How Adopting a Dog Mimics Early Motherhood

Last month my family rescued a two-year-old maltipoo from Arkansas. All we knew of her background is that she was picked up as a stray by a southern shelter. Her friendly, laid-back personality and love of children leads us to believe that she once lived with a family. We named her Dolce, Italian for “sweet,” also in reference to La Dolce Vita to represent “the good life” that we’re giving her and she to us. 

Adopting a Dog | Eco-Mothering.com

I assumed that finding the right dog would be the biggest hurdle. Little did I realize how much adopting a dog would resemble the early weeks of parenthood. We’re completely exhausted and wondering what exactly we got ourselves into.

Sleeplessness

The first several nights I slept fitfully, alert for any sounds from Dolce in her living room crate. Was she whining? Was she scared? Would she think we had abandoned her? This was preceded by a lengthy family discussion about whether we should move her crate to one of our bedrooms or keep her in the living room. We did co-sleep with Sofie for five years, after all. However, the living room won out since we were expanding Dolce’s territory gradually in our home, and the bedrooms were yet to be allowed. We also weren’t sure how long Dolce could hold her bladder, which meant one of us kept waking pre-dawn to take her outside.

Getting on a Schedule

Just like a baby, we’re trying to figure out the dog’s feeding and bathroom schedule. I’ve been recording when Dolce poops every day (is this normal?), looking for a pattern so I can feed her at the times best for us now that the school schedule has begun. Most books say dogs will poop 20-30 minutes after eating, our dog ranges from three to seven hours later. Which makes planning family outings a bit of a hassle.

Separation Anxiety

Like many rescue dogs, Dolce has issues of separation anxiety and abandonment. She doesn’t know that we’re her forever home; to her we might just be one more in a series of transitional places. This expressed itself with Dolce whining and barking whenever we left the house that first week. Upon our return, she’d be overeager to see us, she’d claw at her crate and pee in it — an involuntary action we learned was called excitement urination.

This made me not want to leave the house, which made me feel trapped, which, in turn, made me resent the dog. Rather similar to those newborn days when leaving the house with Baby was such a production that remaining stuck inside the house seemed the lesser evil.

Happily, I’ve struck upon Piano Magic. That’s the name of the Pandora music station that lulls Dolce into a calm state when we’re not home. I discovered online that solo piano sounds tends to soothe dogs, and it’s working for ours. We combine that with returning home in a quiet state and not approaching Dolce’s crate until she’s had five minutes to calm down. Now she sits in her crate wagging her tail until we let her out. No more excited urination. Woohoo! We’re working our way up to longer periods away so that we can return to normal family outings like polo matches and fall festivals.

Soothe Dogs with Piano Music | Eco-Mothering.com

Methods of Dog Parenting

There seem to be as many diverse dog-caring methods and opinions as there are for parenting. And folks can be just as touchy about which way is best.

With Sofie we followed attachment parenting. With dogs, I’m not sure where we lie. Our tendency is toward easy, positive-based training, however, that was not working when it came to training Dolce to walk on a leash. Our frustration at not being able to take our dog for a simple walk around the block led us to training collars that heretofore I might have seen as medieval torture devices. While the prong collar seems to be working with Dolce, I still struggle with that new parent guilt — Am I doing the right thing? What if the other parents judge me? Will my dog one day end up in therapy?

We know many dog owners with various methods and opinions. So whatever we choose to do, we’re going against somebody’s well-meaning advice. Perhaps I was surer of what I wanted with raising a baby (exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapers, unisex clothes and toys), because I had nine months to research and prepare.

I spent my two months pre-Dolce researching what breed would be best for our family and which were quality rescue organizations. By biggest concern was that the dog be housetrained. I hadn’t considered a multitude of other issues: leash training, quality food choices, herbal vs. chemical flea and tick meds, appropriate and safe pet toys, whether to allow the dog on the furniture, whether to feed her from the table, whether she might be triggered by other dogs, people or pigeons… I feel like I’m cramming for an exam in dog care, worried that I might get an answer wrong.

