Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Motherhood Musings: Guest Post!

Today on our blog, we have a new guest, Sara Marchessault, sharing her thoughts on the transformation of becoming a mother and some of her journey through self discovery. Sara is a life coach and helps individuals find joy in their lives through her business Joyful By Design

Thanks Sara for your insight!

Motherhood Musings
By Sara J. Marchessault

If you’ve ever welcomed a new person into the world, which of the following rings true for your?

Becoming a Mommy = a miracle, a time of wonder and change, joy and expectation.

Becoming a Mommy = a miracle, a time of fear and anxiety, heartburn and nausea.

The one that sounds closest to what you’ve experience likely depends on the kind of day you’ve had before you read these lines! Or you can relate with a little bit of both, right?

Any way you slice it, becoming a mother is one of the most challenging rites of passage we face as women. I don’t think it makes any difference whether you carry your children or adopt, when it’s time to take on the mantle of motherhood, things happen to us, both expected and unexpected.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way here: the expected isn’t by any means easy, but it is, well, expected! The books tell us about setting up the room, washing the clothes, planning the feedings, how often we bath the baby, suggestions for daily schedules, etc. We can all find resources for those aspects of motherhood. Even if you never read a book or an article, you likely have people in your life that are available for you to talk to about your daily routine challenges. These are the conversations that come naturally to new mothers and also the things that the people in your life will inquire about. “Are you sleeping?” becomes a common question for new parents to be asked.

Not so common topics of open discussion are the changes that occur at a deeper, personal level. Becoming a mother is the adoption of a new role. Similar to getting married and taking on the role of “wife” or “partner,” when we become mothers we learn things about ourselves that we didn’t know before.  I think the journey and the learning is different for everyone, but I believe it happens for everyone. My own experience included reexamining my ideas about mortality, finding new ways to celebrate life, and turning into my mother (gulp)!

What came before this? What comes after this? When my first child was born I seriously slowed down for the perhaps the first time in my adult life. Wait a minute, what? Don’t babies keep you up all night and require 110% of your attention all the time? Not if you follow the advice in all those books and articles that you read. I worked VERY HARD to get my daughter on a schedule, mostly because I worked part time from home and needed designated chunks of the day that I could be productive.

What I quickly noticed was that some of the tasks I had to do with the baby allowed me to let my mind wander. Nursing was the biggest opportunity for this to happen. For morning nursing I would often read, but during the afternoon and nighttime feedings my mind would wander to places I wasn’t used to it going.

For most of my life I’ve believed that some part of me existed before this life, I’m here now, and I’ll move back to this space when it’s time to move on from this body. With my new role of motherhood, I found myself thinking a lot more about what happens in the before and after times. Where had my daughter just come from? Where will I go when it’s time to leave her? What will she do without me? What if I have to leave before she’s ready for me too?

I started asking other moms if they thought about these things and the responses I received were a resounding, “Yes!” One good friend with a son on the autism spectrum said she thinks about it all the time: “Who will take care of him if something happens to me?”

I told you the changes can be deep and personal, right?

As I processed these big questions, I realized that I was really getting to know myself in a new way. I was processing my own feelings about life and death and accepting with a newfound level of maturity that this life experience will not last forever. Around Ayla’s first birthday, I had made my peace with this and stopped panicking about it. Coincidence that I also stopped nursing around that time? Probably not, at least from a hormonal point of view.

Oh and one more thing; for some reason I am having to go through all this again with baby number two.

Here comes baby – there go my old habits. As a mother I think we become more physically grounded. We are focused on the need for food, clean bottoms, sleep, etc. The things that we used to do on a regular basis, maybe things that helped us to celebrate life, are sort of pushed to the outskirts of our everyday routine. I used be able to say “I’m a runner.” Now I can say “I used to run…then I had kids.”  Journal writing, walking in the woods, listening to beautiful music for hours, getting lost in a good story, all of the things I used to do that were examples of life celebrations changed. I needed new things to celebrate.

