Friday, September 30, 2011

Pinterest to Real Life: Book Pumpkins

I seem to be on a crafting kick lately. I don't know if it's the fall season that's inspiring, or if it's the home renovation winding down that makes me want to add a little extra seasonal flair to the house, or if it's being a mom that pushes me to make the seasons/holidays fun for my little family. Whatever it is, I'm having fun! My second installation of Pinterest to Real Life features book pumpkins from Creations By Kara! Here is Kara's pumpkin:
And here are mine:

 Mine are a little more boxy and not quite as bright orange, but very similar. Thanks, Kara, for the great craft idea! This is a fantastic way to "upcycle" those horrible parenting books that tell you to let your babies cry until they vomit or develop learned helplessness. (I'm sort of kidding, but not really.)

A side note on photography. I am trying to become a better photographer, and I've really, really learned that when you use the manual setting, it is so freakin' important to get lots and lots of light. I've always heard photographers talk about how important light is, and I was always like "What's the big deal with this?!" Well, now I get it. When you don't have good light, you have to use a higher ISO, and that makes the pictures look grainy, which I'm not a fan of. You also need to use a slower shutter speed, which can make the pictures blurry. I know this is, like, super basic knowledge for anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of photography, but I'm new at this! I also bought this ebook, Say No To Auto that is fantastic for newbies like me!

Check out my post at the Pinterest to Real Life Link Party!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Birth Story at Evolutionary Parenting

My birth story is featured being on the Evolutionary Parenting blog! It is right above David Beckham. ;) Head over there to check it. I really love that blog. It has lots of great information about parenting in a peaceful way and provides information to help parents make informed decisions about how to raise their little ones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Diaper Insert Giveaway

In honor of the opening of my CBM Etsy shop, I would like to give away a cloth diaper insert to one lucky reader! The winner will get to choose the size and pattern of his/her choice. Even if you don't have a baby, you can still enter, as these make great shower gifts! Each person can get up to three entries. Please leave a comment on this post for each entry (up to 3 comments per person). Please include your email address so that I can identify you if you're the winner.
1) Check out the CBM Etsy shop and leave me a comment here telling me which pattern you would choose if you are the winner (required).
2) Follow the Cotton Bottom Mama blog (optional)
3) "Favorite" the Cotton Bottom Mama shop on Etsy (optional)
I will draw a winner using a random number generator on Monday, October 10th. You'll have to check back here to see if you won. Good luck!

Speech & Language Corner: First Words

I got my masters degree in speech-language pathology in 2008 and worked as a school speech-language pathologist (aka speech therapist) in the public schools before I had Penny. I thought I'd start a little blog segment called Speech & Language Corner where I can pass on some experience/knowledge that I gained as a speech therapist. Today's lesson is about first words. When taking case histories, I've had lots of parents tell me that their kids' first words were mama and dada around 6-8 months of age. Guess what. That's babbling! In order for an utterance to "count" as a word, it must meet the following criteria:
  1. be recognizable as the adult form (i.e. /ba/ for ball is recognizable, but /ma/ for ball is not recognizable.
  2. be consistent (i.e. always uses the same utterance to refer to that object.)
  3. demonstrate comprehension/connection between the word and the object (not just happens to babble /mama/ when mom is around)
Usually first words emerge around a year.
First words are most likely to contain 1 open syllable (i.e. consonant + vowel: ma, da, ba, etc.) or a reduplicated syllable (mama, dada, baba, etc.)
Consonants involved in first words are usually nasals or plosives and sounds that are made towards the front of the mouth, so top candidates are /m/, /p/, /b/, /n/, /d/, /t/. You are not likely to hear sounds like "sh", "th", /l/, or /s/.
First words are usually tied to favorite/meaningful people/objects (primary caregivers, pets, favorite toys, favorite foods)

Any SLPs want to chime in?
If you have a speech & language question or topic you'd like me to cover, please leave a comment or email me, as I'm happy to take suggestions!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Wreath

Simple Organic is a blog I follow that features a unit called "From Pinterest to Real Life". I am loving Pinterest these days and getting very inspired by the fall season and autumnal decor. I found this fall wreath on Pinterest (linked from A Bird and a Bean):

and was inspired to jazz up my front door. Here's my version:


I used felt instead of burlap and pearls instead of buttons, but generally looks pretty similar. What are you doing to get in the fall spirit?

Check out my post at the Pinterest to Real Life Link Party!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Introducing...

The Cotton Bottom Mama Etsy Shop!!!

I am selling cloth diaper inserts that work with a variety of cloth diapers.
They fit gDiapers.

They can be used in place of a padfolded prefold in any diaper cover.

They can also be used as a booster in pockets, all-in-ones, all-in-twos, fitteds, etc., etc.

