Guest post: Healthy bodies are good for the environment

After witnessing a site hacking on my very own blog (fer realz) and having a lot of crazy stuff going on in my personal life, I just haven’t been up to blogging this week. Thankfully, I have a guest blogger to fill in for me today. 🙂

Today’s guest post comes from Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish (thank you, Beth!) and is very timely considering all of the illness that has been plaguing the Crunchy Domestic Goddess household as of late. Beth works hard to live life with as little plastic as possible and to help others figure out plastic-free alternatives via her blog, Fake Plastic Fish.  Her plastic epiphany occurred in mid-2007 after stumbling upon the article Plastic Ocean, which she feels should be required reading for anyone who wonders what all this fuss is about plastic.

Healthy bodies are good for the environment

The ferocious flu that hit me several weeks ago resulted in quite a few trips to Kaiser Permanente. During one of those visits, I noticed something in the public restroom I’d never seen there before: a green bin and green liner… telltale signs of composting afoot. I moved in to take a closer look. Sure enough… compostable liner and a sign above the bin instructing users to deposit paper towel waste there.

Sick as I was, I had my camera with me and the presence of mind to snap a few shots, while curious restroom users stared. I forgot about this green moment in Kaiser until reading the Ecology Center‘s recent issue of Terrain Magazine on BART this morning, particularly the article, “When More then the Scrubs are Green.”

The piece describes the efforts of some medical institutions, including Kaiser, to reduce waste and switch to environmentally-safer products… from the food they serve patients to the carpets and furniture installed in buildings. And it points out that while a few hospitals have made changes to lighten their ecological footprint, most go through immense amounts of waste each day, much of it toxic, in an effort to protect patients’ health. Ironic, no?

But the part of the article that really hit me came towards the end (emphasis mine):

No matter what percentage of its trash a hospital recycles, or how local its food is, or how sustainable the building, the uncomfortable truth is that modern medical practices have a big impact on the environment…. Possibly the best way for each of us to reduce the impact of hospitals on the environment is to do our best to avoid using them. That means making lifestyle choices like eating well and exercising, and advocating for better access to good food and laws that clean up our air and water.

In my case, of course, it also means getting more sleep.

We often think about the relationship between ourselves and our environment in exactly the opposite way. Pollution in our air, water, and food is harmful to our bodies. This article shows one way that our sick bodies can then contribute to further degradation of our environment. It’s a vicious cycle, and someone needs to stop pedaling!

I’m guilty as charged. I stay up way too late. I imbibe excessive quantities of caffeine (My dentist advised me yesterday to give up coffee and I replied, “But I have. Many, many, many times.”) and sugar and baked goods. My exercise routine is suing me for neglect (I will run again, I swear!) and my ass is getting flatter by the minute from so much sitting. Many of you have heard this litany from me before.

What I’m doing to my body is not just harming me… it’s harming the whole planet. Yeah, fundamentally there’s no real separation between me and anything else anyway. But on the level of everyday human experience, it’s good to have a concrete reminder that the excuse, “I’m only hurting myself,” is ultimately meaningless. When I get sick, sickness in the world increases. Medical waste increases. Medical spending increases too! Actions become ineffective. It’s all just one big FAIL.

Now, before anyone jumps on me for “blaming the victim,” I’m not saying that people don’t get sick for totally random (as far as we can tell) reasons or due to factors over which they had no direct control. What I am saying that wellness is the responsibility of all of us… for all of us.

Healthy choices we can make that have far-reaching environmental consequences include:

1) Buying less plastic
2) Choosing organic food
3) Eating more plants and fewer animals
4) Driving less and biking/walking more
5) Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, stretching, & breathing
6) GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP!

What are some ways that you keep both your body and the environment healthy?

Breastfeeding? Scheduled for a biopsy? Read this and pass it on.

Today I have a guest post from Tanya of Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. She’s trying to spread the word about this valuable research and I’m happy to do my small part by passing it along to you. The original post is here and it is copied and pasted (with permission) below.

Picture this: You’re breastfeeding.  You notice a lump.  First maybe you think it’s a plugged duct.  But then it doesn’t go away, after many, many feedings.  You’re worried about it, so you make an appointment with your doctor, who doesn’t think it’s related to breastfeeding.  She sends you for a mammogram, but you’re told that you’ll have to have weaned for six months before the test can be done.  What do you do?*

I’ve mentioned before that I’m involved in a powerful research project based at the University of Massachusetts, and supported by the Love/Avon Army of Women breast cancer project.

