Spending Time with Children

Posted: 2096 days ago in Parenting

spendingtimewithchildren

divider2 If you’ve been following my blog, then chances are you saw the quote I posted recently that went something like…

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our kids. Let’s try to leave better kids for our planet.”

I’m not quite sure who said it (sorry!) but its brilliance is undeniable.

So how do we do it? You know, leave better children for our planet. The answer, in my opinion, is in spending time with children (the reason behind today’s quote).

If we provide for children only with our wallets, their appetites for ‘things’ will be insatiable. They will continue to do what has wreaked havoc on our planet: consume its resources, uncontrollably. But if we instead give them our time, our love, and devotion – our attention, our teachings, and our guidance, then they will be satiated by us. People, ideas, imagination. The list goes on. It’s why we shouldn’t skimp on the little things, or always look for the next iPad game to keep them busy.

They need us, people!

I recently saw this video come across my feed and I think it’s fitting for this Wednesday’s inspiration. The title of the video is called, “the best first date.” I hope it touches the hearts of all the parents out there and inspires you to do just what we’ve talked about here: moved to leave better children for our planet.

Happy Hump Day, All!

Drink Your Veggies

Posted: 2108 days ago in Parenting

A lot of people have an adverse reaction to vegetables on their lunch and/or dinner plate.

My husband just so happens to be one of those people. But I love him, so I’m not going to let him go a day without getting his vegetables, in one form or another. So I started making this drink for him so he could drink his veggies — the same drink I’m going to show you how to make, here.

Now, this drink is NOT a smoothie. There are plenty of recipes all around the internet that will help you make a smoothie if that’s what you’re looking to do. This, is a green drink that will have a consistency more along the lines of water, but still a great flavor and tons of nutrition.

As I mention in the video – the recommendation for drinks like this is to have a fruit content of around 10%, and 90% vegetable content. This is so the sugar content remains low, while the nutrition from the vegetables is the main focal point. I don’t necessarily agree with this viewpoint; I think fruits have great nutritional value, including antioxidants, so if you like your drink a little sweeter, than by all means, go to town. I still encourage you to keep in mind the purpose of this drink, however, and that’s to get your veggies. So don’t skimp on those!

Another thing I want to mention is that it’s a pain in the butt to keep fresh produce around. No one knows that better than me. So I have a cheat for that! Throughout the week, as you cook your meals, save every bit and morsel of left over fruit and veggies that you have, and then freeze them. Presto! You now have fruits and veggies for your drink. Of course, you are going to want to have some fresh veggies, such as kale around, to throw in to boost the nutrients in this drink.

But other than that – have at it. Keep working at it to get your recipe right, that way you can drink your veggies everyday.

A great and simple ways to get your veggies.

Cheers!

What Do You DO All Day?

Posted: 2109 days ago in Lifestyle Parenting

whatdoyoudo

As a part-time, stay-at-home mom, people will often ask me, “what do you DO all day?”

sidenoteWell. I’m lucky enough to have worked part time since our girls were born. This comes at a price, though, because essentially, like many of you, I have two full-time gigs in one full-time life. Since I’m mostly at home, my kids get annoyed when I can’t take them somewhere or do something with them because I am working. Being a business owner is definitely a full-time job; I just cram it in to 2 days, and I’m sure that annoys someone in the process as well.

So what does a full-time mom do all day? Perhaps I should say, what doesn’t she do? And the answer to that would be, simply, NOTHING.

There are the basics, sure; grocery shopping, banking, cooking, cleaning and laundry. These tasks, in and of themselves, are full-time work. Throw kids into the mix, and it’s like trying to herd cats. Pretty much impossible. Which is why we get super annoyed when someone looks at our yoga pants – still on, even though yoga was 8 hours ago, or possibly never even happened – with judgement.

When our girls were little, the priorities were healthy food, (relatively) clean clothes, and whatever behaviors resulted in the most sleep for the most people. I can assure you that clean baseboards, gourmet dinners, highlighted hair and/or book club were not amongst my highest priorities. After all, I was a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home HOUSEKEEPER or LADY OF LEISURE.

We played a lot of games, went for walks, played dress-up and messed up the kitchen.

We had fun. Mostly.

