Jumping On the Green Bandwagon: Clorox Green Works

When you live 30 miles from the nearest organic market, you struggle to find "green" cleaning items unless ordering online. So, you head to your local grocery store and scout out the cheap items claiming to be "green" or "natural". I, too, am guilty of doing this and often find out the hard way that these items are not always what they seem.
Case & Point: Clorox GreenWorks

It looks so appealing in the green and white bottle, says it's green, says it's natural, and even has a picture of a flower! GreenWorks also has a variety of other cleaning goods on the market, some of which I have purchased and have honestly worked well.

The problem? Upon closer inspection, you will see that these "natural" products are only partially natural. The GreenWorks sprays say they are 95% natural and even have a warning label that they are irritants... hmm. It's an irritant, BUT it's nonallergenic? What kind of sense does this make?

I had a coupon for the detergent so, I went ahead purchased a bottle. I used Planet detergent previously on my cloth diapers and was trying out different detergents to compare since it was a bit expensive. I tried GW once, then again... but I still smelled poo! I absolutely hate cleaning cloth diapers all day only for them to smell like pee and poo. Ugh, what a let-down. After doing a little online research, I found out that GreenWorks is not a good choice to clean cloth diapers because it has enzymes. Like I said, sometimes you just have to find out through your own experiences.

Lesson learned? Always read the labels thouroughly! Don't be tempted to throw something in your cart just because it's cheap and claims to be natural! Save your money and pay a little more for something worth the price!


Cloth Diapering Pt.1: Not Your Mama's Diapers

When I first told my family and friends I planned to use cloth diapers (CDs) on Liam their response was complete shock. I got a few laughs and others believed I'd give up after a few smelly poos, but the complete opposite occurred. I fell in love with the cloth!

Many people automatically assume modern CDs are the same as when we were kids, those awfully thin, leaky birdseye diapers pinned around your heiny. Well, those still exist, but are now used as burp cloths/wipes. For those of you who know little about CD'ing and want to learn more, this article is for you! Looking at CDs for the 1st time can be a bit overwhelming so, sit back, take a deep breath and we'll start from the very beginning.

Basic Cloth Diapering Systems
All-In-One Diapers (AIO): These one of the easiest types of diapers to use. The outer layer is a waterproof cover to hold all the pee and poo in while the inside is made of several absorbent layers to suck up all the moisture. Since everything is sewn together and completely attached, you just put it on your baby, velcro/snap it shut, and baby is good to go. When it's time for a diaper change, just take the dipe off and throw it in your wet bag or diaper pail. These come in several all sizes, including one-size that you can adjust to fit your baby at any age/weight range!

Pocket CDs: These are most similar to AIOs, though instead of the absorbent inner layers being attached to the waterproof cover, you can add the layers, called inserts, into a pocket on the inside of the diaper. This way you can put more or less layers, depending on how much absorbency your baby needs. These come in several sizes also.
Fitted Diaper with Cover System: Fitted diapers are shaped just like AIO dipes, but without the waterproof cover attached. The cover is a separate piece put on after the fitted diaper. Fitted diapers are usually fluffier and provide more absorbency. Fitteds do not come in a one-size so, more must be purchased each time your baby goes up a size.

Prefolds with Cover System: These are most similar to the old-school diapers you may remember and the most economical, but they are difficult to master. Modern prefold absorbency is much higher than birdseye cloth. You can pin them or use a snappi if you are worried about pinning yourself or the baby! The prefolds found in chain stores are not the type you want to use. You'll find quality prefolds (indian, chinese, etc) at a specialty store or online. Covers are also worn over prefolds.                                                        

I hope this was at least somewhat informative for everyone. If you have any questions please let me know. CDs are one of my favorite subjects at the moment! :)


Liam's Doctor's Visit

So, a few days ago I posted an article on birthmarks just because they were on my mind. I started doing some research and when I came to the research on cafe' au lait spots, those slightly darker random shaped markings, I realized that Liam has several of them. Many of the pages suggested contacting your pediatrician if your baby has more than 5. When I stripped Liam down, he had 14 in all so, I was worried out of my mind. The next morning I called the dr. and scheduled an appointment for this afternoon. Cory came home to take Liam and I stayed home with the monkey. It turned out that the little stinker had a sore throat and an ear infection!! Just like Josiah, Liam rarely cries these days and has become a mellow happy baby so, it is impossible to tell if he is sick unless he is coughing or snotty. Josiah constantly had ear infections as an infant until he got tubes put in his ears a little after a year old, but we often had no idea he even had one until going to a check-up. My boys are just like their Papa in that aspect- never complaining and happy go lucky. Also, the doctor confirmed that Liam exhibited several symptoms of neurofibromatosis. There are several signs and symptoms of neurofibromatis in addition to the cafe' au lait birthmarks:
Sleeping soundly through his brother's loudness
 (There is one cafe au lait spot to the left of his belly button, right on the side.)

