Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

Skin-scare June 14, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 12:37 pm

I’m beginning to wonder if “dermatologist recommended” actually means anything.  A few years back I worked as an Arbonne consultant for about a day.  Turns out I’m an atrocious sales person, but I did manage to learn a lot about ingredients that are present in everything from shampoo to face cleansers to cosmetics.  It really opened my eyes to the fact that we may not be putting the healthiest things on our or our kids’ skin, and quite frankly it made me a little angry.  Not at consumers, of course, but at the companies who were touting “All Natural Ingredients,”  “Hypoallergenic” and “Noncomedegenic” (this means your face wash isn’t very funny), as if these buzz words were enough to promise a healthy solution to blocked pores, dry skin, and dull hair. 

I started dissecting ingredient labels on the products that claimed to be dermatologist recommended and all-natural: mineral oil, petrolatum (yes, this is a refined form of pertoleum…the stuff you use to fuel your car), sulfates, and parabens were in EVERYTHING I was using.  After doing some research and learning these ingredients are about the worst things you can put on your skin, both for superficial cosmetic reasons and not-so-superficial health reasons, I began to wonder why on earth these ingredients were even allowed to be in our skin care products.  It was more than unsettling to discover that the US is one of the only advanced countries where the FDA does not regulate the cosmetic industry (they don’t even regulate our food very well, in my opinion.  But that is neither here nor there), meaning you can fill a bottle with nothing but 100% “All Natural” mineral oil and call it Baby Oil.  An oil that can create an unpenetratable layer on one’s skin, making it impossible for pores to do their job and let the skin breathe, is marketed as a product for babies!  I decided one of my priorities would be taking the time to research ingredient labels on all my cosmetic and skin care products.  Thankfully, despite lax regulations, you can find quite a few companies here in the US that actually do use organic, truly natural products that are sulfate, paraben, and petrolatum-free (Badger Balm and Burt’s Bees products are my favorites).*

Maybe I’m just getting too crunchy for my own good, but it’s enough to make me one of those crazy moms who screams anytime someone tries to put Banana Boat Sunscreen on my child’s face.  Wonder why that would freak me out?  Check out to see how some of our most popular cosmetic and skin care products stack up in the eyes of the Environmental Working Group.  WARNING: you might accidentally spend the better half of your day on this website and leave feeling somewhat nauseous and perturbed.

*This post is not intended to be an add for Burt’s Bees or Badger Balm.  Simply, my personal experiences with these company’s products are good ones, and I respect their adherence to only putting natural and healthy ingredients in their products.


A Little Good Advice Really Pays Off. June 11, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 3:21 pm

I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!  The reality of the situation is just barely beginning to sink in, but the hubs and I are pretty elated to say the least.  Parenthood truly wasn’t in our plans for anytime in the near future, but if I’ve learned anything of real value it’s that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.  I’m pretty sure though that even if you’re actively trying NOT to get pregnant, all you have to do is drink a glass of tap water at circle ME…have you seen the number of pregnant women working here?!  It’s contagious.  Before any pregnancy test confirmed my fears joy, however, I knew something was different back in early April.  I had this sudden visceral connection to my strength as woman, a spiritual awareness of my connection to our Earth Mother and a keen sensation that my body was somehow paving the way to embark on the most magical, miraculous journey of a lifetime.  That and I was constipated. 

So, sure enough, on April 12th at 3:42 in the morning I peed on a stick and learned my first baby would be coming to meet us in 9 short months.  Oddly enough, my first thought was, “Well, I’ll finally have a little street cred when it comes to giving parenting advice.”  I was half asleep.  But then I got really excited and woke my husband up to share the news! 

