The Power of 2

Now that my second child is 6…7…8… 9 months old, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve finally got a handle on things.

Yeah, I’ve been pretty confident in my ways for a while…but the truth of the matter is this: I don’t think any mom really knows if she’s doing it right…ever. Everything that my husband and I do for these children comes from love. No matter what the situation, if it doesn’t feel right in our hearts…we’re not going to do it.

There are several things that I found were significantly different with my first child than with my second…and I’m trying to figure out why people don’t tell you this!

First of all…the pregnancy in itself! With my son, I was literally glowing ALL. THE. TIME. People told me…and I felt it! I gained 70 lbs, I couldn’t tie my shoes by 7 months along, I couldn’t put lotion on my legs, I had to pee constantly, and it was the hottest summer in Indiana in decades…through all of that, though, I was happy. The unbelievable things that my body was doing naturally and the notion that I was MAKING a HUMAN were so overwhelming and wonderful that I was just always giddy! Fast forward a couple years, I’m pregnant with my daughter, my back hurt so badly so often that every movement was a struggle, I had mood swings like crazy (just ask my husband!), and to top it all off…I had a 1 year old to chase after. Maybe it’s not like that for every woman, but it was for me, which has me seriously considering whether or not to have another child for the sake of my sanity and my marriage!!

Also, all those friendly words of wisdom and tips from strangers change…DRASTICALLY! I used to get bombarded with strangers comforting my fears and telling me that “it all comes naturally” or “it just works out” or “it’s the happiest time of your life”. The second time around, however, strangers comments became a little more harsh when they found out I had a 1 year old running around. It became “oh, just you wait” and “good luck” or the ever frequent shake of the head and smirk as they walk away…like they have a terrible secret that they can’t bare to tell me. Even my mother, who had three little ones herself, seemed to be waiting for my head to burst!

All those helpful hints that came the first time around like “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “eat when the baby eats” and “don’t forget to take time for yourself” are completely irrelevant when you have a toddler to run after. Nobody tells you that your children will NEVER…let me repeat…NEVER sleep at the same time. So not only will you not be able to sleep at night with a newborn waking up every couple hours, but you can totally forget about the crutch of a short afternoon nap that you once had!

And all of that energy and focus and love and bonding time that was breastfeeding with your first is completely different when you constantly have to try to cradle a baby to your breast while trying to prevent your toddler from throwing his toys at the TV every two hours…because obviously, the only time to act like a miniature lunatic is when you’re mom is trying to soothe a hungry baby.

I distinctly remember the surprise and joy I felt when sliding into my pre-pregnancy jeans a mere three weeks after my son was born. The weight just seemed to fall off. All I can say now is that with missing as many meals as I have while juggling two minis these last few months is that I should definitely be closer to pulling those same jeans on as I am. That’s as much as I’m going to say about that.

Nothing’s easy with two. I still fear going to the grocery store or running ANY errand with two in tow while my husband is at work for fear that my toddler will run away and get kidnapped. I try to avoid it as often as possible.

However…

There are some positives that came from two that I also never expected. Let’s start by the way my baby girl has always looked at her big brother. I’m talking from the beginning, when she could barely focus on anything. The way that she looks at her big brother is something that I’ve never seen. There is so much love and trust. Even now that she’s bigger, my son can run and jump on top of her and be way more rough than I’d like, and she still just looks at him like, “I love this guy. This guy is MINE.” It totally melts my heart…every single time.

And I thought I loved my son before. I thought he was perfect when he was an only child. But I didn’t know anything! He has blossomed as a big brother! He has become so much kinder and selfless than I ever imagined a 2 year old could be!  Everyone told me, “He is going to be so jealous!” Well, granted he didn’t acknowledge her for the first 6 weeks of her life, he has never been jealous of her. He tries to feed her. He soothes her when she’s upset. He randomly runs up to her and kisses her on the head. It’s like he innately understands that it is his duty to take care of her. It’s a magic that I had never before experienced.

And lastly, the unity that it has brought my family. Through the challenges and struggles that having two young children brings, it has brought my husband and I closer than ever. We are on the same page. We want the same things for our children. We know we are a team and we don’t work unless we work together. I understand why marriages fail after having children. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But there is nothing that will ever be stronger than the bond that formed when we brought two little people into this world. And no matter what obstacles we face, we will face them together, and as a whole.

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Quick & Easy Banana Muffins

I’ve had several favorite peanut butter banana muffin recipes, but I’ve been on a chia seed kick lately! They are an amazing superfood  full of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients.  I’ve been putting them in my smoothies, but decided to get a little creative this morning and throw together a recipe for some yummy banana muffins that my 2 year old and I could enjoy!