  1. two or more neurofibromas (they are like cysts that grow on the skin and on nerve endings)
  2. freckling in the area of the armpit or the groin
  3. two or more growths on the iris of the eye (known as Lisch nodules or iris hamartomas);
  4. a tumor on the optic nerve (called an optic nerve glioma)
  5. abnormal development of the spine (scoliosis), the temple (sphenoid) bone of the skull, or the tibia (one of the long bones of the shin);
  6. a parent, sibling, or child with NF1.
The doctor found that he had the freckling in his armpit and I am pretty sure there is a spot on his groin, too. His head also measures big, in the 90th percentile, though the rest of his body is much smaller.
Although neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder, in 50% of cases it occurs when no known relatives have had it. No one in our family had it before, but that apparently means nothing. I also had an amniocentisis when I was 15 weeks pregnant, but I don't believe they tested any genetic disorders, only chromosomal. I will definitely find out tomorrow.
Nothing is definitive yet, but all signs point towards Liam having this genetic disorder so far. Liam has beaten the odds so many times already that it's hard to believe he really has it so, only time will tell. When I had my first ultrasound I was told Liam's neck (or nuchal translucency) thickness was well above average, a very good indicator of Down's Syndome or other chromosomal issues or a heart defect. After weeks of waiting, seeing a specialist and finally getting an amnio, results showed that Liam was just fine. What a relief that was! So, after thinking I was miscarrying, thinking something could be wrong,  having placenta previa, then having a placental abruption and delivering early, Liam's lungs not being fully developed and having to be intubated, and him showing signs of hearing loss and being just fine, I have to believe in miracles. My little man has been through so much already that even if he has this I know he will be just fine. We will support him in any way possible. If he has learning disabilities, other disorders, cancerous growths, or any other possible symptoms of neurofibromatosis, we will deal with them. I'm just happy he's here with us today and am thankful for each and every moment I get to spend with my boys. All of this definitely makes me rethink the possibility of returning to work in the near future! We'll revisit that thought this fall.
Anywho, I'll keep everyone updated on the prognosis. We were given a list of neurologists today and I will make an appointment in the morning. Hopefully we can get the genetic testing done asap! I don't think I'll sleep a wink until I know for sure.
In his jumparoo for the first time this week! He didn't know what to think!

Great Cloth Wipe Potions & Solutions!

When you decide to try out some cloth wipes, you can either buy a potion for around $10 or experiment, save some money, and make your own solution. I took a look online yesterday and found some great ideas to create my own solution for Liam.
I quickly noticed that most recipes called for similar ingredients.
These are the basics you will need in your solution:

Oil: to keep baby's skin nice and soft
  • baby oil
  • vegetable or fruit oil (apricot, olive, grapeseed, etc.)
  • you can even use aloe vera
Soap: to clean off the pee and poo
  • vegetable based soaps (like Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, which has a variety of scents)
  • your own natural baby wash soap
  • baby shampoo
EOs (Essential Oils): These usually have added antibacterial, antifungal, or aromatherapeudic properties (be sure to buy the 100% pure oils)
  • tea tree oil - smells great and has disinfectant properties
  • lavender oil - has many therapeudic properties (relaxation, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, etc.)
  • chamomile oil - another great disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, etc.
  • calendula oil - soothing and healing properties
  • vitamin e oil -  antioxidant and healing properties
Water: to dilute the mixture

You can easily find solution recipes online and each one will have the basics included, though in different quantities. When you experiment, you can find a recipe you like the best and it will have your own unique scent! There are so many options so, if your baby is sensitive or has allergies, you can pick and choose ingredients that best suit that child's needs. Making your own solution allows you to only add ingredients you need instead of relying on disposable wipes with a ridiculously long list of random ingredients!

When you mix up your solution, just like with disposable wipes, you can put the solution and cloth wipes in a wipe container, a wipe warmer, or you can even keep the solution in a spray bottle so you can use as much as needed when the time comes. This time I kept ours in a spray bottle, though, with Josiah, we put the solution and wipes in a wipe warmer. Warm wet cloth wipes are so soft!

Check out these sites for some great recipes:
The Zany Zebra
Natural Birth and Baby Care

Here's the solution I created and named last night. So far it seems to be doing the trick and it smells delicious!

Magical Baby Potion
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Lavendar & Chamomile Baby Magic Baby Wash (my favorite!)
3 drops Tea Tree Oil
1 Chamomile Tea Bag
21/2 Cups Water

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a water bottle. Put the tea bag in 2 cups of water and heat for 1.5 minutes and then sit for a few minutes. Then add the chamomile tea to the water bottle along with the other 1/2 cup of water.
I love the way it smells so far and the boys approve, too. Josiah loves the smell and keeps trying to spray it on everything so, be sure to turn the sprayer off when not in use. :) I may add another 1/2 cup of water to dilute it more if Liam gets rashy since his skin is so sensitive. When this solution is all gone, I'll try another recipe and post it!
Anyone else use cloth wipes? Have a great recipe to share?

