Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

The Best Homemade Deodorant

(EDITED 10/3/12—see note at end of entry) I’ve always had a hard time with deodorants and antiperspirants. I used to sweat a fair amount when I was younger and I used antiperspirant exclusively then. All through my twenties I had the experience of using an antiperspirant for a while successfully, only to have it stop working after a couple of months. I was left sweaty and a little stinky and unhappy about it.

In my mid-thirties, I decided that I didn’t want to use pore-clogging formulations to block the sweat, so tried to move to deodorants. I’ve tried over a dozen natural and big-brand deodorants and they were all ineffective at preventing odor and nearly all were too sticky-feeling as well. Ick.

A few years ago I started trying to make my own. I landed on a formulation that worked pretty well for a while. Baking soda and cornstarch, with a little lavender essential oil, applied with a brush. It was good for a few weeks and hubby even used it too, but then we felt it wasn’t working as well and we didn’t like powdering the carpet at each morning’s application.

About four months ago I read a post at Progressive Pioneer which, when you follow another link to get to the recipe, shows the baking soda-cornstarch mixture with one change: the addition of coconut oil. I had my doubts, but tried it anyway. If nothing else, the application would be less messy.

Four months later and I can say definitively that this deodorant works, and it works very well. I had made that first batch in a little ramekin and kept it on my dresser with a spoon in it. (When the weather gets warm it liquifies, so I stir it up.) I am just now getting to the end of that batch and looking back on its performance these past months, I couldn’t be happier.

I no longer have to think about my pits! And that’s what deodorant is supposed to do. I never stink, and it’s even a bit of an antiperspirant because of the drying properties of the cornstarch, I think. Holds up through my regular cardio workouts too. It works for about 24 hours, I’d say. Maybe a bit less.

It’s really nothing short of amazing. And it’s cheap too.

So I’m due for another batch. This time I poured it into two old 2.4 oz deodorant containers (didn’t know it made that much!) and I will store it in the fridge. Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 T. baking soda
  • 4 T. cornstarch or arrowroot powder (I’ve only tried the cornstarch)
  • 6 T. coconut oil

Thank you to Our Daily Legacy, for the original recipe, and to Progressive Pioneer for passing it along.

EDIT (October 3, 2012): I want to report that using a stick-style container for application is not recommended. It deposits WAY more than you need, and as the commenter anticipated, it can leave grease marks. I only spotted marks once, but that is too much oil. There should be no residue.

I am back to using this recipe out of a ramekin that sits on my dresser. I apply a tiny fingertip dab to each armpit—rubbing it in quickly—and the effectiveness is spectacular. We are in a heat wave this week and I am truly not wanting for better protection.

But skip the stick-deodorant container method.


My Rough Weekend (That Kept Giving)

DISCLAIMER: This is an account of our family getting sick, so don’t read it if this will bother you. Remember, this blog is first and foremost for my distant family to keep up with our goings on, so that will hopefully answer your question, “Why would she write about that?!”

The four of us in tent Sunday morning.

The weekend before last we had planned to drive 4 1/2 hours down to Pismo Beach with the twins to visit my husband’s dad, camp on the beach and ride “quads”—4-wheeled motorcycles. It was only to be one overnight because of the difficulty of wrangling twin toddlers.

My husband’s two boys are in town for a month-and-a-half summer vacation—they are staying with Grandma—and it occurred to me that this was just the type of thing the boys would like, so we invited them to come along too.

Friday night, the boys went to dinner with their grandparents at a Hometown Buffet and Brian and I made jokes about food poisoning (we will NOT eat there), which later did not seem so funny. The boys came over to spend the night, and in the morning we learned that the oldest boy had gotten sick overnight.

My first thought was to take them back to the grandparents, so he could be comfortable and not in the car (!) for half a day, but hubby was anxious to leave town and didn’t seem to welcome the detour, so he just asked the kid if he was okay, and the kid—not wanting to miss out—said yes.

Well he was not okay. He ended up vomiting in the back seat in spite of our regular inquiries about his state of queasiness, missing the bag we had equipped him with. We stopped at a quick mart and he helped clean up the backseat with lots of cleaning spray and paper towels.

We got to Pismo and the weather was not ideal—it was incredibly windy, which meant incredibly sandy. The sand was whipping into our faces already. Well we put the girls in their pods in Grandpa’s RV and Brian went for a ride with his dad.

