Sunday, June 7, 2015

Treating Diaper Rash Naturally

I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret of mine. One that I hate to admit with every fiber of my being, but sometimes the truth hurts. As much as I love the idea of natural products, and medicine free remedies 8 times out of 10 (and maybe even closer to 9) they haven't been successful for me.

I think I have tried every natural prevention and cure for migraines that has ever been dreamed up, and thus far nothing has worked. Same goes for my seborrheic dermatitis. And don't even get me started on natural deodorants. I have found one concoction with diluted magnesium oil that actually keeps the stink to a minimum, but even diluted the magnesium oil breaks my skin out if I use it more than 2 days consecutively (I alternate with just straight tea tree oil).

But, I refuse to believe that humans survived these everyday maladies for centuries before modern medicine and beauty products, but somehow we can't. And I love my natural goods so much, that I just keep trying. So most of the time I try a number of different recommendations (and some of the same ones I've tried over and over again without success - what's the definition of crazy again?), ultimately decide they don't work, and then suffer through whatever problem I'm having until it either finally goes away on its own, or gets so bad there is no other choice but to let medicine intervene. Maybe all those people over the centuries just did better with dealing with pain on a daily basis that we are?

So when Aubrey had her first bout of diaper rash, as always I searched for a natural remedy. And while I can't say which thing specifically did the trick, the combination actually worked for once. In fact, I kind of think the combination IS the trick. So here's what worked for us to cure some really nasty diaper rash.

  1. Air It Out - Air is a diaper rash's worst enemy. Let your little one go diaper free as much as possible. Luckily it was warm enough for Aubrey to play outside on the patio while this went on. We put her down on a beach towel, and when there was a mess we just hosed the patio down and cleaned her up. She did have poop-splosion inside one day, which made me extremely grateful to have all tile floors and a steam mop that kills 99% of bacteria :)
  2. Oil It Up - I mixed together some coconut oil with lavender and tea tree essential oils (we only use Young Living oils these days, click here to learn about getting started with YL, or feel free to send me any questions to learn more about them!), and applied it at every diaper change. I've also read melrose is a great oil to use as well, but we didn't have it on hand at the time. 
    • Coconut oil has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties, while also helping hydrate and nourish the skin.
    • Lavender known as the swiss army knife of essential oils, it is antiseptic, antifungal, an analgesic (helps with the pain), and helps to regenerate and heal skin tissue.
    • Tea Tree Oil is an antiviral and antifungal, and encourages blood flow to the area applied helping the healing process. 
  3. Take A Break From Cloth - It hurts me to write that one, but as much as I love our cloth diapers, they not only kept Aubrey's rash from healing, they made it worse once the original area has started healing. I don't think this was a yeast rash, but if it was, yeast can live in your cloth diapers and has to be killed. I'm going to treat ours for yeast anyway just to be on the safe side. The other issue is that the cloth, whether cotton or microfiber, still holds moisture against the skin, versus disposables that absorb it into some sort of gel and generally keep babies bums a lot dryer. So we switched disposables in till the rash healed.
  4. Oatmeal Baths - I read you can also use epsom salts for this, but we had oatmeal on hand so that's what we went with. Just put some in an old sock (make use of those lonely pairs hanging out in your laundry room) and toss it in when it's bath time. The oats release a milky like substance that helps heal and soothe. 
And that's it! Thankfully, even though it looked absolutely terrible (redness, blistery looking skin, and peeling), Aubrey never really acted like it hurt her at all. But after putting the above actions into place it was almost completely gone within a couple of days. I had already made a doctor's appointment because we were leaving for our big trip through Europe soon and I didn't want to have to deal with a bad rash while we were gone. We kept the appointment even though the rash was almost gone, and the doctor looked at it almost surprised and told me we had done had great job treating it. She gave us a prescription to have on hand just in case, but said if the oils and air worked to just stick with that, especially since the medicine is so strong and can only be used minimally. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tarsus & Saint Paul's Well

You would think, being on the go as much as we are, that when we finally have a weekend at home we would want to spend it being lazy around the house for a bit. But when one such opportunity presented itself this past weekend, after spending Saturday getting the house in order and relaxing, we couldn't stand to sit around for one more minute. So on Sunday we ventured to Tarsus to search out Saint Paul's well and see the pretty waterfalls in town.

