The Silver Lining To My PUPPS Nightmare

Everything happens for a reason

….or so people say.

I had always longed to be a mother. I dreamed of pregnancy, a little baby bump, and a group of like-minded women to with whom to hang out and help raise our little ones in friendship, unicorns, and rainbows.

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What a wonderful portrait of “what to expect when you are expecting”… am I right? In fact, we even joked amongst the four of us here at Real As A M*ther that I would be the one with half a dozen kids and a goofy husband that made me endlessly laugh until I cried and doted on me daily. Perfection.

DSC01327So when my wonderfully hilarious, awesome, doting husband and I got married, it was natural for me to not want to wait to start this family I’d been craving. By the blessed powers that be, within 6 months I had the exciting news to tell my friends and family…..

I experienced the normal first pregnancy woes in the beginning. Morning sickness, nausea, food aversions, being super tired, and reallllllly missing wine. But overall, things were looking great. We relocated to a town outside of the city, and my husband hand-made the baby’s crib and dresser.

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I mean, the man is hilarious, awesome, and talented. What can I say?

When I was about four months along, we went to visit Christiana, who was living in Japan! It was an amazing, globe-trotting, babymoon trip where my tiny baby belly began to show while posing for picturesque photos overlooking Japanese pagodas. Pregnancy dreams, on. track.

When we got home, however, life threw my dream a giant curveball. I was on a walk around town, when my calves began to itch. I sat down at our quaint town hall fountain and saw that it looked as though I had been bitten by 30 mosquitos simultaneously. I just chalked it up to summer, and maybe… heat rash?  But the itching persisted.

Within two weeks, it had spread. My inner thighs, underarms, and belly had broken out in a rash. It felt as though I had just slept in a den of mosquitos and chiggers. After calling my midwife, I started taking some liver cleansing teas/supplements. I got some special soaps to help calm it down, and tried oatmeal baths. Nothing helped. Not. A. Thing.

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Post Biopsy

I was about 20 weeks along when I saw a specialist that, along with my midwife, decided after bloodwork and a biopsy and although it rarely occurs this early, that I had PUPPPS.

Like many of you right now, I had this reaction.

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‘da heck d’you just say?

According to Healthline.com, “Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash is an itchy rash that appears in stretch marks of the stomach during late pregnancy.”

Stretch marks, you say? I was 18 weeks! I hadn’t barely even begun to show, much less stretch. And this was systemic, not on my belly! But, at least I had some sort of explanation that calmed me down. Thinking, ok now let’s get rid of this mess, I said,

“Ok, doc, what can I do?”

“Well, the only cure, is delivery” <heart sinks>

So basically, what I was being told was this: I was going to itch like this for 20 more weeks. 

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20 Weeks: just the beginning

4 more weeks went by, which felt like an eternity. The rash got so bad that I could not sleep, eat, or even wear clothes. I had to take cool/cold showers because the heat would spread the rash to a new area, which I kept finding out the hard way as it spread all over my body. It was on the soles of my feet, palms of my hands, even in my nail beds and on my eyelids. The longest I went without solid sleep was 7 whole days. I don’t even remember if I was hungry.

I, did, however, hold tightly onto the fact that I needed to drink water. I remember having thoughts of “I don’t want the amniotic fluid to get low, and that be the reason I have to get a C-Section,” which was a huge fear for me. That was the only coherent thought I remember having during this time.

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It was when my mom found me naked on my kitchen floor at 24 weeks (I was lying there because it was cool and clothes made the itching turn to burning pain) that she scooped me up and into the car. I have no recollection of this event, but she took me to the doctor and demanded an appointment right then and there. I had lost 20 pounds, the baby wasn’t gaining any weight, and I was put under the care of a neonatal specialist. I was delusional, depressed, suicidal, and covered in what looked like oozing poison ivy.

At this point, desperation kicked in, (mostly from my husband and parents because I had checked out) and a steroid regimen was put into place. I was on Prednisone until my 30th week and experienced so much relief. The rash was kept at bay and the baby was monitored regularly to make sure the medicine didn’t cause any problems.

Thinking I was in the clear, I weaned off my medication because I was so worried about steroids affecting the baby. Around Thanksgiving, however, it came back with a vengeance. At it’s worst, I could literally peel the layers of my skin off with a tissue. I immediately started the steroids again, and the rash was mostly cleared up in about two weeks.

