Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Zombie for God

"Mom? So tell me about this Baby Jesus fella."

"You're three and a half, right?"


"Okay. Just checking."

"Mom? What's the story with that baby?"

"Well, a long, long time ago there was a baby who was born. He was a normal baby, but when he grew into a man he turned out to be a real rebel. People ended up thinking he was pretty special."

"Why was he a rebel? Did he go to jail?"

"Back when Jesus was born, the main religion was Judaism. A religion is like a special set of rules that a group of people live by. Well, Jesus wasn't happy with some of those rules so he told the church leaders that they should make some changes. The church leaders did not like being told what to do."

"Like when you tell me to shhhh? I really hate that."

"Yep, just like that, only different. Worse. Those church leaders really, really didn't like Jesus' ideas on how to change the rules. So, Jesus got into a lot of trouble. Some people really liked Jesus' ideas, but he still got into trouble. Things actually turned pretty violent. It's kind of a bloody story at the end."

"Like with zombies???"

"Well, no. There were no zombies. Although, people do say that Jesus came back from the dead. Only, instead of having a hunger for eating brains, he had a hunger for saving souls. So... I guess Jesus was a zombie. A zombie for God."



"That's really cool."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homemade Baby Wipes and Baby Body Wash – What Should Baby’s Bottom Smell Like?

In my previous post, I went on (and on) about how a simple search for a homemade baby body wash ended with me giving my entire laundry routine a makeover, and promised to give you the recipes that have been working for me.  At long last, dear readers, your wait is over.  By the end of this post, you will be obsessed with making your own homemade baby wipes (for free!) and figuring out just what favorite scent you want your baby’s bottom to smell like.  Making a wipes solution is so easy you’ll slap yourself for not trying it sooner.  Also, if you have little ones who are prone to diaper rashes, you just may find that a recipe for baby body wash can go a long way in prevention.

Making homemade baby wipes for free is as simple as digging through your old t-shirts until you find one that feels nice and soft, preferably of a natural fiber like cotton.  An old white undershirt donated to the tushy cause by daddy or the one you used to don on the weekend until you realized the pit stains were even too embarrassing to wear just for cleaning around the house will do just fine.  Grab a sharp pair of scissors and cut the shirt into roughly 6” squares.  Don’t measure; that’s far too much work.  This is not a craft for perfectionists.  Just eyeball it and you’ll be fine!  One large t-shirt produced about 28 wipes, which is more than enough for a few days worth of doody duty in my house.  After using them for a few weeks, I like them so much that I cut up another t-shirt to use for kid faces and kitchen messes.  The baby body wash is also a fantastic multi-purpose homemade wipes solution.  Because it is such a gentle recipe, you can use it anywhere on the body, head to heiney!

Similar to making your own laundry detergent, making your own wipes solution includes Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap.  It uses such a small amount, however, that I found it much more economical to use the soap to make other homemade cleaning recipes around the house.  We now have our baby butt wash, laundry detergent, hand soap, and foaming hand soap containing Dr. Bronner’s.  The wipes solution also includes tea tree essential oil, which I found at Trader Joe’s for $6.  Since the recipe only calls for a few drops of the oil, I also use it in the hand soaps that I make.  Tea Tree oil is a natural antibacterial agent that, when used sparingly, is as gentle as it is effective. 

Green Parenting Recipe #2: Head to Heiney Baby Body Wash
1/8 cup baby oil or olive oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (mine is almond-scented, but use whatever scent you like)
3 drops tea tree oil

Add all of the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake them to combine.  I keep the spray bottle in a basket with the cloth wipes next to the crib.  When it’s time to change Alex’s diaper, I either spray the cloth wipe a few times to get it wet, or spray Alex’s bum directly.  Olivia loves to help me out with either method, and Alex thinks getting his tushy sprayed is one of the funniest things in the world.  It really makes diaper changes fun!  When it comes to extra poopy messes, I do keep a box of disposable wipes handy.  It is true that I use cloth diapers, and therefore launder poopy diapers.  However, I generally have a feel for when Alex is going to drop a bomb and line his diaper with a flushable liner so I don’t have to throw the whole shebang into the wash.  The less poop I can throw into the machine, the better (though disinfecting the washing machine is a cinch).  We use disposable wipes for really messy diapers and our homemade wipes for wet or lightly soiled ones.  