As in parenthood, every day has its share of little frustrations (having to take Dolce outside three times in the evening before she would poop) and small triumphs (yesterday she walked into her crate all of her own accord — she’s obviously starting to feel comfortable there)

My quick frustration reminds me of those early days with Sofie when the simplest tasks seemed insurmountable. However, this time I have the benefit of not being overrun with post partum hormones and knowing that it does get easier. It’s early days. The dog and I are still establishing our bond. For me, it’s a bit slower than bonding with a baby that grew inside me, but I am beginning to consider Dolce the fourth member of our family. I know it will all be worth it.

 This post is shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Greening Your Home: Cushy, Quality, Eco-Friendly Rug Pads

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To be honest, I’ve never give much thought to rug pads. We don’t have wall-to-wall carpet in our home. We have wooden floors covered with area rugs, and getting pads for the area rugs didn’t seem worth the extra expense or bother.

Then I was contacted by Karl from Eco-Rug Pads who wanted to know if I’d like to try their product. After reviewing their website, I decided I did. I liked their family-oriented business and their commitment toward the environment. That’s a big deal in the rug business where it’s so easy to cut costs in half by importing cheap materials from China. I was curious to try some of the company’s eco-friendly rug pads so I gave Karl the measurements of two area rugs.

Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Rug Pads | Eco-Mothering.com

The very next day, I received the package. Excellent first impression! My second impression was just as good when I opened the package and experienced no fumes from the materials.

The rug pads I remember from my childhood were stinky foam or synthetic rubber. I remember that “new carpet” smell from visiting carpet stores with my parents. Now I know that smell is actually the off-gassing of chemicals released from new carpets, including dangerous VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like benzene and toluene or 4-PC (4-phenylcyclohexane), an irritant to the eyes, respiratory tract and central nervous system.

Physical side effects of headaches, nausea or asthma are not something I care to deal with in my home. The other problem with those non-breathable, synthetic rug pads — they tend to damage hardwood floors with discoloration when they “sweat” or break down, as seen below.

floor-damage-from-synthetic-rug-pads

Floor damage photos from RugPadUSA.

Happily, I had no such issues with my Eco-Rug pads. And after experiencing the products in my home for two weeks, I am a rug pad convert. You can be, too — use the discount at the bottom of this post to try one.

About the Rug Pads

I tried the Natures Grip on one of my hallway runner rugs. We have two, and they always slide around in an annoying way. I hoped the pad would alleviate the slipping (it did), but I didn’t realize it would also feel so cushy! It’s only 1/8 inch thick, but the difference when walking from the padded runner rug to the non-padded runner rug is amazing. My husband loves it so much, he wants to order a pad for the second rug.

Jute Fiber Eco Rug Pad | Eco-Mothering.com

Natures Grip PVC-free rug pad is mold-resistant and longer lasting than synthetic rug pads.

Natures Grip pad is made in the USA from natural rubber and plant jute fibers. There are no stinky adhesives, no harmful plastics. Jute is apparently even stronger than polyester with better sound and heat insulation. Compared to the typical “sticky” PVC rug pads I have known, natural rubber and jute won’t discolor floors. The material is also breathable so that it won’t grow mold or mildew.

JuteFibers

Handwoven natural jute fibers offer superior sound and heat insulation.

The second product I tried was the Natural Lock pad for the area rug by the kitchen sink. That rug didn’t provide much cushioning from the tile floor, and it would often slide or flip up at the corners, causing me to trip. Again, the difference was amazing. The increase in comfort level is so much that even our dog prefers hanging out on this rug.

Dolce-sitting-on-rug

Happy dog sitting in cushioned comfort.

This pad, also made in the USA, is ¼” thick made of natural rubber and felt; the felt is comprised of recycled carpet fibers. Since the rubber has been heat pressed to the felt without glues, there are no harmful or unpleasant odors. The tire tread rubber backing will not flake apart over time as latex pads can do. And the ends of our kitchen rug don’t flip up anymore!