I’d like to explain more about it now, and ask for your help in recruiting participants for it.

It’s probably news to most of us (it was to me) that when you make milk, cells from your milk ducts are exfoliated off in the process.  These are called epithelial cells, and they’re detectable in your milk.

Past research has demonstrated that long before we notice a lump, those epithelial cells start changing in ways that are precursors to the development of breast cancer.

Dr. Kathleen Arcaro, a UMass professor who studies breastfeeding and breast cancer risk wants to analyze those cells.  She’s been nice enough to visit a breastfeeding group I run, and answer questions about breastfeeding and breast cancer.

The primary goal of her research is to determine if it’s possible to create a non-invasive, early way of assessing our breast cancer risk through our breastmilk.  If it’s successful, it would also establish ‘molecular biomarkers’ for breast cancer risk.

An additional benefit to breastfeeding mothers is that we would not be told, as some are, to wean before a mammogram or biopsy can be done.  No more choosing between breastfeeding and a breast cancer test.  It could be as simple and sending in a milk sample to a lab!

In order to conduct this research, Dr. Kathleen Arcaro needs to find 250 women who are both lactating and scheduled for a biopsy.  To participate, you’d overnight milk samples to her lab, at no cost to you.

So if you, or someone you know, is both breastfeeding and scheduled for a biopsy, please ask them to email either me, Dr. Arcaro, or Dr. Sarah Lennington as soon as possible.  You can visit the project’s website to learn more.

If you write a blog or are in contact with lots of moms on a forum, please pass this link around!

And if you haven’t done it yet, register for the Love/Avon Army of Women.  You’ll join one million women volunteering to become part of a rich pool of women researchers can use to find the causes and prevention of breast cancer.  You can see other participating studies on the site.  Here’s a recent Today Show clip on the project.

* Mammograms can be done on lactating breasts, but they are viewed as less accurate than on non-lactating breasts.  Some doctors will do them, others require mothers to wean first.  Some send mothers for ultrasounds.

Guest post: Diane Wiessinger in Israel on Breastfeeding Language

Hi, readers of Crunchy Domestic Goddess. My name is Hannah and I blog at A Mother in Israel about life with my six kids, parenting, and homemaking, along with social commentary about life in Israel. I also volunteer as a breastfeeding counselor. Last week I attended a conference with breastfeeding expert Diane Wiessinger. You can read my introductory post here.

Israel, aside from being a center of international conflict, is a developed country of seven million with a high birth rate. A lactation consultant told me that in her town of 30,000, enough children are born to fill six kindergarten classes every month.

In Israel breastfeeding is the default option, at least in theory. You don’t hear much about the choice to breast or bottlefeed, and mothers are expected to nurse in the hospital. But hospital routines are rigid, and in some cases babies still sleep in the nursery at night–with the mother needing to request a wake-up call that may or may not happen. Babies often get one or more bottles in the hospital. Outside of hospitals formula companies promote their products freely, even though Israel is a signatory to the WHO Code of Marketing Substitutes.

Israeli mothers receive 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, up from 12 thanks to a recent law. Fathers can replace mothers at home after the first six weeks. Mothers also get a “nursing hour,” working one hour less daily, for an additional four months and in some cases up to a year of age. (Bottle-feeding mothers get it too.) La Leche League and other volunteer organizations are active, and the number of IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) has grown exponentially, but medical professionals lack knowledge and most mothers don’t make it past a few weeks or months.

A few years ago, several babies died because one type of imported soy formula lacked Vitamin B1. This caused a temporary upswing in breastfeeding rates. Unlike in the US, nursing in public is barely an issue.

One of Wiessinger’s talks is called, “Watch Your Language.” When discussing the talk with friends, I found that moms get defensive when they hear about the risks of bottle-feeding. But by exploring the connection between language and breastfeeding, we don’t mean to chastise mothers for giving formula. Mothers are subject to many pressures and make decisions that work for their families. Mothers who wean early are the last ones we should blame.

We need to change the way our culture looks at breastfeeding. The breastfeeding rates of the United States and Israel are behind those of other western countries. Since babies and mothers are fundamentally the same, the problem must lie in the culture.

