Thursday, February 21, 2013

Diaper Free Cesilee Update- EC at 13 months

Sheesh its been too long since I updated. I apologize, parenting two kids can make you behind on everything. Well Cesilee is now almost 14 months. She is in that wannabe independent stage where she must try things on her own or she freaks out. Its been fun. Due to her mobility and independence her pottying has some challenges. We are both frustrated. Now dont get me wrong, we take a laid back take it as it comes approach and are careful to not put any pressure on EC. I am just trying to figure out how to help her go in the best place possible. She is resisting sitting on her potty half the time and seems to prefer standing on laying flat on her stomach while she goes. I understand sitting is not the most instinctual way to eliminate but I wonder how I can effectively catch without her sitting on it? I think that because she is learning walking and other major things right now she is less focused on communicating her needs. Also I will admit that I got too laid back and wasn't noticing her signs. I am going to be better about it. Its hard to try to take her to the big potty and she seems to not like that she has nowhere to rest her feet. Despite these challenges I still prefer having a diaper free baby and she prefers that as well. Maybe I should actually read a book on natural infant hygiene to get some tips on how to move froward from here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gluten-Free Vegan Meal Plan/Shopping List

 I decided that I would start meal planning again in order to save money and so that Chris doesn't have to venture out to the store every day after work. We are vegan and gluten free. Well my hubs is vegan when at home but does eat cows milk products and eggs out of the home. And I am gluten free because it makes me sick, so the kids and the hubs do eat gluten on occasion. Confused yet? I like to post pictures of our meals on my Instagram (MandeeTheGreat) and occasionally I get a comment from a friend or stranger about how "unhealthy" our meals are. Here is the thing...we don't eat vegan for the "Health Benefits." We eat vegan because of  the we don't believe in animals being murdered and tortured reasons. So yes, some of our choices are not the healthiest options..but they taste great and are convenient  We need convenient because with two toddlers life can be chaotic. And I would rather spend my time playing with the kids than preparing all my meals from scratch for hours and hours!
This is a week of our meals for 2 adults, a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 year old. We practice baby self feeding so our 1 year old Cesilee eats whatever we eat at dinner. Our son Ceaghan can be picky sometimes about eating certain textures. I included my shopping list so you could get some gluten free vegan ideas. Gluten free vegan doesnt have to mean taste free or boring!

Meal Plan:

Spicy BBQ Chickpea Burgers w potato wedges
Maitake Fettucchine in Cream Sauce
White Pasta with Asparagus 
Hotdog Chili Tots
Chik'n Fajitas
Thai Tofu Packet w/Brown Rice

High Omega Ranch Quinoa Burger/baco Salad
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
Quinoa Burger Wrap or Quesadilla
Peanut butter banana dog bites
Deconstructed Corn Dogs

Fruit & Yogurt
Waffles/Toast Sticks with Berries
Trail/nut mix
Fresh Fruit

Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream"
Raw chocolate coconut macaroons

Shopping List:

6 large garlic cloves
2 jalapeno
1 red onion
4 carrots
fresh parsley
1 ginger
8 bell peppers
3 onions
1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
6-8 Pitted Dates
10 ounces maitake mushrooms (Hen of the Woods)
2 leeks
fresh thyme
Salad greens
(4) Bananas

Meat Alternatives: 
4 14 oz. packet extra firm tofu
1 package (about 350g) firm silken tofu, drained
Chik'n Strips
(2) Veggie dogs

GF Tortillas
GF breadcrumbs
1 box (16oz) of GF Shell Pasta
16 ounces, brown rice fettuccine style pasta
GF Chibatta Rolls
Bread (GF and Reg)

Coconut Milk
Sour Cream
Earth Balance vegan margarine
Galaxy foods Mexican "cheese"
Mozarella Daiya

Fajita Seasoning
fish sauce
rice vinegar
Sesame oil
Coconut Oil
Olive oil
Vegtable broth

Amy's Chili
1 can full fat coconut milk

1 cup dry/uncooked chickpeas
4 bags of quick cook rice
3 tbsp sunflower seeds + 1 tbsp pepita seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons superfine brown rice flour

1 Cup Shredded Coconut
1 heaping Tbsp  Raw Cacao Powder
Parchment Paper

Frozen Berries
Potato Wedges
Tater Tots
Waffles/French Toast sticks gf/v
Qrunch Burgers

Trail/nut mix
Glutino breakfast bars

Items already here:
High Omega Vegan Ranch
BBQ sauce
Powdered Peanut Butter
Sea Salt
Chia Seeds
Cacao Nibs

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hey Sexy Mamas- This One's For You!

