Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why I Used Cloth Diapers and Why I Ditched Them (The Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers)

When Heidi was a baby, I was determined to be all crunchy-granola type mom.  I do extended breastfeeding, make my own baby food, avoid unnecessary medications, natural remedies, natural childbirth, baby wearing...the whole she-bang.  Part of that is cloth diapers, of course. Except when Heidi was a baby, we lived in a apartment and didn't have a washer/dryer, so I didn't use cloth at first.  However, when we moved into our own house with a washer/dryer when she was around 20 months, I eagerly invested in cloth diapers and used them ever since. Until I stopped.

I used them because they were cheaper, cuter, environmentally friendly and more natural. I even belonged to this whole cloth diapering playgroup.  Why there was a whole playgroup centered around cloth diapers, I will never know.  But, I did meet some nice moms through it. 

And I kept using them through the rest of the kids. Until I stopped recently after using them for several months with Annika.  Here's why. 

First the pros:


Cloth is cheaper:  Cloth diapers can definitely save money, especially if you use them for more than one child and pass them down.

Cloth is more natural:  I mean, I'm not really sure what is inside disposable diapers, but whatever it is it is not natural because it can hold a ton of pee and not smell and still keep the baby dry. That's gotta be some weird chemical stuff. 

Cloth is cuter: Honestly, I think this is what draws a lot of people towards cloth.  Cloth diapers come in all sorts of cute patterns and colors.  Mommy likes to place dress-up with the baby. 




Cloth is better for the environment: Probably anyway.  They say disposable diapers end up in the landfill for like a gazillion years.  So even with the extra washing and energy, it still probably comes out ahead of disposable diapers. 

Now the cons:

Cloth is more work:  And, I don't just mean the work of washing diapers.  Although there is that.  But the work of changing diapers.  Cloth diapers need to be changed VERY frequently. As in as soon as the baby pees in it one time.  For some babies (like mine) that could be just about every 30 minutes.  Two hours is probably the maximum. This can be rather annoying, especially when you are out and about.   And forget about overnight.  You have to put SO MUCH CLOTH on a baby to last overnight (especially if the baby is nursing all night).  SO MUCH.  As in the diaper ends up being SUPER THICK and probably uncomfortable. I gave up night-time cloth diapers very quickly.  For years, I had a happy compromise of using cloth during the day and disposables at night and when out of the house. I did that for most of my kids. 

Even still, I would say that I would change on average 10-12 cloth diapers a day as opposed to 5-6 disposable diapers.  So that's about double the number of diaper changes.  

Cloth leaks: I've never had a disposable diaper leak pee.  I have had a few blow-outs in disposable diapers, but never really had one leak pee.  Cloth diapers on the other hand leak frequently.  And since my babies basically nurse all day long, they also pee all day long, which means each day usually involved at least 1 outfit change due to diaper leaks because I would forget and go longer than 60-90 minutes in between changes.  Sometimes I would change 2-3 diapers an hour.

Cloth stinks: When I used cloth, I had enough diapers to last several days between washing.  I could easily go 4-5 days...that's how large my stash was.  However, that also meant that the dirty diapers were sitting around for several days in the diaper pail.  It just didn't smell good.  It wasn't that there was anything wrong with my diapers.just that any pee-soaked cloth is going to stink after a day or so, especially when you are talking about an older baby.

Cloth is more complicated:  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is a factor. There are many different types and styles of cloth diapers and different people have different preferences.   Sometimes it can take a bit of experimenting to see what you like.  Plus, different types of inserts/diapers go with different covers/pockets.  Over the years I had accumulated quite a large stash (mostly given to me by other cloth diaper drop-outs).  It was all fine when I was changing the baby because I knew what goes with what, but if someone less familiar tried to change the baby.  Well, let's just say there were a few times the baby was dressed in two fitted diapers and no cover or some other mishap that resulted in diaper malfunction.

Cloth is bulky.  When she's wearing cloth, the answer is yes.





Why I ditched the cloth: I just recently stopped using my cloth diapers and went all sposie with Annika.  The main reason being the leaks and increased number of diaper changes. I just couldn't deal with it anymore.  I figured I had done my dues to save the earth and I just needed a break from changing diapers every hour.  I was also tired of dealing with the stink from the diaper pail.   And I no longer feel like we are in a place where I feel so financially strapped to stretch every single penny.  So, I'm giving myself a break for awhile. 

I will likely bring the cloth out again when it comes time for potty-training. I'm a fan of doing it early and i find that cloth does make potty-training easier. 

What about you?  Do you use cloth diapers?  Have you tried them? Did you stick with it?

Any hey look, it's Sunday.  So I figured I would link up with Rosie for My Sunday Best.

It's in the 60's today, even though it's February, which is why Elsa is wearing a summer dress. Here is what Elsa, Annika and I wore today. 






Then Ben decided to get in the picture, so now we have a nice family picture minus the three older kids, who are much less cooperative when it comes to picture taking,











Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Baby Sleep...What I'm Doing Differently with Baby #5....or how I gently taught my baby to sleep alone(ish)


I've never had a kid that was naturally a "good sleeper".  I've never had a kid that just falls asleep anywhere.  I've never had a kid that slept longer than average.  In fact, whenever I would look at those sleep charts of how much sleep a child of x age should be my sleeping...mine were always on the lowest end of the range..or sometimes even lower,

Nighttime, I don't usually have a problem with. I love co-sleeping.  I don't mind co-sleeping at all.  I actually sleep better next to my babies. 

