Monthly Archives: August 2013

Call Me Crunchy

So… I am now a bonefide hippie. Well, me-two-years-ago would call me-now a hippie. Why? For several reasons, but mainly because I have started a love affair with coconut oil. (If you follow me on Pinterest this may not surprise you.) I have a jar of it in my bathroom cabinet and on my son’s changing table. I made my own deodorant with it and I store it in my fridge!  I cook with it! I use it as a hair conditioning treatment! I use it to fight Alzheimer’s!  I am one day going to use coconut oil to RULE THE WORLD!!!!

OK, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the gist of my obsession. Some of you may have discovered coconut oil decades ago and are thinking, “um, DUH, Sue, get with the program!” To you I say, “Congratulations! You can stop reading now.”

But to all you other people whose children’s bottoms aren’t being wiped clean with DIY-made-with-coconut-oil wipes, read on!

Here’s the [ahem] bottom line: coconut oil is a superfood. Here are just a few of its proven health benefits:

  • coconut oil is antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal, thus making it a great base for ointments and wipes.
  • coconut oil contains several different types of natural medium-chain-fatty acids image(MCFAs), including one that is found in prescription medication for Alzheimer’s. These MCFAs are also known to promote weight loss.
  • coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism
  • coconut oil’s naturally present vitamin E and antioxidant properties make it useful for treating scrapes and mild burns.
  • coconut oil has been shown to boost thyroid function, boost your immune system, promote healthy blood sugar levels and improve overall cholesterol levels. ­

These are just a few of the uses! As I mentioned before, while on a seemingly impossible quest for a natural-but-effective deodorant (I think I tried every brand Sprouts offered…), in a last-ditch-effort I made my own deodorant with coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch. (I used this recipe). And here’s the kicker: MY HUSBAND SAYS IT’S SO EFFECTIVE THAT HE’S AGREED TO USE IT!!!!

Here’s a great list of more uses of this amazing oil by the Wellness Mama: 101 Uses for Coconut Oil. And here’s another article that goes into more detail about the health benefits of coconut oil.

If you haven’t jumped onto this bandwagon, I recommend it! I love knowing that I have replaced so many chemically-laden products (baby oil, anti-aging cream, deodorant, to name a few) in our home with this natural substance.

Do you use coconut oil? I’d love to hear about any good recipes and uses!

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It’s not about the nail!

If you haven’t seen this, WATCH IT NOW! It’s really funny, and it hits home to anyone in a relationship.

Pretty funny video, huh! But… it also peeved me a little, and I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, AJ and I have read so many “marriage” books I can’t even count them. And I agree with what most of those books say: men often try to “fix” something when women just want to verbally process it.

This little video didn’t bother me too much until one day I made some comment about my [very extreme] stretch marks on my stomach.  Like, in the context of my daughter saying “mommy, your stomach is so squishy and striped!” and me saying, “yes, that is one of the permanent sacrifices I made for my kids, haha.”

AJ replied, “Well, I don’t know why you don’t just get a tummy tuck.” I looked at him. For a long time. And said, “yeah, well, maybe one day…”

And then my loving, sweet, faithful husband muttered as he walked away, “It’s not about the nail, it’s not about the nail.”

WHAT!?!?!?! IT’S NOT ABOUT THE NAIL?!?!? Did he REALLY just say that?!? Oh man. That really, um, shall I say ticked me off.  But why? I couldn’t quite place why  I got so irritated about that comment! I can see why he would say that; a tummy tuck would “solve” the “problem” of my stretch marks (sort of). But it still made my blood boil.

As usual, I didn’t launch into a huge argument, rather I stewed about it for several days (while of course glaring at him if he happened to be in my presence while said stewing was going on…) and I tried to internally process it.  I finally came to the conclusion that “It’s not about the nail” makes women look like stupid idiots who can’t solve problems and refuse to listen to good advice.

I can guarantee you that when they “complain” about a situation, most women (and I say most because I haven’t actually met all women) have indeed thought through almost every possible solution to the problem. They’ve run it through their heads and analyzed it from every perspective, and asked themselves the question “what if” a dozen times. They’ve considered their own emotions about the issue, but have also recognized the emotions of the other people involved. They don’t need any more opinions on how to “solve” their problem.  Not really. I venture that what they really might need is advice on how to manage their problem.

The pastor of our church recently made this distinction: “Not all problems need to be solved. Some need to be managed.”  It’s so true! Instead of telling me how to solve the problem, I need my husband to ask me why I have chosen NOT to solve the problem!

For instance, I have obviously considered how to “solve” the problem of my stretch marks. I’ve asked myself hundreds of questions, specifically concerning a “tummy tuck.”

I’ve decided that, for now, I do not want a tummy tuck. (OK, part of me does want a tummy tuck, who wouldn’t?!?) But, having grown up with self-image issues, it is a big priority to help my daughter love herself just as she is. And getting a tummy tuck might, just might, send the wrong impression. Now, when she’s in college or older, it might be a different story. But for now, my “problem” can’t be “solved.” It needs to be managed. I need to know how to handle the fact that I’ll never wear a two-piece again. That every time I look in the mirror I’ll see a stomach that has been literally torn up, all the way past my belly button. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to post a picture, haha!)

So guys, next time you think “It’s not about the nail” realize, of course it’s about the nail! But it’s might be more about how to manage the nail, because sometimes pulling the nail out will just leave a bloody mess! :)

You knew it was coming…

…after all, I’m a mom, and it was Breastfeeding Awareness Week recently. So, I’m going to talk about it now, after the fact. Because, while I 100% believe in breastfeeding, I deliberately avoided reading/watching/listening/breathing anything that had to do with Breastfeeding Awareness.