I didn’t have to look far. I had an amazing baby girl, and now that I’ve added a bouncing baby boy to the mix, I have double the fun! And I am grateful for my healthy, beautiful children. They have changed my life so that instead of a relaxing evening with my husband, a bottle of wine, and Norah Jones crooning in the background we now prepare healthy meals for the family, wash between fingers and toes, plan for naked time for the baby, and talk about whether or not our daughter pooped in the potty. The wine is still there, in smaller quantities and typically after 8pm.

We celebrate our time as a family. We pick and choose the pieces of our old life that we aren’t willing to give up and work as a team to make sure we are each getting enough of what we need to feel human. If this means my husband heads to the golf course once or twice a month and I plop down at Panera to write or work on a fun project, that’s what we do for each other. We give the gift of time.

Let’s not forget that time together is just as important. My time alone with my spouse has decreased with the arrival of the kids, no ifs ands or buts about it. I try to remind myself that ten years from now, when they kids can use the bathroom, make their own lunches, and set their own alarm clocks on their own, I still want to know who is sleeping next to me. Our kids came to us and will be here for a time, then one day they will leave and live their own life. My partner is the mate I’ve chosen presumable for life; I have to remember to live my life with my partner, not in a parallel relationship that never crosses paths. In honest reflection, I took for granted the time I had with him before the kids arrived, and perhaps that was for the best. We had fun and didn’t worry about much. I’ve since learned to be grateful for all that time we spent just the two of us, and look forward to having it again some day.

Who is that in the mirror? Remember when you were a kid and your mother was absolutely the most mortifying, embarrassing excuse for a human being on the face of the Earth? I remember my mother striding through the airport to pick up her sister for a visit to Tallahassee. My mother was brandishing an umbrella and calling out loudly “My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die.”

Please put a paper bag over my head so people will not know that I am with her. The hallway was not wide or long enough to get away. The best part of this story is that when we met my Aunt at the gate (pre 9/11), she walked off the plane dressed as Harry Potter. My teenage brain wondered if my teenage body would fit underneath one of those teeny tiny airport chairs.

Much less showy but potentially just as embarrassing for a kid is when your Mom brags about how great you are to your friend’s parents, or worse, directly to your friends. I will never be like that, right?

Wrong! What I know about myself since becoming a mother is this new role is the ultimate confidence builder. I used to shy away from asking directions, accepting help, or clearly articulating what I needed from other people. All of that has gone out the window. I no longer suffer qualms about inconveniencing people. I take the offers to bring my groceries to the car. I ask the Disney contact I have for free tickets. I call for assistance from a friend or family member when it feels like the world is falling to pieces. And I say what I think about ridiculous situations.  My husband thinks my inner censor broke during my first pregnancy. I have to restrain myself from saying things that I know for sure will hurt another person’s feelings.

Guess who else is like this?

You got it, my mother.

Now that I have my own kids, I think I’m okay with this. We all grow thinking we won’t be like our mothers and in extreme cases, it’s good to break the cycle. My case wasn’t extreme and since I began raising my own children, I now realize that being like my mom isn’t such a bad thing.

You probably won’t find that in many pregnancy books either. I learned that my mom is actually really funny and pretty cool. Even more to the point, since I’ve become a mother, I’ve learned that my mom was in the same boat I am now. Just living it one day at a time, doing the best she could, and loving her kids.

Sara Marchessault is an Assistant Professor at Tallahassee Community College, a writer, life coach, and mother of two. When she isn’t penning missives about life she can be found playing with, baking for, and taking long walks with her husband and children. Sara may be reached at sara@joyfulbydesign.com.

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anonymous Confessions

I was just thinking about how often we hide parts of ourselves from the world, especially when we hold ourselves to a high standard. As a mother, I am constantly holding myself to a standard I could never achieve.  If I could put down the top 3 things I often feel guilty about it would be:

1.  Showing my anger in front of my kids (especially when they push me to my limit).

2.  Allowing my children to watch shows and movies (even when it is a little bit, I feel guilty).

3.  Feeding my kids foods that are processed because I know they will eat it.

I'm not saying that we live out of boxed foods, that they watch tv all day long, or that I walk around my house yelling at my kids (not that I haven't had my share of those moments).  I feel it is important that I put myself out there for you and for myself.  Part of building a community is by allowing ourselves to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  I believe through our most vulnerable moments, we can deeply connect to others and be filled spiritually.

