My Chemical Romance – Getting your Spouse to Go Green

They say opposites attract. That is true for my husband and I in many ways. I say “ta-may-to,” he says “to-mah-to” type of thing.
This could not prove to be truer when it comes to my green approach to our home and health. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be healthy, but he has spent so many years buying into the norm that he has a tough time switching over. When we were first married, he thought the bathroom wasn’t clean unless someone had burning lungs from scrubbing the tub. And that person was usually me.
Some of you might be able to relate – you want a crunchy, green household and your spouse wants Fantastik and Scrub-Free.
So here is my advice – baby steps. I wish I could tell you the solution was replacing their bottle of moisturizer’s contents with almond oil, but they will likely figure that out.
Start with the parts of your household that you”control,” for lack of a better term. I do the majority of the cleaning in our house, so I made my own surface cleanser, and purchased cleaning products that were minimalist and friendly to the environment. He was happy as long as the house looked and smelled clean. The other day, when I pulled a powdered dishwasher detergent out of the shopping bag, he commented that he thought I needed that to be phosphate free. So I showed him the label. New brand, still friendly!
Personal care products are more “trial and error.” My trial, my errors – haha! I am my own personal Guinea pig. I make toothpaste and try it out until it is just right before passing him the tube. I tried out no shampoo, castile soap, oil cleansing, etc and he will give it a go if he sees it working out for me – usually.

We don’t even have kids yet and I am already working on him to buy into cloth diapers. He isn’t there yet but hey, we’ve got time!

It is an ongoing process. You can’t change someone overnight. Maybe he isn’t using almond oil as a moisturizer, but he passes me his products so I can read the labels and point out SLS, parabens, etc.

Marriages are give and take in every situation. While you might be ready to live off the grid, he might be ready to switch from canola to coconut oil. So embrace those small victories! Before you know it, he’ll be singing the praises of apple cider vinegar and baking soda right along with you!

The Eco Housewives Steps to Switching to be Chemical Free:

1. Household cleaners – surface, toilet, tub and floor (many times this can all be conquered with 1 or 2 homemade products)

2. Laundry and dish soap

3. Personal care – hair and body wash (or even no poo!)

4. Skin care – face wash and moisturizer

5. Dental care – toothpaste and mouthwash

6. The Bigger Picture (cut down on waste, grow and can your own veggies, your imagination is your guide!)

* Don’t worry, we’re not selfish – we will share our recipes with you soon!

– Written by Aubrey

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Got Milk?

I am so thankful that I have had really good breastfeeding experiences with my girls. I was able to breastfeed Abigail for just over 10 months until the morning sickness with Susanna got so bad that my milk dried up. I know so many women who didn’t get so “lucky”. When Abigail was born, she latched right away and my milk came in a few days after she was born and all was great until a few months in. About twelve weeks postpartum, I started going to bootcamp to get back to my pre-pregnancy self. Soon after that, my mum was briefly hospitalized and Abigail started waking up in middle of the night. I don’t want to brag, but Abigail was sleeping through the night when she was 2 months old, so when she stopped, I was NOT pleased! I couldn’t figure out what was going on for a few weeks until I tried pumping because I was going to leave her with my husband for a few hours. When I pumped I wasn’t able to get more than a few drops of milk! Naturally I freaked out-I’m pretty sure I cried! No wonder I had a cranky baby, no wonder she was waking up throughout the night! She was starving!!!  The stress of my mother’s hospitalization and the excessive exercise had destroyed my milk supply!

I starting doing a ton of research to help increase my milk supply and I want to share with our readers what I learned. There are several different ways to increase your milk supply, but I’ll share with you the methods that I tried.

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1. Mother’s Milk Tea-I used Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic MilkMaid Tea. This worked ok, I would drink several cups a day and it did increase my supply by a couple ounces within 24 hours, but my supply was inconsistent, and the tea is pretty pricey.

2. Fenugreek Pills-these worked really well for me. Some women don’t find a huge increase in their supply or get an inconsistent milk supply with fenugreek. The important thing to know with fenugreek is that you can’t start taking the pills and then stop cold turkey once your supply has increased. You will lose your milk supply almost instantly if you abruptly stop the pills. Once your supply has increased, you need to wean yourself off fenugreek slowly. I think I took a week or so to slowly wean myself off the pills. I have also heard of some women who have tried sprouting fenugreek at home and that form of the herb seemed to work better for them. If I have any milk supply issues I may try sprouting fenugreek as I’ve recently become obsessed with sprouting!