Naps are a different thing though.  I don't like napping and I certainly can't lie around in bed every time my baby needs to take a nap.  Ain't no one got time for that. 

With the first three babies, for all naps, I would nurse them lying down in bed and when they feel asleep I would sneak away.  It worked okay.  I mean..they napped.  Not a super long time, but they did it, and I was able to get some stuff done.  

Then along came Elsa.  And she was the WORST NAPPER EVER.  She would fall asleep nursing, and then a butterfly would flap its wings in China and she would wake up.  She would not sleep alone and consequently spent most of her infancy getting by on short, little cat-naps. Most of her naps took place in my lap, while I tapped, tapped, tapped away on the old computer keyboard.  I should have written a book, but mostly I just wrote blog posts. 

Then we had Annika and I was determined to do things differently.  I got a Special Delivery Baby Hammock and starting putting her down in it when she fell asleep.  Sometimes she would stay asleep, sometimes she wouldn't.  But overall, it was a big improvement over how Elsa napped.  It was working okay. 

For the first 4 months, that is. Then it stopped working. The length of time she would sleep in it got less and less. She would wake up sooner and cry and fuss and move around, and not fall back asleep.  She had to be in the deepest of sleeps to stay asleep and as soon as she shifted into lighter sleep, she would awaken. I think the movement of the hammock as she moved around was actually waking her up.  She also developed a very strong preference for sleeping on her belly, as she learned to roll over rather early. Even while co-sleeping, she preferred (still prefers) to sleep on her belly.  You can't sleep on your belly while in the hammock.

So, for awhile we struggled.  She would fall asleep nursing in my lap and I would feel pinned down and unable to get up.  It was frustrating.  I did NOT want to be pinned down to a napping baby all the time, and while I love babywearing in certain situations, I really wanted my baby to be able to nap alone. 

So, I checked out this book from the library.

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I read it.  It was definitely helpful, although night-time sleeping isn't really our problem as I love co-sleeping and night-time awakenings don't really bother me as long as the baby falls back asleep quickly while nursing in bed.  

So, I realized that THIS is the book I actually needed. 


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And it was very helpful.

Over the course of about 2 weeks, I gently taught Annika to sleep alone in her crib (pack n play actually). It's a beautiful thing. 

Now, she still doesn't fall asleep alone.  I still nurse her to sleep.  But now I can nurse her to sleep and then put her in the crib and she'll sleep in there for OVER AN HOUR BY HERSELF!! 

I don't mind nursing her sleep because well....I have to nurse her anyway.  I mean, she has to eat and it just makes SENSE to put her to sleep with as full a belly as possible.  Plus, nursing just makes her fall asleep so easily.  All my kids nursed to sleep as babies and then eventually learned to fall asleep without nursing.  Pinky-swear. It does happen. 

These are the steps I took to accomplish this:

1).  Every time I thought she would fall asleep nursing, I would nurse her upstairs in the bedroom on the floor next to the crib and then once she was "asleep enough" put her in the crib on her belly* and then pat/rub her back until she would fall asleep again.  She doesn't take a pacifier, but she does sometimes suck her thumb and will suck on our fingers, so sometimes I would stick my finger in her mouth to let her suck and sometimes I would help her find her own thumb to suck.

To be honest, this stage did involve a small amount of crying.  Not much....never more than a few minutes and I never left her alone to cry.  Sometimes it took a few tries of picking her up and nursing her until she was fully asleep again and then trying again, but I was just really consistent with it and kept trying for every nap (and when I would put her to bed for the night). 

It took about 2 weeks of doing this consistently, but now I can nurse her until she is asleep and pretty much reliably put her down every time.  I don't even have to worry about how "asleep-asleep" she is and can put her down as soon as she falls asleep.

2). However, she was still waking up after a short time.  It was longer than when we used the hammock..but still usually less than 30 minutes.   So, this is where the book became really helpful. I was able troubleshoot some of our problems and once I worked on those, her sleep much improved and now she will take 1+ hour long naps by herself.

This is what I learned. 

I need to be more intentional about her naps.  Apparently, at 6 months, a baby can only have 2-3 hours of awake time before needing to nap.  I hadn't realized that.  I was just letting her fall asleep nursing (amongst the midst of our busy household) whenever she was tired, which basically resulted in her getting over-tired a lot because by 6 months she is more than capable of keeping herself awake.  She's alert.  She's busy. She's smart. She wants to be involved in the happenings of the house.  She was keeping herself awake.   So now, about 2-3 hours after her last awakening time, I take her upstairs and get her ready for a nap.  This involves changing her diaper, turning on the white noise machine and nursing her.

I need to use white noise. I've never used white noise to help my babies sleep before.  Actually..that is not true.  Heidi and Greta both used to sleep in the stroller in the bathroom with the fan on and lights off (because we lived in houses that had bathrooms without any windows and the room would get totally dark) as toddlers.  They napped really well like that.  But since then I had forgotten about the importance of white noise and hadn't used it.  However, the book really suggested it, so I thought I would try it.  Plus..now we have smartphones so I could download a free app and try it out before buying a machine.  And it worked.  So I bought a cheap white noise machine and it really does help her sleep longer.  

She likes the waterfall and rainfall sounds best. The heartbeat sound is creepy and reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe, so we don't use that one. 

