A few months before he died, my dad found a little handprint in one of his favorite books. Scrawled next to it were the words “Heather–3 Yrs Old.” What he must have felt I don’t presume to know. But as I measure the distance between the moment I pressed my hand on that page and his death shortly before my twelfth birthday, the thing that stands out to me is that it felt like a flash in the pan.
Even when connections are not cut short, our little ones do not stay little for long, do they!?!!? Let’s enjoy them!Read More »
We have a secret in our culture . . . and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
Laura Stavoe Harm
To the doctor that says “Your baby is getting too big and your hips are too small. We need to induce” I say FAT SQUISHES. To the mama that has been laboring for 18 hours and is under pressure to have a cesarean, I pray someone is there to whisper “Don’t let your body be on their clock.” And when a mother is told she doesn’t have “enough milk,” I hope a friend will share how she built up her supply.
What most mamas need is for someone to have a little faith in them. Or permission to have faith in themselves. Probably both. Fortunately, women everywhere are speaking out against the idea that every birth needs to play out like an ER episode. Moms, midwives and lactation consultants encouraging us to trust our bodies once again. But amidst these attempts there are people caught in the middle.
Or who have labored to the point of exhaustion and really do need an emergency c-section, or – like a friend of mine – who pumped like crazy when her infant couldn’t latch and was willing to beg, borrow or steal to get additional breastmilk donations.
Mamas who are no less strong, or committed, or loving because things didn’t go according to plan and who did not “make up” an excuse not to have a natural birth, breastfeed, et cetera. More and more I am noticing bruised hearts that hang back around their crunchy friends because of their “failures,” when what they need is love and acceptance.
But right now I am in month eight of an ongoing struggle to breastfeed my son (he is exclusively breastfed, but never wants to eat, and sometimes it hurts so bad I hold my breath and count.) In addition to the tongue tie he had corrected at five months, we recently discovered he also has a Class IV Maxillary Tie. The membrane between his upper lip and gum is like a tight rubber band that prevents him from being able to latch properly (It’s more common that most people think!). It could also affect his speech and dental development, so we’re taking him to New York next week to have it surgically revised.
I waterbirthed two babies. I’ve breastfed for 38 months straight. I fully embrace the notion that my body is capable and wise, yet this experience has made me much more aware that there are other stories, too . . . women who did not feel empowered by their birth, or whose milk supply dried up, or who wish they could make a different choice. Mothers who saved their babies lives by allowing an emergency c-section but don’t talk about it because their crunchy friends will assume it was really “unnecessary.”
In spreading the word that our bodies are strong and wise, how can we also help women walk the difficult road from crushing disappointment to saying “I didn’t get the pregnancy I wanted, and I certainly didn’t get the birth I wanted, but I got the children I dreamed of.”
If you’re wondering where I got that quote, it came from Maureen, who weaves the beautiful story of her journey, saying”
“I prayed and bargained and hoped against hope that we would make it to 38 weeks. I kept up the visualization, but after every subsequent visit to the labor and delivery floor, every new plunge of the needle, every time I hooked myself up to the home contraction monitor, I grieved for what I was losing. I knew I would not have a peaceful drug free birth. I had lost the pregnancy I wanted, but I still had my babies, and for that I was grateful with every fiber of my being. I clung so hard to that fact that I didn’t allow myself to feel much else.
You can read the rest of her story here.
I guess what I’m saying is that all moms face disappointment. Usually we help each other grieve and move on. But sometimes, in our effort overcome the mountain of “cant’s” thrown out by the medical community and media regarding birth and breastfeeding, we accidentally create an environment that is unfriendly to moms struggling with disappointments in these areas. That’s why lately I’ve been asking myself how we can celebrate the strength and wisdom of our bodies while also validating those who have walked a more difficult road.
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I’ve been wanting to make yogurt cheese for years. But to do that, I’d have to make yogurt. And to do THAT, I’d have to know how. The last time someone mentioned yogurt to me, there were thermometers involved, and honestly it just seemed too complicated to add to the three-ring circus I call kitchen prep.
Then came GAPS. Goodbye cheese (for now). Goodbye butter (Hello ghee. I’m glad you’re here but it’s not the same). Goodbye kefir (see you soon). What did that leave me with? Yogurt. You bet I learned to make it!
The funny part is it’s so quick and easy to make, yet I feel this sense of domestic joy bubble up within every time I pull a warm jar of creamy goodness out of my dehydrator . . . like I’ve really accomplished something! Did I mention it’s easy? Barely even qualifies as a recipe, I’d say, but I’ve added lots of pictures for those of you that like complicated recipes. For the rest of you here’s the nutshell version: Pour. Mix. Leave in a warm area.
