Thanks to all that faithfully read what I share. I haven’t been posting much lately because I am getting ready to make some major changes and have been preparing for those on top of acquiring and making recipes and products to test for upcoming features. Some things I will be posting about soon are : The Honest Company, Juicing, a wonderful homemade Coconut Milk “Shampoo” and several other things that are just so fun and exciting for me. So if you will stick with me for just a bit while the changes are being made, I think you will be greatly rewarded!
Easter Chicks March 27, 2013
Spring has arrived and with it, my own personal version of Spring Fever. Maybe it is the same as everyone else’s, but sometimes I think I am the only one out here with this crazy desire to nurture something and start from scratch. This year my Spring Fever has talked me into container gardening and raising chickens. When the Persnickety family moved to our little acre in Texas almost 3 years ago we discussed our plans for having a garden and raising chickens. I don’t know why I chose the chickens first before the garden, but I did. Mr. Persnickety is almost finished with the coop we built from scrap lumber and the Persnickety children each picked out 2 chicks. This will be quite the adventure. While I have had a garden before, I have never raised chickens or really been around them much. Thank God for the internet and Tractor Supply to help me get started. Not to mention Mr. Persnickety just got an Encyclopedia of Chickens for his birthday this week. I decided to start with 6 chickens total. This was the least number I could get from the local Tractor Supply and the most I felt like I wanted to handle. I am still adjusting to life with Baby Persnickety and juggling all my different jobs as the Persnickety Mom. We got 4 pullets, 1 Rhode Island Red and the little tiny blackish one is a Bantam. So we have 2 potential roosters. Primarily I want the eggs and we intend to raise them free range, of course. I guess my priority for the first few weeks is just like any other baby, keep them warm and safe. The kids were so excited. I have already made the chart for feeding and watering and cleaning out the brooder box. We will see how long they stay excited. I have to admit, while I am hesitant about such a great adventure, I am pretty excited about the newest additions to the family also. I welcome any advice on raising free range chickens. Like I said I only know what I have read so personal experience would be great.
I don’t intend to have a foodie blog. There are plenty of wonderful ones out there of all kinds. What I do intend to do is to share some of the recipes I have acquired on my journey to become a more self-sustaining natural person. Being a busy mom and wife I know the importance of having quick and easy meals to avoid the drive thru and dollar menus that abound. I am honored to have a friend from Russia that loves to share some of her favorite recipes. I love the addition of some different flavors and dishes. The one pictured here is by her suggestion when I asked if she knew any good beet recipes. I have recently discovered beets as a good hardy winter veggie. I love the color and they are a great source of nutrition. Not to mention the added bonus of relatively inexpensive, I get them at my local grocery for $.98/lb! I can feed my family of 5 easily with 1 1/2 lbs just to give you an idea of how thrifty they really are! Anyway this is the easiest dish to make and it is even easier in the slow cooker. First you want to wash your beets and put them in a pot of water to boil (or your slow cooker on High). Simmer if using the stove for about 2 hours, adding water if necessary. If you are using the slow cooker it took almost 4 hours in mine. You want them good and soft when you poke them with a knife or fork. When they are done let them cool then peel them. To prepare the rest of the dish you will need:
about 4-6 cloves of garlic
1/2 a lemon, squeezed
mayonnaise or sour cream, for garnish.
Take your beets and garlic and grate them into the bowl. Toss with them lemon juice and serve with a dollop of mayonnaise or sour cream. The kids liked this better with the mayo than the sour cream so it may just be your preference. This can be a very filling dish I found with great gut-cleansing properties. I have to say this is one of the easiest dishes to prepare and I thought was quite filling on its own but could be easily served as a side dish also. Would love to hear feedback with more great beet recipes.
