Saturday, December 19, 2015

Parenting Methods: Gentle Parenting

Gentle Parenting is more of a sub-method, but I think it deserves its own post, because it is a direct response against “Authoritarian Parenting.” Here are the basic principles of gentle parenting:

  • Guide instead of controlling or ordering
  • Connect instead of punishing
  • Encourage; don't demand certain behaviours

I like the idea of gentle parenting, in the sense that you try to listen to and communicate with your child when it comes to correcting certain behaviours and attitudes. What I don't like is the supposition that authority is a bad thing. Here are some thoughts on the various principles and why I do or don't use them

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Parenting Methods: Attachment Parenting

I love reading about parenting methods. I find them illuminating, educational, and fun. The parenting methods out there are as varied as the children with whom they are practiced. There are essentially four parenting methods I am particularly drawn to, and there are aspects I love and hate about each of them.

The first method I want to talk about is called Attachment Parenting. It is most widely shared by Dr. Sears, a well respected pediatrician. I think part of the reason his touting of this method appeals to me is the fact that he has a large family; if a person only has one child and says that his/her method of parenting was the “only” method, I would probably be skeptical. Here are some typical practices of those who parent using this method:

  • Bonding after birth is incredibly important (the first few hours especially)
  • They carry their babies in a sling or wrap, against their bodies
  • They bed-share (sleep in same bed) or co-sleep (sleep in same room)
  • They breastfeed on demand and do this for as long as the child desires
  • They do not try to teach a baby to “self-soothe” or use baby-training methods
  • They stress the importance of a parent staying at home with the child/children

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Minimalism: the Second Purge

In September, I wrote about how my family has been embracing minimalism. Between all of us, we removed about a third of our belongings from our apartment. It was a wonderful feeling, and we've continued the process, removing furniture, smaller items, and things we had even considered necessities at one time or another. I think I can safely say we own less than half of what we did when we moved in. Here are some of the things we've continued to narrow down:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Minimalist Christmas

As my husband and I have been embracing the minimalistic lifestyle, we wondered how it would translate into certain areas of our lives – particularly times like birthdays and Christmas. Birthdays have always been a simpler affair, with maybe one gift and a special meal. This is our first Christmas after purging nearly half of our belongings, and we hadn't gone through Christmas things. We had more than I realized, and after unpacking what we had, this past week, I said: “let's start with the tree and see how we feel after that.”

Our tree is simple, with white lights, red and gold ornaments, a box of candy canes, and a stream of gold ribbon. We've never found a tree topper that worked well, and we've didn't feel like the tree needed one. We also hung a stocking for each of us on the wall where our engagement picture and a picture of our little girl usually hangs. Once those were finished, we were so happy with the way things looked and felt, we left it at that and put away or donated the rest. One box of Christmas things feels much better than five.

We have a stocking tradition for Christmas Eve. They are filled with peanuts, oranges, candy (we NEVER eat candy, so it's super special at Christmastime), and a few, small gifts which are useful – like pens, socks, or soap.

For gifts, we have a strict budget, and my husband and me give one another a list of items we would love to have but wouldn't get on our own (mostly because of what it would cost). For our daughter, we get four gifts maximum, though this year we only got her three things: something she can use for play, something she needs, and something to listen to or read. We also include “something to wear” in the list, but she doesn't need any clothes, right now, so we passed on that.

I'm making a beet cake for Christmas day, and we'll buy orange juice to have in the morning. To us, those are really special things we don't have often, so they will be a special gift in their own way.

It has been simple, and we are enjoying the ways that minimalism has changed our mindsets in so many areas. It's actually a relief that I don't feel the need to be extravagant for the holidays. May it continue.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Buying Groceries for $30 (or Less) a Week

Grocery shopping with my husband, I sped past the aisles of delicious food for the back of the store where I knew the butter would be. Shocker of shocks, my Aldi's butter prices had doubled, and I couldn't afford it that week. I knew that Walmart – less than a block from Aldi – would have cheaper butter. The trick there is getting past the bakery, the spice rack that calls my name, the coffee... everything. I was hungry, and I knew whatever I saw had the potential to tempt me.

