A Life In Progress

Taking Better Care November 19, 2008

Filed under: Exercise,Healthy Eating,Me,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 2:03 pm

I’m horrible for this.

I always take care of myself last. There’s no way I’d give the girls just a bowl of noodles and sauce for lunch, for example.  I’d slice up some fruit or veggies to go with it.  I’d do the same for Jordan too.  But for me? I’d eat that bowl of noodles and not bother to make it a rounded meal.

Or when someone in my family is sick, I insist they take it easy, drink a lot of fluids, up their vitamin c, drink tea while snuggling on the couch with a movie, a dab of eucalyptus oil on their collar.  But do I do the same? Rarely.  Same goes for our vitamins and supplements.  I never forget to give the girls their vitamins in the morning but can hardly ever remember to take my own.

I’ve decided that it’s time I started taking better care of myself and then, in turn, be able to keep giving and caring for my family.  It may seem minor but I think all the small things add up.  I want to try to do something I enjoy every day, I want to be sleeping before 10 every night, take all my supplements and my medication, I want to slice veggies for myself, darn it! I am also going to give pilates a try. So those, among a few other things, are what I plan to work on in these next few weeks.

I’ve been feeling like junk for over a month now.  I called about two weeks ago to get into my naturopath and I got the soonest appointment available, January 9th.  I e-mailed her a few days later to give her an update on my thyroid condition and after hearing about it, she said she wanted to see me ASAP.  I go in tomorrow. I’m hoping that together we can find solutions to help me feel my best again.  Because it has been oh so long.

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The Essentials November 2, 2008

Filed under: Around the House,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 7:46 pm

I’m still here.  I am.  Just busy as heck.

Not only busy but feeling like I’m lacking on topics to blog about.  Until tonight at supper that is.

We were eating and my 3 year old daughter, Abby, started talking about her bath that would follow dinner that she shares with her 1 year old baby sister each night. 

“Hmm… which oil drops should I have in my bath tonight?  Maybe eucalyptus since we have runny noses.  Or maybe lavender so we can relax.  Or, Mom, what’s that one for headaches again?”

“It starts with a ‘P'” I prompted.

“P.  P-p-PEPPERMINT.” 

In the end she chose to have a few drops of essential oil of lavender in her bath water.  One of my favorites too.

I think essential oils are some of the world’s best kept secrets.  Nothing cures a headache for me better than some peppermint oil on my temples, nothing makes a bath feel as relaxing as adding a few drops of lavender and the girls always benefit from a bath with eucalyptus oil when they are sick.  Or a drop or two somewhere in their beds to keep their noses clear at night.

I don’t know a whole lot about essential oils, besides the ones I have.  I’d love to own more since I know that so many of them are theraputic, some are great to use as perfume (since I don’t wear commercially made perfumes anymore) and some are good to keep in the first aid kit, like Tea Tree oil.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the oils, finding out what each type of oil can be used for, etc.  this website might be a good place to start:

http://www.aromaweb.com/essentialoils/default.asp

 

You can mix and match them and make really nice combinations for perfume, to use around your home or theraputically.  Bergamot is a very popular one for emotional well being and another one that I’d like to own.

Some of them can be quite pricey to buy, such as oil of oregano, but since they are so concentrated, a drop or two can really go a long way.

 

A Babe Is Born September 29, 2008

Filed under: Natural Health,Parenting — jdalsin @ 2:22 pm

Women tend to be defensive about their childbirth choices, much like they are about their parenting decisions.  Which is why I’ve hesitated to write a blog entry about a topic that has actually become a passion.  Childbirth.  Done properly.  Which is a big part of why I am becoming a doula.  As a disclaimer, I am not attacking you, no I don’t think you are a horrible mother and so on and so on.

I think most of my readers also read my A Little Bit of Us blog and will know about the choices I made when pregnant with Josephine.  If that includes you, feel free to skip these next two paragraphs.

While pregnant with Josie I decided that things this time around were going to be different.  Over the years I had learned a lot about the body, health, natural living, childbirth.  I happened to go to a prenatal yoga class taught by a wonderful instructor who also was starting up the first Hypnobirthing classes in Saskatchewan.  I signed up the minute I found out about them.  Hypnobirthing, which really does not involve any hypnosis in my opinion, is about relaxing and trusting your body to give birth, fearlessly, perfectly, just as intended.  I loved the classes and had almost complete faith after the very first class.  Hypnobirthing encourages you to avoid any and all interventions and unneccesary tests (getting your membranes stripped, being checked repeatedly for dialation, induction, epidurals, any medication at all while birthing, etc.)  So I practiced relaxing. I learned to trust my body, to know that it knew what it was doing.  I came to understand that my muscles and body would work in perfect harmony to birth my baby. 