Beige, plain, solid, boring... these are the words that come to mind when you see most nursing bras that are on the market today. What is up with that!? Who says that mamas who are making milk don't want to look beautiful and sexy too? I was highly disappointed when I was pregnant with my first and on the search for some nursing bras. Where was the lace, the sex, the cool colors? I packed away my Victorias Secret bra collection and traded it in for these boring beige granny bras that had that convenient clasp. Once I had my son I didn't really feel sexy for awhile anyway. It takes you a bit to realize you are still a person and still a sexual being. These underthings didn't help at all. They make you feel old and boring. Maybe that is dramatic, but seriously a little lace does a woman good. After nursing for a few years I came across the brand HotMilk on a deal site. Now the name is enough to catch ones attention. I was shocked! "These are nursing bras?" I asked myself. "But they are sexy and pretty!?" I was able to get a great deal on one and anticipated its arrival. When I received it I tried it on and was so happy to find that it fit really great and was comfortable!! It actually fit better and was more comfortable then my other ones.Its not as easy as you would think to find bras that fit great, especially as a size 36E.  I went on to purchase more and now have a beautiful and sexy collection of breastfeeding bras that my husband very much so approves of. *wink* As much as I would love to be getting some type of crunchy eco-friendly made from a leaf nursing bra, that just isn't possible with the support I need.
I have discovered a lot more brands of non-granny nursing bras. I will share them with you so you don't end up with a drawer full of boring! You don't have to trade in sexy & pretty for comfort and convenience.
HotMilk: Black, sexy and comfortable! Check out all of their sexy styles!
(this is my favorite everyday bra...seriously!)

You! Lingerie: Cute prints that dont break the budget!
(Unfortunately they only go up to F sizes though)
Cake Lingerie: Really great quality and beautiful!
Amoralia: Black, lacey and lined with Bamboo!

Midnight Grace Maternity: Beautiful and Feminine
Le Mystere: Sexy mama nursing bra
(only goes up to F sizes)

Panache Lingerie: Pretty and comfortable & great under t-shirts

There you have it, gorgeous & convenient under things! You're Welcome. I do recommend that you go to a local lingerie store or boutique and get measured before investing in bras. I did this and I was shocked when I found out I had been wearing the wrong size for awhile! Most women are wearing the wrong size and with how much breasts change during pregnancy and postpartum its no wonder. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ceaghans 3rd Birthday Party! Mickey Mouse & Friends on Safari

I can't believe it has been 3 years since my baby boy was born! That means I have been a mom for 3 years also. Its crazy to think about, to think of how different life was before then. He was born on my 19th birthday. I didn't realize how much would change. I couldn't imagine how I would be  transformed into a different person once he was born. My life was suddenly filled with so much love and purpose that I thought it may burst. There is no one quite like my Ceaghan. He is so full of energy and keeps us laughing and on our toes. You cant keep up with him. It is wonderful. This little man surprises me every single day. He speaks in full sentences and carries on conversations. He dances and sings and plays pretend. I am so proud of the little guy he has become. I love him so much!
  Our birthday fell on a Wednesday this year. We decided to have his birthday party the Saturday following. I searched around then finally decided on the local zoo as our party location. I thought he would love to celebrate and then go see all the animals. I thought immediately that it would be cute to do a zoo or jungle animal theme. But then somewhere I came across a safari themed party that I loved. I decided to go with a safari theme but then got the great idea (because of his current love of mickey mouse to incorporate Mickey Mouse & Friends on Safari! I knew he would love it! It was so much fun planning this party. First I will show the "inspiration board" and then I will post the photos my sister took for me.

