Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby Steps

It is with mixed feelings I make the following announcement.

My baby is walking.

Jesse's been "cruising" for a while, then he started taking a step or two by himself. We excitedly watched while one or two turned into four or five. Then, Wednesday, he just took off. He walked halfway across the living room. He walked down the hall. He walked all the way across the living room. My parents were here most of the week and got to witness this milestone. Needless to say, Jesse hasn't gotten all the kinks worked out. He still needs to grab something to help him to a standing position. When he stoops to pick up a toy he usually falls over. Sometimes he forgets to watch where his feet are stepping and trips on something. Fortunately he doesn't have far to fall.

With the excitement and pride of watching my little one learn to walk alone comes the concern for his safety. (Of course all of us are always concerned for our children's safety, but how much trouble can they get into before they're mobile?) This really started when he began pulling up on things a while ago. I had stumbled across the story of a child who was killed when he pulled a chest of drawers over on top of himself. Before reading that article, I hadn't thought much about it. I've since moved a table that Jesse could very easily pull over on himself. I tied Olivia's play kitchen (it's in one large piece) to her bed so he wouldn't pull it over. Lately I've been more careful of how many toys are scattered around the living room that he could trip on. I know kids will get hurt sooner or later and you can't protect them from everything, but some things are more dangerous than others, such as televisions, stereos, computers, chests of drawers, bookshelves, and any other heavy item that a child could knock over (or off something) on top of himself. Hopefully writing this will prompt me to reduce the potential hazards in my home. Maybe it will enourage you to think about yours.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Natural Remedies

Sick germs love my family. We seem to be constantly being hit with colds this winter. I am nursing and refuse to take medication for my illnesses (plus decongestants can dry up my milk). My children are too young for most over the counter medications so we have turned to alternative methods of treating our sniffles and coughs.

My favorite is a cup of hot tea and honey. Sometimes, I just warm a cup of plain water with lemon and honey and that does wonders for soothing a sore throat. Gargling with salt water is icky but effective as well. I have recently started using a saline solution that I run through my sinuses. I use a gigantic syringe, but I've heard of Netti pots that do the same thing. The saline up the nose is amazing! I couldn't believe how much it helped and how much better I felt. I also overdose on vitamin C and echinacea when I feel a cold coming on. Today I had over 2000% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and it's the first time in a week that I've felt like a living person. Thank you Odwalla!

My kids have started using a product called Sinupret for kids and I've found that while it doesn't prevent a cold, it does shorten the length of the cold and the severity of it. When combined with Emergen-C, we can knock out a cold fairly quickly with no significant interruption of our normal daily activities. They also like warm water and snuggles on the couch.

I love water. Water in all forms. Especially in steam while I'm sick. I've been known to lay on the floor of the shower and let the water fill the bathroom with steam and just marinate there. The steam helps loosen the congestion and relax my achy muscles when I have a fever. Drinking plain water is the easiest natural remedy for a lot of ailments. It helps flush toxins from your body and keeping hydrated is so important for everyone at all ages.

Chamomile is a wonderful tea for soothing nausea and upset stomachs. Lavender is relaxing for the mind and body. Ginger is great in several forms for soothing nausea. You can find it in sucker form, tea, candied, etc. Zinc helps reduce the length of colds as well. Zinc is found naturally in pumpkin seeds, beef, salmon, and potatoes. Mint teas are great for helping a cold or viral infection flush out of your system. Keeping things moving is key.

I hope everyone is keeping cozy warm and hopefully haven't been suffering from too many colds or the flu.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And the winner is...

*drumroll please!*

The winner of our Organic Mei Tai giveaway is....

Stefanie S.!

A super duper huge big awesome Congratulations to Stefanie and her little one/s!!! =D

Stefanie was one of several who entered our contest using the alternate entry form ~ glad to know it worked properly! Yay me! ;) hehe

As a side note, I apologize for the delay in announcing the winner of our giveaway. Mommy things came up that required my attentions away from the computer for a bit (I'm sure you can all relate!).

Stefanie, I'll be sending you an email to find out which color you desire, and where to send your new organic mei tai ~ be watching for it!

And as a great big huge THANK YOU! to all who entered, I will be sending each of you a $10 Crunchy Bunch Gift Certificate via email! (So please make sure I have your email address ~ if I don't, I can't send it to you!)

