When You Can’t Take Any More, Take Your Toddler Hiking

When You Can't Take Any More, Take Your Toddler Hiking

When I had my second daughter, my first was a toddler: Old enough to undress herself just as I was ready to leave the house, young enough not to listen most of the time. Old enough to take off her shoes in the car, young enough that she still had zero sense.

My toddler bounced off the walls at home, but I felt frazzled and unsafe everywhere we went because she wasn’t reliably holding my hand or listening to me. I felt like all I did all day was nurse the baby and yell, “No! Don’t! Get off there!” at my older daughter. I decided we needed to get out of the house, but we had to go somewhere where I wouldn’t have to contain her or we might both end up in tears. So we went for a hike.

It worked. We had an hour to and hour and a half of time that day during which I was not parenting. I didn’t have to say, “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go over there!” or “Stay with me!” once.  She got to run and explore and let her curiosity about the world take over. She got a few boos-boos. She ran out of my sight and got scared enough to return. She slept like a baby at nap time, and the baby did, too.

There are so many benefits to getting your kids outdoors. Being outdoors can calm ADHD symptoms, lower stress levels and anxiety, improve distance vision, and raise levels of Vitamin D, helping protect against future illness.  Not to mention the myriad of organic learning opportunities out in nature.

If you’ve never hiked in your area before and don’t know where to start, just google “family friendly hikes in [your city]”. It’s a great idea to try the trail out on your own before you load up the kids, and always check weather

conditions before you go.  Remember that kids get cold faster than adults. Follow the rule you used when they were babies and dress them one layer warmer than you are wearing.

Here are a few tips for hiking with a toddler:

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  • Explore the trails on your own first to make sure they are safe. If you can’t do so, trails marked handicap accessible are a great place to start.
  • Park near a potty.
  • Make sure you have a first aid kit in the car, as well as extra clothes.
  • Put shoes on them that they can’t take off, and clothes on them that they can get dirty.
  • Expect to do more following than hiking—toddlers are very close to the ground and everything is very interesting down there!
  • Let them run ahead and be independent if you feel safe doing so.
  • Don’t go in any further than you are prepared to carry everyone back.
  • Try not to say “No” or “Don’t” while you’re hiking. Make it a relaxing time for you both. Let them explore and experience natural consequences if you can do so safely.
  • Once you find a spot you love, look into a membership or pass to that park to make visiting cheaper.

Once we found a spot that worked for us, we went back again and again. I like variety, but my daughter loved knowing the trail and what to expect. Baby wearing was a lifesaver here, as I could nurse the baby or let her fall asleep on my back and not worrying about getting us home in time for naps.

I found hiking to be a very refreshing and necessary part of my week. Toddlers can be so frustrating when you have to divide your attention between them and anything else. Our hiking time was a time when I could quit correcting and just enjoy her, and as it turned out, that was exactly what I needed.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who can usually recapture her sanity on a hike.

Friday, October 17, 2014
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Healthy Halloween Treats

Fall is finally here and Halloween decorations are already up everywhere and the supermarket aisles are filled with candy. A popular treat that doubles as an activity for kids is the ever-famous Rice Krispie treat, which you can mold into just about any shape you like from pumpkin to goblin. Instead of making the traditional recipe, try giving the kids an extra nutritional boost and some added protein with this healthier version. It’s just as fun to make and healthy, too.

Most health food stores nowadays sell food dyes made from spices or food so avoiding synthetic food coloring is not a big deal, you can even find all-natural sprinkles which would be fun to add in as well! Choose your colors depending on what shape you’re going for.

Protein-Packed Crispy Rice Treats


2 cups puffed rice cereal

½ cup almond or sunflower seed butter

¾ cup brown rice syrup

½ cup finely chopped nuts, seeds or raisins

¼ cup mini chocolate chips


Combine the almond butter and rice syrup in a sauce pan and cook on very low heat for about 3 minutes until it’s nice and creamy.

In a large bowl toss the rice cereal and mix ins.

Pour the warm, creamy mixture over the cereal mix and make sure everything is evenly coated.

Press the mixture into a 9X9 baking pan and cool in the refrigerator.