I want to start a regular blog post where we can post our guilt all in one place.  Let down your guard and take a real moment for yourself and for this community.  Through all our imperfections, we will see that we don't all have the answers and that we make similar mistakes.

These confessions can be related to motherhood, green living, spousal relationships, work relationships, personal failures or ANYTHING!  Post anonymously or post your identity, it doesn't matter.  All that matters is that you are real and you support each other.

Are you up for the challenge?

Peace and love,

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com574.275.1235

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Are You in a (Committed) Relationship with Your Community?

This is topic I have been thinking a lot about recently.  Basically it boils down to "local business vs. seeking best deal" and having the convenience to either purchase an item online or all your goods in one store.  I believe both of these issues hurt local businesses.

1.  Seeking the best deal. I'm the first to admit that I like a good deal. Before I started Ecological Babies, I "enjoyed" shopping at local businesses but usually spent most of my money at a big box store like Target.  Local shops were "specialty" rather than my main source of products.  I didn't get to know the owners of these local businesses and my top priority was where I could get an item the cheapest.  I'm sure some of you can relate to that.

I'm hear to say that you are missing out on something even more awesome than saving a buck or two.  Local business owners are often amazing people who contribute their blood, sweat, and tears to the shop you enter.  (Yes, this can be also said for owners of local franchises.)  Supporting local businesses is like eating a meal from scratch verses prepackaged meals.  The experience (if done well) is much more satisfying.  Next time you step into a local business, I want you to think about the owner as a real person with a vision for their business.  Get to know them and ask them questions.  Then try it at another business.  Your sense of your community will be enriched beyond what you can imagine.

Do you want to know a secret?  If you stay connected to your local community, you will also snag a lot of good deals.  You might even find that you'd rather buy a quality item at your local shop than a cheap item at a box store that is half the price but will be destroyed in half the time.  We have deals going on that are featured on our Facebook page.  This month we even are offering free shipping.

2. Convenience.  When you live in a place like South Bend, Indiana (where I am currently living and originally from), the selection and options seem limited both in local businesses and box stores. The culture in this town is to shop online for most goods and to scour for free shipping.  It's unfortunate that businesses have come and gone very quickly here because the members of the community don't seek out what is available here.   Fortunately, many local businesses (like us!) are also online to make shopping more convenient and accessible to you.

Our American culture is infatuated with "convenience" and often we are going out of our way for something "convenient."  Take "fast food" for instance. How many times have we sat in a really slow line for this junk food?  Do you have items in your cupboard or refrigerator that you could have put in a small cooler or bag and eaten?  It's not about convenience but a solution to poor planning.  I'm the first to admit that I get caught without a solid plan.  It happens!

Now, I'd rather save up my money and have a much more enjoyable (and healthy!) meal at a local restaurant than a couple runs through a "fast food" joint.  It's more special too, since it is an intentional act rather than feeding a starving belly (and cranky mom/dad/child!) on the run.  Don't you think?

What's your relationship like with your community?  Are you just getting to know it?  How many business owners do you know personally?



Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.comecologicalbabies@gmail.com574.275.1235

Friday, February 24, 2012

Diaper Sprayer- Best.Invention.Ever

Ok, so I'm being a bit dramatic.  It is definitely the best invention for cloth diapering accessories, in my opinion.  Everyday, I am so grateful that I have this gadget hooked to my toilet to clean up my 2 year old's diapers.

When I first started out with cloth diapers, I used an old spatula.  My husband dunked his hands in the toilet.  Hands down, the diaper sprayer makes clean up much more desirable. If you haven't purchased one yet, either get one yourself or ask others to purchase one for you.  It is worth it!