I needed to make the crib pack n play more comfortable.  Let's face it.  A pack n play mattress is like sleeping on a piece of cardboard.  Not that comfortable. Of course, I could invest in a crib, but I like the space-saving and portability of the pack n play.   So, I put a crocheted blanket totally flat underneath the fitted sheet and this makes it a lot softer and more comfortable, while still being safe, in my opinion.  I'm sure that is a safety no-no, but for a 6-month old that has been rolling since she was 2-3 months and crawling (army crawl) since 5 months, I think it's fine She is in no danger of suffocating anywhere and is past the age of greatest SIDS risk. Plus, they say SIDS is a problem in babies that sleep too deeply. Sleeping too deeply is NOT her problem. Sleeping too lightly is her problem. 




I need to put her to bed earlier.   The book suggests putting kids to bed by 6:30 or 7:00 PM.  I don't usually get her to bed that early, but I do start to try earlier than I used to.  Now, she is going to sleep around 7:30 PM and sleeping the first part of the night by herself. Then I take her into bed with me once she wakes up or once I go to sleep. 

I need to be intentional about naps even when not at home. To be honest, I used to pooh-pooh those parents who were super rigid about naps and would miss events and stay home so their baby could nap.  Now, I sorta understand it. Although I'm still not willing to do it.  With 5 kids, you just can't be all "sorry, we're dropping out of co-op so the baby can nap every morning".  Not going to happen.  Not fair to the older kids.  What I can do however, is help her nap while we are out. 

Another thing I learned is that once babies get past the newborn stage, they really need to nap at least 45-60 minutes to get the restorative benefits of a nap.  Anything less is a "crap nap" and not as beneficial.  This means that if we are out and she is napping in the go, I still need to be intentional and plan ahead. Thankfully, she have been sleeping in the silng/ergo when we are out of the house pretty much since she was born, so she is used to sleeping in there. One morning a week we are at co-op from 9-12   Normally at home, she would take a morning nap around 10:00 AM.  So, at co-op, around 10:00-10:30 AM, I put her in the ergo or sling and make a point of walking around with her a bit so she will fall asleep and then she snoozes in there all during the chemistry class I teach.   Or, if I know we are going to be someplace until x time and that she will need a nap, I try to nurse her/sling her at least 1 hour before x time, so she can get that hour long nap in.

The downside of doing this, is she isn't falling asleep every time we get in the car anymore, so she is a bit crankier in there.  But, she is sleeping better overall and she's no longer subsisting off of 20 minutes car naps. 


And this is how I gently taught my baby to sleep by herself.  At least for naps and the first part of the night. I really liked the no-cry series of books.  It's not a quick fix.  It takes longer than sleep-training, I am sure.  But it was gentle and didn't involve lots of crying and was something I felt good about doing. 




Now we are all much happier, as she is getting better naps and I am getting a lot more free time and not feeling frustrating by being pinned down with a sleeping baby.  I don't know that this would necessarily work for every baby.  I'm not sure that it would have with Elsa, but it is working with Annika and I think it would have worked with several others of my less high-needs babies as well. 

*DISCLAIMER:  I didn't start teaching her how to sleep alone until around 6 months.  Since we're doing belly-sleeping and I modified her mattress to make it softer, I wouldn't recommend doing those particular things with a younger baby. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What I Want my Daughters to Know about Being a Woman.

My Facebook feed has been blowing up with friends posting about the Women's March and protesting the Women's march and showing pictures of the Women's March.  People sharing the good stuff and the bad stuff. People posting about rioters and people posting about peaceful demonstration. 

I saw friend after friend post picture after picture, post after post, story after story. Stories about people excluding pro-lifers and stories about pro-lifers going anyway. 

Yesterday, as I was running errands I drove past some marchers in my own city. And they all seemed to be protesting different issues. Some were definitely pro-choice. Some wanted affordable health care for everyone. Some didn't like our current president's nominee for secretary of education. Some just didn't like our current president.

Elsewhere in this same city, a local March for Life was occurring. I believe in both women's rights and the right to life for all people. I suppose you could call me a pro-life feminist. 

 I have four daughters. I'm trying to raise them to be strong women.   

This is what I want them to know about being a woman.


This is what we all wore today to Mass.  Go see Rosie for more My Sunday Best.
Women are beautiful creatures made in the image of God. So are men. Women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. So do men. Your body is a beautiful thing with the ability to create life. Use it wisely. Use it well. Sex makes babies. All the birth control in the world doesn't stop that basic, biological fact. The smart thing to do is to not have sex with anyone who isn't 100% committed to you and to any children that may result from that sexual encounter. This is why the church teaches that sex is for marriage only. I hope and pray that you follow that church teaching. But, if you don't. If something happens, or someone hurts you and you get pregnant unexpectedly, I hope you realize that life is precious.  All life is precious. And no matter what happens, ending a life, even an unborn life, is not the answer. There are many people out there willing to help you. Your parents will always help you and there are many other loving souls more than willing to lend a helping hand. Seek them out. 

It's a sad fact of life than men hurt women sometimes. Men have been known to abuse and rape and kill and abandon women. This is why we take precautions when we go places, especially at night. Be very, very picky about which men you choose to date and hang out with and marry. Don't put up with anyone treating your poorly. Ask any woman who has ever been hurt by a man. It's better to be alone than to be in a bad relationship. Thankfully, there are lots of good men out there. They are worth waiting for and seeking out. 

Take responsibility for yourself and take care of your self. Just because something was an accident or not your fault doesn't mean that you still don't have to deal with the consequences. Sometimes bad things happen and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it. But sometimes taking precautions is also wise. This is why we wear seat-belts and driver slower in the snow. Be very careful about alcohol. Many women get hurt when excessive alcohol consumption is involved. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and ability to make sound judgment. Use alcohol wisely and never abuse it. Nonetheless. if someone does hurt you (even if you made a poor choice) know that it's not your fault, it's never your fault and we will always help you through it. 