3. Hemp Hearts-my Mum stayed with us for 2 weeks after Susanna was born and was doing a lot of yummy baking for us. She was adding hemp hearts to cookies, oatmeal and muffins and when I looked up to check if it was ok to eat hemp hearts while breastfeeding, I found tons of literature that said that hemp hearts actually increase your milk supply. I attribute the hemp to my ridiculous milk supply this time around. Susanna will have a normal feed and I can still pump 4-5 ounces of milk after she’s done nursing!  YAHOO!

4. Sleep-Easier said than done with a new baby, but if you can get some help, try to rest or nap as much as you can, especially in the early weeks! With rest, your body has more energy to make more milk!

5. Good Diet-the better you eat, the better your milk supply will be! Make sure you are eating properly (Thanks Mum, I miss you and your mad cooking skills!!) and often if you want to give your babe some nice fatty milk! I’ve also read that if your iron is low your milk supply will be affected. I don’t eat meat, but if you do make sure you’re eating enough red meat or spinach (if you’re a vegetarian) to increase your iron stores. If you’re not a spinach or meat fan, word on the street is that mini-wheats have a ton of iron in them! Who knew??!!  It’s also crucial to stay hydrated! It takes liquid to make liquid right? Try to drink at least one glass of water during each feed (P.S. I suck at staying hydrated, but when I make a conscious effort to drink, my milk is so much more abundant!)

6. Pump like crazy-this is the most important piece of advice I can give you!  Apparently the receptors for making milk in your brain are made within the first two weeks of your baby’s life. The more you pump or keep your baby at your breast in those early weeks, the better chance you have at protecting your supply. In the first few days before your milk comes in, allow your baby to nurse as much as possible. I know it’s hard because usually baby is very lethargic and let’s face it, you’ve just delivered a baby and all you want to do is sleep, but trust me, if you allow your baby to nurse as much as possible during those first few days, your milk will come in faster and you’ll have more to offer your little one! After your milk comes in, make sure your baby is at your breast as much as possible. If baby isn’t latching properly, PUMP! It’s so important to protect and build up your milk supply in those first few weeks of baby’s life!

Well, that’s all the advice that I have. Anyone else have any tips for increasing your milk supply? We’d love to hear them!

http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca is a great resource !

Written by Andrea

A Caesearean Love Story

Recently, a friend of mine was feeling particularly low because of the caesearean she had had almost a year ago now. This didn’t surprise me, however, as many of the women I know who had unplanned caeseareans often feel the same or similar feelings. The other morning wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, nor will it be the last. I, too, still struggle with it from time to time and my son is now almost a year and a half. So, I felt compelled to write a little something, the story of my struggle, but also a story of love…

As expected, the birth of my son didn’t go as planned. I was huge, he was overdue, and my husband (who works out of town) was missing work to stay close to home. I agreed to induction (originally not in my birth plan) and five days and 24 hours of labour later, my son was born via caesearean.

I felt pressured. Not by my husband, not by my doctors even, but by the circumstances of life being what they were. Get out, son! It would be most convenient for you to come now. He was very happy, and doing fabulously in my belly, but we needed him to arrive. And, thanks to modern medicine we could force him out. Two rounds of Cervadil accomplished nothing more than to create a leak in the amniotic fluid. So, Pitocin was heavily suggested. I started contractions on my own in the early morning hours before going to the hospital for the pitocin induction to begin, but they still wanted to use it to augment my labour. It was awful, the contractions were never ending. Just when they would start leveling off, time to up the dose! Horrid. The doctor came in and broke my water (I suspect because he didn’t want to stay too late). After pushing for what was around 3 hours, I was told baby boy was not in a good position (which he had been up until sometime before my water was broken) and caesearean was the answer. I was so tired, I didn’t care. I was more worried about how it made my husband feel. He was scared. I was exhausted.

It wasn’t until getting home and after being alone, lurching around, watching every move as to prevent my insides from bursting forth from my scar (I imagined this happening a few times) that I began to feel it. The guilt, the failure. Why did I let it happen? I said yes to every option that (what I believe) inevitably led to my caesearean.

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We moved to a new town midway through my pregnancy, and although our original plan was to get a midwife (maybe even have a home birth), there were only so many in town and they were all booked up. So, I decided to at least get a doula. My doula, Cindy Black was amazing. She was very open and easy to talk to. We discussed all the usual fears and apprehensions a soon to be new mom (and dad) could have. We went through want I wanted in my birth plan and we talked about what I wanted in the case of a caesearean, but to be honest, I thought it would never happen. She prepared me though. For all possibilities. And she was there, through it all – she even sat next to me while they sewed me up.

