DIY Window Herb Garden

Each year, as the seasons turn colder, my inner chef-gardener-foodie laments for the end of our herb garden’s harvest and the  flavors and health benefits it brings to our kitchen. “Ciao fresh basil Caprese, adios fresh cilantro pico de gallo, and au revoir fresh tarragon chicken…”

I jest, but really, there are countless, not to mention delicious, benefits to cooking (or heck, bartending!) with fresh herbs. Health benefits of common herbs such as basil, oregano, mint, and rosemary include (but certainly are not limited to): anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties (not sure if mojitos count here, but whatever), digestive and immune system boosters, anti-aging properties and more.*

Simply put, fresh herbs are delicious and medicinal.

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Surrre you can buy the little pre-packaged herbs in the produce aisle, but it’s not the same! When I wander out to the garden to clip and gather fresh herbs, I full on am feeling like this in my mind…

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I love you, Whole Foods. But you can’t make me feel like Claire…

… ok, minus time travel and castles and such, I suppose. (A girl can dream!) But you get my point. Growing my own herbs makes me feel good. I also like knowing where my food comes from (as much as I can) and being able to whip up recipes on a whim (read: without having to go to the store to buy ingredients.)

But, not all of us live in a climate or space that permits a four-season outdoor edible garden.  So, what to do?

Of course, in my dream home, I will have a charming vintage greenhouse filled with fragrant edibles (and cute kids minding my plants, of course) a la Magnolia Farms all year long. But for now, I am already weeks into the freezing “crisp” New England fall and the “yard” at our current rental situation has more concrete than soil.

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So, I keep dreaming. But, I also don’t give upI don’t currently have a yard, or a greenhouse, but I DO happen to have a window. Not a particularly large or fancy one at the moment (read: rental), but any window will do. After scouring the internet, I found a style that I liked here and came up with my own super-simplified version of the project.

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Above is the HGTV version. Below on the left is the window I started with (oh hey, builder-basic-rental finishes!), and on the right is the super-simple window garden I created in 2 hours, for less than $20. True Story. (Oh, and that little roman shade is actually a no-sew-faux-roman-shade that I put together during the same 2 hour period.  That little tutorial is coming at you next week!) I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and so far my herbs seem to be too.

SO, herein follows my quick, dirt cheap, and effective way to bring fresh herbs indoors for the urban, budget, minimalist, or cold weather gardener-chef-foodie in all of us. Time required (I promise you!) is less than 2 hours. I knocked this whole project out in one naptime, and my total expense was about $20 TOTAL dollars. Like, basically the price of one fancy-sandwich-shop-lunch. #worthit

DIY Window Herb Garden

Level: Beginner

Budget: $20.00

 

side view

Materials:

  • Small potted herbs
  • Small buckets with handles
  • Curtain rod
  • Spray paint
  • String/twine
  • Scissors
  • Drill (or screwdriver, in a pinch)

To Make:

  1. Gather your materials. I found these potted organic herbs at our local health food store for $3.99 each and the small metal buckets in the seasonal section of the nearest big-box store for a dollar each. (Think: Target dollar section, Wal-Mart, or the Dollar Store. I’m pretty sure they all stock the same loot.)
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    Any type of bucket will do (even Halloween cats!) since spraypaint will cover the surface evenly.

    I also got a bargain-basement curtain rod for $7.99 and a couple cans of spray-paint at the same big-box store. I used twine and scissors I already had, and a drill from our tool-box.

  2. Spray your buckets. Using your color of choice, spray each bucket with 2+ coats of spray paint. Just make sure to select a paint that adheres well to the material of your buckets. Just about any multipurpose spray paint adheres to plastic and/or metal. I used Krylon Colormaster Brilliant Silver to match the chrome fixtures in our kitchen. (Note: I also tried a Rustoleum Rose Gold finish, because I love pretty much everything rose gold. But, I found that it was not as metallic as I would have liked, and didn’t dry completely smooth on the metal. Luckily, if you have a color mishap like mine, it’s easy to spray over the first color with your final choice once the first coat is dry.)
  3. Mount curtain rod. While your buckets are drying, select the height for your garden window.  I raised mine to about the halfway mark on our window’s bottom pane, where my plants will get a good dose of afternoon sun, and will not to restrict the window’s operation. Most curtain rods come with all the hardware you need, so once you’ve selected your height, just follow the instructions in your package.
  4. Re-pot plants or trim planters as needed. I chose not to re-pot my herbs because they happened to fit just right in the buckets I found (LUCK people, luck.) I also wanted to take advantage of the drainage holes already in the plastic planters the herbs were purchased in. (Note: If you choose to re-pot your herbs into your buckets you will need to drill drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets. Soil needs to drain, or plants will die!) I just trimmed the plastic lip off of the top of my plastic plant-liners so they would fit flush inside the buckets.

