Browsing the archives for the Featured category.

Halloween Inspiration

Halloween Decor Idea:

Make this “Bats at the Door” halloween decor project by simply printing out this template, cutting and taping the shapes. Super easy and super cute dont you think?

Halloween Nail Idea:

Looking for some creative & festive manicure ideas? I thought this was creative!

 

 

Halloween Baby Photography Idea:

Got a new baby that can semi support themselves? Do a photo of them in a pumpkin. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and can be super adorable. We’ve made it a family baby tradition. Instead of the oblagatory baby in a bathtub photo we have baby in a pumpkin :)

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Idea:

Pumpkins having babies? Why not! Especially if you are a birth junkie like many of my readers :P Hospital births, home births, lotus births and more…

Halloween Baking Ideas:

Warning, don’t view this blog while hungry!

Unshackled from my food craving demons, finally!

I just realized that today I am not feeling like a slave to carb and sugar cravings! It has taken me 4-5 months to kick the cravings and get a handle on my emotional eating and my urges for crap foods. Lots of people have been asking me about my healing journey which is why I am sharing this post with you today.

In March 2012 I dove in to an elimination diet to help out my nursling and her tummy troubles. Turns out I also needed the elimination of many overly abundant food items. I started with eliminating processed sugars (still ate fruits, honey, etc), I also eliminated gluten (aka wheat). At the onset of removing gluten and sugars I was super emotional and generally just feeling wrecked. Not only did my body hurt from the detoxification/ food withdrawal it was naturally undergoing but emotions & aggravations were high and totally incurable since I was eating the sugars and craps to “feel better” in the first place.

I clearly remember anticipating the kids nap times so I could binge on terrible foods. You can’t eat a snickers bar in front of your toddler without having to share it with her right? And the last thing I wanted was for my kid to eat these crap foods… So I’d wait till she was asleep to eat one and it would kind of be my stress relief and moment of calm… much like those stupid Dove chocolate commercials try to make eating a chocolate out to be… except I never really felt better. It just sort of artificially masked things.

At first, the sugars gave me a high that helped me through and the idea of splurging on myself kind of made me feel good for a moment but eventually even eating sugar all day long while the kids were awake didn’t provide any satisfaction or fix things. So what did I do? I just ate more and more like a junky, hoping that with enough consumption I’d start to feel better…

The problem is this type of emotional eating does nothing to help support your body’s health and it actually does quite a bit of damage when it is as excessive as mine was. I was basically hooked on sugar & processed carbs. My body confirmed this with my withdrawal headaches, muscle aches, mood swings and overall frame of mind when these foods were removed.

What myself and Adalyn battle is a combination of emotional eating, candida overgrowth thanks to the abundance sugar and carbs (which likely lead to my leaky gut issues) and then a slew of leaky gut symptoms (aka food sensitivities and digestion issues). My adrenal stress, candida overgrowth and gut imbalances likely inhibited my oxytocin production postpartum and thus impacted my bonding with Adalyn. Furthermore, she’s been exposed via birth to my own imbalanced gut flora & candida. Plus, she’s also having to suffer through my leaky gut and food sensitivities via my breast milk.

Gut health is so important but you just don’t realize it until you don’t have it …

PLUS it is a long and painful journey back to health if you haven’t done permanent damage already.

I feel like the worst of it is over now. My incurable, funky, dry-skin finger rash is mostly gone. My insane food cravings are gone. My overly emotional need for certain foods is gone. My insatiable hunger is gone. My fussy, constipated baby is eliminating WAY more often and more easily. Sleeping has been easier with a happier, better fed baby.

I am still on the healing path though. Anyone that thinks they can just heal overnight is grossly mistaken. It takes time to remove all the built up crap from you system before real results can be observed. I’m handling the very infrequent gluten exposures well, without tummy upset but now I’ve begun to notice a sensitivity to certain dairy products… so the gut is still leaking and will continue to do so (especially with foods I eat daily) until fully healed. Food rotation and variation is really working for me. Even the good for you stuff can’t be eaten daily I am finding. If they are, sensitivities will inevitably pop up.

Furthermore, once the cravings are kicked and you begin to feel better you can’t just go back to how it used to be. Binging on junk food or sugar or gluten again will only bring you right back to where you started, much like a drug junkie. I know, I’ve had many slip ups that I had to learn from and you likely will too.