The play tent before I packed it up. See all the sand?

Rachel’s nap did not take, and I ended up setting up a little dome tent on the lee side of the RV and trying to play with her in there. It was rather ridiculous and I found myself chuckling when every swirling gust of wind outside sent a shower of sand through the tent’s air vents. I made Rachel a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and never has the term been so appropriate. She ate some anyway, my little superstar.

When the guys returned, Chris said we should really get out of there. The wind was not expected to die down until late that evening, so he called a local campground and got a spot. We packed quick and got over there.

Opening up our old tent revealed that we had forgotten to set it up for clean up after last summer’s rainy departure from the twins’ club’s camp trip. Major oops. Ugh, moldy tent. Not recoverable. A quick trip into town had us set up with a Coleman Instant Tent (link to a similar model—ours must be an older one) which we had wanted anyway. (Did we sabotage our old, 90-pole tent unconsciously on purpose?) This new tent really does set up in one minute! Love it.

Tent set up, things got a bit easier. Toddlers were allowed to run around in there and play on the air mattress. We had dinner and shortly went to bed.

Middle of the night, other big kid is wretching…in camp. Dad went to help him. He was very sick but was able to crawl back in tent maybe an hour and a half later.

At this point, I started to really be anxious. I had that hot pins and needles sensation around my head that signals physical symptoms from anxiety. I know that fears and negative feelings are much worse at night for me, so I tried to breathe through it, but I couldn’t help feeling that my own little family unit was in danger. I’m talking about the deep-seated sense of “get away from the sick people” that helped humankind live through plagues and epidemics in our history.

Now, I’m well aware that given the modern context this sounds a little irrational, but as I said, anxiety is always worse for me at night and also—it should be said—my 2-year-olds had never had a vomiting virus. I admit I was devising escape plans to remove the girls from the influence of what was clearly a communicable illness.

In the end, I had to accept that there was nothing to do but try our best to stay sanitary and wait it out. I also accepted that the upcoming days were most likely going to be filled with sick babies and probably a sick me and a sick Dad too, and I just hoped fervently that we would at least end up sick with decent spacing so I could care for us.

The next day, Sunday, we had to contain the babies in the tent all morning while we packed up camp because there were toxic sick spots all over camp. This was irritating, but I tried my best to be sympathetic rather than selfish.

Rachel at a fun moment with Dad on her little three-wheeler.

Later on down at the beach, I got to go out for one very fun ride with hubby on the quads, and after that we got out of town.

We stopped for dinner and everyone was able to eat well except me…I wasn’t super hungry and I figured that was probably ominous, but whatever. I just longed for home.

At about 7pm, Rachel had fallen asleep in her car seat as that was her usual bedtime, but woke up with a violent bout of vomiting. This mommy was pretty distraught…I was leaning over the seat (hubby trying to pull over) just wishing I could, like, hold her together. Watching her spew like that kind of felt like watching her come apart. She was crying from pain and confusion—it was her first experience of this sort.

15 minutes later, car seat and baby cleaned up. And back in the damn car for another hour and a half to home. I was stressed and little despairing. I was so sad I couldn’t hold my little girl while she felt rotten. And both my girls were going down for sure now.

Back at home, when Rachel was sick a second time (I watched her turn whitish green this time) the bathroom was occupied. At this point I was not a picture of calm. I verbally, loudly ejected a boy out of bathroom and told him to get his dad, where he reported, “She’s swearing a lot.”

The fun of having twins is illustrated by this story: I’m helping a girl vomit and trying to clean her up, but also trying to stretch and bend my eyes around the corner to see that second girl is not playing in the vomit left behind. Ugh. Fortunately Audrey was quietly playing with a toy across the room and made no moves toward the mess.

Rachel back in bed. Boys picked up by their Auntie and taken back to Grandma’s. Lots of messes cleaned and laundry hot-washed. (See here for cleaning tips for the norovirus). Dad and I afraid to go to sleep because we were waiting for the inevitable next round from Rachel. When it came around 1am we were still up and we both held her and comforted her while she was sick in a lined wastebasket we had brought into her room. Dad was really very comforting…he told her she was okay over and over and encouraged her to “get it all up.” I was warmed to see this for the first time. And Rachel was really calmed by it.