So, what happened? I prepared myself, I had support, I was always given a choice. It’s not my fault, but it feels that way. It feels like my body let me down, and in turn I let my body down. I did it a disservice by not giving it the chance to do what it was made to do. I feel guilty. I feel sad. It wasn’t postpartum depression (thankfully), I just felt like I had failed in some way. Given the chance to do it again, my decisions would be quite different.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Hindsight is 20/20. I can’t do it over again, so why do I continue to beat myself up over it? My son is 16 months old now and I STILL think about it from time to time. People say all that matters is we are both here, happy and healthy. Of course this is true, but rarely is it comforting. My doula says that it is my birth story, unique to me. And, if I have another child, his or her story will be different from my son’s. But still, the feeling lingers. No one can make me feel ok with it, but me. I have to let it go. I have to forgive. I have to move on. How though?

I find myself feeling less and less guilty as time passes. I think about it less. Thankfully, my ob-gyn did an AMAZING job and my scar is hardly noticeable even by me, which helps. When I find myself talking to other women who have had unplanned caeseareans and how they feel the same sort of feelings it makes me feel better, for many reasons. I feel better knowing I’m not alone. It seems to be normal to feel that way. But then, I’m angry! Angry that it’s normal to feel this way! It’s not ok! We don’t deserve to treat ourselves like this! And that makes me feel unashamed. I am not guilty of anything! And that, is the truth!

My doula is right, it is my son and mine’s unique birth story. It is my memory of our first meeting. I can not sully it with feelings of inadequacy. I must remember it with love, and respect. For myself and what I have championed over. And, this is what I will remember…

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My son and my husband have an AMAZING bond. Instead of him spending his first moments with me, he spent them with his father. Him and I will always have a bond no matter what. He was inside me for 9 months. I was the first one to ever feel him. I didn’t have to have it, so instead my husband was able to.
Because I had a surgery to heal from, instead of jumping back into life pretty quickly, I spent a lot of time relaxing, letting things slide. For a long time. I spent all my time cuddling and playing with my son. We napped together. I had 8 weeks to fully recovery after all.
And, I have a scar. Not a scar representing a caesearean, but a scar representing the birth of my son, the love of my life. I will always have it. It reminds me of him. It reminds me that he used to be tiny and fragile and new. He is of me and I am of him. It will always be there to help me remember the very real physical bond we shared and the spiritual bond we will always share. It IS him. And, when he asks me what it is one day, I want to, with love in my heart, tell him those words. Not words of regret. It is, after all, what brought us together.

Written by Nicole

Fresh Meat – Making Your Own Sausage

I may be an Eco-housewife, but I am no vegetarian. My husband once packed a lunch made up of chicken breast and farmer’s sausage. And some almonds. So suffice it to say he is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.
Last winter Colin made a small batch of sausage on his own, and loved the result. So this year I wanted to get my hands dirty and help with the process. Ok, Colin got his hands dirty and I cranked the sausage press. But he was the expert, so that only makes sense, right?!
In all honesty, making your own homemade sausage isn’t very complicated, it just takes some patience and the right tools. As in any “making it from scratch” venture, I love being able to control what goes in the food we eat, as well as the flavour.
I apologize in advance for some of the in-progress photos – raw meat just isn’t pretty!

We got started by cleaning up the kitchen so everything was sanitary and ready to go. Set yourself up with as much counter space as you can, it will just make life easier.
We got our spice and bread crumb mix from a local meat processing shop that carries great product and is very helpful, CTR Refrigeration. Their spice packets are also nice and clear on the ratios of meat and water so that you aren’t guesstimating. Who wants soggy sausage? They also carry natural and synthetic sausage casings. We got our casings soaking while we prepped everything else for the sausage. Keep in mind a little goes a long way with casing and you don’t want to be wasting it because you soaked the whole bag.

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This time around we used 60/40 mixture of beef and pork, to help increase the fat content and provide a nice texture. As gross as it may seem, the best way is to just get your hands (or your husband’s hands) in there and mix it all up. Colin mixed while I added the spice mix and water a little at a time.

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Then we packed the sausage stuffer with the mix. Our sausage stuffer holds five pounds of sausage; you can buy various different sizes depending on the volume of sausage you want to make. Then Colin threaded the casing onto the stuffing tube. I cranked the stuffer handle to remove any excess air, and then Colin tied a knot on the end of the casing.

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From here it is all pretty simple. I cranked the stuffer, Colin made sure the sausage didn’t fall off the counter, and told me when to slow down. And I kept expecting the casing to explode. Which it never did.
At this point you can do a large batch, or just crank out enough for a small batch of 4-6 sausage links.

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Once you have the length you need, cut off the casing a few inches past the end of the meat. Then decide the length you want each sausage link to be, and gently twist the casing about twice around. Start at one end, and always twist in the same direction. Try and twist twice to keep it from untwisting as you go along.