In her talk Wiessinger showed how the language used to talk about breastfeeding ultimately harms mothers and babies. We use imprecise language because we are afraid: Afraid of making Continue reading Guest post: Diane Wiessinger in Israel on Breastfeeding Language

Guest post: Learning from Experience: Tips for New Organic Gardners

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9 , I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post is from Meryl who blogs at My Bit of Earth.

My grandfather was an avid gardener. He grew tomatoes, beans, peas, corn–he even had a small orchard from which he would pick fruit for my grandmother’s fabulous pies. He gardened for 70+ years, all within 100 miles of where I live today, making any advice he could have given me invaluable as it would have been both well-tested and specific to my climate.

Unfortunately, my grandfather died years before I caught the gardening bug, so I’ve had to learn the hard way–experience.

I am now in my fourth year as an organic gardener–mostly veggies, but some flowers too. I have a 10×10 plot in my local community garden, as well as a mostly-container garden at my house. Here are seven bits of wisdom my experiences have taught me.

1. If it’s worth planting, it’s worth writing down.

Keep a paper journal, start a blog, do what you must, but make a record of your garden. At minimum, it should include the specific variety of what you plant, when you planted it, any problems you had, and how your harvest went. Pictures are a nice bonus.

Review your record before you plan your garden each year. Not only will it help you to remember the name of that fabulous tomato you planted last year, it will keep you from making the same mistakes over and over again. For example, because I wrote down when I planted “Ideal Market” beans last year, I now know that if I plant them in April they’ll just get eaten by bugs and I’ll have to plant anew. But if plant them in May, I should avoid the boom of bean-eating bugs and get a good crop.

2. Buy (at least) one good book.

I love the internet as much as the next person, but I’m convinced that it’s still worthwhile to have one great gardening reference book to help narrow down your searches when you have a problem. This year my Brussels sprouts were being attacked by red bugs, and I couldn’t figure out what the bugs were by searching online. (“Red bugs” isn’t much to go on!) So I looked up Brussels sprouts in my book, and found that they are commonly attacked by Harlequin bugs when the weather gets warm. Sure enough, when I did an image search for “Harlequin bugs” the results looked just like the bugs I had in my garden.

The specific book you buy will depend on what you’re growing, but look for something like an encyclopedia. Something that lists good practices for the crops you want to grow, as well as what to do when things go wrong. For vegetable gardening, my trusty book of choice is Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver.

3. Make friends.

It’s always so nice to learn that someone I know is also a gardener! Partly because I know I won’t bore them with discussions of cabbages and coneflowers, but also because other gardeners–especially if they’ve been gardening for a long time in your specific area–are a wonderful mine of knowledge.

In the community garden where I have a plot, there’s one lady who’s been there for years and, as such, is an absolute treasure. A few weeks ago, when I was having the aforementioned trouble with my Brussels sprouts, she told me to sprinkle them with cayenne pepper. I followed her advice, and a day later my bugs were gone.

4. Visit your garden often, and while you’re there….

Because one of my gardens is not at my house, I don’t always get to it every day. But I’m there every other day, at least. While I think this is necessary for all gardeners to some degree, if you want to garden organically it’s essential.

When you don’t allow yourself to drop a chemical bomb on every pest that comes along, you have to catch little problems before they become big problems. Last year, I started noticing little bronze eggs on my pumpkin leaves in mid-July. I didn’t get on top of it as quickly as I should have, and before I knew it my whole crop was decimated by squash bugs. If I had picked the eggs off the first time I saw them, it would have been a minor blip on my road to Halloween jack’o’lanterns and pumpkin soup.

While you’re doing your walk-through, take five minutes and pull as many weeds as you can. Like pests of the insect variety, weeds will creep up on you until all of a sudden getting rid of them without chemicals is overwhelming. Catch weeds when they’re small and scratch them out with a hoe before they start to take over.

5. Raise your soil right, feed it well, tuck it in.

When I initially started container gardening at my house, I thought of it as kind of a temporary thing until I had space to plant a proper “in-the-ground” garden. After a few years though, I’m convinced that raised beds are the way to go.

In my neck of the woods the problem is clay, but, whatever deficiencies your soil may have, it’s easier to fix them if you raise everything off the ground a bit. Even just logs or landscaping timbers pushed together in a square–which is exactly the set up in my community garden plot–helps make digging, mixing in compost, and planting much easier.

