A Day in the Life – With 4 Littles

A Day in the Life – With 4 Littles

Then there’s the chapter book sitting on the coffee table. A reminder that I didn’t make time for us to cuddle up together on the couch, to read together and share giggles. But a reminder that tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities and a new chance for me to be intentional. A reminder of what is truly important and that it’s okay to let the not-as-important things go so that these sweet children of mine know that I love and care for them dearly.

Why You Won’t See Me Cry on the First Day of School

Why You Won’t See Me Cry on the First Day of School

 So, while I am sad that I might not clearly remember what it feels like to have a chubby toddler hand in mine or a ginormous preschooler hug on her first day of school...my hope is that in their place I will experience my fingers entwined with that of a woman’s as we prepare for her wedding, or the tight hug of a young adult as we drop her off for her first year at a university.

The Mother in my Mind

The Mother in my Mind

Maybe the mother in your mind is super crafty and throws amazing parties. Maybe she works a big corporate job and balances that seamlessly with motherhood, never fighting 'mommy guilt' or feeling like she has to choose between work and kids. Whatever the mother in your mind looks like, may I gently remind you: she's not real. She has amazing qualities that you can work toward emulating. There are things you can learn from her. But just like a character from your favorite show, (Lorelai anyone??), as much as you want her to be real, she's not. And she never will be.

You Can't Fix Everything

You Can't Fix Everything

It has been seven weeks and one day since my baby boy was born. Seven weeks of me feeling like I actually had this mother thing down and everyone who told me it was hard just didn’t get it like I did. Well today I got knocked off my pedestal.

Moms Don't Skateboard

I have expectations of what a mother does and does not do. She does stay home and finish the laundry. She doesn’t go skateboarding at 10:30pm on a Thursday. She does make sure all the toys are put away. She doesn’t engage in an activity that could potentially injure her, limiting her capacity to care for her 9-month-old.

Meet the Experts: An Interview with Leslie Payne

Meet the Experts: An Interview with Leslie Payne

This is part of our series, "Meet the Experts". In this series of posts, we interview a wide variety of men and women involved in every aspect of the field of maternal health. Today, we welcome Leslie Payne, a Certified Professional Midwife in our local area.

Meet the Experts: An Interview with Candy Beers-Kim

Meet the Experts: An Interview with Candy Beers-Kim

This is part of our series, "Meet the Experts". In this series of posts, we interview a wide variety of men and women involved in every aspect of the field of maternal health. Today, we welcome Candy Beers-Kim, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

A Different Kind of Leaning In

A Different Kind of Leaning In

"Whatever phase of motherhood you find yourself in, let me encourage you. LEAN IN...There’s no one way to do this motherhood thing, and thank goodness for that. We need all different kinds of moms to teach our kids about opportunities and to help raise the next generation.

From Emotional Tantrums to Emotional Intelligence | Guiding your Child toward Calm and Control

From Emotional Tantrums to Emotional Intelligence | Guiding your Child toward Calm and Control

"After all, they don’t call them “Terrible Two’s” for nothing.  I certainly do not plan to write-up a magical “how-to parent” discourse here, or at all for that matter, because there’s no single “right” way. But here is the one thing that all parents can do with their children that will equip children to handle the emotional roller coaster (cough*and parents*cough) experience during this stage: Build Emotional Intelligence."

Salad Bar Parenting: How to Get Your Baby to Poop.

As moms, we have the glorious duty of dealing with doody. Sometimes it comes on a schedule, sometimes it comes as a surprise, but sometimes it needs a little help. But how can you help your #1 priority go #2? Never fear, mamas. I made a list.

How to get your baby to poop:

  1. If you cloth diaper, put most of them into the washing machine. As soon as you start the load, a load will come.
  2. If going to the pool, put a swim diaper on your baby and squeeze their sausage legs into a one piece suit. As you set them into the hot car, you'll smell their warm surprise.
  3. Be sure to run late for church. As soon as you're ready to go, they just went.
  4. Two words: white outfit
  5. Find the only gas station for miles and find that there is no changing table: Gassy lassie.

Good luck, mama. You're not alone.