It's best used after you start introducing solids but using it with breastfeed poop will help reduce any staining on your diaper.  But as you know, breastfed poop is 100% water soluble and therefore unnecessary to put in your toilet before washing.

Happy clean up!

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Listening: A lesson in Attachment Parenting

"Prayer begins by listening, God speaks in the silence of your hearts and we speak from the fullness of our hearts.  I listen, God speaks.  I speak, God listens.  This listening, speaking is prayer."
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I don't usually post religious content but I'm a huge fan of Mother Teresa and today is a holy day called Ash Wednesday (for us Catholics).  While I was reading this quote to kick off our long  journey of repentance, I realized that this was a great message for those of us who practice attachment parenting. I'm going to rephrase this quote to show you what I mean:

"Attachment parenting begins by listening, my children speak in the silence of their hearts and we speak from the fullness of our hearts.  I listen, my child speaks. I speak, my children listen.  This listening, speaking is attachment parenting." 
 -My version 

Too often, I don't listen to what my children are saying (especially in their nonverbal communication).  When this occurs, at least one of us ends up frustrated.  This is particularly challenging when our child is an infant or toddler and cannot tell us what they need or want with their words.  This is the time period, however, when it is even more important to listen to them!

Why don't I always listen?  For various reasons I suppose (desire for control, pride, being distracted, being tired, being disengaged).  When I do listen, life flows much better. Here's a great personal example.   We have the hardest time with transitions, especially going from our home to the car.  I just want to get in the car and go, but it can be a looooong process to move at my 4 and 2 y.o.'s pace.  If I rush this, then at least one of them are upset and I'm certainly frustrated.  By listening to Tyler (2 y.o.), I have learned that he doesn't like to leave when he is in the middle of something he was interested in at the moment (well, who doesn't?!). I've learned that if I allow him to bring some of what he is playing with into the car with him, he will most likely allow me to pick him up to bring him to the car.  

With my 4 y.o., she needs plenty of notice ahead of time.  She likes to pack a "purse" of things to have "just in case" and enjoys picking out shoes, accessories, coats, etc.  Like I said, I need to give her plenty of time. :)  I have learned that they both like to buckle the top buckle by themselves, except when Rita Clare (4 y.o.) wants me to "take care of her".  So, I've then learned to ask her ahead of time, if she wants to do it herself or for me to do it.  When I slow down, understand the process, and respect their needs, we are at peace.  Now I just have to work on incorporating this AND getting to places on time (my lenten promise)!

Engaging. Paying attention. Understanding.  

If you subscribe to the attachment parenting philosophy, then these are the key concepts. Heck, these should be key concepts for life, don't you think?   It's not always easy but it is certainly rewarding. 

What has your child been telling you recently?  Have you been listening?



Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.comecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Building a legacy

Every year in February, I start thinking about "what I will give up for Lent." It's almost like a school assignment - a book report for which I need to choose a book, an essay for which I need a subject. If I am truly seeking to give something up in the spirit of a fast, this is hardly the attitude to take. So I have decided this year to do something different. Rather than give something up, I'm going to do something extra. I know, that's not exactly a Lenten sacrifice, but personally I think it is still in the proper spirit because it will cause me to be more mindful of my actions and affect positive change.

My intention (and I realize to some this may sound silly) is to give up electronic documentation for the next 40 days in exchange for something more permanent. Hear me out - when was the last time you updated your Facebook status? Or when did you last make an album of pictures on Facebook or Picasa? Ok, now when did you last write in your baby book? Or journal? When was the last time you printed out pictures to make a real photo album or scrapbook?

Many of my friends are giving up Facebook for Lent, and I think that is an admirable goal. However, I enjoy keeping up with my friends socially, and I also use social media for work. I think you can still use social media as a means to socialize, so long as it doesn't become your sole means of communication and interaction. You just can't beat a good phone conversation, and a hand-written note, although almost obsolete these days, is such a powerful message of friendship and love. I have a big box in my closet of notes and greeting cards from family and friends, and I really enjoy looking through it from time to time. It makes me feel more connected to others in my life story, and reminds me of those I with whom I could stand to re-establish communication.