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Belly scarring at 37 weeks

When I went into labor at 37 weeks and 6 days, I had such relief. Where most women are fearful of the unknown, I was prepared and ready for the natural pain and hormone release I had learned about through my teacher of The Bradley Method.

Most of me has forgotten about just how incredibly difficult that pregnancy was. In fact, I am only reminded when I have bad cycles now, because the rash creeps back up under my upper arms and on my legs, raised and irritated ghost shadows of such a dark time in my life.

We still don’t know what causes it. But, some risk factors for developing PUPPPS are:

  1. Carrying a boy: we didn’t know at the time but…check
  2. Being Caucasian: check
  3. First pregnancy: check
  4. Maternal hypertension: undiagnosed but with no sleep…check
  5. Multiples
  6. Rapid or higher than usual weight gain

While I did not fit into the category of the last two risk factors, my mind got to thinking about why my personal case was so different. The only reason I came up with, ties back to the beginning of this post. Because… everything happens for a reason.

It was through this tough and terrible time that I learned about prenatal herbal supplements, and how and why they work. I learned a valuable lesson in the blend of a cooperative maternal care team, and their strategies for helping. I learned the importance of relying on medical intervention, because it saved my life, my son’s life, and my sanity. But the most important gift this experience gave me was the fact that I knew I wanted to help support other women through pregnancy and birth.

I tell this story because it is important to look back and find gratitude in the lessons we are given in this lifetime. Even though I did not know this going through it, I am certain that this time of suffering gave birth to the compassion for women in their childbearing years that I had never known was inside of me. It gave me the tools for empathy that one can only develop while in the depths of great personal struggle.

DSC01829.jpgNow, I feel healing each time I help a woman accept and trust in her body through the pregnancy process. I am energized by watching her awaken to the power within her, and I am both blissfully honored and overwhelmed each time I watch her hold her baby. Because no matter what type of pregnancy, what kind of prenatal education we choose, how or where we labor and birth, or what the birth outcome is, I am reminded in that moment, women are bound together as one. And that is my most ultimate, and ever-present, silver lining.

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Kristy is a certified massage therapist, doula, homesteader and mother to 2 kids in Virginia.

Crazy Chicken Lady

So you know that one neighbor whose garden is flush with edible landscape, where noises come from animals and kids everyday when they are outside, and whose chicken tractor moves every week to a different location to start the growth of new grass? Yup, that’s me. Hi, I’m Kristy, and I am a proud crazy chicken lady.

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I decided that since there are a million posts about chickens all over the inter web, I’d share with you all a personal story about how I found out that I care very deeply about my chickens.

It was an amazing early summer evening, the kind where the nights are still semi chilly and humidity hasn’t plagued us with it’s relentless wet blanket effect.  We had spent the day outside, ate dinner on our deck, and had just begun to doze off to a cool breeze from the open window when we heard the noise…

The horrible sound of a chicken distress call. Which, if you are so blissfully unfamiliar, is a saucy mix between a fog horn and what I would imagine would be the Blair Witch stubbing her (does this particular haunt have a gender?) long and writhing toe.

“Holy S$#&, the chickens are getting attacked!” I jump out of bed screaming to get the flashlight to shine down while my husband rushes to get on suitable clothing for saving the day. That is when we see its ringed tail dragging my favorite chicken towards the fence.

“It’s a BLEEP BLEEP BLEEPing Raccoon” This is where I feel like I must have sounded like an old lady in curlers and nightgown in a 60’s western with only a couple teeth and a shaking fist “Get that sumbitch, babe. It’s got my favorite chicken!” The flashlight scared the beast off, thankfully, and we trudged outside to see what was left of the rest of the flock.

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I heard my husband shout, shouted “She’s still alive!”. Much to our surprise, a little tan Buff Orpington was crouched down by the fence. This is amazing if you’ve ever had chickens and a raccoon attack has plagued your coop. It rarely ends well for the fowl if they even can be found.  Anyway, my husband picked her up and tried to put her back in the coop. She flailed and flapped, clearly in distress. (ummmmmmm, duh)  In hindsight she was probably thinking,

“Holy crap, dude, that’s literally the scene of the crime and you’re asking me to just waltz right back in there! NOT COOL, tall guy, not cool.”