We survived, and sometimes even thrived.

So what is it that I DID all day? I loved my girls, and fit in the business of life around raising them. It felt like the right thing to do, and still does, even though the puzzles and dolls have morphed into bra shopping and boy talks. I did a little bit of everything (and most of it not well!) but I did, and continue to do, my best.

How does that grab you?

Summer Bucket List by Erin Whitlock

Posted: 2115 days ago in Parenting

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School’s out for summer – yay!

Do you have a list (mental or on paper) of things you and your brood wants to do this summer? Or, maybe you don’t? Or, the kids are already saying, “What are we going to do today?” Either way, it’s always a good idea to make a summer bucket list! Never made one before? No worries- it’s easy!summer-biucket-list

All you need is a list of things that you and your kids decide you want to do this summer. It’s that simple! And by putting it together for a fun visual, that makes it even more exciting – because then all the “choices” are in front of you and who doesn’t like checking things off? (or in this case moving it from outside the bucket to the inside). Plus, at the end of the summer you can review all the memorable things you did as a family!

All I used was a large poster board, smaller colored poster board cut into small squares with mounting putty (or post-it notes works too), and a marker. My boys chose almost all the items on the list and then I added a few of my own. We tried to pull from different categories to round out our list.

divider2Here are most of the items on our summer bucket list:

Active: kids summer running series, bike ride, swimming

Educational: an academic goal (learning math facts), joining a summer reading program, library


Local outings: museum, movie, bowling, water park, baseball game, mini golf, u-pick farm, beach

Family trips: our annual family beach vacation, going to see their new baby cousin

At home fun: family game night, planting seedlings, play dates, making a fort, picnic, camping

divider2Have fun with it and don’t stress! You can have as little or as many items as you want and they can be as simple or complex as you want, too.  You’ll be surprised at how easy some of your kid’s requests might be. If you’re in need of ideas, be sure to check out some of these programs below for great summer info:

Reading Programs – At Barnes & Nobles, every child who reads and records 8 books by Sept 2, 2014 will receive a free book (from a list) in store. You can download and print the info and reading journal on their website.  Many local libraries have a similar program as well so check there, too.  Many MLB baseball teams also have programs where kids can earn a free baseball ticket after reading a certain number of books/hours. Most of these programs are run through local libraries, so be sure to ask!

starfishBowling – Every kid can play 2 free games every day (shoes not included). Check out Kidsbowlfree.com to see the bowling alleys that participate. AMF also has their own deal – 3 free games every day (again, shoes not included).  Their info is at freesummergames.amf.com.

Movies – Regal Cinemas offers $1 movies during the summer. Check out their schedule here to see dates, times, locations, and movies offered.

For any outing or item you tackle, be sure to check out websites and Facebook pages for info – you’d be surprised at how many summer promotions are out there. And most of all, don’t forget to “check it off” the summer bucket list, 2014!

Have a great summer and go make some memories!

Erin Whitlock

About Erin Whitlock

Erin is a busy mom of 4 boys, ages 1-8 who tries to navigate the path of motherhood as naturally as possible. After graduating from the University of Texas, she was a reading specialist before becoming a full-time mom. While on a long journey with her boys due to reflux, multiple food allergies, and other challenges, she turned to more natural solutions with great success. When she's not at the baseball fields watching the oldest 3 boys play ball, Erin enjoys running, trying out new (allergy & kid friendly) recipes, and embracing the crazy life that fills her with happiness.

Childbirth is Hot

Posted: 2118 days ago in Parenting Sex & Relationships

childbirthishot

Giving birth makes you sexy.

OK, maybe not sexy-sexy, but it will blow your partner’s mind, in a good way.

If experiencing birth is empowering – and it most definitely is – then witnessing it is awe-inspiring.

My good friends Susan and Loren came to visit and show off their little bambina. I had to restrain myself from nibbling on her delicious chubbiness, but I digress.

The look in Loren’s eyes as he described the strength of his beloved as she brought Emerson into this world was so dear. His reverence for Susan, though enviable to start, was palpable as he described being speechless and in awe of her abilities. Loren is definitely not the guy voted most likely to cry at Hallmark commercials, BTW, so this display of emotion was unexpected. In fact, he is a big, bad*ss looking, hunk-a-burnin’ love. Which is why I know his soft, creamy center must have really been cracked wide open to be moved to tears like he was in sharing this story.