Why do you want to use a homemade wipes solution in the first place?  Well, in our case, Alex was proving to be just like his sister in that he was constantly having diaper rashes.  It seemed like as soon as I'd get one cleared up, a new one would crop up.  Diaper rashes make it hard for me to use cloth diapers because the liners I use don't do very well at keeping the rash cream off the diaper.  That meant we'd switch to disposables every time we had to cure a diaper rash.  It also meant we were pretty much exclusively using disposable diapers!  Since I started using almost all cloth wipes and the recipe above, Alex has had only the most minor of skin irritations that I've cleared up with some extra airing out time.  We also only use disposable diapers for overnight.  I'm not sure if his skin is sensitive to the disposable wipes or the disposable diapers, but resorting to my own homemade wipes and baby body wash has definitely helped keep him in cloth diapers and out of rash cream.

There are about a zillion homemade wipes solution recipes out there and this is only one of them.  Zany Zebra has a pretty good compilation of baby body wash recipes if you want to check out some other options.  Have you made your own homemade baby wipes or baby body wash?  Feel free to share your favorite recipe in the comments section!

So, there you have it.  Now you can make your own baby butt wash, baby butt wipes, and laundry detergent for the entire family.  The final part of my laundry routine makeover involves the dryer.  Who knew wool dryer balls could be so cheap, easy, and effective?  Stay tuned…  Oh, and don’t worry.  The posts about my crazy are soon to follow.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Green Parenting - Making Your Own Laundry Detergent and Keeping Your Sanity Off Spin Cycle

Sometimes it seems as if you must be an absolute fanatic to really get into green parenting.  I mean only an all out green parenting zealot would fork over the kind of dough it takes to support a truly eco-conscious lifestyle.  All the upfront costs of investing in the future of our little ones’ planet add up very quickly since most of the products out there that boast their conservationist methods don’t come cheap.  Organic soaps and cloth diapers are some of the worst offenders.  Sorry, Junior, no college fund for you… I was busy washing your butt with $18 per ounce organic soap made from the tears of fair-trade fairies.  As my three year-old is fond of saying, Oh, for crying out loud!

Now, I do use cloth diapers, but I was fairly frugal about how I built up my stash.  I also made my own cloth wipes because it just made sense once I figured out that I was already doing diaper laundry and they would add zero work to my chore load.  Plus, they were free!  Because I made my own wipes, I decided that I may as well make a baby butt spray to go with them.  I found a recipe that would help combat Alex’s diaper rashes, but it called for ingredients that were potential bank breakers.  If I was going to go all Green Parenting Fanatic (GPF for short) on my cloth diaper and wipes routine, and needed to spend a whole bunch of cash just to wash my kid’s bum, I was going to have to find other uses for those ingredients in order to justify the cost.  So… I decided to revamp my entire laundry system.  You may think this means I’ve gone off my rocker again, but I can assure you my rump is firmly in the driver’s seat.  I am quite happy with the results of all this madness, and so I will share my secrets with you, dear readers.

