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?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EC Daytime Cloth Trainer Reviews

 Realizing that diapers were a pain to take on and off to potty and that they contained too much absorbancy for the daytime, I purchased a variety of training pants for Cesilee. I have ended up liking certain styles for different reasons and certain situations. I have seriously over bought, but I wanted to try out many kinds and some cute prints are hard to resist. Cesilee is 5 months old and 15 lbs. She is chubby with a little belly and pudgy thighs. When she becomes mobile and her body changes, what works might really change. To be really honest though... to practice EC you dont really need anything. Yes there are items (like training pants, potty's, split pants) that make it a little more convenient, but they aren't required. You could really inexpensively use prefolds and receiving blankets to catch misses and a Tupperware or bowl as a potty and even use the bloomers that come with baby dresses as underwear! I like the convenience and the cuteness of the trainers and I dont mind the expense for that. Here are my thoughts on some types of training pants and an explanation of each that we use/have tried.
Ecapants Drop-style Training Pants $17.95 -$21.55

Waterproof EcaPants
Non-waterproof EcaPants
They are specifically made for babies who potty. They have a great range of sizes that fit from newborn all the way through toddler. I find them very convenient when out of the house. I could see how they wouldn't be as convenient under pants or shorts. Since it has been warm, Cesilee has been in shirts and dresses so we haven't encountered that problem yet. They have an elastic band that secures around the waist and then the front part snaps over top. When its time to potty, you simply unsnap or un-aplix the front from the sides and drop it back out of the way. Not having to take a trainer down or off and then back on is a lot easier, especially in situations where you don't have anywhere to lay baby down. I have tried both aplix and snap styles and I seem to have a preference for the aplix. This is so surprising to me since when we cloth diapered I was so anti-aplix; lover of snaps. The reason for this is ease of closing the Ecapants after opening them for use. I find when I am trying to reattach while juggling her in my arms it is easier to just stick aplix than try to secure snaps. One negative that I could see even stopping parents from purchasing Ecapants is the price. Some parents argue that they are simply an expensive version of using a prefold diaper secured with a prefold belt. The prefold/belt combination does not really transition well to outings. Overall I really love my Ecapants! They are ideal to me for times out of the home, especially the waterproof styles. They are well made and come in very cute prints and colors. I will definitely buy more when they go on sale or are listed for sale second hand. They are somewhat hard to find used but not impossible.
Blueberry Cloth Training Pants $15.95
She has a bunch of Blueberry training pant prints,
this one has sunset colored stripes.
I will be honest, the reason I was first attracted to these was the adorable prints!! I also was a huge fan of Blueberry/Swaddlebees diapers. I knew they would be made just as quality as the diapers were. The Blueberry training pants style is essentially absorbent underwear. Made to catch most of a pee so that you don't end up with a puddle. You pull them up and down and there are no snaps or other things to secure. A negative that can arise because of this is if you do end up missing a poop catch, it can result in an epic mess to clean up. These pants are very soft and can hold a pee miss very well despite not being waterproof. I like them for at home or going out to places where I know I will have space to take them on and off to potty. I find at this point that I can't just pull them down to her ankles to potty. It doesn't work out and I have dropped some accidentally into the toilet before. I like that the size small fits her great but has enough stretch that it seems like it will fit for a good while. I think that makes these a great investment. Since this brand is very popular and they are aimed for the potty training community, they are not hard to find used in excellent condition. The smallest size is the small size and so these would not work for younger smaller infants and newborns. They are made for the 20lb toddler who is potty training but like in our case could work on a chubby round baby. Measurements are more important than weight in cases like these.

Starbunz/Super Undies $19.99
I have some the original Starbunz Super Undies and the new style as well. They have a few different types. Ones that are pull on and have a sewn in absorbancy, ones that snap open and have a pocket and also overnight ones. I have some of the older style with the sewn in microfiber, a pocket and a PUL waterproof outer. And also some of the AIO style with no pocket: all of the absorbent layers are sewn in. The AIO style pulls on and off and the pocket style does also but has snaps as well. I like using them when going somewhere where I am unsure if I will have access to a toilet or when we are doing something that might distract me from her signs. Being waterproof makes a miss not as much of a mess. A bonus is that the pocket style can be stuffed with more absorbancy. Which means you could use them if you practice EC a night and need something as a backup. They seem well made. I just wish they had cute prints along with the colors and that the absorbent layers were made from natural fibers instead of microfiber. I find these a bit hard to pull on and off. We also have issues with them being too short in the back and her getting a plumber crack going on.