We had our 12 week appointment a week ago and heard a good, strong heart beat on the doppler.  Our midwife offered to give us a non-formal ultrasound so we could see if it even slightly resembled a human yet, and it did!  The head to torso ratio was 1:1, but by golly it was cute!  And it was ACTIVE!  It was literally swimming from one side of the amniotic sac to the other, flipping and wiggling all over the place.  Not even out of the womb and already a ham for the camera…I love this kid!  Our baby looked like it had ants in its pants.   Ha!  Wouldn’t that be hilarious if he had tiny little pants on in there? Ahhhh…I’ve had a really hard time sleeping the past few weeks, so unfortunately my sense of humor is regressing pretty severely.

Anyway, this is certainly a whole new world for me.  The first trimester was a bit of an ordeal: I could barely keep anything down besides tortilla chips and pickle juice, which in turn caused a great amount of stress.  I thought for sure I was going to give this kid spina bifida or something horrible because all I could eat was salty, empty calories.  Then I started stressing because I was stressed, thinking that my anxiety would turn my child into a neurotic, high-strung worrier!  The books I read were no help either.  After leafing through one chapter of What to Expect When You’re Expecting I felt the book should be subtitled A Detailed Account of Everything That Could Possibly Go Wrong With Your Pregnancy.  Enjoy!  I thought merely laying off booze, cigarettes and crack-cocaine would be enough to support a healthy womb environment, but I was learning I couldn’t be more wrong!  I began to think that even the slightest bit of caffeine would send my unborn child spiralling into a speed addiction, and that coming within 80 feet of a cat would cause it to sprout a second head.

My mother, bless her heart, reassured me that the baby was fine and that I just needed to relax.  She reminded that there will always be something to worry about when your child is involved and if I didn’t learn to chill out I’d have an aneurism before the kid got to college.  Breeeeaaaaaathhhhhe.

My mama, like all good moms I’m sure, have some truly sound parenting advice to share with expectant parents.  And I’d say from this post it’s pretty obvious that I could use some good, sound pregnancy and parenting advice.  So Bo Bryson, owner of Trinity Chiropractic and husband to circle ME’s owner Jennifer (who’s also expecting…told you!  It’s the tap water!) came up with a super fun idea:  come in to circle ME any time we’re open from Monday, June 13th – Monday the 20th with your best advice for me written on a piece of paper.  That printed advice will act as coupon good for 15% off your entire purchase that day!  You can bet that some of my favorites will end up on this blog 🙂


Doing Laundry Au Natural June 6, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 4:59 pm

I’ve discovered I love being wrong.  Not when it comes to debates with my husband, mind you.  In those instances I very much enjoy being right.  But when it comes to thinking a product can’t possibly work because it’s a) natural and b) inexpensive,  I am happy to realize I am sorely mistaken.

For example, at first I was quite content with my dryer sheets and didn’t care that they were composed of an assortment of chemicals and additives I couldn’t pronounce.  They made my clothes soft and fluffy and even glazed them in a flower-simulated scent that I very much enjoyed.  But when the itchy skin and sudden breakouts started happening, I attributed it to everything but what I was putting on my clothes and bedding during the laundry process.  At the recommendation of a dermatologist, I cut out dairy, soy, peanuts, bananas and anything else that might be causing my breakouts and rashes.  I spent tons of money on pricey body lotion and face washes that temporarily soothed the dryness and bumps, but didn’t do much to combat them for good.  I was at my wit’s end when a holistic-minded, somewhat crunchy friend suggested that all my problems could be attributed to my dryer sheets.  She said children are especially sensitive to them, but people can develop allergies to their ingredients at any point in adulthood as well.  Well, alright fine…but what on earth am I supposed to do about my clothes?  I’ve dried them before when I’ve run out of dryer sheets and they take FOREVER to dry and come out so stactic-y they could stick to the wall. 

