Diaper Cakes

**All diapers are secured with twine, clear tape, or diaper pins (for cloth) and remain completely usable!**

lisamccorkell {at} gmail {dot} com
805 - four five five - seven seven one nine

Hello Kitty
rolled disposable diapers
Hello Kitty wrist rattles and small security blanket
sock roses

Sea Creatures
rolled disposable diapers wrapped with organic flat cloth diapers
"Sock-ta-pus" toy
Green Sprouts sea creature terry cloth bath toys

Blue, brown, and green
fanned disposable diapers
Turtle toy
Elephant toy
sock roses

Basic Beef Stock Recipe

One easy, healthy change I made for my family was to begin making my own chicken and beef stock for soups and sauces.  Ever since I learned about the benefits of real homemade bone broth from Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen food blog and read about how broth is so beautiful from Sally Fallon at the Weston A. Price Foundation, I can't go back to buying canned broths and stocks.  I believe that taking the time to make stock at home makes my family healthier and makes our food taste better.

Buy grass-fed beef soup bones if possible.  I buy them at Whole Foods or at my local farmers' market.  Grass-fed cows have higher vitamin and mineral content in their meat and bones, and are more healthy animals, so their meat and bones are healthier for you!  If you can't find grass-fed, or don't want to spend the extra money for them, it's ok.  Real bone broth is still good for you even if the cow wasn't grass-fed.

Roast the bones at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes

Roasting the bones browns the marrow and meat and fat that may be attached.  The browning is part of what makes cooked food taste so good. You can skip this step if you are short on time, but the stock won't have as good of flavor.

3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 1 onion, in a 4 quart pot

Adding veggies also helps develop good flavor and adds nutritional value to the stock.  It's not necessary to add veggies, but it is a good idea.  I don't always add the veggies.  For this picture, I broke the (unpeeled) carrots and celery in half with my hands, and I cut the onion into quarters.  These veggies will be removed later, so I keep them large for easy removal.

Add bones to the pot

Fill with cold water, add 2 bay leaves, and 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
Cover, and bring to a boil.
Sally Fallon says that adding cold water to the pot and allowing it to come to a boil slowly is good for the broth, and adding the vinegar helps extract nutrients from the bones.

I turn the heat to about medium-low and let it come to a boil.  Then, I turn the flame down to the lowest setting to maintain a good temperature.  You don't want the stock to actively boil, a small simmer is ok, but if it simmers too much the pot will whistle and the liquid will evaporate too much.

If you see white, foamy "scum" collecting on the surface of the simmering broth, skim it off with a spoon.

Simmer for at least 4 hours, but 12 hours is good.  I usually start mine after dinner, and simmer it overnight.  Sometimes, I let it simmer 24 hours or more, but I usually take the veggies out after 12 hours or less.  If the onions are left in overnight, they will caramelize while floating on the surface.  This can add great flavor.

I pour the stock out through a strainer into quart-sized mason jars, let it cool, and refrigerate, but you can also ladle it straight out of the pot to use in a recipe.  I always pour it through a strainer to keep the broth clear of hunks of bone and veggie scraps.  I also like to refrigerate it before using it so all of the fat rises to the top and can be scooped off while cold.

I'm Pregnant! First Trimester Woes

In my last post I talked about how my period returned and I was ovulating on the full moon.  I only had 3 cycles before becoming pregnant again at the beginning of March.  Now that I have come out of the fog of the first trimester, I am here to say that I survived fatigue, nausea, and incredibly sore nipples, and that Ewan (who just turned 2!) is still breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding While Pregnant: Partial Night Weaning

Just as breastfeeding itself doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing (in cases of low milk supply or difficult life circumstances, many mothers breastfeed and supplement with formula), I have discovered that night weaning doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing either.

Currently, 2-year-old Ewan rarely nurses unless he is going to sleep.  Occasionally, he will nurse for comfort for just a minute or two.  I have had alot of success nursing him to calm him down when he's throwing a tantrum.

Unfortunately, my nipples are not interested in nursing anymore.  I only have 8 weeks until my due date.  I figure that we've made it this far, we can find a way to make it work through the end.