Guerilla Fluff Training Underwear
Guerilla Fluff Training Underwear $16.00
These are just so cute! I love the print choices of the cotton and how soft they are. They are essentially little underwear that have a lay in doubler to use as an training pant. It seems like a great idea to have them have 2 uses, however the lasy in doubled does just lays in. So when you go to pull these on and off the insert twists and falls out the side. There is nothing keeping it in place at all. I found this annoying enough that I rarely reach for them at all. I am sure they will be great once she is older and needing underwear. They are cute and very well made. I just wish they would update them with a way for the insert to stay put! The price of these and the issues makes me not interested in purchasing anymore right now.

Super Skivvies  $17.95
These Skivvies are very cute very comparable to the Guerilla Fluff Trainer. They are also an natural fiber underwear style with an absorbent insert. But these have a piece of fabric in the crotch where you insert in the insert! It really does make them much more convenient and I reach for them if I am needing a non-waterproof trainer. Once your child is potty independent you can simply leave out this insert and use them as very cute underwear. They are very well made and have a good stretchy waist band. The only downside to these is that they are a bit pricey. At around $18 a pair, these are not for the budget conscious. However for those who love collecting cute prints, these are a good investment. One must also be aware that non-waterproof underwear style trainers are not extremely absorbent. They will catch a bit of pee but not as much as say the blueberry trainer. We are not at a point yet that I would be confident leaving the house with just these on.

Gerber Training Underwear $9.00/3 pk
Gerber training pants are cotton with an absorbent fill sewn into the crotch. The 18 month size will shrink enough in the wash to fit chunky babies well. They are inexpensive especially if found secondhand. Most stores will not carry the 18 month size but you can find them on amazon or at online EC stores. I love these for Cesilee during her day alert/play time. I am expecially attuned to her signals during this time. I find them extremely easy to pull on and off. They do catch a miss but sometimes not the whole mess. Sometimes I double them up for more absorbancy in case. This is easily done. I wish they made different colors and patterns. I am planning on attempting to tie-dye the solid white pairs in the future to make them more fun. The pink prints are cute but I would love some purple or other vibrant colors. These can be used as underwear once baby is potty independent, which makes the low price an even better deal. I am not sure how these will hold up over time but I like having these around right now.

Daisy Doodles Bikini Britches Trainer in Hot Pink.
Daisy Doodles Bikini Britches Trainers $16.95
These are Custom made to fit your baby or come in sizes. The ones I have were given to us (I was so excited!) and are a size medium. However they do fit good and are well made. The outside is waterproof and the interior is made of soft natural fibers. They are very absorbent. I like them for trips out of the house when I am either out of clean ecapants or need a pull down option instead of drop down option like the ecapant. I like that even a full pee will not leak out of these. These are very soft inside. A big downside to custom sized trainers would be that baby would grow out of them quickly. They fit perfect and are very trim at the start and them baby grows out of them and its time to drop more money on a size up. I have 4 or 5 size medium yet they all vary in sizing, which I find strange. Some fit perfectly and others the waist is too loose. They also only have one set of snaps on the side so you cannot adjust them. They outer waterproof material comes in a wide variety of solid colors. I like them a lot but don't plan on purchasing more anytime soon.

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper/Training Pant with
a cute heart on the butt!
Charlie Banana Swim Diaper/Training Pant $12.88
Charlie Banana gets props for this 2 in 1 style trainer. They can be used as an waterproof trainer or swim diaper. They prints are very cute and the sizing goes all the way down to newborn. They will hold a tiny bit of pee before they leak. They are sized and therefore wont be a long term investment. Baby grows out of them quickly but they are very trim. I tend to use these as a swim diaper the most. They are getting snug though and are very hard to get up and down. I dont think I would purchase more until she needs a new swim diaper next year.