When you go to fill that raised bed, think compost, compost, compost. My city does a free compost give away every year, and I always take advantage of it. Get as much as you can, and mix it in well with your existing soil. If you want your plants to feed you, you must feed them, and they crave compost!

Lastly, cover your soil. You can use pretty mulch if you want, but this year I experimented with newspapers and straw. I put down about six layers of newspaper (black and white only), sprayed it with water, and spread one or two inches of straw over the top. When I went to plant my veggies I just used a shovel to poke a hole through the paper. It’s kept the weeds down, let water in, and whatever is left of it next Spring can easily be tilled into my soil.

6. Keep things in perspective.

There will be setbacks, there will be loses. If you’re committed to going organic, you should realize that sometimes a problem is going to get away from you. You’re going to see visions of your entire crop being ruined, and you’re going to be sooo tempted to resort to a chemical spray. When this happens, step back and regain your perspective.

Yes, yes, I know. You worked hard for that plant, whatever it is. You dug and toiled in the hot sun–perhaps were even devoured by mosquitoes as you regularly watered.

But, if you’re a small scale gardener, is it really worth it? Do you really need that eggplant that’s probably half-chewed on by bugs anyway? Or can you accept that nothing is a failure if you enjoyed the learning process, put down the nasty spray, and pick up your eggplant at the farmer’s market this week instead?

Good for you, that’s what I thought.

7. Grow what you love, but love what you can grow.

If you can be perfectly satisfied with a garden of tomatoes and peppers, go for it. If you’re intrigued by exotic varieties of garlic, plant yourself some. If you just can’t stand life without that pretty kind of rose that’s named after you, figure out what it needs to thrive and make it happen. To me there is no point in having a garden if you don’t grow the things you absolutely love.

With all that being said, however, over the past few years I’ve found the plants I truly love are the ones that don’t need much fuss, and are happy in the climate and space that I have to give them. I’ve killed four beautiful rose bushes to date, and none have made me as happy as the beautiful ‘Diablo’ cosmos that are popping up almost unbidden all over my garden right now. Like clockwork, every year I decide to try a pretty flowering hanging basket. After the last one didn’t live a week–the darned things need a crazy amount of water–I bought a sturdy fern that looks better at week four than most of the flowers did on day two. The ugliest thriving flower looks better than the prettiest dead one–work with what you’ve got!

I hope my experiences are helpful to you–best of luck in your garden!

Meryl Carver-Allmond writes about gardening, photography, crafty stuff, dogs, and whatever else happens to tickle her fancy on any given day at My Bit of Earth.

Guest post: The emotional aspects of being a doula

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post comes from Sheridan of Enjoy Birth.

The Trust Birth Conference was very interesting. It was fun talking with other doulas there. We had one group discussion and someone talked about how our work as doulas can be effected by our births.

It made me think of my 2 cesareans I have attended as a doula.

I always was nervous how supporting a mom with a cesarean would effect me, because of my first birth. I had an emergency cesarean at 34 weeks. It was scary, my baby was in the NICU, I didn’t get to hold him for 24 hours. It was medically necessary, but still not anything I would want any mom to experience.

So I was talking to this doula about this and came to realize how God had really helped me deal with the ability to suport moms during cesareans, while not letting my emotions from my birth get in the way. He did this in an interesting way.

My first cesarean was Mom B and it was not an emergency situation. It unraveled over 24 hours. A long induction for a first time mom. Exhaustion was the real reason for the cesarean. She was well supported and respected and made the best choice for the situation she was in. It was still hard for me to accept in some ways. It was still quite devastating, because I knew what she was losing and gaining in her choice.

Since it happened slowly, I had time to come to grips with the situation and help support her through that. It wasn’t really until afterwards that I broke down. (There were many facets to that, it was the end of being away from my house for pretty much 57 hours for 2 long inductions.) But driving home I called Jenn, my good friend and all I could say was, “She got a cesarean.” and then started crying and couldn’t really stop. Jenn is a cesarean mom too, so she understood. I still tear up thinking about it and it was 5 months ago.

Fast forward to 2 months ago and I am at another birth. Mom K is on pitocin after supposed PROM. OB checks her and she has bulging forewaters, so she goes to break that, without even planning on telling mom. I jump in to say, “Looks like OB is going to break your water!”