Everyday, I choose to document my life on the internet, and lately I have felt convicted of how fleeting that is. A few weeks ago, my mom sent Grant the most precious gift. A spiral bound book of thoughts she had typed out for him, emails between she and I that she printed out, and pictures. Yes, I know it is good to avoid having tons of things on paper, and we need to conserve resources. But that's not what I'm talking about. What would you rather give to your child when you are 60 and he is 35? A journal with little stories, even one line "status updates," and photographs, or a flash drive? My son LOVES to sit down and look through photo albums with me, and I'm not talking about the ones you click through. We are told by the experts to avoid screen time for children, so shouldn't we be preserving their life in a more tangible way, too? If the only place I journal or display pictures is on Facebook, what will I have left to show one day? What kind of legacy will that leave?

So here is my plan - for the next 40 days, when I get inspired to share a story, observation, or funny thing my son said, I'm going to write it down. Maybe in Grant's baby book, or maybe in my journal I have written in exactly one time that has been living in my bedside table drawer for four years. I think it's time to dust it off and buy a nice pen.

How do you document your child's life? Are you giving up something for Lent, or doing something else to affect positive change in your life? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

Blessings and love,

Claire Williamson

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly Groove

Is there something you do at the beginning of each week (Sunday or Monday) that really helps your week jive?  I've been working on a steady balance throughout each week and it is simply tough for me.  Most often, I have a fantastic string of days instead of consistent weeks on end.

Today, however, it is clear that having my upcoming week mapped out on my Google calender and my meals laid out is essential.  I can weave in activities and meal prepping for upcoming days rather than doing things day by day.  So, for example, this morning I prepared a slow cooker meal and chopped extra veggies for upcoming meals.

Having a dinner ready in the morning always puts me at ease.  I'm not rushing around with hungry kids at my feet and feel accomplished all day.  This morning, I even had my 2 y.o. son help me and we made a nice morning out of it.

What makes your days go by smoothly?



Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple Adventures

We have settled into a weekly routine over the past few months, and I really like it. I have never been a "schedule" person, even though I do very much enjoy being organized. Having a routine to our week and a rhythm to our days helps me a lot mentally, and lately I am seeing the value of it for my 3 year old son, as well.
Here is what we do:
Monday - stay home, play, laundry, general cleaning up
Tuesday - playdates with friends in Capital City Moms Club
Wednesday - drop off orders at Rinse and Repeat, errands, go on adventures
Thursday - Moms Morning Out, lunch with friends, quiet movie afternoon
Friday - time with friends, no real plans
I think probably my favorite day is Wednesday, because while it has structure, there is also the promise of an afternoon adventure. Since Rinse and Repeat is in midtown, I try to knock out errands that might need to be taken care of in that area. But after that, the day is ours.
One of our new favorite places is the Miccosukee Greenway. I heard about it through friends, and a few weeks ago we ventured out there for the first time. We quickly fell in love! It's basically a huge field, with a wooded area that has picnic tables and giant oak trees with low branches - perfect for climbing. The best part? Plenty of room to run! Grant is convinced that Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit, and Tigger live there, as evidenced by the number of trees with hollows in their trunks.
Today's adventure, however, brought us a little closer to home. After leaving Rinse and Repeat, we went to Target, which as far as Grant is concerned, is the best store in the world, second only to Goodwill, which he calls the "Toy Store." :) (Yay for that!)
When we got there we saw that they were, once again, working on repaving the parking lot. An inconvenience getting in the way of parking the car? Heck no! We jumped out of the car, and found a shady bench to watch all the trucks. Steamrollers, pavers, and backhoe loaders, oh my!
Our adventures continued when we got home. Yesterday my husband had a friend with a truck bring him home from work so he could bring this giant box home. He teaches drama, and last week one of his kids brought the box in as a prop (?) for a scene he did for the class. My husband has a love of cardboard boxes that he has passed down to our son, so of course when the project was finished the box had to come home. Already it has been a speed boat, a rocket, and a time machine. Who knows what it will be tomorrow?
Do you take time to go on simple adventures? Do you like schedules, or do you go where the wind takes you? I think we do a little of both.
Enjoy your day -
Claire Williamson

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ode to My Mom on Valentine's Day

 I know it seems a bit unusual to hear that Valentine's Day makes me think of my mom and not of previous "loves" or how sweet my husband has been over the past 8 years.  But year after year, I particularly think of her on this day.  My mom died 8 years ago and the memories that come to me often surprise me.

