Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Is Crunchy?

What is Crunchy?

People ask this fairly often, and for some reason it always kind of stubs me how best to explain it.

Crunchy is.... a slang term for someone who is natural-minded. Someone trying to live a greener, healthier lifestyle.

Crunchy is considered to be neo-hippies by some. Granola is another, older term.

A crunchy parent is one who goes beyond the mainsteam to do what is biologically, instinctively normal and natural for their child(ren). The main one quote or "battle cry" that I think to be crunchy, you must believe in is- "Breastfeeding for all, circumcision for none". Now, yes this quote is bluntly one way is the right way, full-stop. But it's the IDEAL. Just the ideal. Moms who try to breastfeed and "fail" or are failed? Moms who where ill-informed and didn't even try, or didn't know to succeed? Moms who supplement with formula?  Parents who where ill-formed and circumcised their child (female or male)? It's not like they will be "kicked out of the club". As long they're not advocating against the natural, normal ideal (breastfeeding=good, circumcision=bad) anymore. I supplemented with my son, and hated every ounce of formula that I gave to him. We wouldn't have had to if NICU hadn't given him a bottle preference after giving him formula against my written& stated wishes, if even the LC's had known he should be cup, not bottle-fed. 

And of course, any adult male who chooses to be circumcised is free to do as he wants because the whole point is he IS consenting then! The VERY RARE instances that circumcision is medically necessary for an adolescent? Of course.... after everything else has been tried. People make mistakes. Sometimes, very bad ones. It doesn't make them bad people. It doesn't mean they don't love their children. It doesn't even make them bad parents. You can be a very loving, appreciative parent... and still make a horrible mistake.

Beyond this, what is crunchy and what is crunchy parenting is up to interpretation. I don't really consider breastfeeding or bringing home babies whole as crunchy actually. Now, full-term breastfeeding is definitely not mainstream but it is the biological normal.

Crunchy parenting can be following the attachment parenting theory, or gentle parenting or progressive or positive or playful or free-range.... or most likely, a mix of any or all of those. Homeschooling or un-schooling. Baby-wearing, co-sleeping, believing in natural birth. Avoiding ultrasounds, using midwives, laboring or birthing in water. Cloth diapering, cloth wiping. Family cloth. Green household cleaning, trying to make as much homemade products as possible. Eating organic, or local or homegrown. Gender-neutral childhood. There is SO much, no family does it all, no family does the exact same way. But it comes down to trying to raise your children in the natural way, with as few toxins as possible and trying to teach them to see society and the world is not just the mainstream would have it be. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

No Poo Update: Setback

       So we've been no poo for a while (since November? I think) . Except that recently, situations have conspired against us. LM gets cradle cap every now and then. We treat it mostly with olive oil , which we then wash out with Earth Mana Angel Baby shampoo. It smells great and no toxins. And I was loving no poo. It was going excellent. But LM developed a habit of twirling my hair. On Christmas Day, I was so crazy with everything going on I didn't pay attention to how MUCH he was twirling my hair. He got annoyed and grunted at me. And I realized his hand was stuck in my hair. Big ol sigh. Slipped his hand out pretty easily, but my hair had a giant rat's nest looking knot in the middle of it. I spent a week or more conditioning it, oiling it, brushing it trying to get it out. Then I cut some of it, which helped a bit. Got Hubs to take off more. Took about nine inches off. So now I had tangle-free, uneven hair. An improvement at least. And surprisingly, I was happy to have the length gone. 

I went back to the old salon I used to visit every six weeks for a full round of highlights, dyeing and layering (once spent five hours there getting worked on). No highlights or dying it red this time. Kinda sad.... but why add excess chemicals? To something that LM plays with, touches, puts in his mouth? I don't feel as "pretty" or "done" without my old hair style- long, layered hair with razored bangs, dyed red with multiple-colored blonde highlights. But I probably look more grown-up. This time, I just got it cut, taking off several more inches. Well, my hair was shampooed and conditioned at the salon. So once again, I was set back on getting back to shampoo-free. My hair adjusted quickly last time, this time it's taking longer I think. Or it could just be the stops&starts are making it seem that way. Anyway, right now I'm back to needing to rinse with BS every other day at least. But only needing OACV once a week since so much of it is gone. 