I also have some Imse Visme trainers and an Gro-via trainer. The Imse Visme trainers are in their smallest size and although they are usable they are very large and bulky. I love Gro-via and do still use their AI2 and AIO system but their cloth trainer is way to large even on the smallest setting to use on Cesilee. It is also very bulky and thick. I am keeping it and hopefully we can use it for nighttime once she is older.
Using dress bloomers as underwear. 1-2 sizes down usually
works the best due to them being made to fit over diapers.
  Occasionally I dont use a trainer or diaper at all and we do naked time or a prefold with a prefold belt to hold it on. A prefold belt holds on the prefold and allows you to drop down the front to potty. You can use an headband as a belt as well. Like I stated earlier in this post, using a prefold belt is much like an inexpensive version of Ecapants. You can easily do this at home or under wool for outings. Well that is if you dont have a crazy addiction to cute prints like me! And the final option is just using tiny underwear or if you would rather avoid the ridiculous mark up on those special made tiny underwear,  you can go to your local thrift store and pick up a bunch of those little bloomers that go under baby dresses! I have seen these for as low as 5/$1.00. They will work for boy or girl as there are a wide variety of colors and prints.
  As I said in the beginning, you don't need anything to practice EC but these items make it even easier. They make life easier when you are going through transitions and are having a lot of misses.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life is good.

Dancing on the porch in mommy's shoes!
Things have been going well. Ceaghan is potty trained. I can't believe how quickly it happened. We are working on phasing out his little potty and him using the toilet all the time. He is very interested in using the toilet. He has even had an accident because he didn't time it right to make it to the toilet. We also struggle with him not letting us know that he has to go while we are out. I can tell because he starts grabbing himself and I ask. When I get him on the toilet and he finally goes, I make it a point to talk with him about how it feels so much better to empty your bladder and that he should let me know when he has to go. This kid would hold it for 8 hours! He is also learning a trillion (okay a slight exaggeration) words everyday and he makes me so proud. I can't believe he will be 3 in a few months. This Thursday is the first day of meeting up with a toddler preschool co-op. There are 10 toddlers around his age to learn and play with. I think it is going to be very good for him. I love that this can be an extension of our homeschooling.
This is how I hold her on the potty
  Elimination Communication with Cesilee is going well. We catch some and we miss some. Some days are awesome and we barely have any misses and then others we seem to be missing a lot. We have been going out a lot enjoying the summer weather and it has become a bit tricky. I need some sort of travel potty to take with us. We were at a family picnic the other day at a park. The park had a port-a-potty instead of restrooms. I couldn't take her in there to potty and I was not prepared with a potty bowl or anything. So she reluctantly had to go in a diaper. I changed her often but I can really tell that she has the preference to go on a potty. I am looking into the "Pottete Plus" travel potty/seat. I think I could fit it into my diaper bag and be used in situations like this and on public toilets as well. Cesilee is 5 months old now. Wow did that go fast! I sometimes stare at her in awe that she is so big now. Yet when I look back at photographs and video clips of her premature 5lb self, I am shocked. She has come so far and is such a beautiful blessing! She started babbling as well, which she has been trying to use to communicate the need to eliminate. She makes this certain pitch of sounds and I just know its time. We almost always catch poop but the other day I had set her down in the exersaucer while I tried to hurry and make Ceaghan a sandwich. She was showing sighs but I was just hoping she would hold it for a minute (mistake!!) she couldn't thought and was only wearing Gerber training underwear. It was very full and had leaked out ALL over! What a mess to clean up! But I did learn that she is serious about needing to go and there is no waiting. She has been wearing trainers during the day and diapers at night. She used to wake up during the night and wiggle and cry before letting go of a huge pee. However she has stopped doing this and doesn't make obvious enough signs that wake me up. I think perhaps this is due to deeper sleeping. I have reluctantly been putting her in a stuffed diaper with wool over top to try to make it until morning. (it never does though, shes a super soaker!) I am hoping to figure out a solution soon. I think a wool pad under her would really help as well. The little round wash basin that we were using as a potty bowl cracked. I bought a vintage potty bowl off ebay and it works a lot better. But recently she has decided that she does not like going on anything but the toilet. She will hold it and not go on anything else.  I think this is just her preference right now and I am doing my best to accommodate this desire. The way I hold her on the potty matters as well. She seems to want me to hold her backwards on the potty with her feet pressed against the back inside rim of the seat. She will protest if I try to pee her any other way. But when she has to poop, she wants me sitting on the toilet with her. I am not sure why, but I will do whatever works for her.

