Monday, June 29, 2015

Product Tuesday: burnish jewelry

The gold nugget necklace that I purchased to
symbolize Ethan's pregnancy.

*I was not compensated for this post.  This is a product that I love, have purchased, and wanted to share with my readers.

One of my most hated activities is buying gifts for people.  I get so stressed out trying to find the perfect gift, worrying that they'll already have it, or won't like it.  For that reason, every Tuesday I'll be posting my favorite products and shops.  Whenever I discover a new shop that allows me to buy those that I love interesting and unique gifts, I quickly take advantage; so I figured my readers would enjoy recommendations as much as I do.

When I was pregnant with Ethan I really wanted to purchase a piece of jewelry that would symbolize my pregnancy.  I found a shop on etsy named burnish jewelry that I am in love with!  The jewelry from burnish is handmade and their business is based in Alaska.  I bought the Rose Gold Nuggets Necklace and it quickly became one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.  Not only is it beautiful, but it's really well made and has withstood a toddler pulling on it with all his force.

Since I love burnish jewelry so much I decided to make it a tradition that every time I was pregnant I would choose a special piece of jewelry from their shop to represent my pregnancy.  For Alice's arrival I chose the Rose Gold Moonstone Necklace and once again was taken aback by it's beauty and craftsmanship.  I ordered it with a 16 in. chain because the Gold Nuggets Necklace has a 17 in. chain, and now I'm able to layer them or wear them separately.

The moonstone necklace I bought to symbolize
Alice's pregnancy.

If you're looking for a special piece of jewelry either for yourself or someone you love I highly recommend visiting burnish jewelry.  The only drawback is every time I visit the site I'm tempted to buy something. Happy shopping!

Do you have any special traditions that you started when you had your little ones?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Home Remedies to Prevent a Cold

The rule in our house is that mom can never get sick
because all of my sick days are reserved for everyone else!

My mom is an RN, and an amazing one at that, but growing up she always took the home remedy/ herbal route before resorting to western medicine.  This all stemmed from growing up in Mexico without much access to a doctor, pharmacy, or hospital.  My grandmother, Eulalia, the queen of home remedies, could cure anything that ailed you with the herbs in her garden.  Over the years I have really appreciated growing up with this knowledge.  Knowing how to use everyday items to help prevent a cold, or soothe a stomach ache, is something that unfortunately has been lost on my generation.  That is one of the reasons that I try really hard to remember all of the remedies that my mom teaches me.

The Garlic Remedy

The remedies that I have used non-stop since leaving home are the ones that help prevent colds.  Since I was six years old my mom has used this cold remedy on me.  Many studies have been done on the medicinal properties of garlic.  It has been found that garlic is an immune booster and has great antibacterial properties as well.  The key to both of the remedies that I will mention in this post is that they are preventative.  If you take this remedy while you are sick, although I'm sure it helps, it will definitely not have the same result.  Once people around you start getting sick you take the garlic remedy even if you are not feeling sick, it's your way of protecting yourself.  Or if no one you know is sick and one day you feel a small tickle in your throat, immediately start the garlic remedy.

So what is the garlic remedy?  It's very simple.

1 lemon wedge
1 clove of garlic
pinch of salt (optional)

1. Cut a lemon wedge.
2. Crush a raw clove of garlic.
3. Put the crushed garlic on the lemon wedge and sprinkle some salt on it (for taste of course, because while the garlic is burning your throat that little bit of salt makes all the difference).
4. You must not take this remedy on an empty stomach or the intensity of the garlic will probably make you throw up.  I like to eat a slice of toast before taking the garlic.
5. After taking the garlic do not drink water for 20 minutes, you'll be stinky but that way you're not washing the garlic out of your mouth and throat.
6. If I already have a tickle in my throat when I start this, then I take the garlic 2-4 times a day, depending on how much I have to interact with people.  If it's a work-night I take it twice in the evening, if it's the weekend then I take it 4 times.  I take the garlic until the sore throat goes away, which depending on how soon I start, can be anywhere from 2-3 days.  If people around me are sick and I'm not showing symptoms then I take it once a day.

