two) about my adventures in tandem nursing, but for now I leave you with some suggestions for getting a nursing toddler to eat, and hope that even a period of time like that is just that…a period of time.

Now it’s your turn, parents.  Have you ever had a child refuse to eat (whether they were also breastfeeding or not)?  What did you do?

Posted by: Morgan | July 28, 2011

Working on my dreams…

This weekend I started gearing up for two parenting events I’m planning for this fall.  The first event, scheduled for October 8th on the west side, is the Fort Worth Parenting Extravaganza, and the second is the Dallas Natural Parenting Expo, set for mid-October and designed to hit the east side of the metorplex.  I’m getting very excited about both of these events and the response I’m already seeing from vendors and consumers.

This past spring was the first Extravaganza, which is hosted by Fort Worth Babywearers, and with just word-of-mouth advertising we had 53 vendors and over 200 consumers!  We received amazing feedback from vendors and consumers, which is just adding to my excitement about both events this fall.

Pursuing event management and planning is something I’ve wanted to do for many years, so even just this little taste of what it would be like to do this full time is almost intoxicating.  If I were to ever pick something that could give me energy when I’m exhausted or keep me going beyond any point that I feel I can, this is it.  Depending on the success of these fall events, I’m hoping to start launching other similar events (or not so similar. Major LAN party competitions, anyone?) all over the metroplex.  Just thinking about that makes me giddy, but also realizing that a lot can hinge on this fall for me.  So off I run to keep up with the vendor applications that are literally pouring in and contacting the companies I’m hoping to partner with (don’t want to spill the beans, but they’re pretty great).

If you’re interested in having a booth at either event, head here for the Fort Worth Vendors Page and here for the Dallas Vendors Page. There is a discount for those who participate in both events and spots are filling quickly!

 

Posted by: Morgan | July 27, 2011

Care Labels … a boring but informative post

It’s almost midterms in the world of summer academics and this quarter I’m taking two classes that I absolutely adore: Apparel Construction and Evaluation and Intro to Retail.  The content fits right into my interests, the professor (who is the same for both classes) is great, and I get along with most of my classmates (who are also mostly in both classes with me).  Monday in Apparel we learned about care labels, which was oddly fascinating to me.  Did you know that all manufacturers are required by law to have permanent labels on all clothing in the United States?  And most of the wording you see on labels is also required by law.

Although I separate my clothes from lights to darks, I’ve never paid much attention to the other items on the care label. And though I know this may not be interesting to many, I wanted to share the care label chart we got as a handout in class.  For those of you who are organized and everything, you may want to put it up in your laundry room (in fact, you probably already did coughDenacough).  Since starting this class three weeks ago, I’m finding myself paying much more attention to the care labels and actually following the directions (so many items I would have put in darks really say ‘Wash Warm’, so are now being washed with my “Lights”).

This may be a super boring post, but for those of you who have ever wondered what was on your care label, here you go!

Posted by: Morgan | July 22, 2011

Feel free

Quite a while ago I received a private message on Facebook that made me stop.

“Morgan, I’m rather jealous of you. I was writing a blog post about how, from my POV, publicly discussing the frustrations, difficulties, tears, etc. that come with motherhood is not socially acceptable. As I was writing I was thinking of all the times I’ve posted on FB about being frustrated with this or that and someone overreacts. Then I thought of you, and how you have no qualms about making a quick post saying that you’re currently or on the verge of having a good cry. So, I’m jealous of your freedom.”

My first thought one was of sadness for this friend who felt constrained by others.  What a sad world we live in when mothers feel torn down, criticized, and generally judged for expressing the raw human emotion that comes with being a mom.  Mothers (and fathers) are raising the next generation of people…we have actually mini-human beings put into our care…so who more could use encouragement and support than they?  This friend was speaking of times when she allowed to world to see through the protective walls she had put up, to see her true self at that moment in its fragile state.  At a time when she already felt beaten down by life, she felt judged for admitting that.  And how could one judge her, I wondered, if they had ever been in that place before?  And then my mind began pondering.

Over the past 2 1/2 years since I became a mama I have had several friends who I think of as being the ‘perfect mom’; they always have their hair and makeup done, a lovely outfit with some sort of accessory, an organized diaper bag, a nice car, an expensive jogger stroller, and their kids always have clean, coordinating clothes on (which is a big deal for me).  I often feel gawky and inexperienced next to them.  I watch them parenting their children with smiles and firm direction, and feel like I’m falling apart before their eyes.  We have children the exact same ages, but I find mys elf wondering with desperation where to find the parenting book that they apparently were given but that I missed, because they seem so much more confident and sure of what they’re doing that I am.