Both of my children were exclusively bottle fed. Neither of them could figure out how to latch properly. All the lactation consultants said, “You’re doing everything right! The baby just needs to cooperate!” Well, those babies would literally open their mouths half an inch. It would be an understatement to say it was incredibly frustrating and painful for me, and equally frustrating for them.

imageI did the “struggle” with Tori for about 8 very long weeks in the hope that she’d figure it out. The “struggle” meant putting her to my breast to feed, trying to get her to latch until she got so frustrated that she started screaming bloody murder, at which point I, also crying, would give her a bottle of breastmilk and then pump after she ate. It was truly a terrible, painful and emotionally exhausting experience.

And low and behold, when Anders was born, he did THE EXACT SAME THING. Ironically, the nurses at the hospital saw me trying to get him to latch and said, “I can tell you’re an experienced nurser!” Uh, no, actually, I’ve never truly nursed a baby before…

So, we did the “struggle” again, except this time I had a two-year-old running around, asking me if she could put the pump on her nipples, too, and why is Anders crying, mama, and why are you crying, mama, and I have to go potty!

I have absolutely NO doubt that this struggle contributed greatly to triggering my major post-partum depression. If he had nursed, I probably still would’ve had PPD, but I really believe it might not have gotten quite so extreme. Of course, there were other triggers, such as the stress that came from his gastro-esophageal reflux disease, but more on that later!

So, back to Breastfeeding Awareness Week. I got to see many of my friends post beautiful pictures of women serenely breastfeeding and post articles that always have written somewhere, “breastfeeding is by far the most important thing you can do for your child” and go on to list all the wonderful benefits that neither of my children received. And while I wholeheartedly agree that breastfeeding should be embraced by our society, you can understand why I chose to avoid delving too deeply into all the excitement.

There are few things as sweet as seeing a baby’s foot sticking out from under a nursing cover, or even better, her little hand curled up against her mother’s breast.  It is truly a beautiful, amazing thing. It is also a reminder of a not-so-beautiful part of my life. But it’s part of my story, and for that, I’m grateful! And my kids are healthy and beautiful and growing perfectly, thanks to the wonderful invention of formula. :)

Good Choices

So, I’m living with a three-year-old. And she’s a girl. And a first-born. And, from what I’ve been told, she’s pretty smart. All of this adds up to: I’m living with a HOLY TERROR WHO NEVER LISTENS OR OBEYS!!!!

Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration. But I swear, sometimes it feels that way! In all honesty, she’s really not that bad. She’s just, well, a three-year-old smarty pants. She makes herself laugh by running around the house naked like a banshee and then doing a “doopie dance” in the kitchen, even though I’ve told her three times to PUT ON YOUR UNDIES!

I was feeling a little out of control, and then I remembered seeing on my sister’s fridge some sort of behavior/obeying chart for her son, and thought, “well, might be worth a try…” So, I kept thinking that for like 3 weeks and of course pinned numerous versions of behavior charts on Pinterest until I finally sat down and printed some clipart and drew some lines on a sheet of paper and made one.

good choicesI call it a Good Choices Chart because my big goal in discipline is to make her understand that her choices have consequences, good or bad. Bad choices equal a discipline, and now, good choices equal a sticker! And FIVE stickers in one category equals a prize from the prize basket! (Read: ultra clearance stuff like a seventy-four cent Hello Kitty cup from Walmart. Because only Walmart would sell something for seventy-four cents…)

So far, it’s working! At least with the getting dressed part. We’ll see how the others go!

Survival Skills

Today I needed to give myself a time-out. A long, sleep-filled time-out. I’ve developed a survival skill that allows me to evaluate when I need to ignore the dishes, laundry, gross bathroom sink and completely sticky floor, and TAKE A NAP! Because, I’ll be honest, when I’m tired, I’m no different than my 3 year old daughter: I get grumpy, short-tempered, and my anger and depression symptoms flare up. And a grumpy, short-tempered, angry, depressed mama is not a good mama.

So I took a nap, for as long as I could while my two children blissfully slept, simultaneously, during their afternoon nap.  Granted it lasted only about 35 minutes, but it was better than nothing. AND, when a small hand tickled my foot and giggled, “Mommy, you need to wake up!”, I wasn’t unreasonably irritated.

Have you ever felt guilty about napping? I used to, all the time. There are so many other, better, more useful, more productive things I could be doing. Think of all the cool art projects or scrapbooks or baked goods I could make!! I could fold the clean-but-has -been-sitting-in-the-basket-for-3-days laundry! I could finally scrape off the splattered, bright pink nail polish off the wall, sand it, prime it, and paint it! Or… I could take a nap. And be a better mother.

It has taken me a stupidly long time to understand that one of the most important things I can do for my children is to take care of myself. What good is folded laundry if you’re sobbing while you fold it?

Napping is not a cure-all answer to “how to be a good mom.” But, for me, being tired can become a trigger for my depression, and my depression makes me unable to live in the moment and tolerate, let alone enjoy, my children.  Dr. Deborah Serani, author of  Living with Depression and regular cat-napper, says “Research shows how a nap can promote physical well-being, improve mood and memory, re-energize and sharpen senses.”  (She also mentions that napping much longer than 30 minutes can have the opposite effect!)

 I cannot stress what a big deal it is that I am finally able to recognize my symptoms and acknowledge and accept them for what they are: depression symptoms. They are not just “being moody” or “PMSing”. They are the tip of a very dark, very deep iceberg that can and will destroy anything and everything that comes near it. It is imperative that I kill them at the first sight; my survival as a mother and wife depends on it.  So bring on the catnaps!!