Monday, August 8, 2016

What We Use: Around The House

(This post contains an affiliate link)

This is just a little sneak peek into what we are using around our house. As mentioned in previous postings, we like to keep it as chemical free as possible. I used to shop around from place to place and go super crazy reading labels. Now that I have three kids, there is just no time for that. Between the kids, working, and finishing up my Bachelor's degree.. I'm pretty strapped for time. Which is why I love The Honest Company products. I can trust that their brand won't have harmful chemicals. To make my life easier, I subscribe to their bundles. They automatically ship on the date of your choice, and the frequency of your choice.

They offer a few different types of bundles. Vitamins, diapers, essentials, and formula. I'm currently subscribed to the essentials and diaper bundles. The essentials bundle allows me to switch it up each order, depending on what I need at that time. Most often, I have the toothpaste (kids & adults), shampoo, laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent. Those are my go to, I almost always need them. Occasionally I'll need the hand sanitizer, so I'll add that on. More recently I've needed the sunscreen (all three types) so I've utilized their add on option to the bundle - which allows you to add specific items on to your already existing bundle for a discounted price. And let me say, this is my second summer using the sunscreen and I LOVE it. We use the stick on the little faces and the spray on their bodies. I use the lotion on my shoulders. We have not had any burns or reactions, which I was nervous about during when Vienna was on chemotherapy. I love this bundle because it is so versatile. It offers household products to health products. I never have to run out of anything and it only takes a few days to come in once shipped! I also have the diaper bundle, because I still have two kids in diapers (c'mon Hadley, time to potty train!). The supply provided within the diaper bundle lasts me all through the month with Sawyer. For Hadley, we don't need to change her as much so I'm able to stretch it out even longer. What's great about this bundle and having two in diapers, is that you can change the sizes (and prints) with each order. You can also add on training pants and night time diapers. I used to only use cloth diapers, but again.. with being so busy I haven't been able to make cloth work. So luckily The Honest Company gives me the opportunity to continue avoiding the harmful chemicals in most disposable diapers. The diaper bundle comes with 6 packs of diapers and 4 packs of wipes. The Essentials bundle comes with 5 products of your choice.

Lastly, a lot of people wonder how difficult it is to get out of a subscription once you sign up. I can tell you, from personal experience, it's not difficult at all. Previously, I was getting the health & wellness bundle for prenatal vitamins. Once I no longer needed them I simply called and canceled. There was no long wait time, no harassing me to keep the bundle, it was just simple. So if that's what's holding you back, no need to worry.

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This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions about The Honest Company are my own.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Recipe: Lactation Oatmeal

I've had MANY struggles during my time with breastfeeding. My  #1 trouble is not making enough milk, which was evidenced by his lack of weight gain. Since he had a nursing strike early on at around 2 weeks, we have been mainly pumping since. Pumping just doesn't get your body making milk like a nursing baby would, and it's a lot of work. One thing i'm doing to help my milk supply is eating foods that are known to help increase milk production (known as galactagogues). After searching through a bunch of recipes, I put together a few different ones and made one that I liked. To me, it tastes very similar to Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal. I've been putting the dry ingredients into zip lock bags and making a couple at time, to last me a few days. Easy on the go snack to grab before work too. Oatmeal should basically be a nursing mom's staple breakfast!

Gather up ingredients, most you probably already have. The Brewer's Yeast I purchased from Amazon and you really can't taste it in there at all, I know the taste can be a common complaint.

Here is the recipe:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl then add hot water until you get the consistency you like for oatmeal. Once mixed, I then add a drizzle of syrup (or honey) on top. You can also add almond milk, dried fruit, or nuts. Enjoy each morning for breakfast or for a quick snack throughout the day.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why I'm Dwelling On The Past

The're supposed to let it go, right? Well, I can't. Maybe this is true for a lot of people who have gone through a traumatic experience. My experience was childhood cancer, which has made me forever a cancer mom. Three years ago, I would have never have seen myself where I am today. For some reason it feels like I went from the summer of 2013 to now in the blink of an eye. Seriously.. what just happened? What happened in these last three years? It went by so fast. Cancer diagnosis, new baby, new house, enrolled in a BSN program, cancer remission, another new baby - all while working. One thing after another. Happy times and sad times. In the two and a half years of Vienna's cancer treatment, SO MUCH has happened. I feel like I was dragged through it, without really experiencing it. So now that she is 6 months off treatment, i'm finally ready to comprehend what has happened.