Again, thank you to all who entered and Congratulations to Stefanie! I really enjoyed reading all your babywearing stories and gardening going-ons and everything! =D

(Winner was drawn using's third party draw. Each person was entered the corresponding number of times according to the number of entries they received via the giveaway details. You may view the entry and winner details here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Infamous Zucchini

Spring is officially here! Have you planted your garden? I finally got most of my seeds planted. I'll try to get the rest of them planted this week. I've always been sort of an infracaninophile (a great word - look it up), so I feel like sticking up for the lowly zucchini. I'm sure you've heard the joke about locking your car door, not to prevent theft, but so people won't leave their extra zucchini in your car. I'll admit I got a little carried away planting it a few years ago - 2 dozen plants is too many! I was new to gardening and it never occured to me that just because they put 24 seeds in a package doesn't mean you have to plant all 24. You can save some for next year.

Another word to the wise: check carefully for zucchini under all leaves. Don't complain to me when you discover a green club in your garden. To the left is one that got away from me (next to my then 8-month-old Olivia). There are many jokes about zucchini, but there are just as many good uses for it. I dug out a couple of my favorite recipes in anticipation. These recipes call for other goodies you've probably got in your garden.

Garlic Zucchini Frittata
(from Taste of Home magazine, April/May 2003)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini, shredded
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini; cook for 3 minutes or until tender. In a bowl, beat eggs and mustard. Pour into skillet. Sprinkle with bacon, salt, and pepper. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath. Cook until eggs are nearly set, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Place skillet under the broiler, 6 inches from the heat, for 30-60 seconds or until the eggs are completely set. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Broil 30 seconds longer or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges. Yield: 4 servings

Zucchini Casserole
(My husband already had this recipe when we got married. I don't know its origin. The measurements aren't very precise, so you can adjust things to your taste.)
1 1/2 or 2 small zucchini, sliced or cubed
5 eggs
several slices chopped onion
2 tomatoes, diced (I usually use a can of Rotel)
salt to taste
paprika to taste

Butter a glass dish (about 1.5 quarts). Beat eggs in pan. Add remaining ingredients. Cover with foil. Place in a larger dish and add enough water to come about halfway up the side. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half.
Variations: You can add some precooked meat, if you like. We like grated cheese on top (add this when the casserole is done). Sometimes we sprinkle cheese crackers on the top (they give it a nice crunch).

Other Ideas
1. Substitute zucchini for cucumbers in your favorite Sweet Pickle Relish recipe. I didn't notice the difference.
2. Substitute zucchini for cucumbers in your favorite Bread and Butter Pickles recipe. I didn't notice the difference.
3. Add some zucchini to your spaghetti sauce.
4. Saute zucchini, yellow squash, and onion (all thinly sliced) in a little butter or olive oil. Try including garlic, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What is baby food?

My youngest child is 9 months old and eating EVERYTHING in sight. She was gnawing on beef jerky this morning. Yes, you read that correctly. Beef jerky. We have not had to buy this child a single jar of baby food because she only wants to eat "grown up" food. A girlfriend of mine asked if I was "allowed" to feed the baby food that didn't come from a jar. So, I explained to her how to make homemade baby food and it got me thinking that maybe some other mom might like some of the tips that I've found have worked for us.

Our family uses infant cereal. We know all about the dirty secrets about it, but I find that it's an easy transition food when we start feeding the babies table food. We normally use the rice formula and then progress to mixed cereals and ones with fruit in them. However, that's the extent of our prepared baby food buying. Mashed up bananas are great for infants. We give very ripe avocados to her; which are extremely nutritious. My daughter liked to scrape sliced apples with her bottom teeth and chew soft pears too. Baked/microwaved sweet potatoes, yams, and white potatoes are great also. Eventually we moved on to meat sticks and peeled turkey dogs.

I've also made baby food that looks like commercial baby food. I suggest investing in a small food processor. You can get the tiny ones for around $15. I would take some of whatever we were eating and mash it in the food processor and viola! Instant baby food. Macaroni and cheese is so easy to make for all of the kids for any age. Mash up the baby's portion, and give the older children the whole pasta.

It's so easy to make baby food. We use Cheerios and fruit leathers for easy snacks for her. She loves to suck on any dried fruit and as of this morning, dried meat. Remember to have a baby try a new food at least 15 times before giving up. It can take a lot of times before they decide they like it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


(I included pictures of some of our neat visitors. These were taken 2 years ago.)