Josie was 12 days late.  I unfortunately did end up being induced because my blood pressure was rising.  If there weren’t any health concerns, I without a doubt would have refused induction.  I wasn’t impatient.  I was excited to meet my baby girl but I knew she’d come when she was ready.  I was disappointed to have to be induced.  I cried, got over it and decided to roll with the punches.  I had my first surge (contraction) at around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 24th.  I went to my bed to relax and listen to my hypnobirthing cds with my husband.  He rubbed my back and we relaxed.  I was so comfortable, in NO pain whatsoever.  I convinced myself I wasn’t in labor and turned off my cds and trotted off to the bathroom disappointed.  When I got up, the surges became strong. I told my husband to call his mom to come watch our oldest daughter and I headed back to the bed. Within 2 minutes of getting to the bed and turning my cds back on, I was again so relaxed, so comfortable.  We called and told my mother-in-law not to come.  Around 1:00 a.m. I turned off my cds for good and we decided to go to bed since I was clearly not in labor.  The surges were there, I could feel my muscles contracting, they just didn’t hurt.  Flex your stomach muscles as tight as you can.  That’s about how it felt for me.  I got up to get a glass of water and the surges came back strong.  I told my husband to call his mom and that we should just go to the hospital.  She arrived at our house at 1:20 a.m.  My body started shaking a little and at this point, I feel like I introduced fear.  I knew I was far along.  I got nervous.  I started to get uncomfortable as the surges intensified as we waited for her.  We arrived at the hospital at 1:40 a.m.  I got changed into a gown, laid on the bed and said to the nurse “Something is happening RIGHT NOW.”  She checked and sure enough, I was 10 cm and Josie was all by crowning.  She was born 13 minutes after arriving at the hospital with no doctor present. I can honestly say that I experienced pain for the car ride over to the hospital and that’s about it.  It was amazing.  It was shocking.  It was incredibly empowering and a little surreal.  A healthy baby girl.  8 lbs 10.5 oz.   September 25th, 2007.  A hypnobirthed baby.

I’ve had to deal with some personal grief over the last 53 minutes of my labor.  It was not as I planned it to go and while I am still proud of how well it all went, I wish I would have arrived at the hospital a little sooner so I would have had time to relax and then birthed Josie a little more calmly.  I feel like just recently I’ve dealt with that.  Since she is my last baby, I feel that I had to mourn the loss of the ‘perfect’ birth that I will never have.

So that’s my story.  Now here comes the cold, hard facts.  My honest feeling and thoughts on childbirth.

I think childbirth is completely 100% backwards from the way it’s intended to be.  It is not a medical condition or a disease that needs to be treated.  It’s a natural process. One that most of the time, goes perfectly well.  But from the minute we find out we are pregnant we are told about the risks of miscarriage, our babies are screened for diseases while still in utero, etc.  It’s crazy.

We are filled with all the wrong information and don’t have enough of the information that we really should know.  For example:

The affects of epidurals on our bodies and on our babies.

Did you know that …

Epidurals can and do lead to:

– higher c-section rates

– hypotension

– fetal distress

– IV Cannulation

– Trauma to blood vessels

– Punctured dura (which I’m 99% sure happened to me)

– infection

– backache

– abnormal uterine contractions

(Click here for more info: http://www.healing-arts.org/mehl-madrona/mmepidural.htm#medical_risks_epidurals_rates)

 And it’s proven fact that one intervention starts the ball rolling for more interventions.  People who get induced often get epidurals because the labor can be stronger.  Then epidurals can slow down labor so you need pitocin to speed things back up, etc, etc.

My biggest issue is that I think women are making uninformed decisions.  I think that if they knew what they were doing to their bodies, what harm it could potentially cause their babies, that epidurals can lead to troubles with breastfeeding and so on, we’d be making a lot smarter decisions.

And it truly does confuse me why so many women are making decisions that are not in the best interests of their babies.  Like choosing to have a c-section when it’s not medically neccesary.  Like being induced just because they are sick of waiting.  Or how some women avoid even gentle medications like tylenol while pregnant but in the hours leading up to birth fill themselves with drugs much more powerful and damaging than that.  Parenting begins at conception and from that point on, it is your job to take care of that child.