Maybe some people want to just block out bad times, forget them completely. I'm not ready for that. I am constantly trying to remember the things that have happened to us in those years, and I always seem to remember something new. I find myself scrolling through my old Instagram and Facebook photos and looking at our old posts on her Facebook page. Constantly reminding myself of what she had to go through. It may seem like i'm torturing myself, but really i'm just trying to grasp onto all of those times and start to take them in and process them. I never had the chance to when we were actually experiencing them.

For me, I think dwelling on the past is therapeutic. It's a way for me to go back and accept and come to terms with everything. I'm finally able to talk to others about what has happened and how it affected them. Cancer has changed our lives big time but I haven't really had the chance to talk to others about how her cancer changed them too. I want to hear more of their side of things, where were they when they found out, etc. It's how i'm coping with this traumatic event. Accepting it as a part of my past. I'm still trying to work on how it all fits in with my life today, balancing between remembering the events and forgetting the emotions. What should I take with me and what should I leave behind? We're only 6 months post cancer, so with time I think i'll learn how to integrate all these aspects and move on.

**the above picture was taken 10 days before she was diagnosed, on a a horse at King Richard's Faire

Monday, May 23, 2016

Things NOT To Say To The Parent Of A Child With A Mental Illness

"She would if she could" is something that we often need to remember as parents of Vienna. Vienna doesn't have the ability to connect the dots from point A (being a problem) to point B (being the solution). The in-between is known as the meltdown. She would be good.. if she could.. but she can't. Beneath the childhood cancer, Vienna has something going on within her brain that we can't quite understand. Was she destined to have this? Or was it due to the massive amounts of poison injected into her brain and body to keep her alive? That we'll never know.

The following is a list of things that I just can't stand to hear. Each phrase reminds me over and over again that she is different. Sometimes things were easier when she looked sick (no hair) because then people would "give her a break" when she was having a meltdown in public. Now that she is looking & feeling better, people just think she is having a typical tantrum, but that's just not the case.
  1. "Why don't you just put her in time out?" You probably won't believe me but time out does nothing, actually... it intensifies and lengthens the meltdown. 
  2. "I know how you feel, mine acts up ALL the time" Do you? Do you know how I feel? Maybe sometimes. BUT having a mental illness isn't just acting up or acting out, it's much more than that. A meltdown doesn't just occur when she doesn't get what she wants, it also happens when there is a change of plans or she can't complete a task in a certain order. 
  3. "After all that you're still going to let her play with that?!" Yes, yes I am. Why? Because the meltdown that will ensue if I then try to take away said toy will not be worth it. 
  4. "Bad kids come from bad parenting" Yes maybe, but not in this case. Our parenting style has nothing to do with her brain chemistry. 
  5. "You can't let her rule your life" Unfortunately, with this type of mental illness our life HAS to revolve around her. Avoiding triggers, tip toeing around her, doing anything and everything possible to avoid the next meltdown takes up quite a bit of time. 
  6. "Why aren't you more social, you can't miss these family parties!" This goes along with #5. Being around a lot of people can be a trigger, it's sensory overload. When I take her to a party, she may have 30-60 minutes of fun time (maybe) but there will inevitably be a trigger which will lead to a meltdown that you will then judge us about. Sometimes, it's just easier to avoid being in public all together. Especially if it's just me and the three kids, I have no reinforcements. Sometimes she needs to literally be dragged out of wherever we are. This becomes challenging with a toddler and an infant. 
  7. "She's just doing it for attention" The thing about this is.. she doesn't even realize she's having a meltdown until AFTER it's done. That's how you know there's a difference between an illness and being what they call a "spoiled brat". 
  8. "Why don't you just try ____ (insert vague recommendation that you think I may not have already heard of)" Stop there - trust me, I HAVE. 
  9. "It's so rude that you don't make her say bye to family members" Forcing her to say bye or to give a hug/kiss will surely cause a scene you do NOT want to be a part of, trust me. Just understand that the 5 minutes of pleasant time you had with her is about all you're going to get. 
Next time you see a kid acting up in public, rethink judging them as there may be more to the situation than you think. What we do appreciate is support. This would include the person who has brought my bags back to the car while I have a tight hold on her to keep her from running into the moving cars in the parking lot, THANK YOU!