I can nurse Ewan for maybe 2 minutes on each side (sometimes less) and then my nipples become too sensitive and I get this "get off of me!" feeling.

Apparently, this is very common in pregnant women.  Some women go ahead and completely wean, but I am not interested in completely weaning Ewan, so I was looking for other options.

I didn't pre-plan to partially night wean him.  It just happened in the moment because I couldn't do it anymore.

One night last week, Ewan had nursed to sleep as usual but in the middle of the night, he woke up at about 4am and climbed in bed with us.  He cuddled up to me and nursed for a few minutes, but I just couldn't let him do it any longer.  It was too uncomfortable.

I made him stop and told him to just lay down and cuddle with me without nursing. This did not go over well.  He cried and threw a fit.  For at least an hour.

During all of this, I would allow him to nurse for just 30 seconds or so and then tell him that "mommy's nipples hurt" and he had to stop.

He pawed at my shirt.  He thrashed around in the bed.  He ran back to his bed.  He sat on the couch in the living room and demanded to watch Sesame Street.

He was in tears.  I was in tears.  Daddy was getting frustrated, too.  He was offering suggestions and trying to help Ewan, with no success.

Honestly, I wasn't sure it was going to work at all, but there wasn't much I could do.

I told him that I really wanted to nurse, but that I couldn't because it hurt.  Perhaps telling him that I wanted to nurse made the difference, or maybe he was just exhausted, but he stopped crying and laid down with me in his own twin bed in his room.  I turned on the "Ocean" sounds from the Sleep Sheep and told him to "listen to the ocean" with me.

Then, he fell asleep without nursing!

We had been awake for at least an hour, maybe longer, and I had to wake Ewan up at 7:30 so he could get ready to go to preschool.

The next night when he was going to sleep, I let him nurse for just a few minutes and then made him stop and just "listen to the ocean" and cuddle with me.  He went to sleep without nursing again!  This time, with no protest.

And when he woke up in the middle of the night, he climbed in bed next to me and fell asleep without asking to nurse at all.

Now, I will nurse him when he first gets into bed, but only for a few minutes, and then he has to just lay down and cuddle with me.  He knows that if he wants to nurse, he can, but only for a few minutes, and then he has to stop.  But, he knows that he's not cut off completely.

I guess it's a partial night weaning.

Moon Cycle

You may have heard that women can ovulate with the moon cycles, but is it really true? Some studies have actually been done on this topic, and they have, for the most part, been inconclusive.  I am convinced that it is real though, because it happened to me!

Tips for Avoiding Low Milk Supply

Did you ever have that fear that you would suddenly wake up one day and not have enough milk for your baby?  There's a little person who relies solely on you for her sustenance, and you can't even see how much milk she taking in.  You just have to trust that your body has enough.

Honestly, you will NOT wake up one day and have no milk.  But, some women do struggle with making enough.   If you get a good milk supply started from the beginning and keeping breastfeeding your baby as necessary, you should have no problems.  Your body is made to feed your baby!

Tips for ensuring enough milk:

Breastfeed your baby 12 times in the first 24 hours after birth
     The current theory on breastmilk production is that it is closely related to how much stimulation the mother's nipples get in the first 24 to 48 hours after birth.  The best plan is to offer the breast every 2 hours or whenever your baby seems to want to suck, night and day.  Some babies are really sleepy and need to be woken up to breastfeed.  Undressing the baby down to a diaper and laying him or her on your bare chest can help wake a baby up.
     If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch on in the first 24 hours, use a breastpump or your hand to stimulate the nipples every 2 hours.  If you use a pump, your nipples will get good stimulation, but you may not see any milk.  This is normal.  The volume is so little in the first few days that the pump has trouble drawing it out.  The best way to express the colostrum of the first few days is through hand expression.  Watch this video on You Tube or ask your lactation consultant to show you how to hand express some drops out into a cup to feed to your baby.