And then there would be one mother who would make a small comment to me, telling me that she felt so flustered next to me.  All the feelings I had about others she had about me. Or someone would say that I seemed so composed and put together as my toddler screamed at me during a playdate.  Sometimes there would be a moment when I would reveal my struggle and the woman I was talking with would completely relax and her face would light up “Oh! I’m so glad I’m not the only one!”.  There was freedom.

It was in direct reaction to this that I decided I wanted to be transparent.  Completely and at all times, transparent to anyone and everyone.  This is already slightly my nature to be open with who I am, but this conscious decision felt different.  I wasn’t going to allow myself the vanity of concealing my flaws; I was supposed to be the one who everyone could be free around, even if only because they could feel that they had it more together than I did.

So I am who I am.  I work hard at fighting my pride and revealing to others what is really going on in my head and home.  This includes declarations of complete meltdowns at 3 weeks postpartum, and posting photos of my house wherein you cannot see any floorspace (or even my daughter, playing among the things scattered across the house).  It includes being honest about our financial situation and telling people the real reason I can’t make it to a playdate is because I can’t afford gas.   It also means I ask a lot more questions and try to listen to a lot more answers.

As I thought about my friend’s message to me I realized that I am free, but I fight for that freedom.  And once I’ve claimed it, I don’t worry if others feel I shouldn’t have it.  I ignore the attempts to push me back into an opaque box, and keep being free to be transparent.  It’s so wonderful because I have had so many more people tell me God has used me to encourage them than ever before in my life.  I’ve been able to make others feel ok and normal, so glad that they aren’t the only ones who don’t get the to the laundry or let their children run around in diapers all day long (every single day).

And then there are small moments when I get to peek into the lives of those ‘perfect moms’, and suddenly I realize I just don’t normally actually see into their lives.  Maybe they take the time to do their hair and makeup (on this topic, I still wonder at them), and perhaps they have the means to buy accessories, strollers and nice cars, and maybe their kids actually wear clothes (lots of people do)… but they also are confused about this whole thing called parenting, they have laundry scattered about their house when they aren’t expecting company, and they have plenty of postpartum breakdowns.  So I have concluded that none of us truly have it together, which I think we like to believe in theory but never live out with freedom.

I feel I must conclude these thoughts with admitting that any freedoms I have come from Christ.  I only hope that through me He can help more moms feel free to be who they are, to ask for the help they need, and to in turn be transparent for others.

Posted by: Morgan | July 22, 2011

Honey Bread Recipe

Ingredients:
3 cups of hot/warm water
2 1/2 t. active dry yeast (or 2 pkgs)
2/3 c. honey
7-8 1/2 cups flour (original recipe calls for 5 c bread flour and 3 1/2 c whole wheat. I just use all purpose flour for the entire recipe)
3 T butter
1 T salt

1. Mix yeast and water in a bowl and let sit until yeast has risen (15-25 minutes). I mix these in the bowl I’ll be mixing the dough in, to consolidate.

2. Add honey, butter, salt and 7 cups of flour. Mix.

3. Pour final 1 1/2 cups of flour onto counter/kneading surface, and loosely spread some flour across a larger surface. Dump dough out onto floured surface. Knead until no longer sticky.

4. Grease a large bowl and place dough in it. Cover with towel and let sit to rise. Wait until dough has doubled size.

5. Punch dough down. You may knead again at this point, but I normally don’t. Separate dough into two even pieces. Grease two bread pans.

6. You may gather dough for each loaf however you like. I typically just shape it into the loafpan size. Cover with towel and let rise. Preheat oven to 325*.

7. Once dough has risen to 1/2-1″ above top of bread loaf pan, place into oven. Bake 23-28 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

8. You may brush butter on the top of the loaves when they first come out. Immediately remove loaves from bread pans and set to cool. Or, like us, start cutting into right then and enjoy!

Posted by: Morgan | July 20, 2011

Awesome Boob Facts

Due to a lot of requests, and inspiration from Gentle Beginnings Birth Center, I thought I should put ‘Awesome Boob Facts’ up for easy access. As I am able, I will be getting references and sources for all the information I’m posting. If I post a quote, it will be properly referenced, so please reference to those persons if copying the wording. Enjoy!
Mae Burke Photography

#1: Breasts are able to change the milk produced so that it is customized for the baby who is nursing. A mama with a newborn will have different milk than a mama with a toddler.

#2: For every 2 years a woman breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of breast cancer by 50%.

#3: The longer a girl child nurses, the lower HER chances of getting breast cancer are.

