MegaEarly Bird


*CRACK* The thunder wakes me. Squinting at the clock, to make up for the lack of glasses, I see that it’s 5 am. I just nursed baby an hour ago. I hope the thunder doesn’t wake her, too. My next concern is for my other two girls and their sleepover friend, in the tent in the yard. Will they be scared? Will they get soaked? 

Ok, time to wake hubby and check out the situation. I ask him to go get them. Out of bed he gets, and I trail behind, a few minutes later. He is already back inside; no girls. “I brought them an umbrella,” he tells me. Well, that just won’t do. I want them inside, in warm, dry beds. By now, it’s pouring. They must be awake and wet. Hubby heads out again, while I go to Jeana’s room to turn on the nightlight and make ready the bunk beds. They are already full of kids! “I heard the thunder, so we came in,” Jeana tells me, excitedly. Ah, good. Poor hubby is the only one who gets soaked; back to bed we all go.

*WAAAA* The baby wakes me. Squinting again at the clock, I see it has only been a half hour; I had only just fallen back to sleep. How many times has she woken, now? Three? Four? I’ve lost track. I curse the gods for creating this whole teething business, and out of bed again.

After an a bit of nursing and rocking, baby is back to sleep. It’s after 6 am. I can only hope that I get a little more sleep. How long will baby give me? 30 minutes? An hour? Opening my eyes again, I see she was kind. It is almost 8. This is considered sleeping in, in this house. My lovely hubby gets up with her, allowing me to drift off one last time.

The next time I see the clock, it’s almost 9. This really IS sleeping in! Still, I don’t want to get up. I almost want to keep sleeping; I have a lot of wakeful nights to make up for. But, what’s that smell? Eggs? Pancakes? Ah, life is good.

MegaEarthy: The Great Greening, Part 2


As explained in Part 1, I’m trying to use all-natural products and ingredients to clean my home, my body, and my family. I began in the nursery with the introduction of cloth diapers and wipes, with my own homemade wipe solution. So far, so good on that front!

My go-to diaper detergent

The laundry detergent and chemical-free dryer balls that I use for the diapers, also are working well on my regular laundry. My only issue is with the softness (or lack thereof) of my bath towels. Without any chemical softeners, they come out stiff and scratchy. . . Moving on.

BATHROOM
After researching homemade shampoo and conditioner, I elected to purchase a ready-made version. Many brands use the word “natural,” but that just means it contains something natural, not that the entire product is natural, making shopping difficult. However, after a trip to the local health-food store, I came away with products that I, so far, really enjoy. I already use a face wash that I purchased at the same store, and I love that also.

An area I am having difficulty with is cosmetics.  I would love to try Bare Minerals or something like it, but they are just too expensive.  The owner of the health food store gave me a sample of Kiss My Face’s tinted moisturizer as a foundation alternative, and I had my doubts, but I actually really like it! She also gave me a natural lip gloss, and not only does it look great, it tastes great too (honey mint)!  I have temporarily settled for some mineral make-up from Physicians Formula, though they are not exactly all-natural.  It’s the closest I could get at Rite Aid.

So many uses!

I also have had trouble finding an all-natural body wash.  The ones I was able to find at the drug store that claimed to be natural, still contained sulfates.  I decided to stick some Dr. Bronner’s in an old foaming soap dispenser that I had, since it’s quite watery.  The foaming really helps and the peppermint version I use is quite refreshing! I actually really loved a wash I had been given from ecoTools, but apparently they no longer produce it.

Also, the natural deodorants I have found aren’t that great.  They remain sticky and cause chaffing.  I’m experimenting with using a thinner layer; we shall see.

SO FAR:

A few set-backs; make-up, fabric softening, and deodorant are presenting challenges.  Dr. Bronner’s is amazing and has many uses;  I will see about getting the mild, baby version for replacing baby wash.  I’m already underway with household cleaning, but will include that in my next post.  Mostly, Dr. Bronner’s, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.  I will just say, my house smells amazing 🙂

To be continued. . .

