Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Green Baby Series: Bath and Body

If you missed the first post, be sure to check it out here! This week I'm sharing about diaper rash creams, lotions, body wash and sunscreen.

Diaper Rash
If you look up petrolatum on EWG, it has a moderate health concern, and this is the active ingredient in petroleum jelly, Aquaphor, A+D, as well as many other creams. Desitin maximum strength and rapid relief both received a 5/10 score, meaning a moderate health concern, due to BHA in the max strength, and propylparabens in the rapid relief. Parabens can potentially disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking estrogen, and are one of the chemicals that I have been really carefully to eliminate out of my family's life.

If you were going to choose one of the creams mentioned above, I would choose petroleum jelly, aquaphor, or A+D original. However, there are many natural alternatives out there. Some of our favorites are Babyganics Healing Groovy petroleum alternative, and Boudreaux's Buttpaste, All Natural.

Remember, you can’t trust everything that claims to be natural. For example, I purchased Burt's Bees diaper ointment and later found out that it contains retinyl acetate, which is a known human reproductive toxicant. I really despise companies that try to mislead their companies with labels such as 'l00% natural' and still place toxins in their products.

I know natural diaper creams (like most natural products) can be pricey, but I have an even better alternative for you: coconut oil! Seriously, this stuff competes with the best of them. I started using it when my son had a bad diaper rash that turned into a yeast infection. Nystatin still hadn't cleared everything after almost two weeks, so I decided to layer it with coconut oil, and we saw improvement right away. Coconut oil helps with yeast because of the antifungal properties. Now it’s my go-to when I start to see redness. If the rash needs a little more protection, I do a layer of coconut oil followed with a layer of Babyganics ‘healing groovy petroleum alternative.’ Another tried and true ‘natural’ treatment for diaper rash is naked time! A little airing-out time goes a long way! For stubborn rashes that are continuously irritated by dirty diapers, I’ve used baking soda in a warm bath (we used to use a tummy tub, but when we transitioned to the big tub I would do the baking soda in just a few inches of water) followed with around 30 minutes diaper free play time, followed by the coconut oil/cream method I listed above.

We live in San Diego, and spend a lot of time outdoors year-round, so skin protection is a must. For myself and my husband, I’ve relied on Coppertone Sport SPF 50. It does what it says it supposed to- prevent sunburns- but with an EWG rating of 7, who knows what other damage it is doing to my body. The first sunscreen I purchased for Caden was Babyganics Cover-Up Baby Sunscreen SPF 50, and the whole family ended up using it. I didn’t have any problems rubbing it in for Caden or myself, but my husband would groan every time I got it out because it would stick to his hair and leave his skin white. We also never got burned or even tanned while wearing it. Although EWG rates it a 2, I won’t be purchasing it again because there are better, more natural, choices on the market. After doing some research recently, I ordered ThinkBabySunscreen SPF 50+ to replace our last bottle of sunscreen. Sadly, I can’t review it yet because it is still in the mail! Safemama has a great list of natural sunscreens.

 I think it’s a safe bet to say that almost every mom receives Johnson’s baby lotion as a baby shower gift. I think it’s also a safe bet to say that most moms don’t know that is has propylparabens in it.

This is another example of me reaching for BabyGanics before doing any research. Soothing Daily Lotion, Cucumber Aloe, seems like it is a good option, but it is rated a 5 by EWG because of fragrance. This is the same rating as Johnson’s baby lotion, which contains parabens, so I still would choose BabyGanics if I had to choose between the two. (Side note- EWG does have a lot of great information, but some ratings can be misleading. It is a great starting point, but not the end-all be-all in my book.)

Our bottle of BabyGanics lotion is still sitting on the shelf ¾’s of the way full. What do we use? Coconut oil! It’s the magic cream that works for anything and everything. Seriously, in our house, the term, “try coconut oil” has been said way too many times! I even use it on both mine and Caden’s faces, and it dries very quickly without being oily.

Johnson’s baby shampoo, just like the lotion, is probably a U.S. household staple. EWG gives the shampoo a 5, due to fragrance and QUATERNIUM-15, which is a formaldehyde releaser. However, I’m not sure if new bottles still contain this toxin, since Johnson’s was supposed to phase it out by 2013. We use Burt’s Bee’s fragrance free shampoo & wash and haven’t had any problems. Just a warning- a lot of natural baby products have shea butter in them, and from our experience, it burns your eyes. So stick to shea butter in lotions, not body wash/shampoo.

