Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ultrasound! :D

Today I had my ultrasound! I got to see this little baby that's growing inside my uterus. She... yes, SHE, was being camera shy so I didn't get any really cute pictures like I did with my son.

However, I am so stoked that I'm having a daughter! I can't believe it! :) To me, a son and a daughter are just so perfect, I'm wondering what I ever did to deserve this happy life. She looks happy and healthy and everything is measuring normal.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Parenting Naturally on a Budget Part 3: Laundry

These are just a couple tips to be more cost-efficient when doing your laundry, and better for the environment at the same time.

1. Wash most or all of your laundry in cold water.
Most laundry gets just as clean in cold water. It's a simple step to take. Exceptions are washing cloth diapers, clothes or sheets with bodily fluids on them, or anything that has sopped up massive quantities of milk (such as my milk-straining or cheese-making cloths. Or spit up rags.) Washing underwear and socks in hot water is the norm, but honestly I haven't found a difference in cleanliness if I only wash them in hot every other time.

2. Use less soap.
Most people use too much soap. The recommended amount of soap on the jug of detergent is usually too much. You can be just as effective by using 1/2 the recommended amount, or 2/3 if you want to be safe.

3. Make your own laundry detergent!
If you are concerned about the chemicals in commercial laundry soap, or have sensitive skin, then make your own! There are many recipes on the internet, and I will post one here. The powdered form usually does the best, but some washers will only take liquid detergent.

2 Cups Soap, finely grated (Fels Naptha is the most commonly used kind, but I make my own organic soap!)
1 Cup Washing Soda (Not Baking Soda- washing soda. I found it in my grocery store but you might have to go to a department store or Fleet Farm.)
1 Cup Borax (I found this at Fleet Farm. Sometimes grocery/department stores also carry it.)

Mix well and store in an airtight container. Use 2 TBSP per load.

Easy, huh? :) All ingredients are pretty darn cheap, and making laundry soap isn't hard at all. What soap you use determines how "natural" the detergent is. Borax is pretty strong stuff, so don't let any little kids near it. But it's also a great cleaning agent for heavy duty jobs as well. Sometimes when I have a really messy clean-up (like cat pee on the carpet) I'll mix some borax and baking soda with water and wash with a rag. It does the job quite nicely!

4. Line-dry if you can.
If you live in a neighborhood that will allow you to line-dry your clothes, do it! It'll save you money and be better for the environment. Some people experience scratchy clothes when they line-dry, and if this happens, just add some vinegar to the rinse cycle before you hang them out to dry.
Also, they make "laundry trees" for winter use. You put the trees indoors and hang laundry on those. I love using these because in addition to drying the laundry, they also humidify your house! :) You can also use these in the warmer seasons if you put them in front of open windows and it's not too humid out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Potty Training Journal

Day 3:

1. He now poops on the floor right next to his potty, but won't go inside it. Augh!

2. I... think he ate some of his own poop. :( Not dwelling on that too much...

3. He will sit on the grown-up potty as long as I let him read his dinosaur book while he's up there. :) Still never used it for its intended purpose, but at least he'll sit and try.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Potty Training Journal


Here's how my day went.

1. Kept him in a disposable while we ate breakfast and I cleaned up the house, getting everything off the floor, rolling rugs up and storing them because I KNEW what I was getting into!

2. Set him on the potty while I went too. He peed! YAY! Annnnnd then subsequently tried to play with the pee...

3. On second thought, I don't think he has the concept quite down. Put the potty in easy reach of him and he decided to put all his toys in it.

4. He now stands in the potty with both feet, puts toys in the potty, and tries to play with the poop that's on the floor. I am frantically trying to wipe up his accident with one hand while holding him at bay with the other.

5. He is now bored with the potty and won't sit on it for more than 2 seconds. I read to him: didn't work. Brought out a new toy: didn't work. Sang "itsy bitsy spider" with hand motions: didn't work. Guess he just doesn't want to sit still now.

6: Just woke up from his nap. He sat on the potty for a while: nothing happened. Then I put him in a cloth diaper and 2 seconds later: poop. Changed his diaper, sat him back on the potty: nothing. Of course.

7. Then again, he has been laughing and happy the entire day. Guess I am doing something right...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pregnancy Commandments Part 5

9. Thou shalt not covet thy pregnant woman's baby name

If you're a friend or relative, and you like a name we picked out, don't say "oh that's a wonderful name, I think I'll name my puppy that." It's not a puppy name, it's a BABY name, more specifically, it's OUR baby's name and OUR intellectual property. OK, so most baby names are not our intellectual property, it just FEELS like it sometimes. Either way, name your puppy something else.