Baby Bullet-A Persnickety Review March 12, 2013
When I revealed my pregnancy, my inlaws bought me a Baby Bullet for Christmas. My mother-in-law told me that if anyone could make it work, I could. I have been making things from scratch for a while and figured baby food should be one of them. I have, in a pinch, bought Earth’s Best baby food, and Plum Organics, but primarily I made my own here at home using the Baby Bullet. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, a small blender would probably work just as nicely, but it doesn’t have that cute smiley face on it! LOL. Just kidding, that’s not the point. I made homemade brown rice cereal and oatmeal for Baby Persnickety. Truth be told I was trying to hold off until he was 6 months old to introduce table food. My breastmilk supply and formula supplements were no longer satisfying him and he was getting to be a cranky baby because he was always hungry. At 4 1/2 months old I got tired of hearing my baby cry and I went with my motherly intuition and got the Baby Bullet out and processed some pears that my dad had given me from his pear tree. It was pretty easy and the longest part of the process was cooling the cooked fruit. After that we added the usual first foods-avocadoes, mangoes, bananas and then the cereals. I was so pleased with the performance of the Baby Bullet. My only real complaint was that it doesn’t come with enough storage containers. I would process a 3lb bag of organic apples and run out of storage containers. I just supplemented with ice cube trays, so it’s not that big of a deal. Yes, I know you can buy extras of those cute little Baby Bullet containers, but I thought they were quite expensive and not worth the added cost. It was very easy to clean up too. Rinse well and put in the dishwasher. No tricks or hard parts to get unstuck to clean crooks and crannies.
Just a few weeks ago Baby Persnickety decided he no longer liked pureed foods and refuses them for regular table fare, so I guess I will be retiring the Baby Bullet. It served me well for 6 months and I see no signs of wear and tear at all. The blades are still nice and sharp. I would give this product the Persnickety stamp of approval as a quality product and use it with another child. There is nothing like the feeling you get from feeding your baby food that you made yourself and know exactly what is in it and how it was processed. I attribute the fact that I made most of Baby Persnickety’s food from scratch to his great health record.
Baby Persnickety was born at 10:26am. He was taken to the NICU so they could monitor him and was in my room that evening. I remember being in shock when they called to my room and told me he weighed 4lb 2oz and was 17 1/2 inches. I had never held, nor even seen, a baby that tiny. I was overwhelmed. As I said, he spent one whole day with me. Nursing was a challenge so I the nurse told me that I would have to supplement with formula. On our second day he developed jaundice. Because he was so small he wound up back in NICU after losing almost 10% of his body weight trying to stay warm and eat. He was a whole 3lb 120z and getting lethargic. He wasn’t getting enough calories I had to go to pumping breastmilk to add to the high calorie formula. I felt so useless and helpless. Mr. Persnickety asked if I needed a sedative. The big thing this meant is that I would be leaving the hospital without my newborn baby. Those that have endured this, my heart is with you and you understand. This was almost traumatic for me. I was in the NICU every moment I could be even though my legs were still swelling and my blood pressure was borderline. Baby Persnickety did have a feeding tube for all of 24 hours and after the increase in calories the jaundice started to leave. He was tested for everything and was found perfectly healthy. He just needed to gain weight. Once his bilirubin levels got into a more normal range he woke up before it was time to eat which is exceptional for his gestational age. He started off taking 15mL of formula. That is 1/2oz!! He spent exactly 1 week in NICU when they released him. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe it. We had seen a few babies that had been there for a while and the parents had no clue when they would bring them home. I will share with you that to get my baby discharged I had to view an infant CPR video, prepare his feedings, give him a bath and spend one night in the hospital without a nurse checking on me. I wish those had been the rules when I had my first child! I was so relieved to bring him home. He was so tiny and perfect. Of course we were cautioned to keep him away from crowds and germs until he gained more weight, but I just knew if I could get him home everything would be fine.
Now Baby Persnickety is 10 months old and perfectly beautiful. He has had no physical delays ( he started crawling just before 7 months). He has also been the picture of perfect health. Knock on wood. No colds, ear infections,etc. No, he has never been to daycare of any kind, but he has been exposed to lots of loving girls at the ballet and two active siblings.