Then it happened. I saw the clearance section. I didn't know this existed until that very moment, and I stopped in my tracks. Most of it was overpriced teas that had dropped to reasonable prices, but there were cans of tuna half off, various grains at rock bottom prices, and a precious bag of high end, organic, blonde, coconut sugar for ¼ the usual price. I never ever buy specialty sugar, despite how wonderful it is, and I hemmed and hawed over it for a full two minutes before my husband plopped it into our cart and said it was worth it.

When my husband came to me with concern about our food budget (which was only $60 a week to begin with), I told him I would try to only spend around $30 a week for groceries. This includes whatever staples we need. Frugal grocery shopping is one of the most exciting aspects of my life. I don't say that in exaggeration or to be over-dramatic. It truly thrills me. I love pinching every penny and seeing how delicious I can make each meal. This month, I managed to feed us with around $20 a week. How do we do it? 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Wonders of a Child

As I write, my little girl is babbling away at her daddy as he puts her into pajamas and her nighttime diaper. She turns one, next week, and I can hardly believe it. That tiny almost constantly unhappy baby has turned into a laughing, tall, inquisitive, confident, sweet, little one.

She still loves her daddy best. Her temper – oh my, her temper! – can be shocking, at times. Her vague wishes which she so struggled to communicate at first now burst forth with a clarity I didn't know a baby could possess. She is, quite possibly, the sweetest child I have ever known. She knows when one of us is ill, and she already kisses us goodnight. She is determined to do things, no matter how hard the obstacle. My little problem solver. She wants to be helpful, even if she isn't quite sure what that means, yet.

She learns quickly, and she loves to explore everything she can get her hands on. I can hardly wait for her to walk, and she already giggles with excitement when we help her stand and walk around, her pudgy fingers gripping one of our hands. She is constantly dirty, which I find delightful.

Listening to her talk to her daddy is a wonder to me. She loves her time with him before bed, when he dims the lights and reads to her. I come up to lay her down for the night, and she is completely limp against him, still awake but relaxed. She still cries for me during the night, and even when I'm exhausted, it makes me feel special when she soothes so quickly in my arms. I am not eager for these days to pass. I treasure my little princess.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Family Cloth: Why You Shouldn't Be Squeamish

By now you probably know how much I enjoy frugality. It shows in my home, my eating style, my wardrobe, and now it's showing in my bathroom.

Family cloth. Do you know what it is? In case you don't: family cloth is what you use instead of toilet paper. It it reusable, washable cloth. I made ours out of the flannel receiving blankets we had used for our little one's home birth. I cut them into squares and sewed them - 192, in all. They look pretty and feel absolutely luxurious.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Embracing Minimalism

Minimalism has always appealed to me - perhaps because I always felt overwhelmed by the need to pick up so many things I owned which I wasn't really fond of. Toys, books, clothes, makeup, and the list goes on. When I married, my husband and I lived in a tiny apartment which we managed to barely fit ourselves into, and part of that was deciding what our essentials were, though we weren't living with the minimum.

About two years ago, I threw away or sold the majority of my clothes and started using a capsule wardrobe (just before I became pregnant, which was terrible timing, as most of what I wore was tailored). It has only been in the past month I've been able to finalize it so that almost every piece is high quality, can be worn year-round, is maternity-friendly, and can be worn while nursing a baby (I am still nursing and hope to have another baby soon).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

DIY Handwash

I remember once seeing an interview with a doctor where he stated that professionals in his hospital were required to wash their hands a ridiculous number of times. When they walk into a room, when they're leaving, right after drawing blood, etc. I'm not sure an actual number is that helpful but guidelines outlining when you're most likely to have come into contact with infectious contagions.