Cloth Diapers and Disposable Wipes Just Don't Mix!

Yesterday, around 4:30pm I started my usual mad dash to clean up the living room before Cory got home from work. I try to make it look like we haven't completely wrecked the house, only partially, though I'm not sure my 10-minute tidy masks the fact that we've dumped toys, crayons, and whatever else all over the floor. Among all the toys and dishes I cleaned up were several disposable wipes, which completely gross me out. I don't know what they were previously used for, nor do I want to, but I came to one important conclusion from this unwelcomed experience: Cloth diapers and disposable wipes don't mix!
At first we only used cloth diapers part-time for several reasons including the fact that our stash wasn't quite big enough. Luckily, Liam is now fitting into small & medium cloth diapers and, thanks to my previous stash with Josiah and the donation of several CDs from a lady on freecycle, I'm able to cloth diaper full-time! Yay! More than ever, it has become apparent that disposable wipes are just a mess when using cloth diapers.
Reasons to use cloth wipes:
1. Cloth wipes are much easier when using cloth diapers! Without the disposable diaper, you have nothing in which to wrap the wipes. This means you have to put them on the floor, then carry them across the house to a trash can, then santize the area on the floor, and then wash your hands! Ugh! What a process! So, just use cloth wipes and throw the diaper and wipes in your wet back until it's time to wash everything!
2. They are super soft.  Disposable wipes can be rough on sensitive skin and don't forget all of those nasty ingredients, even in the sensitive wipes. Some wipes may now be made partially of cotton, but cloth wipes are often made of 100% cotton or similar natural materials.
3. Cloth wipes are economical! How much do you spend on wipes each month? It adds up very quickly, especially if you have a newborn or more than one in diapers like me. You can buy a pack (of 12) of flannel cloth wipes for about $12 or even cheaper on ebay. Buy about 2-3 packs and you are set since they are reusable! You could also make your own wipes from old clothes or blankets you have around the house.
4. Cloth wipes have multiple uses. They are so soft that they can be used to wipe heinies, wipe faces, sticky fingers and hands, clean up messes, etc. The possibilities are endless!
5. They are all natural! Disposable wipes are made with all sorts of ingredients and presevatives that can break your baby's heiny out. Cloth wipes are super soft, many are organic, made of cotton, and great for babies who break out and get rashy easily. You can also make your own natural solution for your wipes, buy a solution (I like BumGenius and used it with Josiah) or you can even use plain water! This is especially useful with preemies and newborns. Liam even broke out with sensitive wipes in the beginning so we used cloth wipes and water, which is also what the nurses used in the hospital! (By the way, if you are having a baby in the near future, ask the nurses for some extra wipes and they will send you home with a great stash.)

So, are you ready to try cloth wipes yet? Today is our first day trying cloth wipes with Liam and so far they've been great. We probably still use disposable wipes when away from home and possibly for smelly poos, but not sure just yet. I'm trying out different wipe solutions to see which one works well and doesn't break out Liam's sensitive booty. There are some great websites with solution recipes. Zany Zebra also has some great recipes among other useful info. I'll write an article on recipes next!


Strawberries, Cafe Au Lait & Port Wine - Birthmarks or a Trip to the Wine Country?

Today I was lying in bed with Josiah and noticed his birthmarks, which I think are so interesting and special, like snowflakes. Each birthmark I've ever seen is always different in some shape or form. It's like the birthmark was especially made for that individual. The definition on wiki calls birthmarks a blemish, but I disagree. There is nothing imperfect about most birthmarks, they are beautiful.
Cory has a very interesting birthmark and I've never been able to find a name that matches the description of it. Maybe I can get him to let me take a picture and post it, but I'm not sure it would show the detail. It's a little raised mark about the size of a penny that feels rough to the touch like a patch of dry skin, but it's always there and never changes.
I supposedly had a strawberry birthmark on the back of my leg that slowly faded and disappeared as I grew older. I don't remember ever seeing it so, I must have been very young by the time it was gone. Strawberry birthmarks seem to be genetically prevelent in our family and I am surprised one of the boys didn't have one. A strawberry is a slightly raised bright red birthmark of various sizes appearing either at birth or soon thereafter. Most strawberries disappear by the ages of 5-10, though some must be removed or treated.
My cousin had one like this that faded when she was about 4 or 5 years old.
I also have a Café au lait Spot, a flat birthmark, usually oval and a light brown color slightly darker than your skin tone. Mine is very light and only appears darker when I've been out in the sun for some reason. This is a permanent birthmark. Liam also has 2 Cafe' au lait spots, which developed after birth. While I was researching birthmarks I found that this type of birthmark is a symptom of Neurofibromatosis so, if your little one develops several of these over time, please talk to your pediatrician. We actually made a doctor's appt. for this week just to get Liam's birthmarks checked out since I read about these. Darn internet! I warn people about reading about baby issues on there, and then I go and do it myself!