For the sake of helping us all along the healing path… Since gut healing is on my mind and the minds of many of my readers, friends & family let’s do a little sharing of information and routines:

The things we are doing here to keep the gut healthy and on the path to healing are:

  1. Make fermented foods at home. The idea is to recolonize the gut with good bacteria so that healing may occur. Note: store-bought yogurt, probiotics and such typically aren’t enough to help. If you do the fermented foods right you’ll be recolonizing the gut and also aiding in the body’s detox. Our favorites to make are sauerkraut, kombucha & kefir. We are always trying out new stuff though. The book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods is one I’d highly recommend for learning how to make your own fermented foods, it has tons of idea in there!
  2. Remove the troublesome foods from your diet and replace them with other food variations. For most it is sugar, gluten & dairy but that doesn’t mean you only get to chew on grass and twigs all day. Learn about ancient grains like Quinoa, Millet and so on (they are gluten-free!). Try out and make your own kefir dairy stuff. Kefir can be made almost completely lactose free and you can make ice cream, yogurts, dressings and such with it. Getting the chemical sugars out of my diet was sufficient and I didn’t have to go as far as removing all sugar containing foods (like apples and other fruits) to kick the cravings and issues.
  3. Replace the lacking nutrients and minerals. I don’t mean with supplements either. Raw sea salts are full of minerals as are various healing clays (pascalite clay) that you take internally. The healing clays can also be a great thing for removing those toxins from your body or to use while undergoing food withdrawal/ detoxing. Learn about Chia Seeds for health. Also, homemade bone broth (also vegetable broth) is important to make and consume for general health and mineral replenishment. Eat your greens and try to consume a ton of raw foods (smoothies!), as much as you can.
  4. Support the body’s natural healing processes. Besides eating a more whole foods diet and striving to really buy organic when appropriate I bought Slippery Elm Bark Powder, ginger root, pascalite clay and raw bee pollen to help support healing. Other things I’ve been thinking about are Natural Calm and I really wish I had bought Bach Flower Remedies while I was having food withdrawals.
What are you doing for gut health right now? Why/ how does it work for you? What advice would you give to those preparing to take on gut healing?

Kombucha: Digestions Friend & How You Can Grow Your Own Kombucha Starter.

Somewhere along the way we discovered kombucha at a natural food store, it was actually Nathan and his love of tea.

He was surprised when he took his first drink because of how different it tasted. Very much fermented with a hint of vinegar. He had me try it too, I wasn’t a fan but he managed to finish his entire bottle that day.

Kombucha is a probiotic rich, fermented tea beverage. It is considered a raw food that is beneficial because of all the probiotics and antioxidants that it contains. It’s great for digestive health and is also said to be a powerful detoxing beverage.

It contains lots of essential vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B12. It also contains antioxidants including EGCG, Glucuronic Acid, Lactic Acid & Acetic Acid. Bacillus coagulans & S. Boulardii are the probiotic organisms it typically contains.

After discovering firsthand how beneficial kombucha can be I decided I wanted to try to making my own because frankly it’s expensive stuff. Plus, our household is no stranger to fermented or brewed beverages. Turns out making your own is quite easy too!

Here’s how to grow your own starter:

Kombucha starter is as easy as one bottle of organic raw kombucha that is unsweetened combined with 1 cup of room temperature sweetened tea (can be black tea or green tea). All you do is pour your bottle of kombucha into a glass jar, then you add your cup of sweetened tea.

Some notes:

  • Be sure to sterilize the jar that you’ll use to make your kombucha starter in first!
  • Cover your glass jar with a towel so it can breathe and so it stays contaminant free. I chose to rubber band a towel over the lid. Then place your jar in a warm place to grow.
  • People in colder climates will need to wait longer than those in warmer climates for their starter to grow as the warmth of the liquid lends to the sugars being consumed and thus growing the starter.

My kombucha starter 12 days later. See the top layer?

Your kombucha starter, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), a Mother, mushroom, etc. grows at the top of your liquid overtime.

In the beginning it looks like a thin-film but it slowly thickens as your jar of liquid sits. Once it is about a quarter of an inch thick you can get started making your own homemade kombucha.

You can find the subsequent Kombucha recipe here.

What do you hope to teach your children?

Before the days of babies and backyard chickens I couldn’t fathom explaining things like where babies come from or that we eat animals for dinner. These discussions must be horribly crushing for children, right?