Eco Rug Pad | Eco-Mothering.com

Natural Lock rug pads offer .3 inches of cushioned, non-slip grip that’s breathable and odor-free.

About the Company

Eco-Rug Pads is a family business, started by Will McDonald and his uncle who worked in the rug industry for 30 years. They branched out into eco-friendly rug pads as a response to customer complaints about the quality of the rug pads available on the market, including allergies, floor staining and pads that quickly fell apart.

Eco-Rug Pads | Eco-Mothering.com

Tony and Karl from Eco-Rug Pads.

Eco-Rug Pads was born from a desire to bypass those imported, toxic materials and produce high quality, environmentally safe rug pads.

The company makes a point to never use PVC in their products. Their eco-friendly materials include 100% natural rubber instead of synthetic latex, soybean oil instead of petrochemicals and heat pressing instead of toxic glues.

They source materials that are made in the USA, and all rug pads are custom cut at their warehouse in my neighboring state of Connecticut.

ecorupgadslogo

A Cushy Discount for You

Eco-Rug Pads is offering a 15% discount on any of their rug pads through September 30, 2014. Use coupon code ECO15 at checkout. You should also know that in addition to the Natures Grip and Natural Lock, the company offers two types of rug pads I didn’t review including a 100% virgin wool pad (Natures Cushion) and a 100% recycled felt pad (Natural Fiber) with CRI Green Label Certification.

What else? Eco-Rug Pads guarantees 100% customer satisfaction. So try one out for yourself! I didn’t know what I was missing with my lack of area rug pads. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but I walk or stand on these rugs every day. Now my family’s feet (and our dog) are experiencing cushy delight in non-toxic comfort.

Dolce-sleeping-on-rug

 

This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Blog Hop, Simply Natural Saturdays, Natural Living Monday and Natural Family Friday.

 

September’s Top 5 Eco Crafts

Welcome to my monthly installment of eco-friendly arts and craft projects gathered from around the Internet. While some projects require adult supervision, they are a fun, educational and green hobby for your kids to enjoy!

  1. Wine Cork Knights by Red Ted Art

    craft-Cork-Knights

  2. Solar Powered Mason Jar Lights by Green Kid Crafts

    craft-mason-jar-lights

  3. Upcycled Chalkboard Toys by B-Inspired Mama

    craft-chalkboard-toys

  4. Felt Road Track by While He Was Napping

    craft-felt-road-pieces

  5. Tin Can Stilts by We Made That

    craft-tin-can-stilts

This post is shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

7 Eco-Friendly, DIY Baby Shower Gifts

This is a guest post by Ali Lawrence.

As enjoyable as it is to select the right color or style gift for a baby and mom-to-be, it’s equally important to present a gift that is safe for mother, baby and Mother Earth. Baby showers are a great opportunity to get creative and stretch your crafting muscles.

Need inspiration? Try your hand at one of the seven eco-friendly options on this list.

  1. Knit Blankets

    Baby knitwear is a no-brainer for DIY shower gifts. Mothers will certainly appreciate having an extra blanket to tuck around Junior at home, in the car or at Grandma’s.When looking for earth-friendly yarn options, organic is a good place to start. Organic yarns are durable and chemical-free, plus they actually become softer over time. There are other renewable materials available like soysilk (from soy proteins), seasilk (from seaweed), bamboo and hemp.

  2. Burp Cloths

    Baby spit-up is a regular part of new motherhood. So why not make sure that your friend has a stash of reusable, soft, organic burp cloths to choose from?

    Consider getting the new mommy eco-friendly flour sack towels, which are easily customizable, durable and versatile. You can decorate them and use them in place of diapers in this gift-friendly towel cake.

  3. Custom Onesies

    Frilly dresses, tiny vests and other outifts may be adorable, but not very practical since babies outgrow clothes so fast! While every shower attendee is tempted by the siren call of cute outfits, opt to go a different route.

    Onesies are affordable and versatile. Buy a few organic onesies in different sizes (newborn, 3, 6 and 9 months), and personalize them with hand-drawn creations. You can customize the onesie with the baby’s name, an inside joke or a favorite quote or character.

