Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Food Goals

I recently watched the documentary Fresh on Netflix - and it presented the state of our country as far as where our food comes from in a not so gut wrenching way as "Food Inc." did. Food Inc made me feel guilty for the meat I was eating, and honestly left a really unsettled feeling deep inside (I suppose that's the purpose!). Fresh follows several different farmers in different industries (chickens, hogs, urban gardening in Milwaukie) who have made the choice to grow organic products and use the knowledge from industrialization combined with old world practices of diverse communities.

My favorite quote:
As we've industrialized, we've made food cheaper, but also diminished it nutritionally... there is no such thing as cheap food. The real cost of the food is paid somewhere. And if it isn't paid at the cash register, it's charge to the your body. ~ Fresh

Over the last few years I've tried to become more intentional about what I put into my and my family's body. I made the effort to go organic where feasible, and although I've been cooking home meals for quite some time now, I took it one step further and am eliminating processed foods where we can too. Here's some of the changes I've implemented:

Bread- on temporary hold
At the start of the year I made it my goal to be baking our own bread and not buying any bread products from the store. This takes a bit more work and has a shorter shelf life, but the difference in taste is phenomenal. I've successfully made soft pretzels (they're gone before you know it!), honey oatmeal bread, bunny-buns for Easter, and English muffins.  Truth be told, since Penelope's arrival I have not had the time (or energy) to bake bread - but as she is getting older and a little less dependant, I'll be back to baking bread in no time.

Eggs - soon!
In the search for our next home, we're looking for a place with some acreage - between one and three.  Growing up, I remember my parents keeping 2 chickens and a rooster. Fresh eggs are amazing. I would love to keep my own chickens and have Penelope's chore be getting the eggs. I've been doing some research on the benefits of farm fresh eggs vs. what we buy at the store.
  • Pasture raised chickens are happy chickens. They peck, scratch and dig for their food - which varies by what is available in the earth and from kitchen scraps from their people. It's the same concept as grass fed beef - these animals are out doing their natural thing, not confined to cages or feed lots and fed manufactured food. They are healthier and don't need antibiotic treatments, which produces a better product.
  • According to, farm fresh eggs boast:
    • 1/3 less cholesterol
    • 1/4 less saturated fat
    • 2/3 more vitamin A
    • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
    • Three times more vitamin E
    • Seven times more beta carotene
Keeping chickens is surprisingly not that hard. I've been told that the amount of time spent each day to manage 2-3 hens is less than 10 minutes. All they need is a hen house, a safe place to forage (which you just let them out a couple times a day, like any other pet), clean bedding and feed them scraps from the kitchen. The benefit? Fresh, healthy, superb eggs. I can't wait!

If keeping chickens is not your thing, it's not hard to find someone else who does and might be willing to either share or sell their eggs. Adam's old co-worker kept friends on a rotation and would give away any excess eggs that her hens laid.  And they came in all sorts of colors! Peach, green, blue, brown .. very rarely the white that we're accustomed to. Farmer markets or co-ops are a great place to find local eggs too.
Honey - maybe?
The honey bee shortage is making its way into the news more and more.  Some blame pesticides, others the weather. Guesswork aside, honey is rising in prices and demand. Over the last several years, my family has been getting our honey from a local beekeeper. Just like fresh bread or eggs, once you try local honey, you'll never go back to the Honey Bear. Unfortunately, rumor has it that even our supplier isn't going to continue after this year. His bees aren't producing enough to make it worth it.  So.. a thought popped into my head. Why not keep our own bees?  Probably the most hare-brained scheme I've come up with in a while, but hey - the internet says it's easy to do too. I'm still a little hesitant about this, but who knows, maybe it will work out.

Will you join the challenge of bringing more food from the kitchen? In what ways would you change if time and money were no object?

And, for your viewing pleasure - Penny on her play mat.