Monday, May 7, 2012

EC and Teething: Don't Stress!

This is how I have been trying to catch
Well we have hit a little bit of a bump in the road; Teething. Cesilee has been teething for a little while now but it has recently in the past few days seemed to really be bothering her. Anything that comes within a couple inches of her mouth will get chewed on (including daddy's clavicle! OUCH!) We have been using a baltic amber necklace and a teething oil to try to ease her pain. She enjoys chewing on a wooden teether and my knuckles. Poor little babe.
  Now let me explain how this has been effecting EC. We were doing great, we were in a great rhythm and were catching a lot more than missing. Then along with the teething, she started only releasing her bowel movements while cradled up on my shoulder in the burp position. And this progressed farther into her also only wanting to urinate in this position as well. I am not sure if its going to last but I have been just taking it as it comes. She seems frustrated and cries out when I have been offering her to sit on the potty. When sitting with me on the potty, instead of going with me like usual, she got very fussy until I put her on my shoulder and then she releases. Baby's happiness is most important to me and I of course am not going to try to force her to eliminate in any way that she does not want to. I have been trying to find ways to catch these up on the shoulder eliminations the best. It almost always ends up getting on my arm or lap. She is not communicating her needs as well right now either and sometimes she cries out of frustration while pottying. I am assuming this is because she is so focused on the teething. I have been either holding a prefold under her bum while on my shoulder or having the bowl on my lap and trying to catch that way. But sometimes I am not seeing her communicate the need and we are having many misses in her trainers. OH YEAH, that reminds me! I have been trying out a few different types of training pants and I will be posting a review on them soon. I wan4 to try them all out for a bit before I can give a good opinion. Anyway we are just taking as it comes right now and trying to keep her as comfortable and happy as we can. If that means more misses than that is okay. I am confident we will get back into our rhythm eventually.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Potty Potty Potty

  Okay let me give updates on everything.

Ceaghan is his undies!
    Ceaghan is doing great with potty training. We introduced these cute little underwear with his favorite characters. We assumed that this would be a good idea and that he would do even better due to not wanting to pee on them. However it slightly backfired. He was holding his urine for a very long time until he uncontrollably leaked some out and then would try and run to the potty. We would ask him if he had to go and he would get really angry and yell "NO!" We had to make him realize that if he took them off to go potty that he COULD put them back on. He doesn't wet while napping or sleeping at night and is getting somewhat used to the underwear. We still have accidents but not often. He really surprised us last night while taking a bath. He asked twice to get out of the tub to go pee on the toilet! I just assumed he would pee in the tub if he had to go, but he really understands now that the toilet/potty is where you go.
Tummy time!
  As far as how EC is going, it's even surprising me how well its going! Last time I was talking about how we were just learning her cues and patterns and that it was barely part time at that point. Well now it is definitely a full time thing. I just cant go back to letting her sit in a diaper. Sure we do have misses sometimes but I am still aware of her needs and making a conscious effort, so I say that is full time. If I was putting her in a diaper part of the day and just ignoring her cues and letting her "fill" it up then I would say that is part time. I have even been changing her out during nighttime. She doesn't usually pee while sleeping. She will wake up to nurse and have a full bladder. She fusses a lot and then releases it. I am trying to figure out the best way to catch it. Right now I will have her in prefolds and a belt and change them out. Its pretty easy because she only wakes up every 4 hours or so and after latching back on, goes right back to sleep. The biggest problem is that I dont usually wake up all the way, so then I forget to change it out. I just switch boob sides and drift back to sleep. I have found that during the day she really has a toilet preference. I have also noticed that usually when I have to go, she has to go. We sit on the toilet together ( I sit in the back of it and have her sitting between my legs) and as soon as I go, it cues her to go. She will go in our little potty bowl but doesn't seem to like it as much as the regular toilet. I think because its not as comfortable. Her potty bowl has a plastic edge that must be bothering her. We seem to have gotten into a rhythm and we dont have many misses now. It is really annoying having to snap on and off her diapers, so I have ordered some trainers and in the mean time I like to have her in a prefold/belt or I use those bloomers that you get with dresses with a cotton doubler inside to catch 1 miss if it happens. My mindset has changed so much that I dont think I could go back to doing diapers full time. This is going so well and its awesome!
Hey you!
  I have been doing the vitamin D regimen for 3 weeks now. I take my pill every morning and I feel alert and normal. I have noticed a few pounds of weight loss but nothing significant yet. At least I am not gaining anymore! The biggest thing I have noticed is that I have a normal appetite now and I actually am satisfied for a duration of time after eating. It wasn't like this at all before, I could eat large amounts, constantly throughout the day and never feel full or satisfied. I always felt hungry and constantly thought about food. I knew this was happening but could not control it. I hope this normal appetite stays after I am done with the supplement regimen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our first time going out while practicing EC