  4. Baby Sling

    This relatively easy-to-make pouch baby sling makes the perfect DIY gift for a new mom, especially since babywearing offers many benefits to both mother and child. Use bamboo fabric to add an eco-friendly, soft touch to the sling.

    This particular curved-seam pouch baby sling design was invented by Hygenia Halfmoon. Unless you are similar in size to the new mom, you will need to know her measurements. Make sure you include directions with your gift on how to wear the sling properly.

  5. Baby Detergent

    Babies generate a lot of dirty clothes. While most guests buy off the registry, few think of gifting the mom with true essentials like laundry detergent. Make the gift personal (and safer) by making your own.

    There are a number of DIY natural laundry detergent recipes out there, designed to save money as well as ensure a gentler, chemical-free wash that won’t irritate Baby’s skin. Many recipes result in a large quantity, so you may even get to keep some for your own use.

  6. Baby Wipes

    Whether your friend plans to cloth diaper or use disposables, she’ll need baby wipes. Get her set up by making her a container of homemade wipes and solution. Try this tutorial on making cloth wipes.

    Homemade wipe solution is easy to make. All you need is about two cups of distilled water, a teaspoon of aloe vera, a teaspoon of witch hazel and two teaspoons of liquid castile soap. For a sweeter smelling wipe, try adding lavender or tea tree essential oils, which are great for skin irritation and rashes. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray onto the wipes. Don’t forget to give your friend the recipe!

    MYO Baby Wipe Solution | Eco-Mothering.com

  7. Baby Bean Bag Chair

    Baby bean bag chairs can sell for $50 or more, but you can easily make your own customized bag for less. Dust off your sewing skills with this easy-to-follow pattern.

    Make it green with organic cotton or by upcycling old clothing or scrap material. If you’re repurposing an old item, be sure to wash it with non-toxic detergent first. Instead of the traditional and chemical-ridden polystyrene beads that fill bean bags, use an eco-friendly chair filler such as recycled plastic or uncooked rice. Due to the small filler pieces, always be sure your baby is not left unattended in any kind of bean bag chair.

Of course, these are just a few ideas and options. What are some of your favorite eco-friendly, DIY gifts?

About the Author: Ali Lawrence is an eco-friendly mom who blogs with her husband over at Homey Improvements. In her free time, Ali enjoys cooking healthy meals in her apple-red kitchen, gardening and binge reading fantasy books. You can find her on Twitter @DIYfolks.

This post is shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Guilt-Free Green Tip #58: Switch to Paperless Billing

Welcome to a regular blog feature called Guilt-Free Green Tips. These will be easy action steps you can take to be a little greener, and each mini post will feature one tip. Choose the ones that appeal to you, and learn what eco benefits a single, simple step can make.

Even though I consider myself a bit of a Luddite (I will always prefer reading tangible books to e-books), one of the great things about technology is the ability to eliminate paper waste. Nowadays, banks, credit cards and utilities all offer electronic payment options; signing up usually takes just a few minutes of your time. Save yourself the hassle of misplacing bills, writing checks or buying stamps.

With this simple step, you’ll also save a few other things:

  • Paper Waste. The average American family discards 2,460 pounds of paper the every year.
  • Trees. If just 20% of Americans switched to online bill payment, two million trees would be saved annually.
  • Energy. You lighten the load of the U.S. pulp and paper industry, which is the second largest consumer of energy. Again, if just 20% of Americans switched to online bill payment, we could eliminate 720,000 tons of greenhouse gases and avoid using 135 million gallons of gasoline each year.
  • Clutter, Time, Money and Safety. By eliminating piles of paper clutter, you can regain six weeks of your time usually spent looking for important papers, reduce money spent on late fees and reduce identity theft by 85%.
Sources:
http://www.att.com/media/att/2012/support/pdf/Go_Paperless_4_2012.pdf
http://www.napo-gpc.org/about_media.php

 

Uses and Benefits of Yarrow

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We added a few new plants to our Zen garden this year; one of them my daughter picked out was the yarrow plant or Achillea millefolium. She liked its feathery green leaves, and it has since grown rather quickly (probably because yarrow is often found growing wild in North America) and bloomed pretty pink-orange flowers that she can see from her bedroom window.