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This part can be tricky, but just keep at it. If you really hate twisting, the farmer sausage coil is an easy way out, and we chose it for one of our longer sections. These coils are great for throwing on the BBQ and slicing however you want once it is cooked.

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Just to shake things up and keep life interesting, we decided to smoke some of the sausage to give it a different flavour. We threw a few coils and links into the smoker with applewood chips (they aren’t as strong as some wood chips) and kept an eye on it for the next couple of hours. We wanted the smoky flavour but didn’t want to cook it through.
You can see the colour change the sausage goes through even with a short length of time in the smoker.

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From here, seal it up, throw it in the freezer, and enjoy! Who needs Oscar Meyer when you can make your own?

Nothing goes better with homemade farmer sausage than homemade perogies!

Nothing goes better with homemade farmer sausage than homemade perogies!

-This post was written by Aubrey

Ramblings of a Post-Partum Mama

Our happy family of four!

Our happy family of four!

Matt and I are thrilled to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter, Susanna Elisabeth Asha! She arrived early in the morning on Tuesday January 22nd, just  a few hours before I was scheduled to be induced. We were so thankful that this little one arrived before I was induced as I had to be induced with her older sister and labour and delivery with her was very long and very difficult!

Susanna’s birth was very quick-31 hours faster than Abigail’s! It was intense, and we almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time, but at least it was quick! The details of her birth are very fuzzy, but I’ll do my best to tell Susanna’s story. My biggest fear with labour was that Susanna would be OP (When a baby is head-down but facing your abdomen, she’s said to be in the occiput posterior (OP) position)! Abigail was OP and the back labour was HORRIBLE! Monday night (the night before I was to be induced) I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees, trying various yoga positions in the hope that this baby would not be OP. When I went into labour in the middle of the night, I was relieved that this baby seemed to be in the right position! The contractions were intense, but nowhere near as painful as the ones I had with Abigail. We left for the hospital about 3 hours after my labour started because after about 2 hours my contractions were already 4 minutes apart. I didn’t want to go to the hospital yet, but my husband and my mum thought it would be a good idea. It turns out they were right! When we got onto the bridge to get into Kelowna, I felt the baby turn and suddenly felt the urge to push. I have to admit I started panicking, but my ever calm husband didn’t say a word, he only sped up!! During this contraction I felt that old familiar pain in my back! The baby was definitely OP and the contractions were now all in my back! UGH! By the time we got to the hospital I was on my hands and knees in the car trying really hard not to push! Upon entering the hospital, the security guards asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I must’ve said yes, because they went looking for one and came back in what seemed like an eternity-Matt assured me it was only 1 minute later. PS-I don’t get the whole stick a woman who’s in labour into wheelchair thing….when Matt was trying to get me to the labour and delivery ward, I kept asking him to stop the wheelchair so that I could hop off and get on my hands and knees to “deal” with a contraction. By the time we got to the labour ward, I was basically ready to have the baby on the hospital floor, but the nurse took me into a room and somehow managed to get me into a gown and onto the bed. They called my doctor, who came very quickly and I started to push. I should mention that I was getting over the flu at the time, so I was very weak from that.I pushed for two hours, but because she was OP like her sister, she was stuck. Finally, after two hours, she turned! After she turned, she came out two contractions later!  Looking back it was probably good that she turned into an OP position on the bridge or else we would’ve had a baby born on the bridge that night!
I don’t remember much else from that night, I think I went into shock from the labour progressing so quickly, but I do remember Matt being there for me and helping me through each contraction. His claim to fame is that nurses from two different hospitals have told him what a great labour coach he is! I told him that he should quit  forestry and take up being a Doula! (He’s still on the fence about that). I also remember the moment Matt told me that we had another little girl and of course I remember when the doctor put her on my chest for the first time! I didn’t get to hold Abigail right away because of some complications with her birth, so it was so special for me to have my baby put on my chest right after she was born A true miracle!!
I want to end this post with two thoughts:
First, if you’re in labour and your baby is OP, there are a few positions that you can try to turn your baby.
  1. Polar Bear- on your knees with chest on the floor or bed, bottom in the air) for 20-40 minutes, then go to the hands and knees swaying. The polar bear helps baby get “unlocked” from the pelvis and helps allow him to turn.
  2. Standing or kneeling lunges – this widens one side of your pelvis and encourages rotation of the OP fetus. This is what finally encourages Susanna to turn! 
Finally, a few things I am thankful for:
1. My husband (the best doula a girl could ask for)
2. Another beautiful, healthy baby girl
3. A quick labour that didn’t result from an induction!
4. The ability to nurse (I have some friends who have had such a difficult time with this, and both my girls have been great feeders, so I am very thankful for that)
5. The fact that Susanna was born in a hospital and not on the William Bennett bridge!
-This post was written by Andrea