MegaEarthy: The Great Greening, Part 1


I’m always interested in living more green.  These days, however, it takes a conscious decision and a bit of a commitment to really make it work.  It is easy to walk into the grocery store and pick up a bottle of laundry detergent, but even though my clothes may look cleaner, is it really the healthiest choice? They make “free and clear” alternatives, but those are usually still full of irritants and chemicals that are harmful to us.  The best option is to make our own alternative cleansers.  I’ve made attempts at this and do use some green cleaners, like Dr. Bronner’s, and also have made use of things like vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil to get things clean.  But, I do not feel my meager attempts are enough.

Green Cleaning Ingredients

Inspired by, yet another informative documentary, I have renewed my green resolve.  The film, Chemerical, follows a family which vowed to remove all the toxic chemicals – from cleaning supplies to make-up and shampoo – from their home.  I want to do this for my family!!  I have already made some steps in this direction, but I want to go all the way!  But, where to start?

The Nursery

May the Great Greening begin!

I’ll begin with the most vulnerable member of the family, the baby.  I began going green for baby a few months ago with replacing her disposable diapers with cloth diapers.  This was a move that surprised even me!  Another documentary, No Impact Man, inspired this decision (along with my crunchy friend, Anna!); one that I wish I had made sooner!  It requires a bit of a financial investment – one that you make up for quickly – and also a time commitment for laundry, but it’s worth it!  Such a simple way to go green!  I recently began making my own baby wipes and booty-cleaning solution, to replace the chemical-laden commercial wipes.  I’m a novice at the sewing machine, so it’s slow-going, but they are under way!

Next, for baby, I plan to look at replacing her shampoo, baby wash, and lotion.

The Laundry Room

Baby is also exposed to the same chemicals in laundry detergent as the rest of the family.  Now, this one seems trickier to me.  I do have a recipe for laundry wash, but am feeling pessimistic as to how the clothes will feel without softeners and anti-static preparations.  I will, however, keep an open mind and give it a try.  I am also wondering how well an alternative cleaner will work in my new high-efficiency machines; we shall see.  I am excited to find out!

To Be Continued . . .

Check back with MegaMomma Musings to see what other changes will be made, and how successful I’ve been in what I’ve done.  Please feel free to respond with tips or recipes to help me out!

MegaLoud: A Day With No Yelling, Part 1


Bad habits are hard to break. I know; I’ve broken some (like smoking and drinking soda) and practice, still more (namely, yelling and nagging at my family members).  Yes, I yell at my children. I hate that I do this. One thing about bad habits is that you KNOW they’re bad, but you can’t seem to stop. I yell because I am trying to express how angry and frustrated I am. In the heat of the moment, I don’t see any other alternative.

Silly, exuberant, Paige

The anger and frustration is generally directed at my 7 1/2 year old, Paige. She’s the kind of child you might label, challenging. She knows exactly which buttons to push to make me crazy. By “crazy,” I mean red faced, steam coming from my ears, yelling, and door slamming. She refuses to listen to me with regard to. . . anything and everything. She refuses to eat any dinner, at least every other night. She neglects brushing her teeth, then lies about it. She plays too rough with the baby, despite constant reminders. Anything I ask her to do, she responds to by calmly explaining why she’s NOT going to do it. This makes me crazy.

Can you guess which one earned the nickname, “The Imp,” from my sister?

There is actually a second part to how she gets to me. Discipline is all but impossible with her. Nothing seems to get the message through to her. Time-outs (our old stand-by) don’t work (sometimes, she volunteers), and neither does being sent to her room. I’ve taken away countless toys and clothes (I have 2 garbage bags FULL in my closet), I’ve grounded her, and spanked her. I’ve forced her to eat, as well as sent her to bed with no dinner. She just doesn’t care. She’ll just smile and help load toys into the plastic bag, because she doesn’t want to put them away. We’ve tried reward charts and chore charts; bribes and allowance. Nothing seems to have any impact on her behavior. This also makes me crazy.

A quiet moment between Paige and Sophie

Until now, making me “crazy” had one sure result: my yelling, slamming doors, and generally throwing a fit. I’m sure I look ridiculous. I would be mortified if my friends, family, and neighbors saw my behavior. I hate feeling so angry and I hate acting so outrageously. I always start out with good intentions, and with a calm demeanor, but my fuse is short. It doesn’t take long for me to go 0 – 60. I just need to CALM DOWN! I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this, and I’ve already spoiled the experiment for TODAY. Starting TOMORROW, I’m not going to yell and I’m not going to slam anything. I’m just going to go cold turkey. Any mental preparations I’ve made in the past have not helped. So, please stand by and find out if I can make it one whole day without yelling. It’ll be a Saturday, so all three kids, my husband, and the dogs will be here to present challenges to my resolve. Wish me luck!