It wasn’t until I looked the plant up online that I discovered what a highly beneficial plant Sofie chose.

Uses for Yarrow | Eco-Mothering.com

Staunching Wounds

Sometimes known as “nosebleed,” the yarrow plant has a long history in wound treatment. Sources vary on whether the Greeks, the Romans or the Neanderthals used it first; however, yarrow was often employed by soldiers in battle to staunch bleeding. I was intrigued by this. A few weeks ago, when I cut myself with a paring knife (a small cut), it stopped bleeding almost instantly once I held a yarrow leaf to the wound.

Sofie tested this theory during one of her frequent nosebleeds. Holding a tissue to her nose, she dashed outside and disappeared into the Zen garden. My daughter returned a minute later with no more bleeding. She had torn off a few yarrow leaves, put them inside her tissue and held it up to her nose. Done.

I have since read that yarrow can act as both a blood stopper as well as a starter. If you roll the leaf and put it inside the nostril, it may cause bleeding whereas pressing it against the nose stopped the flow.

In tea or tincture form, yarrow can be used for internal bleeding (ulcers, heavy menstruation) or used as a compress for bleeding hemorrhoids.

Relieving Pain

Chewing on yarrow leaves can relieve toothaches; Native Americans often did this. Drinking a yarrow infusion can aid urinary tract infections. Added to a sitz bath, yarrow can relieve hemorrhoids and menstrual cramps. *Note: Because yarrow affects the menstrual cycle, women who are pregnant should not take it in case it leads to miscarriage.

Breaking Fevers

Because yarrow is good at making you sweat, it is often used in colds and fevers. You might have your child drink a hot yarrow tea or add one to his bath to break a fever. Yarrow capsules can also be used with fevers or to shorten the duration of a cold. The herb improves blood circulation and relaxes the pores, which enables sweating and combats the infection.

Food and Drink

Young yarrow leaves can be eaten raw in a salad, cooked in soups and stews or fried. The flowers and leaves can be made into a tea. (Milfoil tea is often used in the Scottish Highlands for alleviating melancholy.) The leaves are sometimes used instead of hops to brew beer, which is thought to be more intoxicating.

So, unintentionally we are growing our first medicinal plant, and I’m excited about exploring some of its healing properties.

Don’t have yarrow in you yard? No worries. Yarrow is also available as a dried herb, capsule, tincture or liquid extract. (Shop Vitacost here and receive $10 off if you’re a first-time user.) As this powerful herb does interact with certain medicines, you should always consult your health care provider before using it.

 This post is shared at Natural Living Monday and Simply Natural Saturday.

 

August’s Top 5 Eco Crafts

Welcome to my monthly installment of eco-friendly arts and craft projects gathered from around the Internet. While some projects require adult supervision, they are a fun, educational and green hobby for your kids to enjoy! This month’s collection includes a few back-to-school ideas.

 

  1. T-Shirt Tote from Planet Forward

    Eco Craft T-Shirt Tote

  2. Jute-Wrapped Pencil Holders from Untrendy Life

    Eco Craft - Jute Wrapped Pencil Holder

  3. Rock Dominoes from Childcareland Blog

    Eco Craft - Rock Dominoes

  4. Juice Carton Desk Organizer from Inhabitos

    Eco Craft - Juice Carton Caddy

  5. Mini Cardboard Guitar from Mini Eco

    Eco Craft - Cardboard Guitar

This post has been shared at Natural Family Friday.

 

Infographic: Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

I made this graphic in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, 2014. Take part in one of the events worldwide including the Global Latch On being held August 2 at 10:30 a.m. local time.

Promote and support breastfeeding — share this image!

 

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding | Eco-Mothering.com

 

This post is shared at Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Blog HopNatural Family Friday and Natural Living Monday.