The chia seeds and coconut oil are completely optional, but they super healthy and beneficial!  They are great ingredients to start incorporating into your daily diets!

Ingredients

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  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 cup greek yogurt (I used vanilla because that was in my fridge)
  • 2 eggs (farm fresh is best!)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
  • 3 tbs coconut oil (optional, but strongly encouraged!)

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Natural Cloth Wipe Solution

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When I started thinking about using cloth diapers, I immediately knew that I was going to use cloth wipes as well.  I ordered a few from Charlie Banana, but most of my wipes are old baby wash cloths that I had laying around.

When we first started using them, we would just walk to the sink and wet them with warm water.  It wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t too much trouble either.  My son gets extreme diaper rash, and I was hopeful that when we started using cloth diapers and I began making his baby powder and using an all natural diaper cream the issue would be solved.  Unfortunately, he still got diaper rash after the switch, so I started thinking about making a recipe for a cloth wipe solution that would soothe his sensitive bottom.

It has been a success!  He hasn’t had a diaper rash breakout since I first made this solution!

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Listen Mamas…We’re All Messing Up

I was recently in a Facebook group created by ladies in the town in which we were living called Crunchy Mamas.  I was excited to join this group to ask questions, get suggestions, and have local support from ladies near me that had the same ideas  and values as I did.  I quickly found, however, that many of the mothers involved in the site, especially the ones running it, had strong opinions about raising children…and if you didn’t agree with these opinions, you were either criticized, talked down to, or kicked out of the group.  The very young mother who had started the group clearly has much pride for it and likes to keep close control over everything posted.  When a mother asked a question about something that may have caused friction, this girl was quick to remind every one that she had the power to remove anyone from the group if she wasn’t happy with their response.

Apart from the politics of the site, what was most disappointing to me was the fact that the group of mothers that I had been so eager to join for support were in fact the most unsupportive and disrespectful group of parents I could have imagined.  I know that certain parenting methods can be somewhat controversial, but I had never actually experienced people’s brutal opinions until this Facebook group.

In my mind, how other parents choose to raise their children is of no concern to me.  My husband and I, before we were even pregnant with our first child, discussed the important values and beliefs that we felt were vital in the bringing up of our children.  We wanted to make sure that we were each on the same page and had each other’s back for the important aspects of creating a decent human.  Unfortunately, conversations like these don’t always take place.  I truly believe that is why there has been such a rise in divorces after children and single parents.

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DIY Natural Deodorant

deodorant

There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about how deodorants and antiperspirants can be a cause of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, so I did some research to find out why…

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no solid scientific proof that deodorants and antiperspirants are a cause of breast cancer; however, parabens (used as a preservative in deodorants) have been proven to mimic estrogen, which can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.  That’s enough to make me worry.  Breastcancer.org states that 1 in 8 women (that reach the age of 70) will develop an invasive form of breast cancer.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum that is engineered to plug up the sweat ducts.  Alzheimer’s patients have a much higher content of aluminum in the brain making the correlation seem pretty suspicious.  The Alzheimer’s Association predict a 44% increase in the disease growth by 2025!

While there is no concrete evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants cause these incredibly devastating diseases, the rise in people contracting these diseases is eerie.  Clearly, we’re doing something wrong!

Why we don’t need antiperspirants and deodorants

Our bodies are made to sweat.  Other than keeping our bodies cool in warm climates, sweating is a natural detox.  Antiperspirants clog up our sweat ducts, preventing the toxins from being released and putting aluminum on your skin to be absorbed into your system.

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The Stinky Truth…Cleaning Cloth Diapers

When people find out that I cloth diaper, their immediate reaction is always the same– “Eww.”  So let me clear some things up right away.

No, changing a dirty diaper is not my favorite thing to do.

No, I do not touch poo more often than anyone who uses disposables does.

No, I do not have little poo particles swimming around in my washing machine.

And, no, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Cloth diapering is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog on a walk.  And if you don’t pick up after your dog on a walk, you’re just a bad neighbor!  In many ways, I find that using cloth is significantly LESS disgusting than disposables for several reasons:

  1. I’m not contributing an enormous amount of hazardous waste to landfills.
  2. I NEVER have to deal with poo-splosions…in turn…
  3. I never have to deal with poo stains on clothes.
  4. Cloth diapers absorb the stinky smell, unlike disposables.

I thought I would share my method of cleaning cloth diapers for those that are thinking about making the switch to show how easy it can be.

The Stash

This is my set-up…

ez change

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Natural Soothing Baby Cream and Powder

I’ve had sensitive skin and severe eczema my whole life.  No amount of creams, ointments, tar, or oatmeal baths ever completely relieved me of the dry, itchy, scarred skin that made people always look twice at me when I wore shorts or short sleeve shirts.  My biggest fear was that I would pass that onto my babies.  Sure enough, my little boy was born with super sensitive skin just like me, and he has since had it rough on his teeny tiny behind!