Cesilee wearing a receiving blanket flat and headband belt
   I wanted to write out a little update on how EC is going. We ventured out of the house for the first time since we started and I am still amazed at how it went.  Cesilee and I went to our local ICAN (international cesarean awareness network) chapters April meeting. She was asleep on daddy while I got things ready to leave and then woke up when we needed to leave. I offered her the potty but she did not go. We put a diaper on her and I assumed that she would pee in it on the way to the meeting. She got upset in the car and was fussing and I thought, "Yep, she just went" but when I got to the meeting (late but I got out of the house!) her diaper was dry. I set down my bag, said "Hi" and took her to the restroom. She was doing the pee dance. (its like a wiggle and a certain fuss) so I took her in the stall, removed her dry diaper and put her on the toilet, the opposite direction so her feet were planted towards the back. I cue'd her and she immediately went poop and pee! Then she smiled and I wiped her and put her dry diaper back on and headed into the meeting. She was nursing but then started fussing again after about 20 minutes or so. I took her back to the restroom and she peed again! I was so surprised at how much faster and easier it seemed using the toilet like this. Then we headed back and 30 minutes later she made the poop face and I was in the middle of a conversation and missed it. She loudly pooped in her diaper and everyone laughed. Oops! But despite this miss, I am so happy with how it went being out for our first time. She really does seem to have control and waits for her "potty opportunity" to eliminate. I was completely skeptical before and now that I am experiencing  this for myself, I am amazed!
Ceaghan "reading" Cesilee a story while on the potty!
  This morning I realized that she can sit on the on toilet potty seat if I hold her up. My timing was off though and although we sat there for awhile, she ended up eliminating into a prefold on my lap 2 minutes later. But I will continue to offer it upon waking up. Ceaghan is really interested in her potty time. I think it is helping him with his potty training as well. It was very cute this morning while holding her on the potty, he got a book and insisted on "reading" it to her while she sat there.
  Diapers are getting annoying to take on and off and since she doesn't wet at all while napping during the day I am thinking that switching to just using prefolds/belt and trainers would work for us for most of the time. I will keep the diapers on hand though and for nighttime. I have been using prefolds/ receiving blanket flats with a "headband belt" (using a headband as a prefold belt works great!) and I simply take the front portion out to potty her and then tuck it back in. If we miss, they are really easy to change out. I am selling some diapers right now to fund some tiny training pants for her. These will be good for naps and going out. When I need that waterproof security. I also really need to get her a tiny floor potty, so we can potty easier while in the living room.
  Overall this is going better than I ever expected. My thoughts have changed so much. I view diapering differently now and I feel like this makes more sense, for us. I am still learning all of her cues and timing but that will almost constantly be changing as she grows anyway. I am sure challenges will come along the way but I dont see us going back to our full time cloth diapering days.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Natural infant hygiene (EC)