#4: “They are fun” – Charlie DeLorme

#5: Women who have never been pregnant can lactate and nurse. This is great for adoptive parents.

#6: Breastfeeding reduces the mom and child’s risk of diabetes.

#7: If the child nursing is sick, the breast will begin creating antibodies to attack that SPECIFIC illness immediately and put those into the milk that the baby is drinking RIGHT THEN.

#8: Breastmilk is antibacterial.

#9: Isn’t just the fact that our bodies can produce food for our young kind of super cool?

#10: “[Breastfeeding] Lessens osteoporosis. Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis than breastfeeding women and are more likely to suffer from hip fractures in the post-menopausal years.” – Dr Sears, MD

#11: “The fat content of human milk changes constantly. Typically, fat levels are low at the beginning of a feeding and high at the end. Babies nurse eagerly to get the low-fat, thirst-quenching foremilk, then slow down and linger over the high-fat dessert at the end of their meal. …” – Dr Sears, MD

#12: “The special kind of fat in human milk is important to brain development. As newborn babies grow, the nerves are covered with a substance called myelin which helps the nerves transmit messages to other nerves throughout the brain and body. To develop high-quality myelin, the body needs certain types of fatty acids–linoleic and linolenic–which are found in large amounts in human milk.” Dr Sears, MD

# 13: ” Lowered risk of asthma and allergy. Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers the chances of a child developing allergies and asthma symptoms. ” Dr Sears, MD

#14:  “Breastfeeding has been around since the Garden of Eden when God created it to work this way. Its a system that He set up to NOT fail. When a woman is given the proper support and education regarding breastfeeding, fewer than 1% are truly unable to breastfeed, from a medical standpoint. And even if said women doesn’t produce enough milk to feed her baby exclusively, ANY drop of breastmilk is liquid gold for the child. Second best option after mom’s milk is donor (human) milk.” – Dena Barnes

#15: “A recent cost analysis, looking at just SOME of the health outcomes associated with breastfeeding, found that the United States would save $13 billion dollars annually and prevent 911 deaths if 90% of infants could be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.” – TX DHHS (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wi​chd/lactate/position.shtm)

#16: “Previous research has shown a link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of childhood leukemia, however, a new study reveals that long-term breastfeeding may decrease the risk of leukemia and lymphoma even more than breastfeeding for just a few months. Previous research has shown a link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of childhood leukemia, however, a new study reveals that long-term breastfeeding may decrease the risk of leukemia and lymphoma even more than breastfeeding for just a few months.
The study showed that breastfeeding for less than six months was associated with an odds ratio of 2.79 for contracting a lymphoid malignancy compared with children breastfed longer than six months.
Researchers from the United Arab Emirates University compared 117 children with various forms of lymphoma and leukemia who were treated at the same hospital between 1983 and 1997 to a 117-member control group of healthy children matched by age and sex. All children in the study were Bedouin Arabs. A report on the researchers’ findings appears in the January 2001 edition of the European Journal of Cancer. The researchers say that with this study and others, the protective effect of longer breastfeeding against childhood leukemia and lymphomas is now more firmly established.”

– Breastfeeding.com, Source: European Journal of Cancer

#17: “Babies with Down dyndrome may have heart defects, develop more slowly, and be at higher risk for cancers and infections. The good news is that your milk helps the baby’s brain develop, and breastfeeding protects her against infection and some cancers. Plus, breastfeeding is usually easier than bottle feeding for babies with heart problems. Feeding at your breast also exercises the same mouth muscles that are used in speaking. Know that your baby may need help breastfeeding. An IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) will be familiar with ways to help babies with Down syndrome breastfeed and can give you personalized advice.” -Catherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC

Posted by: Morgan | March 28, 2011

Cloth Diapering…Somewhere to Start

One of my best friends has been asking me for general information on cloth diapering for over a month. I keep telling her I’ll do it and then promptly forget all about it. Another friend asked me for the same sort of information this past week, so I decided it was about time to actually write something.

I’m honestly not that well-versed in the world of cloth diapering, but I know a lot of people who are and have some places to start for those beginning or thinking of doing so. This will not be all the information or options out there, but more what I know about and hopefully a good push in the right direction to find out more.

 

The first place I like to send people is All About Cloth Diapers. Autumn Beck is the author of this blog-like site, and she has reviewed SO many cloth diapers and accessories it’s almost ridiculous. She has links to separate pages for people who are new to cloth diapering and her personal recommendations. It’s a great resource and, instead of me going over all the different types of diapers and how they work, I’m going to send you to her page on that matter… right here. To look for her information or reviews on a specific diaper system, find links here. Want to know how to start cloth diapering on a budget? Go here.