You can't really even notice, can you?
It's so light that I did not even notice it for quite a while! Maybe he did have this at birth, who knows?! He also has one on his belly now, but it's hardly noticable in the picture. It is now much darker, though, and almost in the same place as mine. :)
As for Josiah, his delivery was a rough one and there were some complications along the way. He really, really didn't want to come out and after 23 hours, his little heartrate was dropping, I had a fever, and when my water broke earlier, there was meconium in it, so the doctor performed an emergency c-section. Believe me, after 23 hours I was ready for the 9 pound baby to come into the world!! He came out with a port-wine stain on his right leg, foot, and toes. A port-wine stain is a birthmark usually appearing at birth and is either red or purple in color, varying in sizes and shapes, but mostly are large and appear on the head (i.e. Mikhail Gorbachev). It is caused by capillaries bursting under the skin and creating a pocket of blood, sort of like a tattoo. Josiah's is flat, but they can also be slightly raised and are permanent, grow proportionally, and can change colors. Josiah's birthmark, as I looked at it today, has faded drastically over the past 2.5 years and although it is growing with him, it seems small in comparison to how it looked on him as an infant.
In this picture you can see part of the stain at the top of the leg, but it also wraps around the back and there are dots along the side of his leg and on his toes.
His pediatrician told us many people with port-wine stains go through laser therapy to reduce the redness and size of the birthmark, but suggested we wait until Josiah was older, as it could fade and become smaller on its own... and it has.

This was his birthmark right before his 2nd birthday. It's bigger, but also lighter.

This is the birthmark at 2 years and 8 months! It has faded drastically. I am always afraid that people think I abuse him because the birthmarks resemble bruises more than anything. There is even one part that looks like the outline of a finger. It's a birthmark, people, I swear!
I wanted him to have the laser surgery when he was an infant, but now it just seems to fit him and is just part of his uniqueness and personality. I really hope he doesn't choose to get it removed one day.

Josiah and Liam were also born with a Salmon Patch, better known as a Stork Bite or Angel Kiss, in the middle of his forehead.
Okay, so the birthmarks are there. They are just barely visible unless they crying or upset... You can see it in Liam's picture a little better (He's the bottom picture, if you couldn't tell!) since he is crying. Stork bites are caused by the stretching of certain blood vessels and can change color, getting lighter or darker if your child cries or when touched. They remind me of those 80s hypercolor t-shirts. They usually disappear by 18 months of age, but Josiah's is still there. Only two little dots remain at this point, but they are there!

There are several other types of birthmarks out there and when you search on google, you can find all sorts of information, some of which is actually informative and others are just a bit terrifying.  

What types of birthmarks do you and/or your children have?


Are Cloth Diaper Giveaways Worth the Extra Time?

I have been asking myself this same question for the past 2 weeks. Shannon convinced me to open my twitter account again a few weeks ago and as soon as I started figuring out what I was doing and was trying to "follow" people with similar interests like cloth diapers and natural parenting, I quickly found that twitter was also a place where many cloth diaper websites choose to advertise their merchandise by giving away free goods and getting other twitterers to re-post about the website and the giveaway! Genius! Basically you spend about 30 minutes completing a list of about 15 tasks from following the business on twitter and facebook to blogging about them and signing up for newsletters. Then, on a specified date, usually every Friday or so, the business somehow generates a random winner for each contest. I'm not sure if it is random or if it even works. I registered for a few just out of curiosity and to add extras to my cloth diaper stash since Liam is quickly heading towards medium diapers already!
Tonight, after completing yet another list of objectives to win a knickernappies diaper and a hanging diaper pail bag, I really started questioning the worth of these giveaways. Are they worth the time put into them? Should I flood my entire page with these buttons? Well, I am going to find out. For the next two weeks I am going to enter one giveaway each day. There's no need for everyone out there in the cloth diapering world to go through this, too, so I offer myself and my 30 minutes up on a silver platter for 2 whole weeks! What harm can it do in the long run? Maybe I will actually win something and then all of my readers will know for sure that it's IS worth the monotony of entering your information repeatedly.
So, the long journey has begun tonight. We'll see what happens! I'll let you know if I win anything, though I won't hold my breath! I've only one 1 thing in a giveaway before and it is still sitting on a bookshelf untouched after 2 years. I'm not even sure why I registered to win a googly-eyes fun project book, but maybe Josiah can get some use out of it...
At least I know I will have some cloth diapers coming in the mail regardless since I just ordered some! Yay! I love getting new cloth diapers in the mail. It's like Christmas!