My pluses through Pregnancy

I've been revisiting my pregancy with a new mama to be lately.. and was reminded of some of the things that were near and dear to me during that time!
Our babymoon
Up until about 17 weeks, I think I only ate McD's chicken nuggets and scrambled eggs. I just didn't have an appetite for anything else. But by the time our babymoon rolled around, I was back to my regular self.. and more! Appetite and energy surged back very quickly. Adam affectionately began calling me "Two Dessert T-ton" on that trip. We went on a cruise from Barcelona, Spain along the western Italian coast (as far south as Naples) and having access to food 24/7 was AWESOME.
Saving my back
Even during my first trimester I began to feel aches and pains in my back and hips. One of my friends recommended chiropractic care to me and I can say without a doubt this was my saving grace for my comfort during pregnancy! You want to be sure that your chiropractor specializes in pregnant women (including Webster Technique) and preferably has a table that drops down in the belly portion - rather than propping you up higher with pillows. As a lifetime was heaven to get to lay on my belly. This was one of the few times in my life where I didn't mind a longer wait for the provider to come in ;) I fell asleep many a afternoon on that table before he came in, and of course he didn't mind!

I had intended on Penelope getting adjusted a few days after her birth, but decided to hold out for a little bit. I would have been more inclined to have her adjusted sooner if the labor was more difficult or had complications, but because it went to smoothly I think we can wait until her 2nd month to go have her first visit. Chiropractic care has so many benefits, for adults and children - I'd like to blog more about that when we get back into the swing of things.

O is for Organic
During pregnancy we began to switch to as many organic alternatives as possible. The biggest difference I have noticed in switching is for milk and strawberries. Adam and I used to go through a gallon of milk ever week and a half or so - once we switched to organic... a gallon of milk rarely lasts a week with us. It just tastes SO much better!  Strawberries also taste sweeter, and because they tend to have higher doses of pesticides, it makes this mama feel good to switch to the organic option.
Going organic is not always more expensive. I've been pleasantly surprised when sometimes it's the less expensive option - particularly in produce. For example, organic brocolli was about 20 cents cheaper per pound than the 'regular' type. It all depends on what is available. 

Dairy, eggs, and fruits / veggies where you eat the skin are the main switches for organic that we've done for the time being.  When we will start to introduce Penelope to solids, I'd like to have as much be organic as possible.

Nesting manifests itself very interestingly!
Because we were moving and planning to co-sleep, I didn't really have a nursery to spend my nesting energy in. It didn't really bother me until right around 33 weeks - I got this bee in my bonnet about needing to make something. Mind you, I am not a crafty person. I like to bake. That's pretty much the only thing I liked to create prior to the nesting phase.
I started out by learning how to make felt rosettes (thanks Pinterest!) and made a few wreaths as gifts. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures of them :(
I also made my own maternity sash for my maternity photos- which I reused for Penelope's birth announcement photos too!
34 weeks - TC Photography
9 days

My final project was embellishing burp cloths and making receiving blankets. The last time I had used a sewing machine was 8th grade Home Ec.  I had found a sewing machine from the 70's in my garage (left by the previous home owner! Score!) and attempted to figure it out through youtube videos, but no luck. When I began my "maternity leave" and moved up north, my mom showed me how to use one again and I went bonkers and spent the better part of 2 weeks sewing away.
Doggie burp cloth

Squirty felt like he needed to lay on any fabric on the floor

Penelope on her birth day in her giraffe "luly"
(what my little brother called his receiving blankets as a baby)

Actually, I quite like sewing now! Since her birth I've been dreaming up ideas of new things I can sew for her - like quilts, fun things with her clothes that are too small, etc.  Night time nursings are a wonderful time to cruise Pinterest for new ideas..because Lord knows I don't really have time for that during the day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

This weekend we were in Washougal and Penelope and I got to participate in a bona fide Guinness World Record attempt (this is actually the second one I've participated in the past year- the other one was for work).

In honor of Earth Day, many cloth diapering and other ecological/natural baby companies took part in specials and extra blog posts this week advocating awareness and sustainability. The culmination of this week was The Great Cloth Diaper Change, which is the second annual attempt at breaking the world record of greatest number of babies changed into cloth diapers at a given time (9:30a PST).  Last year the record was 5,026 babies changed into cloth, this year the goal was 6,000. Stay tuned to see if the goal was met!

Participants must register ahead of time, have child under 39 inches to change and it must be done at a registered venue. One other stipulation is that the cloth diaper must be all cloth, and not a hybrid- something I'll touch on in a sec. The closest venue to us was at the Vancouver Cotton Babies location, which just so happens to be my favorite baby store :)

As we arrived we received a raffle ticket for some fabulous prizes after the event. We also met up with my good friend Gretchen and her not-so-little-anymore girl, Jemma. We ended up winning a Bum Genius from the raffle - score! One funny thing about the diaper change as the stipulation for an "all cloth" / non-hybrid diaper.