 It's all a journey, not a destination right? This applies to so much in life, from the big things to the little things like hair. It's a bit annoying having to go through the detox process again, but it's not a big deal. 

           My even shorter hair! LM and I are doing a salute for a rainbow moms group here. It's the only pic I can think of showing how short my hair is now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Baby's Independence: Almost 5months

     Every new thing we do together, every milestone he reaches and shows off, every tiny bit of growing up he does- it's like falling in love with him all over again. We're approaching five months old, and he's embracing growing up with heartily. Just in the last couple weeks, he's started a lot of new things (for him lol).

He likes to sit on the counter (supported) and explore anything/everything he can. Today it was the ceramic canisters and their metal scooping spoons. Kinda freaked Hubs out when he first saw it. LM was sitting nearby the knife block. It was out of arm's reach for him and he showed no interest in it though. I think "letting him meddle" on the counter was just unexpected to Hubs.

He loves to drink from a cup whenever he sees one. I let him have sips of water occasionally.... and hide to drink the rest of the time. He's spilled water on me numerous times because he wants it... and doesn't want to share. Doesn't spill when he gets a sip though. I wonder about if giving him water is a good idea though.

He's picking out his own clothes.  I hold him up to whatever section is appropriate (his clothes are divided by type hanging in the closet- onesies, sleepers, nice outfits etc). Whatever he grabs and pulls on, I help slip off the hanger. Sometimes he grabs a few and lets them go before pulling on one. Sometimes he's less interested and sometimes he gets very excited.  He carries it with us to the changing table and plays with it for a few minutes before letting go, then I put it on him. This does make changes take longer. It does mean my favorite outfits aren't on him. But it's so worth it to watch him enjoy this and take a bit of independence.

He can fall asleep on my (or Daddy's or Nana's) shoulder when we are out&about. He's also starting to fall asleep occasionally in his bouncer and his almost out-grown swing. Falling asleep without nursing down is a huge change.

He loves to watch the flame of a candle. Will happily stare at it for as long as I'll stand there with him. He'd love to grab for it, so must be watched and held out of reach of course. Really likes to smell my candles now too. The blueberry one was a hit, as was

He's become extremely interested in solids. Because of me not paying attention, he put his mouth on my sandwich the other day and kind of sucked on it.  Very displeased to have it taken away, kept licking his lips and trying to take it back. He's watching intently when we eat now. Our new thing as a family to have "picnic" dinners- we bring dinner to our bed, Hubs and I eat while talking and playing with LM. Feels like a family dinner even though LM isn't on solids yet. We're delaying solids till 6months.... but I think we when finally get there, he's going to have so much fun with it!

                                                                1st time in stroller

He's also tried out his stroller and exersaucer for the first times each respectively. The stroller he wasn't thrilled about, and I'm not a huge fan either. But it's in our trunk taking up space as an option when we go out. The exersaucer was a hit, he adores it even while teething. But I have some concern about possible problems with hip development in it, so I take him out as soon as he shows any weariness. Ten minutes is about average right now.

We're also babywearing more often, which I'm thrilled about. He's tolerating it more often, usually he stays in the sling for our entire daily walk now.

I've said this about every stage so far but..... I love this developmental stage!!! Getting into stuff and exploring is so amazing to watch. Sitting up is the only milestone I'm really hoping comes soon. I feel like he will enjoy playing alone a lot more once he can sit up. He was loving his bumbo time. I'd set him up in the bumbo with his Melissa&Doug bead maze on the tray and he'd squeal and giggle while playing. However, bumbo's are apparently for skinny-thighed babies. My chubs would have to be smushed in there, so no more bumbo time for him. Sad face.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Considering A Sleep Experiment


       We are cosleepers and happily so. I walk the line between thinking about it logically and emotionally every day. I have friends who've had infants, mostly newborns, die in bed with them. Most but not all of them blame it on cosleeping. I have friends who are quite convinced their children wouldn't have made it to their first birthdays if they had not coslept. I have a living son and a dead daughter.

  My son arrived with his own mind, just like every other living child. For a couple weeks, nursing to sleep and then being moved to his carseat worked several times a day, even if it took a few tries. But it gradually took more and more attempts each time. It began to stress him, he stopped sleeping as well no matter where he was. He began to cling to me even in sleep. And finally, I made the decision to stop trying to force him to sleep separately. I didn't do it in the heat of an exhausted, middle of the night moment, but in the cold light of day. I made it with my mind thinking over every possible situation.