Maybe someday you will have children. Or maybe you will desperately want a child, but be unable to have one. Or maybe you will have a child, but be unable to produce milk for that child. Sometimes our bodies don't work the way we want them to. Sometimes we think we are too fat or too thin or too short or too tall or we don't like our hair or skin or hips or arms. Society tells us that every woman should look one particular way. That is a lie. Love your body. It is beautiful. Take care of it. Feed it well. Eat your vegetables. Keep active and exercise. Treat your body with respect.

Being a woman is a wonderful thing. Be proud of your womanhood.I don't know what you will choose to do with your life, but I know it will be wonderful. Maybe you will have a great career as a doctor or lawyer or engineer or business owner or teacher. Maybe you will decide to stay home with your children. Maybe you will work part-time. Maybe during some parts of your life you will work outside the home and other times you will stay home. Maybe you will have a religious vocation and join an order or nuns. All those options are good options. Just do whatever God is calling you to do.  Pray a lot. You have a smart mind. Feed it well with good books and good media and avoid that which is trash or brings you down and encourages things that are wrong.

It's wonderful to be a woman. Sometimes women hurt other women. Surround yourself with friends that will lift you up, not drag you down. Never change to be like someone else or change so that someone else will like you. Be kind to others...always. Think before opening your mouth. Your words can hurt other people. Use them wisely. Never hurt another person for your own personal gain. Always try to do the right thing and know that you are loved. God loves you. Your father and I love you. Your siblings love you. Your extended family loves you. 

So, last of all.



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Sunday, January 1, 2017

That time I was out at 1:30 AM on New Year's Eve.

So...last night I was out past midnight for the first time since 1998 or so when I partied like it was 1999 at the Youth 2000 New Year's Eve Retreat. Anyone else remember those?
Ben and I had gone out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary but were home at a respectable 8:30 PM. Because we had a tired baby with us and a babysitting teen at home and I turn into a pumpkin at 10:00 PM.
In a series of unfortunate events involving the garage door having been left open and a well-meaning child putting the dog outside, our dog got out. Once we realized he was gone (about 10-20 minutes later), we scoured the neighborhood, but he was nowhere to be found. Which was odd, because he wasn't gone long and is not the type of dog to run away.
Anyway, I come home and somehow stumble upon the Lost Dogs of Our Fair City Facebook page and sure enough...there is a picture of our George. Someone had posted that they picked him at the corner of X street and Y street and dropped him off at animal control. What just happens to be at the corned of X street and Y street you may be asking? Why it's OUR HOUSE! So, he was sorta dog-napped, but not really.
Anyway, I go to bed at my usual time of 9:30 (intending to contact animal control when they open again on Tuesday) because I need my beauty sleep. Well around midnight, I was rather rudely awakened by fireworks going on right outside my house. At 12:15, my phone rang. Now phone calls at 12:15 AM are never good things, so I answer with much trepidation.
It is the animal control officer letting me know that they have our dog and she will be there until 2 AM if I want to pick him up that night. Otherwise, they won't be open again until Tuesday.. Um okay. Because apparently Animal Control works on New Year's Eve, but not New Year's Day or the day after.
Since I am such an animal-loving softy and I wanted to make my kids happy by surprising them and having our dog back in the morning, I ventured out on New Year's Eve at 12:30 AM, leaving the rest of the household in peaceful slumber, praying all the time that I wouldn't get hit by a drunk driver and killed, leaving my poor husband to raise 5 children alone.
Spoiler alert: I made it there and back safely. No drunk drivers. I did pass a lot of drunk walkers though, while passing through downtown.
When I get to animal control (which I only found thanks to the modern miracle of GPS enabled smartphones) I am unable to find the doorbell to ring the Animal Control officer anywhere. So, I called, and called and called and called and called, while walking around the building and doors looking for the doorbell, Finally the officer comes to the door, I get our dog back and make it home safely.
In an even more fortunate incident, I had renewed our dog license just last week when I got a notice that our cat license needed to be renewed. We never received a notice about the dog, so it had been expired since around October, but I renewed it just in time and they even waived the reclaim fee.
On top of that, animal control also made him a spiffy dog tag with his name and our address on it, so all's well that ends well.
And even though I only got a few hours of sleep last night, I still managed to wake up with my usual cheery disposition and pretty myself up and head off to Mass. Since, I'm blogging anyway, I figured I might as well link up with Rosie for My Sunday Best..


Aren't Elsa's leggings the best!!
(Most of my clothes are from Schoola. My new favorite online thrift shop. If you use my link and this is your first time shopping, you get $10.)
And I want documentation of that one time I was up at 1;30 AM on New Year's Eve. Hopefully it won't happen again for another 18 years.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Loaf of Bread

Every Baby Comes Carrying a Loaf of Bread Under His (Her) Arm - Spanish/Italian/Something Proverb

That has certainly been true in our case.
See...photo evidence.

The day Annika was born, my husband had his first job interview for his new job.  Yes...that very day.  As in, he had the interview scheduled for 9 AM and my water broke at 7 AM.  Whee!!  I actually didn’t go into labor until 4:30 PM and she was born at 7:45 PM.  

So, it all worked out.  Then he had his second interview when she was only 11 days old and he got the actual offer just before she turned 6 weeks.

A really great loaf of bread.  We have been praying for this job for the last 6 years!