The moral of this story? For the ladies, it’s to find inspiration in your own strength like others do. For the men, don’t forget to tell your new mama how truly proud you are of her. And I wish for all of my expectant readers who will one day give birth, a story like this one.

For those of you who already have a story and a partner like this, cherish the love.

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Keep Your Cool

Posted: 2126 days ago in Parenting

keepyourcool


It’s that time of year again, when the temperatures rise outside, and plummet inside the grocery stores.

For that very reason,  I keep a sweatshirt in my car to keep the frostbite away while I’m at the store for the umpteenth time in a week, filling my fridge for the hungry teenagers that appear out of nowhere.

I have a feeling many of you can relate.

I know this because I see you in the aisles with your long pants and sweaters on, even though it’s 90 degrees outside. The problem I see all too often, is when the parents are all warm and cozy in the freezer section, while their baby is in the infant car seat, donning only a flimsy onesie. Please forgive me, but I want to slap some of you, and scream “wake up!” I genuinely have to fight the urge to tuck a blanket around these babies, don’t you?

frozenBabies aren’t very effective at thermoregulation. That is: the ability to regulate their body temperatures. Additionally, the proportion of skin surface area to body size in baby is HUGE, so they are much more sensitive to environmental shifts in temperature.

Please, please, please people: bundle your babies!  

A good rule of thumb is to keep them in one more layer than you are wearing, at least until they are mobile and can move around and generate some good body heat. I kept a hat and socks on my kids until they were old enough to pull them off by themselves.

So, the moral of the story: If you’re cold, they’re colder. Put some clothes on those sweet cheeks, and don’t make me slap you to have you do it.

With Love,

Babywearing

Posted: 2131 days ago in Parenting

babywearing


Babywearing is awesome, right?

Of course! But it can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started.  

There are many reasons you might choose babywearing. Maybe you’ve read about the benefits: less crying, more bonding and a happy baby who learns more, while increasing mom or dad’s feeling of competence?  Sounds like a win-win! Or…

  • you like the convenience of not having to deal with a stroller
  • you have a fussy baby who won’t let you put him down
  • you are interested in trying to breastfeed on-the-go (or while making dinner)
  • your baby hates his car seat or stroller, so wearing him makes grocery shopping a lot easier
  • maybe your best friend told you how wonderful it is
  • you simply want to carry your baby while having your hands freewho doesn’t want that?

Whatever the reason that leads you to babywearing, the most important first step is to find a safe, comfortable carrier or wrap.  There are countless options out there so here are reviews on three of my favorites…

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themobywrap2 This piece of stretchy fabric wraps around your body in a number of different configurations to create a pouch, sling or carrier. It can be used from birth and although it technically can be used up to 35 lbs I’ve found once baby is around 15 pounds the fabric stretches too much to wear longer than 30 minutes. This is by far my favorite newborn/infant carrier. It does take some practice but once you master it you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.  It’s very comfortable and you can wear all day long with no pain. At one point I was wearing one of my sons in it for up to 12 hours a day (not in a row, obviously).
 themayawrap2 A type of “ring sling”, this is my overall favorite and most versatile.  I’ve used it at all ages – newborn, infant, older baby, toddler (weight limit is 35 lbs). It is super easy to put on (takes about 10 seconds) and pop baby into, adjust quickly with the ring and off you go.  It is very comfortable as long as it is adjusted correctly and not straining the shoulder.
 ergocarrier2 A “soft structured carrier”, this can be used from 4 months on (you can use it from birth with an infant insert, but I personally didn’t like it for the newborn age).  You can have baby in the front facing you or on your back and it goes up to 45 lbs.  As the name suggests it is very comfortable for both baby/toddler and mom/dad.

divider2Just as important as comfort is safety when babywearing.

