Many bloggers are listing their most popular posts of the previous year and I probably would not have followed suit but a reader asked me to, so here I go. In terms of traffic here are the most popular posts of the past year:
10 New Ways to Cook Quinoa - Over 20,000 people have visited this post and I didn’t write it until late summer. Wow! I hope it has provided Quinoa cooking ideas for lots of people.
Are You Eating the 30 Healthiest Foods? – I listed the healthiest foods selected by a popular magazine to see how many of them I was eating or not and why.
Six Benefits of Eating Locally Grown Foods – Why we should high tail it out of the chain grocery store and into the farmer’s market.
The Dangers of Soy – My horrendous experience with soy. I let my guard down and I started consuming a protein bar that had soy in it. It did devastating things to my health and it is the gift that just keeps on giving unfortunately.
Natural Sunburn Remedies – Tips and ideas for recovering from a sunburn.
Bringing Food Preservation Back To Our Kitchens – The lost art of food preservation.
Tips on Avoiding Food Waste – Most people in affluent countries waste food left and right but we can tame that beast with some creativity and planning.
Eco Friendly & Sustainable Dollhouses – Turning a classic toy and into a green toy.
Greener Tips for Healthy Skin – Reading this post again was a great reminder to break out the magnesium oil again. I need it!
Okabashi Recyclable Shoes and Flip-Flops – A greener shoe option that I reviewed.
Okay, so that is what drew the most readers in. My personal faves would include some of the above but I would also add:
Happy With What You Have – Feng Shui Tips for the Home – I am a big Feng Shui enthusiast.
Creating a Real Foods Kitchen – This was a very recent post but already gaining in popularity.
The Power of Reclaiming Domesticity
Living the Minimalist Lifestyle
Transitioning Kids to REAL Food
Here is to 2012!!
I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with Sara Chana, IBCLC. She is a a New York based, international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), classical homeopath, herbalist, lecturer, author, wife and mother of seven children. She is a wealth of helpful information and advice. Enjoy!
1. What are some of the most prominent breastfeeding myths that you encounter?
It is amazing how many myths seem to circulate among new moms. One of the most common is that moms need to “drain” their breasts. It is true that some women will feel very full, nurse their babies, and then feel “empty” afterwards, but that is not necessarily true for most women. Some women never feel full, and never feel “drained”, yet their babies are satisfied after they have been fed. The truth is that a breast is never really “drained” because when milk is drawn out of a breast the brain receives the message to refill the breast again with milk. Therefore, rather than worrying about feeling empty or drained, a woman should give her baby the amount of milk the baby needs to feel satisfied and to produce six to eight wet diapers within a twenty-four hour period. If this basic guideline is followed, then the healthy mother’s breast and brain will learn how to adjust to the baby’s needs, regardless of the mother’s own sensations.
2. What tips do you think will help women overcome most breastfeeding obstacles they come across?
Some women give birth, plop their baby on the breast, and the mom and baby breastfeed happily for years without any problems. Unfortunately, that is not the typical scenario and most women and babies take a while to learn the art of breastfeeding. There are women who get sore nipples, while others have babies who do not seem satisfied, and some moms get engorged breasts. In general, the remedy to most of these problems is twofold. First, make sure that the baby has a good deep latch onto the breast, and then see to it that the baby is swallowing milk and not just hanging out. If this simple but essential advice does not produce the desired results, the good news is that most breastfeeding problems can be overcome with a competent lactation consultant, patience, and a good sense of humor.
3. Can childbirth affect the breastfeeding experience?
After twenty years of working with mothers and babies I can safely say that the birth experience does have an impact on the breastfeeding experience. Medication used during labor does seem to affect most babies, often making it more difficult for them to coordinate the suck-swallow-breath pattern that is necessary for a baby to master breastfeeding. This is not to say that some women who have fabulous labors and deliveries won’t have babies that don’t nurse well, or in the reverse, that women who have horrible labors and deliveries can have the best nursing babies. However, a woman should know that a baby usually needs to be very alert in order to learn how the breast works, and that both the medications given during labor, as well as the position of the woman during childbirth can impact upon that learning process, making it easier or more difficult for the newborn to breastfeed.
4. Does diet have an effect on breastfeeding?
It is fascinating to know that breast milk stays consistent in its vitamin and mineral content across the world, no matter what a woman eats. This means that if you were to test the breast milk of two moms whose babies are the same age, the vitamin and mineral content of their breast milk will be practically the same, even when the mothers’ diets are completely different. This is true because the body produces breast milk to match the needs of the growing child. Therefore, it is safe to say that it doesn’t really matter what the mother eats because the breast milk will be consistent and healthy according to the developmental needs of the infant. That said, many babies are, nevertheless, affected by what their mothers eat due to individual health issues. Some babies will get blood in their stools if the mother consumes dairy, while others will cry horribly if their mother drinks orange juice. Although each mother-baby dyad is different, as a general rule-of-thumb, it is best for moms to stick to a high protein and vegetable diet, with fruits and whole grains mixed in. (And please try to limit the dairy products. You don’t need to consume milk in order to produce milk.)