Baby doesn’t tolerate it well at all, they try changing positions, then try amnioinfusion. I can tell things are getting dicey. Suddenly OB is in there and without telling K anything, putting in an internal monitor. I am calmly telling mom what is going on. Then OB goes for second Internal Monitor, I say to K, “It looks like you might be going for a cesarean.” OB calls Code Green, room fills with people. No one is talking to K at all. The room is in chaos. I feel totally calm. I say to K, “Go to your special place. You and your baby will be fine.” Mom and Dad are gone within minutes.

I am left alone in the room. I still feel calm. This was the situation I was most afraid of. Being in a situations close to Devon’s birth. But in reality I think that first birth with B, helped prepare me for this cesarean. It helped me deal with a lot of my emotions regarding Devon’s birth, so that I could be present and calm for K when I needed to be.

K and baby were fine. I loved that she was able to recover back in her room with baby in the room with her. She was holding him skin to skin within an hour after he was born.

It was a much easier birth for me to deal with as a doula. It was medically necessary (though I see very clearly different interventions may have caused that necessity). I was able to provide support before and after. I didn’t shed any tears, though I do feel sorry for K that she joined the sisterhood of the scar. It is something I do not wish for anyone.

Written by Sheridan Ripley –Hypnobabies Instructor, Hypno-doula, Proud VBAC mom, Loving Lactivist, Positive Birth Story Collector and mom of 3 Busy Boys.

Her OC Hypnobabies Website is www.enjoybirth.com. Her Positive Birth Stories Website is www.pregnancybirthandbabies.com.

Her Blogs http://enjoybirth.wordpress.com and http://hypnobabies.wordpress.com.

Guest post: Saved by the Fire Fairy

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post is from Stacy of Mama-Om.

Saved by the Fire Fairy
by Stacy
Originally published on Mama-Om.

The other day I was talking to a friend about her young daughter’s Waldorf-inspired daycare. Each day for their lunch, they light a candle and eat together. The candle flame is a “fire fairy.”

For the last month or so, our family has been having a candle at our evening meal. My son Orlando (four and a half) always wants to blow out the candle, often before we are finished eating.

I have struggled, almost daily, since the birth of my second child, to remain patient and compassionate with my kids; to parent in the way I believe.

And here I am, being impatient, uncompassionate, and definitely not peaceful.

“No.”

“I wanna blow it out!”

“No! We’re still eating.”

All the while he is trying to lean closer and I am moving the candle away. I am saying NO. NO. NO.

Everything about me is saying NO, and not in that firm no-nonsense way of a mother that usually, as a result of its own clarity, gets an immediate response.

It is NO in a desperate attempt to revert to the past or some ideal time when no child of mine would try to blow out a candle before dinner is done.

Really smart.

And so not effective.

The more I say NO in this clenching rather than clear way, the more crazy he gets to blow it out. We are literally fighting over fire.

Then I start feeling sorry for myself: Why is everything such a struggle? An immediate battle?

Um.

Because I make it that way?

Suddenly, inspiration strikes.

“But if we blow out the candle now, the fire fairy won’t have time to get back home!”

“The fire fairy?”

“Yes,” I say, and I look my child in the eye. “The fire fairy is in the flame -– let’s have her stay with us a bit longer.”

His eyes are wide. His face is solemn. “The fire fairy is inside the flame?”

“Yes,” I say. “Yes.” Then I pause. “Will you wait and blow out the candle when we are done eating?”

”Yes!”

And just like that, we are no longer fighting. We’ve gone from No to Yes.

Orlando sits back down. We continue eating, and stay at the table for a long time.

I feed him bite after bite. He leans against me (he scoots his chair as close as possible to my chair during meals, which I have lately been responding to with stress, yet tonight I am grateful for this mellow closeness). We are as relaxed as if we were sitting in front of a roaring fireplace.

Finally, it is time for the fire fairy to fly away home. Orlando and I blow out the flame.

+ + +

Stacy is the mama behind Mama-Om, where she writes quirky, vibrant, honest and insightful posts about (trying to) parent peacefully.

Guest post: ‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s guest post is from Jenny who blogs at Babyfingers.

‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

Do you already have a hair care army living in your kitchen?
I had never heard of ‘poo free hair care until some friends at our local babywearing group brought it up at a meeting. One lady mentioned how pleased she’d been with the condition of her hair since she quit using shampoo. Perplexed, several of us asked “what do you use?” The answer was simpler and cheaper than I expected: baking soda and apple cider vinegar!

Because I’d been told some people experience shampoo withdrawal I placed the commencement of my ‘poo free hair care on the back burner. Shampoo was working okay for me. Still, I often looked in the mirror to see a brown mop of unruly hair which was three times as voluminous as I desired. The frizz was worse on wash days (I only shampooed every other day) and was especially bad during times of high humidity in the summer or high static in the winter. I identified with Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and had my shampoo to thank for it. When it dawned on me that quitting shampoo could possibly remedy my lifelong hair troubles, I got started.

For about five dollars I purchased a half-gallon of apple cider vinegar and a box of baking soda. I looked around my kitchen for containers and found two sippy cups. Squirt bottles of some sort (recycled, if possible; you might use your old shampoo bottles) are best because they make it easier to coat the hair without wasting materials or accidentally pouring into your eyes. After a little trial-and-error, I now put about a tablespoon of baking soda in the first cup and fill the rest of it with water, then put the cap on and shake it. I fill the second cup with about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and fill the rest of it with water. There are exact measurement suggestions here. I massage the baking soda solution into my wet hair. Next I add the ACV solution, leave it in for a few seconds, and rinse. It smoothes my hair out and makes it easy to brush. I end with a cold rinse. My friend Julie, who got me started on ‘poo free hair care, also recommends using lavender water in a spray bottle. I use locally made lavender linen spray (not just any lavender linen spray works; it must be made with real lavender oil and water). You can also buy your own lavender oil and mix it with water. Spraying this on freshens up ‘poo free hair between washes. For the first couple of weeks you may need to do more frequent washes or rinses. Alternatively, you could skip the extra washes and wear a hat, scarf, or ponytail.

Eventually my hair began to feel dry, probably because I was using too much baking soda. I tried a deep conditioning treatment of mayonnaise and avocado, which came highly recommended by several sources. To make this treatment you mix one mashed avocado with ½ cup of (real) mayonnaise. Squish it through your hair, put on a shower cap and leave it in for 30 minutes. Rinse well. After this treatment my hair was a little too moist! It became limp and stringy, and it didn’t smell like a rose either. If you try this one, I’d recommend applying it only to the ends of your hair on the first try. Also be careful not to leave it on too long! Another similar treatment I’ve read about and would like to try is half of an avocado mashed with an egg rather than the mayo. It’s similar, because mayo does have eggs in it, but using an egg instead eliminates a ton of oil, which is the first ingredient in mayo. Therefore, it may be better for all but the driest hair. I have used a beaten egg on my hair as a mask and have been pleased with the results even when I was still using shampoo. Besides, if you have extra, the vitamins in eggs (and possibly avocados) will also work wonders as a mask on your face!

My favorite occasional treatment is the sugar scrub, suggested by Julie. It’s useful if you have dandruff or hair that feels dirty or stiff near the roots. For this one you need honey and brown sugar (it doesn’t dissolve as easily as white). Get a small handful of sugar and squirt approximately the same amount of honey on top of it. Rub your hands together, lean over so the length of your hair is hanging down, and massage it into your scalp. It works best if your hair is wet but the shower is off; you don’t want the sugar to dissolve too quickly. It’s the perfect exfoliant because when you are finished the warm water melts the sugar and it rinses out in seconds! This scrub feels wonderful and restores bounce to hair. Follow it with your regular baking soda and vinegar routine.
There are many other inexpensive, natural treatments with which to supplement your baking soda and ACV. If your hair is dry you can condition it with sweet almond oil, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil (see details here). Some people choose to continue using regular conditioner sparingly; I still have a bottle of conditioner I bought at Whole Foods but haven’t had to use it yet.