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    Trim the pot-liners to create a more seamless look.
  5. Hang buckets. Using twine or string, tie the bucket handles to your curtain rod. I used a neutral string that was about the same color as the rod so the twine would kind of disappear. But a natural twine or rope would lend a nice rustic feel as well.

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    Tie a simple knot to attach each bucket handle to the curtain rod with your twine or string.
  6. Water, eat, repeat! That’s it! Make sure your herbs get good sunshine, water daily, and trim regularly to encourage growth. That means get to work, chef!

Happy fresh, healthy, winter cooking and happy DIY’ing folks!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer. (Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography)

 

 

 

Sources

*Ellie Krieger, The Health Benefits of Herbs as published in The Washington Post

Supporting a Friend During Infertility

Infertility is a topic that will impact nearly all women in some way. Either yourself or someone you know will likely struggle with this – it affects 1 in every 10 women. For some women, it can feel unbearable to wait 6 months to get pregnant – others will wait years and spend thousands of dollars, undergoing invasive treatments to conceive. As more women wait until they’re a bit older to start trying to conceive, more struggle with this every day. As a physician, I am very well practiced at discussing the “medical” side of this when patients come into the office…. but as a friend? I still struggle to come up with the right things to say and do.

I reached out to one of my #WCW’s, Natalie Bushman, fellow mommy-blogger at Nat your average girl, for some help and am so happy to share her wisdom here. On her blog, she has shared her journey through new motherhood, then through secondary infertility (difficulty conceiving after a successful natural pregnancy), the twin pregnancy that resulted from treatments and being a mom of 3 along with fabulous personal style and home decor posts.

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Total blogger crush on this cute fam!

She recently discovered they’ll be bringing baby #4 into the family (congrats!!!) and I asked her to give us some insight into being there for friends who are going through an infertility journey since she’s personally experienced this from multiple angles.

Thinking back to when you first got pregnant with Blair, did you have friends who were already dealing with infertility issues? How did you approach them with news of your pregnancy then?

I was one of the first people to get pregnant in my friend group and didn’t know anyone at the time experiencing infertility. Looking back though, I was so naive and it never even crossed my mind that I could have a hard time getting pregnant (even though my Mom struggled for years). I just assumed that since I was healthy with a regular cycle that it would be a cinch… and lucky for me it was the first time! I didn’t think twice about miscarriage or not seeing a heartbeat at the first appointment. Ignorance was bliss but oh how the tables have turned!
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Baby Blair, their 1st

I’m sure people had all kinds of responses when you were struggling to get pregnant the second time around. You’ve blogged about the things people should NOT say to couples. Did any friends or family members say things that were helpful and supportive?

Yes, my close friends were amazing. Honestly one of the best things to say is simply,
I’m sorry. That’s so hard. Is there anything I can do for you to help?
Totally basic but shows that you care even if you haven’t experienced infertility yourself. The other things that helped were when my friends would check in on me after they knew I had a big appointment. Or they would say, “Call me after your appointment. I want to hear what the doctor said.” Things like that. Things that you would say to anyone going through a hard time or health scare. It’s just about showing you care. Hearing that someone is praying for a specific need of mine also made me feel better. To know that I wasn’t forgotten.

How can people approach this with friends who they aren’t sure if they’re having fertility problems – do you think that’s different than how you approach friends who have told you outright they’re in fertility treatment?

Ok, so I actually had a friend who told me she was struggling but she hadn’t told anyone else. At that point, she had an adopted child but had made it clear that he wasn’t adopted because of fertility reasons. She had even previously made it known to our friend group that she didn’t have a desire to have biological kids. However, over the course of time, things changed and her desire to have bio kids grew.  In group settings, it would be wildly uncomfortable because I knew to be sensitive but others didn’t. Other moms would share their birth/breastfeeding stories and I would try to direct the conversation elsewhere.
However, if people don’t know you are struggling then you really can’t expect them to be sensitive…especially if you have previously made it clear you aren’t interested in being pregnant. I guess it’s a balance. It kind of depends on your relationship with the person. I steer clear of asking strangers any type of kid-related questions. But if you’re my good friend and you’ve decided to be tight-lipped, then that is harder to help. Overall, I guess it’s just always best to be sensitive. But if people aren’t honest with their situation then it becomes harder to be sensitive.