Salad Bar Parenting: The Beauty of Bananas

Salad Bar Parenting: A buffet of ideas, practices and products loved by a Motherhood Collective Mom. Depending on your season of parenthood or mothering philosophies, you may pile on what works for you or pass the salad tongs to the next Mom. ~TMC As our little one transitioned from exclusively "milk" fed into solid foods, I explored the world of homemade babyfood. Creating healthy and wholesome meals for my babe inadvertently led to my husband and I eating more fresh produce and fewer processed foods. The biggest discovery for our family was the beauty (and versatility) of bananas.

This yellow super-fruit is often a baby's first introduction into the world of food. It was usually the only fruit that lived in our junk food-filled house when we were newlyweds. Now that I know better, I sneak it into as many things as possible.banana + spinach = amazing breakfast

Mashed bananas are the perfect sweet addition (or substitute) for pancakes, muffins, and cookies. Cut up bananas are amazing on peanut butter sandwiches and cereal. But have you ever eaten a frozen banana? Frozen bananas are an amazing popsicle substitute if your kids love ice cream on a stick. (Frozen bananas are also the perfect soother for teething babes).

My favorite method of daily consumption of my yellow friend is in the form of smoothies. I cut up 4 - 5 bananas in a container and stick it into the freezer for at least 5 hours. It takes about 1.5 - 2 bananas to make a serving that satisfies a grown up with a sweet tooth. If we're enjoying a smoothie in the morning, I add spinach and almond butter with skim milk. If we're enjoying a smoothie at night instead of going out to get FroYo, we crush M&Ms or Oreos and make a Blizzard. We've saved money and calories with these frozen concoctions and I'm certain we're the skinnier for it.

Salad Bar Parenting: Baby Carriers

Salad Bar Parenting: A buffet of ideas, practices and products loved by a Motherhood Collective Mom. Depending on your season of parenthood or mothering philosophies, you may pile on what works for you or pass the salad tongs to the next Mom. Hello. My name is Laura and I am addicted to babywearing. It all started with my Moby. After having my daughter via C-section, I had to wait several weeks before I could carry her 10 pound body around safely. I began carrying her in her carseat as soon as I was able. However, the weight and awkwardness of that plastic basket injured my back to the point that I had difficulty sleeping. Rather than give up carrying my sweet daughter, I began wearing her in a Moby stretch wrap. Thus began my love of babywearing. 

To help those that want to learn more about babywearing, I gave each of my 6 carriers a rating of 1 out of 10, 1 being the "worse than a carseat" and 10 being "this is the best thing in the world".  I also compare each one to shoes to describe the comfort. I don't cover many technical details about each carrier, I only speak about my personal experiences with them. If you're looking for a detailed review that talks about the measurements and where it's made, I'm not your girl. If you want just a quick play by play of the carriers we've used and how we like them, then you’re welcome. 

Moby stretchy wrap - 8 out of 10

Like a well-made comfortable canvas shoe

From 0-4 months, my olive green Moby was my favorite. It took about 30 minutes to master but it was well worth the practicing and frustration. It's incredibly versatile and stretchy - perfect for beginner mamas and beginner babies. They retail from $25 - $40 and are found at most major baby stores. Joanna could fall asleep within minutes of me putting it on. I also liked it because it fit over my large chest and didn't irritate my C-section incision. 

Seven Sling – 4 out of 10

Like a strappy flat sandal: cute but not great for long-term use.

Autumn Blaze Seven Sling

[Image from Seven Slings' Website]

My yellow and red Seven Sling was my emergency sling when Joanna was under 20lbs.  It's valued at $40, but it was "free" with $12 shipping and $5 fee of some kind.  It was great to keep in the diaper bag in case I forgot to bring a carrier.  The sizes run small so I bought a size 5 even though the chart said I needed a size 3. It fit perfectly for several months.

Bjorn - 1 out of 10

Like a flip-flop: zero support, can cause immediate and long-term discomfort

 

[Image from Bjorn's website]

The Bjorn is like the 1980s Cadillac of carriers. They retail for $100 - $150. The price makes it seem like a good carrier, but it’s painful for the wearer and the baby. It hurts your back and doesn't support the baby's hips and legs properly. They can be especially uncomfortable for little boys. I could last about 30 minutes before I would want to put her back in her car seat and carry her. I only used the Bjorn a handful of times.