When I reopened the door, she jumped right into my arms. I knew something wasn’t right. We made her a “coop” in the garage where she would be safe from looming mischievousness, and from her coop-mates that love to pick on an injured chicken. Assessing her injuries, we noticed a huge bite taken out of her side and her thigh with layers of muscle, fat, and skin missing. Her left side had been literally skinned down to the breast and of course, feathers were everywhere. My heart just sank. I knew there was little to no chance that she’d make it.

The next morning, I vowed to her (Natalie is her name), that I would do everything in my power to help her. I got the cat crate out, and hauled her to the only vet in town that would see her. I got antibiotics and pain medicine and had to administer them every 8 hours for three weeks. Say What now? The vet told me it was her only chance.

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A little backstory here. When I got Natalie (she was the only chick I named) she had a broken right hip. She was a hatchling that I assume got injured during transport. Normally, these chicks don’t survive. But Natalie did. She was small, hobbling, and loyal to her “sisters” from day one. She thrived despite them leaving her alone at night by herself under the heat lamp. She pushed her way into that flock, and climbed her way into the middle of the pecking order.  She was a fighter, and I was gonna be damned if I was gonna let a dumb ole raccoon take away all she worked to establish.

So, I did it. Every eight hours, pain medicine and antibiotics. Getting a chicken to swallow one, let alone TWO big pills may have been the hardest part of it all! Each day, Natalie started to show signs of progress. The wound was drying up and scabbing over. I’d talk to her and syringe her some water to keep her hydrated. She eventually began to nibble on some food.

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After about a month, we introduced her very delicately back into the brood. Chickens can be the meanest of mean-girls when it comes to re-inclusion, so we would let Natalie graze next to the coop, and visa versa. To our surprise, the other hens came running to her, seemingly as amazed as we were that she was alive. When it was finally time to move her back in, they had all accepted her and she was right in with them up on the perch during bedtime.

She is now the most vigilant hen I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. She, long necked and eyes peering, is the first to call out to her sisters when she thinks there is danger. Although she keeps her distance from me, she always shoots me an eye while the others just devour their food as if to say, “I see you lady. And thanks”

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“You guys hide, I GOT this”

The moral of this story is two-fold.

  1. Even though most people told me to give up on her, I wouldn’t. We don’t give up on those we love. No matter what form of life they take, life deserves at least a chance to keep going.

  2. Even when you least expect it, however you hobble yourself back into your “people”, trust they will love and welcome your broken self back with open arms and a warm nesting spot they’ve been saving for you.

Who’d a thunk such great life reminders could come from a chicken?

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Kristy is a certified massage therapist, doula, homesteader and mother to 2 human children and 5 chickens in Virginia.

5 Reasons I Went Back To Work

When my son was born, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to be a stay at home mother. My husband and I placed a lot of value in the tradition of at-home parenting that we knew from our own upbringing, and very fortunately (trust me, I don’t undervalue this!) I had the job flexibility as a Massage Therapist that allowed me to take on this new role, full force.

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The nature of my work allowed me to still practice my craft when and if I wanted to, on weekends or an evening here and there, while still being at home with my wondrous new baby full-time during the week. It was both liberating and challenging but seemed to give me the “balance” we all so deeply crave in this season of motherhood. Perfect, right!?

So, upon the arrival of our second beautiful baby, I naturally assumed I would do the same. But, as anyone who’s had multiple children knows, each time you add an additional human to your family, it’s a game-changer. And it’s DIFFERENT. Every. Time.

We are different, our bodies are different, each child is different, feelings are different, and our family make-up is different. It’s a whole new world. Forreal. Thanks, Princess Jasmine. And for me, the second-go-around, full-time at-homing was no longer the best fit for our family.

Ok, a flying carpet actually would have helped tons. Just saying.