Of course, where there’s a need, there’s a product! Terressentials, an organic body care company, makes delicious-looking Pure Earth Hair Wash, which was honored in 2004 as a top product in the Green Guide. I’m hoping to try it soon; although baking soda and vinegar are easy on our budget, sometimes I long for a yummy scent such as lavender or mint. I’ve also read that this hair wash adds shine and makes hair softer. (If you’ve tried it, please tell us how you liked it!)
‘Poo-free hair care is individualized just like shampoo. How many people can say they’ve used the same kind of shampoo their whole life? I can’t; I’ve been through dozens of brands! In the end, though, I have been happier after a month’s experience with baking soda and ACV than I have in years and years of shampoo-sampling. The hardest part of the ‘poo free experience is getting over the idea that bubbles are required to clean hair. Not only are they unnecessary, but they wash out your hair’s natural oils! The ultimate goal is to gently clean dirt and impurities out of your hair while leaving the oils your hair needs. Once I stopped trying to shampoo and blow-dry my hair into submission, I was able to find a balance and embrace its natural body and texture.

For more information on ‘poo free hair care and other reasons giving up shampoo is a good idea, visit this informative post at Babyslime.
Are you ‘poo free? What techniques have worked for you?

Jenny lives in South Carolina with her one-year-old daughter Suzi and husband Jordan. She enjoys practicing attachment parenting and is especially interested in babywearing and breastfeeding. She blogs (and sometimes rants) at Babyfingers.

Guest post: Gradually Going Local

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post is from Ami who blogs at Writing: My Life.

I first heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) several years ago in a magazine article. I immediately loved the idea of paying a local farmer in exchange for a weekly share in whatever he or she produced. What better way to really know where your food is coming from? Unfortunately, by the time I’d learned about CSA the deadlines to sign up with any of the local farms had passed. I planned to check into it again the next spring, but kept letting those deadlines pass me by.

The desire to start eating more locally kept building, though, as memories of homegrown tomatoes and carrots straight from the garden came back to me. Then, in the spring of last year, I read a book that changed my perspective on food tremendously. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reacquainted me with the natural order of food. It reminded me that eating a tomato in January (unless it comes from a jar you put up in August) is not natural. It made me take a second look at my banana-eating habits. And it taught me that local eating can be healthy, good for the environment and really flavorful, too.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I started running into articles on local eating and Community Supported Agriculture everywhere, and I began thinking much more consciously about where my food was coming from. Yet again, I was too late to join a CSA for the year, but I shopped mainly at the farmer’s market that spring, summer and fall. I spent my weekends prepping and cooking fresh produce. I did some freezing and drying to preserve a bit of what I brought home. I even tried growing my own tomatoes, which unfortunately succumbed to the beaks of the pigeons and blackbirds before I could enjoy them. I also did a little local-eating experiment, and I learned a lot about how difficult our current food system and lifestyles can make eating locally.

The difficulty didn’t discourage me, though. I did my best, and this year, I was a little more prepared. I joined that CSA and was at the farmer’s market on opening weekend ready to eat with the seasons again. I got a newer refrigerator, with a freezer that could hold more produce for the winter months. I joined the One Local Summer Challenge, with the goal of eating at least one completely local meal each week. I planted an herb garden in my tiny backyard.

One day I hope to have a garden to tend with berries, squash, peppers, juicy tomatoes and more. But for now, I support my local farmers and try to keep my eating as local as possible. Sure, my behavior hasn’t completely changed. I still spend money at the grocery store and I haven’t started canning and root cellaring yet. And eating local certainly isn’t the easiest eating option. But I feel good knowing that my money is supporting local agriculture. I’m happier knowing the farmer that grows my vegetables at the CSA. I see him regularly when I pick up my share and he sends us a farm and harvest update every week. Even the farmers at the market are open about their growing practices and I’ve come to know several of them by name. These days, I know where my food is grown and I trust that it’s being done with conscious concern for the land and the people who will consume it. Of all the benefits of eating local, I think that’s the best one.

Ami is a technical and freelance writer trying to live a healthier and greener life—and some days she succeeds. Read more about her local eating escapades at Writing: My Life.

Guest post: Shot from the Heart

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post is from Stephanie of Adventures In Babywearing.

Shot From The Heart
By Stephanie Precourt, Adventures In Babywearing

My decision to not vaccinate my children is something I get asked about a lot. This seems to be one of the hardest subjects to “agree to disagree” upon. Whether it is with your doctor, your mother, or your friend. I get the impression that when someone hears we do not vaccinate, they feel like they must put up their defenses and explain why they do. And all too often they think not vaccinating is neglectful and alarmist. But most of these people have never met someone with a vaccine-injured child. And many times they have not really researched- both sides or any side at all.