“Yes, Sally. Our yummy bacon did come from Babe, so to speak. We eat pigs, cows, chickens, etc…”

I think, for most of society, being so far removed from the “unpleasantness of life” makes it more difficult. I mean as an adult, if you haven’t come eye to eye with these things it is understandable that some level of anxiety would accompany trying to explain them to others.

Furthermore, when children only see foods already cut up packaged all their lives it is quite shocking to later learn about the animals those things came from.

The quest for ultimate convenience has stripped us of the life lessons and the appreciation that often comes with self sufficiency.

Take for example, the eggs Everly just asked me to make her. After watching her collect two from the chicken hutch, I felt an enormous swell of pride when she immediately asked me to cook them up for her, fresh from the hens butt.

Maybe the pride is because my girl knows where her food comes from, which hen laid them and what that hen was munching (gasp, mom’s precious echinacia again?) in the days before she produced the egg. Maybe it is because we worked damn hard to make this “yard to table” concept a reality for our kids and now we are getting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Another good example is, one day the backyard chickens will end up on our dinner table. However, I am not suggesting you take your kid and slaughter an animal in front of them, that isn’t the point. Heck, I’ll probably have N take care of the slaughter without me all together when it is time. The point is, it is the presented concept of a food animal that is important.

These chickens are our food, they are cute, cuddly and we love them but we have them to feed our family.

I am seriously happy to see Everly collecting eggs, asking to eat them and knowing that she’ll come away from her childhood with a better grasp of how food gets to the table, more-so than I did as a child.

“Mommy, where did this come from?” she asks pointing a the carrot on her plate. “Picked in the garden?” Why, yes. Yes, it was picked in the garden.

“Mommy, where did this come from?” she asks pointing to a piece of chicken. From an amazing chicken, sweetpea.

The lifestyle and subsequent choices we make as parents will teach our kids far more than we can imagine. That alone is enough to drive me to live more self sufficiently because I want my girls to know where food comes from and how to feed themselves, without relying on a grocery store. Someday these skills might save their lives or shape the world.

“Mama, where are the baby chicks in these eggs?”

Plus, bringing up my girls in this way indirectly teaches them about life, death and birth as they observe our day to day lifestyle.

Self sufficiency is the skill I hope to impart on my girls. What is yours?

 

A letter to an amazing girl: To Everly at 2 1/2 years old.

I look at you and see this amazing little person. You are not a baby anymore, not physically and not mentally. Your intuition is something else and I hope you never lose your drive to press ahead and to forge your own path.

You’ve always seemed to have your own pace and time table for stuff, your own little internal compass and time table.

At about 7 months old, even though we weren’t rushing to start solids, you began stealing my food from me. I remember the first time clearly. It was on a trip, for Mama’s birthday. We were eating takeout as a special treat. PF Changs, and you just reached out and stole some food off a fork for yourself. A noodle. From there your relationship with food began.

Once solid food became a regular thing, you gradually decreased your daytime breastfeeding sessions. Just before your first birthday you settled at only nursing before naps and before bed.

Then at 16 months you weaned yourself from breastfeeding completely! Mommy’s pregnancy probably had something to do with it but we were in no hurry to end that relationship prematurely… But when you felt ready you just tapered off and eventually stopped wanting to nurse. And you haven’t looked back, even now, with your baby sister nursing in front of you.

Shortly after self weaning you also took the plunge, literally, and began rejecting your crib. This set the stage for transitions to your toddler bed which you now rock like a grownup. We hardly ever have issues with you trying to come out of your room when it is sleeping time. It is crazy!

We are also still in utter amazement over your self-led potty training. You started out loving your nakedness and that in turn taught you about your bodily functions.

Before we knew it you were succeeding at using your potty chair during your awake-naked times. Then one day you just asked to sleep diaper free and that was that. You are even having public-outing-potty-success which seems crazy to me. There have been a few accidents along the way but your maturity and your understanding of things has made you this amazing little person, way earlier than we expected.

I feel like I got pregnant with your sister, I blinked and you just transformed from a baby to a little person. I missed the exact moment of transition and am still in awe when I look at you or when I see photos/ video of you as a baby. You are such a big, little girl now. So much growth, learning and maturing has taken place in such a short time.


I am so proud of and amazed by you but I also miss my cuddly little baby girl. It is bittersweet but proud amazement prevails. I am so excited to see what is next for you, my little preschooler.

Nap time went down the shitter today, literally.

Nope, I am not joking. See what I mean->

Yuck!

I got off easy based on some of the poop mess stories my mother told about me.