You may recall that I made some of these for Penny back in April: Getting Crafty
I love them so much that I thought others might want to buy some. I tweaked the original design a bit and have whipped some up for sale.

They are organic hemp with suedecloth upper layer to wick away moisture and cute cotton print bottom layer to add whimsey and fun to your diaper changes. I have two sizes, small and large. Size small fits small gDiapers and is recommended with size x-small and small diaper covers. Small is also the recommended size if you are using these as a booster in pocket diapers. Size large fits medium & large gDiapers and is recommended with size medium and large diaper covers. Large can also be used as a booster for extra large pocket diapers or trainers.

Size small is available in traffic, chirp, and blue treehugger.

Size large is available in pilot and purple treehugger.

During the month of September, I am offering a promotion where you can get 1 insert free if you buy 5. Hurry! Here is the link for my shop:
Cotton Bottom Mama on Etsy

Happy shopping!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Some Quick Updates

A few quick updates:
1. We finally got a date night! Here I am in the HOT Betsey Johnson dress I got in Kansas City a few weeks ago. Yes, we went out at 5:30. Yes, we were home by 7:30 so that I could nurse Penny to bed. Yes, we drank a bottle of wine between the two of us. Yes, it was awesome.

2. Our kitchen renovations are well underway. We have one wall of cabinets in, the new fridge/freezer in, a little sliver of the new floor in, and the new paint color in. The old stove is still there, and no backsplash.



3. Penny has her first ear infection. Super sad. Although, you'd never know it b/c she's still her usually happy, chatty little self. Corn on the cob is her new favorite food.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Gluten Story: gluten, fertility, and hypothyroidism

I am often asked when/why I decided to go gluten-free. It's a somewhat personal subject for me, as it relates to my trying-to-conceive journey, so I wasn't sure whether to post about it. However, I believe in sharing information and that open communication about difficult subjects brings people together and can potentially lead to an easier path for others, so this is the spirit in which I am sharing. If it's TMI for you, just go ahead and skip this post.

After 6 months being BC-free (after several years on hormonal BC), my menstrual cycles had not regulated. I was having 40-60 day cycles, which is not good for trying to conceive. I spoke with my then-OB/GYN, who had me come in for an appointment and did blood work. She hastily diagnosed me with PCOS (which later was determined to be moronic by two other medical professionals) and told me that I needed fertility meds. She insisted that meds were the only way I was going to get pregnant and the only way to regulate my cycles. I found this hard to believe, given the sensitivity of the menstrual cycle, and decided to seek a second opinion. My instinct was that most mainstream docs would jump on the medication bandwagon given the current state of our health care system, so I opted to seek the opinion of a naturopathic doctor.

My ND spent 90 minutes with me at my first appointment. She did a thorough case history and really listened to me. She examined the bloodwork I had had done and ordered more of her own. She discovered that I had an underactive thyroid, specifically Hashimoto's hypothyroid. My mother and grandmother both have hypothyroidism, so I'm not sure why the OB missed the mark on this, but my ND prescribed a combination of homeopathics, glandulars, natural remedies, and natural thyroid supplements (porcine thyroid). In addition, she recommended that I go gluten-free and cut out sugar and caffeine. My T3, T4, and TSH numbers showed that I had an under-active thyroid, but it was important to also test for thyroid antibodies. The presence of antibodies in my blood was what led her to diagnose the specific type of hypothyroidism, as being an autoimmune type. In essence, my body sees my thyroid as an invader and has produced antibodies to attack it, which causes it to under-perform. She claimed that going gluten-free is an important component to any treatment plan for underactive thyroid, but it is particularly important for the autoimmune type. She also recommends going gluten-free if you are planning to get pregnant (something about being an anti-inflammatory diet). So basically, cutting out gluten was important for me and my treatment goals on multiple fronts.

It took a few months to get the bloodwork completed and get my treatment plan worked out, but I was able to conceive naturally after about 4-5 months in the care of my ND, and about 3 months after regulating my cycles. Here is a timeline:
Feb 2009 cease BC
Sept 2009 visit to OB
Oct 2009 OB told me to go on meds and said I couldn't conceive naturally
Nov 2009 1st visit to ND, started supplements/homeopathics/etc, immediately had 1 normal-length cycle
Dec 2009 1 long cycle
Jan 1, 2010 Gluten-free
Jan 2010 cycles regulated
Feb 2010 started porcine thyroid, cut out caffeine & refined sugar
Mar 2010 started Circle + Bloom
Apr 2010 conceived
Fourteen months in all, which isn't terribly long in the large scheme of things, but longer than I had wanted/expected.