The Fear Factor Remedy

Whenever I drink the Fear Factor Remedy I definitely hear
Joe Rogan giving me words of encouragement.
I don't know if this remedy has an actual name but my mom and her friends have named it Fear Factor because it sounds like something Joe Rogan would have made you drink 5 gallons of on the show "Fear Factor". Although this remedy sounds more intense than the garlic remedy I actually prefer it because it doesn't make me smell like garlic.  The same principles apply to this remedy as the garlic remedy, it is preventative so it's best taken when those around you are sick.  For the past 2 weeks Ethan and I have been sick and Jeff has been taking the Fear Factor remedy and hasn't been affected by our germs, thank goodness.  The reason I didn't take it was because I've had terrible heartburn during this pregnancy and although I did take a few doses, my digestive system was not able to handle it.  Looking back I should have put up with the heartburn to have prevented this terrible cold.

Now for the big reveal, The Fear Factor Remedy:

1 piece of ginger (about 5 inches long)
1 piece of raw horse radish (about 5 inches long)
1 head of garlic
12 habanero peppers
1 liter of unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar

1. Shred the ginger and horseradish in a cheese grater into a blender.
2. Peel all of the cloves of garlic and add them to the blender.
3. Take the stems off of the habanero and add it to the blender.
4. Pour as much of the apple cider vinegar as you can into the blender and blend everything together.
5. Pour the mixture into a wide mouthed jar (my mom likes to put saran wrap around the mouth and then close it with the lid to keep it sealed well).
6. Put the jar in a dark, cool place and every day you will swirl the solution well.
7. After two weeks of swirling the solution strain all of the chunks out of the vinegar and the vinegar that is left is your Fear Factor Remedy.
8.  You can put it in smaller jars or keep it all in a large jar, there is not need to refrigerate it but we do keep it in a dark, cool place.
9.  Do not take this on an empty stomach.  If those around you are sick take 1 Tbsp. of the remedy once a day.  If you are feeling a tickle in your throat already take 2-4 Tbsp. a day (not all at the same time though).

If there are any mom's out there that are also doomsday preppers by night we always joke that if the zombies attacked or the governemnt collapsed (whatever scenario you're preparing for), this Fear Factor Remedy would be a great defense against getting sick once the grid goes down, so make sure to store this remedy and it's ingredients in your bomb shelter.

I know this remedy sounds insane but it isn't any worse than eating the raw garlic, I see them on the same level as far as spiciness but I find the Fear Factor to be better at preventing colds.  If you ever find yourself to be the only healthy person in a house full of what looks like the cast of The Walking Dead I highly recommend you give one of these remedies a try.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I'm not a mind reader!

This is Professor X from the X-Men.  He is a telepath,
unfortunately Jeff and I are not.

Jeff and I have worked hard to have good communication in our marriage.  I know that it's the foundation of a good marriage, and I had always felt it was one of our strong suits.  Once Ethan was born, the stress of a new baby, combined with lack of sleep, led to some major breakdowns in communication.  Whether it was the lack of sleep or the stress, all of a sudden I expected Jeff to have telepathic powers.  I'd come into the living room after nursing Ethan and putting him down and would notice that the house was a complete mess, the dishes were piled high, and Jeff was sitting on the couch watching T.V.  Barely able to control my anger I would make a loud sigh and say, "The house is such a mess and I need to do the dishes but I'm exhausted so I'm going to bed."

This is what I expected Jeff to hear:
"This parenting thing is so much harder than I ever imagined.  I have a little human connected to me non-stop and I'm more tired than I ever thought was even possible.  I should eat dinner, shower, and clean the house but honestly I think I have just enough energy to make it to our bed and collapse.  The worst part of it all is that I'm going to be up in 2 hours to nurse Ethan, how the heck am I going to do this?  I don't expect you to clean the house because I know you're working really hard and are tired too but could you at least do the dishes please?  It would also really help me out if you picked up a little while you watch T.V., nothing big just the living room.  I know you already do all of the cooking and household duties are split 50/50 between you and me, but i'm drowning and I need it to be 80/20 for a little while."

This is what Jeff actually heard:
"The house is such a mess and I need to do the dishes but I'm exhausted."

I would then go to bed and in my head I would think, tomorrow when I wake up Jeff is going to surprise me by having cleaned the house and done the dishes because the message I sent him was totally clear and easy to understand.  I'd wake up the next morning to find everything as I had left it.  This would go on for a few days, me dropping subtle hints that I needed help, Jeff looking around nodding and going back to what he was doing.  I finally couldn't take it anymore and broke down.  I yelled at him, I told him it was all too much, I asked him why he wasn't helping more.