Green Parenting Recipe #1: Making Your Own Laundry Detergent without Losing Your Mind
I found my recipe here at My Merry Messy Life and tweaked it based on her observations as well as those from her readers.  The nice thing about Sara’s post is that she does the math for you.  If you want to avoid going broke while making liquid detergent, it helps to know the numbers and have a recipe that uses easily found, basic ingredients.  You also want to make a detergent that will work.  Sara says she has very hard water and making liquid detergent with these ingredients works well on all of her laundry, including her cloth diapers.  There is nothing special about our water and it also works just fine for my laundry, too.  Without further adieu… the recipe:
½ cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (Meijer, $3.50/55oz. box = $.25/batch)
½ cup 20 Mule Team Borax (Meijer, $4.00/76oz. box = $.21/batch)
2 gallons water
1 cup Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (mine is almond scented, use whatever flavor you like – it will not leave a scent in your clothing; Target, $12/32oz. bottle = $3.00/batch)

(Add your ingredients in this order or you will be sorry!) Pour the washing soda and borax into a bucket.  I handed Olivia a whisk and had her stir them together.  We filled our bucket with two gallons of hot water and then stirred until all of the washing soda and borax were dissolved.  Finally, we poured in the castile soap, gave everything a little stir, and poured the detergent into our containers (a clean gallon milk jug and an empty gallon detergent bottle).  Give the bottle a little swirl before measuring our 1/3 cup per load just to make sure everything stays mixed together. 

This is a very low-sudsing recipe, making it great as a cloth diaper detergent.  At less than $3.50 for two gallons of the stuff, it is also far less expensive than specialty cloth diaper detergent.  I’ve been cleaning cloth diapers with it for a few days now and have no complaints.  There are no lingering odors on any of our laundry, diapers or otherwise.  And, we’re still laundering poopy diapers so if there were going to be lingering smells or stains, I’d definitely have noticed them by now.  Making your own laundry detergent is easy, ranking in at zero on the swear word meter.  Also, since this recipe makes two gallons, or 96 loads, of detergent, it is quite economical – especially if you are going to use your Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap to make other products in your house.

My next green parenting post will give you the recipe for Olivia’s favorite part of changing her stinky brother’s diapers: the butt spray!  This one also uses Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap.  See?  I’m helping you get some bang for your buck.  Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Twisted Sister

"This is my knife, Alex. I use it to cut things," she says, in a completely innocent voice.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Infants... with Colic

So, the sitcom laughter that usually plays along in my head stopped on about the very day that Alex turned two weeks old.  I’ve been dealing with a colicky baby for the past few months and, can I just say, infants with colic suck.  I mean it.  They suck.  Of course I love my son.  He is the most gorgeous boy I have ever laid eyes on and I adore him.  Now.  But.  If I never hear his ear-piercing, glass-shattering, milk-curdling shriek ever again after being subjected to it for three months straight, it will be too soon.  My son only stopped crying when he was asleep.  It was torture for everyone except Olivia who, oddly enough, was completely immune and, dare I say, even slightly amused by it.  Reuben said he was tape recording the Sound of Pure Evil, as I affectionately call it, so that he could come over to Alex’s house in the middle of the night when he is a grown man and play it on a loop for 3 months straight just because.  And he will deserve that, by golly, he will.

I have a cousin who was blessed with twin infants with colic.  There is a reason why mothers walk out on their families, and this is definitely one of them.  My cousin, miraculously, stuck it out for the nine long months that her children tortured her for.  I always felt bad for her, and I had never even had experience with any infants with colic.  But now?  I seriously don’t know how she is a sane person today.  I know she and her husband had help, but it still amazes me.  Alex was miserable for three months and I honestly thought he was the worst mistake I had ever made in my life.  You may read that last sentence and curse me for being the worst mother on the face of the planet, but that is the truth about how I felt.  When a baby cannot be comforted no matter what you do for him, it makes you feel like you cannot do anything right.  Including making a baby.  It doesn’t matter if you already have a happy child.  Infants with colic warp your sense of reality.

The thought that I clung to was that one day he would stop crying.  I mean, he had to stop crying, right?  RIGHT???  I begged his pediatrician for a cure.  She suggested gas drops.  I thought surely his intestines must be deformed because he obviously had a terrible time with gas and bowel movements, and gas drops were not the magic bullet that they were for Olivia's tummy ailments.  She just gave me sympathetic eyes and told me to cut caffeine out of my diet because I was breastfeeding (well, pumping milk, anyway – that’s another story), and he might have a sensitivity to it.  Yeah, right.  Take caffeine away from the woman who has to keep up with a three year-old on zero sleep because her baby has been up crying every half hour all night long.  Nice try.  NEXT?