That being said, I worked in two settings, before I became a stay-at-home-mom, where washing my hands frequently was a requirement. I hated it - mostly because my hands would get so dry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The High Needs Child

I have a high needs baby, and that's one of the big reasons it's been so long since I've written. It's stressful. Some of you know exactly what I mean. Here are some of the signs you have a high needs child:

  • No one gets consistent sleep
  • It's nearly impossible to have a set routine
  • People frequently say your baby is “so alert!” or “takes in everything!”
  • Your baby is much more interested in adult things than baby toys
  • Your baby nurses a lot – and may not sleep through the night until well after being a year old
  • Your baby wants to be held and have face-to-face interaction constantly
  • Your baby is slow to warm up to unfamiliar people

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Milk Drunk

There is nothing quite as sweet as the contentedness and silliness of a baby who just finished nursing.

My Baby Won't Sleep Through the Night Anymore

At three months, my little girl slept through the night for the first time. A proud mommy moment followed. When she did it a couple more times, I was ecstatic. It seemed so early! How lucky I was to have a three-month-old sleeping through the night without nursing

After she did this, I asked my husband to take over in the evenings, should she wake up – so that she wouldn't think she was going to nurse if I picked her up. He agreed. She woke up every night; he would soothe her back to sleep. She really fought going back to sleep, and it could take nearly two hours, some nights, to get her settled. Then she started waking up more than once. She was upset, Daddy was grumpy, Mommy was confused.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

All-Natural Living - How's it Going?

A month ago, I made the decision to go all-natural and make my own hygiene and cleaning products. There have been a few bumps, a lot of nice surprises and changes, and overall, myself and my husband are loving it. Here are a few things we experiences that I thought would be worth sharing.

Deodorant: this was going well. For three weeks, there weren't any problems. I figured I was safe, but then my underarms turned really red. A couple days after I noticed this, when I was showering, skin came off in clumps. I'm serious. I did more research and read that baking soda can be too irritating for some people. I remembered reading this before, but I've never had sensitive skin, so I didn't think it would be a problem. I changed it up and now am using deodorant made up of equal parts cornstarch and coconut oil, with 2-3 drops of essential oil per 1/2 cup. I'll update this post when I've been using it awhile so you know how that's going.

It's also good to note that you should store your deodorant in a dark, cool place. I forgot to tell my husband this, and his deodorant melted all over our dresser. Despite the fact that we ended up with a nicely polished dresser, it wasn't the ideal situation. Store properly (in your fridge, if you keep your home warm - because coconut oil liquidates at 76 F) and you shouldn't have this problem. Additionally, essential oils can lose their potency in sunlight, so you want to avoid that all well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Exhaustive List of Date Ideas

Dressed up super fancy to eat at a local burger place

When it comes to date nights, my husband and me are not the best planners. For special occasions, we can plan really excellent days, but from week to week, our time together can seem a little uninspired. This is mostly because we aren't too good at coming up with ideas on the spot. I decided to put together an exhaustive list of things we can do. Some things I found ideas for elsewhere, many I came up with on my own. I will sort them by ones to do at home and ones that mean going out.

If you want cheap, free, interesting, kid-inspired, kid-friendly, intimate, flexible... it's all here :).

I am chronically ill, so a lot of things many active couples would do aren't on this list. Also note that some of the home dates require getting things beforehand.

Right now, there are 99 ideas; I may add more on as I think of them or they are suggested. Have fun!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Being A Musician's Wife

I am the wife of a musician. Not only that, I am the wife of the self-employed, business owning, independent contractor. He teaches piano lessons. It's a huge undertaking, and he spends every minute of the day he can making it better and continuing to educate himself. It is a thankless job, because a lot of people have incorrect assumptions about it. Here are a few of them.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Why I'm Going All-Natural

I've never been one of those people who is super worried about toxins in cleaning supplies and body-care supplies. It's not that I don't care; it's more that I've grown up without worrying about it and am simply used to what I can buy at the store. After getting married, I remember reading books and looking through blogs filled with ideas to keep house and self clean with natural and organic products a person could make at home. I started compiling a list of what I would need and realized it would be incredibly expensive to start up the process, so I put it aside and essentially forgot about it.