   I've mentioned previously that we are practicing natural infant hygiene or as some also call "elimination communication ( EC ). We only are doing this part-time and lately its been more observing and learning than anything.  It seems like a lot of people don't understand that EC is not the same as Potty Training. With EC the parents are given cues by the baby that its time to go and the parents are helping the baby eliminate in the right spot/timing. With Potty Training the parents are teaching a diaper dependent child that they must now eliminate on the potty after being trained to go in a diaper.
  After learning about EC I have really started questioning the use of diapers. Let's really think about this for a moment; you are a baby and you have a choice to go to the bathroom all over yourself in a diaper multiple times and sit in it until its changed or simply cue someone and have them help you sit on a potty to go (you don't sit in your waste for any amount of time) which would you choose? Its pretty obvious right? After thinking about it, it seems so unnatural to allow a baby to fill up a diaper. In many countries they don't use diapers at all and caregivers are just aware of their baby's needs. In these countries the babies are independently potty trained much early than here in America. There babies are usually trained by 1 year and whereas ours 3 or 4 years! Anyway, it just sort of seemed like it would be better for my baby girl. I see Ceaghan potty training right now at 2 1/2 years and he is doing well, but its still a process for him to learn. He was trained to go in a diaper for 2 1/2 years so it makes sense that its work to undo this.
  I am going to continue to help Cesilee eliminate on the potty as much as I can and I believe she will be doing it herself earlier. Not because she is forced to, but because its a more comfortable and instinctual way than going in a diaper. We will be using backup diapers and I am not sure yet how to go about EC at night.  I have been observing her patterns and looking for cues lately. I noticed that when she wakes up suddenly from a nap she will fuss a bit. I noticed that her diaper was dry when she woke up and then she would do this fussing and then pee. So I put a prefold down (I don't have a potty bowl yet for her) and held her in a squat while making a long "sssssss" sound. You do this so they know its okay for them to release and associate it for timing in the future. And she did!! She smiled and seemed happy after this. I haven't caught a poop yet though or even had the chance because she poops only every 48 hours or so. (This is normal in exclusively breastfed babies) However we have noticed in the past that prior to pooping she will make this "poop face" where she makes a tight circle with her lips and kind of stares off into space. This is her "poop cue".
   I might be crazy, especially this early in the game but I am seriously considering selling some of my giant diaper stash so I can buy tiny training pants, some prefolds/prefold belt, and a potty for her. All of these things aren't "necessary" but make things a bit easier. I've been changing her after every pee during the day anyway, so what is the point of super absorbent diapers? All of this seems so crazy to friends. Especially those who know I have a huge cloth diaper stash and loved them so much. But as a parent who practices Attachment/Instinctual parenting, EC is feeling more instinctual than using diapers, seems to deepen the attachment, and I believe that my baby is happier this way/better off in the long run.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Healing From Birth Trauma - Forgiveness

   I tuned into Oprah's life class tonight as I nursed my baby girl to sleep. This particular shows topic was forgiveness. The entire show was profound and contained many "aha" moments. There was one thing that was said that really stuck out in my mind. She said "Forgiveness is letting go of what could have been." This was such a strong moment for me. I thought wow isn't that the truth. It can be true for so many things in our lives.
   Of course my birth obsessed mind is filled with so many thoughts surrounding birth. I thought about the births of my children and felt the trauma from them. There are many things that happened that I must forgive. Things that others did, society did and decisions I made myself. I find that the more I learn about birth, the more I poison my mind with "what ifs." What if my water didn't break early, what if I would have done "insert various coping measures", what if I made a different choice and on and on. I realize now that by doing this I can't move on. I have to let go of what could have been and accept what did.
   There are reasons in which things go the way they do that we do not understand at the time and may never understand. My children were birthed this way for a reason. I want to focus on what positives these experiences have given me. Maybe it makes me a better Doula as I have experienced things first hand that many women who birth in hospitals do. I have experienced the fear of the unknown that comes with having a premature baby and know what its like to go through the harsh unnaturally strong contractions that pitocin provides. Finally I know what its like to feel unsupported and helpless during birth. I can use these experiences to be a better support to others while having empathy and understanding.
We can move on after birth trauma. Yes we will remember our births forever but we can find the positive, learn from the experience, forgive and move on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Family is lifes greatest blessing