My only request of anyone would be to get informed before you are faced with making these decisions.  A few of my book recommendations would be:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

Birthing from Within

and of course,

Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method

Would you rather watch a video?  Check out The Business of Being Born.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995061/

 

Want a little humor about what childbirth has unfortunately turned into? Check out this 4 minute Monty Python clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxOu1DyVQV8

We all try to make the best decision we can with the information we have.  The problem is, we don’t have the right information or enough of it.

 

The Cup: Diva Style September 7, 2008

Filed under: Going Green,Me,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 3:01 pm

Just a fair warning, my male readers reader (Hi Mike C!) may want to tune out for this entry.  It may be too much information so read on with caution. 😉

Many of us know the dangers of using tampons.  They contain rayon to help with absorption and dioxins (a chemical used when bleaching) which are a known carcinogen. (If you want more info on this, google it.) There are also rumors that tampons cause you to bleed more and for longer and that they may even lead to cramping.  I’ve been thinking of giving tampons the boot for quite some time.

So, this past week I finally got up the courage to try out my Diva Cup. For those who don’t know, it’s a little silicone cup that you insert instead of a tampon.  Once it’s inside, it opens up, creating a tight seal and simply catches your flow.  Depending on your flow, you have to empty the cup a few times a day.  For me, 2-3 times. 

Anyway, after just one cycle, I am SOLD.  I will never go back to using tampons again.  This may be coincidence, I’m not sure, but I had no cramps this entire period. Not one.  That doesn’t happen. I always have atleast one or two days of moderate cramping and achiness.  And my period that usually lasts 7-8 days is almost gone after day 4.   Maybe those aren’t just rumors after all!

There are other benefits to the Diva Cup as well.  First of all, you can buy them locally usually for around $40 or here online for about $17.  Compare that to the cost of pads and tampons.  Say $10 a month x 12 months x 35+ years of menstrating = $4200+. 

And for those who care about the environmental aspect, think about how much trash your cycle creates using tampons and pads compared to having no garabge from the Diva Cup.  Or consider the chemicals and processes used to make a tampon that are harmful to the earth compared to the resources needed to manufacture one cup. See?  You’ll be saving the earth too.

Best part of all, I keep forgetting that I even have my period.  For real.  I’ve had a few “oh yeah!” moments which, of course, is most excellent. Even Jordan, my husband, keeps saying he’s forgotten since garbage isn’t overflowing with wrappers and I’m not complaining about cramps and backaches. 

It’s only fair that I give the downsides too. Although there are few I’ll include them so this will be a fair review.  It’s a bit tricky to get in properly at first, making sure the cup has popped open and that it’s properly positioned.  I’d recommend wearing a pad for the first cycle just until you know you’ve got it right.  Some people get it right away while others take a few cycles to really master it.  Also, this may be too much info, but it is obviously a little messier than just putting in a tampon but really isn’t that big of a bother.

I believe that Diva Cup even has a money back guarantee if you don’t love it. So try it.  I’m so glad that I did! 🙂

 

This is the road that never ends March 3, 2008

Filed under: Going Green,Healthy Eating,Me,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 2:36 pm

sigh …

 I write today feeling a little bit defeated.

If you’ve been following this blog at all you know that I’ve been trying to make some changes around our house, with our health, our diets, becoming more environmentally conscious, etc.

I picked up a book from the library called Ecoholic.  It is so full of information.  After I read it my head is full of information.  Too much information.  So much information that I know that I’ll never be able to do it all.  Make the house as healthy as I would like.  Buy clothes that are made from organic materials and made by people getting paid decent wages.  Eat food that has been grown locally and without pesticides.  Ensure that my kids’ toys don’t contain PVC or lead paint.  That the wood we use to build a new deck isn’t destroying some ecosystem. That the soap I wash my body with isn’t full of chemicals that have proven links to cancer. 

So much to know. So much to do.  Where does one draw the line? Am I doing enough? Not enough? 

I wish there was a big store you could go to where in everything was safe and healthy to purchase.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Really though- this book is FANTASTIC. It’s also Canadian so it will speak of brands and stores you’ve heard of, list internet sites where you can order great products that will actually ship to Canada and so on.  I want to own it!

http://www.amazon.ca/Ecoholic-Environmentally-Friendly-Information-Products/dp/0679314849/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204575497&sr=8-1

But be warned. You will be overwhelmed.

 

An All Around Update January 25, 2008

We’ve made quite a bit of progress this month with our goals.  Jordan and I are both feeling pretty proud of ourselves.