Don't limit the amount of time your baby spends at the breast
    A nurse, your friend, or a family member may tell you to only allow your baby to nurse for 10 minutes per side to avoid sore nipples.  This isn't true.  Proper latch will help you avoid sore nipples.  Limiting the time your nipples are stimulated can have a negative effect on milk production and can prevent your baby from getting the nutritious fatty milk that comes out at the end of a feeding.  Tell the well-meaning person thanks for the advice, but you don't feel comfortable taking your baby from the breast before she is done.

Don't take any pseudoephedrine
     Sudafed and many other brands of nasal decongestants medications contain pseudoephedrine.  In many states, you have to get these from behind the pharmacy counter.  While pseudoephedrine is not harmful to your baby and a doctor many tell you that it is fine to take while breastfeeding, it can have a serious effect on your milk supply.  Some women experience a decrease of 20% with one dose!  Read this article on Kellymom.com about the drugs.  Also, read the article from the beginning to see other ways to deal with your head cold that will not affect your milk supply.

Feed your baby on-demand
     Milk is made on a supply and demand basis.  Your body will make as much milk as is emptied out everyday.  Beware of feeding schedules and well-meaning advice about making your baby wait 3 hours between feedings, because this can cause your baby to take in less milk than she really needs during the day and decrease your supply.  While breastfeeding, babies only take in about 2 or 3 ounces of milk per feeding, and that milk is fully digested in about 90 minutes.

If you are having troubles with low milk supply contact a IBCLC or your local La Leche League chapter right away.

AAP's New Breastfeeding Statement

Actual words from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Statement (emphasis is my own):

"...breastfeeding and the use of human milk confer unique nutritional and nonnutritional benefits to the infant and the mother and, in turn, optimize infant, child, and adult health as well as child growth and development. 
Recently, published evidence-based studies have confirmed and quantitated the risks of not breastfeeding
Thus, infant feeding should not be considered as a lifestyle choice but rather as a basic health issue
As such, the pediatrician’s role in advocating and supporting proper breastfeeding practices is essential and vital for the achievement of this preferred public health goal."
I am so glad that a group of doctors has finally said that "infant feeding should not be considered as a lifestyle choice"!  It takes such a weight off of me because I know that to be true, but I don't want to go around guilting women into breastfeeding their children.  Yes, it takes more commitment from the mother since dad can't whip up breastmilk on his own, but honestly, it is so important for health!

I've heard not breastfeeding compared to not using a carseat (but I can't remember where).  Hospitals require even unemployed, impoverished people to have a car seat (which is expensive) to take the baby home, but they don't require all moms to be breastfeeding?

 A quick google search shows moms on discussion boards bemoaning the fact that most hospitals in the UK have stopped giving out free formula.  An article in the Manchester Evening News from September 2011 discusses one hospital's policy for parents to bring their own formula into the hospital if they plan on feeding their infants comercial formula.  The hospital does still have formula on hand in the event that it is necessary, but it does not give it out routinely.

Here's an article from the ABC News Australia discussing whether infant formula should be available by prescription only.  The argument is that if a mother cannot just go buy formula from the shelf then she will get medical help when breastfeeding is going poorly.  She has to make an appointment with a doctor to get formula so that doctor can refer her to a Lactation Consultant.


Also in this statement, the AAP now endorses the WHO's recommendation of exclusive breastmilk feeding for 6 months not 4 to 6 months, as previously stated.  This leads people to think that it is ok to start solids at 4 months, but the data shows that the longer exclusive breastmilk feeding is continued, the greater reduction in risk of a variety of childhood and adulthood illnesses.

The AAP Statement says:

"Compared with infants who never breastfed, infants who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months had significantly greater incidence of lower respiratory tract illnesses, otitis media, and diarrheal disease than infants exclusively breastfed for 6 months or longer.

Maybe now Gerber will take their "supported sitter" labels off of their babyfood containers?

The company doesn't give age ranges, but if a baby cannot sit up and put food
in his or her own mouth, maybe it's not time yet.

The Baby Center website says, "Your baby will probably learn to sit independently between the ages of 4 and 7 months."  But, the ability to sit up alone is not the only indicator of solid food readiness.

Gerber doesn't give age ranges for their "Supported Sitter" line, but if a baby cannot sit up and put food
in his or her own mouth, it's not time yet.  Is Gerber just preying on those parents (and grandparents) who are eager to introduce their babies to food?  I think so.