If you get anything out of this post, I hope it makes you run out and buy a tub of organic virgin coconut oil! Pretty soon you will be calling it the magic cream also! I’ll see you next week for all about pacifiers and teething remedies!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I am a real military wife

Today I'm linking up with Samantha to share with you what a real military wife looks like.

Mal Smiles
Who I am- My name is Ashley. I am a 23 year old stay at home mom to my 18 month old little man and currently finishing up my degree online. My husband, Chris, is an OS2 in the Navy and recently reenlisted for the next four years as a recruiter.

I do fit a few of the military wife stereotypes
-I got married to Chris at 19 in a Chicago courthouse. We knew from the beginning that we got married when we did so that I would be on his orders, but that wasn't the reason for getting married. Being aware of that fact made our decision even stronger.
-I had a child at 21, but it was something that my husband and I were hoping and praying for. After being diagnosed with endometriosis, all of our future plans were rewritten to (hopefully) include a child in our young family.
-I am a stay at home mom, but I don't sit on my ass all day while my husband works his off. My husband and I made the decision to have a child, and we made the decision that I would stay home and give our child some consistency in this inconsistent life.
November 2011
My military story- Chris and I got married during my freshman year of college and while he was in a-school in Great Lakes, Illinois. Chris got his orders to San Diego, and during his leave we looked at apartments and made plans for me to move a couple weeks after he got settled in. That all changed when Chris called me the night he got to his ship to tell me that the next day they were leaving for a week, and would only be back for a few days before a 2-month long underway. I definitely got thrown right in to the navy life!
While Chris was underway, I packed all of our belongings into a uhaul with my car hitched to the back and drove from Arizona to California to our new apartment. We spent the next year soaking up newlywed life in sunny San Diego without a single underway while the ship was 'in the yards' for repairs.
When the ship came out of the yards, underways and workups started immediately, and I was once again reminded what it was like to be a military wife. During this time, I was working full time as a supervisor at a deli and going to school online. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2010, and with a deployment a year away, we started trying for a baby. With all of the stress surrounding us, we went through one negative test after another. We had already made plans for me to move back home with my mom in the hopes of me being pregnant, so I left my job and packed up my stuff even though we hadn't gotten a positive test. We were both surprised when Chris called on the second Friday he was gone to hear the results of one more positive pregnancy test.
Chris was gone for almost my entire pregnancy, besides two weeks in between underways, and it was a really difficult experience. He came home when I was 7 months pregnant, and even though it is always a learning experience to transition back to being at home after a deployment, the pregnancy made it even harder. The ship once again went into the yards, and Chris has been home for the first year and a half of our son's life.
We are getting ready to start work ups and underways before a deployment again. After a year and a half of having my husband home, I'm not ready for him to leave again.
Our decision to reenlist was not made lightly- there are so many positives and negatives that come with military life. I know that my husband will excel at being a recruiter, and I know that I will look back and be happy that we took our family on this adventure. There is a sense of pride in being a military wife that I will always have.

November 2012- Yes there is a baby in all that camo!
One thing I wish people knew about being a military wife- I don't wish for people to know how hard it is to be a military wife. I don't want them to experience the lack of control we have. I don't want them to feel the pain of a tearful goodbye at 3 in the morning. I don't want them to worry about feeling like a single parent for months a time. I don't want them to worry about their husband when communication has been down for days. I don't want them to experience the transition from a whole family, to just a part of a family, and back again.
But I do wish for people to know what it's like to be a proud military spouse. I want them to experience a homecoming after being separated for months. I want them to feel the pride in seeing their husband in uniform. I want them to know what it is like to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to know that their family is serving their country.

March 2010- Basic Graduation

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baby Green Series: Diapering

Happy Earth Day! Today I'm launching a weekly series about how to raise a green baby!