We hit the road about lunchtime, so after we completed the hour drive our bellies were growling. A quick peek at Trip Advisor led us to a restaurant called Kervan Humus, where they literally only serve humus. 

Quick fact, this is only the second time we have had humus since we moved to Turkey. I thought it was like the land of humus, but as it turns out, it's really not all that common. And, the only other time we've ordered it, it was pretty terrible. But supposedly, Tarsus is THE place for humus, so we gave it a second chance.

We were presented with a huge basket of fluffy white bread (not pita bread to our surprise), a plate of what looked like homemade pickle slices, fresh tomatoes, the customary peppers that come with almost every Turkish meal, and individual bowls of homemade humus topped with extra chickpeas, herbs, and a lake of flavorful oil.

I thought there was no way that just a bowl of humus would be enough to fill me up, but I was very wrong. Will and I both left stuffed to the gills. Totally recommend this place to anyone looking for a break from kebap!

From the restaurant it was just a few minutes down the road to Saint Paul's well. Upon arrival I realized my camera was dead, so all of these photos are from my iPhone :-/ 

There are plenty of large signs pointing the way, and we easily found parking.

We did not, however, easily find the well.

The signs all point directly to the area called Saint Paul's Park, but somewhere we missed the additional directions that the actual well was down a small alley, below the park. It was not a busy tourist time, so we may or may not have walked around for a while trying to find it, gotten back in the car and tried multiple other navigations, before returning to the same spot, walking around again, and finally asking for help from a local. 

The well itself is 38 meters deep, fully supplied with water year-round, and the water itself is said to have healing powers. 

We decided we could always use some healing, and we just happened to be thirsty...

so we both had a drink, and touched some to Aubrey's lips.

In general, we don't drink the water in Turkey. We've been heavily warned that it isn't clean and will result in a less than happy tummy. But, we figured this was a time we could take a chance. Thus far neither of us has gotten sick.

The courtyard around the well is home to what is believed to be the remnants of Saint Paul's home. There are large glass viewing decks that allow you to peak down into what's left of his humble abode. 

After we were done at the well we made our way over to the waterfalls and were happy to find they were surrounded by some nice restaurants and an ice cream stand. So we stopped for some Turkish tea and his and hers cones. 

And with that our Sunday adventures came to an end. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Postpartum NON-Fitness

Interesting fact. Two days after Aubrey was born Will looked up at me as he hovered over our new little smush, and with wide excited eyes proclaimed, "I want more babies. I know I never wanted babies, but this makes me want more babies."

I thought surely, once the newness wore off a little, and the sleepless nights started to show the true colors of parenthood, that his sentiment would change.

It hasn't. In fact, I think his resolve that we need to have at least one more child, sooner rather than later, has only gotten stronger as time has passed.

While I don't mind the idea of another kid, the problem is, besides my total lack of desire to go through pregnancy, giving birth, and breastfeeding again, Aubrey is 8 months as of today and I am currently in the worst shape physically (and in some ways mentally) that I have been in in years. And the thought of tacking on another pregnancy, and my body spiraling into an even worse physical state, is all but terrifying to me.

Appearance isn't everything, but I know from first hand experience, that at least for me personally, feeling healthy and feeling good in my own skin absolutely impacts my mental health and happiness. I'm trying not to hate my body, and to lovingly accept the new curves and their place in my life for now, but I can't. Because I know I can do better and be better. Every morning when I wake up and try on a pair of pants that used to be my go-to casual comfy pants, only to find that they are nearly too tight to button, I feel a little bit of despair creep in. Especially considering that before I left the hospital I was already below my pre-pregnancy weight, so what I am dealing with now has all happened postpartum.

I'm not disillusioned, and I realize that I had a baby, and that simple thing alone takes a huge toll on your body. But at the same time, I realize that in the big picture, I'm only about 7-10 pounds away from where I want to be. It's like being able to see your prize, yet it's only just out of your reach.

Looking back now, I realize that I was in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant. Which had been my goal, but I had no idea just how far I had come in my personal fitness journey. And I maintained that fitness pretty well up until week 35 of pregnancy.