Never allow baby to be put in a position where his chin rests on his chest as this can compromise his breathing. (This is why bag-type slings should not be used as this is the main position baby is in in them). And, of course, always take note of:

  1. baby’s body temperature so he/she doesn’t overheat
  2. that baby has proper head support with an open airway
  3. and that baby’s head and face aren’t covered

Also stay away from carriers so affectionately known as “crotch-danglers”. These carriers only have a small strip of fabric between the legs, causing them to dangle. Apart from looking visibly uncomfortable for baby, these do not support the hips properly or safely and put baby at risk for hip dysplasia. Proper babywearing places the baby or child’s hips in a V formation with their knees higher than their bottom.

Another thing I want to mention is realistic use.  As much as I love wearing my little guy, sometimes in certain situations it really is just easier to take a stroller or place him in the shopping cart. And that’s okay!  So don’t get caught up in the all or nothing mentality – that’s the beauty of it – you can choose whatever works best!

Happy babywearing!

Erin Whitlock

About Erin Whitlock

Erin is a busy mom of 4 boys, ages 1-8 who tries to navigate the path of motherhood as naturally as possible. After graduating from the University of Texas, she was a reading specialist before becoming a full-time mom. While on a long journey with her boys due to reflux, multiple food allergies, and other challenges, she turned to more natural solutions with great success. When she's not at the baseball fields watching the oldest 3 boys play ball, Erin enjoys running, trying out new (allergy & kid friendly) recipes, and embracing the crazy life that fills her with happiness.

Dr. Laura: You’ve Got it Going On

Posted: 2137 days ago in Parenting

drlaura

I found this little doozy on Dr. Laura’s site, and posted it to our Facebook page.

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our kids. Let’s try to leave better kids for our planet.”

Wowzers… needless to say, people went crazy for it.

Dr. Laura, you hit a home run with that one. But, OH! What does it mean that we are giving the virtual “Hell Yes!” to this statement? Are we really practicing a global parenting fail as we speak? — Hold me, because I’m scared this may be true.

What the hell is wrong with us???

My take – and I am as guilty as anyone – is that we tell our kids one thing (at least we say we do!) and model a different thing. Do any of these thing sound familiar?

1. “Put down your technology” uttered with no eye contact, as you check your email.
2. “It’s important to have family dinners” as you read or text while you eat.
3. “You don’t need more things” as you unload more bags from your latest mall run.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? If we are raising a bunch of spoiled brats, it’s because we taught them to act that way! It’s truly no one else’s fault but our own. Sorry, but it’s true. Take a hall pass on the “my kids are perfect” routine and have an honest look at whether or not you are raising a spoiled brat. And truly, some of you are, because there are a ton of them out there.

153078895And if you are, do something about it. Please.

Because I have taken a good look in the mirror, and can honestly say that I’m doing my best to leave better kids for this planet – not always successfully – but I’m really, really trying.

I would love for them to have some good company.

Feet Go First

Posted: 2144 days ago in Parenting

feetgofirst

My friend Suzi and I met for lunch recently, and as we sat down, she sighed with relief.

“Ahhhh. The feet are the first to go, aren’t they?”

Yes, M’am, they are. My tattooed tootsies – I have an inked toe ring and “True North” on my arch – were the body parts least likely to show my age, or so I thought.

Now I’m rethinking that.

My jiggly arse looks high and tight in the right pair of jeans, and yoga keeps my upper arms from sprouting the dreaded ‘bat wings’. But my feet? Yeah, they’d look great, if only I could jam them into the heels that I so adore, but alas, I cannot.

Plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammertoes and corns. Corns?! Like it’s not enough that I have to worry about GMO corn in my diet, now I have to worry about corn on my feet, too???ducky

I continue to be in denial about the bunion situation. Though if asked to describe my feet, a duck might come to mind. Yes, a duck. You see, I begin this life several decades ago with narrow feet (narrow and loooong – but that’s another story).

I digress.

Over the years, I developed a bit of a fetish for heels – legs look so much better in them, don’t they? Well whaddya know. All of that walking around on tippy-toes takes a toll. The balls of my feet s-p-r-e-a-d so much so, that while my heels may need a narrow shoe, my front half now needs a wide.

Quack f*cking quack.

My dear podiatrist friend (and I’m glad she’s a friend, for all the work I’ll need) says I don’t need a bunionectomy – yet. “They’re just bumps now, but they will eventually be bunions.” Great.

