Thursday, November 20, 2014

Summary of the Last Three Months

Hey everyone.  Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  I haven’t given up on blogging, I swear!  It’s just this full time working mom of two very young kids is really kicking my butt!!!  Omg, I thought it was exhausting with just one kid!   These days I’m lucky if I’m still awake long enough to eat dinner for myself after the kids go to bed (I prefer to eat with them, but sometimes traffic does not allow for that since G gets hungry the moment she steps in the door at night).

I keep thinking of blog topics to post about while on my horrendous commute (it’s been taking me about an hour to an hour and a half EACH way since coming back to work).  If only I could actually write while I drive . . . if the city of LA would ever extend the subway from the Valley to Santa Monica, maybe I could.  Ah well, maybe by the time Guinevere is in college that will happen.

I digress.  What’s happened in the almost three months since my last post? Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last 3 months:

1.              I went back to work.  Things have been good.  I was more emotionally apprehensive about going back this time than I was with Guinevere, but it’s all turned out fine.  Work has been very very busy!  My commute seems to have gotten even worse, which I didn’t think was possible.  Gee, am I so glad they spent all that time and taxpayer money adding a carpool lane to the 405 through the Sepulveda pass.  It helps so much (this is where I wish there was a “sarcastic” font.  I shall use italics instead).

2.            We took the kids to a pumpkin patch with some friends.  Malcolm had fun seeing pumpkins for the first time.  Guinevere had a blast running around all the pumpkins and choosing one for us to take home.  Then I took the kids by myself to a birthday party at another pumpkin patch.  That one had a tractor that G could pretend to drive!
"Driving" a tractor.

3.              Halloween!  Malcolm’s first Halloween!  Mal wore the Giraffe costume that G wore her first Halloween.  He’s so much bigger than she was that I was worried he wouldn’t fit, but he did.  G was Minnie Mouse, which is her favorite character of all time right now.  Her eyes lit up when I showed her the costume – and it’s a size too big, so it will last her awhile.  I’m sure she’ll want to run around the house in it a bunch over the next couple years.
Minnie Mouse and Giraffe

4.              Grandpa’s 90th birthday.  We recently celebrated my grandpa’s 90th birthday!  For those of you who don’t know him, he is an amazing individual.  He was a bombardier in World War II and then went on to be a teacher when he got back from the war.  After he retired, he finally listened to the pleas of the family and published his first book.  Now, he’s about to release his fourth!
With my grandpa. Please forgive the fuzzy iphone photo - it was the only one where G was smiling at the camera.

5.              G got a toddler bed.  We graduated Guinevere from the crib to a toddler bed.  She loves her new bed and actually asks to go “night night” now!  Now if only we could get her to stop falling out of it.
New kids' room

6.              Malcolm’s first taste of real food.  Malcolm is now 6 months old, which means we can start giving him solids.  We haven’t yet given him any rice cereal or mushy baby food yet, but the other night we were eating stir fry and he seemed really interested in my food.  So I handed him a piece of broccoli to play with and taste.  He had a great time!  G kept pointing at him and saying, “Malcolm’s broccoli!”

There’s so much more that’s happened in the past couple months, but each of the above are things that I had fully intended to write an entire blog post about . . . who knows, maybe I will end up expanding on a couple of those bullet points.  It’s been a busy time, and with the holidays coming, it’s only going to get busier.  Here’s hoping I find the time (and energy) to start writing more regularly again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Speed Oiling Party

I won a bottle of Orange at the party!

Friday night, while my husband was out of town, I went to an oiling party.  Ok, that sounds way dirtier than it actually was.  A friend of mine hosted a “Speed Oiling” party.  It’s like speed dating, but instead of meeting guys, we “met” essential oils.  I had a great time and definitely came away with lots of new knowledge.

The way the party worked was that there were six different stations and we were supposed to have ten minutes at each station to learn about various uses for the essential oils.  I think we actually spent closer to 15 minutes at each station, but that allowed us to go even more in depth into each subject.

The stations were:

1) Seed to Seal:  We learned about the Young Living Premium Starter Kit (which is the one I have) and about how Young Living owns the entire process – from when the seeds are planted through when the plants are harvested and distilled into the oils and the oils are sealed in the bottles. Key tip learned: rub Valor on the big toe to help with snoring (Aaron has been snoring a lot lately).