MegaSleepy


I had decided to try a different subject this time; something other than mommy-issues. However, I am quite sleep-deprived, as of late, and cannot think clearly enough to form an intelligent thought.  For this reason, I’m going to focus on the cause of my sleeplessness.  Her name is Sophia.

Sophia is my third child. Having already mothered 2 babies (now, 10 and 7 1/2), I was convinced myself that babyhood would be a breeze. Been there, done that. Apparently, time had altered my memory. I’m sure, when I think about it, that I had a tough time with Jeana and Paige, both, when they were babes. Jeana, just because she was my first and I was trying to figure it all out, and Paige was simply challenging (and still is). I especially recall nighttime being an issue with Paige; I spent many nights, desperately trying to get her back to sleep.

When Sophie was born, I was prepared for sleepless nights with diaper changes and nursing sessions. This was how both my previous babies slept at that age. Well, SURPRISE! She slept for hours on end, while I sat, watching her; expecting her to wake at any moment. I even began getting up to pump at night, because I was about to overflow; what a great opportunity to build up a milk supply. This was AMAZING to me! I thought such things were the stuff of fairy tales! Not only did she sleep well at night, but she rarely cried, she napped well, and nursed like a champ. I thought it was wonderful that I finally got one of those “easy babies” you hear rumors about. I was careful not to brag to my friends, who also were having new babies. I didn’t want to gloat.  I should have, while I had the chance.

Sophie, sleeping in Momma’s bed, as a newborn

Somewhere around 5 months (0r maybe earlier) when she was really being to learn to move and explore, her sleeping habits began to change. Now sleeping in her crib, down the hall, she began waking several times a night, playing but demanding to be fed. Thinking this was a passing phase, we just continued as usual, though I soon stopped the nightly pumping; I couldn’t force myself to get out of bed another time. Since then, however, she seems to just go from one sleep distraction to another. Practicing a new skill, teething, belly pain, colds, teething, separation anxiety, teething (did I mention teething?); always a reason for her to be awake. Sometimes, she’ll go back to sleep being rocked by my husband, George, or even on her own (though, this is a rarity). Usually, she prefers to be nursed back to sleep.

Waking in Momma’s bed

I can’t really blame her for preferring this method; this is how I put her down for naps, too. It, generally works like a charm. I had noticed, even as a newborn, that she tended to fall asleep while nursing, so I began using that to my advantage at nap and bedtime. It works well, most of the time, but she needs me – and only me – too much at night. Is the solution to stop nursing her to sleep? Perhaps, but when I nurse her at other times, she only feeds for about 5 minutes, while, if it’s sleepy-time, she’ll feed for 15-25 minutes. I want to breastfeed her the best I can, so I’ll probably continue . . .

Another sleep issue for Sophia is her inconsistent naps. I just can’t figure her out, here. One day she’ll nap from 9:30 am – 11:30 am, but the next day she’ll want to sleep at 8:30am, and only for 20 minutes. Some days she takes 3 naps, yet other days, just 1. One problem is that she wakes in the morning at different times, anywhere from 5 am – 8 am. That makes it difficult to decide when to even start naps. Now, I work best with consistency and structure. Apparently, Sophie is the opposite. This makes Mommy very frustrated. Especially, when she and I both are sleep-deprived from the night before.

Climbing through her daily obstacle course.

Fortunately for us both, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to bother her. She is a happy, active, social little thing. She’s always on the go, and rarely gets fussy. I, on the other hand, do not always fare as well. Many days, I am a mess – inside and out. Exhausted, frustrated, and confused pretty well sums up my days. Luckily, Sophie is a joy and, besides getting into things, is very well-behaved. In any case, if she continues constantly waking at night after she cuts this tooth she’s getting, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board. I’m beginning to understand, however, that in order to ever find bliss with this baby, I’m going to have to ditch the drawing board, all together, and learn to go with the flow. Maybe then I can get some sleep!