This idea re surged when I was looking up a better way to clean my oven top. I could mix a tablespoon each of salt, baking soda, water, and elbow grease, and it was as clean as I could ever get it with 409. I was so pleased, I spent a day looking for various cleaners and body-care products. I wanted to be able to buy limited ingredients for a variety of products.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why I Co-Sleep

After my baby was born, we did a whole week of skin-to-skin, as recommended by my midwives. This was to promote my milk coming in, regulating my baby's breathing, creating a bond, etc. There are countless articles you can read about it, but I wanted to focus on why I've chosen to co-sleep with my baby since the initial skin-to-skin sleeping.

The Problem of Fetal Testing

I was reading an article, today, about a couple who went in for testing their baby before it was born and ended up aborting when they were told their baby would be born defected. After their baby was dead, they realized there had been a mix-up and they had killed their perfectly healthy baby. My heart aches for them, but at the same time, the whole thing irritates me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Confessions of the Blunt Housewife

  1. I wish people offered to babysit as a gift more often so I can be alone with my husband once in awhile. Even if it were just for a walk.
  2. I'm truly thankful when people don't touch my baby or don't visit because they're sick or their family has been dealing with sickness.
  3. I should nap when my baby naps, but I usually get caught up on work instead.
  4. I'm grumpy when I get up to nurse during the night – especially with my husband.
  5. I have to convince myself I care about being pretty for my husband daily.
  6. If I wasn't strict about my menu for the week, I would almost always prepare supper at the last minute – or just have leftovers.
  7. I eat pop-tarts. A lot of them.
  8. It doesn't bother me when people don't recognize the gender of my baby. Even when she's swathed in pink.
  9. I love it when people ask to hold my baby. I'm not tired of her, but I want to see others enjoy her. Unless they're sick, of course.
  10. I wish I had visitors more often. It was hard to travel with chronic illness. With an additional baby, it's impossible unless my husband is with me.
  11. I hate that I can't share parts of my baby's life with my mother – who has protested many of my parenting decisions.
  12. Sometimes I feel real anger when my baby interrupts me, then I feel guilty because I know she only cries when she needs me.
  13. I cried for an entire day when my baby was diagnosed with tongue-tie. I didn't feel remotely able to be strong for her.
  14. When my baby is cute while crying, sometimes I don't want to comfort her because I'm enjoying how adorable she looks.
  15. I don't read to my baby as often as I should.
  16. I don't do tummy time as often as I should.
  17. I have to stop myself from giving parental advice when it isn't asked for.
  18. I would make my baby's clothes myself if I knew how to use a sewing machine.
  19. I worry about my baby a lot less than my husband.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What to Expect: Postpartum Sex

Before our baby was born, sex was part of my daily routine, even throughout the pregnancy. As something important to myself and my husband, we were anxious to know when things get back to normal – at least in that regard.

Everywhere I read, people said: six weeks. If you feel like it, earlier is okay.

I felt like this was a little dodgy. I would have been okay with sex – at least emotionally – the day after labour. Physically, no, but if it was supposed to be determined by whether or not I felt like sex, it should be safe.


My husband, thinking that a week or a few days earlier would be fine, asked my lactation consultant what she recommended. She said twelve weeks would be ideal; the body takes awhile to heal. Even though the usual recommendation is six weeks, she said some women are still bleeding by that point, and that means you risk infection. I expected my husband to protest, after she left, but instead he said: “I can wait twelve weeks if that's best for you.”

So we did. And, I must say, I did need that time. Even now, I can still feel that my body isn't fully recovered, but waiting that long gave me the time to prepare my body and my mind.

Would I recommend waiting longer? Not really – unless yours is a special case of extended recovery or your husband isn't interested. Husbands really need that connection, and you having it again is also healthy for you. It is something that the two of you share that the baby doesn't have a part of (though the little one may interrupt), and it is something from the life before baby that can reassure you that not everything changed. It's a little normalcy.

What should you expect, post-baby?

Expect a little pain. If you wait twelve weeks, you can avoid a lot of pain. It's not like virgin sex, though it is similar to the feeling of having sex when you're too dry. Use lots of lube and take things slowly.