2) Babies & Kids: We learned tips and recipes for using the oils around young children.  They had a sample eczema cream, much like the one I made a couple weeks ago.  The biggest tip when using oils with babies or kids is to be sure to dilute the oils if you are using topically.  I tend to dilute the oils even for use on adults, if nothing else, to make them last longer.  Key tip learned: rubbing Peace & Calming and Valor behind a kid’s ears to help them sleep.

3) Pain management:  At this station we discussed various pain management techniques.  The ladies running this station also had a HUGE assortment of oils that we could smell just to see what they smelled like.  Some smelled great (grapefruit) and others smelled not so great (oregano).  Key tip learned: PanAway is like Icy Hot and more. (I have now used it not only for sore muscles, but also to get rid of a sinus headache.)

4) Back to School: My kids aren’t in school yet, but they are in daycare, where the toddlers are germ incubators.  I may not have had to pay attention to the anti-lice recipe, but I did pay attention to the ways to avoid the germs that will inevitably come home with the kids from incubating in my house (and by extension in me and my husband). Key tip learned: Make your own antibacterial spray using Thieves and water.

5) Supplements made by Young Living: I don’t remember the actual name of this station.  Basically it focused on additional supplements that Young Living makes.  There’s one for “ladies of a certain age” that the woman running the station loved.  I’m not even close to that age, so it wasn’t all that relevant to me.  They did discuss Ningxia Red, an energy supplement drink.  I received some samples of this in the kit and they let people take a sip of it at this station, but since I am breastfeeding and avoiding anything with caffeine or that has the same effects as caffeine, I decided to pass.

6) Sleep: The last station I went to was about sleep. With a 3 month old at home, I am definitely in desperate need of sleep.  But I will admit, that since it was the last station of the night, I was also a little sleepy and don’t remember a lot of what we discussed.  We did get to sample a sleep cream made with lavender, lemon, coconut oil and some other oil that I don’t remember.  Maybe it was cedar?  I don’t know, all I know is that it smelled delicious!

Biggest takeaway of the night: The magic trio of Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon.  This is known as the “allergy trio,” but it can be used for any type of congestion.  The day after the party, Guinevere had a runny/stuffy nose, so I decided to try this trio out.  I’m still paranoid about putting the oils undiluted on my babies, so I mixed a few tablespoons of coconut oil with 1-2 drops of each oil and then put it on Guinevere behind her ears and on her feet.  Within a couple hours, her nose cleared up.  The next day Aaron came home from a business trip with a runny nose and we tried it out on him (still diluted, but less so) and by mid-morning, I noticed he wasn’t sniffling anymore!  He’s still a skeptic, so he thinks it was either the shower he took or the oils . . . but he’s taken plenty of showers with a runny nose before and the shower didn’t kill those runny noses.

I’m having so much fun playing around with my oils.  The more I learn, the happier I am that I went ahead and invested in my kit.  Be warned, I absolutely plan on more blog posts sharing all that I have learned.  Do you have any fun oil tips?  Have you tried any of the tips I learned at the party?  Did they work for you?

Monday, August 11, 2014

5 Simple Steps to Losing the Baby Weight

Don't eat crap like this!
People often ask me for advice on losing the baby weight.  The answer I give is usually not what they are looking for: win the genetic lottery and/or eat less, exercise more.  If the former doesn’t apply and the latter doesn’t appeal, here are 5 other things you can do to help lose those pesky baby pounds:

1.              Breastfeed
Everyone tells you that breastfeeding burns a bunch of extra calories . . . blah, blah, blah.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  What I’m talking about is how for the first couple months of your adorable baby’s life, inevitably they will get hungry the minute you sit down to eat a meal.  I used to joke that the baby could smell my food and it made her hungry too!  So you take a couple bites of your delicious warm meal, take a break to nurse and when you get back to your food, it’s gone cold and you have to reheat it – why does food never taste the same when it’s been reheated?