My decision to 'go green' began a few years ago with a desire to help the environment, but in the past two and half years, it has grown into a more personal reason. After discovering research that showed a link between checmicals and endometriosis, a disease that brought so much pain into my life, I decided to dig deeper. Even more importantly, I wanted to make sure that I kept my children far away from as many toxins as I could. I have learned so much in this past three years, and while I haven't made the right choice every time, I feel confident in my efforts. Since I know how daunting of a task it can be to do research on green choices, I've decided to share what I have learned to hopefully save you a couple hours and a few dollars!

The first post is all about diapers and wipes because of the sheer number of we go through in a child's first few years of life!

There are so many options when it comes to diapers, and everyone has a different opinion. Cloth vs disposable? Name brand vs store brand? Sure disposable diapers are easier and more convenient than cloth diapers, but they are bad for the environment (~500 years to decompose!) and often contain synthetic ingredients such as chlorine that aren't good for a baby's sensitive skin.

The green solution- Obviously, I'm going to say cloth diapers, but I know that is not an option for everyone. If cost is the reason, Alva Baby pocket diapers are only around $6. I have one (free shipping, so you can actually purchase one to see if you like them or not), and it keeps up with some of the other more expensive diapers I have. Aside from cost, some people are afraid that it is just plain gross (like my husband). It really isn't as bad as you think. When we are using cloth diapers, I change my son's diapers every two hours instead of three, and throw the liner (and cover if using pocket diapers) into a wet bag that lines a trash can. On the second day, I dump everything into the washer, run a rinse cycle, fill with either towels or clothes and detergent, wash on hot, and rinse the diapers again. Since we live in an apartment, I can't put my inserts out to dry in the sun, so I throw them in the dryer with everything else and hang the covers in the bathroom (I learned not to put them in the dryer after discovering one was starting to peel). Plus, I use bamboo flushable liners so I don't have to deal with rinsing poop.

 If start up cost isn't an issue, Bumgenious diapers get awesome reviews and usually last through many kids! I've ordered my cloth diapers (besides Alva Baby) from The Diaper Junction because they have competitive prices and an awesome reward system.
If you want to cloth diapers but are too squeamish about it, gDiapers might be a good option- reusable diaper covers with flushable inserts.

As far as disposable diapers go, there are some green-baby friendly options out there, and Baby Gear Lab's 'Battle for the Best Disposable Diapers' has a lot of great info. Bambo Nature and Earth's Best are recommended, thanks to their environmental-friendly qualities and lack of chemicals. However, these diapers aren't an option for everyone due to their high price points ($.30- $.45 per diaper). Up & Up (Target Brand) received the Best Value award because of their low price and high performance, plus they are chlorine-free and use wood-pulp fluff for absorption instead of synthetic materials.

We use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers in our house. Since we are on a somewhat limited budget for diapers, I have a mix of cloth diapers that were on the lower price range (Alva baby, Blueberry, Fuzzibunz). For nighttime, when we are out and about, and when Daddy changes diapers, we use Target disposables. While I would love to use Earth's Best diapers, we purchase the Target diapers because they have many green features for a much lower price point. Especially when they are on sale, plus buy two get a $10 gift card, plus on cartwheel, plus a printed coupon!

Have you ever flipped over the back of a package of wipes and read the ingredient list? A majority of the ingredients are things you can't even pronounce i.e. chemicals. This chart provides a great overview of the chemicals found in different brands of wipes, although it may not be up to date since it was created in 2008. I purchased Target wipes for the longest time, assuming they were of the same quality as their diapers, until I realized they contained chemicals such as Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, which is more concerning when used as an aerosol but still something I do not want on my son's skin.

The green solution- Instead of purchasing wipes that contains chemicals and add to our landfills, why not make your own all natural and reusable wipes? You could make your own solution, but from what I've read, it is really easy to mess up the proportions and irritate your baby's sensitive bottom. Fortunately, there are drops you can buy, such as Knickernappies and Kissaluvs (don't you love those names) that are free of chemicals. You just mix with warm water and pour over your wipes or use in a spray bottle. They are also cost efficient- you spend about $15 for 50 cups of solution. For the actual wipes, you can purchase cloth wipes, or you can use baby washcloths or even make your own with soft (possibly organic!) fabric squares. There are times when you need disposable wipes, and in that case, you have to read the labels some more. Like I mentioned earlier, Safe Mama has a pretty detailed list of wipes, including green options. I would recommend both Babyganics and Earth's Best, but Earth's Best is definitely the best option. I've actually found that the 'green' wipes are thicker and more durable than the name brand wipes!