 From left to right from top to bottom:
Paper Straws (for mason cups), custom animal print wooden cutlery Mickey Mouse on Safari play-set, paper straws, bamboo print table cloths, animal print/bamboo napkins, Binoculars, print cups, place-mats, Children's pith helmets, Safari shirt, rustic cloth ribbon, leaf garland, natural cord, stuffed Mickey mouse on Safari, Safari print mickey head cut outs (confetti), Animal print fans, Animal print paper pack, mickey cuty out, mickey safari head ribbon, leaf decorations, mickey ribbons multi pack, mini cut outs, cupcake stand diy tutorial, Cupcake toppers, adventure stencils, animal print child sunglasses, Child's backpacks, compass/light key-chains.

And here it is all put together on the big day!
First the cake & cupcakes:

And here are the party pictures!

Monday, August 13, 2012

HFMD: Our Experience and What Has Helped

Thank God for Toddler-wearing!
Ceaghan caught his first childhood illness. It was only a matter of time really. It is HFMD (Hand Foot Mouth Disease) and it is very common and spreading like wildfire throughout the community currently. The reason it spreads so rapidly is due to the fact that the child (or person) who has contracted in is the most contagious 4-6 days BEFORE the onset of symptoms. It is transferred through saliva and other body functions like sneezing, coughing and in fecal matter. Its like a ninja virus that sneaks up on everyone when you dont expect it at all!
  We were visiting with Nana when it all started. He was happily playing around and excited and then he got very irritable and sleepy. I rocked him in my arms and he actually fell asleep (that is unusual for him) My mom said that he felt kind of warm but I didn't really think much of that. When we got him home he was still sleepy and seemed to get hotter and hotter. We weren't sure what was going on. I had taken him with me to the breastfeeding fair at our local health department the day prior and I was concerned that he had caught something nasty from there. But we believe that fevers are good for you. They are the body's way of fighting off infection. When you use medications to eliminate the fever you are stopping an important body process and drawing out the time it takes for your body to fight. Your brain does a wonderful job of keeping your fever from reaching over 104'. He was hot but not so hot that we couldn't touch him. He was also still playing and smiling at this point. That night he was hot all night and didn't sleep great. He was having chills.  The next morning he seemed a lot cooler to the touch and like he was feeling a bit bad. Towards the middle of the day he started complaining of mouth pain. He would point under his tongue and say "OW OW OUCH!" "My mouth hurts!" He kept wanting to nurse to soothe and comfort himself. I reached out to Facebook friends asking what they thought could be going on. We dont go to conventional doctors unless we really need to or just for a diagnosis and then treat things with natural/alternative medicines. Many friends suggested HFMD and others thought Strep could be possible. Someone suggested that he could be saying that his mouth hurts and it be his throat. I went to the store real quick to grab a few things and left him with Chris. I picked up a homeopathic fever and pain medicine. When I returned he would cry when he ate or drank something and was very upset. Chris and I decided to check in his mouth and throat with a flashlight. And there it was, his throat and the back of his mouth were covered in red sores! It looked extremely painful. Our chiropractor was closed unfortunately and I felt like we needed a diagnosis so we could efficiently treat him. So we all packed up and headed for the emergency room. Right before we left Ceaghan was so hot and lethargic and would not swallow his spit so I gave him a dose of the homeopathic remedy as we ran out the door. By the time we got there he had no fever, was playing, laughing and running around! He was making friends with random people in the ER and making many people laugh. We would have left but I still felt like we needed a diagnosis in order to treat the sores properly. We were seen by a Nurse Practitioner, who was actually very nice. She looked in his throat and was taken back! She said "WOAH, yeah that is one infected throat!" She decided to swab for strep. This was extremely painful and upsetting to Ceaghan. But she did get him a Popsicle for being brave. She told us how we needed to wait on the results and that if its strep she would recommend an antibiotic. We started discussing antibiotics (not in a argumentative way, we just were discussing) and I told her how we really dont do antibiotics unless they are extremely necessary. She told me that she thinks that antibiotics are over used and how she has been reading research about ear infections being best left untreated. She said they will go away on their own. I was so shocked to hear this evidence based information from her! I wish every practitioner would feel the same. Then I asked "If the strep swab comes back negative, what else do you think it could be?" She responded that it could just be a viral thing that we would watch. I then said "What about Hand Foot Mouth? I have friends that had it recently, and the symptoms sound similar." She looked intrigued, and said "Yeah I hadn't thought of that, I will go look up some information while we wait. We sat and waited, Ceaghan ate popsicles and flirted with the nurses.  She came in and told me that the strep test was negative and that she wanted to get a better look at his throat to see if it is HFMD. We held him down and she got a great look with the overhead light. She decided that indeed it did look like HFMD because of hos round the sores were. There is nothing that makes it go away, as with all viral things they need to run their course.
Ceaghan about to get adjusted by our Chiro!
  We went home and continued to give him the homeopathic remedy for the pain. I set out on a search for alternative medicines that would help comfort him and strengthen his immune system. We took him to get adjusted by the chiropractor the next day and also got some OnGuard essential oil blend from a friend. This helped her HFMD clear up quickly and I read other accounts of it helping others. We mixed a few drops into coconut oil and slather it onto his feet where the pores are the largest and it will absorb. OnGaurd contains oils that are immune builders, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. He has been improving and is completely himself other than the painful sores that are still in his mouth and throat. They are taking time to heal but I am sure it wont be much longer. We feel really lucky that Cesilee did not catch it or either of us. What a big reminded that we need to be more  careful about germs. Hopefully we can avoid any other illnesses for awhile!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