Why did I take 3 posts to tell you about my 3rd pregnancy? Why was it so special or am I just a bragging Mama? Yes, I am a proud Mama, and count my blessings everyday. The main reason I had in writing about my experience is because I thought maybe there is someone else out there like I was who is going through a similar experience. I wanted to present a success story because there are so many sad stories out there. Baby Persnickety was the biggest reason I decided to start this blog and commit myself and my family to a cleaner, greener lifestyle and to see the difference that it would make. I think because of the small changes I have made to clean up our lives and get away from a lot of the chemicals and toxic elements this is the reason that my baby is a healthy preemie success story. If this inspires some to adopt a cleaner lifestyle, that’s great. If it soothes a worried new mom whose dealing with pre-eclampsia or a preemie in NICU even better. I also wanted to share that sometimes medical intervention is a good thing and that listening to your body is VERY important. My doctor said that I probably averted a horrible situation by just having my blood pressure checked. Often times we ignore those little feelings that are so very important. I felt badly because I wanted to use a midwife, but in the end, because of pre-eclampsia, I would have been in the hospital in the same situation. I no longer feel guilty. I felt guilty for having to use formula supplements, but they helped my baby gain weight so that I could nurse him and he could be healthy. We must accept that life throws curveballs. It’s how we deal with them that matters most. Do we choose to feel guilty or do we accept it and move on? I would have loved to have the perfectly natural pregnancy and solely breastfed my son for 12 months, but that wasn’t in the cards. Instead I have a wonderfully healthy baby that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that his mommy will do what is best for him and that is what truly matters!
An Unexpected Delivery, Part 2 March 5, 2013
Let me just interject that with the Persnickety Adventurer (my middle son) I was a regular in labor and delivery because I had awful Braxton Hicks so I was determined not to do that. I said this time I was not going to labor and delivery until I knew without a doubt that I was in labor. The labor and delivery nurses hooked me up to the monitors (baby was doing great!) and drew blood. Reassuring me the whole time that everything was fine and I could even take blood pressure medicine to keep it down if need be. After the blood work came back the doctor came in to check on me and told me that my blood pressure was increasing and they were going to keep me for more observation and there was a good chance that I would have the baby early, but she thought she could buy me another week because the baby didn’t seem distressed, but she was ordering a specialist to come in and do some sort of super duper ultrasound to check on him. Ten minutes later my doctor comes in and says the specialist looked at my labs and says that the baby will be in jeopardy soon and he is safer out than inside me. I was terrified. I had read all the information on all kinds of different labor scenarios, but not anything on premature babies. I was overwhelmed to say the least. So many things were going through my mind at that time visions of sick babies and emergency C-sections being the biggest ones. My doctor was great at explaining that they were going to give me IV magnesium to keep me from having a seizure (eclampsia) and some medicine to encourage my body to begin the labor process. They were going to give me 48 hours to have him naturally and then they would have to take the baby via C-section. The next 24 hours were a blur. The magnesium is not a fun drug. I had these great plans for how I wanted to labor (mostly at home) and walking the halls and moving to ease discomfort. Magnesium squashed them all. You are confined to the bed. I wasn’t going to do a lot of pain meds or anything like that (although I was open to an epidural when the time came), but I was so anxious and uncomfortable I didn’t put up a fight when they asked me. I just wanted to have a healthy baby. At 8am the next morning the doctor came by and declared we were having a baby. Despite the magnesium IV, which is also used to slow labor, everything had gone well over night, my water was broken, and the fun part began. I was able to roll on my side to help with labor pains, but that was about it. I remember the nurse kept telling me not to push. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural and before it had time to take effect Baby Persnickety was there on my stomach crying. The NICU nurses were onsite and took him pretty quickly to make sure he was okay. I was just relieved to hear him cry, I knew that was a good sign. Up next, how well did Baby Persnickety do being 5 almost 6 weeks early and having such a low birthweight?