The relief was nearly immediate. He relaxed and began sleeping with arms stretched wide, hands open. He started sleeping for longer and longer periods of time. So did I. So did Hubs. We where all happier and more rested. But the idea that LM is a fragile, tiny child has never left my mind.

He soon started sleeping through the night, sometimes up to twelve hours a night (though our "night" begins around 11pm-2am). Sometimes it's only six hours, very rarely even less. And we roll with it. But now, as I usually have to be laying next to him or holding for him to nap during the day, I wonder if maybe this could be changed. He still has what seem to be unusually short sleep cycles and tends to be a light sleeper except during the over-night stretch. Noise or silence don't seem to make much differences. He's approaching five months old. He may or may not be ready to nap alone. If not, well, then I'm fine with it. But if he is and I just don't know it, well....

It must be a gentle change though. No tears, no stress. So I'm thinking of an experiment. Trying to slip away every single time he falls asleep but returning as soon as he wakes and needs me. Trying to return to bed to sleep myself while he's already sleeping. And seeing if begins to work more often. Seeing if he adjusts or if it stresses him out.

Disclaimer- the picture above depicts LM napping during the day under my supervision, not in a night-time sleeping situation. This is why you see pillows, a sheet, book, corner of laptop etc.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Cut, A Shot and An Adjustment

       That sums up our week: a cut, a shot and an adjustment. It's been a busy week. 

First, the cut. Wednesday night, while Hubs was trying to cut LM's nails, he cut the end of his finger. It was a really bad night. It kept bleeding for several minutes even with direct pressure but stopped just when I was really starting to freak out. We cleaned it, put ointment on, a bandaid and then a mitten on his hand. You know, to keep him from eating the bandaid. He would. He totally would. Well, he was pretty calm through all of this but after eating, he couldn't settle down or leave his hand alone. While nursing, he kept trying to show it to me. Ouch. My heart felt like it was being punched. Seeing him in pain made me sick. Soon, from him hitting it against stuff and messing with it, he was crying again. It got bad enough to give him his first dose of tylenol. I'm not a fan of it, but LM was in pain. It's bubble gum flavor (see me rolling my eyes) and he drank it down like an alcoholic might gulp his first drink in a while. It quickly kicked in and he fell asleep. 

Thursday we where supposed to go to a La Leche League meeting, then a playdate and finally LM's first chiropractor appointment. Well, we over-slept and missed both LLL and the playdate. Ooops. But we made it in time for the chiro. Actually, we where early and checked out the international grocery store two doors down while we waited for them to open. This chiropractor is named Dr. Cathy, and her practice is called "Get Off My Nerves". Two women in my local breastfeeding group work for her there, and several moms in both the breastfeeding group and the parenting group go to her regularly. She does infant adjustments for free, and many moms bring their kids AND see her themselves. She got rave reviews, and several moms told me she works miracles for reflux. My mother and grandmother have and still are giving me so. much. crap. for bringing him to a chiro. They fully expect his neck to be snapped and have me so anxious I feel like throwing up. Hubs was a bit worried too, but is generally trusting of what I think is a good idea. This is partially a self-defense move so he doesn't have to read all the research I do. Another reason I had for bringing him for an adjustment was his difficult birth. He was stuck, and labor stalled for hours. I wish I could have gone in for an adjustment right before he was born, I think it would have changed how his birth went. He was born bruised, I was cut and we just narrowly avoided a c-section. I need to tell his birth story sometime. 