5. What advice would you offer to busy moms you have to juggle breastfeeding and an outside job?
Juggling breastfeeding and an outside job is definitely challenging. Some women are advised to rent a hospital-grade pump to leave at their work place, in order to pump while being away from the baby. This may work for some women, but not for most. Although there are women who are fabulous pumpers and can mechanically express ounces of milk while at work, there are others who cannot manage to pump at all, which leaves them majorly depressed. However, it should be known that the success of pumping depends on several factors. One of the factors has to do with the location of the milk producing ducts which are within the breast. Some women’s ducts are so far back into the breast that they are never properly compressed while pumping. Another factor to consider is how well the flange of the pump part fits the particular woman. The majority of flanges available fit only a very small percentage of the population, resulting in only a small number of woman who can properly pump. Finally, one must take into consideration the power of the pump itself. And there’s no way around this one, it’s just that same old story, the more expensive pumps do work better. So, my general advice to women is this: if you pump well, then pump when you are at work, but if you do not pump well, then just give your baby formula while you are at work and don’t stress yourself over it. But, still the most important advice is breastfeed and talk with your precious baby as much as you can when you are not working.
Many thanks to Sara Chana for taking the time to answer some questions!
It is that time of year so I have been posting regularly about greening the upcoming school year. I have been doing this for a couple years so it is habit now but yet even I need reminders and motivation sometimes. Going to Walmart and tossing the cheapest stuff in the cart as fast as you possibly can is certainly tempting when your to-do and your to-buy list is super long. If it were easy all the time then it wouldn’t be called “making an impact” would it? Even green parents can start to run low on steam and that is why I am loving the Green Your School Year challenge from Recyclebank.
Recyclebank is a community I first discovered a year of so ago. It is a place where a community of 2 million members keep track of their goals and successes while keeping it green. This is facilitated by great information and pledges to do just a little more. For this school year they kicked off a challenge to help parents keep the school experience green. In the first phase you walk through a nifty tutorial for shopping for greener school supplies. Right off the bat they recommended carpooling with another parent or family so you are conserving resources just making the trip to your local store. This was a step that escaped my mind for sure. Pledge to carpool and you get your first 10 points in the challenge!
Next up… pledge to buy green, recyclable, or recycled school supplies for another 10 points. As an added bonus they also have a download for you with a checklist of items to check/consider when researching companies and brands that you may purchase from. I love, love, love that they encourage people to research the ethics, certifications, and integrity of the companies and products you want to purchase.
The next screen had two quiz questions.. which I got right. Ding, ding! No doubt this feature is designed to help educate us on what to look for in these products and also make us aware of trends in family spending. They should turn this into a video game. ;) A link follows this page and and it provides a resource for you to recycle qualifying electronics and they offer up to 200 bonus points in return. I saved this info for future use.
Further on there more polls and informative links for keeping school supplies sustainable, including the wardrobe. It was a VERY fun tutorial and I enjoyed participating. I think I got all the available points could, minus the extra credit recycling points but I may end up finding some stuff to recycle and claim some of those too. When the challenge concludes they will be awarding some great prizes to some lucky winners including Bodhi Electric Bicycles (Yowza!), a solar backpack, gift certificates to department stores and grocers, lunch kits, vitamins, etc.
The next phase, which starts in a couple days is all about the first day of school. So after you join up and claim your points for greening the school shopping experience, make sure to check back with Recyclebank for the first day challenge. Good luck!
This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Recyclebank.
The kind folks at Shambhala Publications sent me a book recently that they knew would be right up my alley. Despite the fact that I blog about a more natural family life, getting out in nature, homesteading, etc I do it from the viewpoint of someone who lives in the city. I can see the Columbus city skyline from the top floor of my house. I actually love city living but I I feel it is important to bring in those parts of rural life where we can. This is why we garden, make our own yogurt and kefir, drink out of Ball jars, and lead simple “country” lives whilst living in the city. Heck if we had a fenced yard we’d be raising chickens too. In both major cities I have lived in… Phoenix, Arizona, and now Columbus, Ohio I chose a home based upon its proximity to nature. You can have the best of both worlds.
I want my kids to enjoy nature and feel it is an important part of their lives. We are lucky enough to have access to beautiful and wild metro parks, creeks, ponds, and farmland all around the city. Getting out in nature is not hard if we get in the car and drive just a bit… or walk. The design and sprawl of some cities though might make this hard for other parents which is why I love the ideas in It’s a Jungle Out There!: 52 Nature Adventures for City Kids. It is written by the same gal, Jennifer Ward, that wrote the book I Love Dirt, which we also have in our personal library. It is full of good, useful ideas for helping city kids “connect” with nature. After that, all they need is an adventurous spirit and the will to get outdoors.
The book has a retro look and feel which I liked right off the bat. The illustrations (by Susie Ghahremani) remind me of something you see in Peter Rabbit. The adorable pictures just made it that more fun to read but the real gem is the content. It is organized by season, which I love. In the spring section is has ideas for creating a wild space for children, getting familiar with worms and seeds, playing nature observation games, and studying birds. In summer there are activities for sidewalk fun, bug watching at night, getting messy in ponds and puddles, and finding animal nests in the city. In Fall there were more crafty ideas mixed in among the games and activities. In winter there is lots of observation going on as well as snow play activities.
I had fun reading through it myself while the kids were outside playing and I know that we do not have much trouble finding fun nature activities but if we do this is a great resource. This book would serve very well as part of a larger homeschool curriculum too and perhaps it will since we will be donating our copy to the local library system.
It can be educational and just plain fun as you take full advantage of whatever green space your city offers. Nature can be found among the tall buildings, traffic, and general busyness of the city. All it takes is the will and a little creativity.
How do you get your city kids outside?