Seriously...he switched from a career in teaching to law school back in 2010 and we have been praying for this job ever since he first started.   

Six years!  

There were many, many dark moments during that time.  Many tears and lots of despair.
It’s been a bunch of tough lessons about learning patience and trust and hope and all that good stuff.  Very, very tough.  But amazingly enough, we did okay.  We always had enough money each month.  Somehow, something would always come through so all our needs were always met.  We learned lots of frugal habits….like not buying paper towels (a habit I have since given up).  After years of looking for a sustainable, effective work at home job, where I could actually make money working at home, I finally found one.  

So we did okay....with some (lots of) help.  But, we were still waiting and hoping for that job. Finally, finally, finally it came.

God is always faithful. God always takes care of us. Many people would say that one shouldn't have a baby if things aren't just peachy-keen financially. That you need to own a house and have a big bank account and money for college. The thing is, things are almost never peachy-keen. And even when they are, things can change in an instant. While owning a house and a big bank account and money for college are good things, they aren't necessary. Three out of my five children would not exist if we had waited for things to be financially perfect. That would be sad....those children not existing. I don't know what they will do in life, but hopefully they will grow up and make the world a better place. They will be kind and helpful and smart and do good things.  

New babies are worth it.  Even when they don’t come bearing such an obvious loaf of bread, they always bring their own blessing and joy. Babies are people and people are worth fighting for. They are worth bringing into the world, even when life isn't perfect. Life is rarely perfect. If no one had babies unless life was perfect, this world would be a much emptier place.

Babies have this tendency to make the world better, to bring out the best in others. To inspire others to be more giving and caring and loving. The world certainly needs more love.

Parenthood is about the only thing left that the world encourages unselfishness in. Babies have a tendency to make people less selfish. Which is a very, very good thing. Here's to all the babies!!





Have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving!.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jumping on the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) bandwagon...and then right back off again.

Trim Healthy Mama.  It's all the rage.  The diet plan of choice amongst 30-something moms like myself,

I just had a baby 3 months ago, and babies come about as the result of a pregnancy and with pregnancy comes the rather unfortunate side effect of weight gain.  I'm NOT one of those lucky moms who easily lose weight while breastfeeding.  I always have to "try" to lose weight after a baby.  It doesn't just fall off.  It's very unfortunate.  Good thing those babies are cute and worth it. 

So, I decided to check out Trim Healthy Mama from the library.   

I read it.

I bought the cookbook.

I even tried it for a week. 

And then I stopped.  

Here's why. 

First a summary.  

The basis of trim healthy mama is you separate out your fats and carbs.  Each meal you eat starts with a protein base and then you can either make it an E meal by adding in up to 45 grams of slow-acting carbs (no pasta, white potatoes, white bread).  Instead the carbs are things like beans, old-fashioned oatmeal. fruits and sprouted grain breads.  You are NEVER supposed to eat a whole banana...just 1/2 at a time.  The E meals can include up to 1 or 2 tsp of fat, but that's it.

Or you can have an S meal, which is low in carbs (no more than 10g) but high in fat. So E meals contain protein and carbs while S meals contain protein and fat.   With all meals, you are encouraged to eat lots of green, leafy veggies. 

The authors of this plan (two sisters named Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, neither of which has a medical or scientific background) believe that the body can only handle 1 fuel source at a time and that when you combine them, the body will burn the carbs first and the fat is stored as fat. 

Lots of people seem to LOVE this plan and have had great success with it. Lots of people!

I do think that in many ways it can be a very healthy way of eating. It basically eliminates all junk, that is for sure.  If this works for you, that is great.

It doesn't work for me.  Here are some of my reasons:

I'm not buying the part about separating fat and carbs.    I don't think there is any scientific basis to this whatsoever.  I do think it makes sense that the body burns carbs before fat, but really what it comes down to is the body will burn as much fuel as it needs and if you eat significantly more than that, you will gain weight.  It doesn't matter if that fuel is fat or carbs....if you eat too much, your body stores the excess as fat.  If you eat less, you lose weight (assuming a healthy metabolism and all that). 

I think this diet plan works because by separating our your fat and carbs and limiting yourself to less than 45 g of carbs at a time, you are basically eliminating every possible fattening or delicious food on the planet.   Except for bacon.  But, really...this eliminates just about all the foods that people are inclined to overeat.  Candy, cookies, sweets, cake, pancakes, cheese and crackers, bread and butter, pasta, pizza, lasagna, chips, fries, hamburgers (with the bun), soda, juice, coffee with cream and sugar etc, etc.

I don't think there is some intrinsic difference between eating toast with butter versus eating dry toast and that same amount of butter 3 hours later, except that no one eats like that.   


I think it's the same reason why low-carb diets work.  If someone is eating low-carb they are eating less.  It's hard to overeat on steak and bacon.  For one thing you have to cook it, so portion control is way easier.   You can't just go back for more steak the way you can for more pasta .  I don't think there is anything inherently fattening about carbs...it's just that carbs are way more likely to be overeaten than high protein/fat foods. And some people have trouble with blood sugar spiking after eating carbs, so they are driven to eat more.  But that doesn't mean the carbs themselves are fattening, so much as they are inclined to make one more likely to overeat.  Eating limited, healthy portions of  healthy carbs is no more fattening than not eating them.

Ultimately it does come down to calories.  Limiting carbs or separating fuels is going to almost definitely make someone limit their calories.  Oftentimes very significantly. 