The next day I felt much more calm. I knew the rest of us were still at risk but we were HOME. So much better to deal with sickness at home. I had just put the girls down for a nap at noon when Audrey sat up, crying. This could only be one thing, but it was so imminent I felt I could not move her for fear of making her feel worse, or even feel pain if I touched her tummy. So she was sick in the crib. I got her all cleaned up and scoured the crib while she slept in the pack-n-play. There was another incident—easily contained—in there, and one more later. And that was the worst part for Audrey.

1am. My turn. I’ll spare you those details, but I will say the misery of this illness is profound. Interestingly, I had noticed that each case was almost exactly 17 hours from onset to onset, except mine (11 hours) and that the vomiting only lasted for 6 hours each person. What I could not know until it was my turn is that the next 24 hours are absolutely rough. B had to work and so I was alone with the girls and I had to just rot their little brains with TV all day because I literally could not function. I struggled mightily through diaper changes, and threw crackers and breakfast bars—total junk food!—on the table to feed them. This is utterly unlike me but I really couldn’t do better. Not that day.

And there ends the saga, pretty much. Thankfully, Big B was lucky to escape the bug. Now, what was it? We at first thought—naturally—that it was food poisoning. When second kid got it, we weren’t sure any more. But it was. It’s both food poisoning and contagious stomach bug. It’s the norovirus—the one that infects hundreds of cruise ship passengers at times. Hand sanitizers and Lysol don’t kill viruses, which left us vulnerable in the car. Bleach is the ticket. And when you can’t bleach, such as doing laundry? Lots of baking soda and vinegar in the wash. Here are more tips to sanitize for norovirus if it comes your way.

My house and car are cleaner than they’ve ever been now.


Post By A Fellow Blogger: Things I Want My Kids To Learn From Their Grandparents

The link below will lead you to a post from a fellow blogger I follow. Initially I reposted it directly but that makes it look very much as if it is my own post, so I’m re-posting it as a link. Don’t want to confuse anyone!

I loved this post because it’s so warm and I believe these are good values. Enjoy!


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I Hate Abby’s Flying Fairy School

Girls craning to see Sesame Street around mom.

Sesame Street is one year younger than me. I watched it, and loved it, when I was very small, and I even remember continuing to enjoy it after school as an older “latchkey kid”. My dad thinks Sesame Street may have been responsible for my very early reading. (I remember me and just one other kid being allowed to read whatever we wanted in a separate book room during reading lessons in 1st grade because we were already so accomplished at it, they didn’t feel the need to teach us anything.)

In any case, I love Sesame Street so much that I literally couldn’t wait to show it to my girls. I know the recent research says TV under age 2 is definitely not helpful and is more than likely detrimental. But although I had some self-consciousness about it, I was not deterred, truly believing that this show is not going to set my girls back, given the rest of our engaged, loving home environment. I showed Sesame Street to the girls soon after their 1st birthday, and it soon became an almost-once-a-day habit. (FYI: We only allow this one hour of TV per day, and it’s only Sesame Street, sans sponsorship ads at the beginning. I don’t pretend it’s “educational” at this age—we treat it as entertainment for sure.)

Well, I was dismayed to find that the format has changed. I looked at the Wikipedia entry on Sesame Street and found there have actually been at least a couple of recent format changes…meaning well after Elmo was added. One was around 2002, and I frequently see that format in re-runs. I don’t mind it at all. It’s pretty good, with lots of variety learning in videos of different cultures, places and general information. And importantly, there are still a lot of kids in the intervening “street” segments, talking with the human adults and muppets. This is a huge part of Sesame Street’s tradition.

In the latest iteration (five years old now), there are almost no human kids on Sesame Street. They are still in an occasional video about transportation or whatnot, but even those have decreased in frequency and have been replaced by a more rigid sequence of (increasingly) animated segments.

For the record, Elmo’s World, vilified by many, is fine with me. I don’t love every aspect of it, like the fact that he’s aimed at 3-year-olds and yet he looks for info primarily from his TV and computer. But in general, the segment is warm and engaging, predictable in a fun way for tiny tots, and filled with good information about a variety of subjects, the details broken down pretty far for the young set. I also like Super Grover 2.0 and my husband likes Murray’s school segments, where kids learn about different types of school, such as karate, ice skating or music.