So we get there as they are opening for the day and hang out in the waiting room for a while. All the staff is complimenting my BIG boy and he eats cover-less without anyone blinking an eye. It's great going places where you know breastfeeding is welcome. They let me use an adjustment table to change his diaper and we wait. Reading the consent form increased my anxiety even more. Dr. Cathy talked to us and told us he would probably fuss during. Handing him over I was conflicted between the results of research, and rave reviews of friends I trust and all the craziness from my family. The back adjustment LM just laughed his little butt off during. Seriously, he was a giggle monster and I could tell how careful Dr. Cathy. The neck adjustment freaked me out, even though she was clearly very careful and gentle. LM didn't care one way or the other about it, he just fussed at being laid down. Soon as I picked him up, he went back to smiling. Three parts of his back, and one part of his neck on the right side where "out" according to her. I didn't tell her which side I'd noticed he was kinda stiff and awkward on beforehand: it was the right side. Laying down to nurse on his right side he just wasn't as comfortable. She said it usually takes 3-4 adjustments to see a real improvement in reflux. He promptly sick up badly when we got in the car, and it's been pretty much normal for him since then. A couple of active spit-ups and several times I've heard it come up into his throat. So maybe not as bad as normal but not a huge improvement. We tried to let him skip his zantac but gave it to him eventually because it was starting to burn his throat. However, he did take a four hour nap directly after we got home. That's unheard of around our house. A two hour nap is standard. He's also rolling over much easier and happier now. After waking up, he's no longer trying to stretch for ten or fifteen minutes like he usually does several times a day. Once when he did stretch today, Hubs heard his back pop and LM laughed.  I'm calling Monday to check-in with her and talk about when to bring him back. Seriously considering only doing the back adjustment from now on unless he starts to seem like he needs his neck done again. Fearful? Yes. 

Friday was his four month check-up. Four months and thirteen days old actually, or nineteen weeks, one day. It was kinda a mess to begin with. After his three month check-up, we made the next appt and got the little save-the-date card. It said Thursday at 9:30am. That just so happened to be thirty minutes before the LLL meeting was supposed to start. So Monday I called to change the time but one of the receptionist told me that it was *actually* Wednesday at 9:30am. I had her double check the day AND date for me but she confirmed that yes, it was Wednesday. So Wednesday morning we get up at 7am to from out tiny little city into and then across Baton Rouge, in all the morning-crazy-madness rush. Only to walk in and be told it *was* for Thursday. Annoying. So we changed it to Friday morning and let it go. Since we where in BR anyway, we went to Whole Foods... aka one of my favorite stores and got some new things to try. 

Going back Friday, it was your typical get there a few minutes and then wait 40 minutes after your appt. time thing. Spending forty minutes swaying in place to keep LM asleep on my shoulder while kids and parents cough, sneeze and touch stuff all around isn't my idea of fun or useful. Finally, LM's name was called and we got an exam room. I laid him down and woke him up undressing him. Gave me the stink eye for it. Don't blame it. I tried to get as much of him as possible on the scale and told the nurse jokingly that they needed a bigger one. She said LM needed to learn to sit on it. Hmmm. At 4.5months, he is 19.9lbs.... with his knees on down hanging off the scale. So he's still off the chart for weight, up from to 75th to 90th percentile for length and at 75th percentile for head size.  He is my big boy for sure. 

We consented to his second doses of DTaP and Rotateq for this appt. He had the first doses at his 2month, and has had nothing else. He'll get third doses of them at his 6month (his next appt) and then be done with RotaTeq. DTaP he'll get a fourth dose of around eighteen months,  then again around four years and then a booster at around twelve years. After his six month check-up, we might move on to giving Pc and HIB but not totally decided yet. I don't nurse him during shots because I was recovering from mastitis for his first one and his pedi was concerned about him possibly biting me severely while still feeling mastitis' effects. I had planned to nurse right after, but thanks to his thick thighs, he didn't notice the shot that time or at this last check-up. He gets his paci (normally only in the car) for it, but seems indifferent. 

Giving DTaP makes me nervous. If he reacts to it, I will never forgive myself. If he got pertussis and died from it, I would never forgive myself. Making decisions means living with them. He didn't even have any minor reactions to his first dose, and so far none after his second. For this, I feel lucky and blessed. 

Dealing with the retraction issue from the last appt. went very well. She merely agreed and while I don't think I changed her mind, she knows where I stand on the issue now. I'll be staying very vigilant though. I glossed over our sleeping arrangements but told her about our plans to begin baby-led weaning no sooner than six months and only after he was truly ready. She agreed and seemed interested but did mention something about giving an iron supplement after six months if he's not eating solids yet. We told her about the chiropractor visit and she asked about it a bunch. In the end, she shrugged and said she was glad he was rolling over easier. 

We really do like his doctor. We don't agree about everything, and the retraction last month could have been the end of us seeing her had it caused problems for LM. But she is someone who respects a parent's decision without guilt'ing or lecturing. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

8 Inches Simpler

My resolution to focus on in January is Simplify. 