EC and our 7 month old!

  Well it has been a little while since I have updated about how the natural infant hygiene is going. I have been busy planning Ceaghans 3rd Birthday party and coordinating our local Improving Birth Rally For Change. Cesilee is now 7 months old. She can sit up on her own and even propels herself up from sitting on the potty to standing. She is not crawling yet though, she hasn't mastered both the arm and leg movements and ends up doing this very cute inch worm thing. She has been doing so amazing with giving us signs that she needs to eliminate. She urgently babbles, pops on a off the breast while nursing and even cries if its urgent. She is still dry during naps and goes upon waking and then around 15-20 minutes after that sometimes. Something that shocked me was that I randomly put her in her Grovia  diapers going out for a few days in a row and she did better in them than she ever did in trainers! I dont understand why but she would hold it longer and be more persistent about expressing her need. I dont really love having her in diapers, they are bulky and more work to get on and off. I was almost about to just only use them though if she had more success in them. But we started putting her in her trainers again and she is now expressing the need just as much in them!
  Chris is having more success as well. He would often miss her signs and end up with a lap full of pee before. But now she is getting his attention. I think the introduction of the tiny potty has helped as well. I purchased a Baby Bjorn smart potty, a clear tiny potty, and a pottete plus travel potty. I first bought the bjorn and she really was loving being able to sit on it on her own (she could even before being able to actually sit unassisted) and I realized that we were having more success using it. Before the potties I was walking her to the bathroom and holding her over the sink or the toilet to go. This was successful until she started reaching and grabbing things and becoming very distracted. On the little potty she can have a teether or toy to keep her hands busy. I keep the baby bjorn potty in the living room and the tiny clear potty on  the end corner of my bed. The pottete plus travel potty is great for keeping in your bag/vehicle. It has disposable liners but you can just put it on top of prefolds and then throw the soiled ones in a wet bag. I bought it because she had gotten so comfortable with going on the tiny potty at home that she didn't want to go being held over and sink or toilet while we were out. Also it is very convenient when we are at an outdoor location like a park that doesn't have a restroom.  I continue to get surprised how well EC goes while we are out. She will sleep on the way somewhere, wake up going in the carrier, eat, sleep some more and then wake up and get back to the car before going. Its amazing how much control babies have. She really does want to wait until her potty opportunity to go. Just from that you can see that this isn't something parents/caregivers force onto babies, it is what babies prefer and the parents/caregivers learn to help facilitate.
    We are still trying to figure out nighttime. I make an effort but it isn't going amazing. She isn't a loud demanding baby, she fusses lightly and even finds her own way to nurse while I am sleeping if she needs it. I think the issue is that I am not waking up when she is fussing the tiny bit she does before peeing. She can hold it for a while and then when she gets to an uncomfortable point she will fuss and release it all at once. This happens half way through the night and in the morning. I have tried waking up at 1am and sitting her on the potty, but she screams and cries and protests against it. She will not go and I think mostly she just is not awake enough. I am not sure what to do about this. We could try investing in layers of wool for the bed and keeping her nude with prefolds under her. I think that will be our next attempt for night. We will have random nights where I can get her to pee while nursing/still asleep and when she wakes up dry in the morning she releases a large amount in the potty. I wish every night could be like that. I'm sure in time it will get easier.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Crunchy Way to Dye Hair