Arts and Crafts Pt. 2: New Discoveries

I previously posted an article on arts and crafts with little ones, which my 2.5 year old absolutely loves. He draws with his markers and crayons every day. The other night he stayed with his grandma and I actually had time to clean up the house (*gasp*) and organize Josiah's art stash! By the time he got home the next afternoon he had his own "Art Station" in the corner of the living room. He was so excited to see it that one of the first things he said to me was,"Thank you Mama for cleaning up for me and making art!" Such a sweetheart! I don't ever want him to grow up! Really, I don't mind the diapers that much! Here are some pics of the new and improved art station:

<----Note the little feet sprouted from the easel!

I put all of Josiah's Playdoh in the blue bin underneath the table. The mat on the floor is now his designated Playdoh area. We previously had an issue of finding Playdoh everywhere- in the laundry basket, on our clothes, in the chair, etc. This will hopefully eliminated the problem. So far it seems to be working! The storage bin over to the right is full of all his arts and crafts supplies. Since he can't read yet, I labeled each of the drawers with symbols so he could remember what was in each one. The first drawer has a circle and holds all of his paper and coloring books, the second drawer has a heart and contains all of his crayons, markers, paintbrushes, and colored pencils, and the third drawer with a star holds all of our future craft projects and extra art materials like crayons and markers. (I stock up on them at the beginning of the school year when they only cost about .25! Considering how many we go through, it's worth doing!) The easel actually has a place to hold the art paper underneath and also has a tray to hold the chalk and dry-erase markers, too.
3 out of 5 pieces of furniture and accessories came from Ikea for very cheap! I had originally bought a little blue table to go there for only $8, but I decided to put it where that wooden table was. The wooden table originally cost me about $25, I believe, the easel was $15, and the car rug was $4. I also have another storage area on the other side of the room with baskets for books and toys. The baskets come 3 to a pack at Ikea and were $4. You can get all different colors and designs, too, so you really can't beat that! Plus, their furniture is pretty easy to put together, minus futons! I love Ikea, in case you can't tell! :)

This little stinker seems to like Ikea, too!                 I also took Josiah's artwork and taped it to the wall. He really got a big kick out of his artwork being up for everyone to see! Since his station is in the corner, we have plenty of wall space to add future drawings and paintings, too!
I wasn't so sure how the art projects would work out, especially the messier ones, but I've come to learn that when dealing with art supplies, it is best to be as organized as possible! Things get easily lost in the mix so, having a good place to put them and teaching your little one to put things back when finished helps out so much. We are still in the process of learning to pick up after ourselves... Yes, I include myself in that comment!
The most important thing to remember when playing with your children is to let their imaginations soar! I told Josiah that his art corner was all his and he could do whatever he wanted, paint whatever he wanted, and to just have fun. He wanted to paint the plastic storage bin last night so, we colored it purple! He wanted to put stickers on the wooden table so, we did that, too. Why not? They are only material possessions and, overall, pretty much meaningless until your little ones do something to make them priceless like painting them purple!

What are your favorite art projects? What do you think some good ideas would be? I'm up for putting any and everything to the test with my little ones!


Postpartum Joys Pt. 1: Hair Loss

When I was pregnant with Josiah and taking prenatal vitamins, my hair came in beautifully. It was thick for pretty much the first time ever since my hair is as straight as can be and falls out all the time. Pregnancy brought my overall health to a new level and I absolutely loved it! But then I had my baby and my health slowly declined back to where it was before. My super-pregnancy immune system slowly failed as Josiah kept getting little colds at daycare and then came the awful hair loss. I knew it was coming, had read about it before, but had no idea how much would fall out and how long it would continue to fall out!

My best friend got married in October of 2007, about 4.5 months after having my son. The wedding was wonderful and, as we girls often do, we had our hair professionally styled. My hair was long, curly, and I couldn't believe how good it looked. Well, a few days later I washed my hair and the entire drain was full of hair. At first I thought maybe it was due to all of the hair products the sylists used or the curling iron, but my hair continued to fall out in clumps. I couldn't wear my hair down or my shirt would be covered in hair and each time I washed my hair and looked at my hands, I would completely freak out. I thought for sure I would go bald. I never made it quite to bald, but my hair was extremely thin for a while and totally unmanageable so, I just kept it pulled back for months.

What is this hair loss and what causes it?
Many women believe the magic number of weeks until you "get back to normal" after pregnancy is six, but this is far from true when considering all of the hormonal and physiological changes the body goes through after birth. Your body will take months to recover, maybe even a year! A major change is the excessive hair loss usually about three to six months post-pregnancy called telogen effluvium. While this can also happen during pregnancy, it is much more likely to occur postpartum. Telogen means a resting phase and after pregnancy the change in hormones, most significantly, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone, cause your hair to fall out. You feel like you are losing so much hair because this phase decreases during pregnancy so, you have much more hair to lose postpartum. Normally we lose about 100 hairs a day, but this decreases drastically during pregnancy so when you start losing clumps of hair, try not to have a heart attack like I did! Though it may seem like forever, your hair will get back to its normal growth cycles, I promise, but it may take 6-12 months postpartum. I, personally, did not feel normal again until almost a year after my son was born... and I didn't lose the weight until he started running around full force.

