Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sh*t Crunchy Mamas didn't say...


This video seriously cracked me up.


Made me LOL.

And, remember I don't use silly acronyms.


MamaNaturalBlog is missing a few hot button topics for the typical natural mama:

fear of plastics and bpa
probiotics (although that seems to be a jar of water kefir at 5 seconds)
nursing an active toddler
extended rearfacing carseats
unassisted birth versus midwife attended birth
raw milk
grass-fed beef
backyard chickens
reusable, um, everything
cleaning with vinegar
news articles via your Facebook newsfeed

Am I missing anything else?


I think you will like this too.

I know I did.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We just can't have anything nice.

Sure our bed was so high, I needed a footstool when pregnant.
Sure I like my living room seating arranged just so.  
Sure I really like displaying art and having pretty things. 

But I still always thought our house was quite child friendly.

Our bed is no longer high.
One "flying through the air in her sleep, 3.5 feet down to the cold hardwood floors" incident with an almost 18 month old cured of me needing to sleep in my pretty antique bed.
Now Liza and I snug down, inches from the floor, on just a mattress.

Our living room furniture is no longer nicely arranged.
Now it is pushed back and out of the way.

But, it's okay.
Our kids are little and won't be little forever.

And, like my friend Emily's parents always said....
"We just can't have anything nice."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Today was day one of using homemade dishwasher detergent.  I was extremely pleased with the results although I make NO promises to be happy with this mixture at any point down the road.  Because that's how I roll.  Lots of disclaimers.  Different dishwashers.  Different kinds of water.  Different levels of stuck and crusty food - in my case, a lot.  But, I can say my dishes were sparkling and I was a happy mama because I didn't have to hand wash a sink full of stinky dishes or run to the store for dishwashing detergent.  Amen to that.

2 parts borax*
2 parts washing soda
1 part kosher salt

1. Mix together dry ingredients.
2. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.
3. Add vinegar to the rinse-aid compartment of your dishwasher.

* Regarding borax, I am well aware the stuff is toxic.  However, it is 100% natural and I would rather have a toxic natural product in my house than toxic unnatural products in my house.  Obviously, it is contained in a childproof cabinet and containers.  Duh.

Anybody use a homemade dishwasher detergent with good results?
Are you going to try this out?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I actually like about Mississippi:

I've been mentally hating on Mississippi for the past week or so.  It's really bringing me down living in a state that consistently ranks 50th in every conceivable statistic from obesity, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, heart disease, diabetes, elementary reading rates, carseat use....the list goes on and on.

The negativity is bringing me down.  Really bringing me down.  This is my home and even if we do pack our things and move to a city on my long list of dream locations, I need to live in the present now and stop mentally bashing this poor sad little state.

Things I actually like about Mississippi:

1. My town.  We live in a little university town.  I like it and I like the people a lot.  We actually have diversity which is unheard of in Mississippi.

2. Our house.  We live in the house my dad grew up in which is pretty awesome but even more awesome is that this little house is in the best possible location in town.  Love that.

3.  Mississippi has a long sordid history.  From slavery to the Jim Crow era to the latest hate killing last summer, this state has been in the depths of depression since the Civil War's reconstruction era.  Yet, I honestly believe that great gains are being made and race relations are better each year.  And, I can like that.

4.  Good things are going on within the world of sustainability.  We have organic farmers, grass-fed livestock operations and people who really care about the food we feed our children.  And, since this movement is just now picking up steam in Mississippi, it's easy to feel like you are a part of the change.

5.  I really like the weather.  Sure, it's hot as all get out in the summer but that is what summer is for.  To sweat and wear minimal clothing.  But, man oh man, have I been loving our winter weather.  I don't even think I've pulled out a winter hat once this winter and I haven't worn a jacket in weeks.  Balmy winters are super nice.

So there. 

I suppose I've convinced myself that Mississippi isn't all bad. 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

The perfect lunch.