Currently Lil P is in a hybrid system while we wait for our package with prefolds from Amazon to arrive..  Hybrid meaning it's not 100% cloth, not 100% disposable- it's kind of in between. What we are using temporarily are flushable liners from Gdiapers that were gifted to us by another mama that didn't end up using hers. The cover is reusable and washable cloth, but the part that gets pooped on is a biodegradable and flushable liner- looks like a pad.  So by definition these didn't qualify as a diaper to change her into for the Guinness attempt. The only other all cloth dipe that I have are BumGenius, which are still way too big on her which is why I don't use them yet. But, it had to be done- so here's Penny in her first BumGenius ;)

As you can see, we've still got some growing to do before these fit!

The rest of the weekend was spent lounging in the sun and meeting with our realtor to list the house.
Enjoying some sun at The T-ton Teardown

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cloth Diapering Experience v1

Before even getting pregnant I knew I wanted to cloth diaper our little ones. The most important reason behind this choice was having the control over what touches their skin. Disposable diapers appear to have come a long way, as more and more parents are becoming aware and interested in what is in the diaper for hygienic and ecological reasons. The financial savings and environmental factors for cloth diapering are tied for secondary reasoning. Although the initial investment for cloth diapering is a little bit higher, with enough preparation one can spread it out over time. A typical all-in-one style cloth diaper (works just like a disposable) runs about $15-20, which is not that much if you choose to buy one per paycheck, for example. Besides saving money by not having to buy disposables, you also save on your trash bill too.  The environmental factor is also a big deal, as newborns can go through 12+ diapers a day.. which adds up! 

It's estimated that about 4,000 disposable diapers are used per baby in their first 2 years of life. At about 25 cents a piece.. that's a lot that we spend to just throw something away. All of those end up in a landfill, and if you've ever seen a wet disposable diaper expand and blow up you can imagine that over time they take up even more space and are leaking gross chemicals and waste.

Our experience
I registered primarily for Bum Genius diapers (an all-in-one/AIO), but threw in some covers that I was hoping would fit her a little earlier on. One of the best gifts we got was from my brother's fiance - a month of cloth diapering service. For 4 weeks we were to have 70 prefolds delivered each week, and the dirties taken away so that we wouldn't have to do any of the washing. This was the best way to get into cloth diapering while getting accustomed to being a parent. The cost is roughly equal to purchasing diapers weekly.

An image from - this is what our system looks like

We started her on cloth when she was 20 days old. We were really surprised how often the diaper has to be changed. I think in the first 2 hours we changed her diaper 3 times. And the prefolds were.. steamy. Even when we changed the diaper within a few minutes of her wetting it. And it looked like she was getting a heat rash. ...What? I thought cloth was supposed to be healthier?

We gave up that night and revisited it again in the morning. I realized that the cover that was included with the subscription wasn't breathing at all, which was keeping all of the heat from her body within. Naturally, the covers are meant to be waterproof and aren't expected to breathe like the cotton will, but steaming diapers and heat rashes are not ok in my book! 
We also came to the conclusion that the prefolds that were delivered are too large. I'm assuming they were the 'standard' size, but for her little frame they were just pushing her legs too far apart. I called the service and they agreed to comp us for the current week and deliver the preemie sized prefolds the following week.
The next week I looked through our cloth diaper stash from what we received at our showers and hand me downs for a different cover. I had some Flip covers, which are recommended for 7 lbs and up (they have rows of snaps to grow with the baby). Unfortunately even though Penelope was just about 7 lbs, she's a skinny little one and the cover was just way too bulky for her. I found some Gdiaper Gpants that were handmedowns. Gdiapers are primarily known for their use of disposable inserts that are more environmentally friendly, but I found that a prefold fits perfectly inside! What makes it even better is that they were size small, so the fit is super trim and doesn't give her the huge fluffy butt that cloth diaper babies are known for.


Once we started using the Gdiapers plus the weekly deliveries of prefolds, we've been golden. She averages between 7-10 cloth diaper changes per day, which is between the hours of 6a - 9p. We still use a disposable (either 7th Generation or Huggies Pure & Natural) for overnight, just for my sanity and allowing me to sleep a little bit longer. She will go through 2-4 per night. Once we graduate to the thicker diapers we'll switch to 100% cloth.