Once it’s set you can use cookie cutters to cut your favorite shapes or shape into pumpkins!

If you want to go crazy with decorating but want to keep food dyes and corn syrup out of your creations look for Surf Sweet gummy candies or Unreal candy.

Jacqueline Banks is a board certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. To learn more about living a vibrant, healthy life, visit her website at www.jacquelinebanks.com.

Thursday, October 16, 2014
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The Fourth Trimester: When Mastitis Strikes

When mastitis strikes

I encountered my first bout of mastitis when my fourth baby was
5 weeks old. I breastfed all four of my children over a total of six years, and I can summarize the experience in exactly one word: TERRIBLE!

I was in bed in near tears because my body was so sore and achy. I would alternate between having the chills and a very high fever causing me to sweat buckets. I felt absolutely miserable, but was also desperate to clear up the infection without the use of antibiotics.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue. It generally starts as a plugged milk duct that becomes infected. The effected breast will be red, swollen, painful, and inflamed.

How is Mastitis Treated?

The very best form of treatment is a preventative approach. For example, avoid restrictive bras or clothing, empty your breasts completely at each feeding and/or pumping session, and nurse and/or pump on a frequent basis to avoid engorgement. Additionally, keeping stress levels low (yes easier said than done) is important, as stress can be a trigger for mastitis.

Even when all preventative measures are employed, mastitis can creep up on you rather quickly. A clogged duct can turn into mastitis within hours. At the very first sign you might be experiencing a clogged duct, make sure you pay attention to your body. Apply lots of massage and heat to the area and nurse, nurse, nurse.

When mastitis strikes, a common course of treatment is a round of antibiotics. While this can be effective, some moms may opt to treat mastitis without the use of antibiotics. I preferred to avoid the use of antibiotics and employed the following holistic treatment and comfort measures:

  • Rest – this is essential! Try to let go of everything else and focus on resting your body. This is definitely a time to call upon your support system for help. When I had mastitis, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting and my husband was home from work. This allowed me the ability to stay in bed for almost two days straight while my body healed. As mothers it can be difficult for us to let go of all the responsibilities nagging at us, but to the greatest extent possible allow yourself to rest so your body can heal.
  • Massage – Massage effected area frequently. You can massage with coconut oil or even a bit of arnica gel/cream (just be sure to wipe any residual amount away before baby nurses). As much as possible keep breasts moving; even jiggle them to help your milk flow.
  • Nurse – Continue to nurse your baby frequently and in varied positions. You can even massage the affected area while baby is nursing to try to release the clogged duct. Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Babies are extremely effective in getting milk to flow so keep your baby close and nurse often.
  • Heat – Applying heat to affected area can help reduce inflammation and soften the tissue. You can take hot showers or use hot compresses before each nursing session.
  • Fever reducer – You may want to take something to reduce fever. This chart shows risk factors of medications while breastfeeding. Both Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are considered safe while breastfeeding. Homeopathic options such as belladonna may be something you consider exploring as well.
  • Boost Immune System – Vitamin C is a highly effective immune system booster. Some health care providers recommend a therapeutic dosage of Vitamin C (3000-5000 mg/day) to combat mastitis. Echinacea, green tea, zinc, vitamin B, garlic, and ginger also help boost immunity. I drank several cups of this garlic ginger broth when I had mastitis.
  • Stay well hydrated – Drink lots of water, especially if you are sweating due to fever. Keep a water bottle next to you as a reminder to keep consuming water.
  • Castor Oil Packs – Another alternative treatment option is a caster oil pack. This article explains how to do a castor oil pack as well as the benefits of doing them.

While mastitis is very challenging to cope with and definitely feels like a huge bump in the breastfeeding journey, know that it generally only lasts about 24 to 48 hours. Often it is our body’s way of telling us to S-L-O-W down. So listen to your body. Pay attention to this its message. And above all take the very best care of yourself as possible. After all you are nourishing another little person with your wonderful milk.

Please note: As with any health issue or concern it is always best to contact your health care provider regarding course of treatment.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
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Cloth Diaper Hacks

When I was cloth diapering my first child, I had all the diapers washed on a schedule and folded more often than not. I would stuff them all into an adorable display shelf and feel proud of how cute they looked. Now that I have two little ones in cloth diapers and a small farm to run, I just don’t have the time or energy to put into displaying my diapers any more.

