Thursday, October 27, 2011

Demanding and Arguing

My 4.5 year old is an absolute joy! She is the best helper I could ever wish for, she takes great delight in taking care of her little sisters, and her unbelievable imagination just fills my life with laughter. But she seems to have forgotten her manners a little and we are working hard to get her back to where we were just a few short months ago. We have two major issues that we are working on right now and I thought I'd share them and what we are doing to correct them. I'm just going to be honest and I'd love to hear your tips as well!

1. She has forgotten "please." Even before she could talk, Karis signed the word "please" when she wanted something. But lately, she has forgotten it and can be quite demanding. I think she got into the habit because she enjoys telling her little sister what to do so much, but it has transposed into telling adults what to do as well. So we are trying to quickly nip it in the bud. It is amazing how quickly a habit forms when you aren't paying attention and then it is difficult to erase!

Basically, we are refusing to acquiesce when she asks for something in a demanding way. She has to wait 3 minutes and then she may ask again correctly and we will fulfill her request. For example, if she says, "Give me more milk," then I respond, "no, you did not ask respectfully and you can try again in 3 minutes." In the car, she has a habit of wailing from the back of the van, "I can't hear the music!" So we completely turn off the music for 3 minutes and then give her the chance to ask us to turn it up respectfully. It has taken a while for her to remember, but we are definitely seeing progress. She will often start to demand something and quickly cover it up with a "will you please?"

2. She has developed good reasoning ability that has grown to arguing (otherwise known as "too smart for her own good "). Our family has always tried to implement first time obedience with a bit of grace thrown in. (And no, I have not yet read "Give Them Grace," but I would really like to. If you have read it, please comment and share your thoughts!) For instance, if Karis is reading a book and I ask her to go take her clothes to her room, she is allowed to say, "May I please finish this book first?" If she asks respectfully, we are not in a hurry to do something else, and there are not many pages left, I usually allow her to finish. But if I say no, she must immediately get up and do it. This method has worked well for the first 4 years of her life, but now she is taking it a bit to far. I ask her to do something and she says, "Well....." or, "but Mama...!" She usually has great logic that makes me laugh but the core problem is that she is making excuses instead of obeying right away. A lot of times, the things she says she needs to do first are really good things, such as helping Karlie or Abbi with something, but it is still disobedience. And often when I tell her no, that she must obey first, she begins to argue to try to explain why she is right. I don't have any great plan for this issue, other than immediate discipline and to try to always take the time to talk to her and explain why this is biblically a problem and try to reach her heart and pray with her. But boy is it difficult to find the time to do all that when my other two little ones are running around needing me!

Those are the two major parenting issues we are dealing with this week. What about you? I'd love to hear your struggles or advice!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pregnancy books and tips

A dear friend of mine recently found out she was pregnant and e-mailed me with some questions about books to read, natural remedies, stretch marks, and maternity clothes. I thought I'd share my response in case it would be helpful to anyone...

I unfortunately didn't find out about this until after the 1st trimester (because I'm sure it would have helped with my horrible morning sickness), but Papaya enzymes are an awesome natural way to settle an upset stomach or to help with heartburn and acid reflux.

My holistic doctor told me that colic in babies is caused by yeast overgrowth and digestive issues in the Mama, so I took tons of probiotics and cut out most all sugar and white flour the last trimester, especially that last month. I don't know if it worked or if I just have a very easy baby, but Abbi had the least tummy trouble of the three :) And Karlie had the most, which makes complete sense because I had the antibiotic during labor with her and that would definitely cause digestive issues. So I'm a believer. I recently read this article that confirmed her advice and gave tips for preventing colic in babies.

I've also read that GER (bad reflux in babies) is caused by a deficiency in B12 so I made sure I ate lots of beef, cheese, and eggs so I would get plenty of that vitamin.

I've read that olive oil can help colicky babies -- I had a friend who let her baby suck on her finger dipped in olive oil after each feeding and it helped.