MegaAttachment


There has been a lot of talk, recently about TIME magazine’s article on Attachment Parenting.  This seems to have sparked a resurgence of the “mommy wars” that have plagued mothers for so long, pitting mom against mom, based on their style of parenting. To breastfeed or bottlefeed (and for how long?), pick her up or let her cry it out, put baby to bed in a crib or in your “family bed,” and now, apparently, put him in a stroller or carry him in a sling. These choices are so very personal and so personally charged. If other moms are anything like myself, they are trying so hard to do what is best for their babies, that they truly believe in these decisions, once they’re made. If someone questions, or worse, belittles our plan, our hearts and minds go into overtime, working to prove how ours is the best.

Well, I, for one, do not intend to prove anyone wrong or even tell anyone that my way is best.  I do read Dr. Sears’ books and value his advice greatly. His The Pregnancy Book, and The Birth Book got me through all three of my pregnancies and births, and have survived being reread, over and over, for 10+ years. Since the birth of my baby, Sophia, I have also read The Baby Sleep Book and have begun his, The Baby Book. It is this last one that addresses the subject of AP most completely. When parenting my first child as a baby, Jeana, I most likely would have ignored much of the advice of AP, had I been aware of its existence.  I did breastfeed her, but only until I went back to work, at only 4 months in. To be fair, I did try pumping at work, but it just wasn’t working out for me. I also had her sleep in bed with me, but as soon as she stopped waking every couple of hours, she was down the hall, in her crib. It was long ago, but I think I also let her “cry it out,” which Sears argues, causes baby to lose trust in their parents to meet their needs. She does not seems to be damaged, but it did break my heart to hear her cry!

My second baby, Paige, was breastfed a bit longer. I think she was around 7 months when, after months of trying and failing to get her to take a bottle, she finally got it and I was off to work. I would nurse her when I was home, but not pumping at work caused my supply to plummet and, before long, my back-to-normal, A-cup breasts would no longer make milk. Again, she slept in my bed until she was “sleeping through the night,” although I do recall MANY nights of trying, endlessly to rock and sway her back to sleep.  At this point, I had not even heard of “baby wearing.” Employing this tactic may have kept me a bit more sane, as this child was into EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. If only I had known!

Enter Sophia. It’s been 10 years since I began parenting and much has changed over the years. I am older and wiser; more aware that the choices I make for my baby now, will affect the rest of her development and life.  I do feel close to my girls, but do not feel that I fully understand them. Discipline has always been an issue, especially with Paige. Perhaps, if we’d been more “attached,” I would know how to best relate to her. This is one of the benefits of AP, according to Sears; that with attachment, you are more aware of your child’s needs and, therefore, better able to understand how to relate to and discipline your child.

Bedtime with Sophie began in a similar fashion to that of my other children. She slept in my bed, as a newborn. However, she was an excellent sleeper – which I never expected – and she soon was sleeping in a cradle, next to the bed. See, I toss and turn throughout the night and have trouble getting comfy when I’m sharing my bed with a baby. Since I didn’t need to nurse her every couple hours, I didn’t see the point on keeping her in the bed (except that I do love being close to my baby). Eventually, her little sleeping noises woke me more often than necessary, so she was moved to her crib at the other end of the house. It felt wrong, to have her so far away, but I needed my sleep. Part of me still regrets this decision. She now, at 9 months, wakes more often than she ever did as a newborn, but my bed is too much fun for her to convince her to sleep there (we’ve surely tried!). I spend a lot of time nursing her in the rocking chair in her bedroom, every single night. I am tired. If we could get back on the co-sleeping train, we could cuddle and nurse in the comfort of my bed. Would I sleep better? I’m not sure.

Sophia, hitching a ride in Momma’s sling

She has, from the beginning, been bigger than her sisters were. She was born almost 1 1/2 lbs heavier than they were, and the trend has continued. Due to this, I have come to love the sling. She is nearing 20 lbs, and not yet walking; it causes me physical pain to try to carry, or even hold her, for long periods of time. So, I have become fond of baby wearing. However, I don’t do this as a means to become more attached. I do it out of necessity and convenience. Regardless, I can see why it is becoming so popular!

Super-food Maker!