Today is our last night with the cloth diaper service. I wasn't on the ball and hadn't purchased the prefolds that we will be using Gdiaper disposable inserts (another "handmedown") temporarily, but they are on their way! We'll be trying out OsoCozy Indian prefolds. I chose these primarily for price point and that they are diaper service quality, because they'll need to hold up to likely hundreds of washes! Even though they are in the 'infant' size, I'll use them in the future as extra absorbancy when I move on to AIO diapers, and of course they will still be useable for baby #2 (so crazy to think that I'm already planning ahead...).

Interested in starting to cloth diaper?  Cotton Babies (my favorite baby store!) sponsors the Change 3 Things Campaign - which challenges parents to incorporate 3 cloth diaper changes into their routine to replace disposables. This is a pretty attainable goal for most parents and keeps the initial investment low. We can use our Gdiaper cover about 3 times before it needing a wash, but that is because I'm on the ball and change her as soon as I hear her make a poop. The longer I may postpone a diaper change, the more the poop gets smeared around (so interesting the things I choose to talk about now that I'm a parent) and gets on the cover instead of staying on the prefold. Luckily my little miss has yet to have a blow out so this isn't all that difficult.

Using an AIO is just like a disposable, no stuffing needed and you just wash it when you're done. Using prefolds and covers is a little more time intensive, but honestly not difficult. It didn't even take that much "training" to get my husband and mom accustomed to using it, which is a big fear for a lot of moms who aren't sure how they can get the rest of the family on board. That just gives me more confidence for when we swith to the AIO type for when she can fit into them.. I bet it'll feel like a total breeze in comparison to prefolds and covers!

Once upon a boobie v2

The next part of my story is the begining of our "bare boob" relationship. It took a little bit of getting used to, on both our parts, but with perseverance she began to get the idea that without the shield being this huge, obvious appendage that just works it's way into her mouth. Her latch was strong, but needed some work, as it was still too shallow from being accustomed to the shield. It was painful for a while.

She had a better time latching onto one side versus the other, so I soon began referring to each side as "good boob," "bad boob." Once in a while they'd switch as to which one was hurting that day,  but considently it's been the same.

Blood blisters, blebs and scabbing were not uncommon. I would occasionally pump just to relieve the pressure, but wasn't saving any. SO stupid - I know. At 6 weeks I still have not introduced the bottle so I didn't see a reason to save. This week I started saving what I pump, to build up a supply in case we should need it, and I'd like to have Adam get the opportunity to feed her as well.

Once I got over the initial pain of breast feeding, the 'getting used to it' and stretching ligaments, I was still experiencing a sharp shooting pain following each session. My midwife and I suspect it may be light vasospasms...which are no fun, and leave me hugging myself very hard for about 30 minutes following each session.  After reading a couple other bloggers' experiences with vasospasms, I am thankful that mine are not that bad because for other women it is debilitating enough to discontinue breastfeeding, even pumping some times.

Read Once Upon A Boobie v1

6 weeks

My little miss has had some pretty awesome advancements this week!
It feels like we're finally in a routine.  We start with breakfast as soon as she wakes up, followed by her first diaper change. This usually launches us into about 15 minutes of smiling, "happy breaths" and interaction.  This of course burns quite a few calories so she gets topped off and she'll fall asleep very quickly or will still be alert and interactive. I'll take her with me into the bathroom and lay her down next to the shower. Up until recently the steam and water noise has been soothing to her and she'll fall asleep quickly, but the past few days she's been chatty and will sing to me while I shower.  Then we come upstairs to "visit" with babcia for a few hours. She'll either nap or be happy in a bouncer for a while - nonetheless between 12-2 she likes to take a lunch and will nap afterwards until about dinner time. No matter what time the family dinner is, Penelope likes to be fashionably late, which is ok because she's happy to be passed around for some attention from her daddy, babcia or grandpa.

Smiling, more consistent cooing, wide eyes and raised eyebrows are new expressions this week.  She's always had very strong neck and back muscles, so it came to no surprise that she loves tummy time and just last night she did a few intentional front-to-back rolls.


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