Penalty: We might yell out "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT! I'M GONNA SUE YOU!" in a loud, angry voice. It might startle you enough to reconsider. Or, the conversation might go something like this, "Well, I'm glad that you like the name. However, it'd be too confusing to have 2 Jades in the family. I guess I'll have to give your daughter a nickname, like 'Wubby-wubby'."

10. Thou shalt not dictate to thy pregnant woman how to raise her child.

Maybe you've had 13 kids, maybe you just like to discuss childrearing despite having no real experience. But there's a difference between sharing tricks of the trade and dictating how someone else parents their child.

For example... Helpful: Using crisco or petroleum jelly on baby's bottom helps with diaper rashes. Unhelpful: If you let your baby sleep with you, he'll never learn to sleep in his own bed and become a dependent 30 year old still living in his parents' basement. Helpful: Sometimes leaving a fan on will help soothe babies to sleep. Unhelpful: Letting your baby cry for 5 minutes is cruel and wrong, if you do that you deserve to have your baby taken away!

Trust us, we have researched parenting methods and probably have figured out if we're going to spank or not spank, use cloth diapers or disposables, let our child run on the freeways or be strapped down in a padded room for their own safety. And if we don't know yet, we'll figure it out. Giving us tools to work with and use/discard as necessary is a lot different then judging a parenting method because you would never use it. If you have a solution to a common problem, by all means, we're all ears. If you want to put other parents down because obviously your way is better, shut it. We have better things to do than listen to such things. Like, painting the nursery for example.

Penalty: Bitch slap, with a "come to your senses!" in an imperious tone.

Pregnancy Commandments Part 4

8. Thou shalt not make dumb comments or ask dumb questions.

It's pop quiz time. Which is the correct response? Situation: A heavily pregnant woman waddles into work. You thought her due date was a week ago. You say... A. "Wow, haven't you had that baby yet?" B. "Look out, here comes the bowling ball!" or C. nothing, but get out of her way. I'll give you a hint, it's not A or B. A nice "good morning" would be fine, but no need to mention the baby at all. If she's still waddling around, she obviously hasn't had it yet, so no need to ask her if she has. And likening pregnant women to round objects, or waddling animals, is just downright rude.

Unless you're going to be in the delivery room with us, it's also rude to inquire of the status of our cervix, or sex life, or tell us how much your labor hurt or how much went wrong. First of all, we don't especially want to discuss our cervix, mucus plug, hemorrhoids, or vaginal discharge with casual acquaintances, co-workers, or extended family. Occasionally, pregnant women like to pretend that our bodies are private and maintain the delusion that the various fluids and developments within are NOT topics of casual discussion. To a close friend, it might not be embarrassing to discuss, but better err on the side of caution.

Secondly, complete strangers need not ask personal questions such as "were you trying, or was it an accident?" (Nope this baby is completely unasked for, just like your comments) or "you do know they make a pill to prevent that, right?" (Why no sir, in fact, where do babies come from?) or, if we're having twins, "are they natural?" (Nope they're... alien babies?)

Thirdly, pregnant women worry enough. We don't need to hear how you were in agony for 36 hours before they rushed you in for a c-section and didn't let you hold your baby afterward. All these imagined fears are already floating around in our heads. We go through life wondering if our baby is going to come out with Down Syndrome, or need to be in the NICU for months, or have a fatal condition. We already think about labor like a soldier thinks about being sent into a war zone... will we survive? Unless you would willingly tell a new recruit about how your uncle was blown to bits in Iraq, don't tell a pregnant woman the grisly details of your friend's childbirth.

Penalty: Usually a nice, snarky comment is warranted. A glare and snarl also does the trick.

Pregnancy Commandments Part 3

6. Thou shalt not commit to plans without consulting thy pregnant woman.

Travel is uncomfortable. Especially in the third trimester, when pretty much anything is uncomfortable. (But even more uncomfortable when you don't have a body pillow, ice, and a cupboard full of chocolate handy.) If you are living with a pregnant woman, don't make travel plans for the 2 months before delivery and 2 months after delivery. Yes, we know you are getting antsy, we are all getting antsy, and yes we know you need a break from all the baby stuff (umm where's OUR break?) but the fact is that at 8 months pregnant, we are pretty much an immobile, bitchy blob of baby belly.