It's basically low-carb and that makes me feel terrible.  Everyone likes to say that it's not low-carb because you have your E meals which can have up to 45 grams of carbs.  But actually anything less than 150 g of carbs a day could be considered low-carb. 

While the diet doesn't tell you how many E-meals and how many S meals to eat a day, I don't think many people eat more than one or two E meals a day.  Which puts you at less than 100 g of carbs a day.  So yes, it is low-carb. It's just not very low carb. 

And, low-carb makes me feel terrible.  It just does.  I've tried it and I HATE it.  I feel weak. shaky, tired, headachy, anxious and just all-around terrible.  

I feel "best" when I eat carbs, fat and protein AT EVERY MEAL.  The hard part is to not eat too much, but I do need some. 

It's not easy or intuitive or natural or food freedom or whatever they claim.   I'm sure it gets easier as you do it, but I do think it is fairly complicated.  And, it makes it difficult to eat anything that anyone else serves.  And you to have to do a lot of cooking.  I mean, I already cook a lot and make lots of stuff from scratch, but I do like having the convenience of buying things like ketchup instead of making my own.  I like to be able to put cream (except I can't eat cream now) in my coffee without worrying about if I just ate an S meal or an E meal.   And if I'm running out the door and don't have time for breakfast, I like being able to make a quick peanut butter sandwich on sprouted grain bread.  If I'm hungry in the afternoon, I like being able to grab an apple or grapes or carrot sticks for a snack without worrying about if I'm too close to an S meal. 

I like being able to eat a WHOLE BANANA at a time.  Having to cut a banana in half and then having the other half wasted is just terrible.  I love bananas.

I like to eat.  A lot.  I mean, I literally like to eat a lot.  I used to sometimes wish I was a grazing animal (like a horse or a giraffe) and could just graze on leaves all day. Only half-joking people.   So, I really like munching on a handful of carrot sticks or bowl of air-popped popcorn or an apple.   When I was doing THM and had the munchies, well there aren't many choices for munching.  THM doesn't include a lot of munchy foods.  If I had an S meal, I would try munching on nuts or their skinny chocolate......neither of which are all that skinnifying when "munched'.  And since E meals contain limited carbs, you still can't do all that much munching.  You are basically left with just being able to munch celery or peppers. Which is not that exciting, although, I do really love peppers. 

I'm off dairy for now.  When I took Annika in for her 2 month check-up, I mentioned that i thought she might have mild reflux.  She would spit up a lot  and she would sometimes wake up from sleep, gagging/choking.  So, he suggested that I stop eating dairy (since I'm breastfeeding and the milk protein (casein) gets into the milk)  I tried that and it is helping her reflux symptoms, but in addition to that her cradle cap improved a lot.   So, for now, no dairy for me.  The thought of following something like THM AND not being able to eat dairy was just too dismal for me to consider.  Yes, you CAN do THM without dairy, they even helpfully label their dairy-free recipes in their cookbook, however,  it seems rather depressing. Most of the good, delicious recipes involved dairy, If I can't have dairy, I at least want to be able to eat a WHOLE banana, or an apple or whole eggs. 

Despite what they claim, it's not all natural.  One of the authors claims to be a food purist....which I find somewhat laughable considering the fact that the two sisters develop and sell certain products which include artificial sweeteners.  For example ,their Gentle Sweet has stevia, xylitol and erthyritol.  There is nothing food purist about xylitol or erthyritol. One could argue that stevia is natural and pure...but not sugar alcohols.  That's processed stuff right there.  No, you don't HAVE to use those products.  You could certainly do the diet using only natural, pure foods. It sounds depressing that way, but it could be done.  But the fact that the creators of the diet market and sell something so processed while claiming at the same time one of the sisters is a "food purist" seems off to me.  Unless I am misunderstanding the book and Serene (I think she is food purist sister) doesn't eat any of her own line of artificial sweeteners.  Which would seem odd because quite a bit of their recipes involve their sweeteners.

It doesn't seem sustainable long-term: It just doesn't.  What seems sustainable to me long-term is healthy, sensible eating.  Not separating carbs and fats and paying attention to every little thing.  Not, not being able to not eat most foods that other people cook and serve. And low-carb is not sustainable long term for me...and this basically is low-carb. 

Maybe if I was eating dairy, it would seem easier.  But, without dairy it just seems terrible. All the delicious foods involve dairy. 

The authors like to claim that very few foods are off-limits.  Which makes no sense, because the vast majority of foods are off-limits....unless you cook it yourself using THM recipes and guidelines.   What they mean to say is that no food groups are off limits.   So yes, you can have pizza, if you make your own crust using their THM guidelines.  Yes, you can have cake, if you bake it yourself.  But, you can't ever have pizza or cake that anyone else makes or serves.  You can have cookies and crackers and ice cream all that...IF you make them yourself using their recipes.  However, you can't have anything you might find in a store that is convenient or easy.  

Having to cook EVERYTHING from scratch FOREVER is just NOT sustainable to me. Maybe I can do it for a little bit, but then life happens.  Sickness, moves, pregnancy, new babies, periods of extra busyness and it becomes very much not sustainable. The fact that I tried this diet while having a 2-month old, homeschooling and trying to get back into working from home was probably not the best move.  But that's how life goes.  There is always SOMETHING.  

If you like cooking and experimenting in this kitchen, I think this can be great.  But if that isn't your thing so much, this is going to be more difficult.   