Today, I am reminded how special and loved she used to make me feel.  She was a primary-level teacher and make our home festive on holidays much like her classroom.  We had decorations and a little surprise gift in the morning when we woke up.  I remember getting Valentine's Day socks, a new dress, or a nice pair of shoes.

It's days like this that I like to keep her legacy alive, so my children know her story.  I'd trade a lot for the chance to have my mom know my kids.  Sigh.

Anyhow, in honor of my mom today, I'm wearing a couple necklaces that she wore.  One is a diamond heart my dad gave her one Valentine's Day.  The other is the necklace she wore everyday with her initial "C" for Christine.  I believe it was a gift from her mother, Rita, when she was a young girl.

And in her festive spirit, I made some blueberry pancakes cut out in heart shapes.  Nothing fancy but just adding a little more fun and loving memories to our family.

I love you, Mom!


Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Friday, February 10, 2012

Whole Foods Market Coming! (to Mishawaka, IN)

I had heard through the grapevine that Whole Foods is coming to the Michiana but officially saw it on the news today.  Honestly, I'm pretty thrilled even though I recognize there are some cons.  The Michiana area has been needing a grocery store like this as there is nothing like this.  It drives me nuts that when I tell people I try to purchase organic produce, dairy, and meats, it is assumed I'm wasting my money paying on something premium.  Needless to say, organic is seen as a "specialty" item seen in the elite grocery stores and only those who can afford to pay more.

Bringing Whole Foods here is going to be great opportunity for the community.  It's going to build our "sustainable" living community up and offer a much wider selection of goods where people had to drive to Chicago or Indianapolis to find.  Perhaps it will do so well that other businesses will want to come here too.

Do you have a Whole Foods Market in your area?  What's been your experience with it?


Jen Starks, Owner

 www.ecologicalbabies.com, www.facebook.com/ecologicababiesllc,  ecologicalbabies@gmail.com

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Our Love Grows" Valentine's Day Project for Mommy & Me

I'm really excited to feature today's blog post.  Brought to you by our dear friend, Carrie Fraser.  Carrie is the talented founder & owner of Happy Little Monkey.  She creates and sews many baby items (particularly known for the best swaddling blankets around) and has expanded her products to include toddler & up items.  If you are new to Happy Little Monkey, then you must head over to her Etsy shop to check everything out or join them on their facebook page.  Perfect for your baby/toddler or as gifts!

"Our Love Grows"

This project can easily be adapted for children of any age by just modifying the amount of assistance you provide.

Shallow pot, pan, or other container
Small amount of soil
Rye grass seeds
School Glue (non-toxic)
Paint brush
Wildflower seeds (optional)
decorative rocks, leaves, or other materials

My children are ages three and four and always ready to jump right into a project.  In order to make the project go a little more smoothly, I try to get as much of the prep work done before I tell them about the project as I can by having all the materials I think I will need together and trying to do anything the kids can’t do.

Collecting materials.  You can probably find many of the things you will need around your house.  For a container, choose from what you have, it just needs a wide enough top,  old pie pans, an old plate, a flower pot, or you can even plant it in your yard.   We used rye grass seeds and some wildflower seeds.  (In case you aren’t familiar with rye grass seed, it is practically the same thing as chia grass, and it will grow on anything and everywhere- rocks, concrete, paper- so be careful with where you get the seeds because they will sprout later.)

By the time I collected the last of the materials, both my little monkeys were waiting with great interest to find out what we were going to do!