I’m not going down without a fight, and you shouldn’t, either. Here’s my plan of attack, should you wish to join me:

Shoes: I have relegated my highest, pointiest heels to the ‘restaurant’, not ‘walking’ section of my closet. You know – only to be worn to walk to and from the restaurant table, and not for any activity that requires more than a few steps of walking. The rest of the time, I wear (cringe) semi-sensible shoes. Athletic shoes. Cool boots with wide heels. Platform sandals. You get the gist, right?

Biomechanics: Fully ¼ of the bones in your body live in your feet. If those bones and joints don’t move correctly, it throws off your gait and creates mucho stress on your poor wheels. Chiropractors adjust feet to get them moving well again. Massage therapists work with the soft tissues that support the joints. Yoga helps with balance and stability. All of these are part of my health care regime, and I can tell the difference.

Orthotics: aka inserts. I occasionally recommend custom made, flexible orthotics for my patients. However, I believe that the great majority of us can benefit from an over-the-counter arch support like Superfeet. I have them in all of my athletic and closed-toe shoes to support my arches. If you’ve experienced the pain of plantar fasciitis, I know you will do all you can to avoid it a second time. Orthotics can help prevent and treat this common condition.

Gadgets and Gizmos: I’m a big fan of YogaToes – wearing them is a passive exercise that stretches your forefoot in a great way. I believe they will buy me some time in the bunion arena. Got a golf ball handy? While you’re sitting here reading this, roll your foot over one to break up any tight muscles and adhesions. It hurts so good!

I’ve got many, many miles left on my feet. Taking great care of them is an investment that is well worth my – and your – time.

The VBAC Controversy (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)

Posted: 2150 days ago in Parenting

vbac

Have you ever heard the insider’s statement, “Once a C-section, always a C-section.” If you’ve heard it, do you believe that it’s true? Well, in most cases, it’s no longer true.

Let me tell you why.

In years past, Cesarean section births required an incision that ran vertically, from the belly button down to the pubic bone. You’ve seen them, haven’t you? That incision cut through all of the contractile fibers of the uterus, which made it subject to rupture during subsequent pregnancies. A possibility that was not safe for mom or baby, so it’s clear why women with those incisions should not try to have a vaginal birth.

Now the good news:

In the past few decades, surgical techniques have improved, and c-section incisions are now made horizontally, way down near the pubic area. The fibers of the uterus don’t contract much, if at all down there, so barring any other factors, there is no reason why a woman with a C-section should not be allowed to attempt at least of trial of labor.

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The ideal VBAC scenario?

You are more likely to have a successful VBAC if you’ve had a prior vaginal delivery, go into labor naturally, have had only one prior c-section, and the reason for that surgery no longer exists.

Here are some of the other factors that may impact a woman’s ability to have a VBAC:

  • Position of baby: If a baby remains breech as delivery approaches, it would be unwise to plan on a vaginal delivery. Chiropractic helps A LOT to normalize position of mom’s pelvic bones to encourage baby to turn into the head-down position that is required for vaginal birth.
  • Placental issues: If the placenta lies too close to the cervix, or is vulnerable to bleeding, a C-section may be the only option.
  • Induction of labor: The use of any medications to induce labor rules out potential for VBAC, as the contractions that these medications stimulate are significantly stronger than natural contractions and may challenge the prior scar.

So if these factors have been ruled out, why don’t more women have VBAC’s?

Scheduled C-sections are a very controllable way to give birth. Doctors and/or parents may be more comfortable managing birth that way by picking a time, and place. But are those reasons good enough?

It is clear that vaginal birth is best for baby and mom – if you’d like more info on that, check out my post, “Three Reasons You Must Avoid a C-Section”. I got a lot of… ahem… love notes after that piece ran, so let me state again what I made clear the first time I ran that piece: AS LONG AS MOM AND BABY ARE HEALTHY AND SHOWING NO SIGNS OF DISTRESS, VAGINAL BIRTH IS BEST.

If you’ve had a C-section and would like to attempt a VBAC, talk with your prenatal caregiver about your particular situation, and see if you can join the many women who are able to successfully have a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.

Want some more info on the pros and cons of VBAC? Here ya go!