I felt that pressure too!  I gave Ewan his first taste of food at 5 1/2 months because I was so excited and he seemed ready to me.  I am re-thinking this idea and with my next baby, I am going to try to hold out until the baby can actually pick things up and put them in his or her mouth with the "pincer grasp".  This seems to be the skill that babies need to really be ready for food.  If that takes 7 months, then that's how long we will wait.

For more information on when to introduce food, read "Is my baby ready for solid foods?" by Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.

Natural Remedies for Illness

Ewan is 20 months now and has started attending a Montessori school's toddler class four mornings per week.  I knew that hanging around with a dozen other toddlers would lead to his picking up some germs, but I figured that wasn't a reason to deprive him of the rich learning environment that the school provides. Now, he's home sick, and we can feel ourselves coming down with it too.  Oh well.  Time to put on the comfy nursing top and make chicken soup.

Here are some of my natural remedies when we are sick:

1) Breastfeeding (of course!)
Milk is naturally antimicrobial, so what better medicine could I possibly give Ewan than my own milk?  Ewan seems to know that milk is what he needs, because whenever he gets sick all he wants to do is nurse.  He will shun most food and just want to nurse all day.  I let him nurse whenever he wants to, especially when he is sick.  He will even begin to have newborn poop.  Remember that yellow watery poop?  I had almost forgotten about it until he had a stomach virus a few months ago and all he would take in was my milk.  He had bright yellow poop for days!

2) Chicken Soup
Real homemade chicken soup, not the stuff in a can, has documented healing properties too.  I use the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that my mother gave me when I moved out of the house.  It's a great recipe.  My husband says it's the best chicken soup he's ever had.

Rough Chicken Soup Recipe:
It starts with a whole 3 to 4 pound chicken cut into quarters (use a large sharp knife), 1/2 cup of chopped onion, and 1 bay leaf put into a medium stock pot and covered in water.  Use filtered water for best taste.  Simmer covered for 2 hours.  Remove chicken and bones.  Then, the rest is up to you.  Add whatever chopped veggies and herbs you like: parsley, carrots, parsnips, celery, kale, etc.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add whatever noodles you like and simmer until done.  We like bowtie noodles or egg noodles.  Return chicken pieces (removed from bone) to soup and heat through.

The great thing is, you can remove the bones and simmer them again for more nutrient-packed bone broth.  Remove all useable meat from the bones and place the bones back into a stock pot.  Fill with filtered water.  Add 1 bay leaf.  Add 1/2 cup chopped onion.  Simmer on the stove for 12 hours or longer.  Strain and keep in the fridge for about 1 week.  Drink it warm or use it in any recipe calling for broth.  If you don't like the idea of a pot simmering on your stove for 12 hours you can make this in a crockpot or slowcooker on a low setting.

3) Honey Lemon "Tea"
Ewan's throat has been really sore for the past few days, so I've been making him a warm "tea" of honey and lemon.  Honey coats the throat and lemon helps too.  I can't find any research to support this, but it's an old folk remedy, just like chicken soup.  My husband's throat is sore now, and he says the tea worked for him.

Heat (not boil) about 8 oz of filtered water.  In a mug, add 1 heaping teaspoon of honey and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Stir in hot water.  I make 1/2 recipes for Ewan, since he will only drink about 4 oz.

4) Garlic and Orange Juice shots
Doctors are now realizing that we should not be taking chemical antibiotics for every sniffle.  They knock out good bacteria in the body as well as bad, and may not even do anything for your cold!  I've started using garlic instead.  Raw garlic is a natural broad spectrum antibiotic with no side effects besides temporary bad breath and possibly mild heart burn.  Take with food to reduce the chance of heart burn.  I haven't given this to Ewan because he breastfeeds, and he doesn't really care for garlic anyway.  My husband and I just took garlic and orange juice shots to boost our immune systems.  Cooked garlic loses its antibiotic effects, so the garlic must be raw.