Did you want people who knew what you were going through to check in on you regularly? Or did you feel like you just wanted to update them and not be bothered?

I kind of referred to this a little bit in question three. For me, I liked having people check in on me. There was only one instance in which I protected myself from this and that was right after IVF. I knew that I would get the phone call on December 28th that would tell me if I was pregnant or not (it was through a blood test result) and I purposely told my friends I wouldn’t know till December 30th. I wanted to be able to process the news (if it was bad) with just Matt. I wanted to have time to wrap my mind around it and be sad for a little while. I didn’t want to have to field a bunch of texts and phone calls. When we did find out I was pregnant I told them that day…it was too good to hold in!
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Evie and Cal

Did you worry about announcing this recent pregnancy since you didn’t have trouble conceiving this time?

Oh, totally. I was sweating over it. I know that a lot of my followers are dealing with infertility and I wanted to be SO sensitive to that. It was this weird mix of emotions because I was so thrilled/surprised by our pregnancy but so distraught over how others still struggling would react. I prayed that they would be encouraged and filled with hope that this could happen for them too, instead of feeling bitter or angry. This may sound ridiculous but when I was having a hard time getting pregnant, and I knew someone who just “looked at their husband” and got pregnant, I would be mad. But if someone who had struggled like me got pregnant, I would be so happy for them. Was that fair of me? No. But if I’m being honest I did have those feelings initially. Part of me hoped that since I had struggled in the past that I wouldn’t be that “annoying pregnant girl.”
For some reason, we seem to be happier for people who have “overcome” to get where they are. It sure makes for an incredible story. But, I regret being spiteful to those who didn’t have the same struggle as me. So what if they can get pregnant easily? You never know what else they could be dealing with behind closed doors… an abusive partner, ongoing sickness, the death of a parent, unemployment, depression… the list goes on and on. There’s so much sadness in our world.
I think if we all had a little more grace we’d all be better off!
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I can’t think of any better parting advice than that! Thank you Natalie! And friends, if you don’t already, go follow this awesome mama on instagram @natyouraveragegirl and check out her blog!
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Dr. Annie is a family doctor and mom in the Sacramento, CA area.

Retreat Yourself! Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat Wrap-Up

In case you need a refresher or are new to our blog (welcome lovelies!), I wrote a post a while ago about my amazing friend, Dr. Sara Smith and her work as a life coach, yoga instructor, and overall supporter of the great thinkers and inspirational leaders of this world. This weekend, I attended her Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat and wanted to give you all a recap.

While spiritual workshops may vary depending on religious affiliation, this one was all-encompassing, forgoing denomination, and welcoming your individual belief system as a source of empowerment, guidance, and healing.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In a world that is the most stressed, depressed, anxious, least empathetic, and most disconnected than it has ever been, unplugged retreats such as this one, that inspire community-based learning and self connectedness, are absolutely vital to shift the collective consciousness this world is currently embodying.

Through two days of yoga, guided meditation, and specific Life Coaching exercises, we were led to find one positive personal truth to feel within our bodies. We learned that no matter what, we have a choice to become aware, and to choose to feel peace within each moment.

The most profound lesson I took away from Sara, was that everything within me is perfectly made and is living my life in perfect timing.

I have spoken here so much of “brokenness”. I have spent SUCH a long time wondering, “what can I do to fix ________ aspect of my life?”  Sara reminds us that, we are perfectly made, and each moment we are going through, is a moment that can remind us that we are simply learning. We have been given a gift and can choose love in every move we make, instead of choosing anything that makes us feel imperfect.

For example, many of us are struggling with debt.

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I know I personally spend too much brain power and way too many minutes staring in terror at an overdrawn bank account with no hopes of reconciliation until next payday. During these wasted moments of anxiety, I would tell myself so many things.

“How could you let this happen AGAIN?”

“You’re so bad at managing money. Great, now we can’t afford anything”

“We will never be out of debt. We are so poor and we’ll be poor forever.”

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Sound familiar to anyone? This self talk comes into play in many aspects of our lives. Turns out, the way we do one thing translates into the way we do everything. Let me continue the example above, and translate it to other scenarios.

If I don’t do as well as I expected of myself in a workout:

“You could have done more. Why did you wimp out? Now everyone will be disappointed in you.”

Move into motherhood. Let’s talk about when I have a bad parenting moment, which is, until this week, I all too often labeled my moments parenting:

“You’re going to ruin your kids. They’ll never be kind and stable. You’re the reason they’ll need therapy.”