It can get pricey.  It doesn't have to be expensive, but it is definitely more expensive than the standard American diet.  If you buy their sweeteners and baking mix and not-naughty noodles and collagen and whey protein and mineral salt, it definitely adds up.  You can do the plan somewhat cheaper buying some of that stuff in a store, but it still going to be more expensive than the standard American diet where sugar and white flour are really cheap. And things like collagen and whey protein are expensive.  Meat is expensive and the plan typically involves eating lots of meat, although you can do it as a vegetarian.  It's just limiting even further an already limited diet.   

What I'm doing instead: Good ole-fashioned healthy, sensible eating.  Snacking on carrot sticks instead of chocolate chips.  Reaching for an apple instead of crackers for a snack. Limiting and avoiding things like pasta and white potatoes.  Eating lots of veggies. Making sure to get enough protein.  Eating healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil...but not too much. Cutting out sugar.  No dairy....but that has more to do with the fact that dairy seems to affect my baby. Although cutting out dairy is certainly helping with weight loss I am sure. 

Yes...this is working.  I am losing weight.  Slowly, about 5 pounds in the last month.  That is okay because you don't want to lose weight too quickly while breastfeeding anyway.   I also think that slow weight loss is more likely to stay off.   I generally like eating this way.  I like carrot sticks and apples.  I like eating lots of vegetables and fruits. 

I only really have a problem with weight gain during pregnancy . Almost all of my extra pounds are baby weight (not just from this baby...all the babies).  

While I have to work to lose weight after each baby (hence why it hasn't always all come off after each one), I generally don't need to work hard to maintain my weight. As long as I am eating fairly sensibly with occasional indulgences, I do fine.  

I do use some stuff from Trim Healthy Mama:  A lot of their recipes essentially just cut calories.  They use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar or honey.  They use oat fiber (which is zero calorie) in their baking mix.  They sell a zero calorie, konjak root noodle called not-naughty noodles. Unsweetened almond milk (30 calories a cup) versus dairy milk (over 100 calories a cup) in smoothies. 

What it really comes down to is that I think all the Trim Healthy Mama rules are just ways to help people limit calories and prevent blood sugar spikes so limiting calories is easier. 

So, I am using some of their stuff.  I use stevia in my smoothies made with almond milk or in my "trimmies" (a recipe from their book).  I'm not a huge fan of stevia but I think it has its use when one is trying to use lose weight.  I would not use it long-term, but for times when weight loss is desired, I think it can be useful.  I use their not-naughty noodles and they are actually pretty good in stir-frys and soups. I made a homemade THM baking mix which I have been using instead of our regular gluten-free baking mix..  One of my children can't eat gluten, dairy or peanuts, so I'm already used to gluten-free cooking and dairy-free cooking. Using my homemade THM baking mix instead of other gluten-free ones adds nutrition and cuts calories. The baking mix has oat fiber, coconut flour, almond flour, ground flaxseed and gluccomann, so it's pretty healthy stuff. 

I do think the diet is overall healthy in some ways.  It basically cuts out anything bad and the sisters are good at making sure that what one IS eating is healthy and full of nutrients. Many of their recipes involve adding things like collagen (for extra protein) and using lots of nutritious ingredients.

It can get pricey though..so I don't put collagen in everything.

I am eating a lot of their recommended foods and trying some of their recipes, but I'm also eating a lot more fruit and other carbs than they recommend.  I'm not worried about E meals or S meals or separating my fuels.  I eat whole eggs with sprouted bread.  I am mostly staying away from sugar and white pasta and white potatoes and trying to anchor all my meals in protein.   I do have some treats however.

The diet is effective at controlling your blood sugar.  That part is good.  Eating their desserts and such doesn't spike your blood sugar or make you want more.  Part of that is because they don't taste nearly as good (let's face it...sweets made with stevia will NEVER taste as good as foods made with sugar), but part of that is because there is no blood sugar spike. 

Ultimately, I really believe that successful weight loss comes down to designing your OWN personal diet that works for YOU.  We are all different.  The sisters apparently found something which works for them, and which works for many other people.  However, it doesn't work for me.  I am however, able to take some good parts from it and use it to create my own diet which does work for me. 

Since it just so happens to be Sunday, I figured I would snap a picture of what I wore today for My Sunday Best



The skirt and boots are from Schoola.  A super cool online gift shop.  If this is your first time shopping there and you go through my link, you get $10 (and so do I!)


Sunday, October 30, 2016

That Special Delivery Baby Hammock. How it's Working Out for Us from 0-3 months


Back in July I posted about our Special Delivery Baby Hammock which I received for review.  This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and experiences contained within are completely my own. Since then a lot of people have asked about how that is working out for us, so I figured it was time for an update. 

This is Annika.  Our very own Special Delivery Baby Hammock tester. 





She just turned 3 months old.  And despite the fact that she holding a light saber and has the name Annika, we are NOT big Star Wars fans or anything. Pinky-swear.  At least, I'm not. Just had to clear that up.  She may or may not have 1 or 2 older siblings who are big Stars Wars fans that may or may not have given her a light saber to wave around.  

You can read her birth story here, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

So, back to the Special Delivery Baby Hammock.   How's that working out for us?  If you remember correctly, I was looking for something that would help Annika nap out of arms. We co-sleep at night (very happily) so I was not concerned about night-time sleeping.

First of all, Annika almost always falls asleep either nursing, riding in the car, or riding in the sling.  She's not the type of baby who just goes from awake to asleep all by herself.  None of my babies have ever done that with any regularity and she isn't any different. 