2.              Work out with the baby
No, I don’t mean mommy & me yoga or any other ridiculously adorable workout geared toward baby and you. (I’ve tried mommy & me yoga and it was a disaster.  Turned into mommy & screaming baby yoga – not very Zen!)  What I mean is the inevitable workout your arms and legs will get while you hold and bounce a fussy baby throughout the day.  After a couple months, once they are not quite so floppy, you can become a master at doing everything one-handed.  Seriously, who would have ever thought you could go to the bathroom while holding a baby?  Believe me, carrying around your 10-15 pound bundle of joy can add some definition and tone to your arms! Just be sure to switch arms every now and then, otherwise one arm will look like a body builder’s and the other will look like a chicken leg.

3.              Pick the right topic of conversation
Remember how before baby, you could go out for a nice dinner with your spouse and have adult conversation about politics or gossip about friends?  Yeah, now conversations often revolve around poo, pee and spit-up.  Not very appetizing.  If there’s a sure way to not want to eat that chocolate ice cream sitting in the freezer, it’s discussing your child’s poop – especially if you are covered in the baby’s spit-up while having that conversation.  All you want is a shower and some sleep!

4.              Catch your baby's cold
If you haven’t lost all the baby weight by the time you go back to work, don’t fret, those little germ factories will bring the weight loss to you – in the form of a cold, or the flu, or some other illness.  Honestly, this is how I finally lost the last few pounds after baby #1.  Not really the way I wanted to do it, but there you go!  Get sick for a couple days and you’re on your way to your pre-baby body!

5.              Chase the toddler
If you still haven’t lost the baby weight by the time your kid is a toddler and/or you decided to have yet another kid while your first is still a toddler, don’t worry about trying to get to the gym.  All you have to do is chase around your little energy machine and poof those pounds will melt away!  Seriously, where do two year olds get so much energy?!  My toddler can run in circles around the house ALL day long (usually screaming/squealing with delight the entire time)!  And when they get tired, they ramp up even more and require even more energy!

*Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or a weight loss expert.  None of the above is to be taken seriously – except the part about getting sick after your kid goes to daycare.  That WILL happen whether you like it or not.

Linking to:
Epic Mommy Adventures

Friday, August 8, 2014

Homemade Eczema Cream/My Foray Into Essential Oils

Guinevere has had nasty eczema practically since the day she came out of the womb.  It was so bad last year that we took her to the emergency room a just a couple days before her first birthday because it turned into a horrible rash that she scratched to the point where it got infected with impetigo.  The nurse hotline was worried that it might be measles or chicken pox, so they sent us to the ER.  There is nothing more terrifying than having a nurse tell you to wake your sleeping 11 month old and take her to the ER – especially when you had just been expecting them to tell you to make an appointment with the pediatrician the next day.  There we sat with our adorable child who had nothing wrong with her other than a nasty rash, surrounded by adults who were truly sick.  It was not a fun experience!  The saving grace is that out of all of it, we got a prescription for a steroid ointment that seems to really keep the eczema at bay.  The downside is that it’s a steroid, and so you don’t want to have to be applying it to your kid daily.  For the past year, our treatment for the eczema consists of not bathing her every day, applying lotion every day and applying the steroid ointment only when she gets a bad flare up.  So far, it’s working pretty well, but I’m always on the lookout for other solutions.

When a dancer friend of mine posted on facebook that she made a homemade eczema cream for her kids and showed before and after pictures, I knew I had to have the recipe.  My friend uses Young Living oils and sent me the recipe (see below for the full recipe) along with a bunch of other information about Young Living and other essential oils.  She added me to a facebook group where people can ask questions and share knowledge about various uses for essential oils.  I honestly had no idea there were so many uses for oils!  I knew you could make your own lotions, scrubs, soaps and cleaning supplies.  It never occurred to me to diffuse the oils to help with allergies or colds, or to gargle with some of them to get rid of a scratchy throat (it works!).