Finely chop 1 - 2 large garlic cloves.  Allow to sit for a few minutes until pungent.  That garlic smell is caused by allicin, the oil that is released when the inside of the clove touches air.  This is what has the antibiotic properties.  Place garlic in a small glass.  Cover with 2 oz OJ.  Shoot it!  

Or, you could chop a few cloves up in a blender before adding frozen fruit, OJ, and yogurt for a smoothie.  However you take it, it's best not to try to chew the garlic bits.  The flavor of raw garlic is pretty intense.  Just swallow them.

The Best Cure for Stress

Though he still has 4 months to go, Ewan has entered the Terrible (yet, Terrific, I'm sure!) Twos.  The other day when we had an especially difficult time at a store, I realized another reason why breastfeeding a toddler is so great.  When he is being difficult and we both lose our cool, it brings us both back down to a relaxed state, so that the frustrations we feel with each other can be resolved positively.

The other day, DH, DS and I were at a big box store.  (I have a love-hate relationship with big box stores.  Sometimes one-stop shopping is so convenient.)  Ewan was so excited to be at the store that he did not want to sit in the cart, so he wandered around with us as I did my best to minimize the trail of destruction behind him.

All of the sudden, an object of interest caught Ewan's eye: a double-deck display of balls held up in a frame with bungee cords.  He bolted for the display and climbed in!  He went right between the bungee cords of the bottom layer and sat down in the middle of all of the balls, saying, "Balls!  Balls!"
The display was similar to this,
except it had balls on the
top and bottom.

"Ewan, please come out of there.  Let's pick one ball to carry with us, ok?" I said, calmly.


"It's dangerous to be in there, Ewan.  Let's come out, ok?"

No way.

He was in heaven, but I was exasperated.

We sat there for at least 5 minutes.

He was naming the colors of the balls and noticing the different textures on the balls, which was really cute, and I (begrudgingly) reinforced his communication as positively as I could, but he was inside of a display with 5 feet of playground balls suspended above his head, held up by only a few bungee cords.  This was not a safe or appropriate activity.

I finally had to remove him from the display.  He was so mad.  I did my best to keep the calmest voice possible and explain that we needed to say "bye-bye" to the balls.  We were both stressed out.  I was embarrassed and frustrated, and he was annoyed and frustrated.  I carried him out of the store and out to the car while he was squirming out of my arms and yelling.  It's at this point that I became very self conscious and wondered if other people think that I can't handle my own kid.  Those thoughts only add to my frustration.

At the car, he happily climbed into my lap in the front passenger's seat and nursed.  I figured he might be a little hungry for a snack, but even if he wasn't hungry, he was upset, and nursing almost always is the best way to calm him down.  But he wasn't the only one who needed to calm down.

It did the trick for both of us.  DH came back out the the car about 10 minutes later with our stuff and Ewan and I were fine.  No more tears--his or mine.  The oxytocin was flowing and it completely reset our moods.  Ewan got into his car seat with no protest.  DH handed him a ball that he'd picked up from the display as a present and we drove home.

I don't really want to imagine how that scene would have ended without the ability to nurse ourselves back to sanity.  It certainly would have involved more tears, more kicking and screaming, and more frustration with each other.

Breastfeeding saves us from staying mad at each other and it helps strengthen our relationship during the times when we need it most.

February in Santa Barbara

California Live Oak leaves in the grass
Winter on the Central Coast is sometimes rainy and chilly, sometimes clear and beautiful. This weekend it was windy yet amazing. We went to the grandparents' property up in the mountains above the city to get away.

Ewan collecting flowers.
Joe and a California Live Oak in the background.
Despite a spill he took on the brick patio that left him with a skinned up face, Ewan had lots of fun running around in the grass and picking flowers. Joe had collected some flowers for me and Ewan created his own arrangement after he saw mine. I could see his little brain working as he carefully chose each flower. We started by collecting the yellow clover flowers that are blooming all over the yard. Then, he began adding other flowers to make a bouquet. He rejected the orange colored flowers in favor of pinks and purples. We have just started working on colors. I have heard him say "purple", "blue", and "orange".

I'm loving the Santa Barbara winter!

Ewan's bouquet