In a previous post, Margo calculated the value of a stay at home mother  at a whopping $162,581 per year. I mean, Yea! The work ain’t easy. The constant at-home workload became too much for me, annnd since my check for $162,581 never did come in (ahem) we started to find ourselves more and more in debt. So, for this and many other personal and emotional reasons, the time felt right for me to go back to work.  And you know what? So far, it rocks. I have found the place that works for ME in motherhood, and I am thrilled that I made the move to go back to work.IMG_1209.jpg

Now, I know this is a VERY personal and important decision so let me stop here to say,
these are all MY PERSONAL FEELINGS. My personal experience. My life. My family. There is absolutely NO judgment here. Nor is it to be taken as such. Every single one of us is rocking motherhood how WE need to. In that context, here’s a list of five reasons why I am thrilled I decided to go back at work. I decided to share this list because I wrangled with a lot of big emotions in making this choice, and hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire anyone out there that may be feeling guilt, doubt or fear about making this decision. If I can, you CAN!

5 Reasons I Went Back to Work

  1. Personal Fulfillment Goals: If you’re like me, struggling financially can spin your control issues, well, out of control.  The financial strain I felt as a SAHM became an ongoing internal debate between #yolo and practical spending where nobody won. And it was IN-TOL-ER-ABLE. Contributing financially to our family is a big personal fulfillment goal of mine, and reaching this has given me peace of mind and helped me kick my “lack-of-retirement-fund” anxiety.

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    Yay! We can save now!
  2. Work Day Changes: Brutal honesty here. Staying at home for me, IS more than a full-time job. An often thankless one at that.  I often felt like a constant emotional breakdown/sibling-battle referee that was trying to be positive while not breakdown myself from “hanger” and multi-task about 100 other things simultaneously. I have found that a little change of scenery and change in workload allows me to better appreciate the beautiful chaos that is my home in a way that I couldn’t when I felt like I was drowning in it. And, coming at those sibling rivalries with somewhat fresh eyes has allowed me to have a calmer approach to my refereeing duties, too. Win.

    Yep, we got this.
  3. Enjoying my Family’s Company: I work four part-time days a week now, and because I have great schooling and daycare options (I feel so blessed for this) I am able to pick up smiling and happy children after work. When we get home I’m legitimately EXCITED to be around my kids, which is something I definitely took for granted when I was home with them all-day, every-day. Being out of the home provides me with a “break” from my children that I need to stay balanced, a “break” that I so often sought from my husband when he came home. These days, I can’t wait to spend time with them and him because they feel like “home” to me.

    Yep, sorry kid.
  4. Sharing our life lessons: Since my son is now in school, he shares more with me now than he ever has before. I feel, after the workday, that I am refreshed by his goofy behavior, his ability to pop-and-lock at the drop of a hat, and I LOVE that I get to take them to their respective after-school activities while sharing stories about my day as well. As a full-time at-home parent, shuttling the kids to and from their various activities had become to feel like an act of obligation to me, but it has now become a true source of joy, bonding, and sharing life lessons.grayscale photography of boy holding hand of man
  5. Working Makes Me Feel Human: Deciding to be a SAHM for 7 years was my choice, a choice that I was very, very lucky to have, and I know that. But, struggling with identity was huge for me. I let motherhood take over, and lost myself in the mix. I struggled with postpartum depression, body image issues, and an overwhelming sense of solitude. Sure, I went to mothering groups, I did the gym, and I did all the venting to others, but what I was missing was that part of me that enjoyed working. I can now, be confident in my decision to resume reworking with no guilt what-so-ever because it makes me a better version of myself. And that is priceless. For me, and for my kids.

“At the end of the day, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.”  -Janice Wolsey Baasgaard

So, when you feel the “Mom Guilt” kick in about daycare expenses, or spending the time away and not witnessing first steps or words, just know that you’re not alone. Each individual has their place, their time, and their way to feel fulfilled. We’ve got this, ladies.

Much love always…..

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker, and mom of 2 awesome kids in Virginia.

 

Welcome to Real

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In the beginning

Once upon a time (circa 2000), in a faraway land (Maryland), four young ladies found their soulmates in high school. No, not dudes. Best friends who balance each other in the best way and support each other through (literal and figurative) thick and thin.

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Fast forward 18 years…  We are now a doctor, a lawyer, a doula, and a financial planner deep in the weeds of young motherhood who learned to laugh together, cry together, learn together, and support each other through this season of life via one (in our humble opinion) very real, very wise, and brilliantly entertaining text chain, which is the foundation of much of this blog’s content.