I hope you come back next week for bath and body products!

Linking up for Baby Talk.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April Faves

I'm a chronic bookmark-er. Anything that takes longer than 2 minutes to read or could possibly be useful down the road, I hit 'Add to favorites.' So in an effort to clear out my half a mile long favorites list, and possibly share something you might find interesting, I'm going to transfer some of them here!

1. I don't really look at the clouds anymore now that I am an adult, but if I saw this in the sky, it would probably make my day.

2. Raven's beauty tricks. I've probably bookmarked every beauty post she has done in the past, and this is the most recent.

3. I've really been wanting to find the perfect t-shirt for those days when I just don't want to invest the time in getting ready. I really can't think of a better Tee than one with a smart saying on it.

4.What else screams effortless to go with a comfy graphic tee? A side braid. Although I don't know why braids look 'effortless' when they take me forever to get the damn thing right.

Have a good weekend and happy easter!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sound the (sick) Alarm

This is Caden's medicine schedule for the next week. Its a mix of an albuterol inhaler and liquid steroids to treat 'wheezing.'

It started Friday morning at 2 am with a trip to the emergency room when Caden woke up out of the blue wheezing and having difficulty breathing (stridor). The doctor diagnosed him with croup, and because of it's severity and suddenness, they gave him both liquid steroids and an epinephrine breathing treatment to open his airways again. At our follow up appointment three days later, a nurse practitioner diagnosed him with a viral infection and told us to let it run it's course. Thursday morning, something didn't seem right, so we took Caden back in, this time to see his primary care doctor. Caden had two nasal tests done, but they came back negative for both RSV and influenza A and B. A chest xray showed that he is having difficulty getting air out, so the doctor prescribed him an albuterol inhaler and told us to come back on Sunday. At that appointment, the doctor told us that Caden's wheezing hadn't cleared as much as he had hoped for, so he added a 5 day prescription of liquid steroids. Our next appointment is Friday, and I'm praying for both improvement and answers.

The past two weeks have really been a struggle for me as a mom, between being too afraid to fall asleep, to trying as hard as I can to find something my suddenly super picky son will eat, to catching Caden's cold, to struggling with the idea of filling my son with meds, to trying to remind myself that these constant tantrums are just because he doesn't feel good, to trying to stay strong and positive about the outcome.

My alarm is reminding me it's time for the inhaler again..

Linking up at The Not Quite Military Wife

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Goals

1. Finish sewing two sheets. One is almost done, so this shouldn't be too hard to finish.
2. Post once a week to the blog. I've been doing pretty good so far this year. Hopefully I can get all my posts planned this week so I don't get behind when my next class starts.
3. Clean out freezer. We just did this a month or two ago but it is already chaos! I know I have a ton of meat in there.. Speaking of which, I better pull some out for tonight!
4. Back-up my computer to my USB. My computer has been warning me that it's storage is low, and I would be devastated if if my computer crashed, and I lost all my pictures.
5. Plan the basics of our move. We have six months, but I don't want to wait until last minute. We have to decide whether we are going to do the move ourselves or let the navy move us. Plus we have to figure out what we are going to do during Chris's 30 days of leave and what Caden and I are going to do for the 5 weeks that Chris is in school.
6. Schedule Family Pictures.

My March goals didn't go so well:
1. List items on Etsy shop.  I didn't even touch any of my sewing projects this month.
2. Stay on top of school work so I can enjoy visits from family and friends. I did have to take some time to do homework one of the day's they were here, but it wasn't too bad.
3. Make Jack a vet appointment. And he slides through another month!
4. File taxes. Done, done, and done.
5. Schedule family pictures. We didn't schedule them, but we did pick out the location.
I'm really not surprised I didn't get much done last month. I had family visit, got sick twice, dealt with pelvic pain most of the month, and Caden had croup the last weekend. Hopefully this month things will turn around! Things are already off to a good start- I went to log into class on Monday and found out I have a surprise week off! Hopefully I can get most of my to-do list done this week!

Monthly Goals