Today is day 4 on the vitamin d regimen. I am feeling pretty good. I take a single 5,000 iu veggie capsule every morning. It gives me a good burst of energy and no bad side effects so far. I also have noticed that it is definitely already helping to control my appetite. I actually get to the point of feeling full. I am excited that this might help me get this weight off. I dont feel like myself and I dont feel healthy at this weight. This is the heaviest I have ever been.
  Okay to completely change the subject now  I want to update on everything else. Ceaghan is doing great still with the potty training. We have started putting him in training pants and are trying to teach him to communicate with us when he needs to go. We are keeping track of when he goes and when he has an accident so we can keep track of his progress. It has been hard the past two days because my parents came to visit from Chicago. We don't get to visit often so the excitement was at peak level. I could tell that it distracted him very much. I do not think it will take him long to get back into a rhythm though. I hope he starts doing better while wearing the trainers as he can't be naked all the time.
  It was great seeing my parents. I miss then so much and it's so important that the kids see them on a regular basis. Its very emotional for me, as my mother has some health problems and it causes her much pain to travel. We plan to visit them as soon as we can. Gas money is what inhibits us from visiting more often. This weekend my mother saw Cesilee for the first time since she was coming home from the hospital 2 days after her birth. It was beautiful to see her reaction to how big she has gotten. She has gained 9lbs since them and its very chunky and beautiful. My sister also came with my nephew who is only 6 months younger than Ceaghan and they have so much fun together.
Here are some photos from our weekend:

Nana and Cesilee

Papa and Cesilee

Papa and Ceaghan

Ceaghan and Cesilee
Ceaghan and I 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventures in potty training

  Ceaghan is 2 1/2 now and he is starting to potty train. I will be honest, this makes me extremely excited.  For a while it didn't seem like he "got it" and by that I mean that he didnt understand that you are supposed to go on the potty. That isn't his fault of course because when we choose to use diapers instead of practicing EC "elimination communication", we are in a sense teaching our babies that the diaper is their potty. Then once we feel they are old enough, we have to shake up their entire world and reteach them where is the right spot to potty. Also when practicing elimination communication your baby learns to communicate their needs unlike a diaper trained baby who must learn when they need to go and how to express that. Now that I am just learning about elimination communication I am starting to question my GIANT cloth diaper stash and wishing I would have practiced this with Ceaghan. Because of that I am going to do it part of the time for Cesilee.(that's a whole other blog post)
   Anyway we have started potty training by having him be completely naked while at home. We put a little potty in the living room and he goes and sits on it when he feels the need to. When he pee'd for the first time in the little potty we made it a huge deal. We gave high fives, hugs and kisses and praised him. He now uses the potty every time he has to go while naked at home and every time he does we celebrate. He also suddenly is holding his urine at night and during naps! We put a diaper on him anyway just in case, but we usually wake up to a dry diaper and he unloads it all in the potty.
  The next step will be testing out how he does with undies on or training underwear. I am concerned that having something close to his skin will make him think its okay to go, since he was trained that way with the diapers. Also he doesn't tell me right now when he has to go. He finds the potty himself and goes. Obviously this is an issue because he will need to let me know when he has to go when he isn't naked and at home, so that I can get him to a toilet. I actually have been surprised how much easier this has been than what we had thought. I am optimistic that he will be potty trained completely in around a month from now. We plan to keep night trainers on him for awhile though to combat any accidents. Also I still am facing many unknowns, like how he will do while we are out, if he will still hold his bladder while wearing underwear and how fast he can learn to tell me when he has to go. I will be honest, I am dreaming about half the diapers to wash and not spraying toddler poop for awhile!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I am deficient in sunlight.