Enter dryer balls.  When I first heard of them I figured they might help my clothes dry just as fast, but wouldn’t do much to ward off static of make them nice and soft.  Alas, I was desperate, so I figured $10 for two balls wasn’t too risky of a gamble.  This is that moment I previously mentioned where I discovered I love being wrong.  Not only did these little guys get my laundry dry in a mere 30 minutes, they made my clothes oh-so-soft and there was no hint of bothersome static!  I felt pretty swell when I realized that I just spent the same amount of money on a product that would last me a couple of years as I would have on dryer sheets that would only last me a few months.   And the best part:  my skins rashes are gone.  Sweet relief!  I still have my lovely acne outbreaks every now and then…like five days out of every month…but I suppose there’s only so much you can do when your body is subject to the whims of drastic hormonal changes. 

I love saving money.  I love having soft skin and clothes. I love my dryer balls.  (And if you live anywhere near Lincoln, know that circle ME now carries the Dryer Max brand dryer balls for the low price of $9.99 per pair 🙂 ).


Wooly Love (and how you can win a free soaker!) June 4, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 10:27 am

Sokay: I’m not sure if I have yet described my love affair with wool covers.  It seems crazy that wool could adequately protect furniture and bed sheets from leaky diapers, but it does…incredibly well, as a matter fact.  Once wool is lanolized, it acts a waterproof yet breathable fabric, making it the perfect cover for nighttime and a full-proof system for even the heaviest of wetters.  It makes me feel good knowing that it is a 100% natural fabric, so even if my baby ends up having sensitive skin it won’t act as an irritant and lead to rashes (unless of course the little guy ends up being allergic to wool.  Then my plans are foiled and I’ll probably even cry a little).  Add to that the low maintenance factor (wool need only be washed once a week to once every two weeks or if poop gets on it; it’s naturally anti-microbial) and the adorable factor, and you’ve got yourself one perfect cover!  The craziest part is, because of it’s naturally occurring properties, it will actually keep your kid cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The biggest (and perhaps only) turn off when it comes to wool is cost.  Wool covers can get rather pricey, ranging anywhere from $20 up to $50 (I’m sure there’s some crazy, custom-made $200 cover out there that I just haven’t come across yet).  Definitely worth the investment, but for those of you who really want to try wool but just can’t pony up the dough, there is an answer to your problem: The Sleepy Sheep.  A Work-At-Home-Mom business based in Louisville, NE, Sarah from The Sleepy Sheep will custom make gorgeous and functional wool covers for any size baby, toddler or even adult (because of its trimness, wool makes a great cover for adults suffering from incontinence).  Her turn around time is super quick, and because she loves what she does and truly cares about each and every one of her customers, she is an absolute delight to work with!  Yet another bonus: her costs are ridiculously low.  The covers from her that we sell at circle ME are as low as $11.00, and most are well under $20.  She uses up-cycled sweaters (this über crunchy mama loves it!) and doesn’t have to pay any employees or compensate for overhead or advertising, so all her savings get transferred to you!

I’ve got even better news:  Brynn’s Boutique (another amazing WHAM business) is hosting a Sleepy Sheep Giveaway!  Go to this link to find out how to enter to win a soaker from The Sleepy Sheep.

Here you can also see adorable pics of beautiful Brynn in a custom made wool skirtie from The Sleepy Sheep, and very helpful wool care and maintenence instructions.  Good luck all you wool-lovers out there!


“Prenatal U” May 24, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 11:18 am

My mind is officially boggled.  I received an email this morning  from “Baby Plus: The First-Ever Prenatal Education System” (how this company got my email I have no idea) and was greeted by the heading “Our patented prenatal curriculum is designed to strengthen your baby’s learning capabilities with naturally derived audio lessons.  For your child, the developmental benefits of BabyPlus last a lifetime.”  Prenatal curriculum?  I was curious as to what these life-changing lessons were that couldn’t possibly wait until the kid was at least born, so I clicked on the link.

Here is a company selling moms-to-be an audio system that hooks up to their blossoming bellies.  For two one-hour sessions per day, a rhythmic sound is delivered to the baby that…get this…mimics the sound and pattern of Mommy’s heartbeat.  Apparently, the fetus learns to discriminate between the artificial heart tones and their mother’s actual heartbeat and thus, their developing brain changes in a way that makes them more ready to learn vast amounts of information when they’re born.  All this for the low introductory price of $149.00 plus shipping and handling?  What good mother could say no? 