I know I mentioned in my cloth diaper post that we brought home Baby Persnickety weighing a whopping 4lb 2oz. Some of you may be wondering how that could be. I want to share with you how I believe my return to a more natural lifestyle and learning to listen to my body averted disaster. Baby Persnickety is what some people call a “bonus baby” or a surprise, a baby that you didn’t think you would have, but God blessed you with. Because of that I wanted to have “the perfect pregnancy”. I wanted to do all those things that I intended to do with the other 2, but couldn’t for various reasons. From the get go I was exhausted, of course, I was older and busier now. I didn’t even get that 2nd trimester energy that one usually gets. I started swelling some around month 6, but not nearly as bad as I had with my 2nd pregnancy. I was a picture of perfect health gaining exactly the right amount of weight and measurements. While I had quite a few Braxton-Hicks contractions, everything was progressing very normally. My hands started swelling at around 28 weeks, but still very normal. My 34 week check up was on a Thursday. I had been having more contractions, but they were still false. That Saturday I felt strange, but my time was coming and there were still preparations. So I took note of my symptoms and pressed on. That evening I was so exhausted. Sunday I spent resting. Sunday afternoon I noticed that I had a dull nagging headache and my eyes looked puffy. Not real good, but could still be OK. I had just been to the doctor. Mr. Persnickety was a little concerned and I promised that I would call the doctor if I wasn’t better on Monday. Monday morning my eyes were still puffy and my head still had that dull ache, so I made good on my promise and called the doctor. The nurse suggested that I get a blood pressure reading at the drugstore. Well, we do live outside of town so I called my dad who lives close by and has one of those home blood pressure monitors. I took it twice over a period of 2 hours and the numbers weren’t very good and they were increasing so the nurse suggested I come in. My dad was a good sport and volunteered to drive me he must have seen something I didn’t because I was going to drive myself. We get to the doctor’s office and the nurse takes my blood pressure, looks at it and arches her eyebrow and then takes it again. My bottom number was like 100. She walks out and immediately grabs the doctor who of course sent me to labor and delivery for a little monitoring. Again my dad was a good sport and drove me and then I called Mr. Persnickety. I was getting a little concerned at this point, but my doctor was great at reassuring me that baby was good and it was a preventive measure. Read on to see the adventure that ensued once I got to labor and delivery.
A Review- Green Rift’s Bum Butter Balm February 22, 2013
Friday I mentioned a product I was thankful for last week, BUTTer Balm made by Green Rift based in Fort Worth, Texas. I received a sample from my mom for a gift to go with my cloth diapers (it is one of the few that are cloth diaper friendly). I don’t use diaper rash stuff as a preventive, I only use it when there is a problem which thankfully we don’t have many. However, the day did come. Any of you moms know what I am talking about -one diaper change baby’s bottom is clear the next one you have a nasty blistered hiney and an unhappy baby. I was just waiting for this moment so that I could try this stuff out. I am used to slathering on the zinc oxide and cornstarch in these situations, but I am changing my ways. Anyway the sample, like this container, is like a stick deodorant applicator, so it is solid. It smelled pleasant (no yucky medicinal odor), but didn’t look like diaper rash cream. I loved the applicator, didn’t get any on my hands! At first, you don’t think anything is going on the skin so I did test to see if anything was coming off onto the skin-there was. It was colorless and a very thin layer, but it wasn’t greasy or gooey feeling. No goopy white mess or petroleum yuckiness. I thought that was a plus. Still wondering how well it would actually work though. I mean there are NO chemicals in it and it is made with a few simple ingredients (I could pronounce everything on the ingredient list) and it is hypoallergenic. Even the oat in it is gluten-free. So I put the diaper on and I wait for the next diaper change. The rash was already looking better! I haven’t had that good of luck with the old standards. Long story short, by the third application Baby Persnickety’s rash was GONE! That it was that fast-acting along with the maker’s conscious efforts to be hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, and without chemicals I believe this product to be a real winner in my book. As a matter of fact I tell everyone about it. If you are interested in purchasing this product The Green Rift can be found on Etsy. The container pictured here retails for $18. That may seem a little steep, especially considering that A&D can be bought at the Dollar Tree. However, as one budget-conscious mommy to another, it is worth every penny. Not only is it a quality, safe product that you can feel good about using on your baby, it lasts forever! My little sample has lasted through 5 nasty diaper rashes so far and I am no where near using half of it. This container is much bigger and could easily last quite a few months. As one person told me, if you are investing in cloth diapers, you need to protect your investment. There are very few cloth diaper safe products like this out there. Even some of the common brands like California Baby contain Zinc Oxide. While this is natural, as my dad pointed out, how much zinc do you really want to subject a baby to? Not to mention, they don’t last that long either. The Green Rift also sells other baby friendly products and lovely spa products for mommies that I encourage you to try, I know I will.