The most exciting thing in my opinion was that we got some stuff organized.  It felt wonderful! Isn’t it funny how something like a neatly organized closet can uplift your spirit.  Jordan worked hard tidying up our the closet in our front porch.  We went out and bought a little shelf for in there to help us keep it tidy.  It looks great! We even bought little hooks so Abby can now come in and hang up her own jacket, put her boots away and tuck her mitts and scarf into her little drawer.   I also went through the linen closet and got that all organized.  It’s really our “everything closet”.  Abby’s craft supplies, towels and bedding, household cleaners, candles, etc. Again, we got some baskets and got everything looking spic and span.  I had a huge bag of stuff to take to Salvation Army too.

Regarding my energy, I got some answers this month too! After some blood work I found out that my iron is extremely low, as are my iron stores.  I’m on a good supplement prescribed by my naturopath now so I should be feeling a bit better in a few weeks.  Not only that, but for those of you who don’t know, I have thyroid disease (hypothryoid).  The normal level when blood work is done should be in between .4 and 4.5.  So, since I’m taking my medications I should be in that range.  I came in at an 11.  So my prescription has been increased.  Between the iron, the new prescription and taking some B Vitamins I’m feeling very optimistic that I will be feeling well again soon.

One area that was slightly neglected was our work on spirituality. An important one but an easy one to ignore.  We did make it out to church this month so atleast that’s a step in the right direction.

We got new Energy Star appliances this week and just love them.  Not only that, but I went grocery shopping and did a dandy job of filling the fridge and cupboards with healthy foods.  And Dad’s Cookies.  You know, the goody rings?  Too good of a deal to pass up. 

We slacked in the exercise department too.  It’s my goal to work on that one more in February.  But some how I did manage to lose 4 or 5 pounds this month without really doing anything besides making some healthier choices and avoiding the drive thru.  YAY!  15 pounds to go.

We did a few other small things around the house too, like reorganized Abby’s bedroom, stocked up on everything we’d need to do cloth diapering for the next while and switched to some healthier disposable diapers for when we are out and about, put air filters on all our vents, discovered a really cute organic grocery store and so on.  All the little things add up!

And, miracle of all miracles, it looks like our basement renovations will be done this weekend! This is very exciting as it has been consuming a lot of our time and energy.  When it’s done we can focus on doing nothing for awhile.  How sweet will that be? Very.

So that’s about it for Month One.

 

Alternatives January 24, 2008

Filed under: Around the House,Going Green,Healthy Eating,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 8:27 pm

I’m all for being green, doing all that I can to avoid putting junk into and on to our bodies and the like.  There are a few things I’m not quite ready to part with.  First and foremost, anti-perspirant.  Bad.  But I figure I’m allowed one thing since I’m sacrificing so many others.  😉 Two is toilet paper.  Some of those extra-green people use reuseable cloth wipes for going to the bathroom.  I can’t handle that right now.  Three is a low-flow shower head.  I need some power behind my rinsing.  Those things would be too hard for me to give up.

But, like I said in my last post, there are many things that can easily be replaced by safer, more natural, healthier alternatives.  Since it can be overwhelming I thought I’d offer some of my favorites alternatives here.

FOOD

  • It’s easy breezy to switch the whole grain varities of bread, rice, flours and pasta.  I actually prefer the taste of the whole wheat/whole grain varities.
  • Organic produce is now available at most all grocery stores.  There may not be a lot but every little bit counts.  Try swapping one thing for organic a week.  Check out this list for the types of foods most heavily sprayed with pesticides.  Choosing to buy a few of these organic would be a good start.
  • Try to shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store the most.  Most everything that’s on the shelves in the middle is overprocessed and overpackaged, like crackers and cookies.  Of course you don’t want to avoid buying crackers all together, but just limiting it and chosing the fresh stuff instead. And when buying crackers and things like that, again look for whole grain and organic versions of your favorites.  I have a new favorite cracker – President’s Choice Organics Stone Wheat Crackers Multi Seed.  Try ’em.
  • This is a bit of a toughy but try to avoid foods that have food coloring.  For example, cheddar cheese is dyed orange.  Why? I’m not sure.  Opt for the white cheddar if you can find it.