 I am deficient in the sunshine vitamin; Vitamin D. I first found out about it during my pregnancy with Cesilee. I was feeling extremely tired and just not right. My search led me to articles explaining how vitamin d deficiencies were a serious problem among pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. I was doing both. I researched more about it and realized that being a vegetarian and not getting  outside enough (it was winter in the midwest) put me at high risk. I discussed my concern with my midwife at the time and she ordered a blood test to check my levels. The results came back at 34 and normal is between 30-100 or 35-100 depending on your source. She blew it off as not a big deal but knowing that having this deficiency during pregnancy can lead to complications, I decided to take a supplement. I wasn't very researched on it and the midwife told me not to take more than 1,000 ius, I decided to start taking 800ius thinking that would help.
   Now lets fast forward a bit to my current situation. I gave birth to my beautiful girl Cesilee 4 weeks premature (due to pPROM) on December 29th, 2011. She is perfect and healthy and doing great. I however have been feeling progressively worse since the birth. I have frequent headaches, fatigue, and weakness. The biggest thing I noticed is that I didn't lose ANY of the pregnancy weight (30lbs) and I even started gaining more weight rapidly. I was eating pretty well, exercising, and nursing two babies; how was I not losing weight?  I just dont feel like myself and my intuition tells me that something is off. I discussed how I was feeling with my doctor at my postpartum checkup but at the time she just assumed it was from the stress of having two young kids and being postpartum. When things got worse and I developed depression, I started questioning that. My friends and family were picking up on things and encouraged me to make another appointment. You see at the time I was thinking that my vitamin d problem was getting better and wasn't thinking that was the issue.  My symptoms seemed like those experienced by friends and family who have thyroid diseases. Since I have a strong family history I decided to ask for some blood testing to see if mine was off. Many postpartum women experience that.
 At my appointment with my doctor I explained all of the symptoms and why I wanted to have my thyroid tested. She thought it sounded probable and was going to get the testing done but also saw I was taking some vitamin d and wanted to check how my levels were doing. Well yesterday a nurse from the doctors office called me to let me know that my thyroid was functioning fine but my vitamin D level was even lower. It was 20; down 14 since last check. They suggested I take a very high dose of a vitamin D supplement for 8 weeks and then come back to recheck my level. The doctor wanted to prescribe a supplement of 50,000 ius to take once a week however it was not available in a vegan form so I told them I would find it on my own, over the counter. I am taking a vegetarian capsule that supplies me 5,000 ius everyday. If that midwife would have treated my issue right away, it wouldn't be so bad now.
 So here I am not about to start the supplementation in hopes that soon I start to feel a whole lot better and start dropping this excess weight. Apparently you need to have sufficient vitamin D levels to lose weight. I am also supplementing the kids with some baby vitamin D drops. Cesilee needs it most since I am deficient (and breastfeeding her exclusively) and she was premature.
 I will keep updating on how I am feeling during this supplementing process. I encourage everyone to get their level tested. It is a simple blood test and vitamin D is so crucial to your health. I read that 40-60% of the entire US population is deficient. In most places spending time outdoors and eating fortified foods is not enough. Its recommended that everyone take a supplement to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
Here are some more links to learn about vitamin D deficiency and how to prevent it:
Women to Women; Vitamin D and your health
WebMD: Vitamin D Deficiency Overview
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Pregnancy Complication
Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: clinical trial
World Health Orginization: Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy to prevent pre-eclampsia/eclampsia
Optimum levels of vitamin D during pregnancy
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D news

The expected introduction

  My name is Mandee and I confess it, I have got a lot of crunch! I am married to an awesome guy name  Chris (who happens to be the worlds best father) and we have 2 crunchy attached kids; Ceaghan, 2 1/2 years old and Cesilee; 3 months old. They are really the center of my world. I also have a serious obsession (maybe passion is a classier way to put it) with all things BIRTH!
  I am a doula, breastfeeding counselor and soon to be Dancing for Birth class instructor. Basically I support women and their partners throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with informational, physical and emotional support. Its good stuff and it feeds my soul. I believe we all have a purpose and I am so happy to have found mine so young. My passion and purpose is not only to raise up strong crunchy children but also to support and empower women. This blog will be filled with a mish-mash of everything in our life. The crunchy, attachment parenting, vegetarian, barefoot goodness that it is!