But there’s one segment I don’t like: Abby’s Flying Fairy School. I’ve tried to like it, because my kids are charmed by it (I’m happy to say that my kids don’t completely zombie out when watching Sesame Street…they register smiles, even laugh now and then while watching, and three times Rachel was scared by something). But the first thing you notice about the Fairy School segment is that it’s mostly drawn in pink and lavender*, so I’m assuming it’s targeted at girls, because that’s how they color code our youth now…blech! (Don’t get me started on this.)

It’s also made using pretty shoddy-looking computer animation*. It doesn’t look polished at all. And I know…Sesame Street isn’t known for “polish” but if you look at the new Burt and Ernie’s Great Adventures, there is a super cute claymation-style animation that appeals a whole lot more than the Fairy School’s slapped together look.

There are two male fairies in the school, which I’m glad for, but one of them is grotesque, in one episode talking about “belly button baloney,” and the other is hopelessly lacking in self-esteem. The girl fairy, Abby Cadabby, is clearly the strong, smart one, which on the surface sounds good, because she could be a good girls’ role model…if it weren’t for the pink fur and tutu and sparkly wand. But why do we have to make a girl stand out by making the boys around her sort of moronic? I’m sure I’m over-thinking it. 🙂

I find myself wishing they’d return to the previous format, although I guess some people disliked that one. At least there was a breadth of informational “human” videos instead of so many cartoons and hardly any people.

Does anybody else watch Sesame Street? Like it? Hate it? Think I’m crazy for letting the girls watch it?

* I was wrong about the pink and purple scheme—it’s only Abby herself that is pink and purple. Also, it seems I was wrong about the sophistication of the graphics—please see the comment below from a SS insider. I apologize for letting my personal dislike color my judgment of the work’s quality.  –js


They Don’t Tell You: You Need Puppies and Kittens

Catching some Zs with the 3-month-old girls.

People love to start sentences like that…”Here’s what they don’t tell you about becoming a parent…” But there really is one thing that I never heard (or remembered hearing anyway) until after I had my babies and talked to other new moms: A new mom’s brain needs complete insulation from all world horrors and evils, because it will create the most horrid scenarios all on its own.

Perhaps the reason we don’t hear about this is that it fades away, out of our memories eventually, like the pain of childbirth. If so, that would be a tremendously life-affirming development. In any case, it took me by surprise, until I found out my fellow mama friends were experiencing the same things in their own heads.

It seems to be most rabid in the earliest months, right after you bring the babies home. Just as you are trying to get a grip on how to manage your new sleepless life, and you do manage to lie down to catch a few winks, your brain suddenly flashes a ghastly scene, snapping your eyes open and causing your heart to race. I’m talking about really hideous thoughts…pictures of your new babies mutilated or killed in graphic detail.

I can’t remember the exact detail of my own vile imaginings (thank goodness!) because I tried to block them out so quickly. But I know that they were powered with a ferocious energy, as if forcibly pushed into my consciousness by my subconscious, not to be ignored. I remember feeling so helpless against the assault, and so disgusting! How could I imagine such things? I mean, it’s my own mind that’s creating these vivid, abhorrent scenes! Am I some sort of sicko?

The onslaught did ease up after the first year, but then I had a resurgence a couple of months ago, when the babies were around 18 months I guess. This second round was just as horrifying, and unfortunately seemed more realistic. The images were of the girls being hit by cars and trains, mostly. This is not easier, because it really could happen. But at least it’s not just horror-movie level gore.

I think that maybe what powers these thoughts is good ol’ maternal instinct (and oh yeah, hormones). Our brains seem to be telling us not to totally relax because the new responsibility we hold is very great. As if we didn’t know.

But the other thing behind it is something most people are familiar with. It’s that thought that temporarily flashes while driving on a windy road that has no guardrails,”I could drive right off the road right now.” I guess it’s a flirtation with the realities of human choice and the temporary nature of our lives. I mean, we all know somewhere, deep down, that life can change in an instant, but we don’t really behave that way, do we? We actually do most things in our lives to establish the illusion of control.

Having babies puts the issues of life and death right in front of you, all the time. When you see them grow an inch overnight (they really can!) you are reminded that they will continue to grow, right up to and past your own age (that is, barring your mind’s frightful scenarios becoming realities). And every time you retire another baby or toddler accoutrement, you get misty because you know that there will never be another baby bottle or pacifier for them ever again. Time will continue to push us on toward our futures, and of course toward our deaths. Which is a very hard thing to think about. We’d much rather dwell on the innocence and newness of these tiny, perfect humans than on thoughts of future loss and pain.