Jeff's response was priceless, "You never asked me to."  He explained how he really wanted to help but I had never asked for help, or told him what needed to be done.  I said, "I kept telling you I was tired and that the house was dirty." His response was, "I thought you just wanted me to know that so I agreed with you."  At that moment I realized that my husband is not part of the X-Men and all of the hints I had been dropping meant nothing to him, he just thought I was venting. I asked him, "So if I want you to wash the dishes all I have to do is ask you to wash the dishes?" He said, "Yea!"  Talk about a major aha moment.  If I want my husband to help me all I need to do is ask him for help, how crazy is that?

This realization changed our whole dynamic; the bickering stopped.  More things were getting done and I didn't feel as overwhelmed.  Although I know this seems like an obvious solution while talking to a lot of my friends and family this is a problem that comes up a lot in conversation.  Sometimes when I talk to Jeff I swear he hears the Charlie Brown teacher voice and just nods his head so as not to anger the pregnant beast that he lives with.  Although nothing can ever be perfect, I do try really hard to keep in mind the fact that my husband is not a telepath. After all, some days it feels as if it's us against the 2-year-old monster that seems to be getting angrier by the minute.  How on earth can one small child be so strong? Jeff and I may not be X-Men but after diffusing a major 2-year-old meltdown, we definitely feel like we can conquer the world together, and without communication, no dynamic duo would ever last (I really wish I had a cool comic book superhero drawing of Jeff that I could insert here).
The Jenny Evolution

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cafeteria Mom

I really love cafeteria food, and I think it's because
I've always enjoyed having different choices.

There are so many labels out there for different parenting styles. While talking to a friend and mentioning all of the different types she said, "It's like speaking a new language."  It can feel confusing and overwhelming.  What's even worse is when you as a parent do not fit in or agree completely with any one philosophy or way of doing things.

When I first became a mom I found myself really wanting to connect with other moms.  All of my friends that had kids lived far away and I wanted to be able to go to play dates and meet with people in person that could provide me with the support that I needed.  I started joining Facebook mom groups. Groups that were supposed to be inclusive and a safe space for moms to speak their minds.  I soon found out this wasn't the case, at least not for me.  Every group I joined had a parenting style that they preferred, and if I didn't agree with that style I was wrong and they were right.  I began to feel really angry, isolated, and picked on.  I wondered why I couldn't find somewhere where I belonged. 

 I began to reminisce about my teenage years and realized that this is a problem I've always had.  Growing up I never followed the path everyone else I knew did.  In high school I was a 4-H kid (think farm animals, agriculture, country music, and cowboy boots) that loved indie music and vampire books (that was way before Twilight made vampires popular).  In college I was an English major who had grown up speaking a different language, and I even had someone say to me, "You don't meet very many English majors of Mexican descent." He didn't say it to be rude, it was totally true! At least on our campus.  

As an adult I once again encountered this dilemma. To make it a little clearer I'll run through some of the different parenting styles and methods I follow.  Before having Ethan I read the book Bringing up Bebe and it really resonated with me.  The French form of parenting made a lot of sense and fit my personality.  Parts of French parenting of course didn't sit well, but I chose what I liked and let go of what I didn't, that's my style.  On the opposite side of that spectrum I had always grown up wanting to have a natural child birth, and upon researching I had decided that I wanted to try having a homebirth; I was also very dedicated to breastfeeding my child and pumping while at work.  Once I had Ethan I got really into babywearing.  Although, I also used my stroller regularly because sometimes I was tired and didn't feel like wearing my baby.  Once I started work I found that sleep training would be a necessity if I wanted to make it through the next year, and that Ethan would need to sleep in his own room.  We sleep trained Ethan but hoping to do a better job with the second baby, I am planning on trying some of the methods in the book On Becoming Baby Wise.  Just like with Bringing up Bebe there are parts of the book I agree with, and parts I don't, so I don't plan on making it my ultimate guide to child rearing but there are definitely aspects of the book that have helped me set a plan for how I'll sleep train this second time around.  I'm also very into homeopathic and natural remedies, while being a full supporter of vaccinations.