Just add a peanut butter and jelly to my avocado and 

pink orange, grapefruit, carrot, spinach, lemon and lime juice for a 

perfect lunch.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So, you want a natural birth - pt.3

So, you want a natural birth.  Common hospital interventions are a sure way to get you strapped into the bed and laboring in an uncomfortable and unproductive position.  The following list are talking points to discuss with your ob/gyn and to help form a hospital birth plan.

Hospital Natural Childbirth Talking Points:

go home if you are not dilated as far as you would like prior to admission
quiet voices and low lights
no artificial rupture of membranes
no iv fluids, no iv/heplock only
access to snacks and drinks
tub/shower/ball for laboring
intermittent fetal monitoring
ability to move as needed
cervical check only at admission and then only by request
no Pitocin
no reminders of pain medication

no purple pushing or controlled pushing
ability to choose whatever pushing position feels most productive
no episiotomy
labor down until you feel the need to push, even if you are already 10cm
no time limit

delayed cord-cutting until the cord is white and no longer pulsing
immediate skin-to-skin
initiate breastfeeding before any routine procedures
rub in the vervix/delay first bath

If you are planning on birthing in a hospital, you absolutely MUST read Henci Goer's Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth in which she breaks down every common intervention with scientific research based information.  I seriously can not recommend it enough...

*So you want a natural birth - pt. 1 - The basics of planning a natural birth
*So you want a natural birth - pt. 2 - Is your ob really naturally friendly?
*So you want a natural birth - pt. 2 - Hospital natural birth talking points

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

She is fine.

Know how your kids love when you throw a blanket over two chairs to make a tent?

My kids love it too.

Except tonight's tent featured a featherbed for under your fitted sheet.

It's heavy.

I'm finally sitting down to eat my sweet potato frittata.


Simply said, Liza's head absorbed the impact of one of the yellow chairs.

A spasm and a flickering of her eyes sent me tearing through the house saying she had to go to the ER.

We went.

She perked up after a bit and she seemed fine an hour and a half later when we left.

The CT scan was perfectly normal and we left with the diagnosis of "mild concussion".

Thank god.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Henry Knows:

Henry knows so much lately.  

He knows seeds need dirt, sun and water to grow.
He also knows his Swiss Chard never grew into a big plant because it didn't get water or sunlight.
Sorry about that, little baby plants, you never had a chance with me in charge of your care.

He randomly identified a snow leopard online yesterday.
I thought it was a cheetah.
I was wrong.

He knows all about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
And, he knows fossilized dinosaur poop is called copralite.

And, of course, he knows all about how eggs come from chickens.
He also knows that if you come out of an egg, you do not drink mama's milk.
I'm pretty sure he feels a little sorry for all the baby birds in the world.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Coconut Black Beans and Rice My Way

This recipe is a variation on a basic baked beans and rice recipe in my favorite vegetarian cookbook. I continued to cook the coconut variation because these ingredients are some of my favorites but the final dish never tasted quite right.  Finally, I added more beans, a lot of garlic and stopped mashing half of the beans......and, voila, a dish that everyone in my family actually eats.  A very big deal around here. 

Coconut Black Beans and Rice
*adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian 
1.5 cup dried black beans, soaked or unsoaked
1.5 cups rice
(1) 16 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
garlic, minced
onion, chopped
coconut oil
salt and pepper

1. Saute garlic and onion in coconut oil in a heavy bottomed oven safe pan.
2. Add beans and enough water to just cover the beans.
3. Bring to a boil.  Cover.  Simmer until beans are soft but not completely cooked, adding water if needed - about 40 minutes using soaked beans and up to 1.5 hours using unsoaked beans.
4. Add rice and coconut milk.  Stir.
5. Bake, covered, on 350 until rice and beans are completely cooked, adding water if needed - about 45 minutes.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Juicy Juicy Juicer!

For years I wanted a juicer but I didn't really think we would use it often enough to make up for space taken on the counter.  And, we all know I'm not a fan of cleaning up after myself and I was pretty sure a juicer was the most difficult thing to clean in the entire world.  But, after watching "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" on Netflix instant viewing, I knew we *needed* a juicer ASAP!  Good thing it was nearing Christmas and I have a sweet mother-in-law who loves buying exactly what we want.  