Some people might think that I would be tempted to just use disposables to get a break from the cloth diapers, but thankfully I have a whole bunch of lazy-mom hacks that I use to get by on my busy weeks. Sometimes one little cloth diaper cheat is enough to get you through without throwing in the towel.

Cloth Diaper Hacks

Here is my list of Lazy Mama Cloth Diaper Hacks:

  • Don’t fold your diapers. This is why we have laundry baskets, folks. C’mon, let’s see some laundry basket stash shots! Unfolded diapers are where it’s at.
  • Have a lot of diapers. This is probably my most important tip for cloth diapering multiple children without losing your mind. If you get tempted to buy that $15 pack of disposables to get you through the week, go treat yourself to a new cloth diaper instead. You can get a whole pack of prefolds or flats for around that much or a new pocket or all-in-one for just a bit more. The more you have, the less you stress about whether that load in the washer has been there for three days.
  • Use the dryer. Many people take time to hang dry their cloth diapers to prolong the usage, myself included, on a good day. On a bad day? They ALL go in the dryer. Even the covers. I just can’t take that extra five minutes to sort out covers when the toddler is whining, the baby is crying, and the dog is barking.
  • Use flushable wipes or spray off diapers once a day. Because sometimes you don’t have time to deal with spraying off a poopy diaper immediately after a change. Flushable wipes are great because they usually remove the need for spraying altogether.
  • If you use pockets, get the kind that un-stuff themselves. These are awesome because you don’t have to fish around for a wet insert before throwing it in the wet bag.
  • Use pockets as covers. If you have prefolds, flats, or other safe-to-be-next-to-baby-skin inserts just lay them in the pocket as if it was a cover. Presto! No more stuffing pockets AND no more un-stuffing pockets.
  • Don’t fold prefolds and flats. If you use these for your baby, just trifold or padfold them and lay them in the cover. No more Snappis, Boingos, or frustration: just a simple pseudo-all-in-one diaper.

I hope some of these tips help you stay sane, or at least help you feel less lazy now that you know my lazy cloth diaper system.

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and rabbits, and are making plans to move out west to start a homesteading adventure together!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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Pregnancy Week 23: Swelling and Weight Gain

Pregnancy Week 23: Swelling and Weight GainFor all pregnant women there must be some weight gain, and I am definitely no exception. Lately, I’ve been skyrocketing upward on the scale and with a healthy amount of swelling to boot. My hands look like sausages, my toes like cocktail wieners, and my shoes barely fit. I blame part of this on the heat–even in October, Oregon has had unseasonably warm weather. But mostly I blame the swelling on my cravings for salty and sweet foods.

Swelling, or edema as it’s medically called, just means that fluid from your body is pooling in your extremities. As your blood volume doubles to accommodate baby, so does all the fluids that support your body. I find my swelling is worst in the evening as I lay down to sleep. Between gaining weight and swelling, I’m a mess!

What You Can Do

One thing you can do is cut out salty and sweet foods– both of these tend to lead to water retention that will leave you looking like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Also avoid excess caffeine (no easy task for a tired preggo) and rest as much as possible, changing positions often. If you stand often then sit, stand if you sit a lot. If the swelling gets really bad, you can always try compression hose–those sexy, sexy nude-colored socks. If you are having issues with swelling, watch out for an increase in blood pressure accompanied with headaches, as these are warning signs for preecclampsia.

Foods like celery, parsley and cabbage help draw out fluids, so my favorite go-to tea has been parsley tea with lemon. Just hot water over a handful of parsley leaves with a lemon slice. This has been helping curb my craving for salty and sweet food and helping me stay on my new clean-eating fix to help slow the weight gain. I’m aiming for healthy, natural foods, staying away from junk at all levels. I used to follow this philosophy with my other two pregnancies, but this time around I admit I’ve been very lazy about my eating habits. That changes today!

Pia Watzig is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys with a third due Thanksgiving. She enjoys not being swollen!

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