But, he did stop crying.  Right around the three month mark, he stopped being a complete asshole and started being cute.  I still don’t know why.  Nothing changed except that my milk had weaned itself away and he was wholly on a diet of formula.  Sure enough, just as the infuriatingly generic and nondescript definitions say, his colic ended as quickly as it began.  One day he was shrieking like a banshee, the next day he laughed at his sister bonking herself on the head with her flip-flop and he’s been mostly happy ever since.

Ironically, by the time that Alex stopped his non-stop crying, Olivia had grown tired of being a big sister and decided that she wanted to sell her brother or at least trade him in for a little sister.  Also ironic, within a few short weeks of the end of colic Reuben and I began thinking about adding a third baby to our family.  So, what does it all mean?  I guess it means that we survived having a crybaby and, if you have one at home, you will, too.  

In Alex's case, there was literally nothing that helped him cry less except sleep.  We had to just wait it out.  Did you have any infants with colic?  What advice would you share with fellow parents who might be dealing with the same?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

At Last, the Birth Story!

So, long time, no blogging…  Well, I’m back!  I know you’re all piddling yourselves with excitement.  I’ve missed you, too.

When I last posted, Alex’s birth was a mere four days away.  I was confident that I would become a pro at breastfeeding, that I’d keep my postpartum depression under control, and that our daughter would happily accept her role as Big Sister.  Well, some of that happened and some of it didn’t.  I’ll get to all of it in time, but a heck of a lot has happened since I left you.  Where do I even begin?  The birth of our little evil genius?  Everybody loves a good birth story.

Ah, the birth story.  Alex’s is, strangely enough, almost boring.  Olivia was born after a flood of amniotic fluid that soaked our entire bedroom, a giddy five-minute drive to the hospital, and a little more than an hour of extremely intense, back to back contractions.  I had a scheduled c-section, but she beat us to the punch and instead I had an emergency c-section since she was still in a breech position.  Very exciting!  Alex, on the other hand, was content to stay in my womb until he was forcefully evicted.  I had been having contractions for days.  My cervix was dilated and effaced.  My OB and I were totally amazed that I made it to the scheduled c-section date without going into active labor.  So, Reuben and I got up at the crack of dawn, irritably waved at the video camera that his mother brought with her that morning, and made our way to the hospital.  After checking in, getting dressed in a gown, and being strapped to a monitor (which was registering some rather impressive contractions), I was shaved and prepped with a catheter (fun!) and we just hung out until it was time to meet the doctor in the surgery room.  

This being my second c-section, I was able to tell the anesthesiologist that I reacted very badly to whatever medication was in my spinal block the first time.  Instead of giving me morphine-based medications, he dialed in something else that made all the difference in the world.  My nasal passages didn’t seal themselves shut, I didn’t dry-heave the entire time, and my anxiety attack ended the second he gave me the injection because, this time around, it didn’t hurt at all.  For me, having a c-section before going into active labor and with a spinal block that only numbed me was actually a pleasure compared to Olivia’s birth.  

When the time came, I was wheeled into the surgical suite and transferred to a sterile gurney.  Everybody was there and on time, and very excited to meet the baby boy who was about to be introduced to the world.  Within moments, Reuben was sitting next to my head holding my hand and I was feeling my body being tugged at – no pain, no pressure, just the movement of my body being rocked a little as my baby was being lifted out of me.  Alex let out the most perfect, tiny cry a second after he was born and I sobbed with joy.  Reuben cried, the doctors and nurses rejoiced, and Alex continued his adorable, little newborn whimpers.  And then he let loose with a shriek that made everybody laugh, but that would soon be the most horrible sound on the Earth.  It wasn’t one of the signs of colic then.  At the moment of his birth, it was beautiful.