There were a few things holding me back from making the purchase:   1) These oils are not cheap.  I knew essential oils were expensive, but these are more expensive than your standard health food store oils.  Young Living’s reasoning for the price difference is that their oils are pure, whereas many health food store oils are diluted, chemically altered, or otherwise “unpure.”  They own their own farm land, so they control every aspect of the process from the moment the seeds are planted in the soil, to the point where the bottles are shipped to you. Because the oils are pure, they are also more potent than health food store oils, so you don't need to use as much of them, which makes them more affordable in the long run (just a rather large up front cost).  Seriously, you only need a drop or two of oils for diffusing purposes! 2) The eczema recipe called for lavender.  I have had issues in the past with lavender.  It can make me itchy, which is the exact opposite response desired for an eczema cream.  I have no idea if lavender makes Guinevere itchy, but I figured since it makes me itchy, I didn’t want to risk it on my child who can’t tell me if something affects her (though she has now started saying the word, “itchy”).  However, I decided to give YL’s lavender a try for the same reasons that it is more expensive than other lavender oils – it’s reportedly “pure.” Most other lavender oils have extras added in to defray the cost, but it could be those extras that made me itchy, and not the lavender itself.  After reading a bunch of testimonials of people who also had bad reactions to other lavenders, but not YL's lavender, I decided to risk it and test it out.  I am happy to report that YL's lavender does not make me itchy at all, which makes it worth the extra cost!

I did a bunch of research and ultimately ended up purchasing the Young Living starter kit.  I bought the kit instead of just the 3 oils needed for the eczema treatment because the kit is a much better deal for your money and I wanted to experiment with other oils.  There’s a combination of three other oils that supposedly works wonders for seasonal allergies, so the next time Aaron’s allergies act up, I have something I can give him to try.  The kit includes 10 daily essential oils (a combination of single oils and YL’s proprietary blends): Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Joy, PanAway, Peace & Calming, Purification, Thieves, and Valor.  It also came with a blend called Stress Away, some samples of a drink they make called Ningxia Red, and a home diffuser.  It was the diffuser that put me over the edge on ordering the kit as opposed to just getting the oils, since the diffuser on its own is expensive, and just getting the three oils needed for the eczema cream, plus the diffuser would have been close to the price of the kit anyway.

I’ve been slowly going through all the different oils and diffusing them in the house and taking notes on how they smell, if they have any effect, and which I like best.  So far, I like the Stress Away blend the best.  It smells delicious and the night I diffused it, both kids were super well behaved the entire evening!  It could have been a complete coincidence, but I’ll go ahead and attribute it to the oil, if nothing else, to feel like I got my money’s worth.  They also have a blend called Thieves, which reportedly has antibacterial properties.  I felt the scratchy throat you often get when a cold is coming on. With the baby and the toddler in the house, I don't have time to get a cold, so I gargled a glass of water with 1 drop of Thieves and amazingly felt fine the next morning!

When you buy a kit from Young Living, you also sign up as a “distributor,” which means I get to buy the oils at wholesale prices as opposed to retail.  In theory, I can sell the oils to you or your friends . . . or I can just share my discount and we can split the cost of shipping (which might almost be preferable - stupid Amazon Prime, getting me used to not paying for shipping!).  Full disclosure: YL is a multi-level marketing company, so if you ever do buy a kit and were referred by me, I get a referral fee.  

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the eczema recipe!  Here it is:

  • 1/2cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup solid shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba (optional)
  • 1 tsp vitamin E
  • 10-20 drops each of Lavender, Melrose (YL proprietary blend – you can also use tea tree oil instead), and Joy (YL proprietary blend – I have no idea what the alternative would be if you don’t use YL oils
    • Blend all together in a food processor or blender for 5 minutes. 

Since it was stupid hot the day I made mine and the coconut oil had completely melted, I poured the mixture into tubs and then put it in the fridge until an hour before I needed to use it.  You don’t need to keep it in the fridge for a long time, just enough to let it set – and that’s only on stupid hot days.  I’m sure if I made this recipe in the winter, I wouldn’t even need that step. 

I want to play with the recipe a little to find exactly the right formulation for G’s skin.  It’s definitely not going to eliminate the need for the steroid cream.  That stuff clears up any flare-ups overnight!  However, this cream does seem to help in between flare-ups.  And I'm not freaked out when G insists on applying a little herself.  Since the ingredients are all natural, it's ok for her to put her hands in the tub and put it wherever she wants.

If you are interested in any of these oils or the kit or anything else, let me know and I’ll send you whatever info you need.