I did add sugar back in shortly after I conceived (I unfortunately have such a sweet tooth!) and I started drinking small amounts of caffeine about 2 months after I gave birth. I was a little bit concerned about some of the alternative sweeteners (i.e. stevia, zsweet, etc. I'm not talking about things like nutra sweet, aspartame and splenda–I have never really consumed those) during pregnancy, so I figured I would just go ahead and eat sugar and not worry about it. I am toying with the idea of cutting out sugar again now, or at least limiting it.

When I had my antibodies checked in summer 2010, they were within the normal range, which means that my body had responded so well to the natural treatments I was under that I seemed to be almost healed. I still have Hashimoto's hypothyroid, but I hope at some point (i.e. when I'm finished having babies and breastfeeding) to manage it with diet and supplements and not have to take the porcine thyroid.

Going off gluten seemed like a daunting and monumental change when I was first faced with it. All I could do was think about all of the foods I wouldn't be able to eat. However, looking back now, I really don't feel deprived at all, and I feel so much better in so many ways. I have found excellent substitutes for everything I could possibly want with the exception of Guinness. Here are some of the other positive outcomes besides sweet Penelope!
  • I used to have terrible stomachaches and diarrhea all the time. It didn't matter what I ate–it seemed like I felt sick after every meal. Since going off of gluten (and eating natural/whole foods, which is a whole 'nother post!), I have had virtually NONE of these problems. This was an experience where I didn't realize how sick I was until I was healed. I think when you live in this state, you just think it's normal, but I was not living my best life, and only now do I realize how unhealthy I was.
  • I have more energy.
  • I used to have what I thought were allergies (itchy throat), but I now think was related to gluten, as this has gone away.
  • I used to get colds every couple months, and I have only been sick once since going GF (that was right after returning from a 2-week trip abroad while pregnant...jet lag?). This is particularly astonishing, as the immune system is depressed during pregnancy and I was working with school kids.
  • My hair and nails are stronger, healthier, and they grow faster. My hair is also shinier.
  • I have not had a single skin breakout since going GF, and I do nothing except wash it with soap and moisturize.
  • My legs used to itch all the time, especially after shaving/showering, but this has gone away.
If you're thinking about going GF, a lot of people will say to try it for a week. My advice is to eat lots and lots of gluten for a week first and see how crappy you feel. THEN, try going GF. It can take up to 3 months to clear it from your system, so I recommend trying it for 3-4 months if you're going to go for it. But there's no harm in starting with a week. Honestly, if you cook at home and eat natural, whole foods, it's really, really easy to cut out gluten. You'll basically just have to buy an alternative flour for cooking/baking and you'll need to change to GF bread and maybe a handful of other things (soy sauce, beer, etc). 

One other take away message relates to the BC pill. I think there is a lot about the pill that is unknown, and I also think it's really hard to predict whether it will take a long time for your cycles to come back or not. Some people have no trouble bouncing back, and it takes a long time for others. If you're thinking about TTCing, I recommend going off of the pill for a full year beforehand and using a non-hormonal BC. It is very stressful when you want to become pregnant and have trouble, and getting your body ready well beforehand can do a lot to ease that difficulty. Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Toni Wechsler) is a great resource for natural birth control methods, which can be used in conjunction with barrier contraceptives to prevent pregnancy without interfering with your body or compromising your fertility. I think that book should be required reading for every woman.

I'm willing to field questions on this topic, so ask away!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boy-to-girl swim shirt

Penny outgrew the swim shirt that she got at the beginning of the summer. I was browsing a sale and saw swim shirts only in the boys section. I picked up this one:

...and jazzed it up a little for little Miss Penelope:


Gotta love a girlie skull!

Missouri Peaches

Nana & Papa brought us a whole bunch of delicious Missouri peaches. Peaches are my absolute favorite, and it seems that I have passed this trait along to my daughter!
I missed the shot a couple seconds before when her fingers were clawing into the peach flesh. Seriously, don't get between this child and her peaches. We also made a peach crisp (actually, I'm lying. We made 3.). I've decided that it is way easier to make crisp gluten free than pie, and I actually prefer crisp anyway. Here is a super easy GF peach crisp recipe:
Cut peaches and place in a baking dish.
Mix softened 1/3c. butter, 1/2c. oats, 1/2c. GF flour blend (doesn't really matter what kind), 1/3c. brown sugar (am thinking of trying it with a little agave and/or molasses instead to make it sugar-free), 1 tsp cinnamon, a few sprinkles of nutmeg and spread over the peaches. Crisp is very forgiving, so you can sort of add whatever you want. Bake at 375 for 30 mins.

It is delicious as is, or over ice cream, or with a splash of heavy cream, or even over plain yogurt for breakfast, or over plain frozen yogurt (Trader Joe's has a great one). Yum!

Penny continues to be adventurous with foods. Here is her latest delicacy:
Corn on the cob