Girasol Woven Wrap - 8 out of 10

Like one of those weird "foot shoes": it takes time to get used to before it feels like a second skin.

Woven wraps are the most versatile way to wear your baby. They can be difficult to learn but they have a very dedicated following. (Just ‘google’ woven wrap and you’ll find a myriad of websites and videos dedicated to the many ways to wear your baby.) You can also do a back carry with woven wraps - you cannot do a back carry with a stretchy wrap.

Boba (3rd generation) - 9 out of 10

Like a supportive canvas shoe: I can wear it all day but it can get a little warm and sweaty.

Image of Carrier for Baby

[Image from Boba's website]

I have come to the conclusion that I’m a structured buckle carrier kind of girl. This style is my go-to carrier when I need something quick, easy, and comfortable. The Boba stays in the car at all times so I always have it on hand. There are multiple points of support (unlike the Bjorn) so it doesn't hurt after 5 minutes of wearing it. I've been able to wear her for hours of walking without pain. They can retail from $130-$150. It is WELL worth the investment! This carrier will fit Joanna until 35 pounds. The only reason this didn't get a 10 out of 10 is it gets a little warm in the Virginia humidity. It's all cotton and black, so that was my fault for not choosing a lighter color.

 

Onya Carrier - 10 out of 10

Like a sturdy sneaker: all-day wearability with great support and breathability

[Images from Onya's website]

The Onya is one of my favorite purchases. When we first got it, it seemed too big for her. It collected dust until she was 6 months old. When I brushed it off and put her in, it was perfect! I bought the Onya Outback, which is a more rugged structured carrier. It's mesh and nylon compared to my cotton Boba. It breathes beautifully in hot weather and it even comes with an attachment so she can sit in a chair safely! Genius. My husband prefers this carrier because it looks more manly. It's super comfortable, breathes well, looks nice, and Joanna loves it. Here is a great review of the Onya. 

 

The best thing to do is find a retailer that sells multiple brands. It's like finding a good pair of shoes - you have to try them on to find the best fit. There are also Babywearing groups in many cities where you can attend and try on different types of carriers. You can also learn about other types of carriers like ring slings, mei teis, Ergo, Beco, and many more. I am a member of the Babywearers of Lynchburg and have learned so much about how to safely and comfortably carry my baby close to me. 

Salad Bar Parenting: Greener Cleaner Recipes

Salad Bar Parenting: A buffet of ideas, practices and products loved by a Motherhood Collective Mom. Depending on your season of parenthood or mothering philosophies, you may pile on what works for you or pass the salad tongs to the next Mom. House cleaning

I’ve made quite a few changes this year in the way I clean our apartment.  Many baby steps later, I find myself with nearly all homemade cleaners and virtually no paper towels!

My desire to change began when Gabriel would fall asleep in the baby carrier, and I desperately wanted to clean the bathroom.  But I didn’t want him to smell all the cleaners I was using.  A friend of mine said she had begun making her own cleaners.  I’m not going to lie—I’ve always thought that was a little weird.  I mean, do they really clean as well?  Don’t you need the smell of bleach to really know that toilet is clean?  And doesn’t that take a lot of time (which I don’t have)?

I didn’t want to pay for the “green” cleaners at Kroger, so I decided I would try just one thing – an All-Purpose cleaner.  I was shocked.  It was cheap (cheaper than I could have imagined), green, safe (if you really want to, you can drink it—no worries of Gabriel accidentally discovering it!), and it, well, REALLY WORKS!

All I had to do was buy 5 ingredients (and most of them, you might already have on hand):

Vinegar

Baking Soda

Borax (you can get this at Kroger and Wal-Mart)

Super Washing Soda (Kroger and Wal-Mart)

Liquid Castile Soap (health food store, Target, Wal-Mart)

Optional: a naturally disinfecting essential oil such as a peppermint, lemon, or lavender

With these five ingredients, I now make All-Purpose Cleaner, Liquid Dish Soap, and Dishwasher Soap.  When I run out of my laundry detergent, I have everything I need to make that as well!