Don't get angry if the baby interrupts. Some people say to hire a babysitter, but many of us won't take that step. Pick a time when your baby is settled for awhile and go for it. If you're interrupted, take care of the baby and try again.

Don't focus on how it feels different, because it probably doesn't feel as different as you think; it's been too long for you to remember that many details. Let it be new and different – something to rediscover.

Don't over think it. Talk about it with your spouse – before, during, and after the act. This will ease tension, letting you talk through your fears and what you're feeling. Don't expect it to be full speed right away. Make an effort to please your husband – it will take your mind off yourself, which is the point anyway.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Homebirth Story

I was almost 42 weeks when my midwives sent me in for a biophysical profile to check on my baby. I did not want to induce labour, so I was trying all options before getting to that point. I walked multiple times a day for as long a stretch as my bladder would allow, I ate an entire pineapple, drank hot chocolate with a teaspoon of cinnamon, had sex, sat on the washer... I tried everything natural I could, knowing that nothing would happen until the baby was ready but really wanting things to start moving. After the BPP, I came home, watched an episode of Criminal Minds with my husband, and we went to bed early.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Is My Baby So Difficult?

When my baby was first born, she looked every bit the adorable alien all newborns do. At first, caring for her was relatively simple. She let me know when something was wrong, and she wasn't overly fussy, but I soon realized that she was going to be more difficult than I had first thought. I desperately searched for an answer to my problem, because there were too many strange issues that didn't seem connected but shouldn't have been occurring without a common issue. These were the things I noticed:

  • My baby was very fussy.
  • She wanted to be held constantly.
  • She had difficulty sleeping.
  • She choked while nursing - more than a newborn should. 
  • Although her latch had initially been perfect, it was getting progressively worse.
  • She started to clamp down/bite while nursing.
  • She absolutely hated being in any position that wasn't perfectly upright. 

Why "The Blunt Housewife"?

When deciding what to call this blog, I wanted a name that truly explained the goal of everything I write. I knew I would post about my life as a wife and mother, so the title would have to reference that. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I wanted that to also be obvious.

I decided on "blunt," because that will be the general attitude of my writing. "Honest" didn't fit, because what people call brutal honesty is often a way to excuse being mean, and I don't plan on approaching things that way.

I want to write about my experiences and my decisions. My lifestyle inevitably lends itself to hot topics, and I want to talk about them - explain why I do what I do with the intention of showing others how I came to my conclusions. I hope it will be an opportunity to educate, encourage others to share or research for themselves, and uplift other women in similar situations.

I also call it blunt because I will be blunt in my language. I won't shy away from things because they are gross, sensitive, or intimate. If I feel the need to talk about sex, breastfeeding, and labour, I will talk about those as freely as I talk about cooking, laundry, and housekeeping.

I will try to be respectful at all times, and I ask that you do likewise as you share your own opinions and experiences.

Thank you for reading :).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homebirth - Safe?

When my husband told me he thought I should consider a home birth, I balked inside. No way was I doing that. It was far too risky for myself and the baby... wasn't it? I didn't give the idea much thought until I found myself pregnant unexpectedly. I was overjoyed, but there was so much that hadn't been decided or discussed.

Then my sister-in-law posted a blog article an OBGYN had written, and in it, she talked about the mutual respect that nurses and midwives had for one another. Curious, I wrote to my sister-in-law – an OBGYN herself – and asked for her thoughts. It surprised me when she spoke with excitement and obvious support of homebirths where there is no risk to the mother and where educated, certified midwives are present.

This gave me pause in my assumptions of the danger.

Then I asked a doctor what she thought. She gave me the same answer as my sister-in-law, and even went so far as to recommend midwives in the area for me to contact.

My research began. I read many books, including these: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth; Deliver This!; A Wise Birth

They were all helpful to me in changing my perception of what birth could be. Although I still could see that hospitals were invaluable to women with complicated pregnancies and births, a woman who was healthy and well-prepared could manage at home with the correct support team.