Still, Everly sure has a knack for pooping at nap time, and when she wants to read books while she sits on the pot she opts for her in-room potty chair instead of the potty seat that you see in this photo.

She’s also and observant one that strives to do all the things we also do, so when she see us dump her potty chair deposits in the toilet she catalogs that for future mayhem…

Funny that I was just remarking on facebook about how long she typically naps and how odd it seemed. Hope I didn’t jinx nap time for good.

Then, like she did today, during a fit of nap refusal she decides to have a nice messy poop in her potty chair.

Then she puts her clothes back on and takes her potty chair bowl to the toilet where she accidentally pours the poop on her potty seat, then she procedes to try washing the potty bowl in the sink.

The running water in the bathroom is what tipped me off. Did I mention she also wiped her bottom and tried wiping the potty seat mess? So many wipes were used that upon flushing the toilet- it backed up.

Now that the poop is all cleaned up I can laugh about it with all of you – but I can’t get the poop smell out of my nose :(

Climbing the laundry mountain… So high, the climb.

I’ll admit it, as a family of four I am now getting my butt kicked with the laundry.

It is not so much the cloth diaper laundry that is killer but just the shear volume of stuff to wash in a week. Sure the spit up outfits and bedding is a temporary contributing factor as is my inability to focus more than say five minutes on any one task before I am needed elsewhere… but I am honestly floundering in the piles of clothes guys.

Thankfully, piles of dirty clothes aren’t hanging around but I have a serious problem getting the clean ones put away. You see, right now there is this giant pile of stuff in the bedroom chair that I fold and mess with on occasion but basically we just rifle through the giant pile to get the wrinkled, clean but cat hair covered clothing item that we want to wear.

Dressers and folding clothes is kind of overrated when you have newborn in the house!

Luckily, this weekend my husband and I were able to knock out the laundry together because we stayed home. Actually, he knocked it all out as a treat to me.

Some ways we’ve found laundry success:

Be strategic about the laundry.
In our house, the key is folding the laundry and putting it away during Everly’s (our toddler) nap time. Folding and putting things away while she is awake means things immediately get unfolded and thrown about the house.

I wash, dry and pile the clothes in a room where Everly jumps in the clean pile and throws clothes around but when she passes out for nap time, if I have the energy and determination, I bust out folding and putting things away.

Also, USE THE BUZZER on your washer and dryer! It is a great way to remind you of when laundry cycles end and prevent the dreaded mildew smelling laundry that sat in the washer, all wet for several hours or days.

I also tend to wash clothes by laundry basket instead of mixing them all together and then separating colors out. In doing this I can avoid the sorting and carting of laundry all around the house.

On my motivated days Everly’s laundry basket down stairs gets divided by light & dark, then washed and dried separately. Then her dry clothes go right in to her room where they are folded and put away immediately, or jumped on and thrown around. Nothing wrong with letting the kid have fun right?

Our upstairs clothes get laundered together and then I know I can just cart them all back up stairs for folding and putting away.

Also, if you wash clothes predominately in warm/ cold water (like we do) and don’t have any brand new, potentially bleeding fabric colors in your load you don’t even need to divide colors. I only divide loads when I am washing new stuff, have major stains to treat or are laundering something new.

You don’t need all the fancy laundry products to get clean clothes!
We don’t use bleach in our house and I make my own laundry detergent for washing clothes, bedding, etc. I do buy special cloth diapering laundry detergent though.

Adding borax to a load of dingy whites will brighten them right up. Also, stains can be bleached out with the sun if you just hang them to dry outside. All my cloth diapers with poop stains get sun bleached as well as my cloth menstrual pads.

Any blood on clothes can be stain treated with some peroxide and then laundered in cold. Cold water rinses the stains out then you can launder with hot water to disinfect if you’d like. Don’t launder your stained stuff in hot water without doing a cold rinse first. The hot water sets the stains in.

Want soft clothes without the perfume and additives of fabric softener? We do! We use distilled white vinegar to soften and also freshen the laundry. Vinegar is great for removing stink from clothes too, like when our cat pees on a bath mat or when our cloth diapers start smelling like ammonia.

Doing laundry doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you just plan your strategy and arm yourself with simple laundry helping products you an dominate the piles easily and cheaply.