Friday, May 13, 2016

What We Made: Activated Charcoal Face Wash

Recently I heard about Activated Charcoal and its benefits. I thought WHY did I not know about this?! I immediately purchased a bar of soap made with activated charcoal and loved it. It made my skin feel super clean and it has a nice scent to it. I wanted to purchase the face wash as well but it was so expensive! I figured I would just make some myself. So.. why activated charcoal? Activated charcoal is better known for it's use in the stomach but it has many other beneficial uses. One being on the skin. So using it in body care products is a new must for me. When used on the face, it pulls the junk out of your pores and leaves your face feeling super clean and refreshed. 

This is a super easy DIY recipe with only three ingredients. Coconut oil, baking soda, and activated charcoal. You can get these anywhere. At first I couldn't find the charcoal at CVS and I even asked if they had it and they said no. But instead of looking under the "A" section for activated, it was under the "C" section for charcoal, activated. The baking soda adds a bit of exfoliation to the face wash, which is great to get rid of the dead skin cells. 

Here's the supplies you need with the recipe:

Measure out your ingredients, luckily the weather is a bit warmer so getting the coconut oil out wasn't a pain as it usually it. The activated charcoal comes in capsules that you will twist open to get the powder. 

Next, add about 1/3 of the coconut oil to a bowl and stir around a bit. Then add in the charcoal powder and stir. 

Add in all of the baking soda then stir.

Add in the remainder of the coconut oil and stir until everything is mixed well. 

Ta-da! Done. Super quick and super easy. Now it's ready to use. Prior to use I would use a warm face cloth to really open those pores up then lather on. I let mine sit for about 10-15 minutes, to get a really good deep clean. For now i'm going to use it every other day then once a week. The coconut oil leaves your skin feeling so soft, I didn't even have to use a moisturizer after. Hadley thought I looked hilarious. 

Get your DIY on and give it a shot! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Story Behind The Kids Names

Why/how we chose our little ones names.

Vienna Ruby
It took a while for us to find a name that we both liked. But one day it seemed to click when we were listening to a song -  "Vienna" by Billy Joel. Both of us really liked the song and hadn't heard the name Vienna before. We weren't looking for something super unique, but definitely something that not a lot of other kids had. So this name fit perfect. Also, I really liked the first line of the song "Slow down you crazy child" - made me think of how fast babies/kids grow up.

We knew what her middle name was going to be the second we found out she was a girl, Ruby. This is because Greg and I met at Ruby Tuesdays when we were both working there. It was a perfect, meaningful middle name.

She has tons of nickname options. We call her V, Vivi, Nen, or Nenna.

Hadley Coe
We chose the name Hadley much earlier than our other two kids, about midway through the pregnancy. It was a name that I had on my list since Vienna was about one. We found out we were having another little girl about 2 weeks before Vienna was diagnosed, Vienna was excited to have a little sister and insisted her name be "Flower". After a little nudge she agreed on Hadley. I heard the name a while back on True Blood and just always liked it. It really fits her now.

Her middle name is probably not one you hear often. We chose it because I was having a home birth and it was the name of the street in which she was going to be born on. After we all agreed on her full name, we ended up moving to a different home 1 week before she was born (it was a CRAZY week). The new street name didn't flow at all so we still went Coe. I love how her name flows together.

For nicknames, we usually call her Had or Haddie.

Sawyer Flynn
I've never had a boy name that I was in love with or even any that I had on a list. Since we found out very early at 11 weeks that we were having a boy, I knew I had a lot of time to figure out a name. But this pregnancy went by super fast and before I knew it I had a no-name baby boy in my arms! On the name list we had Holden, Jack, Levi, and Sawyer. We were looking for a classic name. I thought that when I saw him I would just "know" but we didn't. It wasn't until about 3 hours later that we decided he was a Sawyer and we're both happy we made that decision.