Just like Olivia, Alex was a natural at breastfeeding at first.  I was able to get him to latch right on in the recovery suite and, except for about ten minutes when the nurse took him for some testing, Alex was in my arms the whole time.  It was wonderful.  He had weird, crinkly ears and bright red birthmarks all over his face that admittedly concerned me.  Newborns are odd-looking and even the parents need a few hours to stop seeing them as strangers.  But I knew I was in love with my son and that he was perfect.  He had the most adorable, squeaky cry and obviously loved to be cuddled.  I could not get enough of him and thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of not being completely intimidated by my child as I had felt with Olivia.  I just wanted to hold him and love him, and that is exactly what I did.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Was a Breastfeeding Failure

Ah, breasts. Who doesn't love 'em? I consider myself a breast gal, I suppose. I mean, I love my breasts and had zero doubt in my mind that I was going to be using them to their fullest after I had my first child, breastfeeding like a champion hippie. (Oops, was there a pun in there?) I was so cocky about my yet unproven ability to breastfeed that I almost didn't even put baby bottles on the registry. Thankfully, I did because I was a breastfeeding failure.

There were a host of reasons why breastfeeding just did not work for me and Olivia. For one thing, I was doing everything wrong. Everything! That is what happens when you only read one book on the subject (a well recommended book, from a friend who had no problem breastfeeding at all) and all the other research you do covers the exact same three breastfeeding positions, feeding schedule, and advice on how to achieve a proper latch. While we were recovering from my C Section in the hospital, I had no fewer than 12 nurses, all of whom had completely different advice on how to breastfeed, if at all. Half of them pestered me mercilessly about supplementing with formula even though the one thing I was absolutely positive about was that I did not want formula supplementation interfering with my breastfeeding abilities. And then there was the lactation consultant who's tagline was "I breastfed five kids and never did figure out which breast made chocolate milk (hardey-har-har)". I left the hospital knowing even less than I knew when I went in, but at least I had a handy nipple shield to cover my destroyed left udder.

None of the three classic nursing positions worked for Olivia. She never latched on properly, as I once thought she had. Her improper latch was what caused such severe damage to my left nipple, and probably her rage each time she was offered a breast to feed from. See, when a hungry baby can't get enough milk during a feeding, it's kind of like you're just teasing them. I mean to tell you, she was one pissed off little girl! We had so many breastfeeding problems, I can't even remember them all to list. There was jaundice that made her extra sleepy around the clock. There was my own insanity hitting its peak. My inability to figure out the breastfeeding problems was causing her to starve. Just like my problems with postpartum depression and anxiety, I could not bring myself to seek professional help with my breastfeeding problems. The anxiety of nursing made it into a terrible, painful experience that my husband and I finally put an end to after a month. Olivia's first bottle feeding was the ultimate in breastfeeding defeat, and, yet, such a relief. The guilt I felt for feeling happy to be finished with breastfeeding was immense.

Now, Baby Alex is about to be born. Literally. My C Section date for his birth is a mere four days away and I've been showing signs of going into labor for days. He could be here at any moment. In spite of my complete breastfeeding failure with Olivia, I feel confident that I will succeed this time around. For one thing, I have a daughter that I am doing it for. Having a toddler makes a parent so much more accountable for their feelings and actions than before. I want my daughter to see what a wonderful, natural thing it is to just feed a baby the way it has always been done. I don't want this experience to be fraught with anxiety, pain, and frustration - I think a lot of those emotions transferred to her when she was a newborn and are still active triggers for her today. For her sake, as well as for Alex's and my own, I want breastfeeding to be a success. This time, just like my probable postpartum depression and anxiety, I am being proactive about seeking help. I have a treatment plan lined up to begin immediately after Alex is born to nip any mental issues in the bud, and I will have the breastfeeding help and guidance that I did not have the first time around. With a lot of practice, patience, and, of course, drugs, I think I can be the proud hippie breastfeeding mom that I always hoped to be.

Did you have breastfeeding problems? What were they and how did you overcome them?