Yes, I meant to spell it that way. Gardening is a great teaching tool. One thing kids can learn is how vegetables and other plants grow. Let them prepare the soil, plant seeds, water, pull weeds, harvest the crops. Depending on their ages, you may need to help with some steps. You could even give them their own garden space and let them decide what they want to plant and where they want to plant it. (Tiger Swallowtail to the right)

Olivia likes to plant seeds, but not all of them are big enough for her little fingers to handle. So I let her plant the big seeds and I do the little ones. Sometimes I let her try the little ones, too. Sunflower, borage, nasturtium, and squash seeds are big enough for little kids to plant, as are peas, beans, and potatoes. Radishes, cucumbers, zinnias, and marigolds are great for children because they germinate quickly. Lettuce and basil also germinate quickly but have tiny seeds. (Zebra Swallowtail - really hard to photograph!)

If you plant some flowers, you can watch for caterpillars, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. We had lots of butterflies and bees around our zinnias, sunflowers, and lantana (buy lantana as a bush). What better way for kids to learn about the life cycle of butterflies than by watching it? Have the kids see if they can identify the butterflies. They can look for caterpillars and may be able to find some cacoons. If you find a cacoon, put it in a jar with a lid and airholes and watch the butterfly emerge. (Giant Swallowtail)

Here are a few other things you can do...
1. Build a bean teepee. Make a teepee with cane poles. Run some twine horizontally around the poles, leaving a door, to make a "web" for the beans to climb. (I'll see about getting a picture.) Plant your beans around the base of the teepee. Watch them grow!
2. Grow a sunflower house. Plant your seeds in a square (or other shape), leaving a door. When the sunflowers grow you'll have a house.
3. Eat the veggies! Don't forget the sunflower seeds. Also, some flowers are edible (nasturtiums, borage, and squash blossoms to name a few). Use herbs for seasoning and teas.

Bee on a sunflower

American Lady and Spicebush Swallowtail

Below are pictures of the gulf fritillary and its caterpillar. The passionflower, an interesting-looking plant, is its only larval food plant.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Traveling with children

We're on an extended road trip and have been driving for hours with our children. All three of my children. My oldest is only four and a half and my youngest is 8 months old. While I'm no expert, I thought I would give some tips that we found worked for us while on the road for a long time.

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. We had both boys get their little backpacks and fill them up with all the snacks they wanted. We purchased shelf stable chocolate milks, graham crackers, NutriGrain bars...anything they wanted (that was healthy of course). This helped a tremendous amount to keep them happy because they don't often get chocolate milk or NutriGrain bars. So they felt that they were having something super special and I got another hour of no crying! We usually give them dried fruit, but this time we let them pick which one they wanted and they felt grown up because they put them in their own bags and kept them by their seats.

We also used a DVD player to help them zone out. Bad mommy, I know, but it helped so much! We brought along paint with water books and let them go at it with oldest son was also engrossed with his handheld gaming system.

Another great tip was to let them get out every three or four hours and stretch their legs. We'd go to the play area at McDonalds and let them run around for at least half and hour. The release of energy and boredom was awesome. We made sure to let them run around for a significant amount of time so they didn't throw a fit when it was time to get back into the car.

We've been having a blast while driving around and seeing new things. I highly recommend taking a road trip with your children. Even if it's just to somewhere close like Austin. The drive can be fun and educational. We saw windmills from a wind farm and later some oil rigs so we talked about the differences between the two and how they affect our day to day living. Not to mention that all of us were blown away (ha, ha) by how big the windmills were!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Organic Mei Tai Giveaway!

After such nice warm weather, it's suddenly cold and rainy here in East Texas. As I sat here sipping my yummy Mother's Milk Tea (with added Radiance C and Orange Essential Oil to keep myself and my sweet nurslings healthy!), I decided I needed a little extra something to warm me up. ;)

So to bring back that spring mood... is giving away an Organic Mei Tai!!

To enter the contest leave a comment below.
Tell us your favorite babywearing story, where you'll be hiking with your little ones when this cold front passes, what you planted (or will be planting!) in your garden, how you heard about our giveaway, anything! :)

Want more entries? Here’s how:

Receive *2* extra entries when you:

  • Blog about this giveaway. Be sure to include a link to your blog when you comment to receive your 2 extra entries!

  • Email 3 friends about this giveaway! (Be sure to CC those e-mails to kathy@crunchybunch to get credit!) And yes ~ that's 2 extra entries for each group of 3 friends you email!

  • Member of an active parenting forum? Post about our giveaway on your forum and receive 2 extra entries! Include the URL to your post in your comment!

Receive *1* extra entry when you:

  • Add our button to your blog. (You'll find it there on the left.) Add the link to your site in your comment so we can see the button in all it's glory!
    Note: To add a banner to your blog, the best way is this: Add an HTML gadget in the Edit Layout section of the blogger dashboard. Then, simply copy/paste the following code:

    <div align="center"> <a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" alt="Crunchy Bunch ~ For your eco-friendly family!" src=""> </a> </div>

    and click save!