We decided one day, on a whim, to start sharing our collective experience – the good, the bad and the ugly – with other people out there. The core value: keeping it #real with advice on parenthood, health, home, style, money and just whatever else comes up. LockersToLittles was that flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants adventure and wow, that was somethin’ else!

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That blog life

The last 3 months have been a profound learning experience. We’ve laughed our buns off, cried in frustration and all 4 of us have learned more about ourselves than any of us thought possible. And most importantly, we discovered that there are other people out there who want to share our experience – you!! Wow! Our feedback and followers have blown us away with their support, ideas, and general awesomeness over and over.

We are taking that feedback and blasting off into a whole new level of the blogosphere peeps! You spoke and we have listened are are ready to serve.

To Infinity and Beyond

We are here to help others grow into the best version of themselves, and in the process are working to do the same. The best workouts for moms with no time? We gotcha. Best way to save for retirement no matter what age you start? You bet! Kids won’t eat vegetables? Coming to the rescue! Wondering what’s up with eating brie in pregnancy? #answeredthat. Just want to commiserate about this season in life being hard AF sometimes??? Oh yeah. Between the 4 of us we’ve had a whole lot of life happen and if it hasn’t happened to us, trust us, we know a guy.

People! The sky is the limit. Or is it?

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So if you haven’t visited with us before, then WELCOME. To all our returning followers, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. You’ve been with us this far and we cannot wait to share what we have in store with you.

To reach our much desired goals, we need YOU! Please enjoy and visit or lightly stalk us on our various social media outlets. Got a topic you want covered? Give us a comment, girl! Share your experiences, this is #momtribe and #parentlife and we’re all in this together. Oh, and share! ALLLLLLLL the sharing!

Welcome to REAL AS A M*THER!

xo, Annie, Christiana, Kristy and Margo

 

Save Our Water Series, Vol. 2: Sustainable Agriculture and The Importance of Supporting Regenerative Practices

In our first volume of the Save Our Water Series, we spoke about rain barrel production and the benefits on small gardens to big farms.  Today’s volume will illuminate the myriad of important information gleaned when researching sustainable farming, and what it can do to really save our planet.

We will begin by understanding what Sustainable Agriculture is.  In short, this type of farming practice keeps the greater good in mind. It protects the environment, public health, animal health and habitat, and allows us the ability to produce good food without hindering the next generations ability to do so.

Well what is GOOD FOOD? Great question. “Good” food, in my opinion, is local(the further it travels, the more preservatives have to be used), truly organic (get your round up out my face) properly fed (grass fed, or true omnivore diet for chickens because chickens are NOT vegetarian), non hormone or GMO enhanced (screw you Monsanto and the three headed , genetically modified horse you rode in on), FOOD grown or grazed in soil that not only is rich in proper nutrient densities and ratios, but also maintains a pesticide and herbicide free grade.

Let’s break down the difference between Industrial Practices and Sustainable practices.

Industrial Crop and Livestock Production

So basically, Industrial crop and livestock production uses a type of monoculture. What is Monoculture, you say? Oh, let’s let the experts explain.

“Monoculture is a common practice in modern agriculture in which large acreages of land are planted with one type of crop, usually multiple years in a row. Often such techniques are used to supply goods to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil and crops grown in this manner become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays (i.e. pesticides). Monoculture on animal factory farms refers to the raising of one type of animal (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) confined in densely packed expanses, often treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent the diseases that would otherwise spread quickly through the farm. These operations produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle, and the farms are associated with numerous environmental hazards as well as animal cruelty. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”

Sounds AWESOME, right?

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This seems, to me, that they are operating under the notion that they are gonna treat everything like crap, just to “feed the world” chemically downgraded food that is low in nutrients, and high in toxic crap.

Sustainable Livestock Production

Farmers that use practices with sustainable focuses allow their animals to eat an instinctive, natural diet, to move freely on pasture, and to eliminate the stress and disease (hello no disease, no antibiotics needed…f*#%ing DUH) that a cramped environment produces.

People are led to believe that in order to feed more people, we must use genetics to produce food that can withstand drought, bugs, weeds, and weather patterns. That is just untrue in a lot of cases. Sure, the big companies take a hit in the wallet when these things happen, but to truly teach sustainable farming will impact our whole world.