When this hair loss occured, I went to see my gynocologist who reassured me, as he often did during pregnancy, too, and gave some great advice about what I could do to help my hair gain strength, grow in healthy, and to boost my immune system.

What can I do to help my hair?
There are several things you can try, though they honestly don't always work. I know it is difficult for those of us who have little patience for such things, but sometimes you just have to wait it out. Nevertheless, here are some tips on what to try:
1. Start taking prenatal vitamins again! Many women stop taking their prenatals as soon as, or soon after, they have their baby. This is NOT a good idea. Your body needs as much help as possible to regain strength and to heal from the pregnancy and birth. Plus, your body is used to having these extra vitamin supplements so, when you stop taking them and are trying to heal at the same time, of course there will be some issues. As a side not, you should also continue taking your prenatals if you are breastfeeding. :) Many women take prenatals all the time just because it makes their skin, hair, nails, etc. much healthier.
2. Take vitamin supplements. If you had issues with your prenatal vitamins, such as nausea and vomitting, like I did, you will probably look for other options. Take a daily vitamin or even 2 children's vitamins (like Flinstones) plus some extra supplements for vitamins not included. Here are some great supplements to stimulate hair growth and which contribute to healthy hair: Omegas (fish oil extract supplements and flaxseed oil supplements), Biotin (vitamin H), Silica, Calcium, and Zinc.
3. Scalp Massage - I am a big fan of this one because, if nothing else, at least it feels good. :) Get someone to massage your scalp for you or use a boar bristle brush (make sure you have all the tangles out of your hair if you use a brush because you don't want to cause more hair loss!)
4. Eat Heathy Foods - Eat your fruits and veggies, especially those rich in vitamin C! Many foods such as fish, avocados, and nuts are high in Omega 3s. Click on the link to read about more foods and supplements that will strengthen your hair and stimulate regrowth!

I was going to post some pictures of postpartum hair loss, but realized they completely freak me out still. I can't stand to look at them and they will inevitably cause a few reoccuring nightmares along with those teeth falling out dreams. Horrible, I tell you!

Just remember when you look down at your brush full of hair that it is completely normal and that this, too, shall pass! Plus, what little baby isn't worth losing a bit of hair? My hair stopped falling out as much just around 7 months or so, but continued to come out for a little longer. I was just relieved not having a drain full of hair each time I took a shower. Hair grosses me out, even my own, if you couldn''t already tell.
I was inspired to write this post because last night I washed my hair and, for the first time since Liam was born, a huge clump of hair came out and I thought, here we go again!
Anyone else experience this? How long did your hair fall out?


Potty Training Update

Josiah is definitely keeping up with the potty training! I think it's because I told him a few weeks ago that he had to be potty trained if he wanted to go to preschool. He wants to go to school so badly that I think he'd do just about anything. He even has his backpack that he carries around everywhere!

I can tell that he's getting the hang of using the potty and it is interesting to watch him progress. He has gone from peeing in his diapers and not being able to stop, going to the potty a bit too late, to now starting to pee, stopping, and finishing in the potty! When he pees in the potty 2 times, I change him into his Thomas the Train big boy pants, which he loves. He's been on a clothing boycott, tearing off pants and diapers whenever he can so, this is at least one piece of clothing I can get him to keep on! So, if you have noticed me posting facebook pictures lately of a pantless Josiah, this is why! I can't keep them on the boy to save my life. Oh well! As long as we are inside, it really doesn't matter. Anywho, I made a mistake the first day he wore his Thomas undies, telling him to pull them down and go to the potty to pee when he needed to. I totally forgot to mention what to do in case of poo poo! Doh! That wasn't fun to clean up. Today, he wore his undies again and had an accident in the kitchen, but he stopped himself, ran past me telling me to clean up the floor, and sat on the potty to finish! That's my big boy!

Last night I could barely get Josiah in the bed. Note to future potty training parents: There will be days where you run to the potty about every 5 minutes! Since Josiah has learned how to control his bladder, he wants to use the potty as soon as he feels even the slightest need to go. Last night he went to the potty about 5 times before I finally got him to sleep. Oh, and the silly boy has seen his Papa read on the potty so, he told me he needed a book and a magazine last night. I got a really cool toy catalogue in the mail recently that he loves to look through so, he keeps it in the bathroom beside his potty now. That cracked me up! Who knew the potty reading started at such a young age!?! lol

It's Potty Time!


If Love is Letting Your Child Blow Their Nose Into Your Shirt, I Have Nothing But Love In My Heart

"You know, this necklace makes me think of this totally random memory of my mother. I was a little kid
and I was crying for one reason or another. And she was cradling me, rocking me back and forth, and I
can just remember the silver balls rolling around. And there was like snot running down my nose. And she offered me her sleeve and told me to blow my nose into it. And I can remember, even as a little kid, thinking to myself, this is love... this is love."
Andrew Largeman, Garden State

I completely agree with this quote! I don't remember anyone ever letting me blow my nose on them as a child, nor would I have even imagine it, but I never think twice about it with my kids. Yet another change from becoming a parent! Snot, spit-up, poo- meh! No big deal!