They helped me to put some soil in the bottom of each container. The quality of soil really doesn’t matter, its mostly for visual appeal because these seeds will sprout on anything.  We also had a little dirt on the side to bury our hearts later.

Next, we cut hearts out of the construction paper and made sure they fit inside of our containers.  (If your child is younger, you may want to do this in advance)

Then, each kid drizzled glue all over their heart.  They loved this part.  After drizzling they spread the glue around with a paint brush to cover the whole paper.  My four and a half year old conquered this task without problem, but my three year old needed a little assistance.

Now, the fun, cover the glue with seeds.  We just piled them on, patted them down a little, and let it sit for a minute or two.  Then, we listed the heart up, and held it up to let the excess seeds fall off.  We added some more glue on it and then put the excess seeds back on it.

When you are satisfied with the amount of seeds coating your heart, you bury it!   Just put it in your container and cover it with a little soil.

Initially, we covered ours with burlap. I was hopeful that the grass would grow through the holes, but the burlap was really just holding back growth.

In the end, we pulled some rocks from our yard, and decorated around the heart grass growth.

Other notes:
- We had some wildflower seeds, so after we added the extra grass seed, we outlined the heart with the wildflower seeds and are waiting to see if they grow.
- We left our containers outside and one day it rained, so they got extra water.  The container that sprouted the fastest was the one without any holes in the bottom.

Thanks Carrie!  Can't wait to start this project!



www.ecologicalbabies.com, www.facebook.com/ecologicalbabiesllc, ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bring Back Your Grannies' Hanky's!

After my Grandma Rita died, I inherited all her scarves and handkerchiefs (one being pictured to the left) .  I know many of us have some around or have family members who aren't using theirs anymore.  Why not bring them back, especially at this time of the year?

I keep mine in a little box in my room and keep in my pocket (or tucked in my shirt sleeve like Gram's did!).  At the end of the day, I put them in my dirty clothes or with the towels for laundering.  My more delicate ones are washed separately, so they aren't ruined.

Not only do I take pleasure in the physical softness of the material against my nose and the better it is on the environment, but I feel more connected to my Grandma Rita.  What's better than that?  Let's ban together and ditch those throw away tissues (or at least reduce our habit to use them)!

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

GroVia's Stay Dry Soaker Pads

Have you snagged a pair of these new stay dry soaker pads yet?  Word on the street is that the worst part about it is that it's difficult to tell when the soaker pad is wet.  That's pretty amazing!

The soaker pad is GroVia's best attempt yet with a super soft fleece on top (and the leg gussets are fleece too!) and is made from a cotton/hemp blend.  This blend means that it is actually more absorbent than ever (hemp is 3x more absorbent than cotton) AND it is a thinner soaker pad (thinner=less bulk).

If you've been dissatisfied with GroVia's earlier soaker pads then you must give these a shot!  If you like your other soaker pads, then these will make a fantastic addition, especially for night time use and longer trips.  They are the same price as the organic cotton ones at $17.95 for 2.

Have you tried these yet?  What's your opinion?

Jen Starks

www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reality Check: Disposable Diapers are Inconvenient

I hear this all the time: "Cloth diapers are an extra hassle." or "Disposables are too convenient."  Honestly though, it is all about how you look at it.  Let's face it, if you were really wanting a convenient life, then having a baby wouldn't be at the top of it.  They are full of inconveniences no matter how you diaper them.

If you are considering using cloth diapers?  Do you  have a friend or family member who gives you a hard time about using cloth diapers?  Here's some great information to know, when you are comparing cloth diapers to disposable ones.

Top 10 Reasons Why Disposable Diapers are Inconvenient:

-It sneaks up on you that you are using your last couple diapers in the pack late one evening.  Late night runs to the store to purchase disposable diapers when you've run out is inconvenient.

-Experiencing the common "up the back blow out" when you baby has been sitting, especially in a car seat is inconvenient (and messy too!).  Note: This does type of blow out rarely happens in a cloth diaper.