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I have wasted so many moments of my life choosing wrongly.  While these moments still happen, I must remind myself to tell the critical part of my brain to, for lack of a better way to say it, shut the hell up.

Internal dialogue has a profound effect on our outward reactions and emotions. According to an ASTONISHING article quoted here referencing research done by the National Science Foundation , “regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.”

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Holy…..Bananas.

So, not only is our brain thinking mostly negative things, but we are also thinking negatively like a BROKEN RECORD! That thinking is powerful within our bodies, and has power to make us feel like CRAP about ourselves in every aspect of our lives.

When we say things like, “I hate my body” or “I wish I had her hair.” or “I’m a horrible mother” we are committing into our brain a false truth of negativity. When you are on “loop” in a negative self-talk spiral, ask yourself, is all that mind-chatter really true? If you reset to a mindset that we are created perfectly and there is nothing to fix, now are those thoughts REALLY TRUE?

I know I am glad to be breaking this awful cycle.

We must tell those repetitive thoughts to take a hike, and replace them with CHOICE. In the case of bank account chaos, instead of the swirling negativity, I can choose in the moment to break the cycle, forgive, and release it.

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Turning, “We are broke and we’ll never pay off debt”, into “We have delicious food on the table, all our true needs are met, and we come home to a warm and safe home every night” can make all the difference in the world. It can turn a sense of lack and fear, into gratitude and the feeling of abundance. And the power of that choice is ours.

Is this mindset going to be easy to maintain? Probably not.  Of course it’ll take constant reminders and integration into my routines. But! I am committed to choose LOVE instead of anxiety, worry, and negativity, or anything that does not serve me in my life that will not lead to peace. For it is from that peaceful and mindful state that we can create true and meaningful Action.

Example from Today: “I yelled at the kids today. I was feeling negative and anxious about money. I choose to let the anxiety go because it does not serve myself and or my children anymore. I am learning better habits every day.” <Breath. Pause. Release. Smile> “Hey kids!! I sure love you guys! Who wants to play freezetag???”

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Photo Cred: Eva Centeno

Have any of you attended a retreat? We want to hear about it! Commend below!

 

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Kristy is a peace-seeker, wife, mother of 2, and constant student of spiritual uplifting in Virginia.

Election Day: Parent Edition

Yesterday was election day across the country. For some of us this might have been one of the first midterm elections you participated in, or even knew were happening. According to this article by Vox, the highest midterm voter turn-out for youngin’s (aka 18-29 year olds in voting talk) was 21% way back in 1986. If you’re wondering why it seems like older people make all the political decisions in this country… THIS IS WHY. According to a Harvard poll cited in that same article, expected turnout for these 2018 midterms is 41% in that age group. Nearly double. Times are finally a-changin’, booya! (I’m clearly out of this young hip age group because I can’t think of a ‘cooler’ way to say that)

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

That age group also happens to contain most of our parents of young children across the country. The vast majority of women who bear children do it between ages 20-34*. If you line up those numbers, that means a WHOLE lot more young mamas and papas were planning to get-out-the-vote yesterday than in earlier years. Which got me to thinking… what’s everyone doing with their kiddos??

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Me, the bump and hubby pants voting it up

I saw quite a few social media posts of people offering to watch other people’s kids so they could go vote – generosity itself! My own kids were in preschool/kindergarten while the hubs and I took just the bun-in-the-oven (currently our easiest child) to the polls. Of course there are the awesome people who plan ahead and vote-by-mail too (ahem… Christiana). But then, I saw even more posts of people carting their 1, 2, 3, 4 or more kids with them into the polls and proudly showing off their little ones with “I voted” stickers.

In case you were wondering (as I was), it is legal to bring your minor children into the voting booth in ALL 50 STATES.

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Kristy shared voting with her little lady!

Now, I’m sure some of these civically minded parents were forced to drag their kids with them by fault of not having childcare (when are those politicians gonna get on THAT?? Hello America, we are way behind other civilized nations here! I digress…). I found myself, though, regretting not having taken our own girls in to be part of the process.

Is it more of a hassle to try to focus and remember which candidate or ballot measure you meant to mark with a 3 year old trying to climb up your leg, a newborn rooting around for a boob and/or a 6 year old wanting to mark the page with the sharpie they stole from who-knows-where? OMG yes. But it’s also an incredibly valuable opportunity to literally shape the future of America via your own offspring …which is basically why we are doing all of this parenting, amiright??!

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Margo displaying her voting prowess loud and proud!