A Few Notes About Using Raw Milk:
For the Cooler Method, check out this post from Cara at Health Home & Happiness. Since you’re using raw milk simply ignore the heating instructions and move to the next step.
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Deciding to home educate your young child can be quite an emotional experience. As a couple, once you have committed to the job – there’s some groundwork to be laid. Some parts are easy and some . . . not so much.
These are a few of the panic-stricken thoughts you may have as you take on this job for the first time. Once you clear your mind of the clutter and get a hold of your fears, it will be time to ask the obvious question.
Here are some suggestions to prepare your lives for this wonderful opportunity.
#1 – Work on discipline with your preschooler. He/she will soon be required to follow your lead . . . as their teacher. If he has significant challenges in this area the classroom you envision will have problems. You need to maintain order to optimize learning.
#2 – Read aloud. By doing this on a regular basis, you will help lengthen the attention span of your child. This also provides a great opportunity to help your little-one practice sitting still and responding to your voice. Plus, they’re learning!
#3 – Set up a specific area to teach. This will help the experience seem like real school and send a message to your little one that you value their education, and ultimately – them.
#4 – Set order in your home. If your mornings are spent in your pj’s and cartoons get first ranking, you’ll be wise to curb the casual atmosphere in prep for real learning. Be forewarned: your child may think they’re ‘going somewhere’ when they see you dressed and focused.
#5 – Stock-up on supplies. From art supplies to sharpened pencils – make sure you have them organized and ready. This simple act will give your young student energy to learn. Stewardship is also taught as they take good care of their school supplies.
#6 – Decide on school hours. This can be a big factor in the success of your home-classroom. 9:00 – 11:00 may be sufficient to accomplish the bulk of learning. You’ll be surprised at how little time it actually takes to learn the basics! You may break this up into 45-minute sessions with a snack/recess break between subjects.
#7 – Plan a big start! Children respond well to a big kick-off. Put it on the calendar, talk it up to grandparents (if they’re up to it), and don’t let anything distract. You’ll find that a solid start will help their attitude and give energy to the process. Put their art pictures up on the ‘fridge, celebrate with special lunches, plan a park visit once the work is done. Get Dad in on the talk – he can be their biggest fan even if he’s traveling – all they need is to hear his voice saying, ‘good job’!
#8 – Prepare to enjoy the process. Agree with your husband that you will both embrace this role. Decide in advance to bless your child, keep your heart focused on home and guard your words – even on the toughest days.
There’s so much to be said on this subject and I’ve just touched on the basics. Planning ahead will ease the transition for you and your little one, but the bottom line is this: To teach a young child at home with ease and excellence is doable . . . and rewarding!
Educating The Whole Hearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson
*Credit for mom reading with girl: Sugarpond
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He’s cute. He’s cuddly.
He’s scheduled for more surgery. (More on that later.)
He cracks up when Katie uses her vulcan death grip on him (she insists it’s a hug) and does a remarkable job moving bucketfuls of bathwater from the tub to the floor. Katie has informed him that all her life she has wanted a “Micah boy” just like him. He seems pleased about that.
And now, here’s his newest trick. (Taken on Daddypotamus‘ phone)
There is absolutely nothing not to love about this boy!Read More »
Because it’s always soup! Yes, there’s some variety . . . butternut squash soup, broccoli and beef soup, chicken carrot stew . . . but no matter the question, the answer is SOUP.
For years people have looked at us like we’re aliens for our food choices. Not that I blame them. What other family have you recently overheard saying ““I said I’m ready to talk about how many chicken bones you got, not how many bodies are in the fridge“??? Yeah, that really happened.
But hey, now that we’re “on a diet” people finally seem to “get” us. Seriously, whether I eat jelly beans all day or nothing but ghee and squash, as long as I call it a diet everyone’s on board. I’m trying to figure out how to apply this loophole to situations other than food.
Since the late 1950’s, we’ve been barraged by the message that fat makes you fat, saturated fats (such as those found in butter, eggs, and red meat) are unhealthy, and tropical fats and oils (like coconut and palm) are downright deadly. And yet-despite our dutiful efforts to eliminate saturated fats from our diet for fear of high cholesterol levels and hardened arteries-obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates have continued to climb.
Based on more than two decades of research by world-renowned biochemist and fats expert Dr. Mary Enig, Eat Fat, Lose Fat flouts conventional wisdom by asserting that so-called “healthy” vegetable oils (such as soybean and corn) are in large part responsible for our national obesity and health crises, while the saturated fats traditionally considered “harmful” (such as those found in coconut oil and butter) are, in fact, essential to weight loss and health.