“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”

I cannot explain the benefits any better than Regeneration International can in their well researched list below.

A Global Shift to Regenerative Agriculture Can:

  • Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
  • Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
  • Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
  • Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
  • Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
  • Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
  • Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
  • Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

We Can’t Afford Healthy Food

This is a legit concern as health food stores are quite pricey when it comes to organic food. Finding your local farmers market (yes, they have them in cities all the time) or finding a crop sharing organization such as Agriberry here in Virginia and Maryland, helps keeps the cost of truly organic farm fresh foods down.  It also provide the added benefit of having your family eat what is in season, which requires less industrial farming interventions.

 

In small towns, like ours here in Virginia, farmers markets supply these local farms a venue to sell the fruits of their hard labor. We utilize these markets for produce, and have a gone in for several years on purchasing a cow sharefrom a local SUSTAINABLE farm here in Orange, VA called Renewed Pastures Farms.

Farmer’s Market Setup

The owners, Jason Goforth and his wife, invited the family and I to tour the farm and see exactly what the farm does to remain sustainable. We could even see how the cows live and graze if we wanted to!

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‘Sup, Jason?!

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In the health food store, a pound of Grass-fed meat is roughly $6-$8 depending on the store and the company. Over time if you are an avid beef eater like we are, the tax, price for gas for the trip, the packaging, and price fluctuation in the market adds up quickly. So, we do a cow-share with some friends of ours. We get 1/2 a cow that is cut to order and will last us roughly 8-12 months. At less than $8 per pound, we get filets, flank steaks, London broils, and even or ground beef allotment for a STEAL compared to grocery store. And Jason delivers it right to our deep freezer!

So we have local (within 100 miles), preservative free (freezing is their only method), and true sustainably farmed meat that our family can rely on for an unbeatable price.

How can we NOT afford that?

*** Check out this PDF on Grass-fed Cow Market News.***

The simple truth is this, we have to support our farmers who work their butts off to uphold truly sustainable farms. They rely on us to purchase their products, be it produce or meats, in order to keep their higher standards up. So let’s get out there and support our local folks!

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The Tale of the Contaminated Pool

My family and I just had a wonderful camping week at the beach. The sun, swimming, tiki bar (what what?), and nights by the wonderful campfire with extended family were all relaxing and rejuvenating.

We reflected on the the fact that the only things we took away from camping were wonderful memories, big smiles, sun-kissed skin, and a better understanding of a need for personal space.

“Well,” we thought. “That one day was weird when we had to leave the pool because it had been contaminated.” We had just thought some kid (even though “it” happens, amirite?🤣) had pooed, which is awful in and of itself. But what it turns out to be, oh, is much worse.

Resuming daily activities Monday morning is when I quickly realized that sunsational vibes were not the only thing we brought home with us.

Phone rings: 10:00am

“Hi, Mrs. Wright…….little #2 has HEAD LICE and needs to be picked up immediately”

<Screech screech screech horror movie noise>

Those who really know me understand that I have an incredible visceral repulsion and hair-trigger panic button when it comes  to flying insects and now also to tiny creatures you can barely see that latch on for dear life and suck your bodily juices for sustenance.(Is that too graphic?)

I panic. BIGTIME. We’ve never had lice in our house before!

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It’s coming from INSIDE THE HOUSEEEEEEEEEEE

I immediately stop my work and go to get her, all the while assuming I am going to pick her up and she’s going to be covered in these horrible blood thirsty pests.

A little History with my bug hysteria can be explained in the flea “epidemic” of 2015 when my dog had two fleas. I assumed the whole house had been taken over and went a little nuts and replaced all our carpets and our couch, bought a Dyson cordless and vacuumed six times a day. Totally normal behavior…

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So, I vow to go immediately home, burn all clothes, shoes, beds, pillows, couches, carpets.

“That won’t be enough. The whole house will have to go up in flames. BURN IT DOWN”

So instead of going back down the road of epidemic, I reassure myself that I should assess the situation first, then react. High fives for rational thought.