Thanks, Carla!  
We are seriously obsessed.  

Today was payday and I was at home with a pukey little toddler and a bored big toddler.
Normally, I jump to the grocery store on payday but it didn't happen until after Mr. Messy got home from work considering our sick situation.  So, when Henry said "let's juice!" during naptime, we juiced everything juiceable in the fridge.  And, no, I did not listen to Henry's suggestion of juicing the onion and garlic.  I peeled the kiwi and convinced Henry that even though he isn't a huge kiwi fan, it would make awesome juice.

Henry put the kiwi in the juicer.  

And, we watched as the kiwi were obliterated into smithereens for Henry's drinking pleasure.

Straws make life better.

Pureed kiwi also makes life better.  Since the fruit was peeled and entirely edible before running it through the juicer, the pulp is completely edible and yummy!  Usually the chickens get the pulp after juicing but I just added this bit of kiwi to my post-grocery store juice:  carrots, spinach, apples, oranges.

Juicing has reaffirmed several things in my life:
1.  We really like juice.   
2.  I am not picky.  At all.
3.  My kids are learning about real food every single day.
4.  Everything tastes better when it is made with love and a little extra time spent.
5.  My entire family has a sweet tooth and we like any juice that has a hint of sweet fruit.

*We have the Breville Compact model which is a massive steal at $100.  It is a serious machine and has great reviews online.  And, no, they are obviously not paying me to brag on their product.  

Do you juice?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So, you want a natural birth - pt.2

So, you want a natural birth.  You obsessively read birth blogs and Ina May is your new hero.  Your doula is hired and your husband is actively engaging in conversations about how you envision bringing your baby into this world.  Your birth plan is coming together nicely and you've decided a hospital is the best place for you to give birth.

With your doula and your advocate husband by your side, you know you can rock a natural hospital birth.  But, are you sure your ob* will be as supportive as he claims? 

Listen to your gut.  
Listen between the lines.  
Don't be afraid to fire your doctor even if you are in your 3rd trimester.

Questions to ask to ensure your ob is as natural friendly as he claims:

1. What does a natural birth mean to you?
2.  How often do you attend planned unmedicated births?
3.  How do you feel about doulas?
4.  How do you feel about me laboring at home?
5.  What are your opinions on birth plans?
6.  What pushing positions do your unmedicated patients use?  *Run far far away if he only says the lithotomy position*
7.  Do I get an 'on-call' doctor or will you attend my labor and delivery?
8.  What is your policy about post-term births?
9.  Is delayed cord cutting and immediate skin-to-skin normal protocol?
10. Basic natural birth questions:  no iv or just a heplock?  freedom of movement during labor?  food and water?  intermittent external monitoring?  limited cervical checks?  no purple pushing?

*I am using an ob/gyn as an example but also be mindful that Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are not automatically natural minded simply because they are a midwife.  Beware of "medwives"!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Let's just say the bite habit was easily broken with a reward, ahem, bribe, of a "big sweet treat" from the gas station across the street from our house.  Henry very much enjoyed his York Peppermint Patty and hasn't attempted to bite since the inception of his 'bite chart'.  However, it seems like pushing is going to need a daily reward since we are having a difficult time making it through the morning, much less the whole day, without pushing.  Better it is, but problem solved it is not.

Taylor got a mushroom kit from his mama for Christmas.  We've enjoyed watching the mushrooms grow and we've enjoyed eating them.  Win.  Win.  Now I just need to google a bit and find out how to duplicate the process without the kit.  Mushroom spores, coffee grinds and a box seem like it should be easy enough.

See that little bitty egg on the left?  Either one of our hens has begun laying freakishly small eggs or one of our hens is just now laying eggs after living at our house for almost 5 months.  It is a mystery.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jessica's VBAC pt.2

Have you read part one of Jessica's journey to her VBAC?  This mama absolutely rocks and I especially  love reading about her VBAC supportive ob/gyn.     