Eat Fat, Lose Fat (emphasis mine)
Sheesh. In the last couple of months I finally caved and read one teeny-tiny little diet book . . . now here I am quoting another one! It’s true, though. The intro diet is very high in FAT and protein, yet Daddypotamus has shed at least another 10 pounds.
Here he is one month ago (before starting GAPS) and today. It’s hard to tell because of the lighting, but the dark circle under his eyes are becoming lighter, too.
This is not a list of things to do before I die, it’s simply a list of times I’ve had to use the puke bucket since starting GAPS. So far, twice. To my complete surprise I have had two massive detox episodes. This was completely unintentional since I do not want to detox too heavy while breastfeeding, and yet its a testament to the healing power of this diet.
I’m not taking herbs or any supplements except for cod liver oil. This is just food, healing me from the inside out. Before starting GAPS I had no health complaints except tiredness. I had a baby seven months ago, so that seemed pretty normal. However, following both detox days I had a surge of energy and increased mental clarity. It feels like someone is walking through the rooms of my mind and opening windows. Fresh air and light are pouring in, and although I still miss the high of my morning coffee, I don’t actually need it anymore.
The days of negotiating over veggies are gone. My girl begs for sauerkraut, silver dollar squash cakes, and plain raw yogurt. Her palate has expanded significantly and she is doing great at trying new things. She even compliments my meals!
I have become a chowhound, too, only some of my feasts involve illegal peanut butter jars in the garage while no one is looking.
Do you think your family might benefit from GAPS, but not sure if you want to take the plunge? I have great news for you! Cara at Health Home Happy, who knows MUCH more about GAPS than I do, will be doing a Q&A post here on Mommypotamus. Tell us your questions/concerns about GAPS, and we’ll help out if we can. So leave a comment and tell us what you want to know!!
Photo credit: EddecostaRead More »
No matter what part of the country you’re in, it’s safe to say,
Although up here in the Northeast, we still have snow on the ground in shady areas, before long, thoughts will turn to stocking up on Kleenex. But there’s a lot you can do to prevent and relieve seasonal allergies! Most people just consider them a part of life, but actually, you don’t have to live with them!
What Are Allergies, Really?
It’s good to understand a little bit about what seasonal allergies are and why we get them. Seasonal allergies are, at the most basic level, our immune system stressing out. Pollen in the air can make anyone sneeze for a moment, just the same as sawdust can, but it shouldn’t cause an all out assault on your nose, eyes, and sinuses. So how can we calm the body down?
When we think about the role stress plays in the body, we can think of it like a bucket: everyone has a bucket in which they carry around their stress. This is all stress – the stress from your job and the stress from your in-laws, as well as environmental toxins, undiagnosed food allergies, whatever germs happen to be floating around, and pollen. When your bucket is only half full, for example, you might stand right in front of someone who sneezes all over you, and not get sick, because your body still has the capacity to carry more stress. But when your bucket is full, things that should be reasonably normal – like pollen – suddenly become big problems.
The second factor in allergies is the tag-team of your liver and kidneys. You need your liver not only to break down stuff (both trash but also things you’re done with, like used up hormones), but also to produce stuff. The liver produces lots of things, but in this article, what we care about is histaminase – the antidote to histamine! Histamine is good, we need it to live, but we don’t need the massive quantities that we make when we have allergic reactions to pollen. If your liver isn’t in good working order, you won’t be able to neutralize all that histamine! If your kidneys aren’t working well, you won’t be able to take out the trash. And if you can’t take out the trash, it’s hard to get rid of stress in the body.
So how can we empty our stress buckets, and beef up our liver and kidneys? Here’s a list of great solutions – pick at least three things from this list and start them right now. I guarantee this allergy season will be better than the last! Better yet, if you can start to incorporate all these suggestions, and start to stick with them, you’ll kiss your Kleenex good bye – forever!
Undiagnosed food allergies play a big role in the way our bodies respond to other potential allergens. Consider removing some of the most common allergens from your diet for a trial period, such as two weeks or one month. The most common undiagnosed food allergens are wheat, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye). Especially if you have congestion or asthma, consider removing dairy. Especially if you have bloating and/or intestinal distress, consider removing soy and gluten. If you tend towards constipation, remove dairy and wheat. Or go for a good thorough test and remove them all – it’s not as hard as you think! You can still eat meats, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits. The things on this list of allergens commonly accompany sugar anyway, and sugar is next on the list!