A Word about Cloth Diapers February 20, 2013
In my efforts to be a more natural and kinder mom, I elected to use cloth diapers with our 3rd baby. Now let me share with you that I am by no means perfect or an authority on this subject I am just offering my opinion of them. If it inspires someone or helps them out, it would make my day, but if not, that is okay too. First I am very pro-cloth diaper. That being said, yes, there are times that I use disposables. I am still learning which cloth diaper brands work better than others too. I didn’t buy one of those big starter packages, thank goodness! Baby Persnickety came home 9 months ago weighing 4lbs 2oz. Nothing but the preemie disposable diapers they gave us at the hospital worked. Yes, I know there are preemie cloth diapers to use, but it can be expensive and we work with a small budget most months. So we used the disposable until he was about 2 months old and then started our cloth diaper collection which started with the old-fashioned kind of prefolds with the rubber pants. These didn’t leak, but I did feel bad about that much moisture against baby’s new skin. However, I still use these on laundry days and when we have been through out all-in-one pocket diapers. You would think that the AIO pocket diapers were pretty standard, but no, they aren’t. I have been investing in a few at a time off Ebay to get the great deals. Yes, I know the expense is upfront and I will save money in the long run not buying disposables every week, but some of those initial investments are outrageous! I would recommend trying a few different ones before purchasing the starter packages because just like jeans, every brand fits differently. I had the worst time with them leaking around the legs.
After trying a few I now know the style I like which is the one with 2 sets of snaps to fit around the leg. There are still a couple of brands I would like to try, including the Coolababy line, but I now know what to look for first. I am also going to invest in a few of the bamboo/microfiber liners they sell separately. After trying one, I was very pleased with their extra absorbency for nighttime and bamboo is a very “green” fiber.
Some naysayers said I would give up on cloth after that first stinky one. Personally I didn’t think it was too bad, after all I am a mom of 3 kids. The care and maintenance is not too bad. I put soiled diapers in a covered bucket with a little baking soda sprinkled in the bottom. Then I wash them separately or with other yucky baby clothes. I make my own laundry detergent so I know it is safe and non-irritating. I also use vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse cycle to help fight against the ammonia odor that comes after sitting a couple of days. Then I either dry them in the dryer or hang them on clothes hangers above the washer and dryer. I am in the process of getting Mr. Persnickety to run a clothesline in the backyard, but the lack of trees and dusty seasons have been an obstacle so I get creative sometimes.
As far as diaper rashes go it can be a little tricky. Because after 2 kids I am prone to keep A&D on hand and a box of cornstarch for raw bottoms, I was at a loss when I read you can’t use any of these mainstays without ruining your diaper. I did find one that is cloth diaper friendly that I absolutely love and isn’t too bad on the budget. I will be talking more about Green Rift’s bum butter in another post, but suffice it to say it blows Desitin out of the water.
So, like any new product, there is a learning curve, and as of today I am not 100% cloth yet, but I honestly plan to be soon. Now the only time I use disposables is on laundry days, at night, and on errand days. This seems like a lot I know, but mostly it is because I need to get more of them. Baby Persnickety is 9 months old and when using cloth we probably use 10 during the day and one or two at night. So I have about 1 day’s worth of the AIO Pocket diapers. From what I have read this is pretty standard use. There are days they do seem a bigger hassle than they are worth, but then I smile to remember that I made a small box of diapers last over a month and I believe that to be quite an accomplishment on my eco footprint and my wallet. .
Budget-friendly Snack Ideas for Kids February 18, 2013
I have a tough time keeping my kids out of the pantry and fridge. It seems they are always hungry! I am glad they are active kids, but keeping their tummies full can be a budget stressed. This is especially true if you try to keep with a “clean” diet. Here I have a few of my kids faces to maybe give some fresh ideas. Please note that while my kids have no allergies or sensory issues they have been exposed to their share of junk foods which can make healthy snacks a little tough, but their favorites are:
1) ants on a log-celery with peanut butter and raisins
2) homemade hummus with carrot sticks
3) homemade yogurt with a little honey
These are very inexpensive staples around our house. Making them homemade cuts expenses WAY down and the nutrition goes up also. I hope you enjoy these easy snacks that the kids themselves can have fun preparing.