The summer before I got pregnant, 6 months pregnant, and 7.5 months postpartum.

So why don't you do something about it? I'm sure you are asking.

The short answer is, I've tried but can't. The long answer is I haven't had the support system (read: friends and family to babysit) that I've needed to make working out consistently a possibility. Aubrey's nap schedule fluctuated so much in the first 4-5 months that I couldn't depend on it enough to be able to plan to take her to a babysitter's house so I could make the crossfit class at the gym. I had to choose between a happy baby, or a screaming baby so I could in a workout (during which I usually stressed nonstop about said screaming baby). In the end I couldn't deal with going to pick her up and finding her in complete distress. And there wasn't anyone who was able to come to our house to watch her. So working out was tabled. The two times I've gone home to the states our family has been so great about watching her every day so I can go to the gym. And I was so pleased to find that instead of it being a hard first step to get back into it, getting back into the groove working out regularly was like riding a bike. And then we came back to Turkey and it all came to a halt again.

My only other option was working out at home. And this is where I only have myself to blame. Since getting into crossfit, my idea of a good workout involves lots of heavy weights and intensity. It also means spending an hour doing something total selfish and forgetting everything outside of the gym. Working out at home doesn't provide either of those, and generally doesn't feel worth it. Which I know is a poor way to think about it, because in reality every little bit helps.

And now I've let myself fall so far down that that realization is finally starting to set in. When it comes to food, although we always eat fairly healthy, I've hidden behind the idea that I could eat more (which I often translated into whatever I want) because I am breastfeeding and need to keep up my supply. At this point though, Aubrey is only nursing four times a day, and the truth is, I don't need the extra calories now. So Will and I took the first step last week when we returned from vacation.

We acknowledged just how far we had slipped in our normal diet, and rebooted. And friends, it has been a struggle for me. Not necessarily cleaning up our eats, but more so getting my portions, snacking, and sugar intake under control. We're on week two, and although I haven't noticed any changes in my weight yet, I will say I'm feeling a bit better about the eating choices I'm making.

The next step is finding my way back to fitness. We are leaving soon for a nearly month-long trip through Europe with mine and Will's families. I'm secretly hoping the sheer amount of walking we will be doing will be of some help, but in general working out is once again being put on hold until we get back. Aubrey is now at an age where she can be awake for a pretty decent amount of time, and her naps are fairly regular. So fingers crossed that I can find someone to watch her for an hour a few days a week, I think I finally have the resolve and determination to make fitness a priority again.

I need it for my happiness, my sanity, my self confidence. I need it so I can be a better mom for Aubrey, and a better wife to Will. And I need it to once again prepare my body for possibly growing another little one somewhere down the road.

So this post doesn't really have much of a point, but is rather a mental dumping for me, but I would love to hear your experiences with postpartum fitness. What worked? What didn't? How long did it take you to get back to what you would consider a good place? Any tips and advice, or general good luck is SO welcomed!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Aubrey's First Vacation - Antalya, Turkey

Will and I have always taken one big vacation each year. We save all year, and when it's time, we go all out. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, our lives have led us all over the world in the past year so we didn't get to take a real vacation. And while we wouldn't give up all the small trips we've taken, and the big trip involving bringing home a little spitfire bundle of joy, we decided a few months ago it was time to resurrect our annual big vacation when all we wanted was some uninterrupted time together spent relaxing.

In the past we've always gone to the Excellence Resorts in Mexico. Our friends joke we could be sales ambassadors for those resorts because we can't stop talking about them. We had heard that the Antalya area offers some similar all inclusive hotels, so we decided to give it a shot. 

We hit the air bright and early, and were so thankful it was only a quick hour long flight to get to our destination. The early morning did teeny traveler in though. She fell asleep before we could make it to the hotel. 

And again by the pool a few hours later :)

I talk a little later about how we handled Aubrey throughout our trip, but I'll just go ahead and say vacationing with a baby is a whole other experience. 