I recently read that you get morning sickness because increased hormone production uses up cholesterol and the body is unable to produce sufficient bile. One researcher suggested that you eat as many good quality cholesterol rich foods as you can (and it is even better to prepare before conception if possible with at least 3 months of a traditional diet rich in high quality animal fats!) Sip whole raw milk throughout the day to ward off sickness and acupuncture can help a lot as well! Another blogger said that eating legumes helps because the bile binds to soluble fiber and cannot pass pass the intestinal barrier and make you sick. She suggests eating 1/4 cup of beans any time you feel nauseous. I'm thinking that I will be eating a whole lot of hummus next pregnancy! And it is a good thing that I love my raw milk and cheese!

Another cause for morning sickness is magnesium deficiency.  The best idea is to stock up on magnesium before you get pregnant because it is harder to absorb once you area already pregnant.  The best way to absorb magnesium is topically, through a body spray or by soaking in epsom salts.  Please read THIS article and THIS one to get a better idea of magnesium and real food solutions for morning sickness.

I did all my normal natural solutions when pregnant, but I saved oregano oil as a last resort because it is so strong and I could never find any info that definitively said it was ok during pregnancy. I think I only used it for a day if if I got really sick and stopped when I felt better. It is probably fine, but I always err on the side of caution. Plus, oregano oil kills the good bacteria as well and I didn't want to do that unless absolutely necessary. Garlic and Apple Cider Vinegar are perfectly fine and ever so good for you, so they were my stand-by pregnancy remedies :) I don't know as much about Grapefruit Seed Extract, so I saved it for when I was really sick as well. It is probably fine, but I just didn't know for sure.
I've never gotten stretch marks (but don't think I've gotten off easy; varicose veins are much worse because they are very painful!); I think whether or not you get stretch marks depends a lot on how you carry your baby and I have a long torso so my babies don't stick out that far. But I have been pretty careful to put lotion on my belly throughout my pregnancies regardless. I used Palmer's Cocoa Butter stretch mark cream with my first two pregnancies and made my own belly butter with my last pregnancy. I don't have a real recipe... I just melted coconut oil, shea butter, and almond oil on low on the stove and mixed them up and poured it in a jar. If I had to guess, I'd say that I used them respectively in a 3:2:1 ratio. And you really don't have to have the almond oil; the main thing is that you need shea butter to make it more like lotion than just oil. I added some cocoa butter to one batch and it was great, even more thick, but it was a horrible pain to scrape off into the pan and to melt because it was so hard.

Target has absolutely the best nursing tanks ever! And their nursing bras are pretty reasonably priced as well. My favorite place to buy maternity clothes was Old Navy -- they always had stuff in the clearance section. And I got some stuff at Kohl's and Target. Maternity is very expensive, so the best thing is to buy it off season.

If you are hoping for a natural birth,  my other two posts on the topic should be helpful:
My Experience: Medicated v. Natural Childbirth
My Thought On Making It Through Labor Naturally

My top 5 fav pregnancy/baby books are:
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg -- I don't agree with everything she says, but she does have good ideas for soothing baby and getting baby on a good sleep/wake/eat schedule, etc. I'm more of a "feed on demand" kind of Mama, but a loose schedule is very helpful in knowing whether a baby is fussing because she is hungry or simply tired. Some good nursing tips are found HERE.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth -- very "crunchy," but a must-read during your last month of pregnancy if you decide to give birth without meds :) I re-read it with every baby during that last month to inspire me to know that I can do it!