  • Subscribe to our newsletter! (Click the link and scroll down ~ the newsletter button is on the left under our "Info" section) Tell us you subscribed in your comment!

  • Become a “fan” of Crunchy Bunch on Facebook! Mention in your comment that you added us!

And of course, be sure to leave an email or blog link in your comment so I can contact you when you win!

The winner will be drawn on Monday, March 23rd, at 8PM, CST. I will tally up everyone's entries and the winner will be chosen at random using the integer generator.

Happy Babywearing!!

Update: For those of you that would prefer to enter privately, I have created a form you may use to do so. Find that here: Alternate Entry Form.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Companion Planting

If you come to my house in a few months and look at my garden, you'll find flowers and herbs growing with my vegetables. Several years ago, I bought a book about companion planting. Companion planting is letting certain plant combinations help each other grow. Among other things, this could be by providing support for another plant, attracting beneficial insects, or driving off harmful insects.

People have planted garlic or onions with roses for years because they repel rose pests. Marigolds deter nematodes and other critters, so be sure to plant them with your tomatoes. Radishes will attract leafminers away from spinach. Sunflowers and zinnias will attract bees and butterflies, which are good pollinators. Beans can climb up sunflowers.

Here are some other companion pairs:
cucumbers and nasturtiums
cabbage and dill
strawberries and borage
tomatoes and borage
carrots and onions
peas and beans
potatoes and peas
tomatoes and basil (both in the garden and in the kitchen!)
zucchini and nasturtiums
parsley and asparagus

To find more information about companion planting, check out the following sites. You can also find information about raised bed gardening. An alternative to traditional row gardening, by gardening in raised beds you can produce more crops per square foot, while reducing the area you have to weed, mulch, and water.

Organic Gardening
Seeds of Change
No Dig Vegetable Garden

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Water Babies

I am passionate about unmedicated births and am especially a fan of water births. I think there's something both powerful and empowering in bringing a baby into the world with only yourself to rely on. I do feel that there is a time and a place for doctors and hospitals, but why use them if you don't need them? That's my philosophy anyways.

My first son was an emergency transfer to Baylor in downtown Dallas after a overzealous midwife moved things along too quickly. We had a "land" birth and even though we were in a hospital, we ended up with the best birth we knew how to have at the time. The doctor on call was wonderful and a huge supporter of unmedicated births herself, so she was extremely helpful and gave us the freedom to have our baby the way we wanted.

My next two children were born in water. Lovely, soothing water. I labored in the water and could not believe the difference in pain management. The sound of the water was incredibly soothing as well. I could lose myself in the noise of the running faucet as each contraction crested. We ended up giving birth in the water as well since it was so soothing. Both times, my babies slipped out easily and gently. We gave our friends a scare since our daughter came out quite blue, but that was perfectly normal and she was perfectly beautiful. I've found that water babies don't cry as much because the transition from womb to world is less of a shock since they are birthed into a water environment and they get a softer first glimpse of lights and sounds.

I recommend a water birth to anyone who is looking for more natural pain management while in labor and during delivery. It's been a method for pain management for hundreds of years. There are studies that show that immersing in water during labor can reduce the length of labor and can help the mom save her energy for pushing out her baby. Who doesn't want those things right?

For more information you can visit

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lucky Me!

Last week my friend Sara shared, on her blog, the link for a mei tai giveaway. I've been drooling over them, but they're a little pricey. I have a Hotsling, a ring sling, and a me-made Moby wrap, so I couldn't really justify buying yet another baby carrier. I've been thinking about making one, but I've been too busy with other things to sit down and do it. Needless to say, I was excited when I read about the giveaway. I immediately visited the Baby Tai site to enter. I only had a few hours! The next morning I had an e-mail from Sara. The subject was "YOU WON, YOU WON!!!"

I was so happy! I couldn't wait to get it and try it out. It arrived in the mail today. First I tried the front carry, then the back carry. The front carry was no big deal since I'm used to carrying Jesse that way in the Moby. The back carry is gonna take some practice. Jesse liked it (he could play with my hair clips), but I don't feel comfortable with it yet. There's also a side carry, but I've got to look at the instructions for that one. This evening I took my Baby Tai to town and wore Jesse around WalMart. He was so nice and cozy!

I like the Baby Tai better than my Moby. It feels more secure. My Moby is pretty stretchy - I could probably just tie it tighter, but I feel like I'm tying it really tight already. The Baby Tai is also a little easier to get on and off.