Plus, what happens if we go into labor? The nearest hospital will not do... we must deliver at OUR hospital, with nurses and doctors who know us.

This includes visiting relatives over an hour away. Trust me, after stopping every 15 minutes at the nearest gas station so we can pee and stretch, you'll know why. Relatives 2 hours away can perhaps be visited up until the 8th month, but there will be mutterings under the breath.

Penalty: If you go, you'll have to go by yourself. And if you go by yourself, expect to find your belongings dumped out the window or given to the poor when you return, if you have the gall to return at all.

7. Thou shalt not steal thy pregnant woman's food.

Should be self-explanatory. Let me put it this way. Pregnant women are like mother bears. Crabby, crabby mother bears. Protecting hoarded food comes only second to protecting our young. Especially if that food includes snacks on days where food is scarce. If there are 3 bags of doritos in the cupboard, you might get by with sneaking a handful every now and then as long as you don't dent the supply too much. However, if your pregnant woman has a bag of gummy worms in the car on the way to the beach, leave it the hell alone. Her mind has made mental inventory of every single worm in that bag. Don't be fooled. Even though she is comfortable lying under an umbrella on a chair right now, in 20 minutes she will be hungry, and the only thing that will keep her from going into a hungry, homicidal rage is that lonely bag of gummy worms she brought along precisely for that purpose. So don't you dare swipe even one.

Penalty: A hefty fine, at the very least. (Fines are to be paid in chocolate bars, preferably.) If you are foolish enough to try to swipe a snack that a pregnant woman is currently eating, prepare to lose a limb in the process. Fines double if the snack includes ice cream or chocolate. Fines triple if the pregnant woman makes "mmmm mmm" noises when eating it, as it is obviously a treasured possession at that point.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pregnancy Commandments Part 2

3. Honor thy pregnant woman's cravings and treat them as holy.

So your pregnant girlfriend wakes you up at 2 in the morning, wanting you to go to the store because you're out of frozen pizza, and she NEEDS some frozen pizza to go with the jar of peanut butter. You have only 2 options, and neither of them include sleeping. Option 1: you mumble under your breath, go out to the store, buy her some pizza, (and while you're at it, everything else in the store, just in case) and go back to sleep. Option 2: tell her no, and listen to her clatter around downstairs trying to find something resembling frozen pizza, give up, and sob the rest of the night because she's hungry and the only thing she can stomach is pizza.

Just a heads up, sometimes cravings are not just cravings. Sometimes cravings are the only thing we can eat without throwing up. And, OUR options are, 1. throw up from hunger, 2. throw up from eating a nauseating food, or 3. eat what we are craving.

So please, just suck it up and tell yourself that this is just preparation for meeting a baby's incessant nighttime demands. You're about to become a parent- you knew that sleep was one of the sacrifices you would have to make, anyway.

4. Honor Father and Mother's Day, even if it is a bit premature.

It's Father's Day and you're not a father yet? Too bad, expect a date night anyway. It's Mother's Day and your bun is still in the oven? Too bad, buy her an ice cream cake anyway. For women, we become mothers long before our babies are born. We read books on mothering long before we deliver, we follow our fetus' development week by week, and we can feel the little bastard kick bruises into our ribs. Motherhood, by definition, (well, it SHOULD be the definition) is "voluntary torture", which begins long before the little devil makes his appearance.

Penalty: Buy us an ice cream cake. Seriously, that's all we want. Just buy us the damn cake and give us a hug. It's not hard.

5. Thou shalt not murder thy pregnant woman, despite the temptation.

It's the hormones. Really, it is. Hormones can turn a perfectly rational person into a raging psychotic drama queen. It's been all day and she hasn't quit sobbing? Just hug her and hold her until the clouds clear. She throws a toaster at you for saying it's too early to pick out names? At least listen to her suggestions. After all, she's already made a list of her top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names, the least you could do is take a look at it. She asks you to move the couch to a different corner AGAIN? Well, at least you're getting a workout.

Penalty: Well, killing a pregnant woman is 2 counts of murder. That said, we do have some sympathy for you for having to put up with us. Just be patient and humor us if you can. After all, pregnant women are at least semi-rational beings. Babies are completely irrational. So count your blessings while you can.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10 Pregnancy Commandments part 1

This post is for husbands, boyfriends, lovers, family, friends, and innocent bystanders inflicted with a pregnant woman. Remember, although you are inflicted with a pregnant woman, we are, in fact, inflicted with a baby, hormones, and a body that feels like a pop can getting smooshed. So, here are the "10 Commandments" of pregnancy...