Other good reads:
Happiest Baby On the Block by Karp -- I don't agree with the whole "missing 4th trimester concept" but it does have other great info on having a happy baby
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth -- fabulous book on how babies/children sleep and how much/when they need it. Good resource to have on hand
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Mendelsohn -- small, fat book -- good resource to have on hand to diagnose and treat ailments naturally rather than going to the doctor at the first sign of a fever

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Natural Cures for PMS and other hormonal issues

Many women take hormonal birth control to help regulate their cycles and many other women say that hormonal birth control gives them mood swings, headaches, hot flashes, etc. It is a quandary to me and (as I explained in my post last week), I've just decided to forgo hormonal birth control altogether. So I thought I'd offer up some natural ideas to help with all of those problems. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor and you should do your own research to determine what will help your particular issues. These are simply things that have helped me. Before making these changes, my time of the month was quite miserable, with extremely painful cramps, headaches, mood swings, etc. I am quite happy to report that I now hardly experience any symptoms at all. I'm not kidding! (I must admit, however, that due to pregnancy and nursing, I have only experienced a few cycles in the past 5 years. But I've done enough research to believe that those months were not flukes and to expect my good fortune to continue.)

Here are the changes I made:

1. Read this post on punctuation! You really should. It is funny and informative. I didn't really believe the author at first, but once I read all the comments in agreement, I decided to ditch my normal feminine care products and give it a try. And I was glad that I did. There is no doubt that it made a difference for me and shortened my cycle. And the cloth ones are so much softer! I'll never go back if for no other reason than that! I have to wash cloth diapers anyways, so it really didn't add any trouble for me. And if that sounds completely gross to you, there are organic disposables that will still make a difference in your cycle. That is what I plan to use if my cycle ever interferes with a beach trip. And if you still think I am crazy, then you haven't read the article... so go back and read it :)

2. Maca powder -- Maca is a root that can really help to balance hormones naturally. It has been shown to help with PMS, menopause, hot flashes, unending periods, male and female infertility, low libido, etc. For me, it made a big difference in eliminating menstrual cramps and raising my BBT to a normal level. I started out by putting it in my milk each morning, but didn't like it so much and ended up just putting it in an empty pill capsule to swallow.
Here are some articles to use for research:

3. Avoid soy-- Soy contains phyto-estrogens that disrupt your hormones and endocrine system. Unfortunately, it is in almost every processed food. Here are some links to consider:

Between those 3 changes, my PMS symptoms were practically eliminated. Do you have any other suggestions for balancing hormones naturally? I'd love to hear them!

I'll leave you with 3 other articles that I found helpful on this topic:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My take on birth control

The POH topic for October is birth control. I want to start off by saying that I know this can be a hot topic among believers and my post is not meant to stir up a lot of the rights and wrongs of birth control. I'm simply going to tell you where our family is on this issue right now and why.

When I first got married, I decided to use a hormonal pill form of birth control that was "only" supposed to keep me from ovulating each month. I researched it as much as I knew how to ensure that it would in no way cause a miscarriage/ abortion if I somehow managed to get pregnant, and then I started taking it about a month before my wedding day to make certain that I did not suffer any major side effects from it. Before I started taking the pill, my cycle was completely normal and regular with the obvious signs of ovulation. When we stopped taking the pill to try to get pregnant 1.5 years later, my cycle never went back to normal. My cycles were totally random and I was not ovulating very often, if at all. We struggled with infertility for a deeply painful, emotional, roller coaster year (I blogged about it at POH HERE) and were finally able to conceive with the help of Clomid, a drug that helps you ovulate.

Because of that struggle, I will never, ever take any form of hormonal birth control again. I am fully convinced that the pill disrupted the natural, God-given rhythm of my body. I know that birth control does not affect everyone in this way and I have friends who went off the pill and got pregnant the very next month, and even some who have gotten pregnant while on the pill. But it definitely affected me adversely and I am not taking any chances and will never take any form of birth control again. In addition, the hormonal form of birth control did cause me headaches, mood swings, and a lowered immune system. I am a much healthier person for being off the pill and I will never use it again.

So where does that leave us? After we struggled with infertility, my husband and I decided not to use any form of birth control at all for the time being. We were hoping for several children and did not want to miss any chances! Thankfully, we did not struggle with infertility again after the first baby. Because of breastfeeding, my cycle did not usually return again for almost a year, but each time we quickly got pregnant again after it returned.