Restoring my wits, I remember the thousands of other parents/kids/humans that have dealt with this issue in the past. And I got a lovely suggestion from our daycare provider (who was an angel and bagged two to educate me since this was our first time dealing with it) for a service we have here in Virginia called “The Nit Fairy”  They searched for, treated, checked me and my daughter and scheduled a follow up with us! I paid for it….$300 to be exact…but the peace of mind that someone did a thorough job in finding them and treating them while teaching me what to do step by step feels priceless to me. Hopefully y’all have this in your area as well! It’s worth the search.

Now…..the aftermath. As soon as my son and husband get home, they are checked and treated. I use the OTC RID lice treatment on both, and vacuum and spray all carseat heads, and regular seats, seat belts, bike helmets with the home spray included in the kit.

Now, we wait….

24 Hour Report: So far so good. All have been checked several times with combing twice.  Bug and egg free for today.

1)Mental itching and feeling of bugs all over level: expert.

2)Shampoo game: on point

3)House cleaning status: laundry done, things bagged and tagged, brushes/toys/ shoes drowned for two hours and counting.

What Do I Do Now?

I am not going to lie to you, looking through photos to show you what one of these things looks like made me throw up in my mouth.

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HOWEVER! For the sake of me never wanting YOU to have to question “what the heck do I do?” upon the words “Mommy/Daddy, my head itches.” arriving at your door, here is a guide on what to do:

Step one: Saddle up, you’re riding this suck fest for two weeks plus.

The average lice egg takes up to a week to hatch. Meaning, if you don’t get the nits (lice eggs) out, you’ll have a brand new harvest in a weeks time. You’ll have to go through the WHOLE rigamaroll again if they go unnoticed.

Get a treatment kit either OTC, call for a prescription from your pediatrician on what they recommend, or go to a place like I did that treats you there. To decide, think about how you feel about chemical OTC treatments versus using an oil based solution such as a blend of Rosemary and Tea Tree Oil in a carrier Olive Oil.

Step Two: Treat yo’self and your WHOLE FAMILY

Get enough kits for your whole crew. Even if you don’t SEE anything on them, chances are there at least one. After you treat, wait seven days and treat again.

********Always follow the FULL instructions on how to treat in the pamphlet. Better yet, call your doctor and ask them!***********

This Comb is pretty legit as a replacement for the normal comb! Not necessary, but made me feel like I was doing more to alleviate my irrational tiny bug abhorrence.

Step Three: Housekeeping Diligence

The second most important step is to be violently and insanely diligent with cleaning up anything that anyone treated has touched in the last two days before finding the, gulp, infestation.

Wash: All clothes, sheets, pillow cases, hats, princess dresses, gloves, blenders, miniature schnauzer-doodles, goldfish… I don’t care ….WHATEVER THE KID(s) or y’all HAVE TOUCHED, wash it in 130 degree water. High heat for 20 minutes and roast the little things.

Dry Clean: Anything you cannot wash at 130 degrees and put on HIGH heat in dryer for at least 20-45 minutes, should be dry cleaned. Comforters, pillows, dragon pillows, fort roofs, fort sides, fort anything.

Bag: Anything else such as toys, tiaras, magic wands, and seal it for FOUR weeks in a bag and shake it like a polaroid picture when you take it out before use.

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Vaccuum: Everything. Everywhere. All the time. Carpets, floors, couches, mattresses, headrests and car seats, your desk, headboards on bed. Just get an iRobot and call it a day.

Step Four: Pete and Repeat.

You know the old joke, “Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell off, who was left?” Yup…..basically you can clean and wash and vacuum for as long as you want. But everyone needs to be checked daily until you see no more lice or nits. Up to two weeks after last treatment. If you still see lice or nits after the two treatments, get your butt to a doctor cause you’ve got a superbug.

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You could also just shave your head if you want. Believe me, in my initial freak out mode I told the day care provider that I was going home to shave everyone’s head. I mean, why not?

Please Share what has worked for you and your family to rid yourself of these evil effers that can hold their breath for TWO HOURS under water. Unless you say Powdered Sugar is delicious and the lice hate the sugar. (name that movie??) download (8).jpeg

<Kristy mumbles “holding their breath for two f$%king hours?” BLEEECCCHHHH >

Hope this helps you not to freak out like I did. Do as I say, not as I do:)

48 hour report: One sluggish bug found……Repeating steps above….AGAIN.

Godspeed good soldiers…

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Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”