Top 3 Reasons To Bring Kids To Vote:

  1. You show the kids the mechanics. One of the reasons cited frequently by millennials and younger for not voting was that they just, like, literally don’t know how you do it. If you get your kids running through the motions biannually from a young age, they’ll be ahead of the curve when they hit 18!
  2. You inspire others. You show other people that parents’ votes count. You show other parents that they can too get out the vote, whether they have childcare or not, to make it matter even more. The other people there can also see, and be reminded, that what they are voting on is going to impact the future, the actual children there in front of them.
  3. You demonstrate Democracy. We all know kids learn by seeing and doing better than being told. So seeing you vote, discussing the results and what it means in a concrete sense will teach your children what it truly means to live in a Democratic country better than the best TED talk or Daniel Tiger episode ever could.
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Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Next election, you better believe I’ll be showing up with all 3 of my offspring. Still not convinced it’s worth the trouble? That’s ok! Swap childcare with a friend and go get your solo vote on. Or maybe even be super organized and get vote-by-mail and just show the kids the ballot like our smart lawyer friend ;^)

What do you think? Did you take kids to vote? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?? We want to hear in the comments!

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Dr. Annie is a mom of 2 strong future voting women growing a third voter of the future in California.

 

 

 

 

 


Lo and behold, other people had similar thoughts! This article by Girlscouts of America has a great guide to how to get your kids (girls specifically) involved and excited about voting from an early age. Other articles on Red Tricycle, The 74 Million and Kveller also give great reasons for voting with kids in tow and advice for raising engaged citizens if you want more information.
*Paul Taylor et al, The New Demography of American Motherhood. MAY 6, 2010; http://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2010/10/754-new-demography-of-motherhood.pdf

Bringing Home Baby: How to Manage Visitors

As an enthusiast for women advocating for themselves, the time I spend talking to couples about the postpartum period in my doula practice is vital. Whether a couple is just starting their journey as a new family of three, or they are adding more siblings into their mix, this family transitional period is precious and sensitive. I strive to teach some very hard and fast boundaries for the family to consider when introducing their newest family member to the world.

I have found that most research points are geared towards correcting the etiquette of the visitor (my favorite being THIS ONE,) but what I outline below are the simple reminders that I wish I had known within the first few weeks of being a new mom.

1) Be Selfish, Please.

In many cultural traditions, there is a two-week to two-month period of isolated bonding between mother and infant. I recently came across an interesting article from the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecology, and Neonatal Nursing, that astoundingly stated the modern shift away from “Lying-in” with your baby postpartum was mainly due to understaffing during WWII!

During World War 2, physician-researchers challenged the long-held practice of keeping postpartum women confined to bed for 10 to 14 days after a vaginal birth. Economic realities brought about change in the length of postpartum stays. Hospitals could not maintain their personnel because of labor shortages created by the war. Maternity units became crowded with more new mothers and were understaffed. Sending women home in 3 to 5 days after birth could alleviate staffing problems.

Ideally, you’d spend that time in bed or couch with your baby learning your nursing relationship (if you choose to breastfeed) and recovering your strength. This can help with your milk production by feeding on demand and with your overall rest. That sweet little one will want to nurse or have a bottle very often, so having them near you is a wise choice. 

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Photo Cred: Baby of Mine Lifestyle Photography

2) Ask for help.

Believe it or not, you CAN ask for help. I daresay you MUST. No matter what your home life looked like before the new baby, it’s going to look different now. Delegating simple responsibilities to other members of the family/community can be a huge relief to you during this time. Laundry, dishes, other kid drop off and pick up, even vacuuming? Yeah, girl. You are allowed, especially if you have limited maternity leave, to snuggle your baby as long as you want while others take care of the other tasks. Take this chance to ask, because folks will be MORE than willing to help you, even if they don’t get to hold the baby yet.

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I’ll have more of this, please.

Have trouble asking for help? We see you do-it-all-myself mamas! Make yourself a list of what would be helpful ahead of time. Consider having someone else – your sister, your doula, your ballsy no-filter bestie – be the one to ask people for specific helpful tasks if you really can’t bring yourself to do it. Literally practice with someone you trust role-playing the “Can I do anything to help?”, “Yes, thank you! We could really use some more diapers and paper plates when you come by” so you don’t blurt out your usual “No, we’re doing fine, thanks!”. You know what’s amazing?? People actually WANT to help – it makes THEM feel good. So really, it’s selfish not to give out tasks!

3) You Can Say “No Thank You” to Visitors, but “Yes” to Food.