I like to approach things with an open-mind, so I went to the testimonials page (under the “What Is It?” tab) to see what test subjects were saying about this pre-natal learning tool.  Parent after parent was praising the system, citing their child’s ability to self-soothe at a younger age, their advanced interactive personality, their ability to reach milestones earlier and their increased attention spans.  Hmmm…maybe I would be short-changing my child if I didn’t get this product.  After all, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t do everything in my power to assure that my child would have all the opportunities to get a head start in life?  Then I noticed the varying career titles that these parents held: Registered Nurse, Licensed Psychotherapist, Author, Molecular Biologist, Teacher, Pediatrician, Pediatric Physical Therapist, Medical Doctor.  I began to wonder if this BabyPlus really did much of anything to add to the learning capabilities of a child who was the genetic offspring of incredibly intelligent individuals, and raised by people who already specialized in children’s development.  If there was a parent on there who had never graduated high school and claimed something like, “I didn’t really spend any time with my kids when they were growing up, and I don’t pay much attention to them now, but I did sit for two hours a day with that monitor on my stomach while I was pregnant.  Now I hear my kid’s getting straight A’s in school, is popular with both his peers and teachers, and is class president,” then I’d whip out my credit card and call the 1-800 number . 

I’m pretty quick to believe though, that it’s what you do with your child after they’re born that makes the largest differences in their learning capabilities.  This is not to negate pre-natal care and nutrition, of course.  Those are definitely huge factors in the formation of your little baby’s brain.  And it’s certainly not to diminish the beauty and wonder of bonding with your baby before they’re born.  My mom said she read “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” by Dr. Seuss almost every day to me while I was in her tummy.  After I was born, when she’d read that story to me I would sit completely quiet and engaged the entire time, like I was remembering something really important.  Now I can’t wait to do the same for my future babies.

Of course every parent wants to give their children the best possible advantages in life, but after visiting this website I’d like to pose a question:  how fuzzy is the line between wanting to nurture your child’s growth, and wanting to create a being that will make you proud because they’re ahead of every other child in their age-bracket?


Fluff at First Sight May 23, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth — My Natural Family @ 1:59 pm

Perhaps this is too lofty a goal, but I would really like to start cloth diapering my future kids from the very beginning.  I mean fresh out of the oven, before we leave the birth center, cloth and cloth alone will touch my baby’s bottom.  Challenging? Yes. Impossible? Definitely not.  And because I am such a stubborn weirdo, I’d really like to be able say things like “When my kids were little they never once wore a disposable diaper.”  As much as I’d like that to happen, I’m not sure I’ve met a single cloth diapering parent who has managed to avoid the dreaded we’re-visiting-distant-relatives/we’re-going-camping-for-the-week/we-messed-up-our-laundry-cycle-again and at least once had to resort to wearing a disposable.  If any of you have who are reading this, let me know: I’d love the inspiration!

So maybe I won’t be able to avoid using a sposie just once over the course of my child’s three-year stint with diapers, but I KNOW I can at least get the newborn diaper phase under control.  I think what intimidates people the most about diving in head-first (butt-first?) to cloth diapering their brand-new babies is the idea of the meconium tainting one of their gorgeous new diapers.  I concur.  Many manufacturers claim that the meconium won’t ruin your diapers, but that stuff is frighteningly unreal and I’m fairly certain that if it can damage a cotton t-shirt, it can damage a cotton diaper.   I tend to error on the side of caution when it comes to stuff like tar-poo, so luckily for me biodegradable liners were invented and are here to save the day.  These little God-sends line your diaper and protect it from things like aforementioned meconium and diaper creams, and clean up is easy as 1-2-3: (1) Fold liner over and pick up by the corners (2) Throw in toilet (3) Flush toilet.  Bing, bang, boom, done…and no dealing with trying to figure out how to scrape that yucky stuff out of your diaper.