 

Please read those links, because she says it much better than I could and has much more info than I even know off the top of my  head. If I tried to write it out, I’d most likely just be paraphrasing what she said anyway. And that’s technically plagiarism, so just head on over there, pleaseandthankyou. For what I’ve used and experienced, continue reading.

 

Our first cloth diapers were BumGenius pocket diapers, one-size. I only had four, so I would use them during the day and then wash them at night. I also dried them in the dryer, so I think the often washing and the heat (instead of hang-drying them) led to the velcro wearing out pretty fast.After awhile I tore out the velcro and put in snaps. While I like the complete flexibility of fit that velcro gives, I prefer the stability that snaps offer and the fact that she can’t pull the diapers off. As a side note, I never had blow-out leaks in them, but I was never able to get Em through a night without wetness wicking around the legs and into the sheets, even when double-stuffed. I definitely think this proves you can cloth diaper on a budget, as I was working with only 4 (and then disposable at night). If I’d had even 2 more, I would probably say I could have done it 24/7. You don’t NEED so many diapers to do this, it’s just much EASIER.

 

Next I tried my  hand at sewing my own. I played with a lot of different self-made patterns, but always made pockets out of microsuede and PUL. Overall, micro-fabrics seem to hold on to the ammonia smell of urine a lot. I’ve heard that before about BumGenius and also found it true with my homemade diapers (same fabrics as BG). This can be solved by stripping the diapers, using less detergent, and/or sunning them. Overall, I like the concept of pocket-diapers, since the middle insert pulls the wet away from the baby and the moisture isn’t sitting right on their skin. It does require stuffing and pulling the inserts out after use, but that never really bothered me.

 

After Logan was born, we were given a lot of prefolds and I bought three PUL diaper covers. I really like this system, because it’s simple and feels really economical when I’m just changing the part that I know is cheaper and reusing the PUL cover all day. It does seem that I have to change them more often than with pockets, though, since the wet is right against their skin and they notice it faster. I tried a Blueberry diaper cover, a Flip diaper cover, and a Thirsties diaper cover size 1. Of the three, I prefer the Flip. I’ve also seen many friends use fitteds or all-in-ones and realize that I think I’d prefer those to the systems I’ve tried so far. The modern AIOs have the soaker layers open to the inside of the diaper, instead of bundled and sewn up into the middle of the diaper. This allows for faster drying, and I love the idea that you don’t have to stuff or unstuff. I have many friends who LOVE BottomBumpers AIO diapers, so there’s a plug for them. I’ve never used the diapers, but I have felt and looked at some and they seem wonderful. I also hear wonderful things about Grovia. I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my friend’s company, SimpleBaby.com, and send you there first to buy cloth diapers. Maybe I can even work out a discount for my readers (maybe? hehe). She has Grovia, BottomBumpers, fitteds, prefolds, covers, wool, wipes, and lots of accessories.

 

Recently I’ve been introduced to the concept of wool and fleece covers. I don’t have any yet, but I do have some anti-pill fleece to make three covers for Emma this week. I’ll keep my blog posted on how those work out. I’m also making her some fitteds out of old Tshirts, so we’ll see how that turns out too. That is one thing I’ve found with all the cloth I’ve tried (which is, obviously, not very much), but once Emma hit 30 pounds all the diapers got too small on her. They cut off circulation to her legs now (she’s around 34 lbs). Most say, though, that they go to 35 lbs, but it really does depends on the child and their body shape.

 

Last, but not least, are the other things you may want to get. You can get wetbags, which are waterproof-fabric lined zippered bags, to go in your diaper bag or hang beside your laundry room. A diaper sprayer will hook up to your toilet for easy cleaning (I have never bothered to get one of these, but hear they’re handy. I just do the dip-in-the-toilet maneuver, which I don’t find gross but know of people who do). You can also get cloth wipes, disposable diaper liners and cloth diaper friendly detergent (all available at SimpleBaby, by the way). And yes, you do want to have a cloth diaper friendly detergent, even if you only use it for cloth diapers. I’ve used TinyBubbles (available on SimpleBaby), but currently have our Norwex detergent and it’s working great (which you can buy through me).

 

It is almost midnight and I feel like this post was very much random and eclectic. I may edit it as I think of more things and I definitely hope that other moms jump in with their thoughts and suggestions. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t know much but hopefully this gets you started in the right direction!

 

 

Now it’s YOUR turn! Comment here on the blog with your cloth diaper experiences, suggestions, reviews and questions! Go on, don’t be shy!