 July 24th 2009- Two days after my 18th birthday, two and a half years ago. This was about a week after my last real hair cut. It's about an inch below my ears. I had it trimmed often but never cut any sign. length off of it after this. 
This was me about three months ago, maybe three and a half. LM was only a few weeks old. This is the most recent picture I can find of me with my hair down. I was already starting no poo here btw. My hair grows fairly fast, so it was longer than this but this gives you the basic idea. 

LM loves my hair. Oh, does he. Pulling and chewing and twirling around his fist, oh my hair is his favorite toy. He gave me the snarled, massive tangles to prove it. 

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago on my 43Things account- 
"In July 2010, for my 18th birthday I cut my shoulder length hair into a very short bob with bangs. Way too short and a bad cut. Boo. I let it grow until Dec 2010 when I got it cut a little bit again to fix the style the badly done bob had messed up. I had just found out I was pregnant with Ember. I haven’t cut it since. It’s now mid-back length. And I love it. Totally love the way it looks. Feel more feminine with it long. But it takes forever to blow-dry on the rare occasion I have a chance to and half a day to air dry loose. If I put it in a pony-tail to keep Little Man from eating, pulling or spitting up in it, it doesn’t dry at all in some layers. It’s colder now and going out with wet hair because I don’t have time to dry it is not only uncomfortable but bad for my hair itself.

I’m worried cutting off my rather pretty, long, thick curly dark hair will make my fat the focus instead of it :( I looked good with short hair at 18 but I was a lot skinnier."

    It doesn't look like a lot but it FEELS like a huge difference. I showered, washed and blow-dried my hair today. All with LM awake, playing. Without anyone else here to entertain him. First time EVER. I feel empowered! I feel liberated! I no longer have to schedule showers around when Hubs is home and awake. All because it no longer takes 30minutes *just* to wash my hair, which was way too long for LM's limited four month old's patience. 
        Not pixie short by any means (been there, done that) but short enough to be manageable in a new mommy's life. All of the knots from LM that didn't get cut away where easily brushed out. For the first time in months, my hair isn't making me crazy!
             As you can see, it's uneven. Far as I know, Hubs has never cut any female's hair before. He cuts his own, but that's by shaving it so not the same thing at all. It's not horribly uneven, and I'm going to make a quickie salon trip to have it evened up and maybe throw in some layers. Besides it being evened up to the shortest part, I think I'll probably have another inch or so taken off to for good measure.

I've made my life about eight inches simpler and it's a great way to start the new year. Also, I've now been shampoo-free for a couple months and it's going very well. I use a teaspoon and a half of baking soda with eight ounces of water in a peri bottle to wash every other day. About half the time I wash, I also use another solution to soften my hair. Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in two ounces of water in a squirt bottle is perfect for spraying the ends of my hair with. However, I'm going to adjust that now because I have mostly cut off everything I was spraying it on. We'll see how this affects my routine, for the better!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: Happiness Project/NYRs

 2012 here we come, ready or not

   I'm nervous and excited for the coming year. What will it hold, besides hopefully LM growing up happily and well? A new job for Hubs? A driver's license finally for me? Me finishing school finally? New friends?

 I almost always make New Year's Resolutions. Don't do so well with keeping them, like many people. For 2011, pretty much the only one I made was to keep Ember's memory alive. I think I've done pretty well with this. She is a part of me always, and now she lives on through her brother. I believe she is not fully gone until the memory of her is allowed to die.

My NYRs for 2012 are fairly simple, and pretty much all things I've been trying to do anyway. I'm limiting myself to twelve, one for every month of the year. Though I actually wish to work on them all every month, I will pick one a month to focus on even more. This is my personal Happiness Project. I read Gretchen Rubin's one-year experiment themed book "the Happiness Project" a few months after Ember died and have it in the back of my mind every since. About two months ago, I reread it and loved it even more now. It is the inspiration for this twist on NYRs. Of course, I'm going to blog about this. Have I mentioned how much I love blogging, even in the tumbleweeds?

January: Simplify

February:  Prioritize Health

March: Lose All Baby Weight

April: Be More Present in the Moment

May: Complete Projects

June: Green Clean

July: Make and Preserve Memories

August: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

September: Parent with Integrity

October: Be More Social

November: Homemade Home and Life

December: Take Advantage of Opportunities

My hopes for 2012 are to watch LM grow up healthy and happy and to be happier myself <3