Sugar wreaks havoc on your immune system. Not only that, but sugar drastically raises blood insulin levels, and prolonged exposure to high insulin levels – even if you’re not diabetic – can lead to many chronic diseases, as well as cancer. With specific regard to allergies, the body cleans up insulin with cortisol – which is another of our anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine hormones. If your cortisol is all tied up cleaning up high insulin levels, you won’t have any left to clean up your histamine. Consider cutting out sugar starting a couple weeks before your allergy season gets started, and throughout the season. If you need to add sugar back in, wait till after the pollen parade is done, but you may find that you are content to cut it out for good: your waistline and your long-term health will thank you!
Give up the caffeine. Caffeine puts a lot of stress on the body, and interferes with insulin, cortisol, and adrenaline. Not only that, but we usually drink caffeine because we didn’t get enough sleep. During allergy season, give your body the real thing: sleep! Humans need at least 8 hours of sleep every night, so let allergy season be your chance to recharge your batteries. A well-rested body will respond to stress much more easily!
Eat whole foods. Processed foods contain all sorts of additives, from artificial colorings to preservatives to, of course, unhealthy fats and often a whole lot of sugar. Each of these adds more stress to the body. If you can get rid of Oreos and pretzels forever, that would be ideal, but if you can’t, at least cut them out during allergy season. The fewer things you put into your bucket, the more room your body will have to take care of the things you can’t control!
Not only that, but whole foods – meats, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits – will all build up your body’s strength. You’ll be keeping stress out of the bucket while at the same time upgrading your body’s ability to deal with stress!
Build up your liver. This can be as simple as taking a good quality milk thistle capsule. Milk thistle is one of the few herbs that is just as effective to take in capsule form, as long as it’s good quality. Milk thistle has the ability to actually regenerate liver tissue, as well as providing nutrients to all your liver cells.
You can also add burdock and dandelion roots into your daily routine. If your yard is clean, you can dig dandelion roots right out of your lawn! Pretend they’re carrots and slice them into the stir-fry. You can also order burdock and dandelion roots from herb companies like Mountain Rose Herbs. A strong brew of these two roots has a flavor like coffee, but instead of stressing your system, it repairs and rebuilds! Try to have some daily.
Build up your kidneys. The easiest way to do this is with a tea I call “Nettle and Friends”. Nettle is one of the best herbal anti-histamines around, so not only are you nourishing your kidneys, but you’re also having direct anti-allergy impact! The tea is made from equal parts nettle leaf, dandelion leaf, and red clover blossoms. You can add just a bit of licorice root to the blend to add a hint of sweetness, but more importantly because licorice nourishes the adrenal glands, which sit right on top of the kidneys. Two for one!
The best way to make this tea is to do it right before bedtime: put several spoonfuls into a quart-sized mason jar (I like to put about an inch of herb in the bottom of the jar), and pour the boiling water to fill the jar. Let it sit overnight, and in the morning, strain it and drink the whole quart throughout the day.
This tea has some other great benefits as well – it’s super high in minerals and vitamins, and it also has some very beneficial and nourishing effects on the reproductive system.
No problem! Go ahead and pick three things from the list above anyway – in fact, pick a couple extra to compensate for the late start. Then, try some of the following herbs for managing the symptoms:
Hayfever, itchy eyes, sneezing – Nettle, either as Nettle and Friends tea, or freeze-dried capsules, at least 300mg daily.
Itchy, watery eyes – Eyebright. HerbPharm makes a great quality tincture, as do many other herbal producers.
Dry mucous membranes, wheezing – Mullein. If you drink this as a tea, make sure to strain it very well, to get all the little fibers out. You can also take mullein as a tincture.
Wheezing, asthma, congestion – Yerba Santa. If you drink this as a tea, make sure to let it steep for at least 30 minutes, so that the resins will release into your tea. You can also take it as a tincture.
Congestion and blocked sinuses – Cayenne, Ginger, Horseradish, Hot Mustard, Wasabi – not only do they release congestion, but they also reduce the histamine reaction. You can put any of them in your food, put a bit of whichever one you like best on your tongue, or in the case of horseradish, just smell it! Have your handkerchief at the ready!
All of these herbs are safe for children, though of course most kids won’t appreciate the flavor of cayenne! For congested children, I recommend a bit of ginger, as it tends to be the most palatable for them. Alternately, you could let them just smell some horseradish – let them make all the funny faces they want, as long as they breathe deep!
Start with Nettle. Everyone can benefit from nettle, and it’s safe for all ages. It has a somewhat green, but not unpleasant flavor, and blended with dandelion and red clover, with a bit of licorice root, the tea is usually tolerated well by children.Read More »