HOUSEHOLD

  • Like I mentioned in my last post, a little vinegar and water can clean most things and is a good alternative to most of your regular cleaners.  Easy.
  • If you prefer to have storebought products, I really like the Method line and the Bio-Life (Shoppers Drug Mart) line.  Both are available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Method is also available at places like Superstore and Canadian Tire.  Seventh Generation has a lot of products out there too.
  • Try to buy recycled paper products if you are going to buy things like toilet paper, napkins, etc.
  • I always try to look for products that have the least packaging as well.  For example, a regular 24 pack of toilet paper has 24 paper rolls to throw away where as a 12 pack of double rolls gives you the same amount of toilet paper with half the rolls to toss out.  May be a small difference but every little bit counts.
  • Instead of always reaching for the medicine cabinet when you are sick try some alternative methods, like essential oils.  Pure essential oil of peppermint dabbed on the temples helps with a headache and a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a warm bath tub helps with congestion.  It’s easy to find natural alternatives online like a spoonful of honey for a sore throat, etc.
  • Careful what you are washing your clothes and dishes with.  Avoid products with perfumes, phosphates and other chemicals.  If there is one super easy and wonderfully great thing I suggest you do it’s ditch the dryer sheets.  A splash of essential oil in the wash load can help add a little scent if that’s something you like.  For laundry I really like Norwex and have recently purchased some Norwex automatic dishwasher soap that I’ve heard good things about but haven’t yet tried.

Around the House

  • Recycle, recycle, recycle.  It’s really not that much of a pain.  In the beginning I thought it was going to be such a nuissance but it isn’t.  We have a big bin right beside our garbage can in the closet.  I toss everything in there that is recycleable and then once a week Jordan takes it downstairs and sorts it.  Jordan and I end up with about 2 grocery sized bags of garbage a week.  If we had a compost bin I’m sure we’d only have one.  It makes a huge difference and depending on where you live you can even return it for a little bit of cash.
  • Let the air in! Open your windows everyday, if only for a few minutes, to let some fresh air in.  Sad to say that the outdoor air that we think is so polluted with emissions from cars, etc. is actually up to 30x cleaner than the air in our houses, according to some recent studies. Of course that number would be drastically reduced if you cut out some of the chemicals.
  • Reuse and reduce.  Notice if things are overpackaged.  Buy a couple of reusable bags from the grocery store.  Or pick up a sweet EnviroBag like mine.  It rolls up so nicely and fits right into your purse.

         Roll up nice and compact.  (Blurry, but you get the idea)
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Folds out to a nice big handy dandy bag.  🙂
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This one has become quite easy.  Try to buy organic products or atleast watch for parabens. London Drugs carries a good varity of organic bath and beauty products.  Lotions, shampoos, face cleansers, etc.  There are so many brands to choose from.  Avalon Organics in the lavender scent is one of my favorite lines. There’s Juice Beauty, Nature’s Gate and Giovanni just to name a few from there.  For my birthday this year my mom got me a nice set of products from Lush, which is a homemade cosmetics store.  I’d be itching for get to the store but there isn’t one in my city so I made a wishlist.  I really like the Angels on Bare Skin face cleanser and the Godiva Shampoo Bar.  I really like the moisturizer she got me but it was insanely expensive so I won’t recommend buying it as an easy alternative.  😉  This point got a little lengthy but I’m just trying to get across how easy and accessible it really is!
  • Instead of perfume try using essential oils.  Smells great, available in a wide variety of scents and much cheaper.  Oh, and of course, you aren’t spraying anything nasty onto your skin. 
  • Some women have started using cloth, reusable pads.  I’m not quite sure what I think of that one yet.  If you can’t handle that, consider buying the safer, unbleached versions from Seventh Generation.  Or go for a Diva cup.
    • BABY

      • Again, baby products are filled with the same junk that’s in our products.  Parabens, perfumes, dyes, etc.  I LOVE the Life Brand ‘Baby Naturals’ shampoos, body wash & lotions.  They are super cheap, around $2-$3.  Choose to be mindful about what you are rubbing all over your babe. 
      • Say “n-o” to baby powder.  “Talcum powder contains a substance similar in composition to asbestos, and some studies have linked the use of talcum powder to increased incidence of ovarian cancer. Accidentally inhaling it can lead to serious respiratory problems or even death.” – From www.care2.com/greenliving.
      • If you aren’t up for cloth diapering, try using diapers like Seventh Generation‘s.  They are probably the next best thing since they aren’t bleached. 
      • Diaper wipes are full of chemicals, perfumes and chlorine too.  Try making your own wipes! I have a recipe if anyone is interested.
      • Even if you choose to use perfumed detergents and dryer sheets on your clothes, consider using something gentler for baby’s sensitive skin.

      I’ve been typing this for a very, very long time.  I have a million more ideas so if anyone has any specific things they are looking for alternatives for, ask away.  Of if you want a recommendation for a good brand name or anything like that, I may be able to help. 

      Hope this helped anyone feeling overwhelmed, lost or in search of ideas.  🙂