I also looked for information on several websites. This list of misunderstandings about homebirth was helpful. I also read through about one hundred stories on the “Birth Without Fear” website. I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born,” and a TED talk given by Ina May Gaskin. I was even more encouraged.

I did eventually decide to have a homebirth, and I didn't regret my decision. After seven hours of intense labour, I gave birth to a beautiful girl (someday, I may share that story in more detail). I look forward to having this experience with any more children that bless my womb.

Did you consider a homebirth? What do you think of the possible benefits and risks?  

A Few Postpartum Notes and Tips

1. Freeze meals ahead of time. Even if you're home from the hospital the day you give birth (or had an easy birth at home), you won't be up to cooking for at least a week. It was nearly a month before I felt well enough to be on my feet the amount of time it took to cook a meal, let alone clean up beforehand and afterwards.

2. Have a lactation consultant on-call. My baby was born hungry and nursed almost constantly until my milk came in. When I say almost constantly, I am not being metaphorical or exaggerating. There were fifteen minute breaks here and there, and I didn't sleep for over 48 hours. It was miserable. I dealt with thrush, as well, and my baby started biting my nipple – a result, we later found, of a posterior tongue tie – at two weeks old. I don't know how I would have coped if I hadn't been able to text my lactation consultant at any time, day or night, and have my questions answered. She was, quite literally, a Godsend, and it's worth every penny to have someone there to help you find comfort and protect your breasts and baby!

3. When my midwives were leaving after the birth, one of them asked me if I would like some ice for... down there. I said no thanks, because I didn't think that sounded at all pleasant, and she said would would pour some tea on pads and freeze them for me. I thought go ahead. I'm not putting ice anywhere near... there. Several days later, I gave in and decided to try one – I couldn't waste those expensive pads. Oh, my goodness. It was heavenly. It seems crazy, but try it. Pour tea or herbal water on those pads and freeze them. Your swollen body will thank you. Trust me.

4. Another common discomfort after birth is going to the bathroom, whether it be urinating or a bowel movement. I had read somewhere that sitting in a sitz bath, filled with warm water, while you did the deed made it more comfortable. Boy, was that right. After trying to spray warm water while I peed, to avoid the burn, and finding it was a lot more complicated to cover all the area than it should be, I started filling my sitz bath before every bathroom break (or asking my husband to do it for me). I cleaned it out when I was done and continued to do this for probably a week and a half after the birth.

5. Let your husband – and/or someone else you trust (because your husband needs rest, too!) – take over for at least two weeks. Spend that time healing and getting to know your baby. If you need something, ask your helper, even if it's something silly like pulling up your socks. During these two weeks, you can gradually start moving around and getting your strength back, but don't push it; your body has gone through a lot of work. Even a month after giving birth, I went for a mile and a half walk – a pittance compared to what I prefer - and started bleeding again. Don't push yourself if you aren't ready. Three months will probably be the minimum you need before you're completely back to normal.

6. When you feel overwhelmed, let yourself cry. At one point, after a particularly difficult night where my baby was refusing to nurse but screaming because she was hungry, screaming until she was so exhausted she went to sleep but woke up about an hour later to start the whole process over again, I was not feeling particularly strong. I felt to blame for her discomfort, because my milk letdown was too fast and strong for her, so she was choking and wanting to bite, so I had to pull her off whenever she did this; this was what resulted in her screaming and refusing to nurse. I finally crawled into bed and curled into my husband's chest, letting the tears flow. He held me until the baby was awake and crying again, then took her and told me to sleep for awhile. After an hour of sleep and getting the tears out, I felt much better and more able to handle my baby.

7. Have a to do list out where people can see when they come to visit, bring a meal, or come with an offer to help. Write anything and everything that needs to be done on it, from laundry to dishes to holding the baby while you shower. If errands need to be run, pets or older children need care, you're running out of ready-to-eat snacks, write it down. This is helpful to you not only because you don't have to remember all the information when people ask, it also relieves any embarrassment you might feel at asking. They can see the list and you don't have to say a word.

What are some of your own tips or things that helped you in those first few months after birth?