Second of all, her favorite place to sleep is next to me, in the sling or being held (by me or anyone else).  She's smart that one!.  I say this because I want to emphasize the fact that Annika isn't an "easy" baby who just falls asleep by herself.  She is your typical velcro-baby born to parents who are too lazy to encourage independent sleep...even with the fifth baby. It's so much easier to just nurse to sleep.

When it comes to the Special Delivery Baby Hammock, there are really three factors to be concerned with: safety, effectiveness and ease of use. 

Let's talk about our experience.

Is It Safe?:  Yes, it seems very safe to me. Very.  Even if it is bumped or rocked, the baby is well protected and supported inside there.  I think it would be very difficult for a baby to climb out of it or fall out.  A toddler could probably climb out on their own, but one could simply hang it close enough to the ground so it is safe for a toddler to do so. 




Accidentally bumping it with the baby inside does no harm whatsoever so long as it is hung to be clear of any obstacles it could hit.  The hammock just swings gently and the baby is still safe, snuggled inside.  Our dog is always bumping into ours, because it is hung at just the right height and it just gently sways a bit and she is fine.  Heck, we are always bumping into it, and it just sways a bit, and she is fine.  I do think it is super important to hang the hammock in a location so as to be free and clear of anything it could hit.

Now, if someone were to actually pull it back and swing it hard, they could hurt a baby, but just bumping into it is fine.  If you have older children who are likely to do that or likely to run into it really hard, I would be sure to hang it in an out of the way place. 

Can a baby roll over in it?

Annika has been able to roll onto her side while in it. 




However, she is fine on her side and is able to roll back onto her back all on her own.  I do not think a baby would actually be able to roll all the way over onto their belly while in it. 

The fabric itself is very thin and breathable anyway, so even if a baby's nose were to get pressed up against it, the baby could breathe right through it. 

I'm a pretty paranoid mom, and I'm not worried about the safety of it at all. 

Does it work?  Sometimes.  Actually the older she gets, the better it seems to work.  When she was newborn, she would sleep in it occasionally. 



 As she has been getting older and bigger, she seems to do better and better in it.  Lately, I can usually get at least 1 good nap a day out of it. Sometimes more than one. That's amazing!


There are two reasons why I think the hammock works better the older she gets.  The first is that as she gets heavier, the hammock hangs down further and the fabric is pulled closer around her, so she is more snuggled into it. 





Also, the heavier she gets, the more responsive the spring is, and the more she is able to "bounce" herself back to sleep if she startles awake or wakes up. 

It says on the website that the spring isn't responsive until 8 pounds.  Annika was 7 lb, 7 oz. at birth, so it took her until 2-3 weeks to reach 8 pounds.   However, even at that weight, the spring wasn't that responsive to her movements. 



 As she's gotten bigger, it's definitely gotten better.
So, I don't know that it works super well for really tiny newborns (although she did sleep in it sometimes as you can see from the above picture), but it's working pretty well now that she is 3 months old.  I would say that around 2 months is when we really started to get regular good naps out of it and I noticed the spring bouncing more when she moved.  Annika was 10 lbs, 8 oz at her 2-month check-up, so I'm thinking that 10 lbs might be more of the "magic weight" where the spring works better and the baby hangs far enough down to really be snuggled inside the hammock.  If you have a big baby, it might work really well for you, starting at birth.




  
The other reason that the hammock is working better now that she is a bit older is that developmentally she has more defined times of sleep and wakefulness.  She's  out of that newborn, sleep/doze/catnap phase and now has more definite periods of naps with longer periods of being awake.  She typically falls asleep nursing, I wait until she is "good and asleep" and then I put her in the hammock and she stays asleep. 

The super awesome thing is that lots of times she'll wake up and start moving and I'll hear the hammock bouncing a bit, and then she falls back asleep and sleeps a bit longer

On that note, it is a tiny bit noisy in that makes a small amount of noise when the baby moves in it.  You can hear the spring.  That is awesome during the day, because it let's you check on the baby without actually "checking" on them.  However, I imagine that some people might find that disturbing at night, if the hammock was in their room.  We don't use it at night, so it's not a problem for us.

Ease of Use: The Special Delivery Baby Hammock is very easy to install and use.  It comes with an eye screw to screw into the ceiling, but I bought a door clamp which made installation a breeze.  Super, super easy.  It takes a bit of practice getting a baby into the hammock, but once you figure it out, it's really easy...just takes a bit of practice. 



It is also completely wash-able.  I've already taken it off the wooden rod, washed it, and put it back on.  It wasn't difficult at all. 

Would I recommend it?: Absolutely! I wish I had it earlier with other babies. Annika definitely takes naps in it outside of my arms, which is all I wanted out of it.  I will say that if it doesn't work for a newborn right away, keep trying.  Annika sleeps in it better now than she did as a newborn, so I'm glad I kept at it. There is also plenty of room for growth.  I'm pretty sure Annika will easily fit in the hammock for another year or even two (she's been at about the 40th percentile...so she's not a big baby). I think it will work for quite some time with her.

I'm very confident that she sleeps in it better than she would in a crib or a bassinet.  The swinging/bouncing of the hammock when she moves in it, definitely helps soothe her back to sleep.  Furthermore, since the fabric is soft, there is no risk of plagiocephaly or "flat-head syndrome" from lying in it.  

And, since the last time I posted about the hammock, I linked up with My Sunday Best, I figured I would so again this time. 

Here's what Elsa (who always wants to model for pictures) and I wore today.  Elsa did wear shoes to Mass though.  I promise.  My children all just adverse to wearing shoes anytime they don't have to. 







Hope everyone is enjoying this fall day!


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