How long will we continue to use no form of birth control? I honestly do not know. We are just going to continue doing what we are doing until God shows us it is time to stop. How will we know if/when it is time to stop getting pregnant? This is something I have thought about a lot and I simply have faith in God to make it clear to us. He has clearly guided us through every big decision we have made and I trust Him to do the same in this matter. I have already been praying that God will prepare my heart when it is time because I absolutely love having babies and it will be very difficult for me emotionally when it is time to stop. But when God does show us that it is time, we will simply use the natural fertility awareness method as described in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

I do wonder if my physical condition will be the way God chooses to show us that it is time to stop... each pregnancy has seemed to double in difficulty and I have a few issues that grow worse and more serious with every pregnancy. It could be that the next pregnancy (if God allows another) will be my last because of those issues. I am trying to prepare myself for such a possibility.

Regardless of when my child-bearing days are over, we plan to adopt at some point and are praying for God's timing in that matter. I would love to adopt babies around the same age as my own so that they could grow up together. But we also like the idea of waiting until our girls are older (teenagers) and could really help and learn about caring for a newborn. One of the pastors at the church we previously attended adopted a baby when his daughters were in high school and their love and care for the baby was such a beautiful thing. And even with the big age difference, they are such good friends today. So we are definitely praying about when God would like us to adopt. Until then, I am just ever so grateful that God has blessed me with these sweet girls

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Finding time to potty train the 2nd child...

A month before Abbi was due, I thought I'd see if Karlie would learn to use the potty... so I wouldn't have 2 in diapers at the same time. She did great (way better than I expected), but my horrible pregnancy back could not handle running her to the potty every time she realized she had to go and I gave it up after a day. I could hardly move that night. Call me a quitter if you want, but the girl wasn't even two yet and bending over was not my forte with a humongous belly!

Just one month after Abbi was born, Karlie decided she wanted to go potty. For two weeks straight, she used the potty every time Karis did. (Karis only goes 3 times a day: when she wakes up, before naps at 1:00, and before bed at 7:00) That would obviously have been the "perfect time" to officially bare her bum and get rid of diapers, but with a one month old who was nursing constantly and not sleeping much at night, I just didn't have the energy to fool with it. And I had the bizarre idea that Karis might potty train her sister all by herself so why interfere? Unfortunately, Karlie got bored with the whole thing after 2 weeks of being a potty pro and I was too tired to force the issue. I decided to wait for warmer weather.

When summertime hit, Karlie was staying dry in between diaper changes, usually filling it up only at naptime and bedtime. I knew she was ready but was amazed at the stubbornness of my two year old. She loved her new undies and kept them dry, would sit on the potty as often as I asked, but simply refused to fill it up. Treats did not matter. Food was obviously not the way to her heart as it was for Karis :) We had much traveling planned for the summer and I didn't want to fool with potential accidents or on our trips so I decided to give her until our last trip was completed and then give all her diapers to Abbi, come what may :)

We came home from our last trip two weeks ago and the very next morning Karlie gave all her diapers to Abbi. We had been talking about this exciting day that Karlie would finally be a big girl and she was ready and so excited. I had also thought really hard about what Karlie likes to do more than anything and had a major breakthrough: STICKERS! My girl will do stickers all day long if the stickers don't run out! So I ordered an awesome sticker book for her and informed her that every time she put something in her potty, she could do a whole page. After that first page, she got excited and was a pro from then on. She only had one accidentthe entire time and that was really my fault for forgetting to remind her to go because she had been doing so well. She is even staying dry at nap time!

So on the one hand, I feel a little guilty for making her wait so long to learn how to use the potty because the delay was really my fault each time. I just didn't have the time/ energy to persevere. But on the other hand, waiting so long made it really easy when I was finally ready to go for it! I'm so proud of my big girl!