A lot of folks find it most comforting to not have to prepare meals during this time. You don’t have to rely on someone to do this for you or panic if you haven’t filled your freezer with easy to make meals. You can designate a person, or start a TakeThemAMeal.com account yourself, where people who want to help can sign up to bring you a meal.  You can personalize it to your specific dietary requirements, and even specify days/times you’ll need a meal.  If you don’t want a visitor at the time they bring the meal, you can set two coolers out on your porch for them to drop off at anytime. One cooler can be for hot items, and one for cold. I repeat, you do NOT have to visit with them at this time.

4) Doorbell Signage for the surprise”Drop In”

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There can always be that ONE person in your life, whether its a nosy neighbor, a loud talking sibling, or an oblivious friend who can just “pop-by to see the baby” without calling because they were “in the neighborhood”. If you are not wanting random visitors, it is okay for you to make a sign taped over a doorbell, or a high traffic door that states “No visitors today, please. We are resting” or “Please leave any deliveries or goodies on the porch because we are bonding as a family now”. I love this Scary Mommy Article about waiting to see visitors until your family was ready. Again, it is OKAY to ask people to wait.

5) Get used to saying “Wash your hands first!”.

Everyone who enters into your home environment brings the rest of the world’s germs with them. While it is impossible to keep your little one away from 100% of the little nasty cooties that come along, being a clean-hands ninja warrior on proper hand-washing and sanitizing is important for your sanity. It can keep big-kid and adult sized germs away from your newest little one, who hasn’t had the chance to build his/her immunity against them. You also have permission to deny entry to older kids who are not part of the family. No kids, no sick adults, no touching baby. Did grandpa wash his hands and then scratch his nose? Back to the sink with him! Practice saying this. If it helps, say “My [doctor/midwife] made me promise to be really on top of this!”. Stop sign

6) Look, but Don’t Touch.

We’ve all gone through this as new moms. You’re in Target picking out cute baby onesies your first time out with little one and you feel it happen. Out of the corner of your eye, the lady across the aisle is making googley eyes at you and the new baby and she approaches, seemingly to the theme music of jaws, and reaches her hand to touch the new baby.  Before you can say, “Don’t touch my baby, please”, she’s got a little foot in her mouth pretending to gobble it up it because, duh, it’s the cutest foot anyone in the whole world has ever seen.

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I’m gonna eat those sweet toes!!!!

In the first few postpartum outings, you may notice that the grocery store, department store, brisk walk in the park, and maybe even a public bathroom stop will be the “oh look at the new baby” show.  Strangers LOVE seeing new babies, and will reach out to touch any little squishy cute part they can manage to see. If this feels as uncomfortable to you as it did to me on my first outings, you now have my permission to tell people not to touch your baby’s face, hands, well…ANYTHING. Some options that can help deter this behavior are baby-wearing, or putting a sign such as this one on the car seat/stroller handle.

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Baby wearing for the win

Alternately, keep baby in the carseat/stroller with a cover or blanket covering it completely and pretend baby is asleep whether they are or not. Again, this would be a good thing to practice ahead of time if you’re timid…

7) Be Both Mindful and Gentle with Your State of Mind

One of the biggest things I ask new parents to do, is to become sensitive to the changes in mood that can be experienced. While mood changes are normal, I ask that partners especially become aware of any out of the normal postpartum blues. This article from PostPartum Progress describes my point wonderfully by stating,

There are mamas out there who are really, truly struggling more than we might expect them to in a healthy adjustment to motherhood but who don’t necessarily fit the criteria for a major depressive illness or an anxiety disorder. I’ve mentioned these moms before; they are the mamas who hold it all together for those around them but, behind closed doors, fall into a heap on the bathroom floor, or in bed at night, or any place where no one is looking. It’s these moms who I worry most about because they aren’t likely to reach out for the support that they need to thrive.

In the case of the mom who won’t reach out, please refer back to this post about finding your village through a doula.

Although symptoms of PostPartum Depression or Anxiety can be mild, they still can be addressed with your Primary Care Provider for monitoring and treatment. It is important to know you are NOT alone, and that you CAN talk about all you’re experiencing with someone.

In essence, use this time to empower your new family dynamic by voicing what you do/don’t need or want when you have a new baby. This will help you to not only learn your new baby as a family, but it will also help to establish those who are willing to be part of this new tribe that has your best interest at heart. It is a time of transition, and it is ok to navigate that within your own powerful boundaries. And if you ever feel alone, reach out to us here at Real As A M*ther, because we are here to bring your village to you, and we fiercely have your back, mama.