I think these moments of weird horror are just our subconscious reminding us that our lives are a little bit fragile. And they can help us to really cherish the present moment, but they can leave you with a lasting feeling of discomfort, too. Which is why one new-mommy friend of mine literally has to think of “puppies and kittens…puppies and kittens…” when the thoughts attack. Because the thoughts are intolerable, and can definitely cause some level of depression, not to mention rob you of the little sleep you are afforded in the early days!

Of course maybe it’s all just about balance. Because the joys and insane beauty in which you get to bask as a parent are so intense, that maybe the mind simply has to counter-balance its chemistry, and so doses you with some downers to keep you from flying off on a blissful pink cloud of unreality. In any case, the good stuff—as in most areas of life—outweighs the bad, and I can endure these frights for the contrasting delights.

Do you remember any of your own freaky thoughts?


All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Today I ran out of my all-purpose cleaner, which by the way is the new trend in cleaning products, allegedly: reduce the number of products you buy to clean your house down to just a few, if not one (as if we needed trendy to make this happen). This makes finding a good all-purpose cleaner that also does glass a top priority, because it will clean most everything in your house but the laundry and the dishes (and it might do those too, I haven’t tried).

Kiwi magazine did a survey of 1000 readers of their top “green” cleaners, and I was pleased to find that those GreenWorks products by Clorox really are “green”— I had my doubts. On closer inspection, it seems the Sierra Club likes them too—their logo is on the bottle. The reason this is cool is that they are in every store, so buying green cleaning spray is officially accessible now. And it does work very well, I might add.

That said, my favorite cleaner is BabyGanics—both the all-purpose and the glass cleaner (Why are they separate though? Just buy the glass cleaner and use it for everything.) I love it because the lavender scent is super yummy, and the 4 chamber sprayer is, like, awesome! Sprays a good volume in one spritz and gets the job done.

But today, I’m out of my cleaner. So I made my own. And I thought I’d share my recipe:

2 tablespoon Dr. Bronner’s magic soap: lavender castille soap
1/2 teaspoon glycerin (there is also vegetable glycerin)
1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol
1-1/2 cups water
12 extra drops lavender essential oil (optional)

I just gave it a try on the babies’ mirror—a  good test as it’s a baby-height mirror in the play area of the living room, covered in baby fingerprints and snot (oh yeah!) It worked great. I figure glass is the ultimate test.

By the way, I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for lots of stuff—there is a huge pump bottle of diluted (~ 4:1) Dr. Bronner’s in the shower, which is our body soap. I use it for hand soap, and as backup dish soap too. It comes in other scents, of course, peppermint being the most popular. It’s fully biodegradable so you can use it camping, and super concentrated, so a big bottle will last you many months.

Note 9 months later: In the above recipe, the glycerin helps to keep the alcohol mixed into the water solution. Some people don’t like using rubbing alcohol, which is fine. I make it more often now with vinegar (although I use up to a half cup). But the alcohol mixture above works much better on glass!

Current recipe:

2 tablespoons Dr. Bronner’s
2 teaspoons washing soda
1 teaspoon baking soda
Fill rest of spray bottle with hot tap water, then add:
1/2 cup vinegar (add slowly to avoid froth-over)
10-12 drops lavender essential oil (I just love this stuff!)

I’ve been loving this recipe lately because I’m cleaning a lot more bodily fluids off of things (I know! Ew! Potty training is grand.) and the high vinegar content makes me secure with the disinfectant qualities of the spray. Borax has disinfectant properties too, but the store was out. (I was surprised too.) If I have it, I add a tablespoon or so.

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Smug New Mom Going To Start A Blog | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Smug New Mom Going To Start A Blog | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Sharing this humor from The Onion, because yes, I am aware of how many mommy blogs there are, and how boring-slash-pompous they are! But mine is special! 😉

Kidding aside, I started this blog because there are a couple of members of my family that have enjoyed hearing my thoughts and discoveries about parenting, and of course a couple of friends too. This is a public blog,  and I welcome visitors and comments, but I do not expect that the things I say will resonate with everybody, nor do I think I am now an expert in child-rearing. Quite the opposite…I love the new daily challenges and the fact that the main thing I can count on is having my mind changed.

I try to practice self-acceptance while still pushing myself to grow and mature through the experience of respectfully parenting my children.

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