 

All-Purpose Cleaner:  (I adapted this from one of the hundreds I found on the web)

Combine 1 cup vinegar, 4 cups water, 2-3 tsp. baking soda, and a few drops of an essential oil (optional).  Pour into a spray bottle, and spritz!  For more intense cleaning, like for the tub and toilet, I’ll just pour straight up vinegar, and then sprinkle baking soda or borax and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.

 

Liquid Dish Soap:  (copied from http://frugallysustainable.com/2011/09/homemade-liquid-dish-soap-that-really/)

-1 ½ cup of hot water

-½ cup liquid castile soap (I usually use Dr. Bronner’s baby mild liquid soap, but feel free to use any scent just be sure to adjust/omit essential oils accordingly. You may want to use a variety that is already scented for a more frugal option.)

-1 tablespoon of white vinegar

-1 tablespoon of Arm&Hammer’s Super Washing Soda (used to thicken the soap)

-1/8 teaspoon of tea tree oil (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and then pour in 1 1/2 cups of very hot water. Be sure to whisk/stir this mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly blended (and the washing soda is melted).

2. Allow mixture to cool completely on the counter, stirring occasionally.

3. Store in any dish soap dispensing bottle and use as you would the commercial brands.

Note: You may choose to naturally increase the anti-bacterial qualities of the soap by adding 1/4 tsp. of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils.

 

Dishwasher Soap:  Place one Tablespoon of Borax and one Tablespoon of Baking Soda in the dispenser.  Voila!

I also mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water when I mop the floors.

I use those green scour pads first, and then I finish off with microfiber cloths—their woven fibers pick up and trap germs and debris.  It’s also nice to polish everything off, since the baking soda can sometimes leave streaks on chrome.  I then just throw the scrubbers and cloths in the washer every week, and I’m ready to begin again!

 

This is something that has really worked for me.  I love hearing about how others keep house.  What tips do you have?

Salad Bar Parenting: Coconut Oil

Coconut

Salad Bar Parenting:  A buffet of ideas, practices and products loved by a Motherhood Collective Mom. Depending on your season of parenthood or mothering philosophies, you may pile on what works for you or pass the salad tongs to the next Mom. I'm a cloth diapering mama. I cloth diaper for financial reasons and I love it. A few months ago my baby girl got a diaper rash and I tried a handful of different creams and products on her bottom with no success. I even switched to disposables temporarily and while that helped clear the redness, nothing cleared up the rash entirely. After receiving a number of recommendations, I finally decided to give coconut oil a chance.

Let me clarify that just because I cloth diaper and generally prefer natural solutions, I know there is a time and place for man-made products. Being the real American that I am, I prefer immediate relief from discomfort for both me and my child that over the counter creams and medicines provide. I tried a lot of those products (at the recommendation of my pediatrician) and none of them worked. So, like I said, I finally gave coconut oil a try.

After one day my girl's bottom was completely clear. Over 2 months of a diaper rash with trial and error and the answer was in a friend's pantry the entire time?! Who knew!

After I saw the incredible change coconut oil made on my babe's bottom I decided to do a little research. Did you know coconut oil is very good for you, 100% natural and has a TON of great uses? As I type this I currently have a coconut oil + baking soda combination on my face as an exfoliating mask. (Oh the benefits of working from home!) Here are a few other great ways to use coconut oil:

  1. Eat a spoonful when you need an energy boost.
  2. Use it to treat athlete's foot, ringworm, or other fungal or yeast infections.
  3. Use it on your baby's cradle cap.
  4. Use it to help reduce visibility of stretch marks or to prevent stretch marks.
  5. For nursing mothers, consuming coconut oil will help increase your milk flow.
  6. Eat a spoonful to improve digestion, help with heartburn, help overall immune function, or curb your appetite.
  7. Helps treat thrush.
  8. Mix with baking soda for a facial scrub.
  9. Whip in your mixer for a fluffy body moisturizer that stays soft year round.
  10. Use it to treat lice.
  11. Use it as a natural sunscreen.

The uses are endless! I am definitely a new believer in coconut oil and I plan to use it for the rest of my life.

Do you use and love coconut oil? Please share with us in the comments!

For more information about the benefits and uses of Coconut Oil, check out http://coconutoil.com/ To purchase your own, check out http://www.tropicaltraditions.com