We knew his middle name would be Flynn because it was meaningful to us. Our children's pediatrician is Dr. Flynn and she has been through it all with us. She is the one who first spoke the word "Leukemia" to us and she was always there visiting Vienna in the hospital.

We're still working out a good nickname for this little guy. Right now we call him Soy and little soybean, not too great but i'm sure we'll come up with some more.

As for future little ones? Well, not sure there will be any ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Special Treatment"

Due to a recent issue that we have encountered, I have thought quite a bit about the words "special treatment" and if they apply to our situation. I've never thought of myself as a "helicopter mom" or a mom who would ask anyone to go out of their way/break the rules for my child. But - with each experience we encounter in our lives, our outlook on things can change. I am one who follows the rules - always. Ask my husband, he'll say the same. If I see a sign that says don't do something, I don't do it. I am afraid of consequences. When I try to call and clear up a situation and they tell me "No", I hang up and try to let it go. But in this recent situation - their rules were just not right. So I had to bring in my husband to help clear it up.

Situation - For April school vacation we signed her up for an extra special experience, a daily M-F zoo camp. We usually don't like to commit to anything because there is always that possibility she get sick, but she's off treatment and had been doing so well. It wasn't cheap but we made it work. She was SO excited. The Thursday before school vacation I got a call from the school nurse who said she wasn't feeling well and had a low grade 100 degree fever. I picked her up at lunch time and took her home to rest. By the next day (Friday) her temp was up to 103.8 and she had vomiting as well. We took her to her Pediatrician and she had a viral infection, we were sent home to rest and encourage fluids. The high temp stayed through Sunday and a cough came as well. By Sunday night she hadn't used the bathroom at all and her cough was really bad. I decided it was time to go to the ER to get her checked out. I figured we would go in, get some fluids and go home. She could still feel better the next day for zoo camp. When we got to the ER they did a chest x-ray to rule out Pneumonia, but it confirmed Pneumonia. Her oxygen saturations were hovering around 90% (dipping as low as 84) and they did not feel comfortable with us leaving. We stayed for two nights and she received many doses on antibiotics and fluids. On Tuesday zoo camp called to see why she hadn't been there, I told them the situation (tearing up when I told them how excited she had been). I asked if we could possibly switch the week for a week in the summer so she could still experience it. I was told they had strict rules but she would run it by the director. I got a phone call back about 20 minutes later and she said sorry, they weren't able to refund the money or switch the week. I was very upset and rules are rules I guess. I then called my husband and explained what had happened (he was at home with our other two children), he was NOT happy with the answer. He called back and left several messages. He finally reached the director who, at first, was not much help. She insisted they cannot bend the rules, even for these circumstances. Not until he mentioned what the news would think about this did she change her attitude. In the end, we did get the week switched to a week in the summer - but it was only because they didn't want us to reach out to the news or put any attention on them, not because they had a change of heart.

Our situation with our child is unique. We have a child who has faced death, before even knowing what it was. She has made friends at her cancer clinic and then lost them due to the horrible disease.  She has had years of her innocent childhood stolen from her. Those years were so important to her development, socially and emotionally she is not where she should be. She never got to experience the first day of Kindergarten or her first Father/Daughter dance (which she cried for days about). After all that we have gone through as a family, we realized that every day is important because the next day could change everything.

I'll just say it - children who have fought or are fighting cancer should get special treatment. Everything possible should be done to ensure that they are experiencing life and making memories. As much as we wanted her to live a normal life, it's just not possible. She has been through too many traumatizing events. Even though she is no longer sick and her hair is growing back, the pain of all that has happened stays. Tomorrow we could hear the word "relapse" and that is why today is so important. 15-20% of children who have been treated for A.L.L. will relapse, that's a big number! I don't want to live everyday scared of her relapsing, but it is a possibility. That's why it is crucial she get to experience everything possible. There's a thing called "pulling the cancer card". When she was in the midst of treatment she was completely bald - you could tell she had cancer. We never really had to ask for special treatment, people would just do it because they felt bad. Once they start to look more "normal" no one has any idea what they've gone through. So sometimes you try to "pull the cancer card" so that way she can experience something extra special. I'm officially not ashamed to say that on rare occasions, we do it. And if it gets her to give us an extra big smile, then it was TOTALLY worth it.