We stayed at the Liberty Lara Beach. The hotel was pretty nice; actually according to a few of the British people we met there, it is considered one of the nicest in the Lara Beach vicinity. However there were definitely differences in the service and just general quality and luxury when compared to the Excellence. We may or may not have noted all the reasons why the Excellence was just so excellent throughout the week, before finally decided that we would probably only do all inclusive in Mexico from now on. Hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it right?

It didn't help that the vacation gods were not smiling down on us this trip. We arrived early, and because the hotel was booked we basically had no where to go because they didn't have a room for us to check into. They did let us eat breakfast, and we put Aubrey down for a nap on a makeshift bed of a couple of chairs pushed together, and then we sat...for hours. 

Eventually when lunchtime rolled around they finally had a room for us, but when we got to it, we realized they had put us in a twin bedroom instead of a double. After asking to be moved we were informed there weren't any doubles available, so we were stuck at least for that night. We tried pushing the beds together, but halfway through the night after fighting the mattresses pushing apart and doing our best to avoid falling in the crevice, we gave up and succumbed to sleeping separately. 

Then that night we found a puddle of water beneath the air condition, and upon the maid spotting it the next morning, technicians were called in and proceeded to try to fix the AC for close to 3 hours while we tried to get Aubrey to nap throughout the noise. The hotel even asked us to leave our room while they were working and we had to try to explain that our baby was asleep.

Oh and there were still no double rooms available. 

They finally finished and we made our way to the pool, only to come back that evening and find water dripping out of the light fixture next to the AC. So we had to call again, and begged to be moved to a different room. 

I'll spare the very frustrating details, but after a number of calls, and finally having to break out my mama bear on the manager (I had a baby that was screaming to go to bed), they finally gave us another room for the night, albeit a downgrade from our current room. 

The next day they finally switched us into a double room, and it was all around a much better place to be. 

We spent the next couple of days getting settled and trying to unwind and find a routine with Aubrey. Then the third day we hopped on the bus into downtown Antalya. Believe or not I actually needed to shop for a pair of shoes as our vacation mishaps continued. I was so proud to have only packed two pairs of shoes for our whole trip, only to have the soles completely come off of the pair I brought to wear in the evenings the second day we were there. It may be time to start investing in higher quality shoes.

The harbor area was the kind of site they feature in travel magazines.

And luckily I found a pair of sandals I really liked in the shopping district, as well as a new swimsuit cover up made from Turkish towels, and Will and I treated ourselves to some knock off Ray Bans :)

For lunch we climbed about a million stairs (kudos to Will for toting the stroller up all of those babies), and dined al fresco on some freshly grilled octopus in a restaurant that overlooked the harbor. 

We also looked up the hotels there so we could return for a long weekend sometime. I HAVE to swim  in that beautiful water! 

Afterwards we walked a bit more and then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. We felt the few turkish lira were worth not having to deal with the hot bus that stopped every 5 feet, after we had spent the day walking and sweating. 

There's not much to speak of for the rest of our time there, besides spending a lot of time in the sun and eating ourselves silly. We did have yet another mishap a few days before we left, when we returned to our chairs after lunch to find all of our sunscreen and my floaty missing. I still can't understand why someone would want to steal half used sunscreen. So Will had to walk down the road to buy replacements the next morning (the hotel sold sunscreen for the cheap price of $27 a bottle of course).

We did have a bit of luck however, we met the restaurant manager one of the first few nights we were there and over the course of our stay he kindly treated us to all of the à la carte restaurants (they normally charge a cover charge) as well as a bottle of organic wine sent to our room. We're not sure if it was because we were the only Americans there, or more likely, the management had asked him to make our stay a little more pleasant after our stay started out so rough. Either way it was nice to get to try everything. 

I feel like all all inclusives are basically the same, so there weren't too many pictures to be taken. 

Except miss fabulous in her sunglasses and bathing suit of course. 

Part of me can't believe I'm including this picture. I never anticipated not being able to work out post baby, but with Will traveling and working so much, and babysitters not really working out for Aubrey, I've barely seen the gym since she was born. Suffice it to say I'm a long way from being happy with my body, but for this trip I tried to just embrace the fact that I did in fact have a baby, and I've got time ahead of me to work back towards the body I want. Above all I tried my best not to let my poor self confidence keep me from enjoying a coastal vacation with my family. 