I do not vaccinate for a few different reasons that include adverse reactions immediately after vaccination for one of my children, neurological issues in my oldest son, as well as several years of research on the subject.

But I would never criticize those that do vaccinate. I understand that neither choice is easy. I am so glad that we at least have a choice and I hope everyone is making an absolutely informed choice- one made on their own and not only with the help and instruction of their doctor.

Some of the most common false assumptions parents have about vaccines are based on fear, and not on truth. They think their child won’t be able to attend school. You can see your state’s laws regarding that right here. Many parents think that since the mercury has been removed from vaccines, there’s nothing to worry about anymore. But not all mercury has been removed. You can see the CDC (Center For Disease Control) vaccine ingredient listing here. And one of the scariest thoughts of all is that your child will die if they get the chicken pox, measles, or tetanus. If you do your research on all the diseases children are “immunized” for and see the true statistics and treatment options, it’s not so scary anymore. To people like me, the ingredients alone in just one shot is what is frightening.

When we all are informed, aware, and concerned, then good changes can start happening. Until then, why shouldn’t they just continue giving your baby shots with formaldehyde, aluminum, and thimerosal if no one’s complaining?

Doctors and the men and women running our government are human. They can be helpful, but they are not God. They do not know everything- how something will turn out tomorrow or in five years. In the end, only you as the parent are the one who will be held accountable. Go with your heart, your gut, and your instinct, and above all, make your choice an informed one.

Stephanie blogs daily at Adventures In Babywearing. You can also read more of her posts on the subject of vaccines in depth here.

Guest post: Surviving Your Four Year Old

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s guest post is from Alicia who blogs at Magic and Mayhem.

Surviving Your Four Year Old!
Originally posted Jan 26th, 2008 by Alicia

Lately Jack (age 4) has been really pushing my buttons! He’s been argumentative, angry, bossy, defiant and just plain trying. He’s told me he hated me (which neither of his big sisters have ever done!), threatened me, made mean faces, you name it.

I have read enough parenting books and been through enough parenting to know that children act bad when they feel bad. Still, it is very hard to take when a small boy keeps shouting at you and saying mean things! There is only so much of the Mary Poppins hat you can put on before you feel like beating him with it.

I know what the conventional wisdom is. Spank, yell, punish, show him who’s boss. Be meaner back to teach him how to be nice. I’m not a fan of conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom was once that the world was flat and you should own slaves. That doesn’t mean I didn’t lose it and yell and act mean a time or two during this phase, but it wasn’t my goal.

The behavior has been going on for several weeks and it was a long few weeks.

In order to get through it, I read Your Four Year Old again to remind myself what was age appropriate and what works for the age, modeled handling my own anger well, firmly told him that he could not treat me badly and left the room if he was nasty to me, offered lots of hugs, talked about his feelings and healthy ways to express them, dramatically increased his mama time, gave him more choices, read extra books, smiled lots, told him I loved him lots, complemented his good behavior and waited.

Of course I also lost it and yelled, told his dad to take over, vented to friends, and acted rotten myself a few times! I’m human, after all. :)

Fast forward to the past few days. I have my old Jack back now for the most part, just a little older and wiser. Today he greeted me with “Hi mom, how ya doin’?” and then made up a poem for me later (You may be big, you may be small, but you’re my bestest friend of them all). The past few days he has presented me with artwork, told me many times how much he loved me, helped out when asked, apologized when he was rude to his sister…. He’s been a mature, sweet, helpful, funny little boy.

This is a big time in Jack’s life. He stopped being the baby in the family 8 months ago when his brother came along. He is learning to read and write and add. He is growing and changing. He’s stuck inside during a very cold winter and not able to run and move the way his body needs to. He’s got to share, compromise, negotiate and be patient many times a day, which are skills a lot of grown ups never master.

It can be so hard when little ones (or big ones!) go through stages that make us nuts. I can just imagine what it will be like around here when we have a bunch of teenagers! I am so glad that I had faith in him and kept working at helping him through it, instead of turning us into enemies.

And with that, I’m off to go play with said four year-old! Have a great day all!

Alicia Bayer is an Attachment Parenting, homeschooling mother to four fabulous kids ages 1 to 10. She runs the website A Magical Childhood (www.magicalchildhood.com) and a parenting/homeschooling blog (http://magicandmayhem.homeschooljournal.net/).