-Just took out the trash the day before but that lingering poopy diaper and wipes you put in the new liner is causing a stench? Having to take a partially full trash bag outside to your garbage bin to get rid of that smell is inconvenient.

-Having to throw away a poopy diaper outside in a separate plastic bag when you are visiting someone's house is inconvenient.

-Allergic reactions and heat related diaper rashes are common with disposable diapers.  Having to make an extra trip(s) to your pediatrician for a disposable diaper related rash is very inconvenient.

-Using disposable diapers will cost you about an extra $1,200 and more with subsequent children.  Having to work harder or hours to afford trashable diapers (and other disposable items like wipes) is inconvenient.

-Your baby just had a growth spurt and no longer fits in his/her size in disposable diapers but you are not even close to using up that huge case you recently purchased at CostCo. Having to give away or sell disposable diapers that your baby couldn't use because they grew out of that size is inconvenient compared to using a cloth diaper that fits a range from 8-35lbs.

-Do you have 2 small children both in diapers? Having to carry 2 different sized disposable diapers in your diaper bag is inconvenient compared to having 1 cloth diaper that fits both of your children (one-size) .

-Having to take a pet to the vet after he/she consumes a disposable diaper is inconvenient (and expensive).  (This came from a recent story where a dog actually died after doing this.)

-Cloth diapered toddlers tend to potty train earlier on average.  Having a child who potty trains later is inconvenient.

Need I say more?  :)   Does anyone else have an example of how a disposable diaper is inconvenient?

Our most convenient cloth diapers will prove to be more convenient to the disposable diapers out there.  Our top recommendations:

1. GroVia All-in-Ones
2. GroVia Hybrid Diapers 
3. Tots Bots Easy Fit Diaper
4. bumGenius All-in-one Newborn Diaper
5. Tots Bots Tini Fit Diaper

Free shipping on all orders over $50 this month!

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235

*Photo used from http://www.earthycrunchymama.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Disposible-Diaper-Trash.bmp

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Creating Time by Doing Less

I have the tendency to overfill my schedule. I've worked hard these last couple years to scale back because a "fried" mom is not a good mom.  I know it's been an overbooked day when my house is a mess, I have take out packaging from a meal we had to eat on the fly, and all I want to do is just veg out after the kids are down.  Sound familiar?

Yesterday evening, I had planned on going to our town's "Shiver by the River" festival.  I had it all mapped out on what to see and at what time.  We'd be drinking hot chocolate, riding the trolley, watching ice carvers, listening to a jazz group, eating some spicy food, and enjoy watching the ice skaters having fun.  These were all evening activities.

Once we had sat down at the dinner table, it was clear that my "big plans" were probably not going to work out like I had planned.  Brian had come home late, Rita Clare kept dodging her dinner and trying to duck under the table (her new hiding spot these days), and I was starting to get grumpy.  Instead of fighting Rita Clare to eat her dinner so we could go and pushing Brian into changing out of his work clothes so we could head out, I (well, Brian and I) decided it would be best if I just took Tyler.

We had a ball.  I knew that I wouldn't be doing nearly as much as I plotted out and accepted this change.  In fact, I embraced it.  Instead of locking him into a stroller and making sure we did everything, I planned for him to walk at his pace and just enjoy our time together.  I became present to our moments, instead of sticking to a plan.  So simple, yet sometimes so challenging for me.

We shared hot chocolate at our South Bend Chocoloate Company.  Yes, it was absolutely delicious!

Then we happened to be near a trolley stop and took a ride to where the ice sculptures were being displayed.  This was definitely a highlight for Tyler who's recent favorite song is "The Wheels on the Bus".  He kept saying "Weeeee!" I love how it brought joy to all those around us.

After our final trolley ride back from the display, we headed back to the car.  Nothing too big, yet it was about an hour and a half of great quality time.  With 2 small kids in tow, I have to make it a priority to spend one-on-one time with each of them at least weekly.  With Rita Clare now at home more often, I've been trying for good daily time.  It helps both of us to connect.

Have you had some quality moments lately?  We'd love to hear them!

Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com , ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 574.275.1235