This is where my dilemma comes in, I have never been able to commit to one form of living or thinking, and I never will.  All of the methods I mentioned above are borrowed from parenting styles that are all so different that moms from each group have famously waged different sides of the Mommy Wars.  All of this has brought me to the term I often use jokingly, I am a Cafeteria Mom! I am never going to commit to one form of parenting or one ideal, I love being able to pick and choose what works for me and my family and what doesn't.  If you're the type of parent that is part of a parenting community that you completely agree with, then awesome! If you're like me and have never quite felt like you belonged anywhere, just know that you're not alone.

The Jenny Evolution

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pumping Journey Part 3: Bottle Feeding a Breastfed Baby

These are the bottles
we used with Ethan.
*I am not a lactation consultant or medical expert; everything that I share about breastfeeding comes from my experience, and personal research.  Please feel free to pick and choose what you think will work best for you and your baby, and good luck mama!

I had already given some information about introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby in my Pumping Journey Part 1 post but there were some details that I didn't add to it so that it wouldn't be too long.  I decided to create a post just for bottle feeding so that all of the information is in one spot.

Tips for Bottle Feeding a Breastfed Baby:

  • The ideal time to introduce the bottle is between 4 weeks to a month.  They also say it is fine to introduce the bottle once a strong nursing relationship has been established.  I introduced the bottle to Ethan at 3 weeks because our nursing relationship got off to a really good start.
  • When first introducing a bottle have someone other than you (the mom) give the baby a bottle.  Even when Ethan was 5 months old he would refuse to take a bottle from me.
  • We really liked the Tommee Tippe slow flow 0m+ bottles.  They say that it is best to give a breastfed baby a slow flow nipple.  They have faster flows for older babies but I just used the slow flow 0m+ the entire time Ethan was drinking a bottle.
  • Depending on your baby you may have to set up a feeding schedule so that you know how much milk to leave.  At first it may be a little rocky because when I was nursing Ethan we weren't on a schedule, but after a week he settled into a rhythm (we actually used his cues to create the schedule).  He would get a 5 oz. bottle of breast milk every two hours starting at 8 am until 2 pm (I would nurse him at 4 pm).
  • When I first went back to work even though Ethan didn't mind the bottle he did have times when he would refuse it and throw a fit.  Luckily my mom was taking care of him at the time, so when he would refuse the bottle and cry she would hold him close, sing to him, and just soothe him as best she could.  Once he would calm down she would offer the bottle again, and eventually he would take it.  It will take a lot of love and patience from the baby's caregiver if they run into this.
  • Once I was working for a few months he began to have fits when I would try to nurse him.  He would push me away and become very upset.  I just did the same thing that my mom had done when he had refused the bottle and once he calmed down I would try to nurse him again.  It took a lot of patience but our nursing relationship stayed in tact.
  • Ethan took to the bottle pretty easily while I was home so I only gave him a bottle twice a week.  I have a friend whose baby is having a harder time and she's giving her a bottle a day.  You have to find what works and is best for you and your baby.  Whatever you decide to do just remember that you have to pump what you give your baby.  One of the reasons I only gave Ethan a bottle twice a week was because I had a really hard time pumping, and collecting that small amount of milk was very difficult for me.
  • Once I was working I would leave 20 oz. of milk a day, but often Ethan would finish it all and demand more.  I felt as if I was going crazy.  There was never enough milk but it seemed as if I was always hooked up to my pump.  I finally found out about Paced Bottle Feeding, it's a bottle feeding method that is supposed to mimic the rhythm of breastfeeding so that the baby does not drink too much milk, too fast.  Once we employed this method things changed dramatically.  Ethan was content and the milk I was leaving was the correct amount.  Below is the paced bottle feeding video that I showed to Jeff.

  I also know some babies that never took to the bottle and so their moms gave them a sippy cup instead, or the baby wouldn't drink milk while mom was at work and then would nurse all evening.  Just know that there is no, "Right Way" to do any of this.  Figure out what works for you and your baby and don't worry if it doesn't match what anyone else that you know has done.   

   I know that all of this seems very overwhelming and I'm sorry for that.  Thinking of all of this pumping and bottle feeding stuff was the last thing I wanted to do when bonding with my baby. Unfortunately, I had to return to work, it was not an option for me to stay home.  I know that for many working moms staying home isn't an option; one of the main goals of my blog is to support moms in these kids of situations.  If anyone has questions about any of my blog posts please feel free to ask questions here or to e-mail me.  I'm more than happy to help.  

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