But alas, that is probably another post for another time.

After it was all said and done, I think we ended up more tired than we were before we left. Even though Aubrey slept decently well, she still wakes up between 6-7 every morning, and that is just tiring when Mom and Dad tried to stay up and enjoy a few drinks here and there. 

So for those wondering, here's how we managed Aubrey's schedule and food and such. For the most part we kept her on her normal schedule. These days she wakes between 6 and 7, nurses, eats breakfast at 8, then goes down for a nap from 9-11. Wakes and nurses, then eats lunch at 12, then back down for a nap between 1-2. Then wakes, nurses, and eats dinner at 5:30, nurses at 6:30, and down for bed at 7. Some nights we kept her out later, and some days she napped by the pool (typically on my chest), but overall we tried to make sure she stayed well rested because we knew it was the only way we would be able to enjoy ourselves. Will and I also took turns napping with her while the other person hit up the spa for the afternoon.

As far as food, I packed a lot of baby food, but once we got there we realized she was able to eat quite a bit from the buffet restaurant. So she ate oats, eggs, cheese and yogurt for breakfast; then a container of baby food as well as whatever we fed her from our meals for lunch and dinner. I'm so glad she is at the age now where she can sit in a high chair and pick at different foods. It allowed us to enjoy our meals and keep her entertained at the same time. 

For entertainment we relied on a floaty boat (the kind babies can sit in, ours had a shade over top as well - similar to this one), a few toys I packed, and puffs. Puffs were one of those things I really hoped not to give Aubrey, but I'll admit, they are life savers at times. I have used them countless times to keep her appeased when we are getting to the end of our rope on airplanes, and they worked wonders for keeping her occupied when we really wanted a little longer at the pool but she was ready to call it a day. 

Aubrey still sleeps with white noise (which was even more important in a hotel) so we always travel with a mini blue tooth speaker. This time we brought the iPad, which is what we use for a white noise app at home, but we also have the option of using our phones. We use the Sound Sleeper app. Having the speaker is also nice because we were able to have music in our room at any time, as well as on the beach if we wanted. 

All-in-all Aubrey was really a dream. Sure there were nights she cried a few times during the night. And sure there were times when she was totally done with the pool and just wanted to sleep. But she napped when we put her down, didn't fuss a single time when we dragged her all over Antalya in the blazing hot sun, and she won over many hearts with her sweet little smile. I don't know that we will try the all inclusive thing again until she is older to sort of fend for herself a little so mom and dad can also enjoy themselves a little, but it was a great first vacation. And coming home with this awesome tan isn't too shabby either :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our Secret Beach & Turning 30

This past Sunday it was my first Mother's Day as well as my 30th birthday. But instead of wallowing in misery over the passing of another year, we packed up our things and headed to our secret beach spot.

I call this our secret beach spot, but really anyone could find it by looking up Yumurtalik on Google Maps and then locating the vacant beach just a few miles up the coast. At least that's what Will did to find it. 

There's not a whole lot to it necessarily, but you can drive your car right onto the beach, it's usually vacant (this time there were a couple of other families way down the beach), and it's only about an hour-ish from the house. So for us it's the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the dogs, leash free.

And it's pretty fun watching little babies play in the sand :)

This picture, well both the one above and the one below, kind of makes me swoon. I am one lucky duck with that adorable baby and handsome man! 

And one of the best birthday/mother's day gifts was that this little one finally has cheeks! 

I could seriously eat them up!

I always thought I would have a hard time turning 30, but in reality I kind of just felt too busy to stop and think about it much. Maybe that and I'm tired enough that I feel every bit of 30. Either way, I'm ok with it. I'm learning age doesn't have much to do with anything. As long as I get to keep on living (meaning in all the senses I consider to define that term), I don't really care what birthday it is.  

Twinkle toes had her first dip in the ocean. She didn't really react to the ice cold water reaching up her ankles, but we sure did! 

And to make the day complete, we watched as not one, but two goat herds made their way across the beach, flanked by a few Turkish wild dogs causing us to have to keep our dogs out of their line of sight down by the water. 

Only in Turkey friends. Only in Turkey. 

Cheers to year 31, and a great Mother's Day with four of my greatest blessings!