When he was only two months old we were prescribed a steroid cream to help with his eczema.  I found that with fewer baths with no soap, he was able to produce more of his natural oils to protect his skin and prevent the splotchy, red rashes.  We cloth diaper now, but for the first two years of his life, he was in disposables which are full of dyes and chemicals.  Also, the harsh chemicals and drying alcohol in standard baby wipes always irritated his skin, and from the time he was only a few months old, we were trying out all kinds of different powders and ointments, but nothing ever helped for too long.  Putting breastmilk on the rash was the best cure that I could find.  But I quit breastfeeding when he was a year old, so after that, we were left again with nothing.

I was sure that  switching to cloth would solve all of our tushy problems, but unfortunately, he still suffers from diaper rash, no matter how often we change him.  It isn’t as bad since making the switch, though.  Also, instead of the chemically filled creams and powders, I have opted to an all natural approach!

Diaper Rash Cream

At the local farmer’s market in my hometown, we stumbled upon a woman who made all natural baby products and bought a diaper cream from her that consisted of: organic olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, and vitamin E.  When I looked at the ingredients, I was sure that was something that I could make myself!  I was on a mission!  After lots of research, I found that much of what was in this natural cream that I had bought was just filler.  The beeswax and cocoa butter, while soothing, are primarily to keep the cream at a harder, more manageable consistency.  The olive oil, though it makes the skin soft, doesn’t have healing properties.  And the vitamin E is a natural preservative.  I came to my own conclusion:

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Naturally Repel Ants, Spiders, Mice…and Everything ICKY!

Recently, we have moved to the tiny town that my husband teaches in. When I say tiny…I mean the biggest thing that has happened here is the Subway they opened up a couple years ago.  No grocery store, no mall, no STARBUCKS!  A big change for this mama!  While this move is temporary, we are doing everything in our power to make the old, abandoned farmhouse we moved into a warm, comfortable home for our babies.

The one thing that I didn’t expect to be such an issue is all the little critters sneaking around.  The first time we left a plate out next to the sink without rinsing it, our whole kitchen seemed to be taken over by little, teeny tiny black ants in an instant!  I’ve found several GIANT spiders lurking around including in my sons bathtub right before a bath, and our BED right before I laid down on it!  YUCK!  I’m lucky that I have a husband willing to take care of all the nastiness that comes with moving into an old farmhouse, and a dog that will eat anything I point out to him when my husband isn’t home.

Recently, though, my biggest fear became a realization…a MOUSE in the house!  I don’t know what it is about them that freaks me out so much…maybe it’s how quiet they are so you never know when they’re around until you find the little droppings, or maybe it’s the fact that they can contort their little, disease-infested bodies into cracks and crevices so small, they are impossible to keep out completely!

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Wool Dryer Balls

One of the most dangerous, chemical-ridden products on the market is most likely sitting in your laundry room right now and you’ve probably never given it a second thought.

Dryer sheets.

The chemicals that make these products work remain on  the clothes even several times after they are washed.  They’re absorbed through the skin and lungs and certain traces of these chemicals have been found in urine, blood, and even breastmilk!  The worst part of all is that the manufacturers aren’t required by law to put their full list of ingredients on the product!  So when you read “Fragrance” on the box, you have no idea how many chemicals that “Fragrance” contains or how extremely detrimental to your health it is!

Research of these chemicals have linked them to:

  • asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • reproductive and fertility problems
  • developmental issues
  • skin irritation
  • kidney, liver, and nervous system damage
  • cancers
  • massive hormones disruptions

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Natural All Purpose Cleaner

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If you’re looking to live a more chemical-free lifestyle, there are some big changes you’re going to have to make, but the hardest part is making the commitment to do so.  The easiest transition for me was switching to natural household cleaning products.  We learn to love the strong, chemical odor that our favorite cleaning products give off because it reassures us that the product is doing what it’s supposed to do…clean.

After my son was born, a different perspective worked it’s way around me.

Let’s face it, babies are gross.  They pick up anything they can get their tiny little fingers on and it goes directly into their mouths.  They lick the windows.  They eat off of the floor.  I knew this was going to happen.  So, I would clean and clean and clean to make sure that all the disgusting things my son was bound to do wouldn’t be as disgusting.  But all of those products are chemicals.  In fact, the labels TELL you that they are dangerous and that you need to seek medical attention if ingested.  So why would I be wiping these dangerous, hazardous chemicals around my house, when I know that they are going to end up in my son’s mouth?  I started looking into alternatives and found that not only do they work just as well as the chemicals I had been spraying everywhere, my homemade concoctions save me money, too!

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