My "virgin" haircolor
In high school I dyed my hair with the toxic chemical filled junk you buy at the drugstore. I loved having red/burgundy hair. I got a lot of compliments and it really brought out my green eyes. But it washed out really quickly and I couldn't keep up with the expense and found it annoying. I started growing it out during my pregnancy with Ceaghan. And during my pregnancy with Cesilee I chopped a bunch off and ended up with all virgin hair. My natural hair color is your average ashy medium brown. Lately I have been growing out that haircut and started craving change. But I am so crunchy that I use coconut oil as lotion, how could I slather chemicals all over my head?? I searched for an alternative. I discovered Henna. There is a lot of misinformation about henna floating around. It is definitely something you need to research before jumping into. There are a few reasons for this. The most important being that not all Henna is created equal. Henna is a powdered plant and ONLY creates red tones. Yeah those "Henna Hair dye" boxes at the drugstore that claim fabulous colors are NOT pure henna and most likely contain other herbs/dyes and things like metallic salts that you do not want on your hair. What you want to look for is pure "body art quality" henna. Known as BAQ henna. This will help  ensure your henna is just henna. Another reason you really need to research is that this is not something you do spontaneously with the thought of changing soon after. Henna is permanent and by permanent I mean so permanent that you will need to go to crazy damaging measures (think bleach, peroxide, stripping!) or grow it out if you dont like it anymore. It is something you commit to and you should be sure you want to go there. This is a plus for me as the chemical red dyes washed out insanely fast. Henna binds to the keratin inside your hair, this causes its permanence and also strengthens your hair. Another thing to research is which "type" of henna will help you achieve the red tone you want. Now all henna is red and it won't lighten hair, it simply puts the red on top of what you already have. But hennas from different regions give different intensity of red. This depends on the lawsome content, the higher the content the more red and the deeper red. Even the henna's with the highest lawsome content might not give you the result you want the first time. You usually need to do multiple full head henna's before achieving the color you want. This is completely safe to do as henna is good for you hair. I wanted a deep red wine color and wanted to avoid orange. After going back and forth on  which type to use, I decided on Yemeni Henna from Henna Sooq. The henna sooq website has a lot of helpful information. I discovered that adding hibiscus powder to your henna mix helps create redder tones. I bought some with the henna.
My results after two applications of Henna
I was so excited when my henna arrived. I couldn't wait to be a redhead again and cure my itchy scalp/shedding issues I have been having. When it was finally time to henna I mixed 100 grams Yemeni henna with warm water and 3 tablespoons of hibiscus powder. I waited for the dye to release and left it on my hair for around 5-6 hours. Its a bit messy to apply and it will get everywhere. I wrapped it with plastic wrap and put a cap over top. This will keep the henna moist. If the henna dries, it stops staining and will dry out your hair. I then used a bottle (yes the entire thing) of Suave Coconut conditioner to wash the henna out. You do NOT want to use shampoo and I recommend a silicone free conditioner to cleanse it all out. Rinse until the water runs clear. This will take a bit. My hair was firery and orang-ish! This was alright though as henna comes out this way right away but then oxidizes and settles down over a period of days. The color deepens and goes redder as opposed to orange toned. So wait a few days before evaluating the color. I waited a few and decided to henna again. This time I mixed the henna and hibiscus into conditioner instead of water. This conditioned my hair more and was easier to wash out. My hair has finished oxidizing and I LOVE the results! I will just be doing root touch ups from here on out now that I have reached the color I like. If I kept applying full head applications the henna would build up getting darker and more purple burgundy color which I do not want. My hair feels healthy and strong. It is the most manageable it has ever been in my life. Here is a video with clips and photos of the process:

Well there you go. I am a henna head now and loving it! I missed the red hair a lot. I am happy that I could achieve what I wanted in a natural and crunchy way. If I ever decide that I dont want to henna anymore I could grow it out again. Hair grows, so why not have fun with it?