1. Thou shalt have no other women before me.

For partners: Self explanatory, you would think. Yet, as our bodies become less and less sexy, it's tempting to want to look elsewhere for eye candy (or worse). Even though we, as pregnant ladies, do not find our bodies especially sexy right now, do your best to find us attractive anyway. We'll think you're crazy, yes, but also take comfort in the fact that you at least want to keep us around long enough for us to pop out the damn thing.

Anyone else: Tell us that we're glowing, or cute. (Even if we look like miserable balloons at the moment.) It's your only option. Do not say things like, "you look like you used to be pretty" (yes, a real example of a comment by a stranger) or, "better put down those donuts, you'll never fit back into your jeans at this rate."

Penalty: A sock to the jaw, at best. If you imply that we're fat while we're actually growing a live human being inside our innards, you deserve worse.

2. Do not take the pain of thy wife (or girlfriend, sister, etc...) for granted.

"Your hips are moving out of their sockets and you have a horrible case of sciatica? Eh, women have been doing this for thousands of years, it's nothing your body can't handle I'm sure." Um, yeah, women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. Men have also been working 12 hour days doing hard labor by hand in the fields for thousands of years, so they have no right to complain about how their work day went, either. It's nothing they can't handle, right?

Penalty: Take a 10 lb rock and strap it to your waist. Wrap your chest and lower abdomen so tightly that you can neither breathe nor go 5 minutes without peeing. Inject yourself with massive doses of estrogen and wear nipple clamps constantly. Take tons of iron pills until you're constipated, then take a bunch of laxatives. When sleeping, replace the rock with a live animal such as a small dog, then try to sleep through its furious kicking. Do this for 9 months. For the first 3 months, maintain a constant state of food poisoning (but don't add the rock yet). For the next 3 months, add the rock/small animal, and for the last 3 months stuff a basketball between your legs while walking and tighten the chest/bladder binds in addition to the rest. Then go 2 more weeks. (9 months? Ha!) Periodically stuff a full hand and arm up your rectum to simulate cervical exams. Then, at the end of the last horrific 2 weeks, pull the pin out of a hand grenade and swallow. (To simulate childbirth.) When you do all this, you have the right to judge how much pain we are in and how much we can/cannot handle. If you decide to abandon the experiment, apologize profusely, buy us a hot fudge sundae, make us dinner, and give us a back massage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Parenting Natually on a Budget Part 2: Food

I don't know how any family can afford to buy all their food organic! If you can, kudos to you. If not, you're in the same boat I am, and the best thing you can do is prioritize.

You've probably heard that pesticides can have a devastating impact on our bodies. So, if possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticides when raised conventionally. These include peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, green beans, hot peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, plums, domestic grapes, and oranges. However, I don't worry about buying organic bananas, unless I plan on eating the peel!

If you can, buy directly from the farmer. Free-range eggs have much more nutritional value than the traditional cooped-up chickens can produce, but "free range eggs" at the grocery store might not really be any more nutritious than their competitors (and they will be higher priced!) This is because there are such lax laws about what constitutes "free range." So, if you can see chickens wandering around eating grass and bugs, and buy from that farmer, you're sure to get your money's worth and your body will get its nutrients. Also, buying directly from the farmer can save you a bunch of money, especially with bulk items, because prices are marked up in stores, and their products are fresher, and local!

Another option is to learn how to preserve produce yourself... freezing, drying, and canning... and then buy food in season and preserve it! I buy a half bushel of organic peaches in August when they are in season (through a co-op, which cuts me a deal) and then cut them up and freeze them in apple juice. I have frozen peaches to last me the winter.

There is no substitute for simply learning good nutrition and how to cook things from scratch. Unfortunately, you can buy all the organic cookies you want and still be unhealthy. The internet is a wealth of information on health and nutrition, although you can get bogged down in the "trends." My advice is to stick to advice at least 5 years old that the current experts agree on... and cook from scratch whenever possible. If you avoid the "trends," your pocketbook will thank you. And if you cook from scratch, you can often buy in bulk, make a large batch at one time, and then freeze/refrigerate meals to thaw out later. Consuming less meat is a good idea... most of us eat plenty of meat as it is, and it's expensive! If you can buy meat directly from the farmer, try to get the heart and liver as well. (They are chock full of nutrients!)