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What is the most helpful thing someone did for you post-partum?? Comment below!
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Kristy is a certified massage therapist, wife, doula, and mother to 2 kids in Virginia.

Don’t Wash That Baby!

So, I know some of my Labor and Delivery or Newborn Nursery friends are gonna hate me for this post… but too bad, it’s important and our readers deserve the best information! I keep finding myself rushing to check in with friends and family who recently had a baby and try to catch them before the baby has gotten that adorable first bath. Such a cute moment! And the freshly combed wispy hair after?? Alllll the 😍😍.

The thing is, babies aren’t supposed to have a soapy bath so soon after their skin hits fresh air. Their skin has been protected in its own natural lotion called Vernix in a pH balanced amniotic fluid bath for their whole existence up until birth. It’s the most fragile and sensitive their skin will ever be when it first comes into contact with dry, cold air outside the womb.

My dad, a family doctor with a huge amount of experience, trained at a time when as soon as babies emerged from the womb, they were scrubbed down with chlorhexidine – a powerful antiseptic we use to sterilize ourselves before surgery.

It was thought at the time that this would “protect” them from the dangerous bacteria they encountered when they passed by your rear end. That was after the doctor had of course sterilized your vag with copious amounts of iodine solution. He told me this and my eyeballs very nearly popped out of my head. *GASP* The yeast infections that must have caused!! The superbugs that would breed!! NO WONDER so many kids have crazy allergies and autoimmune disease has skyrocketed!!

You see, I have been fortunate to be trained in the time of advances in the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. The understanding we now are working with is that, lo and behold, in the days before all this anti-septic overzealousness, those autoimmune and allergic issues (which are so freaking hard to treat, btw) were lumped into the “rare diseases” category. And while it’s great we now know to wash our food so we don’t all die of dysentery Oregon-Trail-style, we have certainly skewed too far into the anti-microbial realm which is boosting many if not all of these processes*. (In case you’re wondering, my dad was WAY ahead of his time and would not let this happen to his patients’ babies.)

SO back to that brand new baby. Current practice is to wash with your typical Johnson & Johnson baby wash within a few hours of birth. This makes it so that the health care team is not functionally putting their hands on something that came out of your vag when they come to check on baby. Also, it’s cute and baby then smells like what Johnson & Johnson have decided we should all believe a baby smells like. You get that white smooshy vernix stuff off so your photos don’t look like something out of a Halloween movie and everyone is happy.

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Rosie, fresh outta the womb and covered in blood and goo

…..Except the baby. It NEEDS that vernix still on there to protect it. There is no lotion on earth that can really replace that and a soapy scrub washes it all away. A review in Advances in Wound Care sums it up well*:

The retention of vernix on the skin surface contributes to a higher skin hydration, a lower skin pH, and relates to a reduced heat loss after birth

So, washing this off your baby is like slathering your face in a thick layer of Creme de la Mer and then immediately washing your face again to leave your skin naked and dry. But worse. Because you can’t buy more.

This is in addition to the absolutely critical happy bacteria (aka skin flora for the nerds like me) that you worked SO FREAKING HARD to put on your baby if you had a vaginal delivery or labored with your water broken. That “skin flora” has dramatic health implications. So much so that many hospitals are starting to swab mothers’ nether regions to coat the baby in them after c-sections too. A soapy wash kills up to 99% of those bugs and you may never get them back in the same way.

There are studies galore out there going on looking at the benefits those bugs go on to have on gut health, maintaining healthy body weight, absorbing nutrients, allergies, eczema, auto-immune disease and more. I won’t get over-sciency about this, but suffice it to say, we’re going to look back on this hyper-sterile era and cringe.

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Photo by Wayne Evans on Pexels.com

So is it a little weird to think about your baby being coated in all that stuff from your lady parts? Sure. Is it an extra step for the docs and nurses to put on gloves? Yeah. Is it still super worth it to wait a bit for that first bath? HellToTheYes. Bottom line, just wipe the excess gore off, wait at least 24 hours, and preferably do a gentle water wash when you get home. Thank me later.

I would LOVE your questions about this, comment below!!

 

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Dr. Annie is a Family Physician, mom of 2 with 1 on the way (nope, baby’s not here yet, that’s baby #1 over there, also, that’s my husband, not a creeper nurse, he’s a doc too so was working in scrubs when I went into labor) and lover of healthy bacteria in the Sacramento area.