This week our entire family has gone through some kind of cold. Note: When your kids don't go to school and you rarely get to go out into civilization, beware!! One step outside of your bubble and you are bound to catch something! Last weekend we went into Kennesaw to go shopping with my mom-in-law and within a few days she had pneumonia and Josiah was sneezing his head off. Later in the week, the sneezing turned to snot and Liam and I started the exact symptoms Josiah had first exhibited... and now my husband is starting to get them. That's what I get for going to a chain members-only warehouse retailer for the first time. I knew they were bad, but not that evil!

Years ago I never took much stock in homeopathy and homeopathic remedies. I would rather take my alcohol and dextromethorphan Nyquil so I can have a good night's rest, though it never really seemed to make me feel very rested the next day anyway. All cold and allergy medicines have a weird effect on us, too, leaving a slightly buzzing sensation, like your body keeps going even though you feel like death, especially with non-drowsy meds. Even if I so dreamed about taking a nighttime medicine, there is no way I could afford to sleep through the night or be a zombie all day long. Liam would not be very happy and Josiah would bury the house in blocks, dinosaurs, and whatever else he could get his hands upon.

Now that I am older and somewhat wiser, alternative medicines seem a much better option. why pump a bunch of unneeded chemicals into my body when something natural can heal it for me? The effectiveness of homeopathy is still much debated and though many countries allow homeopathic medical treatment to be covered by insurance, the US is not one of them as far as I know. I'm not saying I believe in all the old wives tales and remedies, but isn't it worth a try before going for medicines with ingredients you can't even pronounce, especially when it comes to children?

When I lived in Germany I saw these weird looking pots in Meuller, the drugstore there, but I had no earthly idea what those could be used for. Then, years later, I read about the netipot. I though, who on God's green earth would subject themselves to pouring liquid salt up their nostrils? Seems a bit masochistic to me!

Holy Burning Nostrils!
Well, when Josiah was born he constantly got little colds from going to daycare and, as we all know, you aren't supposed to give an infant anything except a tiny bit of tylenol and saline spray. Our little man went through colds, teething, 500 ear infections so naturally we went through a ton of saline- squirting and suctioning! Josiah hated it and I couldn't stand torturing him. About a year ago, Cory finally bought a netipot and I eventually tried this contraption. Okay, yes, it hurts like hell, and takes some getting used to, but it clears the sinuses and doesn't leave you feeling drugged. Unlike other sinus meds like Afrin spray, you don't lose your senses of smell and taste. Plus, you can do it more often when needed. Works better than most Western medicines and it's much more affordable than going to the doctor and buying prescriptions! Me likey!

When Liam got snotty around Christmas I ran to a drugstore and, to my surprise, there is a little infant version/children's verson of the netipot, too!

A Portable Torture Device for the Kiddos!

Okay, the kids will hate it, but it seriously rocks! A few sprays, no suctioning, and in a few minutes your child can breathe much better! It's not as cheap as the saline mist you can buy at a drug store, but this actually gets the mist up in the nose without holding your baby in all sorts of uncomfortable positions while they scream and squirm around. One squirt and it's over, which, as far as I am concerned, is worth a few extra dollars. I hate giving my kids medicines at all, even tylenol, so saline is a great option! Plus, it is washable and reuseable so, you just buy more saline mist to put in it when you run out!

We also use a humidifier pretty much nonstop in Liam's room, even when he isn't sick. The air has been so dry that this seems to help not only his stuffy nose, but his dry sensitive skin. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed, but Liam's skin is extra sensitive to just about anything- detergents, soaps, lotions, and anything else that may come in contact with his skin. He breaks out easily, his skin cracks, and also gets super dry. Without baby oil and the humidifier, I'd hate to see what the poor boy's skin would look like. In only a week's time, his skin was completely changed and if I go a day without oil or don't run the humidifier during the day, it is noticeable!
I am finally on the mend after a rough Saturday of mostly sleep, a natural healing sleep that is! I probably slept about 15 hrs yesterday, if not more, in between glasses of orange juice, flinstones vitamins, and water. :) In the meantime, Josiah enjoyed the 2 inches of snow outside with Papa and had a ball running around with George the cat. It's snowing today, too, and we are expected to get another 2-4 inches tonight so, we are super excited here! Snow is something we rarely see and we've been lucky to see twice now this winter! It's kind of hard to enjoy the snow when you have to blow your nose every 30 seconds like Josiah did yesterday (into Papa's shirt, of course), but he managed. :)
My shout-out of the day goes to the netipot and a humidifier, my two best friends this weekend! If it weren't for you two, where would be? I recommend a netipot for anyone!
So, avoid the snot- get a netipot! I should go into advertising! Anyways, have a great commercial holiday and go buy lots of 50% off chocolate tomorrow!