Fast forward to 40 weeks and 6 days. I woke up to a bloody show and my mucus plug. A good amount of blood and mucus continued for most of the day and contractions were about 10 minutes apart. They really were not painful but I knew something was happening. I called my husband home and we walked around the neighborhood and then decided to go to just get checked to see if this is the real deal. I knew I had the right to leave the hospital if I wanted so about 5pm we called the doctor and headed in. When I got there they hooked me up and the contractions were 5 minutes apart and but I was still 1 cm and 75 percent effaced. They tried to keep me and whisked me into a room and started trying to hook me up to a IV. I was texting my doula and birth group friends like crazy because I was so scared these nurses were going to try to ruin my chances for this VBAC. Everyone was telling me leave go home and labor and that I will end in a c-section if I do not get out of that hospital bed and go home. My OB happened to just arrive at the hospital for another delivery and I told the nurses not to touch me until I speak with him. They agreed and backed off. He came in about 8pm and asked me what all was going on. I told him I felt bombarded my the nurses and I honestly just wanted to go home. 

I braced myself for a lecture and surprisingly he said he agreed and that I needed to go get something to eat, go home and walk and labor where I am comfortable. So I was discharged and we grabbed a bite to eat on the way home and by the time we got back to the house the contractions picked up like crazy. They were extremely strong to the point where I couldn't walk or talk through them. Nothing made them feel better.  I took several showers. I bounced on my ball and walked around the house and yard. I finally reached my breaking point and just wanted to go back to the hospital for pain relief so I called my doula to talk me down. She came right over; it was about 1am at this point. She calmed me down and gave me a massage on my back during contractions while I sat on the exercise ball. The contractions slowed up but were now completely back labor and very very strong. The only way I made it through them was to imagine my husband and I swinging on a hammock on the beach in Jamaica with a margarita in my hand like on our honeymoon. Since they slowed down and I was handling them well my doula went back home to get some rest. She only lives about two miles from me so that was no problem with me at that point.  There was nothing more she could do and I had my mom, aunt and husband with me.

About 5am I decided I could no longer take the pain. I was doubled over and reached my max so my husband and I kissed my oldest daughter goodbye, packed my bags and headed back to the hospital. The ride was horrible the entire way there. I felt like I clinched the seat like I could have ripped it out at every contraction. Once inside I had to hang onto the hospital wall to get to the L & D through each contraction. I just wanted someone to hit me with a bat and knock me out until this baby was ready. I give so much credit to woman that can do this naturally but after 24 hours of labor and no sleep, I had had enough. They got me checked back into the same room I was in the night before and my doctor came in about 30 minutes later. He checked me and I was at a 5 and almost completely effaced. I was ecstatic all that work at home paid off. He also said my contractions are off the chart they could not have gotten any stronger so he understands when I tell him that I couldn't take it anymore. At this point I just wanted to rest. I had reached my point of no return so I requested a epidural even though I swore I was not going to get one. If I didn't relax through these contractions and get some rest I would not make it through the rest of this labor. About 8am I received my epidural and finally breathed for the first time in hours since I wasn't in pain. I prayed and prayed I made the right decision and that it would not slow my contractions. My aunt arrived who was a L & D nurse for 15 years and who I think of as my second mother which made me even happier that I could get through this with her and my hubby. They came in and checked me about 10am and I was at a 8 and fully effaced which absolutely made me so happy inside. This is really happening!  My aunt was watching the monitor for me and the contractions since the thought did cross my mind of rupture but she kept me calm telling me the contractions are perfectly spaced apart and she could even see some head compressions where the baby was moving down. 

About 1pm they came in and checked me again and I was complete and ready to start practice pushing=) They set everything up for delivery and the doctor said he would be back in about 30 minutes and with a smile told me you are getting this VBAC. His positive attitude really helped me to believe this was going to happen. My nurse and my aunt got me started with practice pushes and we did that for about the next 30 minutes. It wasn't bad at all and they were so encouraging. My aunt said she could see her head so I knew the pushing was working. My doctor came back in and it was go time. He was the best coach ever and talked me through each push telling me what a great job I was doing. About 5 pushes later the most beautiful cry I have ever heard filled the room. 