Posted by: Morgan | March 16, 2011

There has to be a revolution to be a revolutionary

Over the past week or so I’ve heard snippets referring to ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution’. Seeing as we don’t have television channels I didn’t pursue finding out more about it on my own, despite the rave reviews. That is, until yesterday. During naptime, and between bouts of cleaning and throwing laundry around, I went over to hulu.com to see what I could mindlessly watch. The finale episode of the ‘Food Revolution’ was on the first page, so I decided to try it out from day one.

Ohmygoodness, online friends and strangers, it is amazing! Whether or not all of it is true reality or producer-induced situations, the core message is astounding and absolutely real. I would encourage anyone I know to watch the entire series (only 6 episodes long) and allow themselves to be challenged about the types of foods they eat. Jamie Oliver is a celebrity chef from Great Britain who started what he calls the Food Revolution there in the past few years. He has revolutionized what British school-children eat during the day, and advocates a Pass It On mentality with recipes and learning to cook. He saw a statistic put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, an American governmental agency, in case you didn’t know) that stated Huntington, West Virginia, as the most unhealthy city in the world, and decided to start a Food Revolution in the United States, starting in Huntington. The show follows a few months of him introducing fresh foods into school cafeterias, working with families to fix their daily food intake to be healthier, and bringing the community at large to realize the problems with unhealthy eating.

Whether or not any of it is staged, you can see the true passion in his eyes and hear it in his voice as he talks about the people he’s trying to help. He doesn’t find it completely easy to integrate his ideas into the world of Huntington, and I found myself at the edge of tears several times. I was wondering about that yesterday when it suddenly occurred to me that I completely relate to him.

If you don’t have any desire to understand me, that is fine. At the same time, if you feel offended (for which I do apologize) or are angry with me, I will not try to tell you to not have those emotions. But, even with any of that, if you want to understand me, I would actually ask you to watch the first one or two episodes of ‘Food Revolution’.

While I feel I have never directly attacked anyone for choices they have made during pregnancy or birth, many women (many of them my friends) have felt offended or hurt by comments I have made about my own choices or beliefs about pregnancy and birthing.

I don’t ever want a woman to feel judged or belittled by me for any choices made during any previous pregnancies in her life. My heart hurts for every story I hear about pain, trauma, guilt, tearing, emergency intervention, and feelings of near-loss. I don’t want a woman to feel that she is wrong for what has happened. I want to help every woman I know redeem pregnancy and birth for herself.

In this culture I am slightly strange for the beliefs I have about pregnancy and birth. I believe that nearly every woman is capable of birthing her own children naturally and without medication. At the same time, I believe that with preparation and good support, those same women can have non-traumatic birth experiences. I don’t believe that birth is a scary, negatively painful event. I believe that a majority of emergency interventions are preventable.

If you watch the ‘Food Revolution’, you’ll see Jamie trying to introduce fresh food into school cafeterias. Why would anyone be upset about that? Why would someone object to giving a child fresh chicken as opposed to processed nuggets? Most people will watch this and find themselves cheering for Jamie as he tries to convince the people who have been doing it one way for years that his way will help the problems they are facing. They get angry at him. Perhaps they feel that if they accept his new way, they are admitting their way was wrong and bad. Perhaps they need someone they know better to tell them.

Women get angry at me when I talk about natural birthing or that most interventions are completely unnecessary. I’ve had friends crying, friends trying to tell me why I’m wrong and their baby would have died if they hadn’t had an epidural and emergency interventions, friends telling me to not talk to them about it ever again, friends telling me they hated their experience but there was no other way they could do it because their body wasn’t made to birth.

On one hand, I feel sad because so many of the people I know don’t seem to truly respect the information I give them. I do not just spout things because I woke up one morning and felt like that was what I wanted to do and, by golly, so should everyone else too! This is my passion; I’ve researched, talked to people, experienced it for myself, seen women try a different way and be amazed. And every time I see in a woman’s eyes that she owns her birth experience, I get even more excited to continue trying to touch more women’s lives.

……

The previous portion was written early last year. I just found it in my saved drafts and realized it still resonates with me. I am able to look back on this past year, though, and see how many experiences have taught me how to touch more lives with so much more compassion and empathy than I have before. I can only hope that future experiences bring even more compassion into my outlook on women, and not just the outcomes of their pregnancy or birth. Even so, I find moments when my words are brushed aside, either from an opinion of me being an extremist or from fear that I will judge decisions made.  I don’t say these things because I want to show people how they’re wrong. I say these things because I want people to see how good it can be.

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