Winter Weather Indoor Arts & Crafts

This winter has been unusually colder, hitting several all-time lows in Georgia and the southern states. Even today snow fell in parts of Texas that very rarely get any snow ever and tomorrow south Georgia and even Florida are expected to get hit with snow, though I'll believe it when I see it. We've unfortunately had only one snow worth mentioning, leaving mostly flurries and rain, rain, rain. Ugh. Funny how this happens, but we once lived in Macon, which never gets snow and the year we moved north, it snowed. Last year in Canton, we got a few flurries while most surrounding counties were covered. Again, this year we are even further north and closer to the mountains and still no snow! It's so frustrating!
The week Liam was born, the weather was still in the 80s... and the weekend after he was released from the hospital the temperature dropped immediately to the low 60s and 50s! What the heck happened to our fall weather? I thought the fall would be a great time to have a baby because of the weather, but it dipped down a bit too low for a preemie and then the rains came and haven't stopped much around here. For families who usually spend most of their time outdoors, bad weather is quite unwelcomed and no fun at all. Parents must think quickly and break out their own creativity for their sake and the kids!

In a recent article I addressed how easily one can rely on television as an activity or a babysitter, but there are so many other better options to fill your day and make some memories. We have adopted many fun indoor activities over the past 2 years, but one has become the biggest hit of them all:

Arts and crafts!

Josiah loooves painting, drawing, cutting, pasting, playdoh, etc. You can find many great craft ideas online or just make up your own projects. A child around the age of 1.5 and up will be game for just about anything, especially if it is potentially messy!
A recent project for us have included wrapping presents and letting Josiah add his own artistic touch:
Baby Soleil's presents- Josiah helped me wrap, put stickers on them, color them, and then arrange them in the basket!
We've also had fun making masks, making a picture frame, and letting Josiah help me with Liam's scrapbook. You can get a variety of arts and crafts for very cheap at craft stores like Michael's. When I say cheap, I mean about $1 for each little pre-packaged project! Plus, if you use coupons like I do, there is a 40% off one item coupon in just about every Sunday newspaper.
This is a princess party Josiah attended this summer- kids could decorate their own magic wands, crowns, and swords with glitter and markers! You can find all of these at Michaels for also about $1 and they were a HUGE hit. Josiah still plays w/ his sword!

Paintings make wonderful presents for grandparents so, even before Josiah was 1 year old i bought fingerpaints so we could make cards, doodles, and momentos. Things can get a little messy so, be sure to lay down some newspaper or a mat... and store paints out of reach. I learned this right after Liam was born...

A when I say messy, I mean messy!
I am also a huge fan of Ikea, especially their children's section with all kinds of pretend play toys and art supplies. At Christmas we picked up an easel (with a chalkboard/dry-erase board), safety scissors, art paper, and chalk for a total of less than $30! This has recently become a huge hit. You can also pick up a cute $10 table at Ikea and/or a plastic 3-door drawer system to store all of your art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, and markers. This way you will know where to find everything when it's art time! This has worked very well for us and helps contain some of the mess!
Silly Josiah drawing sea creatures we saw at the aquarium

Playdoh Christmas ornament Project

The mess that is our living room during the day

Learning how to use safety scissors-- run for your lives!!!
Plan on sending out cards for the holidays? Well, buy some posterboard or art paper, stickers, etc. and make your own with the kids! Josiah just scribbles on cards, telling me what he's drawing so, I always write what the drawing is. Relatives love the extra touch and it is a great momento.
Some of our Valentine's Day cards! We also made some w/ art paper, but i forgot to take pics of those!

When we moved into our new house I didn't want to color all over the walls since we are renting so, I bought wall stickers!

Josiah's car room

Liam's Woodland Creatures Themed Room

These were great fun for me and for Josiah! He loves stickers and to be able to help and apply them by himself was exciting for him. It takes some time, especially with a little one, but it's something well worth the time because you can see it every day. Josiah still talks about his cars and, since they are removeable, he occasionally switches them around on the wall. These are a bit more expensive than a dollar, ranging from about $15 to $30 at target and you can find some very creative designs for not only children's rooms, but for the entire house on ebay. Some artists are even willing to create stickers to suite your tastes for a very low price on ebay if you write to them.

We pretty much do some kind of art project every day at the house. Even Liam gets to participate- he loves watching his brother and we can do imprints of his cute little feet and hands. :)

Well, the weather here today is calling for about 1-3 inches of snow so, hopefully we will get some fun time outside tomorrow! Let me know your arts and crafts secrets out there! I am always looking for new ideas. I recently heard about edible paints that you can make yourself so, we may try that. You can apparently also buy them on the web, but I can't seem to find a link. Anyone know? We also do some artistic cooking, but that's for article! Have a great weekend!