My VBAC baby girl was here!

 My doctor placed her on my chest and prepped for my husband to cut the cord. She was so beautiful and I couldn't believe I was holding her moments after she was born. It was amazing. She latched on like a pro and I can't even explain the difference in births. It was just amazing.

It was like in those last 5 pushes my body was healed emotionally and physically from all the harm my first birth did to me. I felt complete and like a woman again. Like I could do anything if I would just stand up for myself and my body and baby.

 She was taken to the nursery for just a couple of minutes to be weighed and checked over. They came back and announced she was a whooping 9 pounds one ounce and was perfectly healthy. She stayed in our room for the entire stay which was night and day from my section. I was up and walking around and eating a real meal within two hours of giving birth. 

I am so glad that I was able to experience this and I hope my story can give hope to other woman that are thinking of giving a VBAC a chance.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jessica's VBAC pt.1

This is part one of Jessica's journey to her VBAC baby.  Her oldest daughter's birth was a perfect storm of the cascade of interventions ultimately leading to an unhappy mama and a baby who didn't learn to latch until she was 3 months old.  But, Jessica follows the rule of "Know better.  Do Better." and was determined to be her own best advocate for her 2nd daughter's arrival earthside.

I wanted to write out my birth story since it has been such a healing process for me so I will begin with how I got to my VBAC journey. 

We found out I was pregnant October 2009 with my first daughter. We were so excited because we had been trying for a long time and had been married for 8 years so we waited a while for this moment. I really didn't educate myself on what can happen with first time births and went in blindly trusting my OB who also happened to have been my doctor since I was 13 years old, so why not trust him to deliver my first baby? Plus he delivered my sister 31 years ago and me 30 years ago.

My appointments went well and it was a very healthy pregnancy. I was due on July 14th, 2010 and around 36 weeks I became very uncomfortable with a lot of pelvic pain. This being my first pregnancy, I didn't realize this is normal and that I need to tough it out until my baby is ready. I went in to the doctor and he suggested we induce at 37 weeks 6 days; I was so excited. He also mentioned he would be on vacation the next week so it works out for the both of us. That comment will haunt me because I was too stupid to not realize what was happening. He was playing on the fact I did not educate myself to his advantage and did not tell me that since I was closed up tight, inducing would most likely end in a c-section. It also didn't help that I have three friends with 7 babies between them that were all induced at 38 weeks and none needed a c-section so I thought, what was the big deal? Let's get this pregnancy over with. 

I will make the end of my first story short and sweet at this point because I am sure you know where this is going. I arrived at the hospital on the night of the 6th to have the pill {I assume the pill is Cytotec because the other option is Cervidil and it is in gel form.  Read about the dangers of Cytotec here} put in to efface me overnight. By the morning no change so at 6am my OB comes in, starts Pitocin and breaks my water. Contractions were horrible. I put up with it until around noon and begged for a epidural. I still had not dilated at all and was closed tight. Around 5pm my OB casually comes in the room and says, 'well, it didn't work so we will be doing a c section.'  {5pm c-section -- think that ob was ready to go home for the day?} I cried as they rolled me to the OR. I was shaking from all the meds they had given me during the day and kept passing out during the section.

I don't remember her being born. 
I don't remember them showing her to me. 
I don't remember her first cry. 

They took her straight from the OR to the NICU because she was having breathing issues and had signs of an infection so I laid in the recovery room exhausted, my body torn apart and no baby to hold and breastfeed as a first time mom. Just wondering what went wrong. Two hours later they took me to my room where the ped from the NICU came in to tell me why she was in the NICU. 

At this point, it is 11pm and I still have not seen the child I grew inside me for 9 months. I finally lost it and demanded they bring me my child- she was full term and was not in a serious condition. They had been pumping her full of formula the entire time she was down there so they brought her to me, gave me 5 minutes and took her back. I didn't get her back in my room until the night before we were being discharged so I had to wheel myself down to the NICU and make them give her what I could pump in my room before they filled her with formula. She came home with horrible latch issues and a terrible case of thrush from all the antibiotics they gave her. It took three months before I could get her to latch so I pumped until then. {This mama got a 3-month-old to latch!  Amazing!} I also had a very hard time bonding until about 3 months because I felt like everything went wrong and it was mainly my fault for not educating myself and letting an OB that only cared about himself make the desicions for my body. 