For more laundry tips and posts visit: http://www.blogher.com/fluff-and-fold-family or enter the $250 Sweepstakes at http://www.blogher.com/life-well-lived-moments-sweepstakes-3-share-moment-and-enter-win-250

 

Adalyn’s Birth Video: If you missed the live #twitterbirth now you can watch the recording

It’s taken five weeks thanks to the crappy video editing program and the general demands of parenting a newborn but I am relived to say…

The Live Streamed Birth Video Archive is Live

You can view it here, in three parts… Initially I had just hoped to have the archived live stream footage saved immediately after the broadcast ended (in two parts) but the actual birth portion of the video wasn’t saved properly.

Luckily we also were recording via camcorder for our own records. I’ve spliced the two videos together and finally managed to get them saved and uploaded for online viewing like I promised. Yay!

Adalyn is now five weeks old and she’s finally getting those chunky baby thighs and fitting in to our cloth diapers. She’s just sleeping and eating, you know newborn stuff. We are working through some gas and poop issues that make her unpleasant but she’s gaining good weight so she’s doing okay.

Everly is bored but being the best big sister, even with the attention shift of having a new baby in the home. On more than one occasion I’ve been told to lay baby sister down so we can play. Juggling Everly’s needs with Adalyn’s has been hard to do.

Everly has not lost a wink of sleep despite the very noisy, sometimes constant crying of Adalyn. She even tries to comfort her sister with a pacifier (that she now rejects) or a blanket. Just this morning she told me her sister needed more “nay-nays” (aka boobie) when she started crying.

I am all healed up and trying to get a handle on all my responsibilities around the house and with the girls. We are flying by the seat of our pants and hope to settle in to a routine soon, though we know that it isn’t likely for another month or two.

Baby Girl Adalyn Elizabeth is here!!

Baby Adalyn is finally here. Some of you may have witnessed her birth live here in the blog August 29th-30th. If you missed it recorded video of the birth is still to come (at the above link) as it requires some uploading effort and brain power that we’ve not mustered the energy for yet.

We’ve hardly come up for air since the birth and lots has been going on that has required energy & attention like the fact that all you lovely people overloaded my site and actually crashed the server my site was on, thus breaking the sites of other unsuspecting site owners.

*smile* & *giggle*

This makes a site owner quite happy and is a huge compliment but it does also require some work to get things back up and running. Sorry the site has been offline for so long.

The birth details: Miss Adalyn Elizabeth was born early 8/30. She weighed 7lbs. 14.5oz and was 20 inches long. She’s got thick black hair and some very dark blueish eyes. She’s a champion nurser already with her first latch just moments after her short cord was cut and she could reach the breast.

I’m ordered to 10 days of bedrest & recovery and can’t wait to enjoy my first post birth bath to relax… I have to wait another day for that though. Will share more about that later.

We are all doing well and enjoying getting to know Miss Adalyn. Everly is elated and speaks of her sister often. Shes also recounting the tale of the birth complete with reenactment sounds and positions. She’s a good big sister and can’t wait to start playing with her sister.

All really went well and continues to be on track so we are one happy, sleep deprived family right now. Stay tuned for more details, stories, videos, photos and more to come. Also, thank you for all the well wishes kind words and encouragement. They mean more than you know.


Here are the fun announcement cards we made up for the birth announcement:

All Around Girl Birth Announcement
Create photo birth announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

I am having a baby: Like right NOW!!

Just a quick update for those that want to hear it straight from the “horse’s mouth”…  Actually, I pre wrote most of this so I wouldn’t need much brain power when the time came.

Anyway, it seems the birthing time has come and we are so excited to meet our baby girl!

I am in labor finally!!! Yippie.

Here are the details:

I am 40 weeks pregnant, it is hard to say when labor started at exactly. We thought I had a slow amniotic fluid leak but it wasn’t enough to get realy excited about. Yesterday was filled with contraction timing. the day ended with surges going from 6-12 min apart. Nothing terribly regular or promising.

After an early bedtime last night I was woken up to some intense sweating and some more intense surges/ contractions. I timed the ones I wasn’t sleeping through and they were about 10 min apart but not keeping me from sleeping or anything. The insane heartburn did choke me and force me to sit up for a bit though.

This morning I am having surges under 10 min apart and expect them to continue to intensify and quicken. We are having a baby today! After a check from the midwife this morning we’ll likely begin the live streaming fun, pending my cervical dilation progress.

[POPUP=IMG1]Please stay tuned to this page: Updates from The Farm to follow the conversation on the sidebar and view the live streaming birth video.

What? A laboring woman can’t be expected to labor with her laptop! Geeze.