To the subject breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding. I am adamant than this child will never drink formula. It may contain a lot of the vitamins and such contained in breast milk, but it is not even close to the same experience. There is so much about breastfeeding that cannot be replicated, from the immune boosting properties, to the close bond formed from nursing. It is a good replacement option if there are physical reasons why someone cannot breastfeed, or if mom is returning to work (as SO many must, and I did in the past), but it nowhere near the same. For this reason, I am staying home and making a real go of it, this time! Determined, at first, to nurse until she reaches 12 months, I am hoping we can continue even longer! The more I read about the benefits of breastfeeding, the more I want to continue.  Now, will I still be nursing Sophia when she is 3 or 4? I seriously doubt it, but this is not because I find it weird or creepy. I would like to have my body back, eventually! I just wish people wouldn’t be so judgmental over this subject!

Well, I’m beginning to feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll wrap things up. I think Attachment Parenting is a great concept, which, like many ideas, works for some and not for others. I intend to use as many of the “tools” of AP, which Sears refers to, as long as they are working for me. I can’t argue against being close to my baby; it feels good and right. I only wish I could start over with other two children; maybe we’d be even closer and attached today.

MegaBlogging


So, why am I starting a blog?  I guess, being a mom, I have reasons to vent. Being 2012, I think I’ve forgotten how to write with pen and paper, so keeping a traditional journal is out of the question. What better way to explore my insecurities, doubts, and daily successes and failures than to proclaim them to the world (or very few, if I’m more unpopular)?

A little background on me; I live in Northern Michigan. It is beautiful here and I love it during spring, summer, and fall. Unfortunately, winter sucks and lasts around 6 months. However, when I consider living elsewhere, I remind myself that we rarely see tornadoes, never a hurricane or earthquake, and snow, compared to other natural disasters, is fairly minor and rarely deadly. I suppose I’ll suck it up, and suffer through the seemingly endless winters. So, when I complain during the middle of a snow storm and people ask me, “well, why don’t you just move?” this is why. Besides, the gorgeous seasons and endless supply of natural lakes and rivers make up for it!

I have lived elsewhere. I went to school at Western Michigan University, which is downstate. After panicking over what I should major in, several times, I ended up with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in Recreation.  I loved learning about these subjects, and did rather well. However, I never gave any thought to how I would put these to work for me, so to speak, after graduation.  Being that, without a Master’s or PhD, there’s not a whole lot you can do with these degrees, I have never found myself in a career in Sociology. After graduation, I moved to Boulder, Colorado with a boyfriend, and it was here that I began taking a correspondence course to become a veterinary assistant. I held an entry-level job there before moving back home, when said boyfriend and I split.

It was then that I met my husband and we created, rather quickly, our first child. We hurried to purchase a mobile home in a park, where I broke up with him. I chalk this up to pregnancy hormones; a few short months after the birth of our daughter, Jeana, we were back together and engaged.  A year later, we were married (with our daughter, 18 months, joining us in the ceremony).

After trying to conceive for 8 months, we were expecting Jeana’s little sister. Over the years, I will question the sanity of this choice many times over. When Jeana was almost 3, Paige was born and we moved to a smaller town and bigger house, to make room for our growing family.

At this point, I decide there’s NO WAY I’d have another baby. Paige is a handful and a half and, as they’ve gotten older, the girls only get along about 1/2 of the time. Somehow, we mother’s tend to forget about the tedium and discomfort of pregnancy, the horrific pain of labor and delivery, as well as the insanity brought on by countless sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. We begin to CRAVE babies.  It’s this unexplainable drive. And so, after 3 1/2 years of trying and simply not trying not to, we were expecting our third girl.

As of August 2011, we are a family of five, which I never thought possible.  Flash forward to today, May 2012 and Sophia is now 9 months old, and it is here that we begin our blogging adventure. Jeana is now 10 and Paige (who was always “Baby” to me) is 7 1/2. Sophie is at the center of all our lives, and has us wrapped around her chubby fingers. I don’t think that any of us would have it any other way, as she has certainly captured our hearts! Things are simultaneously, perfect and horribly trying. This is my first attempt at stay-at-home mothering, and it certainly is the hardest job you’ll ever love! My days can be extremely stressful, but there’s no other way I’d rather spend my time; immersed in the wonderful bond of mother/infant.  I hope you’ll enjoy my trials and tribulations!