 

 

 


*. 2015 Oct 1; 4(10): 587–595. doi:  [10.1089/wound.2015.0642] Skin Physiology of the Neonate and Infant: Clinical Implications. Teresa OrangesValentina Dini, and Marco Romanelli*

Pumpkin Patch Survival

It’s that time of year again!! Who’s heading out for the ultimate mud-filled, over-priced, over-stimulating, “quaint”, some-how-always-45-minutes-away “local” pumpkin patch outing this weekend?!

You know, we’ve all been keeping up our own family traditions of the annual pumpkin patch pilgrimage here at Real As A M*ther for years, and after 9 kids and counting we think we’ve finally (sort of) got it figured out. So in the spirit of giving, we’re going to share our pointers here on how to best succeed survive through the sweet, yet often parent-punishing task that is #pumpkinpicking2018 with all the rest of you toddler-toting gourd gatherers. Follow these pointers and you might, actually, we daresay *enjoy* the outing!

Step 1: Let it go

In the words of the almighty Elsa, you need to let some sh*t go.  The first of these things being your perfect-fall-photo goals at the pumpkin patch. Don’t act like you’re all cool as a cucumber over there… at our last pumpkin patch encounter I saw 100% of moms constantly fumbling with their iPhones and begging, bribing, basically doing WHATEVER possible to get their small adorable children to sit still in fall coordinated clothes, ON, IN, or anywhere in the vicinity of, a GD pumpkin-on-a-vine.

Listen, we bring our kids to a mud-filled patch full of gourds, in khakis and bow ties, gingham and bows, and expect them to stay clean and hold still… Now tell me, who’s crazy, US or the kids??!

I know you’re cringing. But let go. Go to the pumpkin patch after your kids’ soccer game, after the playground, after ANYTHING in which you are already dirty and don’t care. And then don’t sweat it. Take your formal, posed photos later (you can go somewhere quieter separately with a photographer, or take a cute outfit-coordinated photo of the kids with their pumpkins at home on your porch. If you can, leave your phone IN THE CAR and just enjoy being out in nature as a family. Pet the heck outta the petting zoo if there is one. Ride that messy tractor. Climb on alllll the haybales. And get muddy, if you can. 🙂

Step Two:  Plan your attack

This one seems obvious when you’re talking about planning, but I can’t tell you how many outtings we got so excited about picking the perfect pumpkin and did that first. And then…. had to carry said pumpkin in tired arms or a cart for the rest of the outting. Because, you can’t give up *the perfect one* to go do the petting zoo or get an apple hand-pie, someone might take it and then the whole afternoon is for naught!

Check out the offerings for activities FIRST. Do some activities. THEN, when you’re gonna do nothing else but shell out an obscene amount of money for a pumpkin that cost $0.01 to plant or less, go hunting. Purchase and get the heck outta dodge.

Step 3: Eat at The Patch

Yes, it probably is Dijorno pizza at 500% mark-up sliced in the back of the barn, but you know what, if your kids will eat it, let them. We are all big on healthy eating here, and providing smart choices for our kids is very important. But, we also believe there are times for rules to be bent, broken, or “accidentally” forgotten. And those times, if any, are holiday traditions. So, if it’s in your budget, let your kids eat the overpriced less-than perfect food at the patch.

My face says: It’s 90 degrees. We’re all starving, rev it up Farmer Joe! Can’t this tractor get back to the snack bar any freaking faster??

We fought this for years and usually ended up with muddy, HUNGRY kids, which in case your wondering, in fact IS much worse than muddy, fed children. Take a second to appreciate how awesome it is that your kids can get that excited about food that is served not-in-your-house. Kids are kind of awesome that way sometimes.

Just in case the food there is intolerable or lines are long, always a good idea to have some snacks in your bag for back up (I don’t really know moms who go places with snacks in their bag… but just in case you’re out there). Bring your own water, but if they have real lemonade or fresh apple cider, buy that too. Just, because.

Summary:

Do:

  1. Put your phone down and enjoy. If you *must* have a photo (guilty!), segregate a time you’re gonna be “photographer” and then once you’ve got some snaps, put that thing away!
  2. Streamline activities
  3. Enjoy the indulgences they have and also bring snacks

Don’t

  1. Expect your trip to be perfectly Pinterest-worthy AND enjoyable, you can have one but not both.
  2. Try to bring a whole picnic lunch of healthy food and deny your kids the goodies
  3. Pick out your 3 perfect 20lb pumpkins the minute you walk in

Happy Fall Y’all!

galleryWith love from the 4 of us at Real As A M*ther, Kristy, Christiana, Annie and Margo!