Fast forward when my daughter was 8 months old, we found out we were expecting my second daughter and from the moment I saw that positive test I swore I would not put her through what I did with my first. 

I went to every meeting.
Read every book.
Joined tons of vbac groups.
And hired a doula

I switched doctors to a doctor in the same practice but who was much more natural-minded than my first and refuses to induce before 41 weeks unless it is a medical emergency. His wife also had a vbac with him with their second child so I know if he trusts his wife to go through with it, then he would be the best for my VBAC journey. All my appointments went well. C section was maybe brought up once in the full 10 months I was pregnant. He really was the complete opposite of my first doctor. He spent so much time answering my questions during visits and never once rushed me like my first OB. 

Stay tuned!  
Tomorrow will be the birth story of Jessica's sweet little VBAC baby girl!

And give this mama some comment love.  She is awesome.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Our Daily Vitamins:

My cupboard in it's most organized state possible:

My vitamin basket and essential oil basket:

My kids' vitamins:
Vitamin C and Vitamin D 3

My vitamins:
Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Liquid Kelp and B5

My favorite essential oil:
Tea Tree oil
Due to it's natural antibacterial properties, 

You can guarantee I use Tea Tree oil on my kids' scrapes and cuts.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

5 Easy Ways to Go Green:

Even if you are like me and don't make New Year's resolutions just to break them in the coming months, a new year is a great place to start making baby steps to the life you want to lead.

Want to green your life but not sure where to start?

Use unpaper towels
1.  Gather random hand towels, old burp cloths, washrags, etc. from around your house and supplement your collection with some cheap new hand towels.
2.  Plan a system for storage.  Clean towels are not to be folded.  Dump them in a drawer or in a plastic tub under your sink or on top of your fridge.
3.  Plan a system for dirties.  I throw my dirty towels straight into the washing machine in the kitchen.  You might need a "dirty" basket under your sink or on top of your fridge.
4.  Never buy paper towels again.
Repurpose or donate 
1.  When you are tempted to throw something away, look at it with fresh eyes.  Can you use it for something else?  Can someone else use it?
2.  Your local charity thrift store or Freecycle are great places to get rid of usable items you no longer want.  And, as a thrift store devotee, trust me.  If you donate it, someone will buy it.
3.  A box in a closet labeled "donations" is an easy way to keep your future donations organized.
Make your own cleaning spray
1.  Find a good spray bottle.  You might reuse (ahem) an old spray bottle or buy a new bottle from a hardware store. 
2.  Fill 3/4 of your spray bottle with vinegar.  Top off with water.  
3.  A dash of liquid castile soap or dishwashing soap and several drops of tea tree oil or lavender essential oil are optional but a nice addition to the vinegar and water mix.
4.  Use this cleaning mix as an all-purpose spray -- kitchen, bathroom, mopping mix, etc.
1.  Reduce your personal contribution to landfills by composting your food scraps.
2.  Composting is easy and flexible.  Don't let the "rules" scare you.
3.  Your dirt can be used for container gardens or raised beds.
3.  Don't have a yard for your compost bin?  Check out worm composting.  Super kid friendly!
"Meatless Monday"
1.  Conventionally grown meat is a huge source of pollution via toxic waste from antibiotics, land degradation of cattle feed lots and the fertilizers and herbicides used to grow corn used to feed the animals, to name just a few issues concerning conventional meat.
2.  Dedicate (at least) one night a week to go meatless.
3.  If a meatless meal isn't your style, consider cutting back the serving sizes of meat your family eats.  Or even better, support a local farmer by buying their pastured, hormone and antibiotic free meat.
4.  Read more about easing into a meatless diet in future blog posts :)

Is going green one of your goals for 2012?
Have you already put these baby steps into practice in your life?