Another thing I’ve heard people say is, “I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a newborn diaper that’s only going to last me a month before she/he grows out of it.”  This is a totally legit concern.  Not one that I may necessarily have to worry about, as both my and my husband’s families have a history of big, deliciously fat newborns (I’m actually more concerned with the possibility that I’ll eventually have to deliver a ten-pounder, but that’s neither here nor there).  That makes the problem easily solved for me or any one else who delivers bigger babies, as most one-size diapers fit 8-35+  pounders.  But fear not:  if you’re one that tends to deliver on the light side, Rumparooz OS pocket diapers fit all the way down to 6 pounds!  Hopefully you’re not going to deliver a baby that weighs too much less than 6 pounds, but plenty of beautiful, healthy children are born at that weight or less and if that does end up being the case for you, then newborn diapers will be there to help you out.  Since they go from 4 pounds all the way up to 12, they will last your little blessing for a nice long while.   The cool part is that since they will be worn for a shorter amount of time, your resale value on them will be incredibly high (if you’re done having babies) or they’ll be in like-new for the next one (if you’re not).  And I’m sorry but how unbelievably cute is this?:

This is the Lil’ Joeys by Rumparooz, a no-hassle all-in-one that even has a precious snap-down button to make room for the umbilicle cord stump.  So yes, with this option you’ll spend about $15 per diaper and only be able to wear it for about three months, but between the resale price you’ll be able to charge or the low cost-per-use you’ll be able to get by using them on multiple children, it ends up being a money-saver.  Another solution for wee-babies is to go the fitted route, especially the Thirsties brand.  Their Size One Fab Fitted goes from 6 to 18 pounds and will fit for a nice, long time 🙂  If you deliver a baby that weighs less than 4 pounds, then no one is going to fault you for not giving a flip what diaper is being used on your baby: chances are your priorities are going to be elsewere.

So wish me luck.  If their fluff-obsessed mother gets her way, my babies’ brand-new tushies will never know what it feels like to sit in a disposable diaper.


A Little Baltic Amber Makes it Better. May 16, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 2:05 pm

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a big fan of medicinal drugs.  I hate the idea of taking low-dosage Tylenol even if I have a splitting headache, and will only take a Midol if my monthly visitor has rendered me an invalid (yes, my cramps get THAT bad).  I’m not sure what my aversion is to taking over-the-counter painkillers…maybe it’s just because swallowing pills throws my gag-reflex into overdrive?  But beyond that fact, I just don’t like the idea of man-made chemicals flowing through my bloodstream.  I know that plenty of people take them on a daily basis without experiencing any adverse side-effects, but I guess I’m a little eccentric when it comes to fearing consequences of acetaminophen build-up later down the road (any medical doctor will probably tell you I’m nuts).

The bummer is, when it came to relieving my aches and pains I didn’t really believe in homeopathic/herbal/all-natural remedies either.  Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  On a daily basis I would get searing headaches that would make me want to spontaneously throw hard objects at innocent people;  I wouldn’t want to take a measly ibuprofen no matter how bad they got, but at the same time I dismissed herbal remedies like feverfew, skullcap, and ginkgo biloba as a bunch of voodoo that wouldn’t really do anything to help me.  Needless to say, I was spending a majority of my time in a pain-induced fog.

Then, when I started working at circle ME (, I learned about Baltic amber necklaces that were used to treat and soothe inflammation.  circle ME sells the Baltic amber teething necklaces to help babies who are experiencing the pains of those incoming teeth, and also adult-sized necklaces, bracelets and anklets to help grown-ups with common ailments such as headaches, carpal tunnel, and other discomforts associated with inflammation.  I’m not gonna lie, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud.  I thought it was yet another “homeopathic” gimmick created to get gullible people to spend copious amounts of money.  I thought this for only a short while, as I started to notice that mamma after mamma would come in and buy the necklaces for both her and her babies.  Still unconvinced, I figured it was the placebo effect that was making the moms feel better…but I couldn’t quite explain what excuses they’d make if their kid didn’t stop wailing through the night even with the amber wrapped securely around their neck.

Then, a line-backer-sized dad named Bryce came into the store and made me believe in the legitimacy of Baltic amber.  He had come in the day before and, in the act of complete and utter desperation, purchased a teething necklace for his four-month-old daughter.  She hadn’t slept through the night for four nights in a row and he and his wife, who had tried everything in the books to relieve their daughter’s teething pain, were one step away from completely losing their minds from sleep-deprivation.  Now, here he was again, with the necklace in his hand storming towards the front desk.

I was sure he was about to return the necklace, dissatisfied with the fact that his daughter had caused every one on the house to lose another night of sleep, but instead he exclaimed, “I need to exchange this for a slightly smaller size.  This thing is a God-send.”

“Oh wonderful!”  I said, truly elated for him but also fairly shocked. “We can exchange that for you, no problem at all.”

“My wife and I couldn’t believe it,” he continued, “but she slept through the night for the first time, and didn’t cry throughout her feeding.  I thought it was a bunch of witch-craft…but this thing actually works!”

As Bryce left the store with a smile on his face, I stared at the display of amber necklaces and thought, “Well, worst-case scenario is I spend a little too much money on a really stylish, beautiful necklace for myself.”  So I grabbed a necklace I had been eyeballing for the past couple weeks and placed it around my neck…and that was the last day I had one of my killer headaches.  Call it the placebo effect, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want:  my headaches are gone and innocent people everywhere are safe from my violent, pain-induced mood swings.  And I didn’t have to swallow a single, yucky pill!

I’ve never really been one to care about exactly how things work: if my car gets me from point A to point B, I don’t feel the need to know what’s going on in the engine.  But for those of you who aren’t satisfied with just knowing that Baltic amber works, but need to know how, here’s some scientific-y explanation from the Inspired by Finn website:

When Baltic amber is worn on the skin, the skin’s warmth releases trace amounts of healing oils from the amber. These oils contain succinic acid and are absorbed into the skin.

Baltic Amber has some of the highest concentrations of Succinic Acid found in nature, and this is what makes it so special. Succinic Acid is a natural component of plant and animal tissues, and it’s presence in the human body is beneficial in many ways.

How can Baltic amber help us?

  • Pain Relief –

Baltic amber contains analgesic properties and helps take the edge off of many types of discomfort associated with dental issues, headaches, joint pain, etc.

  • Strengthens the body’s immune system –

In many different and subtle ways, succinic acid helps boost the body’s own natural healing ability and immune system.

  • Restoring Energy –

 The human body naturally produces succinic acid. The salt of succinic acid (succinate) is one of the most active substances in the processes of cellular respiration and intercellular energy creation.  Succinic acid restores oxygen and energy supply to depleted cells and helps the body return to a normal, functioning state.

Succinate is a raw material and a catalyst in the Krebs Cycle which is one of our main sources of energy.  During the Krebs Cycle, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are metabolized for energy.

  • Maintaining Wellness –

When the human body reacts to stress, the body’s cells begin to use oxygen more quickly. Oxygen plays a central role in the intercellular creation of energy, and a lack of oxygen can result in feeling lethargic.

Oxygen is alkaline-forming in the blood and maintaining a slightly alkaline blood ph helps keep us healthy. Whenever the body functions in a state of low oxygen, it is much more susceptible to illness.

  • To help break a cycle of (chronic) inflammation

Where chronic inflammation is present, disease lurks.

When the body’s cells are chronically inflamed the human body’s immune system response is to increase production of free radicals. Chronic overproduction of free radicals results in inflammatory-related disease. Chronic inflammation is a common denominator of many seemingly unrelated diseases.

In conclusion, while wearing a piece or two of Baltic amber jewelry may not cure all that ails you, it has been a proven benefit to many!  And, at the very least, it sure is pretty!